So, it's hard for me to realize still that ANP is well and truly finished, and yet here we are, at my second fantasy-based (or really, non Star Wars) story's start. Please, launch this one off with a warm reception, and as always, R&R and enjoy! ~F

The Stormreaver


In the Dark of the Night

Privet Drive, Little Whinging, Surry, England, October 31st, 1981

On a cold and marginally lit street a slight ways off from the common residents of the little neighborhood of Privet Drive, at the same time that some very mysterious things were happening involving a tall man in a pointed hat and purple robes, a woman with a stern look who could turn into a cat, and a baby with a lightning bolt scar, something else was occurring of a far more sinister nature.

With a small pop, the lights of a little secluded alleyway darkened to nearly nothing, and a tear appeared in the fabric of space. From this little wound formed a tiny gateway into the Twisting Nether, and the far reaches of the cosmos, glowing with the yellow-green of fiendish magic. Suddenly, with a puff of flames, a small horned creature tumbled out of the rift before it sealed itself once again. The tiny creature, no more than the height of a human's knee, shook itself from the perilous voyage through the darkness into which it had been sent, and took a good look at its surroundings, the tiny yellow eyes burning with cunning and mischief.

Lifting its tiny claws arms, the little furred imp cast a spell of scrying, allowing it to see out and around its position, scouting the landscape for any major threats to his master, Lord Kil'jaeden of the Burning Legion. Smiling to itself, the imp, who name was Karham, scampered toward the nearest source of Arcane magic he detected through his spell. He needed absolute proof of his discovery before he dared to return to his masters and report.

For a long time the demon lords of the Burning Legion had watched the cosmos, seeking out ever more worlds to put to the flame, but in particular searching for worlds that had just begun tapping into the powers of the Arcane, so that they could enslave more beings into their service and through them increase their armies and power an hundredfold. Karham, along with many other agents of the Eredar Lord, Kil'jaeden the Deceiver, were thusly sent out across the Twisted Nether to seek out worlds ripe for the Legion's manipulations to devour.

And what this little one had discovered seemed to be, while not some priceless jewel to add to the Legion's crown of conquests, a land worthy of at least some note.

Darting silently toward the source of magic, Karham did his best to hide the fel flames that dripped off his small body as he drew close to the place, which turned out to be another nondescript street, except with all the lights extinguished and two creatures on it conversing. Through his own diligent study of the languages of many worlds, Karham could understand these humans quite well, and was able to spy on what they thought was a private conversation with ease.

"A letter?" the female was saying as Karham came into listening range, "Really, Dumbledore, you think you can explain all this in a letter? These people will never understand him! He'll be famous… a legend… I wouldn't be surprised if today was known as Harry Potter day in the future… there will be books written about Harry… every child in our world will know his name!"

"Exactly," the older, white haired male named Dumbledore replied, "it would be enough to turn any boy's head. Famous before he can walk and talk! Famous for something he won't even remember! Can you see how much better off he'll be, growing up away from all that until he's ready to take it?"

Karham wasn't sure exactly what the two humans were talking about, but whoever this 'Harry' person was, they were of great importance to these people. The little demon continued to spy on the two mages until he was distracted by a rumbling sound that was coming from the sky.

Looking up, the little demonic creature flinched as what looked like a dragon thundered down and skid to a halt near the two humans. Blinking the beady yellow eyes, Karham realized that it wasn't a dragon, but some sort of contraption that bore a massive rider, who dismounted and strode over to the two mages with a small bundle.

"Hagrid," the man named Dumbledore said, sounding relieved. "At last. And where did you get that motorcycle?"

Karham heard the words they were speaking, but he was not listening. The little demon was focused on the bundle that the massive being was holding, its contents brimming with powerful magic. Whatever it was, it would be something that the Lords of the Burning Legion would want. Some lost artifact of great power perhaps, or a tome of forgotten lore? Regardless, it would mean a great deal to the improvement of Karham's rewards to present that much magical energy to his masters.

Soon the older male wizard took the bundle from the massive being, and approached one of the boring and quite nonmagical buildings. Karham almost laughed out loud as the old man just left the powerful item on the doorstep, before turning and leaving. The other pair waited for the old man, and after more unimportant chatter between then, one by one they departed.

Lastly, the old man looked back at the bundle on the doorstep, muttered to himself, and teleported away with a swish of his cloak. The tiny imp waited several moments to make sure he was alone, before darting out of his hiding place, and across the strange stone-like road to the bundle in front of the ordinary dwelling.

Peering inside, the imp was quickly disappointed when he found that the bundle only contained a human infant. The tiny creature was peacefully sleeping, a small piece of folded parchment tucked in with the baby.

Karham couldn't read the human's pathetic excuse for a written language however, so the note was worthless to him. The child on the other hand, could be possibly used, if at the least as magic heavy food for the personal felhunters of his master.

Snatching the bundle in his magically enhanced arms, the imp scampered away from the house, looking for a secluded place that he could summon one of his master's high ranking agents. Finding a darkened side street quite easily, Karham set aside the little infant male and went to work, calling upon what dark powers he had been granted by the demon lords, and reaching through the Twisted Nether to guide one of his superiors to this place.

A faint light appeared, creating a magical circle of demonic runes, and from within the portal emerged the tall, winged, horned form of a Nathrezim, one of the powerful agents of the Legion.

"Lord Mephistroth," Karham said with a respectful bow. This particular Dreadlord was the third in power and influence of the Nathrezim, and one of Lord Kil'jaeden's chief servants.

"You've called on me, little imp, and I have come," the vampiric demon said, "I trust that you have something of worth to present to me and our masters…"

"Oh of course great one, of course…" Karham said, almost groveling at the far greater demon. Presenting the little crib with the magical baby, the imp was nearly shunted aside as Mephistroth stepped closer and bent lower to examine the male child. The Nathrezim pulled the small parchment envelope from the bundles of cloth, using his long claws to open the note and scanning it quickly.

Karham was surprised to learn that the other demon could actually read the human's script. Looking up hopefully, he smirked as the Nathrezim chuckled darkly, tearing the note to pieces. "It is of no consequence." He commented lazily, but continued to watch the sleeping child, "the boy however could prove to be most useful to the Legion…"

Raising a hand, Mephistroth levitated the child, still wrapping in the blankets and settled in the small basket. Reaching forward a long talon-like claw, the Nathrezim gently stroked the pudgy face, careful to not harm or awaken the child. "Such raw magical power in one so young is rare. However… humans take a long time to grow and mature, and there is simply no time for any among the Legion to safety take up that task."

The Dreadlord was silent for several moments, clearly contemplating the situation, and Karham almost interrupted, but knew the punishment for such an offense should he do so.

"Ah..." Mephistroth said at last, "I know the perfect hosts to place this young one, until the boy is ready that is..." smiling wickedly at the slumbering baby, the Nathrezim continued, "oh yes, they'll be the perfect trainers to teach this boy all about the powers of the Twisted Nether, while instilling discipline and unwavering loyalty to the Legion..."

Turning back to the magic circle that Karham had used to bring the great demon here, Mephistroth commanded the imp, "tell none of this world, and continue with your objectives, I will take this matter on, personally..."

Without another word, the Dreadlord took the baby, basket and all, and stepped back into the portal to the Twisting Nether. Karham giggled wickedly as he leapt in afterward, grateful to not have to remain on the pitiful world any longer.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Line Break ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Ruins of Stormwind Keep, Eastern Kingdoms, Azeroth

Gul'dan, once leader of the Shadow Council and secret master of the orcish race, looked out over the destruction that had befallen the human nation of Stormwind, elation at the accomplishments of his Horde mixing poorly with the bitter taste of humiliation at his loss of control over it.

Ever since Kil'jaeden, the Beautiful One that his old master Ner'zhul had originally contacted, left them with no word, Gul'dan had scrambled to find some outlet for the rampaging Horde's ferocity. That was when he came into the grand Warlock's dreams: the human magi Medivh, who had information regarding Sargeras, master over even the demon lords of the Burning Legion.

Apparently, the world on which Medivh resided was also the location of the fabled Tomb of Sargeras, wherein lay the power of the Dark God. It was a prize far too tempting for Gul'dan to pass up on. As part of their deal, Medivh gave Gul'dan the knowledge to build the Portal, in exchange for the Horde's martial might in overthrowing the nations of humans that inhabited the world of Azeroth.

A purpose paved before them, the orcs had leapt at the chance, Gul'dan's warlocks poured hours into constructing the portal, and opened the way for their great conquest. They had overrun the humans, destroying all in their path toward the great city of the closest kingdom. Stormwind Keep.

But not everything went according to Gul'dan's master plan. On the eve of their great victory, Medivh was betrayed by his fellow humans, and even as Gul'dan reached into the dying sorcerer's mind for the location of the Tomb of Sargeras, the man was killed, causing the orcish warlock to fall into a deep coma for many weeks.

Upon his awakening however, he learned the sad truth that he, and the entire Shadow Council, had been betrayed by the new Warchief of the Horde, Ogrim Doomhammer. Unwilling to share power like his predecessor, Blackhand, Doomhammer had rushed in and slew many of the Shadow Council, and nearly all of the Horde's warlocks before Gul'dan could intervene.

A paltry few now survived, Gul'dan himself being among them, and they were 'humbled' into submission to their new leader, even as the horde prepared for a new offensive into the northern regions of this world, and the other human, elven, and dwarven kingdoms that lay in wait for them.

As he stood upon a rise of mountains overlooking the destruction of the human city, Gul'dan tensed as he felt a flare of demonic magic behind him. Turning sharply, the orc narrowed his eyes as a large demon with horns and wings walked out of the Nether toward Gul'dan.

"Calm yourself Warlock…" the demon said smoothly, "I am Mephistroth."

"I know of your kind, Dreadlord…" Gul'dan replied, "You serve Kil'jaeden…"

"Yes," the Nathrezim affirmed, "however, I am not here regarding my master… I have a gift; I source of great power that may assist you in your upcoming invasion…"

Gul'dan froze, wondering how much of his and Medivh's plans were already aware of by the demon lord. Choosing to ignore the quip and shifted to focus on the small basket that the vampiric demon was carrying.

Mephistroth saw the orc looking at the bundle and smirked. Setting the bundle on the ground, the demon turned back to the Nether rift that it emerged from and started to walk away, "Just be sure to not kill it too quickly…" he added cryptically before vanishing completely.

Gul'dan watched the spot where the Nathrezim vanished for several moments, before motion from the small basket caught his attention.

"What the…" he said curiously, striding forward and leaning over to investigate. A small, pink creature was squirming inside a wrapping of cloth. It was a human baby boy. The little thing opened its emerald eyes, blinking up at Gul'dan before yawning loudly.

"What could be a prized gift of a simply human runt?" Gul'dan wondered aloud as he reached a hand closer to the child. The little boy grabbed the Warlock's long finger with a small pudgy hand, completely unafraid of him, which slightly amused Gul'dan. Fearlessness was a trait that he could respect. Only when the little baby sneezed, and a moderately powerful gust of wind was kicked up in response did the warlock detect the true gift that the demon was referring to.

The child was magical in nature, far different from any of the orc shaman of old or even the newly trained warlocks. This child played with the cosmic powers on a whim, whereas the orcish spell casters had to pull and twist at the powers that were, or in the case of shaman beg and plead for aid, until they were answered. But this… this child was special.

Reaching forward, far more interested than before, Gul'dan lifted the child from the basket, noting how incredibly small and fragile the boy was. The orcs had once, back when the warlocks were plentiful and trusted, utilized the practice of rapidly advancing the aging process of their warriors by magic, and for a moment Gul'dan was tempted to use the same power on this human child, but he hesitated. What would the spell's reaction to the boy's internal magic possibly result in? Was it worth the risk of having his potentially greatest tool and weapon damaged to save several years worth of time caring for the baby until the human was old enough to fend for himself?

Gul'dan had never dealt with younglings before, and he personally had no patience for that sort of child rearing, but in the end he decided that toying with the unknown where it came with this child wouldn't be the safest course of action.

Turning back to the ruined city, where his clan of Stormreavers awaited his return, Gul'dan began the short hike down from the rise of rocks. He would pawn the boy off to one of the female to nurture until he was old enough to begin teaching, with strict orders for the boy to live. Then he would have an apprentice that was beyond any being in the Horde, and by the time their beloved Warchief was at his weakest, the perfect weapon that would destroy him, return the Horde under Gul'dan's control, and assist Gul'dan in taking the power of the Dark Titan for himself.

"Well, little one," Gul'dan said softly to the baby boy, "You're going to assist me in doing great things…"