Chapter 113

Groundwork of War

Blaise sighed as his mount climbed around yet another spur of blade-like rock formations. There was no room for doubt as to why this mountain range had gained its name, but nevertheless, it was an inconvenient barrier that the warlock had to navigate.

Personally, he would have preferred to have taken any means other than going overland to reach the northern regions of Outland, where there was a great swelling of magical power. Blaise had a suspicion that this would end up being somewhat important, and was taking a personal mission to investigate, as well as potentially set up some means of traveling to the location more reliably for the rest of the Dark Horde if military action proved required. He hoped that such was not needed, but in truth there was no other way for them to find out what was going on. All their attempts to scry into the location with eyes of Kil'rogg and by other means had failed, which was disturbing enough to warrant their attention, and the less than efficient means for him getting to the location.

But first, Blaise had to cross through the Blade Edge Mountains, where ogre clans roamed alongside even larger creatures that seemed to lord over the brutish race. From what information he had gleaned, they were called Gronn, but beyond that Blaise knew very little for certain. Apparently they were abundant in the deeper gorges of the mountains, and there was some massive specimen of the creature that could even fight and kill dragons.

As a testament to the fact, there were dozens of the flying creatures impaled on spikes through the deeper parts of the mountains, looking almost as if they were thrown there by an overgrown child having a tantrum.

It was a large mercy that he had no business down in the gorge, and Blaise could avoid whatever it was that lived down there among the rocks, although Teg'Ramm would be more than interested in all things that revolved around more of his people in various parts of Outland.

Turning the dreadsteed away from the overlook into the wide canyon, Blaise started up the eastern side, winding slowly through paths where the strange flayer creatures hid in the crags and rocks. From what he gathered by the direction of the terrain, his closest chance to get to the northern section was along this route, and so long as he followed as close to the pulsating magical aura that emanated from there, he felt he was on the right track.

Unfortunately, as he crossed the next rise, the subtle wafting of the Fel caught his attention, and Blaise turned to look toward a large plume of acrid smoke, mixed with the smell of brimstone that generally accompanied the summoning of large numbers of demons.

Another, far smaller valley lay just to the south, and Blaise realized that he would have passed right by this place, heading further toward the north, if the wind hadn't shifted and coaxed the Fel-tinged smoke in his direction.

Drawing near to the edge, and peering through the razor-sharp spines of rock, Blaise saw a large, functioning portal, blazing with power and spewing forth ranks of demon warriors.

Before the portal stood a massive Eredar, channeling spells to summon and bind the oncoming hordes to his will. Whatever he was preparing for, it clearly wasn't going to be useful for the Dark Horde's future plans.

Drawing out a parchment where he had been drafting a rough map, Blaise make a note of the location for when he reported back to Nobu'tan. Loathe though he was to simply leave the location as it was, he had little choice. There was nothing Blaise alone could do about the horde of demons.

Blaise turned his mount to the north, and kicked it to a full gallop, hoping to slip away without being noticed. It seemed that he managed to do it as well, as several times he stopped to rest for a short time, and check to make sure that nothing was following him, he did not see anything making the attempt.

After the third stop, he allowed the Dreadsteed to run for far longer, driving northward and keeping as close to the eastern edge of the mountainous region as he could. There was an end to the land, where it dropped into an eternal void, but looming nearer was a shattered landmass floating in open space. The ground crackled with free magic, tinting the ground with the deep purple of the arcane. It was intriguing to witness, and Blaise hoped to draw nearer and find some means of crossing over to the region.

And he was blessed to find such means a small ways farther along. A massive metal bridge, appearing to be of goblin-make, stretched across the endless chasm from the mountainous region to the new territory, but at the present moment it seemed that the bridge was in use.

Stopping well away and watching carefully, Blaise spotted a host of elves, clad in the gold and crimson of Silvermoon, crossing from the far side toward the Blade Edge Mountains.

The warlock had learned quickly to distinguish those elves that had joined with the Kalimdor Horde of Azeroth, and those that were already here in Outland, who were enemies of all, even their own kin.

These were Sunfury Blood Elves, and loyal to their prince and his half-demonic master. Blaise turned to put some distance between himself and the elves, when he spotted another host coming from the south. A contingent of demons, with orcish warlocks at their head, was quickly approaching the bridge with purposeful strides.

Quickly, Blaise directed his steed off the makeshift road and into the rocks to hide, hoping that the two factions would quickly eliminate each other and permit the assassin to pick up the pieces, perhaps discover some information about the pair of groups before pressing on.

But what actually transpired surprised even him. The Shadow Council orcs and the Blood Elves stopped a fair distance from each other, even as their guards fanned out together, looking outward for third party intervention rather than being suspicious of each other.

Meanwhile, the leaders, a masked and cloaked warlock and some manner of blood elf mage, spoke in hushed tones to each other. Blaise silently drew his wand, muttering the incantation for a charm that would shift his hearing to a location of his choice. Casually, he flicked the focus at a small rock near to where the two conversed, allowing himself to be well within earshot of them midconversation.

"…we are on a strict timetable, I do not have time for such interruptions," the elf was staying, the overlong eyebrows waggling rapidly as he berated the masked orc.

"Kil'jaeden wants an update on the situation of the Draeni. He wants information on the location of Velen, and he wants it now." The orc replied, not caring in the least about the anger the elf was showing him.

"Lord Kael'thas has not shared with me such concerns," the elf replied, waving a hand dismissively, "we are too busy trying to just survive in this wasteland. The mana that we captured from the Naaru vessels was only sufficient for a short time, and now with Horde and Alliance adventurers creeping into the Netherstorm, we have to work twice as hard just to keep spies and intruders out of the manaforges…"

"Our masters have already promised your people all the magic they could desire, if you would just righten your priorities and do as he commands." The orc countered.

"Kael'thas rightly does not trust your demon masters," the elf shot back, "we already have Stormrage to deal with on the side. Turning on him in the midst of all this is not wise for either of our goals."

"In time, Kil'jaeden may select another, and pass your people over completely for their chance to prove themselves to him…" the orc said, and Blaise could feel the smirk behind the shrouded figure's mask.

"Bah! Enough of this prattling, you've delivered your message, and I will make sure that Lord Kael'thas receives it…" the elf replied, "be gone with you all, before you attract unwanted attention."

"Consider yourselves warned," the orc replied, before turning away and signaling for his fellows to depart. Blaise cancelled the spell even as the elves too started back toward the magic rich land.

This information may prove to be in their favor, he thought. If the blood elves desired raw magical energy, and were considering betraying Illidan Stormrage for it, how much more would they consider allying with the Dark Horde for even more?

Taking careful note of the location, so that he could present a memory to those mages to open portals here, Blaise focused heavily on Zeth'Gor, and spun on his heel, apparating back to the fortress with a muted pop.

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Swiftly, Nobu'tan rode through the decayed land surrounding the tower of Karazhan. The flares of magic surrounding the tower were a mix of arcane, Fel, and even death magic now, which he hoped meant that Voldemort had succeeded in taking the tower for his own.

The mystical knowledge locked away for years, hoarded by generations of Guardians, was not something to be taken lightly. And now it was in Nobu'tan's control. A host of Dark Horde Death Knights waited for him at the front gate, watching him with the cold eyes as he passed and entered into the tower itself.

"The chieftain is waiting for you upstairs in the large archive," a necrolyte stated, gesturing to the nearby stairs.

"Thank you," Nobu'tan said, dismissing his dreadsteed and walking toward the upper floors. Apparently, with the recent takeover had come a host of changes. The intricate ballroom had been changed into a ritual floor, every open section of space now covered in blood red runes, while necrolytes practiced their craft on hosts of corpses from the surrounding desolation.

The wide opera house was transformed into a study hall, and Nobu'tan was surprised to find countless members of various races there, studying the necromantic arts. Voldemort had clearly been busy in his absence, recruiting more to his cause and slowly filling his ranks of those who could command the dead.

Eventually, the former Earth sorcerer was found, in the vaulted library of the tower. Mountains of tomes and scrolls had been piled on the floors, slowly being sorted and reshelved for the Blightbringer Clan's use.

"Nobu'tan…" Voldemort said coldly as the warlock approached.

"Quite the series of tasks you've undertaken, my friend," Nobu'tan said, looking up at the intimidating stack of tomes, constantly being added to by runners from the upper levels.

The Death Knight huffed, refusing to respond as he turned to a must smaller selection of arcane books on a nearby table. "These have been locked by powerful magic," he explained, "none of us have been able to tamper with them, for fear of triggering whatever dangerous spells might be on them. I trust they are likely among that which you've sought."

"Probably…" Nobu'tan stated, "but that is only a small part of why I have come."

The Death Knight looked at him, raising one decayed eyebrow in curiosity. "Who do you wish to have killed?" he asked, already guessing what Nobu'tan had in mind.

He smirked, "Have you heard anything about the Demon Hunter, Illidan Stormrage?"

"I have not," Voldemort admitted, but the Death Knight was grinning, "but I trust that doesn't matter…"

"Not in the slightest," Nobu'tan stated, turning toward the stack of books the former human had indicated, "Just keep your eyes and ears open for when I call."

"Whatever you desire…" Voldemort huffed, walking away to tend to other matters. Nobu'tan did not worry. The Death Knight was loyal enough for his needs, even without the magic binding his actions to Nobu'tan. It had been something of a surprise how effectively they worked together, now that the undead sorcerer had a measure of power within the Dark Horde and objectives of his own.

Oh yes, Nobu'tan knew that the Death Knight harbored a great deal of hatred for those other undead in the far north, and especially their queen. Unfortunately for Voldemort, Nobu'tan considered the Undercity a low priority, now that the siege of Arathi had ended, and those Forsaken undead being forced back to their own lands around the ruined city.

Fenrir and his pack were doing their job monitoring the area and keeping the Forsaken busy, which would suffice until Nobu'tan finally returned to taking control of the rest of the northern Eastern Kingdoms… if he decided in the end to actually go through with it.

The defensiveness of both the Forsaken, and the Elves even farther north would require an intense amount of resources to break, and even then it would cause ripple across the planet, severing any possibility of peace with the rest of the Kalimdor Horde.

But before he would make any decision regarding the remainder of his nagging problems in Azeroth, Nobu'tan would have satisfaction with destroying Stormrage and liberating the skull of his mentor from the half-demon's clutches.

Refocusing on the moment and the stack of tomes and scrolls before him, Nobu'tan waved the Elder wand over them, murmuring spells that would investigate the magic on the various items, and muttering to himself as each one appeared.

Most were just overly powerful locks, but a few held suitably strong curses that would have been issues if not examined and diffused before tampering with. Luckily, Voldemort was not a fool in this regard, and within an hour all of the spells were removed and the texts available for whosoever could read the Azerothian scripts.

The only thing that drew the eye of the Lord of the Stormreavers however, was a small scroll that seemed to depict a floor plan of the lower sections of the tower. Why this was protected with heavy magic, he did not quite understand, but it had to be significant therefore, and Nobu'tan decided it was worth his time to investigate it while he was here.

The main floors, according to the map, were all the same, with nothing out of place or hidden, but apparently there was another entrance along the base of the tower near the little stream, which went downward into the bowels under the tower itself.

This warranted investigation. Immediately departing the tower from the front gate, Nobu'tan circled around and descended to the level of the water. Just as indicated, there was a thin path that followed along the edge of the water to another opening, which became visible only when Nobu'tan arrived in front of the strange vault.

The door was swung wide open, and from what he could see, there were extremely old tracks of some multiple figures coming and going, but nothing fresh or recent, which boded either well for him, or ill.

There was a strange sensation of repressed magic was also something interesting to him. The gravity of the tower itself more than smothered the auras coming from below, but nevertheless is was there. Something lingered down there, and Nobu'tan felt his blood starting to pump with excitement at the thought of some lost artifact or treasure that waited in the Guardian's secret vault.

Sending a series of Felfire wisps ahead of him to light the way, Nobu'tan stepped into the darkness, beneath the tower, following the spiral staircase that led down into the catacombs. Here and there, the skeletal body of some looter or other trespasser indicated the presence of traps and other guardians that Nobu'tan needed to be aware of.

The crumbling foundation of the tower pressed down in some areas, and Nobu'tan could tell that if not for magic this place would have been crushed long ago. A foot of water covered the ground as he reached the bottom of the stairs, and the warlock sloughed through it gingerly as he stepped into the first gloomy corridor of the underground vault.

And yet, Nobu'tan could tell that he was not alone here. Shadows moved around the corners of the dark chambers, and the warlock sensed that there were trapped spirits here maintaining whatever was being kept in this place.

"Who dares intrude in this place?" a ghostly voice wheezed from ahead.

Nobu'tan turned toward the sound, only seeing glowing eyes in the darkness, "One who has inherited this tower…" he replied, "and now seeks its secrets…"

"None may have the treasures that the Dark Riders have collected for the Master," the voice retorted, even as skeletal figured slowly marched forward into the green light of the Fel embers.

"Then I will destroy you, and take them anyway…" Nobu'tan replied, allowing the Fel to build around him, and lob spheres of the demonic fire at the advancing guardians.

They would not stop him, there was nothing in this world strong enough to hinder his pursuit of the power needed to achieve his goals.

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Varimathras remained in his private chambers, deep in the Undercity, long well after he typically would have gone out to meet with those Forsaken who agreed with the secret plan that he and Putress were concocting, but the matters he was slowly pondering over was something that required a great deal of his attention.

In the midst of communicating with Lord Banehollow, Varimathras had chanced upon a very choice encounter, as the lord of the Stormreavers, Nobu'tan the Warlock, entered the prison cell where the fellow Nathrezim was held.

"I was wondering when you would come to meet with me…" Banehollow announced, and Varimathras had sensed how his fellow Dreadlord tried to compose himself as much as he could in his magical bindings.

"Then you must know why I am here, and therefore we can skip any measure of pleasantries…" the warlock sniped back, interrupting Banehollow's attempt to gain control of the conversation. Varimathras could tell that Nobu'tan had prepared himself for this encounter, and would be fighting against any craftily constructed word from the Dreadlord.

"I admit I do not know your reason for coming," Banehollow said, trying to salvage his pride, "but I suspected it since the Dark Portal reopened. You need information from those who would actually know what to expect, especially concerning one Illidan Stormrage…"

It was a fair guess, Varimathras admitted, and seemed to strike the nail directly upon its head with respect to the warlock, who sat on a nearby bench and leaned on the Guardian's staff that he bore.

"Indeed, Stormrage concerns me greatly." He said, "I understand that Kil'jaeden wants him dead out of revenge, but setting the goal and accomplishing it are two very different things."

Varimathras personally would have been more cautious in this situation. The warlock had already proven that he would not be manipulated, but Banehollow took the bait of Nobu'tan's seeming openness. "I presume you already have some formation of a plan, but wish for the fine details that only someone affiliated with the Burning Legion would hold, yes? You are also ready to pay some manner of price for this information…"

"Perhaps," Nobu'tan replied, not meeting the Dreadlord's gaze, "but it would depend on how useful the information is to me, I mean if there was something I could use to nullify some of Stormrage's numerous allies…"

"I can think of a few things that would aid you greatly…" Banehollow revealed, smirking at the idea of his freedom most likely, "but there would need to be compensation."

"You know I cannot trust you at your word. I need to have something before I can even consider any deal with one such as you…" Nobu'tan countered, and Varimathras could already see the plot to ensnare Banehollow, but the imprisoned Dreadlord did not see it, so focused on the thought that he could be in control.

"When Illidan took control of Outland from Magtheridon, there were countless portals across the lands that he sealed. Opening any number of them could supply you with reinforcements beyond your imagining." Banehollow stated eagerly.

"Hmm," Nobu'tan said, a bored expression on his face, "that is nothing I didn't already know from my scouts and some research… if you truly have no unique knowledge…"

"There is more!" Banehollow said, forfeiting his sense of composure and yielding the conversation to the warlock. Varimathras was embarrassed just to be the same species as the other fool as he started to give more vital secrets to the warlock in the hopes of freedom.

"There are traitors in Stormrage's midst, some who follow the Legion, and others who want their own goals achieved! Free me, and I will tell you all."

"There are always those seeking their own interests. I could have found them on my own…" Nobu'tan countered again, rising and turning toward the door.

"No!" the desperation was clear from the demon at this point, "Seek the Warden Maiev Shadowsong, she held Illidan prisoner for ten thousand years. If she still lives, she will be more than eager to ally with anyone who seeks to destroy the betrayer!"

Varimathras could already sense exactly what was going to happen before the warlock turned, sinister smirk planted on his face. "Thank you, you have been most helpful… perhaps in time I will consider what to do with you…" and he departed, leaving the now furious Banehollow.

Varimathras closed the connection soon after, not desirous to see the rage of his fellow Dreadlord, and had been pondering what he had learned since then. Nobu'tan seemed to serve the Legion after a fashion, given what information he had shared about Lord Kil'jaeden, but at the same time had his own reasons for wanting to bring battle to the Betrayer.

If that was the case, an opening for destabilizing the uneasy truce here in Lordaeron may be possible, and Varimathras could use the confusion to make contact with his masters to finally receive new orders. Hopefully something that would take him far away from Sylvanas and the Forsaken…

Still, there was much to consider regarding the strange actions of the Dark Horde's leader, and new plans for Varimathras to prepare. Luckily Sylvanas was already sending soldiers into Silverpine to hunt down the Worgen allies of the Dark Horde, or else Varimathras would have needed to do something to continue putting pressure on the truce himself.

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Draco wasn't exactly sure what to expect in the days following the meeting between Varian and the Dark Iron Dwarves. Despite the plans between the King of Stormwind and his mother, Draco did know whether anything would come of it.

Still, there was some truth in what Narcissa had said. So long as Nobu'tan had an objective and a goal, he would divert all his attention and resources toward achieving it. How that was going to prevent the dwarves from their attack however, he had no idea.

Currently, as evening neared, his parents were up in their bedroom, and Draco was still sitting before the fire. Aurora was already put to bed some time ago, but Draco never really felt comfortable with the room that he had here, and preferred to stay awake as long as possible. To be fair, he still loved his family, but there was so much on his mind from recent events, and nothing about his own future plans had gone right.

He should have been out on his own by now, with Pansy as his wife, perhaps even expecting a child of his own in due time, but the Scourge had destroyed everything he had hoped to build, even going so far as to dance his beloved's corpse before him.

The fire surged for a moment, snapping Draco out of his trance. He forced himself to calm down. Allowing his magic to run rampant with his emotions would not be wise.

He almost jumped when a knock came on the front door. Rising quickly, he walked out of the parlor and down the short hallway. Opening the door quickly, as to not disturb those already asleep or preparing for the same, Draco was surprised to find Jaina on their doorstep.

"Lady Proudmoore, what brings you at this late hour?" Draco asked.

"I had hoped to speak with you…" she said cryptically, "Care to go for a walk?"

"I… sure…" Draco said, glancing back to make sure that they hadn't disturbed anyone. The house was silent, and he supposed one short walk around the Stormwind night life wouldn't be too out of the question.

Snatching his cloak from the nearby stand, Draco stepped out into the cool night air and threw it around his shoulders. Jaina smiled as Draco closed the door and locked it with a wave of his wand. It would also double as informing his parents that he had gone out if they came down before he returned.

"The Port is nice this time of night," Jaina commented, and they walked side by side for a time, exiting the Mage district and crossing through the canals.

They talked for a time about meaningless things, how Narcissa and Aurora were faring, the state of the others from earth, not that Jaina knew them by that designation, and other things that Draco could tell were not the Sorceress' main objective in approaching him thusly.

It was full dark by the time they reached the Stormwind Harbor, and the masts of the docked ships rose up like naked trees in the gloom, their wood creaking and groaning as they bobbed in the water. There was a pair of larger taverns here, lights twinkling from within as music merged with the gentle waves.

"It's been too long since I just enjoyed the sounds of the sea…" Jaina commented, "I'd almost forgotten how much I loved it."

Draco had to admit, it was a soothing sound, rhythmic and reliable. "It is quite nice." he replied.

"I know we've talked about a lot of the people around you," Jaina said after another few moments of silent, "but how are you doing? With everything that has happened I mean."

Draco had suspected from the start that this was the direction that the conversation was going. "I suspect that Varian mentioned something, then…" he asked.

"In part," Jaina admitted, "but I am worried as well. You don't look like yourself…"

Draco sighed, resigned to know that he wouldn't be slipping out of the uncomfortable thoughts any time soon, "I am not myself…" he said, looking out across the dark water, "I don't know if I'll ever be myself again."

"We never are…" Jaina replied, taking his hand comfortingly and turning to look over the water. She took a steadying breath, and began to sing, her voice carrying over the waves.

"When she did flee across the ocean deep, the Admiral followed west. What else but sail, to save a daughter's life, and pray she still drew breath. But there he found, upon those distant shores, enemies upon the rise. But when he faced, those savage foes, his daughter stood aside."

"I just wish I could have done something to save her," Draco said, feeling his heart tearing afresh at the haunting melody.

"You cannot punish yourself forever for her sake," Jaina said, and Draco felt the pressure of her hand on his tighten, "You have to move on, focus on the future, as they would have wanted us to."

"I can't." Draco said, finding the core of his anger and resentment, "not so long as the Frozen Throne stands. As long as that monster that caused this still exists, I cannot let her go." The water ripped at his magic started to strain at his control once more. "If the Lich King dares to set his forces upon the world again, I will tear apart the foundations of Northrend myself."

Jaina was quite for a space, allowing Draco's emotions to run their course. "When that time comes, I will be at your side," she said, "We will avenge all those that Arthas has killed: Pansy, Muradin, Uther, everyone."

Draco could only nod in reply, trying to fight back the tears the threatened to appear. It wouldn't matter if it was weeks or a lifetime, he would avenge Pansy if it was the last thing he ever did.

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Teg'Ramm watched from the ramparts of the Hellfire Citadel, even as the forces of the Dark Horde started to rapidly move their operations into the much larger fortress. Goblin engineers, working alongside Fel Orcs and ogres for hard labor, were rapidly repairing the damaged defense works, and shoring up the gaping holes in their perimeter.

While the landmark of the Citadel was imposing and powerful built, it also was situated in the very center of the peninsula, and they had enemies and potential enemies on all sides. Therefore, they had to make sure that the fortress became unassailable from any direction, and that meant utilizing every skillful trick and spell that the Dark Horde had at their disposal.

The massive trebuchets, quickly becoming one of the hallmarks of the Dark Horde's siege compliment, were being installed in the ramparts, able to fling rubble and other ordinance for miles around. Portals were opened in the bowels of the Blood Furnace, leading back to Blackrock mountain, Arathi, and even the Blasted Lands, allowing troop movement to flow unhindered between each location, and the summoning of countless demons, all bound and ordered by the Order of the Black Harvest to defend the citadel unendingly.

Additionally, in the former seat of Kargath's power, the Shattered Halls, the various clans and tribes of warriors loyal to the Dark Horde took up residence, and a massive map of Outland was placed, with room to spare for all the leaders of the Dark Horde to come and discuss the Outland Campaign. This particular chance was requested by Nobu'tan himself, and Teg'Ramm was more than willing to follow the command, and each race's leader was provided with seating according to their needs and desires around the hard metal platform that Bladefist once used as his execution grounds.

Teg'Ramm had been surprised at how many Clans had sprung up over the course of their efforts in Azeroth. The old clans, Stormreaver, Blackrock, and Dragonmaw, held the most prominent seats, represented by Nobu'tan himself, as well as General Thorg'izog for the Blackrock Clan, and Warchief Nek'rosh Skullcrusher for the Dragonmaw.

Now joining them were the Fel orc clans of Outland: Bleeding Hollow, led by Grillok Darkeye and the Bonechewer, led by Tagar Spinebreaker, who had formally joined the Dark Horde after the death of Kargath Bladefist. There were also a smattering of Shadowmoon Fel orcs, but they lacked the numbers to be a full representation of their clan, and were currently in the process of reaching out to their kin in Shadowmoon Valley to find out their minds on the potential of joining the Dark Horde.

Additionally there were two new clans that had formed since the Outland expedition, Blightbringer, led by the Death Knight Voldemort, and the Dawn's Hammer Clan, which Teg'Ramm found most interesting as a clan filled with paladins and priests taken from other clans. They were represented by Bannok Grimaxe.

Finally, there were the non-orc allies that had created their own factions and forces. Teg'Ramm would represent the Balefire Clan of ogres and ogre magi, while War Master Voone had been overwhelmingly chosen as leader of the united Forest Troll tribes that allied with the Dark Horde. Aisha Feltalon and Edgran would continue to lead their races and represent their interests in the scheme of the Dark Horde.

Finally, two empty seats were also kept at the table, one for Fenrir Greyback, Alpha of the Grimfang pack, but the strange wolf-like creatures were unable to attend any meeting of the Dark Horde, being deep within enemy territory under their own designs with Nobu'tan's approval. Finally, the goblins from the homeworld of Nobu'tan and Teg'Ramm held the final seat, but refused to send a representative at this time, trusting in the decision of the Stormreaver Clan until such a want for their own needs was made.

Teg'Ramm knew that there were others, but they were either not in numbers to warrant a portion of commanding power in the Dark Horde, or else they were like the remnant of the Black Dragonflight, and not fully trusted at this time with their opinion in the Dark Horde's strategy.

The ogre warlock was surprised that, when the first meeting of this group was called, all of them barring the goblins and the Worgen came, all eager to have their voices heard in determining how the Outland campaign would be waged. Either that or most were probably curious as to why Nobu'tan wanted to bring their forces here so strongly, and wished to hear it directly from his mouth.

"My friends," Nobu'tan began, rising from his seat, which was draped in the banner of the Stormreavers, "and I do believe I can consider most, if not all of you, as friend. I must trust you now, as the friends and allies that you are, and inform you of the reason that we are here in Outland, fighting against the forces of Illidan Stormrage."

Teg'Ramm, along with most of the rest, leaned forward expectantly, eager to hear the motivation for such a massive expedition and campaign.

"I had, at the time of the opening of the Dark Portal, been formally approached by emissaries of the Burning Legion, and commanded to kill the Betrayer, as punishment for his past transgressions against the demonic hordes." Nobu'tan said, clearly repressing any emotion he felt on the subject, and observing what their reactions were.

Teg'Ramm knew that it would be mostly negative. Each of them around the table had, for the most part, come off poorly because of the attention of the Legion, and there was an unsaid understanding that none of them wanted to attract the animosity of the Legion.

"As the Dark Horde is, currently, pawns of the Legion, we must do as our masters command," Nobu'tan stated, pointing at the map before them all, squarely at the massive Black Temple that sat at the southern peninsula of the devastated landmass. "We will besiege the Black Temple, and not relent until the head of Illidan is in my hands to present to the demons."

"I cannot expect that this sits well with all of you, nor will I force you to fight under our banner for this campaign. So I will ask, will you stand with me?"

The ripple of silence seemed to extend on as Nobu'tan fell silent. Each leader had to ponder this for themselves. Teg'Ramm knew his answer long before, and as he rose from his overlarge chair, none seemed surprised at his words. "You are our master, Nobu'tan," Teg started, with Ramm nodding along, "We will follow you into the very depths of the Nether and back. The Balefire Clan will go to war."

Teg'Ramm felt proud to once again announce his loyalty to Nobu'tan, but what further shocked the rest was the Death Knight rising to his feet. "Potter…" he hissed, "I have no loyalty to you or your cause, this you well know. But there is nothing for us unless we stand united against this world that would destroy everything we stand for. The Death Knights stand with you, until and beyond your end."

The validation of this coming campaign by the most unlikely of supporter seemed to shake even the most hesitant of the Dark Horde's leaders. One by one the other clans, tribes, and factions affirmed that they too would support the coming war against Illidan Stormrage and his followers. Even the Fel orcs, after seeing the unity of the others fell into line, eager to be included in the planning stages to come.

"My spymasters," Nobu'tan continued after the last leader took his seat after pledging their loyalty, "have identified the two chief lieutenants of Stormrage."

Both Garona Halforcen, and Tenebrous approached on either side of Nobu'tan, who did not acknowledge their presence as he continued, "We must systematically take out every support that lies outside of the Black Temple itself, while taking advantage of everything we can find in this harsh world that will contribute to laying effective and long lasting siege."

Nobu'tan waved his wand over the table, and small figures representing each of the clans appeared in the region of Hellfire Citadel. "From our new stronghold here, we can strike out westward, either to combat the Naga forces in the Zangermarsh to the north, or the small outposts of Blood elves in Terrokar Forest to the south, pushing toward Shadowmoon Valley directly, and secure a forward base."

"Dere be many tings lurkin' in dose forests, mon," War Master Voone interjected, "crossing dere may be being da more difficult option…"

"Nevertheless," Aisha replied, "as both threats must be addressed before the end, shouldn't it be prudent to attack both simultaneously so that our enemies cannot band together to oppose us?"

"I concur," Nobu'tan said, glancing around the room to see if any opposed. "Then I will formulate a plan for both fronts with my spymasters and others, and we will gather here in a week to finalize before committing to our initial strikes of the Outland campaign."

"For the Dark Horde," Nek'rosh said solemnly, and the chant was repeated by all present.