Disclaimer: I do not own Warhammer or Warcraft.


Chapter 2: A Feast for Crows

Anasterian Sunstrider felt a combination of utter dread and seething rage from gazing at the massive smoldering crater where once stood the imposing Sunwell Plateau, the edifice had been built by his grandfather Dath'Remar Sunstrider, nearly ten thousand years ago. It had been the oldest and most iconic structure in the whole kingdom and it was now nothing more than a few blacken columns, scattered pieces of debris and ash.

More importantly the building had housed the cherished source of arcane power which had enabled the Quel'dorei to establish their kingdom and prosper amongst a barbarous land ruled by the Amani trolls.

The Sunwell.

For millennia the mystical pool of energy had fueled the potent magic of the Quel'dorei. Its inexhaustible power had permeated into his people and infused them with a constant supply of arcane energy. For generations his people had protected and cherished the well, benefiting from its powers even when outside the borders of their homeland.

In the Sunwell's light, Quel'Thalas grew mighty, becoming a beacon of power, arcane knowledge and wealth in the Eastern Kingdoms, that all others envied and sought to emulate, yet could never match. Though some did come closer than others in matching its splendor.

The quintessence at the very heart of their culture, that had made the High Elves the very people who they are now because of it.

The very soul of the nation and its people.

Was now gone.

Anasterian stepped onto the smoke-filled remains of the holy well, in all his two thousand eight-hundred-year reign as High King of Quel'Thalas never before had he felt such anguish as he did now. The sight before him was too much for his soul to bear witness to.

The birthright of his people was now nothing more than a dry crater. Already the old king could feel an absence in his very soul, that was expanding with every passing second. Things felt different now, Anasterian didn't understand how that could be but he noticed things were dissimilar now than they should have been.

Standing on the desolate ground that had housed the majestic well he cursed fate for granting him such a long life. He should have joined his father and forbears in the hereafter centuries ago.

Better that then to live to see this.

"My Lord!"

The High King turned his head to find Belo'vir Salonar, the Grand Magister of Quel'Thalas racing towards him. Followed close behind by High Priest Vandellor and Sylvanas's second in command and Warden of the Sunwell entrusted with its protection.

A charge Lor'themar Theron might have upheld had Anasterian not summoned him to Slivermoon to deal with the riots. An act the king would regret for the rest of his hopefully short life.

"Speak," Anasterian said simply he was in no mood for words. In truth he would have preferred to be left alone for a while with his thoughts, but alas the responsibilities of kingship and the crisis at hand did not afford for such personal wants.

It was Belo'vir who spoke first, "Your majesty we've just received word from the front. The undead are in full retreat, heading back to Lordaeron as fast as the fires and their feet permit. By our estimates if they maintain their current pace, they'll leave our lands within two or three days."

Some good news at last thought Anasterian, "So Sylvanas managed to pull off a win at the eleventh hour. I never should have doubted her. Dispatch a courier with a message from me congratulating the Ranger-General on her miraculous victory. Then tell her to begin reconstructing the Outer and Inner Gates as soon as the undead have passed through and the fires have been put out. I want our kingdoms defenses rebuilt better than they were before as swiftly as fate permits."

The three elves glanced at each other uneasily then Vandellor spoke, "S-She did but Windrunner did not earn her victory alone. She had help from… Ironforge."

The Sun King could not keep the political implications of that news from crossing his already worry filled mind. When it rains it pours as the human saying went and it was raining thick droplets.

"Go on."

Vandellor hesitated for a brief moment fully realizing the damaging ramifications such news meant for his king before continuing, "Just as Windrunner's army was about to be overrun seven flying machines resembling goblin zeppelins only much larger, meticulously well-made and constructed from metal instead of wood descended from the sky above and brought terrible ruin to the undead with powerful explosive bombs and…. turned the tide of the battle in our favor. "

Anasterian stoically nodded.

It was at that point were Lor'themar decided to join the conversation, "We're not sure if this is the case or not, at this moment it might just be a coincidence, but already people are claiming the airships sudden appearance and the intensity of their assault is what caused the undead to take flight."

That was it then.

One way or another his reign as High King of Quel'Thalas was at an end. Anasterian knew he would never survive the political fallout to come. The invasion, the mounting casualties, the loss of the Sunwell and now the final nail in the coffin, he had been the creator, face and the most ardent supporter of the isolationist policy that had seen the Quel'dorei remove themselves from not only the Alliance of Lordaeron but the whole of the Easter Kingdoms.

For a foreign power to swoop in and save the day at the last minute in their hour of need again for the second time was the complete vindication of the opposition who had opposed his policy of isolation. Once the crisis pass's and word reach's the Convocation of Silvermoon and the masses. A political tsunami will begin and all who had backed the wrong horse will be swept beneath the fallout.

The first to sink would be Anasterian himself.

Although his title of High King afforded him great power and authority amongst his people, he was by no means an absolute monarch. Every High King since his grandfather has had to share power with the Convocation of Silvermoon. His ancestors had long age learned the hard lesson of what happens when you endow someone with absolute power.

The tale of Queen Azshara had been the first story his father had ever told Anasterian as a boy who would one day inherit the throne.

The legend of the gorgeous mad queen of their ancestral homeland, who fell in love with a demon and started the War of the Ancients because of it, which lead to the cataclysmic event known as the Great Sundering that shattered the ancient continent of Kalimdor into pieces approximately ten thousand years ago was a tale every Quel'dorei parent told their children at some point in their adolescence.

Personally, he had always thought the tale was meant to be taken metaphorically and not in the literal sense as his father and the older generations had done. Even as a child he never truly believed that the tales his father and mother had told him were true.

They were just stories. Works of fiction meant to convey a point and teach a valuable lesson or an attempt at making sense of things people at the time could not comprehend.

No one falls in love with a demon their bewitched or manipulated. And every student who's paid attention in school in Quel'Thalas now knows that the reason the continents broke apart was due to Azeroth's tectonic plates and mantle convection. Not some cataclysmic event involving a despot.

There probably wasn't even a queen named Azshara.

"Get me my son, I need to speak with him."

"Prince Kael'thas just sent word minutes ago he would be arriving from Dalaran with a force of volunteers by the end of the day, "Informed Belo'vir. "He will be teleporting directly into Slivermoon along with the volunteers once he's done with the preparations needed for teleporting such a large group.

"Tell him the war is over and Quel'Thalas already owes enough debt to outsiders, but above all tell my boy to come at once."

XxX

(Quel'Thalas – Near Fairbreeze Village)

The large rolling, slightly forested hills that surrounded the village of Fairbreeze played host to one rather baffled Ranger-General staring at the blend of humans and dwarfs, standing on the opposite hill from where she and her people stood.

Normally a group of humans and dwarfs wouldn't have been something worth gawking at since her kind had been interacting with those two races for centuries, but these weren't the same humans and dwarfs the Quel'dorei were used to.

The coat of arms painted on the front of the shields held by the knights seated on winged horses were completely foreign to her. No human nation in the Easter Kingdoms had a skull encircled by green laurels tied together by a yellow string below the base in front of a black iron cross as an emblem.

So, to were the words on the banner held high by the banner bearer. It was clear to see it had been written in a different language from the Common tongue shared by the humans of the Seven Kingdoms. The dwarfs to were strange, although they were of the same height and appearance as the dwarfs of the Hinterlands and Khaz Modan they were however more muscular then either.

Sylvanas gazed up as a shadow fell on her, one of the powerful airships that had turned the tide of the war in their favor was flying right above them. Circling among the clouds in a similar manner that reminded her of a shark lurking in wait for the opportune moment to strike at its prey.

After seeing the devastating fire power, the mighty vessels had brought upon the undead, Sylvanas had no wish to be on the receiving end of the airship's wrath. In truth she didn't even believe she could handle a light gush of wind in her current condition. She felt enormously tired, drained of all energy by the conflict. She was bruised and battered, bleeding from dozens of small nicks and cuts which she had not noticed during the frenzy of combat. Her muscles were screaming at her in pain and her hands were blistered and bleeding from having to pull her bow string so many times. Her right shoulder, the shoulder of her sword arm, ached horribly. She was almost convinced that the repeated swinging of the sword had dislocated it. It was an illusion she was familiar with, having survived many other battles. She wanted to lie down and sleep for a hundred years.

She was also famished, which surprised her, Sylvanas could have sworn she had eaten half a loaf of bread with cheese and lettuce an hour or two before the battle began. And had washed it all down with a single cup of red wine. The battle itself though intense as it was had only lasted a little over an hour. It should not have caused her to feel such hunger, she was no stranger to lengthy periods without consuming nourishment while undergoing physically demanding work. She knew her stomachs limit and she should have been six hours away from reaching it.

Her forces were in a similar or worse state then her, elves covered head to toe in sweat, soot, grime and blood hobbled about treating their wounds, tending to the injuries of their comrades, or checking if any among the fallen per chance yet drew breath. A few were so drained that they simply collapsed once the battle was over and laid on the blood-soaked grass as if it were their own personal bed, she could relate. A small handful stood erect and stared aimlessly into the raging fires their faces gaunt, mouths opened and hollow-eyed.

Looking around her, she wondered where the others got their energy. Already they were starting to clear up the debris of the battle. Bodies of fallen elves were being gathered for burial in the sacred earth. Undead corpses, meanwhile, were being lugged into a huge pile for burning. Hundreds of fully armored swordsmen had descended from East Sanctum and kept watch, just in case the undead should return.

Sylvanas doubted that they would today. In her experience once the battle was won the defeated usually took days to recover and reassemble after a defeat. The beaten did not seem to like to return so swiftly to the scene of their defeat, and for this she was profoundly glad. At this moment she doubted she could move a muscle, even if the corpses she had put down were to rise from the dead again and come looking for her. She pushed that evil thought from her mind and searched for a happier topic. She found one: at least she was still alive. She was beginning to believe again that she just might live.

Sometimes before and during the battle, when fear threatened to overwhelm reason, she had this terrible sensation that she was certain to die. It settled on her like a curse, this certainty of her own mortality. As if fate itself had decreed she would meet her end this day.

Now it amazed her that she was still here, that her heart still beat, that breath still moved in and out of her lungs. Looking around she could see plenty of evidence that this could easily not have been the case.

Blood-covered corpses were everywhere, being pulled like sacks of dead meat through the thoroughfares by bone-weary, grumbling elves. The sightless eyes of the dead stared at the sky. She knew them all personally to one extent or another. She caught sight of old Bachen Firebeam, the oldest serving ranger in all of Quel'Thalas, who had started his career during the early days her mother had held the title of Ranger-General, who had once tutored her in the ways of the ranger. Laying on his back hands on his stomach in an attempt to keep his bowels from spilling out from the deep slash wound he had received; he had not been successful. She noticed Falonis Sharpburn, who had once been the paramour of her deceased younger brother Lirath who had dead during the Second War, half her pretty face had been caved in by a mace whose wielder lay dead at her feet whether by Falonis own doing or thanks to another's she could not say.

Of the large host she had mustered just hours ago less than a third remained and she expected that percentage to drop even further if the priests she had called for didn't arrive from Slivermoon soon. More than a few had grievous injuries that looked as if they wouldn't survive for long without medical attention.

Despite her earlier imaginings, she knew they would not get up again. They would never laugh or cry or sing or eat or breathe. The thought filled her with a profound melancholy. Yet, at the same time, she knew with certainty that she still lived, that she could do all those things, and for that she should therefore rejoice.

Life is all too brief and fragile, she told herself, so enjoy it while you can. Although, there was little enjoyment to be found here.

The sound of burning wood popping and crackling filled the afternoon, coming from the beloved woodlands to the south. The air reeked of burning flesh, smoke, chemicals, gases and decomposing corpses. The monstrosities that looked to be made from various corpses gushed out liters of foul-smelling blood without end. And worse the creatures body quickly became bloated and began excreting gases from its stomach. There borborygmic rumbling and gurgling sounds mixed with the farts rang out like some twisted parody of a musical ensemble performing a symphony.

The stench was so awful that she had nothing to compare it to, the closest she could manage from past personal experience was the smell of garbage mixed with excrement that the mages burned away near landfills.

Just breathing burned her throat and left an acrid taste.

The scenery was even worse than the smell which was no easy feat. Rotting maggot filled corpses littered the ground as far as the eye could see, each in various stages of decomposition. There rotting flesh attracted the attention of millions of insects such as beetles, moths, flies and ants each looking to get their fill. Close to where she was standing, Sylvanas saw thousands of red ants chomping away with their mandibles at the flesh of Hereon Bronzetwist, the son of her father's closest friend.

And they weren't the only ones lured by the promise of food.

The largest murder of carrion crows, she had ever seen had descended onto the corpse littered fields less than an hour after the battle's conclusion. The black feathered birds were not native to her home, so they must have been following the undead from Lordaeron no doubt in the hopes of future easy pickings. That hope had not been in vain as the crows feasted on a buffet of cadavers. With their black becks they pecked and yanked small pieces of meat off the dead then consumed the flesh and repeated the steps again and again until they had their fill. Sylvanas watched as two crows fought over an eyeball one of them had plucked from an eye socket.

Looking upwards she found what normally should have been a clear blue sky had instead turned into a hazy orange.

Everything seemed like it had been ripped from the pages of some apocalyptic novel.

It looked as if the world was ending.

Walking away from a group of robe clad figures, Magistrix Valthin tried in vain to brush the soot and grime off of her, "Any idea on where our mysterious saviors came from? "

Sylvanas turned towards the mage. Around twenty-eight years of age in her appearance, she had fair skin, long red hair that reached passed her waist and pretty yellow eyes. Her attire consisted of a short red corset top that left her stomach exposed and revealed a bit of cleavage. A loincloth skirt attached to a belt, long gloves and boots all red.

"No. Their heraldic badge is unknown to me,"Sylvanas responded. It was her business to know every crest of every nation in the Easter Kingdoms so the fact that she wasn't familiar with there's meant that their either an extremely obscure group or most likely didn't originate from any know realm. "However, I'm sure the one riding the giant griffon is their leader. "

The man stood out from the rest he was clad in full black plate armor, painstakingly forged and ornate with gold symbols. An emblem of two dragons holding a shield with a skull in the center wearing a crown encircled with laurels adorns his breastplate. On his left pauldron seat an eagle with a five-pointed crown on top its head grasping an axe in one talon and a sword in the other. On his right was a dragon pierced through the chest by a sword with a pommel in the shape of a dragon's head. On top of his helmet seat golden laurels. The rest of his armor was embellished by strange runic letters they had never seen before.

That and the fact his mount was the mightiest amongst them was more than enough indication that he was in charge.

"Do you know why we can no longer sense the Sunwell?"

She did and the ranger-general wouldn't like the answer Valthin and the other mages under her charge had come up with and given the circumstances it was best to let the general deal with the situation at hand then fret over something she had no sway over.

"Not a clue, but I am sure someone from Slivermoon will arrive any minute now with news on the matter," Valthin lied. Although she was certain a runner had already been dispatched from the capital carrying a message confirming what she already knew to be the case was indeed on its way. "How do you want to handle our new foreign friends?"

Ideally this would be a matter best left for the Foreign Office and its experts to handle, but since they were all sheltering behind Slivermoon's enchanted walls and were unlikely to arrive anytime soon. Protocol stated that the responsibilities of plenipotentiary during a first contact situation with an unknown group fell on the shoulders of the highest-ranking member of the government or military present at the moment of contact.

Which just so happened to be Sylvanas how wonderful, "…. Appear as grateful as we can, don't make any sudden moves, smile and hope for the best. "That was the best she could come up with being a fish out of water, she was a ranger and a military tactician not a diplomat.

This matter was far outside her field of expertise.

"That seems over-simplistic," Valthin said evenly. "You sure you don't want to think this through a while longer? This is a monumental moment if anything go's wrong on our end, we'll be the ones the kingdom points the finger at to blame."

Sylvanas opened and closes her mouth several times, thinking of how to word things. Eventually though, she did find a way to slide into the topic she wished to convey, "Windrunner Spire… my ancestral home was overrun on the first day of the invasion. I... don't know if my family made it out in time before the undead arrived, but I want to find out. "

Valthin supercilious demeanor changed instantly to a melancholic one, Windrunner Spire was close to the Outer Gate, "The Windrunners are a prominent family in our society I'm sure they were amongst the first to be evacuated and are now safe and sound in Slivermoon, your mother is member of the Convocation of Silvermoon after all."

If anyone was going to be given preferential treatment during a crisis it was the ruling aristocracy of Quel'Thalas. Which the Windrunners have been a part of since the very first day the kingdom was founded nearly ten thousand years ago.

Before she could ask another question, a gyrocopter whizzed low overhead. The gyrocopter swept backwards and slewed down to a not-quite perfect landing on the hill with the foreigners.

A gun-toting figure leapt down from its side, and hurried away from the flying machine in a low crouch designed to stop the swiftly rotating blades separating his head from his shoulders. The downdraft from the machine flattened the enormous crest of red dyed hair which rose above his head.

The newcomer was short and incredibly broad. His chest was bare, revealing amazing muscular definition. Twin bandoleers of what must have been some kind of brass made ammunition were looped over his shoulders. A red scarf was tied round his forehead. He wore high leather boots with a large dagger scabbarded on the right boot. A monstrous silver skull buckled the belt which held up his green britches. His red dyed beard reached his knees, but was well trim. A two-headed eagle was tattooed on his right shoulder. Strange thick optical lenses covered his eyes. Sylvanas could see that they were engraved with some sort of crosshairs.

Judging from his appearance, Sylvanas decided that this dwarf had to be someone of prominence. The stranger clumped over to the man on the griffon and looked him up and down, then he spat on the corpse of one of the undead.

"Böse kreaturen, diese untoten! "The dwarf said definitely proving that yes they were indeed foreigners from a distant unknown land with their own unique language. "Ich habe sie nie gemocht, ich wei nicht, wie man mit solchen dingen nach hause kommen könnte? Dinge, die tot sind, sollten tot bleiben. "

The man on the griffon nodded then replied, "Wenn ich es nicht getan hätte, hätten sie sich wieder im schatten versteckt, um ihre machenschaften zu planen. Besser, sie bleiben im freien, damit wir sie im auge behalten können."

The dwarf nodded then turned to Sylvanas and to her surprise sneered then spoke in a completely different language from the one he had just uttered, " Malok ad ek a narwangli elgram elgi! "

The other dwarfs who heard and clearly understood what their kin had said smirked, some chuckled and a few even laughed out loud.

"Well that didn't sound polite,"Valthin said noticing the scorn radiating off the dwarven faces. "Perhaps their kin in Khaz Modan told them some unsavory tales about us?"

Sylvanas was about to replay when she caught the man on the griffon place both his hands on his helm and pull it off his head.

Both she and Valthin blinked in astonishment even with the thick haze smothering the landscape the elves could see his face and its distinctive attributes clearly.

The man was young he couldn't have been older than twenty, with shoulder length blonde hair, striking blue eyes that shinned with amusement as he spoke with the dwarf. His teeth were pearl white and his skin fair and even from a distance they could tell it was smooth.

By both human and elven standers, the man was hansom.

Felix felt as if someone was staring at him glancing around, he found two elven maidens looking intently at him.

He still couldn't believe the similarities the natives of this land had with the elves back home in the Empire. Besides the noticeable much longer ears, the long prominent antenna like eyebrows and the none almond shaped…glowing eyes.

Okay perhaps they weren't like the elves he was used to.

He saw the elf with the red hair turn her head to her slightly shorter companion with the blond hair and heard her say, " Anar'alah belore, enshu-falah-nah, dorini mandalas."

The blond elf paused for a moment looking unsure of herself then replied, "Fallah shan're ando'meth'derador, bandu, eraburis."

Felix frowned the language barrier was going to be a huge problem. One which he saw no solution for at the moment, but perhaps a certain wizard does. After all it had been because of his vision that they now found themselves in this situation.

The poet turned emperor looked around for said wizard and found him nowhere in sight.

"Where the hell is Max?"

Malakai stopped glaring belligerently at the foreign elves and pointed with his thumb at his ship flying above them, "In his cabin, he muttered something about the course of fate was changed and what not, then said his part to play was concluded. And then he said he was going to go take a nap."

At hearing that Felix could not keep from going red, "Are you serious!?"

Malakai nodded not a hint of a jest on his bearded face.

"This whole thing was his idea, him and his damn premonitions! And now he wipes his hands of it, and calls it done, leaving us to clean up the pieces of the mess he created!"

Again, the Slayer-Engineer nodded his head, "Seems like it, why were you expecting something sane from him?"

Like snow melting in summer Felix's anger evaporated, "No. I wasn't. It's just for a moment there, I noticed a bit of the old Max in him and though he might be turning back to his old self."

"Laddie he's been touched by Chaos; you don't come back from that. No matter how many years go by once it sinks its claws into you at best a part of you is gone forever. And at worst your soul was snatched by some daemon either way the you who you used to be is gone forever…its best you come to terms with that fact as unpleasant as it may be that good old Maxi isn't coming back... And I know you don't like it, but you should reconsider-."

"No! "Felix cut the Slayer off before he could say it, "Max may be damaged, but he's not a danger to anyone, he hasn't shown any of the signs. The past forty years have proven that, sure it's unnerving that he kept himself locked away in that tower of his, all by himself in Middenheim for so long, but being a hermit isn't a crime."

"Better safe then sorry as you humans are fond of saying," Malakai replied. "You should heed your ancestor's words."

"That's rich coming from the dwarf who was ejected from the Engineers Guild for failing to heed his ancestor's by daring to think he could build better things than them. "Well that and the fact that Malakai's experiments have a shockingly high fatality rate due to them blowing up in huge fierily explosions.

Malakai shrugged his shoulders," I never lost my wits or could tap into the Winds of Magic. And I did create better things then my ancestor's that why you put me in charge of the Imperial Engineers Guild."

"I never said you didn't and you know the Winds of Magic don't exist in this world that's why Chaos-."Felix caught sight of the elves moving towards them. "Damn it's starting."

Malakai tilted his head and scowled, "Looks like the elgi are ready to talk." He tighten the red scarf on his forehead then placed a hand on the grip panel of his pistol.

Sure, looks like they were ready to talk, it was a shame they weren't however.

XxX

(Three Hours Later – The Unstoppable – Max's Room)

Maximillian Schreiber or Max as his few friends called him awake to the sound of his cabin room door being swung wide opened. The metal door hit the metallic wall and made a sound similar to striking a cymbal with a heavy stick.

In walked Felix with an annoyed look on his face helmet tuck under his left arm and holding a folded parchment in his right hand, Malakai in stark contrast had a satisfied smirk on his face and he couldn't see the expressions of the four Reiksguard knights behind him whose faces were hidden under their helmets.

Felix came to a stop at the foot of the bed, the wizard yet lay on white shits covering his lower body, "Sleep well?"

"I did until you woke me up by barging in," Max replied head resting on a pillow.

"How rude of me," Felix said drily, "But while you've been busy sleeping, I've been trying to communicate with the first civilized group of people we have discovered in this world that isn't a race of bipedal angry fishmen or scaled monstrosities with the lower bodies of serpents."

"And how that go?" Max asked.

Not well, not well at all, "We couldn't understand each other since none spoke the others language making commutation all but imposable. We were forced to improvise making due with basic at least by our understanding hand gestures which got use nowhere…and to top it all off I think they realized that Malakai and the other dwarves were insulting them to their faces."

"So not well, I take it," Max said head still resting on his pillow.

Felix narrowed his eyes, "Yes. Not well Max. There is good news though we both agreed to an exchange of dignitaries….I think. I'm not fully sure what we agreed upon."

He unfolded the parchment in his right hand that showed a simplistic drawling involving four stick figures. Two of the figures had round ears which clearly meant they were a representation of mankind while the remaining pair had long elf like ears and antenna like eyebrows. One man and elf figure walked together towards a building of imperial design on the left side of the parchment, while the other two figures walked towards a building similar to the ones seen in the towns and villages of this land on the right side of the parchment. On the bottom of the parchment were two signatures one Felix's own and the other had been the blonde maidens who had stared at him.

Two copies of the drawing had been made one for them and the other for the elves native to this land. "It would have helped if we had someone who could cast a…oh I don't know some kind of translation spell that makes it so both groups could understand each other."

"Translation spell? Does such a thing exist? "Asked the wizard.

The Dragon Slayers eyes went wide, "You don't know?"

"Why would I?"

Unlike before Felix kept his frustration under control, "This whole thing was your idea Max, you were the one who raved about a prophecy of doom in a distant land about a proud people being bleed dry and a great evil being reborn anew and said we needed to do something about it or all hell would be set loose on the word."

Max nodded, "I did. And we prevented the vision I saw from occurring. The people of this land were not nearly bled dry and the evil meant to be reborn was not and the Empire and world will be better for it…. We can go home now; I really want to get back to my tower and water my plants. I just planted begonias and if I'm gone for too long they'll wither and maybe even perish."

The wizard watched as his friend closed his eyes and inhaled deeply then placed the parchment and his helmet on the chair close to his bed. "Max… I don't think you fully grasp the implications of our discovery here... or the fact that you dragged me away from the Empire for a lengthy period of time."

Honesty what had Felix been expecting? For the man who was clearly mentally ill and had spent the past forty years as a shut-in apparently taking up guarding without a care for the world spinning outside his home to understand the complexity of the situation at hand.

"Do you need to go back right away Felix?"

"Of course, we need to head back right way, Thunderbarges need fuel Max."

Sitting upright on his bed Max looked Felix straight in the eyes, "No. I meant if you need to return right this second?"

It immediately dawned on Felix what his friend meant, "….You can teleport use back to the Empire from such a distance?"

Max nodded then very nearly leaped out of his bed and walked towards his rooms closest, pulling the door open inside was the simple yew staff he had used throughout the whole voyage, but leaning next to it was an ornate staff made from some blackish wood that had a horned skull attached to the tip of the staff.

The wizard grabbed the ornate staff and turned towards Felix, "When do you want to leave? Now?"

Well they had no reason to stay. They prevented Max's prophecy from coming to fruition and had already achieved all they were realistically likely to get given the circumstances with the elves of this place. And Felix really needed to get back to Altdorf before someone started to believe that the throne of the Empire was vacant.

"Now would be good."

"I'm not going, "stated Malakai. "I'll return the way we came by honest means."

"Even if you had wanted to, I would have told you to stay," Felix told the dwarf. "Someone needs to lead the ships back to port. Are you sure you have enough fuel for the voyage back? "

"We'll be cutting it close, but we should have enough fuel to reach New Estalia," Malakai answered.

Felix nodded then extended his hand to Malakai who grasped it without a moment's hesitation, "Safe travels my friend. And look after Nightwing for me."

"I should be the one telling you that, " Malakai said." You're the one risking your life and soul. Not me. My ships will see us home safe and sound. "

He was probably right, unclasping his friends hand Felix turned towards Max and gave him the go head.

Raising his ornate staff high above his head, Max called out a string of glottal syllables in Eltharin the language of the Asur. The horned skull at the staff's tip, its fang-toothed jaws cast in pure gold, crackled with arcane corposant.

The skull's empty eye sockets glowed bright blue, so intense that Felix reflexively shut his eyes, yet every few seconds he would briefly open them to catch a glimpse at the scene that was unfolding before him.

Down came the skull, chattering as it gnawed through the barrier between whatever realm of magic existed in this world and the physical. It left a ragged wound, sulphureous smoke billowing from within.

Max used the triangle of crystal on the bottom of his staff to slash the aperture wider, and then stepped through the rip in thin air as if he was entering a feasting tent. The four Reiksguard knights looked warily at one another.

"Come on. In you go," Felix said, gesturing with his fist. "You'll be fine. Trust me. I've done this before."

One of the Reiksguard saluted, his hand raised high, then stepped through. His fellow was close behind, who himself was quickly followed by the other two knights at his back.

Felix saw the glowing coals of the horned skull's eyes light once more from the other side of the veil, its weird blue light pulsing in time with Max' chant. Taking a quick breath, he to stepped through.

As the group passed across the tear in the material dimension, the ragged wound healed over, sealing once more amongst streamers of grey mist.

Max' chanting grew quieter and quieter until it was inaudible, and the sounds of Thunderbarge engines running rose to prominence once more. A weird scar hung in the air where the wizard had opened the portal or gate.

As Malakai moved to check its integrity, he saw it was visible from one angle, and utterly absent from another. Then after a few seconds the scar vanished completely as if it had never existed in the first place.

The Slayer-Engineer raised a gnarled eyebrow, impressed despite himself. There was something sinister about how magic works, that could not be denied, and no matter what they tell him using such a thing wasn't right.

XxX

(Three Days Later – The Empire of Man – Altdorf)

The sun slanted weakly through the high windows of the Imperial Diet building, striking the veined marble floor in thin grey streaks. Columns soared up around the chamber's circular perimeter, enclosing a vast auditorium of concentric seats. The hall's capacity was considerable, for it had been designed to hold representatives from the fourteen provincial states of the Empire, the semi-autonomous city states, the colonies, the various Imperial Ministries, senior ranking magisters from the Colleges of Magic, representatives of the sanctioned Imperial Cults, members from the Imperial Banks, the Engineering Colleges, the Imperial Universities, the Knightly Orders, the Imperial Army and Navy, the Merchants' and Trades' Guilds plus other lesser guild observers, members of powerful merchant houses, heads of dwarf merchant clans, members of various other Imperial institutions and invited foreign dignitaries.

Looking up from his throne at the very center of the chamber, Felix noted how mobbed it was filled. All of the four hundred seats were occupied, and there were people sitting or standing on the aisles.

Kaspar Von Veltent sat in the inner circle, along with his official staff and some minor Imperial courtiers. A man in his senior years yet his deep-set blue eyes had lost none of the brightness of youth, but were set in an expression of tense anticipation, his skin tanned and leather-tough from years of campaigning across the Old World. Beneath his wide brimmed hat, he wore his silver hair close cropped, his beard similarly neat and trimmed. A faded tattoo from his youthful days in the ranks snaked its way from behind his left ear and down his neck.

Once upon a time as a young man Kaspar had been the Imperial ambassador to Kislev before its annihilation and later annexation. That had been nearly forty-one years ago, so it was easy to understand why the man was so anxious. To again be given another ambassadorial assignment after so long and to a county they knew so little about was stressful and possibly even life threating. To his credit Kaspar hadn't uttered a single word in protest since he received the news of his selection.

Felix's eyes fell on what was easily the most beautiful women in the whole building, perhaps even all of Reikland, the elven Queen of Laurelorn Marrisith. A young woman by elven standard but basically ancient by those of man. Her emerald eyes looked about with disinterest as she tucked strains of her long luxurious blond hair behind her ear. Despite residing in the Amber Hills outside of Altdorf her white dress didn't have a single speck of grime on its silk form. On top of her head seat a crown made out of foliage and flowers.

Seated beside her delegation to the left sat the dwarven ambassador of Karak Norn and his entourage. To Marrisith's right sat the ambassador of the dwarf hold of Zhufbar and his entourage. Both group of dwarves glared at the elves and muttered what assuredly were insults under their breaths that they knew for a fact the elves could hear.

Whoever had been responsible for organizing the seating arrangements had botched the job. Who in their right mind seats an elf next to a dwarf?

The Colleges of Magic had sent delegates from each of the eight Orders of Magic magisters and their apprentices from the Light, Celestial, Jade, Gold, Amber, Bright, Grey and Amethyst. All seat in the first few rows to Felix's left. The reason why the Colleges of Magic had been ordered to attend this session was as a precaution. The functions of magic in this world was still a mystery to the Empire, and the nation they had just discovered was a magical realm, rich with arcane knowledge. They might be tempted to use such knowledge to their advance in future dealing with the Empire.

The Knightly Orders were headed by Wieland Scharf, Captain of the Reiksguard a tall bald man in his middle years missing a part of his left earlobe. The brute figure of Heinrich von Torlichhelm, Grand Master of the Knights Panther, who sat stone-faced with eight of his peers in full plate armor seat next to Siegfried Trappenfeld, Grand Master of the Order of the Blazing Sun. Who himself seat next to Keiner Reizfeld, Grand Master of the Order of the Knights of the White Wolf.

Gerard Ehrenberg the highest-ranking Imperial Army General assigned to the capitals garrison was there, as well as his second in command Wolfhard von Sundermann and a few other dozen high-ranking generals and regimental commanders.

It came as a bit of a surprise to find Lord Admiral Cornelius von Ravensburg in attendance. The man was so fond of his ship the Sea Spire that he practically lives in it. It was said in jest that the reason Cornelius never wed or found a paramour was because the man had already married his ship and took the sea as his lover.

Felix smirked when his eyes caught sight of Ivan Ivanych Ivanov the leader of the Gryphon Legion reach a hand inside his black coat, pull out an iron flask, unscrewed the top then began to drink what was assuredly kvas.

"Very well," Felix said thickly, feeling the weight of his responsibilities as he looked down the long agenda listed on a parchment he held in his hands. "I believe that's everyone. This well have to be brief. I have a meeting. I need to prepare for later today. I trust you all have read the report that, I had sent out three days ago to all of you, detailing the events of my voyage into the endless ocean. Let's began. The delegate from the Celestial Order has the floor."

"We have divined no malice in the future to come," said Matriarch Janna Eberhauer of the Celestial College, her auburn hair falling messily around a pretty face. "However, please keep in mind that our sight into the future is not as it once was and even then, what we at the Celestial Order at times could see was not cast in stone. "

That was a lot of wasted breath just to say we don't know thought Felix wondering how on earth such a young woman came to be the head of her Order. "Noted. Does any other magister have anything to say? " When none spoke, Felix took that as a no. "Very, well. Chancellor Eduard von Bismarck you have the floor. What wisdom do you council me with on these matters?"

The Imperial Chancellor unlike his predecessor from the Celestial College stood up from his seat in the inner circle and walked towards the center of the auditorium coming to a halt directly in front of Felix's throne. A bold move indeed especially since the man's post had only been created fourteen years ago. Making his title of Imperial Chancellor even younger than the establishment of the Imperial Ministries and the Diet.

And if there was one thing everyone present truly believed in it was seniority and they did not take kindly to uppity upstarts.

Eduard von Bismarck paid the scowls aimed at him no mind as he locked eyes with his liege. A man in his middle years, with hazel eyes and a receding hairline of brown hair, he unlike Kaspar had been born after the End Times into this peaceful age. Although what he lacked in experience Bismarck made up for with pure brilliance. The man was a natural stateman on par with the likes of Karl Franz himself.

Before the Chancellor could even part his lips one of the various pair doors to the auditorium swung opened and two figures quickly rushed inside then lifted the clarions, they were carrying to their lips. Without pause they blew a series of rising notes that rang along the length and width of the auditorium, disturbing the session.

Felix placed both hands on his face and cursed, there was only one man with the gall to pull off such a stunt in the whole Empire and he really didn't want to deal with him right now.

As the last echoes of the peel reverberated into nothing, the pair lowered their instruments and hailed loudly.

"Presenting his Excellency, the Savior of Altdorf, Hero of the Battle of Heffengen, Slayer of the Glottkin, the Lord of the Night, the Elector Count of Sylvania, Prince of Nehekhara, Count Vlad von Carstein!"

Four beautiful young maiden's carrying baskets hurriedly entered and immediately began paving the floor with red rose petals. They were soon followed by the man himself.

Lips pursed in a smug smile, a strut in his step, Vlad von Carstein entered the hall and stopped on the threshold surveying the scene. His piercing black eyes roamed across the auditorium unsettling many with their animalistic intensity. His skin was deathly pale and his raven black hair was bound in a single braid that reached midway down the length of his back. In his hands he held a silver topped cane the handle of which had been fashioned into the likeness of a dire wolf teeth bared in a feral snarl. He wore a blood red cloak, a white long-sleeved shirt, black pants and boots. A stylish cravat, jerkin and gloves all white. On his belt inside a black and gold scabbard hanged the Runefang known as Beast Slayer which had once belonged to the former province of Drakwald.

To say that there was an arrogance to the vampire would have been an understatement. Vlad von Carstein was the very epitome of aristocratic vanity.

For what felt like the hundredth time, Felix felt a pang of regret at having given the Runefang to the vampire. His predecessor Karl Franz might have been the one to grant Vlad's Electorship and recognized Sylvania as its own provincial state, it however had been Felix who had gifted the man with the official badge of office of the Elector Counts. A decision Felix dearly wished he could say had been made by coercion or magical manipulation, but the truth was it just made sense to give the man the sword.

All eyes turned towards his gauche entrance and there was a shaking of heads and discontented muttering. Seemingly oblivious to his indiscretion Vlad sauntered down the center aisle and sat in the inner circle next to the Grand Theogonist of Sigmar.

Luthor Huss.

The Prophet of Sigmar, fixed the Elector Count of Sylvania with a piercing stare. The man had aged well these last four decades. Too well in fact, seventy years old yet Luthor possessed the muscular physique of a man half his age. Even while wearing his preferred rustic black robe his bulging biceps were clearly visible. A giant of a man with a shaved polished head, stern brown eyes and tanned skin. A long vertical scar ran across from his forehead to his jawline on the left side of his face.

Before the head of the Cult of Sigmar could utter words that undoubtedly would have offended the vampire Felix intervened, "Well this is an unexpected surprise. You never personally attend these sessions von Carstein. Didn't you say once that they were beneath you? "

Not once since the founding of the Imperial Diet thirty years ago had Vlad decided to come in person. He had always chosen instead to send one of his underlings to represent him. The fact that he was here now meant that something had caught his interest.

Vlad smiled thinly, "So I did, but that had been when matters discussed in this chamber were of a dull nature. Not worth my time. "

"Then my voyage into lands unknown, the battle with the undead and the discovery of a whole new continent filled with exotic natives was more to your liking? "

The vampire nodded, "Indeed. I have always found your adventures to be splendid my liege. I have read all of your books many times over. Tell me what was it like traveling across the Chaos Wastes? "

Memories of a hellish landscape and horrific sights not meant for mortal eye's flashed inside of Felix's mind for a split second, "Unpleasant."

"How did you receive word of this session and arrived so quickly von Carstein?"

Both Felix and Vlad turned towards the figure who had interjected.

It was a man wearing an opulent death mask made of pure gold that completely concealed his face. He wore a strange golden metal robe, a red cloak with gold linings, brown belt, gloves and boots. On his neck dangled a gold circular amulet tied to a gold chain. In one hand he held the Staff of Volans the badge of his office.

Vlad stared with blatant contempt at the Supreme Patriarch of the Colleges of Magic Balthasar Gelt. The history between the two men was contemptuous to say the least. For a brief time Gelt had been Vlad's apprentice studying necromancy in secret during the End Times. Then some event had occurred between the two during those trying years that soured their relationship with one another.

Just preciously what that incident was neither man felt like telling.

"I have many means Gelt," Vlad replied vaguely. "No one receives news faster than me. You should know just how well informed; I am from our brief time together."

Gelt tilted his head slightly, "Are you referring to Neferata's spy network of informants or more magical means?"

"Does it matter?"

"Not for this session, "Felix interjected for the second time."Which has been derailed enough. Let's return to the matter at hand. The kingdom of elves we discovered across the sea."

XxX

(The Easter Kingdoms – The Kingdom of Lordaeron – Capital City)

"Incompetent cur!"

Arthas held back his tongue and more importantly reframed from drawing Frostmourne and cutting the Dreadlord Tichondrius in half for insulting him for his supposed failure. The journey from Quel'Thalas back to Lordaeron had been an arduous trip. Traversing through an endless forest set ablaze had not been a pleasant experience. Nor having to be carried by gargoyles across the Thalassian Pass because someone had blasted chunks of stone out of the mountains blocking the only viable trial through the mountains south of Quel'Thalas that lead to Eastweald in Lordaeron.

"How could you have allowed the Sunwell to be destroyed!?"

Because he hadn't been there to stop it you dimwitted fool, "I or those under my command were not present when the Sunwell was destroyed Lord Tichondrius. We were still days away from Slivermoon when the well vanished, even if the Ironforge Dwarves had not intervened the Scourge would still not have been anywhere near the Sunwell."

"Excuses!"

No, it was simply the truth had Arthas been present for whatever had been done to ruin the Sunwell he would have surely prevented it. Although just what preciously had happened to the well was still a mystery. Arthas had tried to contact Dar'Khan through magical dreams to see if the elven traitor knew anything on the matter but had been met with silence. Which meant the elf had either gone underground and was in hiding somewhere purposely canceling out the connection or the most likely explanation he was dead.

The Dreadlord pointed a claw finger at the fallen prince, "Thanks to your inept leadership we must now find a new spellcaster to summon Lord Archimonde into this wretched world. "

Arthas blinked surprised at the news, "…Y-You mean it didn't have to be Kel'Thuzad specifically who had to cast the spell."

The demon huffed as if offended by the question, "Of course not you miserable halfwit. Lord Archimonde only agreed to resurrect Kel'Thuzad as a favor to the Lich King."

A favor? The entire Invasion of Quel'Thalas had been because of a favor. All the blood, toil, time and sweat spent in that damn campaign had been for that!

"Calm yourself my prince,"advised Kel'Thuzad sensing his lords raising anger. "Nothing good will come from losing yourself to anger this day."

"How can you be so serene necromancer?" though Arthas in his head no longer willing to pay attention to whatever the Dreadlord was saying. "Our plans have gone up in smoke with the Sunwell's destruction yet your as tranquil as a cloudless summers day."

"A setback nothing more, I assure you, " Kel'Thuzad repied. "Our master has always known that his plans would face hurdles along the way. Contingency plans have been made long before you even knew how to swing a sword. Keep your head down awhile longer until the Lick King deems it fit to reveal them to you and we will triumph."

The King of Lordaeron liked the sound of that, it was certainly better then whatever the demon was going on about. Tichondrius had yet to notice that Arthas was no longer listening to him, being to caught up in whatever point the Dreadlord was trying to emphasize.

He'll continual to play along with whatever the Burning Legion what's…for now.

But when the day finally arrives to reveal their true colors, Tichondrius will be the first to join his brother Mal'Ganis.

XxX

(The Empire of Man – Altdorf – Leoncoeur Lake)

Felix placed a bundle of white flowers at the base of a marble statue of King Louen Leoncoeur. The statue of the deceased Royarch of Bretonnia sat on the foot of a hill overlooking a pond of clear water that shine with a golden glow on the outskirts of the capital. Legend has it that as Leoncoeur's man were carrying his body home it turned into the water that now fills the pond.

Whether that was true or not Felix didn't understand why they had named the place as a lake while it was clearly a pond.

The sound of footsteps caused him to turn around to find the widow of his favorite playwriter Detlef Sierck approaching.

A woman of average heigh who couldn't have been older than seventeen if one were to base her age on appearance alone. Her long dark brown hair swayed as a slight breeze flew by, she had brown eyes that gazed intently at him and pale skin. She wore white opera gloves, a black Bretonnian style dress, high heel shoes and a gold necklace that had a wedding ring attached to it.

Once she came to a stop in front of him, Felix asked for her hand which she quickly obliged he took it with his right hand, leaned forward and kissed the back of her hand.

"It's good to see you after so long Ambassador Dieudonné," Felix told her as he released her hand.

Genevieve Sandrine du Pointe du Lac Dieudonné or simply Genevieve raised a well-manicured eyebrow. "You saw me the night before your voyage and you've only been gone for less than three weeks."

"Is that an insufficient amount of time for one to miss another's presence? "Felix asked.

Genevieve pondered the question for a moment then replied with, "I suppose someone with a short life span might consider three weeks to be a lengthy amount of time, but to those such as you and me were time is no longer a concern it's nothing."

At the mention of his immortality Felix's mood soured and decided to skip the usual banter he would normally share with the Ambassador of Bretonnia. "Did you deliver the message?"

"I did."

"Well? What did he have to say on the matter?"

"Why don't you ask him yourself? " Genevieve told him then glanced at the pond beside them.

"What!?"

Suddenly it darkened as if it were twilight even though it was only mid-afternoon, the cloudless sky of a second ago had vanished and been replaced by a vast horde of black clouds. Across the landscape a green mist had abruptly appeared. Then against the laws of nature the mist began to take on a shape and an inexplicable green light flared brightly as if from nowhere and a second later a legend appeared mounted on a steed.

Felix stared dumbfounded as the founder and current reigning Royarch of Bretonnia casually rode his horse towards them.

"Monsieur Emperor how fare thee?"greeted Gilles le Breton.


Author's Note:

That's the chapter. It shorter than I would have liked, but it has a decent enough word length. Man, were there a lot of character introductions in this chapter. Not an action chapter, but it sure was damn informative. I laid the groundworks for several future arcs down the pipe line. And also reached the end of the Imperial involvement in the Third War.

Reign of Chaos you're done, Frozen Throne your up. That's right people we are heading for a time skip. I need to give the characters time to learn each other's language. Sure, I could have gone with a magical solution or not have addressed it at all, hell the game sure didn't, but this route felt more interesting.

We're going be diving in deep into what's been going on these last forty (almost 41) years since the surviving nations and their people escaped the Warhammer World or the World That Was for those of you who play Age of Sigmar or Mallus for those of us who like short names.

We will also be getting some good old geopolitical shenanigans, Alliance polities, societal insights, cultural misunderstands, some bigotry and what's been happening in Kalimdor.

Alright – let's talk about the elephant in the review section, now.

To the individual who's been spam reviewing under a guest account since literally the beginning; who in so many words dislikes my story for not being Warcraft's bitch essentially and daring to show that Warhammer Fantasy has its own strengths, I would like to say…thank you.

At first it bothered me a little, but as you kept posting negative reviews interesting individuals showed up to defend this story from your trolling which if am being honest made it worth reading every single plagiarized point you threw as to why this fic sucks because its somehow biased in your eyes. Everyone of your arguments were refuted by them with the greatest of ease. It was a joy to read. It was damn interesting to see.

But despite all the vitriol as you kept flinging mud against the wall hoping something would stick, not to mention the half-assed complaints and insults aimed at individuals who happen to like this story. I couldn't help but feel sorry for you.

Maybe you are just some angry juvenile somewhere having a tough time in school or in your personal life. I mean something has to be going wrong if you feel the need to write a litany of reviews for a story you supposedly hate. Which oddly enough you wrote maybe two essays worth of words in your reviews. Maybe you should focus that energy towards writing your own story.

Thank you to the individuals who like the story, and those who even if you dislike the story, offer constructive criticism, or at least give me something interesting to think about. Immediate feedback is one of the things I personally love about fan fiction. However, much like Guts from Berserk, I'll be walking my own road as should you all.

I hope you all enjoyed it.

Thank you, to those who took the time to write a review.

I would like to personally thank Elysium, Shame and Deadliestfan for their wonderful informative and wordy reviews.

Yes, that's right. I like big reviews and I cannot lie!

Until next time.