Harry Potter / Warcraft Crossover. A Weapon. A Hero. And now… a loose end. Harry Potter resolves to destroy the enemies who betrayed him on his terms, only to find all his plans torn asunder when he's summoned to a new world plagued with the enemies of his own.
I don't own Harry Potter in any way. JKR has those rights... Also, Warcraft is owned by Blizzard Entertainment, etc etc.
*Author's Note *
Well, here's another 47k+ word monstrosity for you all, hope you enjoy it.
After taking three chapters to get through the entirety of the plaguelands, I've decided to not split up dungeons / zones if possible going forward, which is why you'll see we covered the entirety of this specific place in one chapter, even the stuff that came strictly from some random Warcraft "The Last Guardian" book i remember reading on an airplane while travelling years ago.
I cannot stress how hard it was to add actual 'lore' and background for this particular place. I guess I've always been disappointed in this specific dungeon in WoW, simply because, while it was a great dungeon to run when it was the 'bleeding edge' of raiding content, it never really lived up to the hype that people were expecting for it in terms of storyline stuff.
And we never saw what was supposedly under the place.
I can already see people complaining about Sylvanas getting another 'scene' with Harry at the end. I've always, almost from when I started writing this story over two years ago, wanted Sylvanas to be front and center. Now, I finally get to do some of that.
Alexstrasza was actually in that list right alongside Sylvanas, too… donno if I'll be able to pull her off anytime soon, if ever.
Finally, I apologize for the "Council of Elrond" that basically happens at the start here. I wanted to do a lore dump for what was coming, because it still surprises me how many people send me PM's saying that they'd been playing WoW for years, and didn't understand any of the background behind something until they read it here.
Kathryn says: I have officially somehow reached co-author status on this O_O. Whether that's from Plums being kind, or because i'm a huge PITA, the world may never know. We've both added elements to this and Plums seems happy to let me write scenes when they come to me! this is a lot of fun for me.
I am also the reason that Plums has sort of dumped his initial limit number for Harry's girls and is just sorta going with the story flow. I also pushed for the Medivh angle, which i thought was interesting. So if you hate that. Blame me.
Inspirations: The Black Scorpion by etincelle047
Collaborator and Co-Author: kathryn518
Chapter First Published: 2014-11-23
Chapter Last Update:
Chapter 18 – Wait… the tower goes DOWN too?
Harry glanced over his shoulder, and saw that Anya, the only missing person from their group, had arrived back from whatever business she had that day. Each of the various women who stayed with Harry would often leave to accomplish tasks back in their home cities, and then take a portkey or Hearthstone back to Azshara to sleep at night
With the last person present, Harry became the final person to sit down at the table erected in the upper levels of the now fully renovated Temple of Elune in Azshara. Harry looked around the giant table at the eclectic group of people sitting around him. Harry had insisted it be round. When they asked him to explain why Harry had been forced into a short explanation regarding the legends of Arthur and his Knights of the Round Table from Earth.
After he told the story, the group had accepted the logic behind the Round Table and everyone there having an equal voice easily enough. The group as a whole really got stuck on the 'sword in the stone' part of the legend though.
Anya was the one to put voice to the question, "While pulling a sword out of a stone is impressive and all, I fail to see how that qualifies him to be a king. Especially if he was a mere untrained and unblooded boy at the time."
Onyxia's voice was half sarcastic, half amused. "Ability rarely seems to factor into a choice of who gets to rule among humans."
Harry threw up his hands in defeat at that point, but the Round Table concept had stuck. Currently there were eleven people sitting around the table. He allowed his gaze to travel clockwise around the table. He was pleased to note they hadn't sat in any particular order. After their collective experiences, they were now a group, and not a set of duos or trios.
Arko, Colette, Disidra, Ysondre, Jessir, Sylvanas, Kudrii, Anya, and Onyxia, were seated in that order. Fleur was also present despite her insistence that she would have nothing to add to the conversation.
Jessir had been characteristically blunt when she asked Fleur, "How do you think you come up with things to add? You show up and listen."
There were maps spread all across the table. Tyrande had provided Jessir with the maps her Sentinels had acquired from their scout's excursions into the wilderness of Outland. The group was surprised to learn that, not only did the Night Elves already have a small, though settlement in the Blade's Edge Mountains, but that Tyrande gave them the full details and composition of the outpost, despite full knowledge of Sylvanas' presence. There were some quiet chuckles that the settlement's name was Sylvanar. There were also Cenarion Circle outposts in multiple places as well, which would be useful neutral outposts which all of them could have access to.
Sylvanas had also procured maps from Nathanos. The Forsaken, along with the Tauren, were the only members of the Horde who had not established outposts in Outland, though the agents of her people had done an excellent job reporting the details of each of the Orc, Troll, and Blood Elf bases.
The Tauren apparently were still experiencing aftershocks of Magatha Grimtotem's treachery, and the recent campaign in the Plaguelands had required most of the available Forsaken troops to be mustered there to prevent the Alliance from moving into their territory with only a token invasion force. With the Wildhammer Dwarves so close to their southeast border, it was a constant fear that all the work their expedition had accomplished when they had secured the area could be undone with just one invasion force.
The two sets of maps were invaluable, because each had rather complete information on each faction's overall deployment. It was a show of just how far relations had come between Harry's group and the different races, that the maps were given without hesitation, and no one expressed concern for the maps falling into the hands of another faction, nor did anyone there seem inclined to copy the maps for their faction. It was also widely noticed that neither Jessir or Sylvanas had requested the other race's maps be provided to their own people.
Harry glanced over to Sylvanas and Jessir, who both seemed to take the hint. It was still going to be their show. Everyone involved in the Plagueland and Naxxramas excursions had agreed that the two worked well together, and it wasn't a formula to be messed with.
Jessir opened the meeting up with, "We haven't had a true status check in a while. Certainly not since the vast majority of you have joined up. I think the last one we truly held was back in Ashenvale while Harry seeded ward stones throughout the territory to help track down demons."
"Which we should do here in Azshara as well, Harry," added Arko. "There are pockets of demons both to the west of us, and multiple to the northeast that Ysondre identified while flying around."
Harry nodded his acceptance of the assigned task. Given the wards he had layered over their home, any demon attempting to breach them was unlikely to survive the attempt, much less be successful. He gave a rueful smile at that assignment, as he himself was curious about the composition and location of their neighbors in this territory, before he turned back to Jessir who continued, "With that minor oversight ignored for now, I think its safe to say that we are secure in our current base, yes?"
At the nods that greeted this statement, Sylvanas asked, "Does anyone have any outstanding tasks besides what we just gave to Harry to perform here in Azshara?"
The answer was surprisingly no from everyone. Harry's house elves had done an amazing job of accomplishing anything asked of them, and the organization of each woman's private rooms, not to mention hobbies and idle pursuits, had been aided by the manically happy little beings.
With no outstanding tasks established for their members, it became increasingly obvious to all present what this meeting would truly be about. Sylvanas then summed up the quandary with a direct question, posed to them with her palms open, "Where to next?"
Arko was the first one to speak up, "I think the logical place is probably Hellfire Peninsula. According to reports from both factions, demons are massing within Hellfire Citadel. They estimate a major offensive could come within two or three weeks. The Alliance and Horde have been forced to work together just to maintain a small beachhead on the other side to prevent an endless stream of demons from entering our world."
Colette Blaumeux fixed her gaze upon Harry. "Shortly before you arrived on our world, the Burning Legion forced open the Dark Portal in the Blasted Lands from the other side in Draenor and sent through small berserker forces of grunts to sow chaos throughout the planet. These squads dispersed quickly and caused as much damage as they could before they were chased down and destroyed."
Sylvanas added, "On top of that, one of the doomguard generals, a massive one named Kazzak, lead the charge before he ultimately retreated back through the portal. Armies already mobilized to deal with the threats of Ahn'Qiraj and Naxxramas had to be diverted to put down this new threat to Azeroth, but it was all a tiny sliver of the enemy's true military force, which was held in reserve on the other side."
Her tone turned thoughtful as she pointed to the map, "If they manage to overwhelm Honor Hold and Thrallmar, there's nothing holding them back from attempting a second push through the Dark Portal."
Jessir nodded her agreement, "And the forces of the Argent Dawn may not be able to hold back a second charge should they get another foothold on Azeroth."
She glanced around before continuing. "I will also confess that the area in the north of both our rather limited maps is unknown, which also concerns me greatly. Especially if neither of our forces have seen it, which means we have no idea what's there."
Harry looked down at the maps and noted that there were massive 'dark' sections of the map north and a little to the east of Thrallmar. The only true intelligence on whatever lurked there was a note that there was a high concentration of demons in the surrounding area. Not that that was different from anywhere else on the map of that area. Demons seemed everywhere, with portals spawning more all the time.
There was one thing that made him double-take, and would definitely affect their planning, "They have artillery at that northern site?"
The group rechecked their copies of the maps, along with limited amount of intelligence gathered on it, and suddenly there were audible groans from both Onyxia and Ysondre. "That means we can't torch them from the sky, doesn't it?"
"We have to be very careful." Disidra interjected on that point, "In Outland, most demons or other enemies either live underground in caves where they aren't going to be vulnerable from above, or they have many mechanisms to defend against attacks from the air." Disidra glanced at Onyxia and Ysondre for emphasis.
"Fel-powered sentient weapons made of metal seem to be a favored weapon of the Legion in Outland." she added after a moment's pause.
"Arko is correct about Hellfire Citadel as well," Disidra said quietly. "When I was out there before, there was speculation of a powerful pit lord ensconced there. Some rumors even identified it as Magtheridon, the former Lord of Outland and ruler of the Black Temple, before Illidan Stormrage deposed him."
Harry watched Disidra as she talked about Outland, her expression was calm, but Harry was keeping an eye on her, and he wasn't the only one. Her mention of a pit lord also brought grim looks from all around.
Jessir spoke up next, breaking the silence, "I personally think we should address the issue of the Betrayer."
Harry saw Arko frown at change of focus, but didn't say anything, simply looked at Jessir with a raised eyebrow. From the conversation with Tyrande, he knew that Illidan Stormrage would be an incredibly divisive topic, especially amongst the Night Elves. It looked like Jessir was one who possibly couldn't see past her own anger on the issue.
"Look, from our intelligence, we know he's taken over the former Temple of Karabor. The one that the Orc warlock Gul'dan renamed the Black Temple." Jessir said, pointing to the southeast part of the rough map of Outlands they'd received.
Sylvanas shook her head, "But beyond knowing that there are massive infestations of demons, orcs, and dragons in the area, and likely within the Temple itself, we know nothing about Illidan and his forces. He will likely have numerous Naga and Blood Elves surrounding him. Not to mention the rumors of his mental state."
"Sounds like we would need an army for an assault there," said Harry, more to himself than anyone else. "Or a protracted siege."
"Or an assassination squad," muttered Onyxia darkly.
Anya spoke up at this point, "I don't think assaulting the Black Temple without a solid foothold elsewhere would be strategically sound. The Alliance and Horde barely have any footholds yet in Shadowmoon Valley, and those that are there are under constant bombardment by Illidan's forces just to remain there."
"No matter what his mental state, the Betrayer was never a tactical fool. It is best to assume that he would have his forces arrayed well." Arko agreed with Anya. "Do not forget, he is not only bunkered down to protect himself from each of our various people's forces, but from the ire of the Legion itself. I doubt Kil'Jaeden has forgotten Illidan. He will be prepared for any kind of force thrown at him."
"If we are speaking of insanity and betrayal, we must look toward Kael'Thas." Sylvanas spoke up. "There is no question of him allying himself with the Burning Legion. Leaving him in his own floating Citadel in Netherstorm isn't something that I'm overly comfortable with. He should be made to pay for his betrayal to the High Elves."
Ysondre nodded in agreement, "Kael'thas is a very powerful mage. He is as dangerous, as Illidan. He will have to be dealt with."
Onyxia snorted a little bit, "He was long the favorite topic of jokes and rumors among high society in Stormwind. His affection and desire for a certain well-known Human mage, were not nearly as circumspect as he hoped."
"What do you mean?" Kudrii asked. Harry had raised an eyebrow curiously at that bit of gossip, but it was Kudrii who managed to ask the question first.
"Oh it was quite the scandal." Onyxia grinned, her love of gossip clearly coming to the fore.
"On one hand you have Kael'thas, who held the title of Prince of the High Elves for well over half a millennia, as well as having risen to the rank of Arch Mage and highly influential member of the Kirin Tor. On the other hand you have a human child who shows incredible magical potential, more power than any of the mages of the Kirin Tor. And she not only possessed power, but a natural gift for the magical arts."
Harry was glad he wasn't the only one that was listening intently to Onyxia's story. "You said she was well known, do I know the name?"
"Oh you most definitely have. You have even met her Harry. Jaina Proudmoore." Onyxia grinned a little bit a teasing smirk on her face.
Harry blinked in surprise. He vaguely remembered the attractive blonde leader of Theramore Isle, but what he most remembered about her was the sheer amount of magical power she possessed. An amount of power nearly matched in her mystery advisor, Harry recalled.
Harry honestly wondered whether that's what other people would feel if he walked around all the time with his magic completely unbridled and his aura flaring freely.
He also knew that it would make her a very visible target for any demonic presence that could sense magical power. Jaina didn't seem like she had ever been taught to hide or mask her power, without making an effort to do so, she was unlikely to sneak up on a demon of even moderate power without them sensing her.
Harry glanced at the reactions of the people around the table. Some looked shocked, others looked unsurprised because they had heard the rumors before.
"Well, this young apprentice of only fourteen, or perhaps fifteen at the time, caught the eye of Kael'thas and he started paying her more attention. He was discreet as they were both high profile figures. Him, hundreds of years old, well respected, royalty, and a powerful Archmage. Her, a human, albeit one of nominally noble birth, apprentice to Archmage Antonidas himself, and hailed as the greatest prodigy the Kirin Tor had seen in centuries. Rumors began to circulate about their level of involvement." Onyxia chuckled a bit.
"As far as I know, no one has confirmed those rumors one way or another, but what doesn't seem to be up for debate is that Jaina chose Prince Arthas Menethil for her paramour instead. The more scandalous of the whispers said that Kael'thas walked in on the couple mid-coitus." Onyxia gave a bit of a fake titter of laughter that had all shake their heads in amusement.
"Of course that particular couple had a rocky future, and we all know how Arthas turned out." Onyxia rolled her eyes and looked like she was about to make another comment when a sudden thunking sound interrupted her.
Everyone at the table turned to look at Harry, who had laid his forehead on the table in front of him.
It went on for several more moments before he looked up with an almost desperate look on his face, "Please… tell me you're joking."
Onyxia frowned a little bit, wondering why Harry was reacting so strongly, but she shook her head no.
"You've got to be fucking kidding me." Harry reached up and rubbed his eyes with his thumb and forefinger, trying to dispel a headache that had nothing to do with the fact that he had just repeatedly bashed his head against the table.
"What is it?" Ysondre asked confusion in her tone as well.
Harry shook his head slightly, "Let me make sure I understand this right. Illidan Stormrage, Kael'thas Sunstrider, and Arthas. All considered some of the worst enemies of Azeroth, all of questionable sanity?"
There were puzzled nods all around the table, as they tried to understand what Harry was getting at.
"And all of them at one point or another were involved in some sort of love triangle that ended poorly for them." Harry said dryly.
Every one there stared at Harry for several seconds before Disidra of all people started to snicker a little bit. That seemed to break the dam and cause snickers or laughter from most people there.
"I swear to Merlin, that if that's part of the reason they went crazy, I'm going to kill them simply on general principle." Harry scowled.
That response even got Sylvanas to cover up a laugh, as they exploded in giggles again.
When the laughter subsided, and silence descended again, Kudrii spoke up quietly, "I know it's not… like… a priority or anything. But I would like to visit Shattrath. It's the location of my family home. Even if its gone now, I would like to visit the ruins."
"We'll visit your home sooner rather than later, Kudrii. I only popped into Shattrath for a few seconds. But we'll all get there soon. I promise." Harry nodded solemnly.
After everything that had happened recently, he was keenly aware of the importance of a home and roots. No one at the table spoke of the likelihood of what Kudrii was going to find if she went back to Shattrath. Kudrii was aware of the possibilities, but no one wanted to dismiss her desire to view her home and family history once more.
Thus far, even with a Portal to offer her safe passage directly into the heart of the city, Kudrii had avoided it, but it looked like she was amassing the courage to do so, if only in a large group.
Onyxia spoke up once more, "I hate to bring it up again, but given what Tyrande has told us about the unrest surrounding Stormwind, due to the King's actions in pursuing me, I think we need to consider Karazhan. Especially now, rather than later."
Arko nodded slowly in response, "You're thinking the unrest in the area is likely to draw more Humans to Stormwind."
Onyxia nodded, "Humans and conflict. With that conflict, chaos. And Deadwind Pass is in very close proximity to Stormwind. The magicks of Medivh can't hold people back forever. Already, there are reports of explorers who enter and never return."
Sylvanas nodded in agreement, "The Blood Elves have reported that the Kirin Tor have stationed a small guard there to 'encourage' people not to enter."
"The fact that they can enter at all shows that either an entrance has been made or some of the protections have begun to break down." Ysondre spoke. "I'm more concerned what will happen if that library falls into the wrong hands."
"The idea of a vast majority of those magical books falling into the hands of someone who might use them without fully thinking through the consequences is not one to ignore." Colette agreed.
"That library is possibly the most dangerous known and unclaimed source of knowledge in this world. But from what I've read, the magicks that Medivh experimented with, rent the very fabric of magic. Not only demons, but phantasms supposedly fill the place." Disidra spoke quietly.
"Phantasms?" Harry asked with a puzzled from.
Disidra shrugged, "That's what the book I read called them. Not alive any longer, but more than ghosts, still having a very physical presence in the world."
Jessir nodded in agreement, "Based on reports from our occasional scouts in the area, the problem is getting worse not better, with more of these ghosts or phantasms affecting the surrounding area."
Harry frowned, he had never heard of that sort of ghost before. Generally ghosts were intangible and only left the feeling of being chilled if they passed through when one couldn't see them. The Scourge specters had been an exception to that he hadn't figured out yet though, and this was likely more of the same.
"Did that book describe anything else about these phantasms?" Fleur asked, looking intent and speaking up for the first time in the meeting.
Disidra frowned a little bit, "Not really. they were described as aggressive and violent, translucent but able to be affected by physical means. The book I read was from an older mage, and supposedly one of the last living people to have seen the inside of Karazhan and escape. Some could carry weapons, and others even cast spells."
"What if those weren't the only differences between these phantasms and normal ghosts?" Fleur asked, her brow furrowed in concern.
Harry was looking at Fleur thoughtfully, not sure where she was going with the line of questioning.
He wasn't the only one, though Disidra voiced the question, "I'm not sure what other differences you mean."
"I.. may be speaking out of turn. I don't know how things work here. But on Earth, ghosts tend to be geographically locked to a place upon death, unless there is an extremely strong emotional pull which takes them somewhere else, and then they will be locked in that specific location." Fleur said, looking to Harry to confirm her statement, which he did with a nod, puzzled frown still in place.
"It is the same here, with occasional rare exceptions." Anya said quietly.
"What if these phantasms aren't geographically locked in Karazhan either?" Fleur asked
When Fleur saw the puzzlement on the faces of people, she forged ahead, pointing at Ysondre, "You said that the protections may be failing. What if the protections aren't one-way?"
Harry's eyes widened in surprise as her suggestion was understood, which made him groan audibly in annoyance.
That turned people's attention from Fleur to Harry. He could see that he was the only one who got it so far. "If Medivh was experimenting like you've all said he was, unless he was just utterly insane with absolutely zero sense of self-preservation, he would have put up protections around those experiments."
"What Fleur is saying is that if the protections are breaking enough to let people without much skill in magic and wards inside the tower, then it's possible it's breaking enough to let things out."
That brought some indrawn breaths from around the table.
Colette frowned, "If those phantasms got completely loose then that area would cause a major problem."
"That's not even taking into account the demons and other beings that may be contained within. It is generally understood that Medivh did not discriminate in his experimentation. There is no telling what might be within Karazhan waiting for the last thirty or more years to escape." Sylvanas said, her tone grim.
Onyxia's expression was no less serious, "That place contains far more than people realize. I was in it once, a long time ago, not long after it was originally built. The underground portion was at one time even larger than the structure above ground, though I understand that for the most part it is an exact mirror image of what is above. It's possible an entire army could comfortably fit within it's confines, with no one the wiser."
Onyxia looked around at the others before settling on Harry, "As much as creating trouble in an area that undermines King Wrynn would please me, this is far too dangerous to leave there unchecked. We could be looking at something akin to another Dark Portal invasion, and there's no telling what sort of damage would be done if the path to defend the portal is obstructed by whatever spills forth from Karazhan."
Harry nodded grimly. "Karazhan has been on my radar since we started looking for a place to call home." He blinked a moment as he realized that they had first discussed it when had been when there had only been four of them.
His face turned serious once more. "I think we venture into Karazhan. If nothing else, at the very least, I want to reinforce the wards there. But I would prefer not to leave a festering sore like that just sitting like a time bomb ready to go off. Knowing my luck it would happen at the least convenient time possible."
There were smirks all around at that.
"So, Karazhan?" Harry asked, looking around the table. While combat strategy fell to Jessir and Sylvanas, especially when they had support of any sort, the group as a whole had agreed to let him make the big decisions such as where to go. When Harry had briefly protested, it had been Jessir that had hit him with something he couldn't argue with.
He had the trust and respect of every person there. But he also didn't have the biases or history that they all did. Harry's lack of bias had brought Onyxia to the group. Something no one else would have considered. It had brought Sylvanas to the group. It had brought Horde and Night Elf factions together to the table at least in diplomatic contact which is far more than they had had previously. Nearly everything that happened, occurred because Harry's only biases were against evil, bigotry and demons.
Harry still hadn't been able to come up with a suitable argument to that. However, despite that, Harry had insisted on getting everyone's opinions. Hence the round table that sat around.
Now Harry looked around the table for agreement from everyone there. One by one they all nodded slowly.
"Allright. Karazhan it is." Harry said.
Harry looked up as the group came down the path toward the castle/tower hybrid that Harry had only glimpsed a few times as they made their way through the winding path. For one of the first times since he had purchased her, he rode atop his mount Hermione as they traversed the sometimes extremely narrow path. The rest of his group were also on mounts.
Onyxia and Ysondre had both attempted to teleport into immediately surrounding area, and had been rebuffed by some sort of magic barrier. The closest they could get was into the large swamp directly to the east of Deadwind Pass.
Apparently it was called the Swamp of Sorrows. It was the northern remnant of a far larger marshy area once known as the Black Morass, which was the original location the Demonic Orcs first stepped foot upon Azeroth in the First War after they were summoned through by Medivh.
Now, the lands to the south were a barren wasteland that had been fought over by numerous armies during three separate wars. Dalaran apparently kept an outpost nearby whose sole purpose was to watch over the half-sealed Dark Portal, and it was apparently these mages and paladins that first alerted the world to the portal's recent reactivation..
After Ysondre had teleported Harry to the Swamp of Sorrows, Harry transported the rest of the group there via portkey. Once they had arrived, it was decided to venture to Karazhan on foot. The only delay that was encountered while travelling was when Ysondre insisted on visiting a nearby cave hidden surprisingly close to the main road.
While she said it was the home of a local Green Dragon observatory, highly corroborated by the massive number of Green Whelps who swarmed over and protected the area, she would allow no one inside the outpost.
She emerged after ten minutes with news and details of what they would likely face within the Ivory Tower of Karazhan, and immediately suggested they all mount up for the rest of the trip.
Harry had felt a little guilty when he realized that he hadn't given his nightsaber Hermione much attention since he'd purchased her from the clowder. But the mount, named in honor of his long-dead friend, was just happy to help.
Kudrii and Disidra were sitting on their large elekk mounts. Arko, Jessir and Harry all rode different breeds of large sabers. Colette rode the same undead horse she had been astride in Naxxramas. Anya and Sylvanas were on mounts that were very similar to Blaumeax's, only theirs were colored a crimson red.
Because not everyone had mounts, several people were doubled up. Onyxia had apparently taken at least some Earth culture when she had called dibs on riding with Harry. She was currently pressed up behind him as they rode, and her occasionally wandering hands and snorts of amusement had certainly kept the trip interesting.
Fleur was in a similar position with Jessir, on her mount, and Harry couldn't help but snort at the look of pure contentment on Jessir's face as Fleur strongly gripped Jessir from behind. But It was Ysondre, who rode atop an Elekk with Kudrii, that really captured his attention.
Harry couldn't be certain, but it appeared to him that she was looking vaguely nauseous. He was however, smart enough not to make any comments hinting at that.
The route they took through Deadwind Pass had taken them several hours. The entire area was grey and uninviting, and more than a few times they had been tempted to simply fly the rest of the way. However, Sylvanas and Jessir had decided to make it more of a self-imposed training exercise, since they had gotten out of practice with land travel. The occupants of the desolate area didn't do anything to change that perception either. Vultures circled in low areas and seemed to roam the path looking for rats.
The Spiders that had loosely infested the area reminded him of acromantulas, though Harry was relieved that they seemed to get no larger than the younger of Aragog's brood, and definitely did not seem to travel in packs. There was no intelligence in their eyes. They were simply wild beasts ruled completely by instinct, which Harry wasn't sure made him feel safer when he dealt with them or not.
The last creatures they encountered as they drew closer to their target actually brought him up short, and it had nothing to do with the fact that Jessir, Sylvanas, and Arko all responded to seeing them in the distance by arming themselves.
"Ogres." Jessir announced flatly.
Harry was staring at the large figures that were far enough in the distances that they hadn't seemed to register their presence yet. He turned to look at Jessir with a raised eyebrow. He hadn't thought much of it when he had previously seen this species in Dire Maul months earlier, he had been distracted by just avoiding them, but now that he actually took the time to look, it was now blatantly obvious to him.
He turned to look at Fleur, "Don't say this around other people you might meet, because it will offend some of the Horde's allies. But the ogres here are similar to a creature from our world."
At her puzzled frown, Harry clarified, "They're big. Strong. Relatively fast healing. Somewhat magically resistant. Dumb as a box of rocks."
Jessir paused a moment and grinned back at the woman with her arms wrapped around her waist. "Er… short and succinct, and most of all accurate."
"You know, at Dire Maul I was simply getting in a door. I haven't reallyfought one of these since I was eleven." Harry mused thoughtfully.
"Eleven?" Sylvanas inquired, there was no disbelief in her tone, though shock was certainly present.
"Yeah. The old bastard brought a Philosopher's Stone into the school as bait for a trap for Voldemort. Voldemort, obviously, took the bait and possessed a professor. The old man was hoping to provoke a confrontation that I wouldn't walk away from, so that he was free to kill Voldemort." Harry's tone was dry as he related this to his companions, all of them listening with earnest.
"The possessed professor, brought one of these creatures into the school Though we actually called them trolls in our world, rather than ogres. Mountain Trolls to be precise," Harry chuckled a bit.
Anya snorted. "I wouldn't advertise that to the Trolls of Azeroth. They might not take too kindly."
"I wasn't planning on it." Harry grinned a bit. "Anyway, every student was at a feast, except one. A girl was crying in the loo because of some words said by a loudmouthed redhead, one I believed myself to be friends with at the time. When the professor announced, 'there was a troll loose in the castle'. I dragged the moron's arse with me to the bathroom just in time to see a troll wander in and hear a loud scream."
"Aww. Even at eleven, you went racing off to save the damsel in distress." Jessir grinned at him.
"If they were magically resistant, what magic did you use to kill it when you were but a boy just learning your craft?" Kudrii asked curiously.
Harry looked abashed and looked away, "Uh… nothing actually."
Looking around at the expectant faces, Harry knew he wasn't going to get away with only that statement so he sighed. "I was 11 and had been at school for less than two months. I didn't know any decent magic. I hopped on it's back and jammed my wand up it's nose."
"And that killed it?" Colette asked with a puzzled expression. Harry refused to look around at the other girls, because he could feel more than see their smile growing as the realized the story would only get more ridiculous.
"Um. No. Actually… just royally pissed it off." Harry chuckled, "Ended up taking his club being dropped on its head with the levitation charm we learned that very day in class to knock him out."
Harry shook himself out of the memory, not wanting to remember Ron's reluctance in helping. "The girl trapped in the bathroom became a very good friend. She was the one I named my mount after. Hermione." He said, patting his mount behind the head gently.
There were some thoughtful looks from his girls, but no one followed up. It was Anya that broke the silence, "So, do we try and backtrack and go around or do we fight our way through?"
Harry snorted and with a few casts of his wand, he conjured a long rope that the then floated up to everyone until they grabbed hold. Then another few casts had the entire group under disillusionment spells along with their mounts.
"Jessir has lead, just keep a grip on the rope and follow the leader. Try not to drop the rope. But if you do, whisper Dobby's name and he should be able to pop up and guide you after me just fine." Harry said.
Invisibility prevented Harry from seeing astonished looks all around as the group made their way quietly and without incident through the ogre camp that was outside their den located in the area. More than one ogre passed within a few yards of their caravan without noticing a thing. Harry did note there was two types of ogres, and the second type seemed to have two fully sentient heads.
He wondered if that's what Pureblood inbreeding would ultimately turn out looking like.
They were barely beyond the ogre's encampment when the path sloped downward sharply. Harry canceled the disillusioning spells on the party before they continued.
However, they had barely gone around the bend, when the large structure they had glimpsed occasionally between the spires of the pass finally came into full view. Harry himself couldn't resist a slight shiver at what lay before them. He could see that, though the tower was massive, there were also parts of it that were at least partially ruined. He also noted that the closer they got, the more the air itself seemed to become saturated with magic. In some cases, the very air seemed deformed as well.
It was then Harry felt it. It was like being at Hogwarts again. The sheer amount of magic in the air led direct credence to the fact that the largest junction of Ley Lines on Azeroth lay underneath Karazhan. He had no idea if the rumored number of seven was correct, but it certainly was more than he had ever encountered before.
Harry was relatively sure that it was on par with what once existed at their home in Azshara. But unlike the remnants at their home, which were clean and thrumming powerfully, this was all tainted with darkness and Harry could clearly sense the fel-magics of the Legion in the air.
As they continued down the slope, Harry's attention was drawn by the ruins of the small village that lay around the tower. He could see the remains of fireplaces in some areas, while other houses were slightly more intact. He could feel the entire area not just filled with magic, but with death. The land itself was comparable to what he had felt at Scholomance in the plaguelands. A moment in time, halted and the dead unable to move on.
His disgust grew as he and his companions continued through the village, and he could see bodies hanging from the roofs of some of the houses. As they got closer to the houses, Harry saw the bodies seemed to be in odd states. They were turning slightly in the foul breeze, but though everything seemed dilapidated and abandoned for years, the corpses were still fleshed and lifelike.
Harry frowned slightly as he saw that the corpses seemed to be incomplete, one had no feet, with his arms tied behind his back, the other was missing his hands and legs. He was torn from his examination of the corpse, by a cry of anger, and shifted his attention to see a translucent figure of a woman charging him with a pitchfork.
Harry had his wand in his hand, but an arrow beat him to the punch,impacting the ghost. There was a small concussion sound and the phantasm that had been charging him, fell to the ground with the arrow sticking out of her head. A few moments later the ghost being faded out of existence and the arrow fell to the ground.
"Well, that answers that question." Harry stated dryly. At a few curious looks he shrugged a little bit, "I was still a bit concerned that they would be like normal ghosts, or that they would be able to hurt us while our own options for hurting them remained limited. Nice to know such a thing won't be an issue."
There were nods of understanding, but no one said anything as they approached the final one hundred yards to the castle. As they got closer to the castle, Harry could see slightly more than a handful of people standing outside a gated entrance. They made no effort to hide the caution and mistrust in their expressions as they watched Harry's group approach.
He took one glance at the person who stepped to the front of the group, "These people have to be mages." Harry said quietly.
"How do you know that?" Arko asked curiously.
"Simple. No reasonable person is going to dress in robes that are purple, white, and gold." Harry replied, loud enough now for his voice to carry to the leader of the group dressed exactly as Harry described.
Harry saw the human male frown, a frown that turned into a scowl when Jessir made no attempt to muffle her snickering.
"Halt. Identify yourselves." The male demanded through narrowed eyes.
Harry surveyed the group, The man who spoke had shoulder length grey hair and a grey goatee. He was also carrying a staff that clearly identified him as a magical user of some sort. He was surrounded by six other humans, and three blood elves with glowing green eyes. Harry might have even been tempted to be friendly, since it was his first time to see humans and elves together, but for two factors. First they clearly stood in two distinct groups, the elves slightly separate from the humans.
Second, the person who spoke reminded him of Severus Snape. At least in the arrogant and condescending department. He even had the facial expressions down to the letter.
"We are a group of adventurers." Jessir said as she moved to the lead of the group. "Who are you?"
"I am Archmage Alturus of the Violet Eye."
Alturus expected to get some sort of reaction from that statement. Usually shock and respect, along with fear. Occasionally awe. The complete lack of reaction from Jessir and all her companions seemed to infuriate him.
"You have no business here. Leave now." Alturus stated imperiously. Harry didn't miss the sneers that crossed several faces nor the eyes narrowed in anger at the sight of the undead horses. The only reason that they likely hadn't fled in fear at who exactly was upon one of those deathchargers was that Sylvanas' face was currently hooded so she wasn't immediately recognized.
"Our business is our own." Jessir replied shortly.
"This area is off limits." the man stated bluntly. "Whatever your business is, you can turn around and go back the way you came!"
"According to whom?" said Onyxia, without a trace of anger in her voice. Instead, it was filled with a bit of eager smugness, almost as if she couldn't wait to see the reaction to her words. "I thought, according to edicts set down forty years ago by King Llane, that all Kingdoms and governments allied to Stormwind agreed that Karazhan would not be claimed by anyone and left alone. Dalaran was part of that agreement. You have no authority or jurisdiction to tell us to do anything, Mage."
An ugly expression crossed Alturus' face. "A dead king's edicts mean nothing. This is magic, and the domain of the Mages of Dalaran, the Violet Eye." His expression returned to an ugly sneer as he turned to Onyxia, who he obviously thought was Human, "Now take your Deadies, space goat whores, and tree huggers and leave, or we'll make you."
"I don't foresee this ending well for you." Ysondre interjected blandly.
"You b-" Alturus started to say before he was cut off mid word. His mouth still moving but no sound coming out.
Harry lowered his wand slowly, not making any effort to hide he had just cast a spell. He had tired of the conversation, and once it had devolved to slurs and threats, there was no way that they'd end up leaving without it devolving into a fight, so he decided to play a hunch.
Alturus began to gesture wildly with his staff, and immediately the rest of his companions realized he has been silenced. They each held their staffs aloft, and but nothing of substance sprung forth from the various mages who all clearly had just attempted to attack Harry's group. A few had small pitters of fire launch forth, along with pink sparks, but most couldn't perform any magic at all.
"Imagine that," Harry said aloud, and there was no mistaking his cheerfully mocking tone. "You mages are just like the wizards of my world. None of you are skilled enough to do anything that involves silent casting. Take away your silly incantations and cantrips, and you may as well be holding a branch, fresh from a tree."
One of the mages, who saw that his staff was now useless, unsheathed a glowing dagger and charged Harry angrily.
As the mage closed the distance to him, Harry waved his wand negligently and stunned the charging mage, immediately knocking him out.
The mage's forward momentum wasn't halted though, so he continued forward as he crumpled to the ground, smashing himself face first. Harry was relatively certain he heard the crunch of a broken nose. He thought he might have also heard the crack of a few teeth, though he wasn't sure.
However, the mage's instant collapse caused utter panic amongst most of the rest his comrades. They scattered in every direction, which would have been a good choice in other circumstances. However, they had just left whatever protections they had stood under that prevented the ghosts that surrounded them from attacking.
Alturus and one of the blood elf mages gestured wildly as they attempted to stop their comrades, all in vain as their shouts remained unheard through the silencing spell Harry had placed upon all of them.
After a moment's hesitation, Harry began to stun all he could, and followed that up by summoning their unconscious bodies back. He was gratified that Fleur was doing the same, trying to levitate or summon the bodies back. But not before three of those fleeing were skewered by spectral blades.
Once silence descended once more Harry was left with both Alturus and a female blood elf mage still conscious. Alturus was still gesturing wildly, Harry wasn't expert but he guessed Alturus was casting aspersions on his likely parentage and inventing new profanities on the spot.
The blood elf on the other hand seemed to be more calm and collected. Harry watched her surreptitiously take out an object from her pocket. It took him a second to realize what it was as the mage's finger traced the rune engraved on the stone. He realized that she was attempting to use a hearth stone.
Harry was beaten to the punch when Fleur hit her with a stun bolt. Harry glanced at Fleur as he idly stunned Alturus, his gestures were now getting on Harry's nerves.
"I didn't know what that was. I figured it was best to stun first and ask questions later." Fleur responded to Harry's unasked question, blushing a little bit.
Harry grinned and nodded, "Good choice." His attention was then drawn by Sylvanas as she hopped down off her horse and approached the unconscious bodies.
"This could cause us a problem down the road," said Sylvanas. "We shouldn't leave any witnesses."
"Lady Sylvanas is correct," confirmed Colette. "There has always been tensions between those of the Church of the Holy Light and the Kirin Tor. These, 'Violet Eye' members have always been obsessed with Karazhan, and their purpose here is to likely waylay anyone who intends investigate the tower while their own people inside attempt to steal any knowledge found for themselves."
"So we may face a group of these mages inside?" asked Jessir as she prodded one of the bodies with her foot.
"Doubtful, but its a possibility," said Colette with a shrug. "This group before us is not set up for a prolonged siege or to move in supplies. It could be as simple as them being the vanguard of a larger group, or merely a detachment that's currently 'on guard' and is swapped out on a specific time table."
"I don't see them making any effort towards securing this place though," said Harry. "Why leave a threat like this out in the open?"
"Because, they are simply stopping anyone but them from retrieving it," she continued, removing her battle helm and letting her shock-white hair fall freely. "More than likely, other groups have either gone ahead, and are in the process of looting the place, or this group was meant to hold this position until the looters from Dalaran actually arrive."
"Politics and Greed," said Harry as he wrinkled his nose. "And these fools aren't going to be happy three of their comrades just died, are they?
"No, they won't," reiterated Sylvanas, "Which is why we shouldn't leave them alive to report back about who did this."
Harry pondered her words for a few moments. Her logic was sound, and he certainly wasn't squeamish enough that this suggestion bothered him. Heck, they could banish the mages right into the ghosts in the surrounding buildings and let the specters kill them. No one would ultimately think twice about it, thinking that the Violet Eye members simply were overwhelmed.
"How about we strip them of anything of value, and then make sure they don't remember us?" he pondered aloud. "Then we go inside, throw up wards, brick over the entrance with magic, and let them try and figure out what the hell happened after they all wake up?"
"It may actually cause more chaos to have a bunch of witnesses who can't remember what happened instead of just plain bodies."
"Do the mages of this world have any skill in mind magic?" Fleur asked curiously as she slipped from behind Jessir to the ground. Arko snickered openly at the look of disappointment from this action that was on Jessir's face. Taking a moment to regain her balance as she looked around.
"Not that I've noticed yet. Certainly not like on our world. Their spells that affect the mind are more about subjugation than anything." Harry shrugged as he began to check the mage for anything that might be of value.
"I can tell you for certain that magic users as a whole, even the greatest dragons of the Blue Flight, do not use magic on the mind the way you do Harry." Ysondre interjected with certainty.
She looked unsteady on her feet and was holding her stomach. She closed her eyes and took several deep breaths. Harry wondered whether she was remembering the feeling of Harry's intrusion into her mind when they first set her free from her the control she had been under… or just trying to keep her breakfast down from the trip on the Elekk.
Harry glanced over at Fleur with a raised eyebrow, "How proficient are you at mind magics?"
Fleur frowned, and even looked a little offended, "Obliviating their memories doesn't take much skill. Even unskilled wizards can cast them, and as long as they don't put too much power behind the spell they are okay."
Harry snorted, a grin on his face "I've known that since I was twelve. As long as you don't cast with a broken wand. But I was asking specifically about mind magics, not obliviates."
Fleur looked confused, "Any spell you attempt with a broken wand could have some pretty severe consequences. As for mind magics, I'm relatively proficient, though I wouldn't say I was quite mastery level. Why?"
Harry waved off her confusion about the wand. "I don't want to erase the memory entirely. I want to leave them confused as hell."
At Fleur's raised eyebrow Harry gestured at the bodies, "I want to give each one a different memory of the events, so they're not sure what happened."
Fleur nodded and looked thoughtful, though Harry saw confusion on the faces of many of his other girls. "The mind can sometimes work to fill in the cracks caused by obliviates. The more disciplined the mind, the more likely it will break through a charm. The phenomenon been known to happen even among non-magicals. However if you… tweak a memory and the mind blends it seamlessly with short term memory, and it's far far less likely that someone will break through it and see the truth."
"I'm not sure I know this world well enough to put a realistic memory in there." Fleur said doubtfully.
Harry grinned wide, "Use ideas from our world. I don't care. Just leave the last two we stunned to me. Just don't include any Night Elves, Draenei, or Forsaken in the tweaks."
Fleur nodded a little bit, while Harry pointed his wand at the first mage and got to work with a grin. His inner prankster couldn't resist putting in some rather ridiculous memories in some of the mages.
He did the same for all the others, until he reached the blood elf female who didn't panic, as well as Alturus. For those two, he meticulously weaved the same memory of Stormwind soldiers, Onyxia's words, and then a brief scuffle that resulted in the deaths of three mages. It didn't matter what happened, when their accounts were conflicting there was no way they'd be able to verify with any of their leaders.
Once he was done, he dusted his hands off and looked around, noticing that the others had stripped the mages of anything of value… and all their outer clothing.
He also noted that Jessir had gleefully piled the robes up in a pile and Fleur had just finished setting them ablaze with a quick incendio. He shook his head slightly, with Anya, both dragons, and even Disidra watching the burning clothes with smirks or grins on their face. Harry wondered how he ended up in a group with so many pyromaniacs.
Harry turned his attention to the gate which prevented entrance into Karazhan, while the rest watched over the area. He quickly found the gate was protected by some rather powerful protections. They weren't in danger of immediately collapsing, but the magic was so volatile in the area that they were twisting and fluctuating. They would probably hold up at least for another few years as they degraded while simultaneously allowing more and more magic or ghosts to escape.
It was easy to see that the assumption his group had made back in Azshara was correct. The wards were there as much to make sure things stayed in as they were to make sure people stayed out.
He could also see that the mages had attempted to put wards on the gate to make sure no one else could open them. It took Harry less than two minutes to break those, and that was with a full minute of double checking his work to be sure he hadn't missed any wards.
Harry rubbed his chin thoughtfully as he looked at the wards of the tower itself.
He frowned as a very nasty suspicion began to occur to him. While some of the wards were specific, preventing demons or their ilk from passing through them, massive amounts of power from the ley line were pumped directly into the general obstruction ward.
This kind of ward was used at prisons and similar institutions, not letting anything magical pass through. The more power pumped into it, the more it would prevent. This one had more power from ley lines flowing into it than Potter Manor on Earth had before he had blown it up.
He would have to test it out once inside, but it was entirely possible that this was one of the few, if not the only way in or out of this place.
With a final wave of his wand the gate slowly lifted with an ominous creaking noise.
The low rumble of the final brick moved into place, and silence reigned over the small entrance hall. Five minutes later, the same wards he had placed upon the entrance to the upper levels of Blackrock Spire were now in place here. Short of the Goblins arriving at Karazhan, Harry doubted any native user of magic on Azeroth would have the knowledge to tear down his wards anytime soon.
When Harry took stock of the place they were standing in, he found himself in a large room, with stained glass windows and pillars jutting from the wall that were carved into the figure of horse heads. Each of the horse heads exhibited incredible craftsmanship, but they had some sort of red gem in the eyes that glinted ominously. Harry quickly noted that the room had three exits. An exit immediately to their right, an exit that was under three arches and another that seemed to exit into a room that was dominated by wagons and straw.
The arches and the exit to the right had ghostly figures easily seen who seemed completely unaware of their presence.
"Alright, game plan?" Harry looked at Jessir and Sylvanas who had been conversing with Onyxia.
Sylvanas looked up and gestured at Onyxia, "I believe we're going to go with someone who has expertise in this place."
Onyxia took a moment and looked at each of the three exits to the main entrance hall. After a few glances at each, she gestured at one.
"I've never been in the lower tower. It's where the servant's quarters were when I visited and they were, of course, off limits to guests. After the place started to fall into disrepair under Medivh, there were rumors of experiments down there. I think our most dangerous route will possibly be down that way." Onyxia frowned a little bit as she glanced at that exit.
"I think our focus should be to clear out everything above ground first, no?" mused Jessir aloud.
Harry nodded a little bit, but still asked, "But the way down to the dungeons where Medivh did all his really bad stuff is likely through there?"
Onyxia nodded, "Possibly. It may take some time to find though. With all the style and elegance that's seen in the rest of the lower part of the tower, the Masters would never sully their reputations by allowing servants to come and go on their day to day tasks or in their free time. Servants would do that by going through places like the stables."
"So, ward it off as well for now, then deal with it after we've sacked the rest of the place?" he asked Jessir, Sylvanas, and Onyxia.
Jessir looked at Sylvanas with a quirked eyebrow, who nodded slowly before she turned her attention to the other two doors. Jessir then answered for them, "Yes, seal it off. We'll deal with it later."
"We should all be aware though, that I'm certain that this isn't the only way into the basement, so we'll need to be wary." Harry said as he approached the entryway.
"What do you mean?" Jessir asked.
Harry shrugged a bit, "Nearly every castle or keep I've ever been in has always held multiple passages to everywhere except occasionally the tops of towers."
That seemed to give the others something to think as Harry began to slowly cast at the entryway, his attention on the ghost for any sort of movement. The ghost standing there paid him no mind, and that didn't change as he began to brick up the entrance.
As Harry dealt with the basement entryway, he heard the conversation over his shoulder, "And what's through the other pathway? The stairs obviously go up into the keep itself, but where does this passageway lead?" asked Sylvanas.
"The stairs will lead up to main lower levels. Places like formal ballrooms, dining, and entertainment halls where the Master of the Keep would often hold parties and events." Onyxia replied then turned to point to the third archway.
"Ground level storage is through that passageway. Stables for keeping horses both for residents and visitors are over there, and then the barracks beyond that." Onyxia continued thoughtfully.
"Barracks?" Jessir asked curiously, glancing around.
"Of course." Onyxia replied, "Even before Medivh noticeably started to slip into madness he had a small private army to protect this tower that was stationed here rather than in the village outside. They would've bunked in the servants quarters or through the stables."
There was a pause, and Harry stopped his casting to see the curious looks on people's faces, as this new knowledge apparently didn't gel with what they had known previously about the tower.
Ysondre spoke up this time, "Remember, this place was here long before Medivh, and was once far more open. It was originally built when it was discovered that a magical explosion occurred here that somehow distorted space and time. The Bronze Flight originally took charge of the area, before they declared it stable enough to not affect the time-stream, and then departed, which left some opportunistic mortal the chance to build something here to study it on their own."
Onyxia snorted, "Though, if you want a glimpse into the true arrogance of Medivh, he was oft quoted saying that this place was built by someone who knew that someday Medivh would arrive here."
Harry turned back to his work at that ridiculous statement, even as Onyxia continued her tale, "Even further beyond those rooms in the lower levels, as you begin to ascend up the tower, is where the 'normal' experiments and knowledge would be held. That is likely the Kirin Tor's and Violet Eye's primary target. The observatory at the utter peak of the tower is where they truly attempted to experiment with Space and Time. That is the portion that the Bronze Flight kept an occasional eye on as long as they could, to my knowledge at least."
Jessir summarized what Onyxia said as she looked at the passageway, "So this is the quick way into storage, and I assume there may be additional exits elsewhere, such as the kitchens?"
Onyxia nodded, and further added, "And its very doubtful anything of value will be in there now. It would likely be one of the first places raided by all these rumored groups that have entered Karazhan over the years and failed to completely sack the tower. Though, there may be weapons and armor from their corpses inside."
"We'll have to look for evidence, to see how far these raiding parties have gotten. My suspicion is not far at all." Jessir replied dryly.
Harry's attention had diverted when Jessir mentioned exits. Reminding him he needed to test something. He pointed his wand at a loose rock sitting nearby, converting it into a portkey wordlessly. The rock sat there for a moment and then shimmered before returning to where it started.
"Fuck." Harry stated flatly, quickly drawing the attention of everyone.
"What's the matter, Harry?" Onyxia asked, a concerned expression on her face.
"I was afraid of that. WIth so much magic pouring from the ley lines into the general wards of this place, they're able to stop a lot of esoteric methods of escape even though it wasn't even intentional on their part. It's going to be impossible to portkey out of danger if we run into it." Harry stated seriously.
That drew raised eyebrows from all around, though Ysondre immediately turned and walked away from the group, shifting into her dragon form as she did. Her green scales shimmered for a moment before she bowed her head and shifted back into her humanoid form. "I cannot teleport out of here either."
Harry frowned for a moment, looking at Ysondre. After a moment's hesitation he twisted slightly and shimmered for just a moment before he stumbled forward, barely keeping from falling to his knees. "Yeah, apparition's out too."
"What were you thinking?" Fleur demanded suddenly with a shout, "You just tried to apparate through wards, you could have splinched yourself!"
Harry shrugged lithely, looking unconcerned, "Had to test to be sure." He was well aware that anti-apparition only wards only had that effect because they tended to overwhelm or disorient a magic user. Enough control, or enough power and you weren't splinched. He closed his eyes and reached out for the shadows.
He felt an odd form of relief when the shadows responded. He quickly stepped through the shadow to outside the tower, and then back. He could actually feel it as he passed through the barrier, but, other than a slight sensation of resistance that prickled lightly, it didn't stop him.
"Well, that still works." Harry announced as he stepped back through. The others nodded thoughtfully, though Fleur was staring with wide eyes. Harry shrugged a little bit, not really wanting to get into explanations at the moment and simply said, "I'll explain it later to you."
He looked at Jessir and Sylvanas, "We won't have an easy escape method if things go bad. Please make sure you factor that in your plans." There were nods all around at that statement.
"Move cautiously and take no chances." Jessir stated seriously.
"If we look like we might be overwhelmed or face an insurmountable obstacle, then we will have to retreat and see about supplementing our forces with some of my rangers." Sylvanas added grimly. No one commented that Sylvanas still called them 'her rangers'.
Jessir nodded in agreement, and then braced herself as she looked into the stables to make sure they hadn't attracted any attention from within, "Otherwise I think we're ready."
Fleur was somewhat surprised at the change that seemed to sweep the group. The joking expressions had fallen off the faces of everyone present. Once more the joviality and teasing atmosphere had fallen away when confronted with more serious challenges that required a serious approach.
Jessir and Sylvanas conferred with Onyxia off to the side, before they laid out their plan of action. Sylvanas was the one who began to issue orders, "Harry, brick up the stables. We dont want to be caught unawares by an attack from something behind us."
He moved to accomplish his task, bricking up the stables, while Sylvanas continued, "Our primary objective is still to secure the Karazhan's main library. The majority of the library should be located roughly halfway up the tower, though who knows where we might blunder into some misplaced tomes, so keep your eyes open and search everything."
The route they initially took upwards led to a stairwell guarded by the specters of various servants of long-forgotten nobles. Almost all seemed to have been from different time periods, so it was extremely vexing for Harry, as he tried to figure out if they were fighting genuine spirits, or some odd manifestation of memories imbued upon the very stones of the tower by the strong magics present.
And varied their enemies were. Spectral retainers, skeletal warriors who still walked with an air of nobility and chivalry, and, seen from a distance as they reached the apex of the stairs, Nobles and their Ladies who talked over ethereal food that had long since rotted away. The effect and oddity of it all was completed by an eery dance music playing on some sort of pipe organ somewhere off in the distance.
It honestly made Harry think of a muggle haunted house he had heard of as a child. The combined effect would've been cheesy to him, if these specters on the stairs weren't legitimately trying to kill him and his companions.
As they looked into the large dining room they seemed to somehow draw the attention of a group of the spirits who seemed to charge the group as one. The group reacted like a well-practiced team, with Arko meeting their charge head on, shield taking the brunt of the group's physical weapon attacks, while the rest of the group used their various skills to quickly dispatch the attacking spirits.
The group looked around, expecting more reaction, but the rest of the hall continued on as if nothing untoward had occurred. Harry frowned and reached down, swiping a hand through the fallen enemies, who slowly faded away before their eyes.
Harry shook his head as his brow furrowed in thought, "They're not ghosts."
That drew Jessir's attention from warily watching the surrounding room to Harry. "What do you mean? What are they?"
Harry shook his head, "Honestly…? I think they're just… magical constructs." Harry glanced around at all the blank looks he was receiving, though he did notice that Fleur was looking thoughtful at his statement.
"Don't quote me on this, because I could be wrong, but they seem to share a lot of similarities with poltergeists on my world." Harry stated.
"Poltergeists?" Sylvanas echoed the unfamiliar term as her eyes narrowed.
"A word in German, a language on Earth, that translates quite literally into 'Noisy Ghost'," Fleur sniffed with a roll of her eyes before she focused again on her explanation.
"Poltergeists almost never have any form though?" she directed her last statement questioningly toward Harry.
Harry nodded, "I know, except for at least one documented case in a thousand year old magical castle in England, swimming with ambient magic." Harry said with a gesture at the area around them.
"In the school I attended, there was a poltergeist named Peeves who was extremely mischievous and liked to torment people. He was a nuisance more than anything. But he was supposedly created from the ambient magic of the castle, and the combined thoughts and impulses of the constant stream of devious children that attended."
"But 'arry. There are hundreds here. Far more than one… and spells and weapons clearly damage and destroy them. Nothing affects poltergeists." Fleur stated, though she sounded a little uncertain.
Harry shook his head. "Not true, at least the corporal poltergeists. I've seen things affect them firsthand." Harry thought briefly back to Remus Lupin using a spell to send chewing gum at Peeves back at Hogwarts. "And this tower has apparently been here a lot longer than just a thousand years."
"So.. what are they?" demanded Disidra, looking around at all the spectres surrounding them.
Harry shook his head. "They're nothing. They're… ambient magic. The magic in this place is twisted and distorted, and above all dominated by the thoughts and desires of one person. Medivh. If I had to guess, I would say the large majority of these were thoughts and memories he had unintentionally brought to some sort of pseudo-abstract life, in the form of very limited poltergeists."
"So… we can smash them without concern?" Arko asked hopefully.
Harry just nodded, which seemed to appease most of women. However the frown didn't leave his face as Arko charged another group of spectre's dancing obliviously in a circle. While the different group of spectre's didn't seem to possess more than limited intelligence, mindlessly repeating the same actions over and over again, he worried about the ambient magic sunk into the very stones of this tower.
It was entirely possible that the poltergeists they destroyed would reform slowly over the course of hours or days. If that happened, Harry thought grimly, he might have to rip the tower down to it's foundations to stop this madness. Given the volatile nature of magic in the area, he wasn't sure he'd be able to accomplish that.
His thoughts were interrupted by a loud voice, "Hmm, unannounced visitors. Preparations must be made..."
The entire group turned to the room on their left, which up to this point had been ignored in favor of the discussion on poltergeists, only to see a massive formal dining room. Five ghosts in particular seemed specifically focused on the intruders, and they were now deliberately moving towards them.
The one who had spoken aloud seemed to be a Castellan, dressed in fine raiments. The most peculiar thing about him was that his eyes wore horse blinders on either side of his face which forced the undead man to look straight ahead at all times.
The only other specter of note was a cook with butchers knives in each hand, and a tidy uniform that showed blood flowing down one side. It appeared as if he'd been crushed on one side of his body by something, either from being launched into a wall, or from being bludgeoned by something large.
The remaining three were nobles of some sort, and had no distinguishing elements to them other than their finely tailored clothes. Two carried staves, and a third possessed a large two-handed claymore in one hand.
The group had spread out, preparing to do battle when suddenly, the butler stopped, and asked aloud, "Now, where was I?"
A sadistic leer suddenly appeared on his face, one that looked completely out place as it replaced the composed emotionless mask the man previously wore.
"Oh, yes…" then the man instantly vanished.
"He's an assassin. Watch your backs!" shouted Jessir.
The remaining four undead charged forward. Onyxia and Anya broadsided the cook, while Collette took the swordsman. Harry repeated his earlier method from the Scarlet Monastery of annoying foes that preferred spells and turned one of the undead mages into a rabbit. Everyone else immediately focused upon the final caster, who even as the woman prepared a large fireball with her hands, was inundated by arrows from Jessir, Anya, and Sylvanas, lightning bolts from Disidra, moonfire from Ysondre, and a large palmful of blue fire from a suddenly feather-covered Fleur..
Harry was about to cast a bludgeoning spell at the pyro-favoring mage, when he heard a stifled gurgle from behind him. He turned to see Kudrii, grasping her throat, as blood seeped uncontrollably from between her fingers
The invisible butler had garotted her, then yanked one end hard in order to slit her throat. Time stood still for Harry, as he watched Kudrii fall to her knees, imploring him with her eyes to somehow save her.
The fight was forgotten, even as he heard the Castellan speak, "One more for dinner this evening," as Kudrii choked on her own blood and fell to the ground. Harry ignored all around him and was beside Kudrii with his wand in his hand.
Every time he vanished the blood and healed her throat, it almost instantly slit open again, only offering her a moments respite to breath before she again began to bleed freely. Harry risked a glance behind him, to see Onyxia wailing on the Castellan, rage in her eyes at what had happened to Kudrii. The only other ghost visible was the swordsman who Colette had originally dragged away from the group and who was now being focused upon by everyone else.
Harry continued to heal Kudrii's throat every time it re-slit with one hand, while he reached into a belt to clumsily pull out a blood replenishing potion.
At this point Kudrii was nearly catatonic with shock. She had lost a lot of blood, and Harry knew that, despite her throat looking nearly pristine between the magical garrotte's re-infliction, someone couldn't lose as much blood as she had without consequences unless something was done soon..
He snapped his fingers in front of her eyes, trying to get her attention. Her throat was cut twice more before her eyes finally focused upon his. "I need you to drink this this, do you understand?"
Kudrii looked at him like he was crazy, and it took a glare to convince her to actually do it. She grabbed the vial with a shaking hand, and downed the vial immediately after one of Harry's healing spells rehealed the silt across her throat.
Almost instantly, much of her color returned. Harry had managed to reduce the blood that flowed from the wound to almost nothing now whenever it reappeared, but it was the first few moments of shock right when it was first inflicted that had caused her to lose the majority of her precious lifeblood at the start.
Suddenly, there was a thump from behind him, and he turned to see the Castellan on his knees, "Oh, how I've longed for this…"
The undead butler then fell backwards, vanishing into smoke as his body hit the ground.
He returned to Kudrii, and once again began to heal her throat, which was still slicing itself open even after the disappearance of the butler.
"Harry, what happened to her?" asked Jessir as she stared at Kudrii trying to not panic on the ground as her throat continued to rip open every few seconds.
"The bastard got a wire around her throat, and slit it open. I heal it, and it keeps reslicing a few seconds later," said Harry as he continued to keep healing her. "I gave her a blood replenishing potion, but I have no idea how or when this will stop."
At this point, Fleur had joined him in healing the priest, so there was almost no time at all where Kudrii's throat had time to bleed, but the effect still continued.
"This can't be permanent," said Onyxia as she waved her hands over Kudrii's throat. "I believe it will end in a few minutes." She turned to the Draenei and rubbed her back slowly, "Just try and focus on something else, and let Harry and Jessir's dream girl keep healing you."
Fleur almost choked on her own spit, and Jessir started to make grasping motions with her hands at chest level, but it did succeed in bringing a small smile to Kudrii's face as they waited out whatever had been done to her.
The wound eventually stopped appearing upon Kudrii, and the group was able to take stock of just what it was they had just faced.
Despite the group's attempts at levity Kudrii was still badly shaken by the experience. When the wound stopped showing back up, after rubbing her throat for several seconds, as if to reassure herself it was indeed staying whole she threw her arms around Harry's neck and started to sob into his chest.
Harry wrapped the crying draenei in his arms. He lightly stroked his fingers through her hair while rubbing her back in reassurance. The others in the group didn't bother moving away, they were family and weren't going to make the girl go through it alone.
Harry met Jessir's eyes over the top of Kudrii's head. He could tell that she was thinking the same thing he was.
It was easy to forget, especially after everything that had happened in the past year, that Kudrii was the most innocent one in the group in terms of battle experience. Everyone else was battle hardened with decades, centuries, and occasionally millennia of experience under their belt. Kudrii had been rather shy and was more naive of the harsh reality of battle when it was up close and personal.
Her crying slowly subsided, and she leaned back to look up apologetically, an expression of embarrassment on her face. "I'm sorry Harry, I… was so scared." She hung her head again, not looking around at any of the others.
Harry shook his head and lifted her chin with his fingers to look in her eyes. After a few moments, he leaned forward and kissed her, his lips pressing gently to hers, in a kiss of caring and reassurance. He leaned back to break the kiss, and saw the same starry eyed look she usually got after a kiss.
His voice was soft as he stroked a finger over her cheek, "You have nothing to be ashamed for Kudrii. Anyone who tells you that their first major injury in life or death combat doesn't affect them is lying. Or they're dead and you're talking to a ghost."
He smiled a bit and the lame joke did it's job, bringing another smile to her face. She turned her head a bit to look at the others, all of whom had similar expressions of reassurance on their face. Even Sylvanas, despite her reputation, had a soft spot for the young draenei.
"Why were these two ghosts?" asked Jessir as she prevented the silence of the moment from becoming awkward, and instead turned to stare at the spots that the Cook and Butler had both faded away from.
No one answered her, except for Sylvanas, "I have a better one. Why were they so focused upon preventing us from going further into the room and through that door that leads on to the kitchens?"
That part was news to Harry, who had been focused upon healing Kudrii during the fight, and had not been able to see what really happened.
The group took one look at each other before they advanced forward through the doors that lead to the kitchens, though they did so cautiously, with Sylvanas and Jessir covering each other as they advanced around corners.
There was a long straight corridor beyond that initial opening in the side of the dining hall. It was unadorned and not in the least bit conspicuous. No artwork, reliefs, or windows. Merely an inconspicuous hallway, that would attract no attention since it led to the kitchens staffed by servants that everyone of polite society would have been trained to ignore.
All this together meant that Harry looked very closely at that hallway.
Hogwarts had taught him, even though only four years of exposure, the value of observing your surroundings when it came to the identification of sealed or hidden passageways. There were things like dust, markings, scuff marks, and worn edges that would give hints to what was hidden.
The half-circle of dried blood on the ground gave away the door that lay hidden halfway down the corner without the group even needing to try to guess what was there.
Harry crouched down slightly, frowning as he ran his hands outside the circle of dried blood. "Huh… that's… interesting."
"What is?" Onyxia was frowning and knelt down next to Harry. She could sense the magic in the blood, though she wasn't able to decipher it.
"It's… a unique and pretty basic form of warding. One that I was only ever aware of being used twice back on Earth." Harry traced a finger along the outside of the blood on the ground, a rune causing the circle to flare with red energy, symbols and designs filled the air. Harry's eyes taking it all in.
"Twice?" Onyxia asked, the cold tone in Harry's voice causing more than one of his guests to exchange glances, her eyes were on the symbols that twisted and spun in the area in front of her.
Harry nodded, though his look was almost absent. "The whole basis behind the warding scheme is that it's different one direction than the other. Which means that to pass the threshold you must fulfill one set of requirements, while to exit you must fulfill an entirely different set of requirements."
"Requirements?" Onyxia asked with a raised eyebrow.
Harry's brow was furrowed as his eyes seemed to randomly follow the symbols. "It… looks like whenever this ward is active, the requirements to exit are much more complicated than the requirements to enter. In this case… the person exiting must have the correct type of blood, and some sort of… passphrase?"
Harry's tone was somewhat surprised at that last bit, before he continued. "While the requirements to enter are much simpler. Anyone entering must have a certain level of magical power. A very high level."
Onyxia snorted, "That makes sense." This time it was Harry's raised eyebrow that invited her to continue.
Onyxia shrugged a little bit, "Medivh was… incredibly arrogant. A trait that ran in his family. On both sides if I recall correctly. He would have thought that he was the only one in Azeroth who would be able to cross from this side. And… if he was conducting experiments that had anything to do with the Legion he would have had extra precautions so that none of the demons he summoned could get out."
Harry nodded thoughtfully, "That makes perfect sense. Though these wards were activated remotely, tied to some sort of event. Perhaps something as simple as Medivh leaving the castle for an extended period of time, or an emergency, or even Medivh's death or any number of circumstances. The wards are pretty much gone though."
"How so?" Onyxia's voice was concerned now. at the idea of whatever was down there escaping.
"The ward on the outside is already weakened greatly, so crossing it would only take a modicum of effort. It actually looks like it's already been breached by physical force at least once." Harry said with a puzzled frown.
"Could you get us in, and more importantly, back out?" Sylvanas asked.
"Yes, getting in is simple. Getting out will be a bit more tricky. It'd probably be easier for me to tear down the whole rune structure than to fool it into thinking I have the password." Harry hummed distractedly.
Jessir spoke up, "I think we should leave that where it is for now. We can come back to this when we've scouted the tower and ransacked the library. For now it protects our flanks quite effectively."
Jessir and Sylvanas exchanged a quick look, and there were nods all around, save for Ysondre who stared at the doorway with a frown of concern. Harry nodded in agreement, more than willing to follow the girl's lead in this.
Jessir and Sylvanas took the lead as they headed back through the large dining room. Fleur and Onyxia both hung back slightly with Harry as they followed.
"Why wasn't that ward used on your world, Harry?" Onyxia asked curiously.
"Because the way it challenged a wizard's power. So… if you weren't certain you were the most powerful witch or wizard and you set up the ward for yourself; then anyone more powerful than you could cross the wards with ease. Anyone less powerful than you could ostensibly be beaten. Rather pathetic defense really."
Harry smiled grimly, "I didn't realize it until later, but there was a very similar basic ward scheme on the Chamber of Secrets. Tom Riddle who would later become Voldemort set it up on the entrance. No one less powerful than him could enter. The idea that Riddle was more powerful than him pissed off the old bastard in charge of the school something fierce."
Harry actually snickered a bit, "Then I enter the chamber without realizing there's a ward on it. My power equal to Tom's… and that's when my magic was still bound, and busy fighting off a malevolent soul shard."
There was silence as they passed the tables full of rotting food.
"'arry, when was the other time you saw it?" Fleur asked, though she beat Onyxia to the question by only moments.
"When I used it myself and activated it as one of the many wards surrounding Potter Manor, trapping the old bastard and hundreds of his supporters. Right before I blew the Manor, and the wizards with it." Harry's smile was grim. "I wasn't risking any of them escaping, and wanted to trap them all. No one less powerful than me was escaping those runic bombs."
There wasn't any response to this as the group once more entered the hall where the ghosts of memory's past were dancing without a care in the world.
Onyxia's voice was musing, but with an undertone of seriousness. "To be honest, I have a far more serious concern."
Fleur tilted her head with a puzzled frown to look at Onyxia. The dragon currently in the form of a woman still intimidated the hell out of her. But Fleur had been around her long enough now that she was more at ease with the woman. "What concern is that?"
Onyxia tapped her chin as she followed the group. "Harry said that at least one had already crossed the wards. I wonder who that was."
Harry nodded a little bit, but didn't make any comment, having no idea who might have crossed the ward.
The dancing circles of spirits didn't really provide much trouble, and Harry's group skipped them where they could, taking a set of stairs up to a second level where more dancers and nobles continued to mingle, engaging in politics of ages long since past.
They continued down an adjacent hallway above the dance hall, and came to guest quarters for those who were lucky enough to be invited to stay at the Ivory Tower. At first glance, the hostile undead seemed to be more of the same.
Until the first one shapeshifted into a demon.
"Succubus!" shouted Jessir at the sight of a scantily dressed ghost of a noble's concubine shifting into a thong-wearing servant of the Burning Legion.
The succubus grinned a fanged smile and said, "Enough foreplay, let's get down to business."
More nearly nude women emerged from various quarters, and the comments they issued up as exited the various rooms left no question as to what their professions were in life before demon's had apparently taken over their corpses.
"They fall asleep after. Me, I fall asleep during…" said one as she transformed and pulled out a long bullwhip that cracked and broke the masonry around them upon contact."
Harry switched from his wand to his sword, and fell back into his well-known patterns of slaying demons from the war back on Earth. The group contained numerous individuals who had fought demons in the past, so a few succubus in close quarters were no match for them.
The only incident was when Jessir became enthralled by one of their seduction techniques. She instantly turned on Fleur who was next to her, only to get slammed by Fleur's full allure, which caused Jessir to start to disrobe on the spot. The entire incident ended when Arko cut off the Succubus' head, and Jessir suddenly found herself half-naked while everyone looked at her with looks of amusement.
The Guest Wing was thoroughly searched as they passed through. They had no idea if Medivh had lent out any books, or if guests or ghosts may have wandered off with any, but they were taking no chances.
They discovered a log in one of the guest rooms. It was written by a Violet Eye infiltrator, who had apparently managed to sneak around most of the upper tower, but it had been weeks since her last entry. The woman's name was Keanna, and the most important thing she discovered was that there was a very large demonic presence near the top of the tower, where time and space had distorted completely.
Much of the other rooms contained junk. Trappings of wealth and station that meant little to their group. There would be much more valuable things further up the tower, and the paltry offerings here in the guest quarters would be left behind to be forgotten like their former owners had been.
Past the guest rooms, was what looked like it was once a large two tiered communal gathering area. There were benches and elaborate architecture, places to discuss and meet with the other guests of the Master of the tower.
But that isn't what first drew the group's attention. A large statue of a woman stood idly in the center of the chamber. To Harry, she looked as if she wore the trappings of some odd combination of ancient Norse clothing and some other culture. The entire thing was incredibly lifelike, and if it wasn't for a few telltale markings of stone, people would've thought this was some sort of actual giant woman.
The group had apparently crossed some near-invisible ward, or perhaps even a physical trap, because the statue suddenly shuddered greatly, letting them know this was no static stone monolith before them, but a sentient construct of some sort.
"I wonder if that was her orgasm-face?" asked Jessir loudly, earning a few snickers, Unfortunately, the comment was apparently heard.
"Your behavior will not be tolerated!"
The shout echoed loudly throughout the hallway they stood it, and the large woman began to walk slowly towards them, and there was no mistaking the malicious intentions it had towards them.
Above all, it seemed to be single-mindedly focused upon Jessir, and the rest of the group did their best to keep it from reaching it's intended target. Their group spread out, using convenient columns to hide behind when at range, to make their shots.
"Your impurity must be cleansed!" she shouted as she fired a massive ball of white fire at Jessir, who couldn't avoid the magical burst due to its speed.
The Night Elf hunter collapsed to the ground once hit, shrieking in agony as she was apparently immolated from the inside out by the fire's that affected her.
Kudrii and Disidra did their best to heal the damage being done to her body, but there didn't seem to be any end to the burns inflicted upon Jessir. Harry, in a moment of clarity, cast a Flame Freezing Charm upon her, and the screams that had left Jessir's mouth stopped. She was able to sit up, and gave a thumbs up to those who had focused upon her, which allowed them to turn their attention back to the crazed statue in front of them.
"Cast out your corrupt thoughts."
The voice once again echoed loudly throughout the chamber, and suddenly everyone around felt themselves freeze as if hit by a body bind curse.
Harry's mind had been also numbed, and he felt as if he had suddenly been cast into the depths of his own conscious. He struggled to move, to do anything, as he was only vaguely aware of the titanic woman's fist beating down on an unmoving Onyxia, though the dragoness didn't seem to be much worse for wear because of it.
Due to the hits she'd received, Onyxia was the first to come out of the paralyzing trance the statue had placed them in, and she was not happy about it. The dragon flared as much of the draconic power as she could without reverting to her true state, and shouted, "Know your place, you piece of rock!"
A punch kicked one of the statues legs right off its body, which caused it to fall unceremoniously to the ground. Another punch to the torso broke it clean in half, which removed all of the fight left in the construct. The statue turned its head, looking straight at the group, and spoke its final words before it lost all power:
"Death comes. Will your conscience... be clear?"
The entire group was free of binding that had been placed upon them, and now gathered around the statue. Anya was the one who spoke first, "Am I the only one who heard the capital 'D' when she said Death?"
Ysondre turned to Onyxia who was dusting herself off, and posed the question that was on the forefront of her mind, "You realize this was one of the Titan's Guardian constructs, right?"
The Black Dragon nodded, as Ysondre noticed everyone looking at her questioningly. "The Titans, the beings which first brought true life to Azeroth, empowered the Dragon Aspects, as well as fought and contained the Old Gods, left behind much their technology on this world when they departed. Many of those places have Guardians to ensure the mortals do not mess around with the Titans' creations."
Ysondre gestured down at the unmoving, broken statue before us. "This, is one of the various 'Maidens' which guard the Titan's vaults of power as well as their prisons on this world. Though I have no idea what one would be doing within Karazhan of all places."
"We can ponder why one of the harbingers of doom on Azeroth is here later, as I don't see any evidence as to why in this chamber. Harry is there a way for you to take this statue with us? We may learn much from tearing it apart."
Harry went to work dismantling the construct to store away in his trunks while he listened to Jessir and Sylvanas plan their next move as a group. As Onyxia was still the most familiar with the layout of the tower, she was included.
"If I recall correctly, there was a theater not far from here. In the upper levels of it, there is a passageway that begins to ascend the actual tower itself," said Onyxia slowly as she tried to remember her previous visits to Karazhan.
"We should head that way, in the most direct line to the library," said Jessir, who was still a bit woozy from the magical curse the statue had hit her with. She had already taken two potions from her belt to steady herself, and she was reaching for a third.
They moved out as a group the moment the 'Maiden' had been dismantled and stowed away. Harry really missed not having access to Dobby suddenly, as he and the rest of the elves would have made it a far simpler process to undertake.
The guest quarters were checked a second time as they backtracked, though nothing of any significance was found. They found themselves back above the dining hall they had moved through earlier, and they now proceeded west on the second floor, directly into a decrepit opera house.
There was a ghostly audience in attendance, as if they were simply waiting for a show. Arko laughed like a child as she took out the Ashbringer and charged into the fray, attracting the attention of nearly every ghost present. Ysondre and Onyxia were right behind her, giggling at the senseless destruction. Colette just looked back at the rest of the group, before she sighed deeply, resigned to her fate of fighting alongside such people.
Then the rest ran in.
Harry had to admit, it certainly sped up the time it took to empty a place like this, especially as the ghosts ten feet away would obliviously discuss the evening's performance while the ghost in the seat next to them was skewered by arrows.
Once they got to the front of the seating area. Onyxia pointed to the left side of the stage, "That leads up to the next level. Wealthy or important guests were seated up there in the box seats."
She then sneered a bit, "It gave them a sense of importance for being able to go backstage and meet the actors for whatever play was being shown. Even more so, when they were marched across the stage before the performance to sit up there." She pointed downward below the stage for emphasis
Harry glanced at the door below them where Onyxia pointed, and then looked down and saw an entrance beneath them. After a second's hesitation, he shook his head and summoned a couple of the benches nearby. A few waves of his wand had them transfigured into a small bridge from the seating area to the stage.
He saw no reason to travel back stage. Thespians were always high drama, he could only imagine what ghostly thespians were capable of.
The group collectively shrugged and crossed the bridge. Harry went last. However as Arko touched the opposite door, a wash of magic went over the area and the makeshift bridge was destroyed.
"That was not ominous at all." Ysondre observed.
Further comments were cut off as the door on the other side of the stage opened up. A man burst forth, in a old world style Tuxedo that Harry thought wouldn't have been out of place in a West End theater in London in the Victorian era. He had golden brown hair, styled in what Harry would easily call an 'emover', which lead even more credence to the fact it was a good idea that they hadn't gone back stage.
The ghost, who apparently was the stage manager, took one look at them and smiled, "You'll all do just fine! You all look like naturals!"
He clapped happily, and then turned to the remnants of the audience, which was only the expensive box seats which they hadn't purged yet. "Welcome, ladies and gentlemen, to this evening's presentation!"
The lights dimmed everywhere, and a ghostly spotlight appeared around Barnes, though no one could tell where the magical effect originated from.
"Tonight, we plumb the depths of the human soul as we join a lost, lonely girl trying desperately, with the help of her loyal companions, to find her way home."
The few ghostly members of the audience could be heard as they muttered how sad it would be to be far from home. Others fanned themselves and complained how they had just seen this play the previous week, and were hoping for something new.
"But she is pursued by a wicked, malevolent crone!"
Meanwhile, Harry began to think something was very familiar about this play. He turned to look at Fleur, who was staring wide-eyed at the description, and turned her eyes to meet his.
The stage manager threw his arms wide in excitement, "Will she survive? Will she prevail? Only time will tell. And now: On with the show!"
The ghostly announcer vanished, and theater was instantly plunged into darkness. Suddenly, at the direct center of the stage, another spotlight appeared, and there was a brown-haired woman, with a skin-tight white blouse and long blue dress in the light.
The girl suddenly spoke, not to the audience, but in an over-the-top manner as an actress would in a play As she performed her lines, more spotlights appeared, and Harry could only shake his head as he realized exactly who these people were.
"Oh dear, we simply must find a way home! The old wizard could be our only hope! Strawman, Roar, Tinhead, will you... wait! Oh golly, look! We have visitors!"
As they appeared, Harry turned to Fleur, and his yell caught all of the raiding party's attention, "Fleur, please tell me that you recognize who these guys are too?!"
"Oui," she said with a nod, and she raised her wand to prepare herself for a fight.
"Who are they, Harry?" shouted Sylvanas.
"A children's story from my world. The Wizard of Oz."
Harry frowned a little bit and tilted his head, his eyes narrowing. "I wonder… if they have the same weaknesses." His tone mused thoughtfully.
"Fleur, take the the Scarecrow with Disa. Hit it with fire."
Harry raised his wand. "I'll focus on the Tinman. Kudrii use that fear spell you have on the Lion."
"My name is Roar, not lion!" shouted the lion, who was instantly hit with the spell from Kudrii, and began to run around like his hair was on fire, oblivious to the fight around him.
"Sylvanas and Jessir should shoot the dog from a distance. Put enough arrows in it, and I'm sure it'll fall."
"Harry is correct," said Fleur, as she gave an avion screech and arched her back, growing feathers in the process. She then promptly began to toss fireballs at the scarecrow.
"What about Miss Saggy-Boobs there?" asked Jessir as she notched an arrow to her bow, and launched arrows at the dog.
Harry was already conjuring sand and streams of water to drown the Tin Man with, and absently shouted, "Nixy, Ysondre, hit her. Arko, go stick your sword in her. I'm sure she'll like that."
"Works for me too," yelled Onyxia as she bounced over happily to smack around the blue dressed girl.
Colette actually yawned when Harry turned to her, "I'll stay right here. Just in case one of them goes after the folks here."
Her intervention was never needed. The scarecrow went up in flames at first contact with the fire from Fleur. The lion ran face first into a wall, knocking itself out; the fact that it was helped by a quick banishing spell from Harry might have had something to do with it.
Harry's spells quickly clogged the joints of the tin man, and he was soon unable to move; a statue in a corner no one paid attention to. Finally, the dog, skewered with dozens of arrows, died at the feet of the girl, who loudly lamented its death, and whose own death quickly followed her dog.
"Oh at last, at last. I can go home."
With the girl's dying breath, the theater was plunged into darkness again. The lights stayed off, and the girls were certainly getting nervous as he could hear as they loudly shifted from side to side, preparing for an attack.
When perhaps twenty seconds of silence had passed, and they all wondered if it was over, a loud, mad cackling reverberated from every corner of the theater. Harry instantly had visions of the woman of his nightmares, Bellatrix Lestrange, and the numerous fights they'd had before he finally put the mad witch down.
As soon as Harry thought of Bellatrix, he instantly knew who they were about to face.
"If anyone can conjure water, throw it on the witch who is about to appear!"
A new spotlight appeared, and the ugliest hag Harry had ever seen appeared. Harry would almost prefer Bellatrix here, as at least the crazy bitch had been some decent eye-candy despite the stay in Azkaban. This… thing in front of them was about as ugly as something that lived in an alleyway in Knockturn alley.
'Aquamenti' shouted Fleur, and Disidra followed up with the ice spells that she knew. Harry added his own spells, but it was obvious to everyone that, while they were doing something, it wasn't enough to put the witch down.
That was the signal for everyone else to begin their assault. Arrows flew, swords were swung, and yet, nothing seemed to truly put the ghastly woman down.
"Fleur, wasn't there another witch in the Wizard of Oz?" Harry suddenly shouted.
"Oui," she said as she flung more water upon the crone. "She died when a house fell on her at the start."
The image of a house on top of a woman, with just her feet and ruby slippers appeared in his mind, triggering a fleeting memory of a joke spell he had learned a decade or so prior.
There was a group of college students from America, who had apparently been far too into Looney Toons cartoons, and developed a spell to drop Anvils on people's heads. He thought they'd eventually gone to license the spell out to someone. Mr. Birch? Mr. Black?
Either way, he knew exactly what to do here. "Everyone back away!" he shouted, then began the wand movements.
"ACME!" he roared, creating an Anvil above the witch's head, which instantly fell, crushing the hag and leaving only her feet visible.
There was silence in the theater, broken only by the distant sounds of locks disengaging somewhere above them in the tower.
Slowly, one by one, the girls turned to him, incredulity in their eyes.
"All this time," said Jessir, "You could've dropped anvils on people's heads, and you didn't do so?"
Harry shrugged, "I always thought the spell was kind of silly. And it was one of Mr. Black's spells back on Earth. You don't mess with Mr. Black."
"I highly doubt this Mr. Black is going to cross dimensions and attack us here for using one of his spells," Jessir angrily responded.
"You never know, he cou-" Harry was interrupted by Sylvanas, who apparently didn't want to watch the argument devolve into something.
"Just please remember it in the future if you believe its called for," she said with a red-eyed glare at both of them before she turned back to the theater, which was once again lit with an unearthly light.
"Which way now?" asked Anya? "I know you all heard something in the distance once we 'ended' the show."
"I'm not sure what that was," said Onyxia slowly as she stared at the upper tier of box seats and pointed. "But I do know we'll want to go up there next to go higher up the tower."
Harry provided them all another transfigured bridge to the main area, and then they slowly began to climb stairs to the balconies. The ghosts present didn't seem aware that the show had apparently ended, and sat all sat in a refined manner, waiting to be served by their host for the evening.
When vanquished, the spirits dropped an incredibly large amount of gold, leading Harry to believe that these particular ghosts might be more than mere memory to have such a large amount of currency simply onhand. It wasn't as if Harry nor any of the women with him was in need of money, but they collected it all just the same rather than let it go to waste.
After three floors of spectators put to rest, they emerged into what must of once been a set of store rooms for the tower. Now though, it looked as if some sort of extremely violent magical explosion had taken place here, and the after effects were still seen through various magical entities that had formed from the remnants of the power unleashed here.
They continued through the storage room corridors and found a portcullis. Upon further investigation, they discovered it was essentially a servant's side-entrance to the tower. They had an excellent from four stories up of the main entrance, and it appeared that the Dalaran mages were all now awake, and desperate to try and figure out what had happened to them.
Sylvanas ordered Harry to go ahead with their standard procedures, and he spent fifteen minutes bricking over and then warding the doorway. It was quickly secured just like the main entrance, which left the group pondering which direction to go. They almost proceeded up the tower, but noticed another side door. It led out to the roof of what was the stables and servants work area.
Exploration of the rooftop found nothing of interest, and the group quickly went back inside and continued up the tower.
They returned to their primary goal, seeking out the library. The wrecked blown out portion of the tower was infested with dozens of actual malicious spirits; souls likely trapped here somehow in whatever violent outburst Medivh unleashed here before his death.
It was a slow and precarious climb through this bombed out portion of the tower. The paths were narrow, and sudden drop offs meant that poor footwork while they exorcised the spirits in the area could easily lead to a fall from over a hundred feet or more. The magic of the area was so tainted that Reparo charms from Fleur and Harry had no effect upon the destruction, and they were left to carefully make their way upwards.
Eventually, they passed through the ruins of the stairs, and came to an incredibly ornate hallway. Once again, there were statues and well preserved carpeting on the ground, but the richness of the area, which was even more lavish than the ballrooms behind them, was offset by magic infused enemies present.
"I dont like this," said Sylvanas as they entered the decidedly less ruined section of the tower. "Half a century ago, Silvermoon city… lost… some of its Arcane Protectors."
She pointed to the arcane fueled machines that stood sentry before them. "Apparently Medivh was to blame for their theft."
"Will Silvermoon want them back?" asked Jessir as she eyed the currently silent watchers, but Sylvanas shook her head.
"It would be too much trouble, and I doubt we can get past them without placing them in a state that's broken beyond repair."
Onyxia strode forward a bit, not close enough to activate the automatons, but enough where she could see into the next room.
"So, this is the Menagerie?" she said aloud as she seemed to focus on the few things they could all see in the distance.
"The what?" asked Ysondre as she stood beside her.
"Medivh's own private museum," said Onyxia. She gestured at the barely visible statue they could all see, "There's a disabled Golem from one of the Titan's vaults ahead. I'm sure there's even more to find beyond that."
"Should we be storing anything from here as we find it?" asked Jessir, while her eyes never left the two silent guardians that were in the room with them.
Onyxia shook her head, "If anything, we grab what we can on the way back. Library is still far more important, and its not far from here."
There was agreement on strategy, but now that they were ready to begin tackling defenses, everyone hesitated.
"What exactly can these machines do, Sylvanas?" asked Arko as she held back from simply charging in recklessly like usual.
"They have a number of defensive capabilities," said Sylvanas, "and they are almost always unique to the caster who created and enchanted the golem. Its also why they are so closely monitored by our people. A golem who's enchanter dies often leaves behind a construct which will mutate under unguided magics, and it will turn against everyone."
Anya continued the commentary, "Silvermoon's guardians would have all manner of capabilities. They can suppress a targets strength and movement, making it feel like you're walking through water and reducing the strength of your blows and magic. They are creations of magic, so they can also drain a nearby source of magic dry in order to continue running, which means it can rip the magic away from any of us."
"Or they can inject it into a person, causing their inner prana to explode," added Sylvanas.
"Like Vaelastrasz did while under the control of Nefarian," said Jessir as she looked to the dragons nearby before she continued, "So, fight from distance when you're capable, and blow them up quickly when possible?" as Jessir notched an exploding arrow upon her bow.
A nod of acknowledgement was all they received, which seemed to be enough for Arko. She charged in, and delivered a broadside which actually overturned her target. The mechanical arcane construct attempted to right itself, but was already under a number of blows from all who had approached it.
The other mechanical in the group chose to seek out Jessir and Sylvanas, but was met by Colette, who often chose to protect her friend when possible. A pool of shadows opened up underneath the Guardian, and it quickly fell to the darkness of the void she unleashed upon it.
The quick collapse of the guardian under shadow's energies surprised most of the group. She hadn't used many of the abilities she had gained from her forced conscription into the Scourge's forces, preferring to stick with her sword and what limited abilities she still could perform from her days as a former paladin which didn't cause pain to herself when she used them.
The next group of guardians was dispatched in much the same way, though there was some reluctance to move on as the group looked through the history of Azeroth so prominently displayed in these rooms.
Medivh did happen to have one overarching theme present here though. Owls with enchanted glowing eyes, which seemed to always stare at visitors to the gallery of priceless works. Some of the statues were apparently ruined by the aftershock of the explosion that took out the ruined stairs behind them, but even then, the remnants of the owl's enchantments kept them afloat in the air.
Finally, after numerous anterooms, they came to the true Menagerie. It was a massive hallway, easily twenty meters wide and tall, and a hundred meters long. The moment they saw the hallway, Ysondre and Onyxia exchanged gleeful glances, and strode forward, not even acknowledging the sentient mana wraiths that had collected in the corners.
Instantly, the ears of the party needed to be covered, as the twin roars of two dragons who had been forced thus far on this excursion to fight in bipedal forms, were unleashed upon the few magical constructs in the area that seemed to have formed from whatever ambient magic had collected in the area.
"The Menagerie is for guests only," spoke a robotic and polite voice from the opposite far end of the hall. It was another Arcane Protector, obviously stolen from Silvermoon somewhere over the ages, that slowly began to walk towards them. However, this one was twice the size of all others they had seen thus far.
To be fair, it lasted a whole two seconds longer then Razorgore the Untamed did in Blackwing Lair when two dragons decided to fight over him like a chew toy.
The two sparking halves of the larger protector fell to the floor unceremoniously. Onyxia gave a shrug of disappointment as she stared down at the half she had dropped on the ground, then continued down the hall, looking for more things to destroy while there was still room for her real form to move around. Ysondre began to just wander aimlessly, acting as a silent but very visible guardian to the group.
With Onyxia doing all the work for them, the group began to spread out amongst the Menagerie to get an idea of what sort of treasures Medivh may have kept here.
"Should we follow her?" asked Harry aloud as he watched Onyxia turn a corner and squeeze into whatever the next room was.
"She's a big girl," rumbled Ysondre from above them. "She'll be fine."
The group spread out and began to pick over what they found to actually be the remnants of what must have once been the Menagerie. Displays and pedestals stood bare, and there was a feeling not of looting, but more of abandonment and relocation to the room.
Much of their conjecture on where the spoils Medivh had collected were now located was interrupted by a loud crash from up ahead. They all turned, weapons drawn, to see another arcane golem protector sliding down the far wall where it had been thrown. As they watched the first one fall to the ground, another was tossed into the hallway, crushing it it upon impact.
"Is that her subtle way of telling us to get a move on?" asked Jessir rhetorically.
"I would assume so," said Harry as he kicked open one last compartment on the main Protector which apparently acted as the primary guard to the museum. Inside, was the sole piece of treasure Harry had seen thus far in the room.
It was a signet ring, crudely made, with the emblem of a lighting bolt piercing a cloud upon it. He cast a few spells upon it, and didn't see anything overtly dangerous about it. As he picked it up, a few of the others saw him actually find something of value, and asked what it was.
"That's definitely an Orc's ring," said Disidra as she glanced over his shoulder at the ring in his hand and practically hissed at the sight of it. "The Stormreaver Clan."
"I take it there's some members of the Stormreaver's that were well-known enough that Medivh would want their ring?" asked Harry curiously.
"Gul'dan," said Disidra instantly, though her face had frozen over. "And the Kingsbane, Garona."
"Who?" asked Fleur.
"The orc that made the original pact with the Burning Legion, convincing the rest to drink the Blood of Mannoroth" said Disidra, and there was a distinct air of her being uncomfortable with the subject. "And Garona was a triple agent through the first and second wars, culminating with her assassinating King Llane during the sacking of Stormwind."
"Which is why his son Varian loathes Orcs," added Sylvanas. "Him being taken as a slave during one of Onyxia's plots, losing his memory, and then becoming a gladiatorial slave for the Orcs was just icing on his Delicious Chocolate Cake."
"Both of those orcs would've had direct contact with Medivh during the first war," said Anya, her eye still firmly affixed to the ring.
"So," Harry said slowly. "One of two very infamous Orcs likely used to own this ring."
He turned to his pouch of trunks, and stored it away, "I'd say that's an excellent reason to hold on to this thing."
Disidra spoke up, "There are many among my people who will not appreciate seeing that particular clan marking. Be careful where you show that signet. The blood of tens of thousands of Draenei are on the hands of that clan. Their clan may be almost dead at this point, but there is no shortage of Draenei who will do unspeakable things now to ensure that clan is erased from history."
A roar was heard in the distance, followed by a deep draconic voice, "Hurry up, or I'll start picking up random books and use them for kindling!"
The group didn't need to be told twice, and jogged forward to where Onyxia had spent the last five minutes making a ton of noise in full form. The reached the end of the Menagerie, and turned a corner, only to walk out onto a ramp that overlooked the famous library of Karazhan.
Onyxia was on the main floor and was sitting in her human form on the mostly crushed remains of one of the arcane protectors. The rest were scattered in pieces throughout the entire floor. She was nonchalantly buffing her nails and looked up at the arriving group with a raised eyebrow. "A hallway with one direction. Did you manage to get lost?"
Harry grinned and winked, "We did, Arko was giving directions."
Arko rolled her eyes and didn't bother responding to the statement verbally, instead the blue haired night elf gave Harry a gentle shove forward off the edge of the platform which was several meters off the ground.
Harry let out a sound that sounded suspiciously like a squeak though cast a feather light charm to make his impact with the ground negligible. He turned around to glare at Arko though an amused smile fought for dominance on his face. Arko, for her part, whistled innocently and walked down the ramp.
The byplay was missed by around half of the group that had accompanied them, as their attention was completely affixed upon the location they now stood.
The Guardian's Library.
"So, contained here is knowledge which could end the world, if allowed into the wrong hands?" said Anya in an uncharacteristically serious tone.
"Yeah, Disa could bore us all to death with history lessons," said Onyxia from her corner.
Disidra's response was to fling a fireball at Onyxia, who casually batted it aside into a corner, barely missing a half-capsized stack books.
"Hey," shouted Jessir. "Games later. We need to pack this library up. It's why we're here in the first place."
"That'll take a while," said Colette with some hesitation while as she stared at one corner where the shelves of books extended at least four times her height.
"Screw that," said Harry from a corner where he had just made a quick examination of a few books on the shelves. "I'm going to Shadow Walk back to Azshara, grab Dobby, and I'll be right back. He can probably pack this whole place up in under ten minutes, and there won't even be a page wrinkled on any of this stuff."
Jessir nodded, and turned to Sylvanas who instantly agreed. "We'll keep moving ahead then."
She looked upwards at some of the rooms that overlooked the Library from the opposite side that they had entered it. "There's probably artifacts to collect up there, as well as things that haven't been disturbed since Medivh was killed."
Harry looked up at the round room that dominated the far wall, with windows of ornate stained glass. Some were broken, and he could see paintings and other valuables in the distance, which meant their work to salvage anything they could was just beginning.
"Be back in a few minutes," he said before he stepped into a shadow and disappeared.
The women stared at the spot he had been for a few moments, then collected themselves.
"Alright," said Jessir. "Let's finish this up. We're in the home stretch now, and there isn't all that much left to do."
She started to walk, and Arko fell in line next to her. Jessir turned to her longtime friend, and muttered, "I seriously just want to get this done and get back to Azshara so I can relax and stare at all of Fleur's relatives as they sunbathe topless for a few days in peace."
In terms of challenges, Onyxia honestly felt like this had actually been rather boring thus far.
Granted, most of the Violet Eye and Stormwind plunderers who had ventured to Karazhan did not have a wizard on par with Harry as they broke into the famously locked tower, nor did they have two dragons, and a multitude of ridiculously strong heroes who had all made their names in the previous three wars against the orcs.
Harry had returned to the main group a few minutes prior with the little imp known as Dobby in tow. Apparently, the little hyperactive munchkin had already packed up the entirety of the main library, as well as the smaller rooms adjacent to it as well.
He couldn't teleport out of the building, though it was noted he could pop around within the castle. So now, he was to accompany them all for the rest of the trip, packing up anything of value that any member of the group said they wanted, which ranged from statues, to paintings, to the extremely odd tentacle staff Jessir wanted that was found in a cache behind a Satyr who had been summoning imps in a sacrificial circle.
No one wanted to know what Jessir was going to do with a writhing Tentacle Staff.
They had been preparing to clean out yet another room full of books, but stopped the moment they noticed the ghost of a mage wandering aimlessly inside. In almost every instance thus far in the tower, ghosts had appeared in groups. It was rare to see one single ghost within Karazhan, so this put nearly everyone on edge.
Everyone knew their roles at this point. They were sure the mage would do things that almost every other mage they had encountered would do, such as polymorph, blink, or create huge explosions of fire.
They honestly weren't even worried anymore. Their only goal at the moment was to ensure that none of the extremely large, oversized tomes on the shelves was damaged during the fight.
Arko ran in first, followed soon by everyone else. To her surprise, the little imp Dobby also ran in, sticking to his Master's side despite his insistence that it wasn't needed.
Surprisingly, the ghost backed away from the intruders, "Please, no more! My son... he's gone mad!"
Suddenly, the ghost stood tall, the glean of insanity reflected in his eyes and his words, "Yes, yes, my son is quite powerful... but I have powers of my own!"
"I am not some simple jester! I am Nielas Aran!"
If Onyxia hadn't been focused upon smashing the ghost's face in with her fists, she would've groaned aloud when she heard that name.
Nielas Aran, the previous caretaker of Karazhan prior to Medivh. But, his more infamous title was the father of Medivh. The previous Guardian of Tirisfal, and Medivh's mother, Aegwynn, had apparently done all but rape Aran when she decided that he was the strongest mage currently in the Kirin Tor, and the only one worthy of producing a child that would be a worthy legacy of her after her thousand years of service as the Guardian of Tirisfal.
The fact that the child would become the greatest monster to ever roam Azeroth short of the Lich King was rather ironic, considering it all started with the apparition of the man in front of them.
Her musings were cut short, when the previous confidence the obviously deranged ghost displayed shattered while he stared at Kudrii.
More specifically, the staff on Kudrii's back.
He was nearly demented in how his focus was completely upon the reformed Staff of the Guardian. Lost in memories, and certainly not speaking to any of them as if he could actually see them. "Where did you get that?! Did he send you? No. Nooo!"
Kudrii, in a burst of inspiration, grabbed the staff and swung it at the ghost's head, who pitifully dove out of the way, terrified out of his undead mind that the hand of Medivh itself was reaching forth from beyond the veil even now to smite and cause him pain.
But even with his sense and awareness completely stripped from him, something stirred within the long-dead man's torture-addled mind. "I'll show you this beaten dog still has some teeth! Burn you hellish fiends!"
A wave of rolling, liquid fire pulsed outwards from the Mage, the group was unsure what to do, or handle the flames themselves, even though Onyxia knew exactly what these flames were. They were completely harmless, unless someone moved their feet. When that happened, they would detonate as a whole, causing the entire cloud of flames to burst at once.
She was about to warn everyone to stay still and not do anything, when all the sudden, a small figure appeared between them and the approaching flames.
The figure snapped his tiny fingers, and the Mage toppled end over end. Aran smashed into the desk directly behind him, and then over it, falling on his head with his spectral robes turned inside out.. As he hit the desk, the ancient contents that had sat upon the desk, likely for years, went with it, crashing to the floor and igniting in a force that was equivalent to a small magical bomb.
When the smoke cleared from the blast, everyone looked up to see that quarter of the library was a blackened mess. Their attention then turned to the tiny being which had caused such havoc.
Dobby was still standing there, his arm still outstretched from snapping his fingers, and what would have been a fearsome scowl on his face… If the little imp wasn't two and a half feet tall.
"You shall not harm Harry Potter!" Dobby squeaked at the blackened corner. Onyxia herself could feel that Nielas Aran had been vanquished, and no remnants of his energies remained.
"Dobby?" she heard a strained but calm voice ask. She turned to see Harry, standing behind her by a few feet, an extremely forced smile upon his face.
"Dobby, was it absolutely necessary to do that? If any of the girls had been there, they could've been hurt… or killed."
"Master Harry order Dobby not to interfere with demons. This not be demon. Dobby keep Harry Potter safe!" stated the little creature, and at this point Onyxia felt she needed to cut in.
"Isn't this the same tiny creature who you said nearly killed you during a sporting event in order to have you removed forcibly from your school in order to protect you?" she asked calmly.
Harry actually looked sheepish now at the memory, which only added to the wave of discomfort that flowed through every woman present. Onyxia then turned to Dobby, purposefully letting some of Draconic features come through in her eyes, teeth, claws, and the horns on her head.
"Dobby, if you ever attempt to save our lives again," and she leaned in close, almost transforming her face into a full reptilian mask, "I will eat you!"
The terrified elf vanished from in front of Onyxia and reappeared behind Harry. Dobby was hiding behind Harry's legs as he responded, "Dobby didn't try and save big dragon lady. Dobby protect Harry Potter." The elf's voice was filled with indignation.
That caused snickers all around. But Kudrii leaned forward and knelt down by Harry's feet to look Dobby at near eye level. "Dobby, you do a good job protecting Harry. But… Harry wouldn't want us hurt either would he?"
Harry winced and looked pained at the question. Dobby looked up at him questioningly. Harry sighed and rubbed the bridge of his nose and then looked at Dobby. "Yes, Dobby. Everyone here is… family now. I expect you to treat them like you treat me."
Dobby's eyes widened slightly before he nodded rapidly and then disappeared with a pop.
This drew a sigh of exasperation from Harry. "He's going to be intolerable now, you realize this? You'll be lucky if he doesn't take to following us everywhere." he said tiredly to Kudrii, which just drew a puzzled look in response.
Onyxia however didn't seem to care and she let him know this by waving her hand distractedly before she pointed at the charred wall. "The only reason it was taking so long to exorcise that ghost was we didn't want to damage the books. Now, I may be relatively new to some of your spells, but magical damage like that is rather difficult to undo, is it not?"
He nodded tiredly, before he turned to Sylvanas and Jessir, who had already pulled a few books down to see what content was stored in this, admittedly, odd library. Most of the books were at least half as big as her lover was tall. True she had seen books like this on occasion in all her years upon Azeroth, as well as a few inside Harry's personal library, but never so many all in one place.
"I'll start picking through it all, and then get Dobby working on packing this lot up," said Harry as he looked rather mournfully at the wall of lost spells and history before them.
Seeing an opportunity, Onyxia spoke up, "I'll stay and watch over him. Just in case something we've missed sneaks up on him. This way he isn't alone when he fights it."
She wasn't surprised when no one believed her an instant as to why she wanted to stay back alone with Harry. Jessir had volunteered quite often, as had Kudrii, Disidra, Arko, and surprisingly Anya. The undead Ranger didn't seem to want to wait to get a full working body back. Apparently, the occasional kiss she'd managed to wrangle from Harry was no longer satisfactory to the woman.
"Fine," said Jessir with a huff. The hunter obviously knew the logic was sound, and that there was no way to stop her from scratching the itch that Jessir herself apparently wanted scratched as well. "Just hurry up. We shouldn't be separated in this place."
"We'll be fine," Onyxia said with a fanged smile. She watched as the the rest of the women slowly left the room, a few sneaking over to plant a kiss on Harry's lips before doing so.
When the two of them were alone, Harry finally turned to her, an amused smile on his face, "Really? Protect me from the nasty ghosts while I'm all alone?"
Onyxia said nothing. Instead, she strode over to Harry, a lustful smile on her face, and her armor falling off piece by piece as she walked, so that, by the time she reached Harry, she was completely nude.
"I'm bored, Harry," she whispered into his ear as she started to unclasp his armor, piece by piece. "Ghosts. Machines. Satyrs with perverted tentacle staffs."
She kissed his neck, and the fire between her legs that previously felt like it was smoldering now was a raging inferno. "I need you. Now, before I simply burn this entire tower down."
The look of absolute incredulity on his face almost made her want to laugh, but she could hear his heartbeat hammering in anticipation of what was coming, just as easily as she could already feel his arousal beginning to make its presence known with her hand. She knew she'd already convinced him, and he only played coy now because he enjoyed their verbals jousts prior to their joinings.
"You heard Jessir," he said as she managed as a belt unclasped, and his armored pants fell around his ankles. "We don't have much time."
She nodded before she turned to the nearest wall, bent towards it and placed two hands on it, and looked behind her. She gave a glance to her bared ass and said, "You best hurry then, Runemaster."
Harry followed Onyxia as they tried to catch up to the main group. Their quickie turned out to be quite fortuitous, as Onyxia had slammed the wall she leaned against in the throes of their passion, breaking shelves and revealing a hidden compartment with what was apparently Medivh's private journal, as well as the instructions for an odd enchantment for weapons that he was sure Kudrii would love to have despite him not seeing the benefit.
They took a wrong turn in their attempt to follow the others, and ultimately came face to face with the corpse of a massive dragon. Onyxia's satisfied mood turned on a knut, as she began to inspect the dragon that lay before her.
"I've never seen this species of dragon before," she said aloud as she walked the length of the beast. When she found some of its spilled blood upon the ground, she smelled it, then placed a drop to her lips.
"Its… part Black Dragon?" she said in confusion, before she turned to Harry. "This is certainly not one of my brother's experiments. Especially given its age, so where did it come from?"
Harry wasn't able to offer any advice, though he took a few scales from it. He still was unsure what kind of dragon scale he ultimately wanted to risk adding to his force-animagus potion.
"How about this kind of Dragon for my animagus form?"
He could see her eyes glaze over, as she imagined being mated while in flight to a breed of dragon such as this. He watched with amusement as a smile crossed her face, and he knew that if they had the time, he didn't doubt the Dragoness would demand another repeat of the last library room they were in.
She quickly shook her head to clear her thoughts and looked at him, "Possibly, but not until we know more about it. I will not mate with a weak breed. I would choose a Black for you to mate with, if it weren't for the fact the only strong one we've faced since we met is my Brother."
"I actually have scales from your brother, as well as that ornamental scale with what you said was a tear from your father sealed inside."
Onyxia cocked her head to the side, pondering the possibilities either would bring.
Seeing that she was utterly lost in her own thoughts, Harry decided it was time to move, "Well I took a few scales from him, just to be safe. Let's grab these books around here and get going."
The various books and paintings that lined the perimeter of the room were taken, along with the scattered tomes that were laying on the ground. They backtracked and took a different path, and quickly found the rest of the women.
"Took your sweet time," said Jessir as they arrived.
"Cleaned out the books in that room with the dead dragon you killed. We took so long because we were trying to figure out why something descended from a Black Dragon looked like that, and what in the world it was doing in here," responded Harry.
"What?" hissed Sylvanas as she looked at his with narrowed eyes. "That thing was somehow related to a Black Dragon?"
"No idea how. Something to worry about later," he looked ahead to the...things the rest of the group was fighting. "What the bloody hell are those?"
The humanoid creatures they were fighting looked to be beings of pure energy, simply contained by wrappings to give them form. They had an odd style of moving, as they would phase and glide around the room.
"Ethereals," said Sylvanas between the twanging sound of her bow. "The Forsaken spies we have deployed to Outland have mentioned them briefly. Apparently, they are merchants and swindlers from the Twisting Nether itself. Their largest united faction is apparently called The Consortium, and seemed to be somewhat friendly to our troops."
"However, there are others amongst them who traffic in slavery, kidnapping, and mercenary work. It's very likely who these ones are."
Jessir threw in, "We tried to guess how they got in here, and it's certainly odd that they hadn't already plundered the library. So who knows what their motives are."
The Ethereals they encountered were vanquished, which left the last few remaining upper rooms of the Library, which apparently they were still somehow in, free to be looted by their group.
In the last room, right before an extreme change in architecture which marked the start of a new portion of the tower, they encountered an Ethereal off to the side, who greeted them politely, and asked if they wished to purchase anything from his wares. Harry and Disidra had finished gathering the miscellaneous books that were gathered in the room with the merchant. He didn't seem to mind them taking the different books. Harry honestly found the figure sort of creepy.
Though he didn't comment on the creepiness, he did make a comment about him possibly being the worst merchant ever simply based on his location.
They joined the others who had gone ahead into the next room. Harry and Disidra came to a stop on a ledge. Harry's mouth dropped open. The others in the group were already down in front of them.
Jessir misread Harry's expression, she called out, "We can't get into the next room, even Ysondre can't bash through the door. We have to beat Medivh to get through." She said gesturing toward the ghostly image standing and looking imperiously at the chess set in front of him.
Almost as if saying those words was the catalyst for start, the ghost like image of the tall man spoke. "Very well. Let the game begin."
"C'mon Disa, Harry, grab pieces so we can beat this thing." Jessir urged.
"No." Harry's voice was soft.
Disidra had already nodded and headed down the stairs to join her compatriots when Harry's soft spoken word stopped her in her tracks.
Harry stalked down the stairs, pushing past her, his wand was in his hand and it was trembling slightly. He stalked past the shade who seemed to watch him curiously.
"I will not play some game for a relic who thinks he's clever. I've done it once. Never again!" Harry snapped his wand forward, which sent a blasting curse toward one of the enemy pawns.
The curse was a powerful one and would have shattered a boulder if used elsewhere. It hit the pawn and took only a small chunk out of it's arm, making it clear that there was at least some magical resistance in the figure.
However, Harry saw the small chunk he had taken out and his smile turned almost feral.
The rest of the women in the room stared in shock as over the course of the next minute or so, Harry was rapid firing powerful spells at such a speed they hadn't imagined. There was little if any of his normal artistry when casting. Instead it was just powerful curses and hexes coming at such a rate that it was impossible to keep up.
At some point, the ghost Medivh said something about an alternative scenario, but even those words were lost under the onslaught of spells and sound of explosions from them connecting with pieces.
One of the pawn's that Harry had somehow missed up to that point fell forward after it's head detonated from a curse, and a comment about "necessary sacrifice" from the ghost of Medivh just made the spells come out faster and more powerful from Harry as they smashed into piece after piece.
When Harry finally stopped he was panting and all of the enemy pieces on the board were left smashed and destroyed. And so was the entire half of the chessboard, deep gouges and chunks were missing from the floor. Portions of the wall behind the board now lay in pieces, rubble strewn everywhere.
Medivh's mournful voice filled the air. "And so… it ends."
With the destruction of the pieces, the door at the other end of the hall swung open with a creaking sound. He also noticed one of his spells had inadvertently blown out wall near the stairs that led down from the path they came from, revealing a large stone chest that almost looked like a coffin.
Harry turned and looked at the girls who were all staring at him with confusion and surprise. Harry just shook his head. "Find out what's in the chest. I'm going to look ahead."
He didn't wait for a response, stalking across the good portion of the chess board and into the next room.
As he left the room, Anya spoke up dryly. "Note to self, never challenge Harry to a game of chess."
The other girls glanced at her, but none could think of arguing the point.
After the girls had looked at the hidden cache for only moments, taking the few enchanted items and tomes they found inside as plunder, they all rushed to catch up with Harry.
"Where did he go?" asked Arko.
Sylvanas frowned and gestured, "I would suggest we follow the trail of blood and demon pieces."
The group followed the trail of dismembered and eviscerated demons up a spiral staircase. From the few limited windows, they all realized they had to be near the summit of the tower. The corpses and bloody smears from the beasts that inhabited the halls led into a series of rooms, and they eventually stumbled upon Harry in the first one they entered.
"This bed really kinda sucks..." Harry commented idly as they walked in.
There was something that looked like a combination altar and desk with dozens of burned down candles, which sat before something that appeared to be the top of an Amani pyramid, complete with a ramp, leading up to an utterly massive and completely ostentatious bed.
They all realized immediately what this place had to be. The personal quarters of Medivh.
Of course Harry was laying back in the bed, one arm behind his head as he stared at the ceiling. "I wonder if that's why the old boy was so irritable. Definitely wasn't the fact that the living embodiment of the Legion's leader was apparently shoved up his ass at birth. Of course the decor really says all you need to know about the guy's ego. His bed on a raised dias? Oh, and his private chambers over in the next room even come complete with their very own Dark Lord throne! I've always wanted one of those! I figured I could modify it and make a toilet out of it."
"Harry," asked Sylvanas, who seemed to be the only one with enough courage, or just wasn't intimidated by anything after everything she had gone through, to ask what had set him off rambling like that. "What vexes you?"
He was silent for a few moments. This situation felt awfully similar to him as he remembered his first night in Darnassus spent in Arko's apartment. Sitting back on a bed under the stars, when he was suddenly asked about his past by the two women he had been asked by a Goddess to trust.
Just now, there was almost a dozen of them in the area, all listening for his answer.
"Long story short, the old man who ruined my life liked to 'test how much of a martyr' I was each year at his school. The very first year, one of the tests was a massive oversized chessboard that we had to play across to get further along the protected corridor we were in."
He sighed loudly, then sat up, his melancholy apparently over. "It was just some bad memories. I've had almost two decades to think of how I would've done that Chess Room as an adult, and seeing that in front of us now kinda made me dive into that."
As he came down the raised dais, he didn't actually speak anymore on the subject, and all the women present seemed to recognize that, just like many of them, this was one of the things in his background he really didn't want to discuss.
They joined him as he started to fan out across what they now realized was formerly Medivh's private quarters. Books were spread haphazardly around, covered in dust and cobwebs. Candles had burned down to nearly nothing on the desk, and there were oddities in almost every direction they looked. Incredibly ornate furniture squeaked loudly as hinges opened that hadn't been touched in decades.
They ordered Dobby to take all of it.
The next two rooms were even stranger. One contained a massive telescope which reminded Harry of the one that Dumbledore had taken from the Astronomy tower at Hogwarts and had placed in his office rather than let students learn from its use. Jessir felt that it would likely be a fine addition to any number of taller buildings back in Azshara, and so it was removed and shrunken as well
Finally, there was an alchemy lab, but none of it's contents appealed to anyone. Dessicated husks of creatures long since dead sat under glass, and the fetid remnants of experiments long gone to seed appealed to no ones sense of history. In the end, Harry generically vanished most of it, leaving a mostly empty room besides a few journals that an alchemy expert such as Jessir, or possibly even the Flamels could later go through.
It was expected that they wouldn't really find any true contraband here. If Medivh had anything related to the summoning of demons and plans that led to the First War, it was all likely to be deep underground in whatever chambers existed in the tower's dungeons. They certainly didn't expect to find anything relating to Sargeras himself up here in a somewhat public room.
Still, they did find a few hidden compartments, though the documents and war plans were decades out of date, they would likely be of interest to someone.
As the group finally ventured out of the room to another set of stairs, it was Onyxia who looked up. "The only thing left up there should be the observation tower."
Arko nodded a little bit and took lead with her shield out as she often had since they'd arrived. The group once more moved cautiously forward into the last unexplored area of the tower.
They encountered three more of the demons Harry had slaughtered earlier. Now that they finally saw one whole, a few of the women were able to recognize what they were.
"Fleshbeasts," Disidra hissed. When she saw everyone's eyes upon her, she began to explain, but not without her eyes scanning the hallway in front of them in case there were more.
"They're only found in places the Legion has taken a personal interest in that has a high amount of magic mixed with fel magics. These… beasts, are produced in the aftermath."
"So what you're saying is... " slowly asked Jessir, though everyone thought the same thing.
"The Legion will have an extremely strong presence somewhere ahead," said Disidra with absolute certainty. "Whatever it is will be powerful, though I dare not guess as to what exactly it could be."
They continued forward and climbed the last few sets of stairs, until they reached what they thought to be the absolute summit of the tower. A hallway was off to the side, where technically there shouldn't be one. Cautiously, they followed it, and halfway down the corridor, both Onyxia and Harry flinched.
"You felt that?" asked Harry, and Onyxia nodded.
When the rest of the girls, who felt nothing at the time, questioned them, Harry said, "We just passed through a portal. Basically we're not in Karazhan anymore. We're somewhere else entirely."
He turned to Fleur, "That was one of the smoothest phase shifts I've ever felt. Heck, we can still see everyone on both sides of the phase line. I think we should try and figure out how it was done."
Disidra shook her head, "If the Legion is involved, you won't quickly discover how it was created. More than likely, the use of their magics would attract more of the Legion's attention if you did actually figure it out."
They continued on, even more cautiously than before. There was light ahead, that slowly grew as approached. The light came from an exit to the corridor, which opened up upon a massive expanse, surrounded by what looked like jagged rocky spire in the distance. The area was surrounded by clouds and storms, and what little of the dangerous outcroppings they could see did not look like they were native at all to Azeroth.
Massive footsteps were suddenly heard, and they saw what looked like a massively tall Draenei male approaching, though there was no mistaking the fel-taint that he exuded that could be felt from a distance.
"Madness brought you here to me. Your greed... your foolishness has brought you to this end. I shall now be your undoing!"
The massive Eredar before them, who was once part of the same race as Kudrii and Disidra, now only barely resembled his distant kin. His eyes showed the fel-taint he had long been corrupted with, as they glowed with a sickly greenish yellow, unlike the eyes of both Kudrii and Disidra, which were a pale whitish blue.
Arko, Onyxia, and Colette met the Eredar head on with their weapons, while the rest of the group launched ranged attacks down upon the male Man'ari, who dodged or blocked many of the attacks with two summoned axes which suddenly appeared in his hands.
The demon appeared to grow frustrated with the group, and shouted as he took steps backward, raised his hands in the air, then pointed at the group, "You face not Malchezaar alone, but the legions I command!"
Malchezaar smirked viciously after this, and continued to rain blows down upon the three women at his feet. No one knew what his apparent gesture had done, until Sylvanas glanced above and behind him, and shouted for all to hear.
"Infernals! Take cover!"
The group dove away from where it appeared the hulking demonically animated rock golem would land, but even Jessir's sharp-eyed estimations were way off and the infernal landed right in the middle of the group.
Harry struggled to cast flame-freezing charms on everyone, and even then the fel-taint of the flames was barely contained, causing half of the group to look like they'd suffered from a bad sun-tan as they retreated away from summoned demon scattering to get as far away from the fire as possible.
He roared in triumph at the injuries suffered from the infernals, "Simple fools! Time is the fire in which you'll burn!"
Though his attention was split enough that he didn't quite realize just how limited the burns were due to Harry's magic. Harry felt a surge of magic pass over the group and heard Kudrii's grunt of confusion, but could see her still moving so couldn't focus on it at the moment.
The demon strode through the flames, completely unbothered. He seemed to focus on Harry as he strode forward, two axes materializing in the demon's hands and were brought swiping in from each side toward Harry's chest. Harry's reflexes saved him as he dived to the to the side, over one blade and under the other, feeling the air pass by from the swings. He turned to roll again only to find himself penned in against the edge of the ramparts.
"HARRY!" Sylvanas, who was caught pinned in with Harry in the corner, shouted desperately as she dashed forward to engage the demon. She knew that it would take a miracle for her sword skill to keep up with the axes of the demon until Arko could get in to defend against the assault her training and common sense told her was coming. Only she found herself gasping as she was forcefully half pulled, half thrown back behind Harry as he jerked her cloak backwards, causing her to stumble behind him.
"You are but a plaything, unfit even to amuse!" Malchezaar shouted in triumph as he pressed his attack once more, this time both of his axes came down to slice both Harry and Sylvanas into thirds, only the downward slash of both axes was met by the clash of metal and a grunt from Harry.
Malchezaar had expected little to no resistance in swiping through the body of the magic user and high elf, so he was more than a little shocked to find Harry's runeblade locked with his two axes.
Malchezaar eyes widened momentarily as his eyes fixed on the blade. It took only a moment before recognition dawned, "YOU!"
It was only the briefest pause before the demon pulled his axes back and began a furious assault upon Harry, "It's not possible! We abandoned that world! That blade shouldn't be here! You shouldn't be here!"
Ignoring the cursing from Sylvanas from behind him, Harry cursed himself slightly, since he'd arrived on this world he had been so focused on the differences in magic, and come to rely on his magic almost exclusively. In fact he could remember using his sword on only a few rare occasions, such as Felwood or at the entrance of the Scholomance. Even then he was fighting against ghosts and more worried about his party's survival than his own.
Thankfully he had been able to keep in good shape since he arrived on this world, so his muscles hadn't atrophied. Of course the fact that he had not only been traveling, and but had been keeping up with six very… active women certainly helped.
The rest was just muscle memory.
Harry was ignoring the ranting of the demon as the axes came in a fast and furious onslaught. His runeblade matched the fury of the demon in a display of sword work that Arko would have been hard pressed to match on her best day. Of course, unlike Arko, and everyone else he had met on this world thus far he had never used a shield and had fought both offensively and defensively, requiring skill and reaction speed to keep himself alive.
Whereas Harry was willing to concede that he and the demon were about even as far as speed goes, the demon had three advantages on Harry: speed, reach, and terrain, as Harry wasn't able to maneuver around anywhere to strike back at him. Especially with Sylvanas behind him. If he moved she would be vulnerable to any strike that got through.
They were locked in a stalemate. If it had stayed that way it would have come down to whomever made a mistake first.
However Harry had one other thing the self-styled prince didn't. A group of very angry and protective women who had moved around the infernal that was still spouting fire and once more had a clear line of sight to bring down the demon.
With his back turned to most of the approaching group, the Eredar had been so single-mindedly focused upon exterminating a threat to the Legion, either because he truly wanted to end the threat, or because he wanted the glory for doing so. He neglected to note the movement of the rest of the group who didn't let their amazement with Harry's actions stop them from acting.
Arko's weapon was the first to find its mark. The Ashbringer buried halfway to the hilt deep into the middle of the Eredar's back. Onyxia and Ysondre both hamstrung the giant, making him fall to his knees after the loss of his legs. Colette opened a portal to the void directly underneath him, causing him to sink as the virulent shadow energies penetrated and writhed up his legs like snakes under his skin.
The rest… a constant stream of arrows and lightning bolts peppered his back and shoulders, causing him to lose control of arms and drop his weapons. There were also several arrows from behind him that passed close enough for him to feel the air split by his body.
The Demon stared at Harry, the foe it had tried and failed to vanquish with a single minded purpose that had ultimately cost it this battle.
"I... refuse to concede defeat," the demon uttered, hissing all the more in pain as he dropped a hand to steady himself, and placed it directly into one of Colette's void zones. "I am a prince of the Eredar! I am-"
Malchezaar voice cut off as Harry drove his sword straight between the great demon's eyes. The orbs rolled up into the back of his head, and the enormous Demon twitched for just a moment, before it slumped forward dead on the ground.
"You are dead." Harry stated as he stared at the demon's face, pride in that he'd helped kill one of the Legion's upper ranked members, but anger at how the Demon had managed to isolate him so easily from his friends, who he certainly noticed had unfiltered looks of relief on most of their faces.
Those were weren't looking at him were carefully surveying the area already to ensure there was no additional attacks incoming. Already reviewing the fight in his mind to determine how to improve, he was drawn away from those thoughts, when his attention was drawn by Sylvanas.
"Harry James Potter!" The Banshee Queen sounded nothing like her normal raspy and icy self. She was definitely irate and nearly shouting at him. "Have you lost your mind?"
Harry blinked in surprise but didn't have time to utter more than a "Huh?" as she spun him around to face her fully and then grabbed him by the collar and pulled him so they were nose to nose so she could stare accusingly into his eyes.
He met the burning ember of her eyes and was surprised to find her literally trembling with rage. "Were you trying to get yourself killed?!" she eventually rasped out.
Harry blinked once more, and took a moment to restrain a flippant response. She was quite clearly upset and definitely not in the mood for a quip. He very slowly reached up and gently placed his hands over hers. He kept his tone calm and reassuring. "I was trying to make sure you were safe."
Sylvanas eyes stared into his unflinchingly and seemingly unaware of the fel flames that continued to burn from the infernal a few feet away.
"Why do you keep doing that?"
Her voice had dropped to a soft near whisper, that Harry knew probably didn't carry beyond them.
Harry met her eyes seriously, with an air of calm, still feeling the trembling of Sylvanas' hands in his own. "If we keep fighting demons, then things like that are going to happen. I was in no more danger than some of the rest of us have been. I'm not going to always be able to just sit behind you all and let you face the danger while I remain nice and safe. There are always risks, Sylvanas. I will not allow my family to be the only ones who face those risks."
Sylvanas' eyes burned into his emerald ones as she stared into his eyes. He met her intimidating glare with his own calm gaze. Her voice came out in a raspy frustrated growl. "By the Sun's Light! How the hell am I going to bed you if you get yourself killed before we get restored to life?!"
With a declaration like that fresh in his ear, he couldn't keep the part of his mind mind influenced by Jessir and the rest of the girls quiet any longer, "I'm sure as long as you continue avoiding getting the rest of your armor enchanted by me, I'll stick around out of principal."
The frustration around Sylvanas' eyes lessened, and he swore he saw one side of her mouth curl upwards by the smallest fraction possible, "So you're just trying to get me out of my armor, the same as Anya?"
He couldn't help but glance down at her bust, which was always at least a third exposed in her armor when a cloak wasn't wrapped around her body. She easily noticed his wandering eye, and actually arched her back a bit in response.
He shook his head, and abruptly hugged Sylvanas, who apparently was surprised at the sudden, public contact now that she'd calmed down a bit. He kissed her cheek and whispered, "I would certainly never pass up a chance to see you out of your armor, though..."
He let his hand wander down the front of her body lightly tracing the outer edges of her bust, "I can see why you'd want these parts of your armor enchanted." Her eyes widened as his fingers dropped further, all the way down her stomach to the small metal G-String she wore over the a pair of extremely thin black leather trousers.
His finger dropped to the tip of the front of the small piece of armor, then dipped behind the metal and leather and pulled her body close so he spoke in her ear, "You'd certainly be out of your pants a long while for something powerful to be placed on such a tiny piece of metal like this, Lady Windrunner."
Before she could reply further, Harry turned to rejoin the group. He saw a nod of approval from Arko now that everyone knew he was okay. It seemed to be shared by Colette as well, as the two of them seemed to best sword users of the group. The rest of the girls seemed to be checking over the Eredar's corpse, as well as searching the area for anything of value.
Colette was the first to speak, "You fight like a Death Knight, Harry. They have the advantage of being undead so wounds are more incidental than to mortals. I've rarely seen someone utilize a runic blade like that so easily."
"Even Alexandros Mograine would have been hard pressed to manage to stay ahead of that onslaught." she said softly, a touch of awe to her voice. "Your skill would place you among the best the Lich King's death knights had to offer."
"But you won't be challenging any of them to single combat alone anytime soon, will you, Harry?" quickly stated Jessir, who'd sent a small glare at Colette for doubtlessly encouraging future reckless behavior from the sole male in their group.
"I'm curious to know why exactly that Eredar seemed to know who you are, Harry." asked Sylvanas from behind him. He glanced at her, and swore her cheeks were a darker shade of blue for a split second before she'd schooled her features.
Harry took a glance back at the Eredar. They were rarely sighted back on Earth, but he had occasionally glimped one of the upper tier of the Legion's leadership present during battles, though none ever stuck around when Harry was present, and he'd never heard of one falling in battle. They were elusive, and even more prone to withdrawal from the battlefield than the Nathrezim were when things were about to go south with their plans.
"I can only assume he was one of the ones temporarily assigned to Earth during the invasion of my world, and part of the group that ultimately withdrew when the realized they weren't having any luck defeating us," he said quietly.
"And the reason he recognized you personally? Especially your sword?" persisted Sylvanas.
"I was a leader of the resistance forces on Earth who fought the Legion. I was one of the few who survived the assassination squads they'd slip behind lines to target commanders in battle, so they were definitely aware of who I was and that they couldn't seem to kill me. I don't think it's arrogant of me to say that on my world, I was a master of two things. Runic magic, and killing demons. And I was very good at both." Harry said self deprecatingly.
Seeing there looks he shrugged slightly, his voice becoming strained, "After… Nym was killed. I sort of… was a bit unhinged for awhile. I completely abandoned the plans and strategies of engagement the resistance used."
When he saw the uncomprehending looks on the faces around him, Harry ran a hand through his hair. "The Legion definitely knew who I was after a while. I attacked them anywhere and everywhere. Their front lines in the dark of night, their most secure and fortified bases in broad daylight. It was one suicide run after another, and I just kept living through it."
He raised his eyes to regard all around them, burning with intensity. "I made them fear me. They didn't even know my name. But they knew my blade. Attack, slaughter, and disappear only to pop up elsewhere. Missions or places that were considered suicide runs by the resistance were another day of the week for me. I had no one, and nothing after Nym wasn't there anymore, so I wasn't exactly careful with my life."
He glanced at Sylvanas, "You have to remember, a large portion of my own people wanted me dead, so I was fighting demons and staying ahead of the wizards as well. Life was pretty much about getting up each day and wondering if that was going to be the last day."
He looked at Jessir and Arko, "I'm not sure I really had anything but sheer spite keeping me going until I came here."
Arko was moving even before he looked at her, engulfing him in a hug, followed by Jessir less than a moment later, Arko was sniffling slightly. Harry wrapped an arm around each girl, and looked around.
"I told you the ritual that brought me here was done by a Dread Lord aimed at summoning and subjugating the most powerful enemy of the Burning Legion. The Dread Lord assumed it would be Tyrande Whisperwind."
Sylvanas stiffened a little bit at that, and Harry realized that she may not have known that information.
Harry looked around, "The ritual worked… at least part way. The subjugation part failed because of my familiarity with that particular avenue of attack. But the magic of the ritual was aimed at summoning 'the most deadly foe of the Legion.' And the magic put into the ritual wasn't small either, since it summoned me from another world."
Harry gestured with a hand still attached to the arm wrapped around Jessir, "Ask Fleur, I'm sure she heard of my reputation and the rumors surrounding me."
As if on a swivel all heads in the group turned to look at Fleur who seemed startled to be under such scrutiny all of a sudden. After a moment when it became clear that not answering was not an option she spoke quietly.
She looked uncomfortable for a moment, "The rumors and news during the war, 'ad you as a burgeoning dark lord. They had pictures and eyewitness accounts of some of your attacks. I 'ad no idea what was truth and what was fiction since Dumbledore painted you as a dark lord who was only fighting the legion so that you could rule the world."
She held up her hands defensively at some of the scowls that appeared on the faces of different women. "I didn't trust 'im or the media he controlled... However, some of the magic they pictured you using was powerful and very damaging."
A small smile crossed Fleur's face, " I do remember the goblins believed that the demon body count you wracked up was greater than that of every other magic user… combined. You killed a lot of demons."
Harry shrugged a little bit at that comment, "I won't say I'm more powerful than Tyrande or Malfurion… But when I was brought to this world. I was a far more dangerous enemy to the Legion than either of them. Mainly because I was the most dangerous type of foe. One with no fear or sense of self preservation because he has nothing to lose."
There was only a brief hesitation before Harry found himself practically buried under an avalanche of women torn between hugging him and crying.
After the emotional outpouring from the group, there was silence as they continued to scour the area for books and trinkets of power the Eredar might have stashed in this odd netherspace halfway between the Twisting Nether and Azeroth on the dimensional planes.
Twenty minutes later, they stood in a semi circle, staring down at not only some extremely powerful artifacts, but pieces of history as well.
Sylvanas and Anya both recognized the massive axe with a demonic taint which had been found.
"I'd recognize that axe until my second dying day," said Anya, while Sylvanas stared impassively at the axe, though her narrowed eyes gave away the emotions she was certainly feeling. "I saw it in almost every major defeat we had in the First and Second wars with the Orcs."
"Gorehowl," Sylvanas finally said into the silence. "The weapon of Gromm Helmscream. The first orc to have drank the tainted blood of Mannoroth. It was seen regularly, side-by-side, with the other weapon of destruction that the Horde held."
"The Doomhammer of Ogrim Doomhammer, now wielded by Thrall himself," said Anya with a nod. "During every trip to Orgrimmar we've made the past few years, I couldn't actually look at that hammer for long, knowing how many of our kin were laid to waste because of it."
Jessir looked up at that, then turned to Harry, "That canyon we were in back in Ashenvale. The weapons suspended in the air at the point where Mannoroth fell." She turned back to Sylvanas. "This is the weapon that struck the decisive blow?"
Sylvanas nodded, "Correct, though I do not know how it ended up here."
All eyes fell on the axe, which was simultaneously a powerful weapon as well as a piece of history.
"Do we give it back to the Orcs?" said Onyxia, always ready to see the political gains that could be made.
"I don't see why not," said Jessir slowly as she glanced at Sylvanas, whose eyes, like Anya's, head never left the axe. "Though I hope we never see this axe pointed at us again."
The next two items, again identified by Sylvanas and Anya, were far more concerning. "This is a standard Farstrider's cloak used by the leadership of the Rangers on patrols for roughly the past few centuries," she said as she held the cloth in her hands.
Then she pointed at the Bow, "And that is a standard-issue bow used by the Sunfury Watchers stationed around the Sunwell itself. They are an elite guard, nicknamed the phoenix corp that guarded the Sunwell up to the point Arthas killed nearly all of them."
"More questions," Harry sighed before he walk next to Sylvanas, who appeared to have taken the three items appearance rather personally. He slipped an arm around her back and pulled her close.
He turned to the group and asked, "Are we done topside? Shall we go look into the dirty secrets hidden down there?"
Jessir took a look at Sylvanas, whose attention was still focused entirely on the three pieces of loot. Jessir nodded, "Yes, let's finish this up and get out of here."
"Remember everything you've seen thus far," Onyxia said as they walked slowly back down to the lower levels of the tower. "Much of the construction visible within Karazhan is additions made by various folks, and the lower levels should mirror the original construction plans of the tower."
"Is there anything at all you can tell us of the underground chambers?" asked Sylvanas, who had finally recovered from the sight of the three items.
Onyxia shook her head, "The tower was built millennia ago, and the underground sanctums were only ever made available to the current Master of the tower. It never seemed important enough to me or my brethren to look more closely into it than that."
"This was compounded by the fact," added Ysondre, "that recently, when Medivh was killed, Lothar, Khadgar, and the future King Llane did their best to cover up anything and everything about the location. Though it has been recently discovered that Medivh was buried in the graveyard of the church behind the tower."
The walk back to the lower levels was held mostly in silence, as all inhabitants that had moved in, or infested, the halls of Karazhan had been mostly wiped out. Occasionally hidden foes were still found in previously unnoticed rooms, and a few scattered tomes were found there, or behind statues or tables. For the most part though, the upper tower now stood empty.
When they reached the broken stair, and the blown out portion of the tower directly below the Menagerie and above the opera house, they got their first glance at the tower entrance in a long while.
The Violet Eye members who had survived the initial incursion against Harry's group had recovered, and had called in numerous reinforcements. There was now at least a hundred mages outside the main tower entrance, who all now battered the area where the front door once existed with a variety of spells. Thus far, it appeared the wards Harry had placed were holding, but they would certainly not be able to leave that area without a massive fight on their hands.
"So how do we leave when we're done?" asked Disidra coolly as she gazed upon the group below them.
"The side entrance could be an option," said Anya as she glanced at the smaller tower adjacent to Karazhan which appeared to have no Violet Eye members around it. "Though, that would still require us to find a way around that group as we leave."
"Being seen would certainly ruin any of the deception we created when we altered their memories," added Fleur. She had been quiet most of the journey into Karazhan unless spoken to, but she was slowly learning to contribute on occasion.
"We can possibly fly out of here on Harry's carpet," said Arko, before she flinched, "Though, it would probably take more than one trip to get us all out of here."
"It's a possibility," said Harry. "Let's hurry up and finish though before we worry about that."
The group actually took a wrong turn at one point, and ended up in the stables, which Harry had sealed off while when they had first entered. There were more ghosts of servants present, much like the areas around the dining hall. There wasn't much chance of acquiring additional knowledge in the area, but everyone felt safer knowing that the last portions of the upper tower would now be cleansed of spirits and undead.
The area was thought to be cleared, when Jessir noticed something odd about a doorway they had previously passed by without notice. It was stained with blood, just like the warded door they assumed led to the lower levels. This blood, however, was fresh, meaning that something else had taken up roost in the tower, and was likely now behind this door.
Arko, being as fearless as ever, walked up to the door, and actually said, "Hello? Anybody home?"
A few moments of silence passed, giving a false sense of safety, before a bone-chilling echo of laughter came from deep within the darkness of the room. Footsteps could be heard, and slowly a figure emerged from the darkness.
Eventually, just as the figure was almost in sight, a voice uttered, "I smell... the Living. Delicious!"
As the figure's form stepped further into the light, Sylvanas, Anya, and Colette all hissed and visibly gripped their weapons tighter.
"San'layn," hissed Sylvanas, which told told everyone but Fleur what this was before them.
When she looked to Harry for an explanation, all he said as he drew his sword was, "Vampire."
"Ah, Sylvanas. What a surprise, to find you here of all places. Our master so misses your company." The vampiric former High Elf practically purred, seemingly unconcerned with the weapons now pointed his way.
Harry took an instant dislike to the creature, more for the fact that he was instantly reminded of Severus Snape at his most arrogant than for any species he was.
"That thing isn't our master anymore." hissed Sylvanas hatefully, "And never again."
Her bow, if possible, actually was drawn even further. The undead former Highborne merely laughed softly in response.
"Lie to yourself if you wish, but Arthas will have his Banshee Queen on her knees before him once more." His expression was a leer.
"Never." said Anya flatly, and instead of her bow, she held the curved blade of Gryffindor ready to attack any moment.
"Ah, Anya Eversong, the most loyal of Sylvanas' Dark Rangers. So in love with her you'd lick her boots if she but asked." The vampire smiled smugly as Anya's hands tightened on the blade.
His eyes moved to others in the group and the smug smile dropped off his face replaced by shock, when he realized they weren't undead. The shock was quickly covered up and the vampire once more attempted to appear unruffled.
"My, my, quite the group you have here, Sylvanas," the Darkfallen said when he finally regained his composure.
"Wow," said Harry aloud, "That's all it takes to ruin your mind-game act? I faced people with better taunting skills at age of eleven."
He turned to Sylvanas, rolling his eyes slightly "Is there any reason to keep scum like this guy around beyond information he may have?"
Sylvanas responded by shaking her head slightly.
The San'layn cackled again when he heard Harry's statement, "Empty threats mean nothing to me, child."
Harry glanced at Sylvanas while the Azerothian vampire did his evil villain speech. She saw his glance and shook his head, which was all the permission he needed. He turned back to the undead before them, who hadn't finished his speech.
"I will tell you nothing, and I will enjoy drinking your blood then sending the husk tha-."
Harry whipped around, wand out pointed at the vampire mid-taunt. "Legilimens."
The vampire stiffened, unprepared for the sudden attack, much less what it was. Unlike when he had dived into the heads of dragons to free them, or the death knights in Naxxramas to do the same, Harry made no effort to be gentle. His legilimency probe sliced into the relatively unguarded mind of the San'layn like a knife through butter.
The connection lasted for fifteen or twenty seconds before Harry pulled out, with a look of disgust on his face. "His name is Tenris Mirkblood. He fancies himself a prince. He's also not worth saving. You should be aware that he was a… colleague... of Dar'Khan Drathir."
"He's part of the reason Quel'thalas fell?" Anya hissed in restrained rage.
Tenris had crumpled to his knees, his hands clutching his head and unable to look up. His voice came out in a pained groan. "My Master will make you pay. When he gets his hand on the Banshee Queen again, she will look back with fondness on her treatment at his hands the first time."
Harry had no clue if the thing before them was lying about what he implied that Sylvanas had previously suffered at the hands of Arthas, but he wasn't about to let it get a chance to dredge of memories like that if they existed. With a wave of his hand, which suddenly had a wand in it, the vampire was silenced and bound.
"Your master has no clue what's coming for him. In fact…" Harry stopped himself, and shook his head. "You know, why in Merlin's name am I arguing with you? You're insignificant. Nothing but a grunt. A stooge. A peon. You're no one. And that's exactly what you'll die as," said Harry with a dismissive wave of his hand
He turned to Sylvanas. "He doesn't know anything else of value. He's useless. A grunt with an ego the size of Mt. Hyjal. He was here to research any information on the legion that may or may not be here since Arthas is shitting his pants over the mere idea that the Legion may one day focus on him and Ner'zhul after they stopped following the Legion's orders."
Sylvanas merely glanced at Anya with a slight nod. Anya didn't hesitate, stepping forward, and the sword of Gryffindor separated the undead blood elf's head from his shoulders before he had time to do more than give a silent twitch of fear.
Jessir took control at this point as they watched Harry set fire to the body, "Arko, go check that room out along with Onyxia and Ysondre. If he was looking for stuff on the Legion, we better grab it in case any of its valuable."
She turned to Anya, who had eyes only for her Ranger General. Jessir tapped Anya light on the shoulder, gestured with her head, and whispered, "Take care of her for a bit."
Harry heard what she said, and motioned that he would stick with Sylvanas as well. He would've liked to have tried to comfort the normally unflappable woman as a scratch in her normally impenetrable armor of aloofness was made twice in so many hours, but the loud bangs and overturning of objects by Arko and the two dragons made such a thing difficult.
He didn't get too close to the pair, which allowed them privacy to discuss what the Scourge member had said to them, but still let them be aware he was nearby if needed. In the end, he stood silently behind Sylvanas as Anya stood close to her, where Sylvanas leaned against a wall near the entrance to the kitchen, as he offered support in a silent vigil.
"My lady?" Anya inquired softly, stepping close but still coming to a stop a respectful distance from Sylvanas.
Sylvanas had her head bowed slightly and she seemed to stare off into the distance. She didn't so much as twitch in acknowledgement of Anya's presence.
However Anya was emboldened slightly by the fact that she didn't dismiss her either. "You can't let the poisonous words of the San'layn get to you, they're nothing but lies and deceit."
Sylvanas didn't move for a moment before turning her head to regard Anya with her ruby-eyed piercing stare. "Nothing he spoke was the truth?"
Anya winced slightly under her stare, her gaze falling to the ground, before she could formulate a reply, Sylvanas's harsh voice cut across her "I may have been foolish and blind to the political machinations around me that nearly destroyed our people, but that does not mean I am blind to everything."
Anya would have flinched at the implication of the statement, her own secret out, but the mocking tone and the rest of Sylvanas' words hit her like a mace. Realization dawned and a lot of the little behaviors of the past several months suddenly made sense.
Sylvanas hadn't just taken steps to make sure she wasn't fooled as leader of the Forsaken again, she'd completely stepped back and turned it over to the Blightcaller. Despite her standing among the Forsaken, she had immediately accepted his authority. At the time Anya had assumed it was to make the transition easier, since most Forsaken would follow her lead. If Sylvanas accepted him, then the rest would do so as well.
Sylvanas had joined Harry and his group in a hope to be a hero to the Forsaken, to inspire her people. At least that's what Arko had related to Anya, but Anya now suspected another reason. She wanted to still be of use to the Forsaken without her own perceived weaknesses endangering her people.
More and more little things fell into place for Anya. Sylvanas had never wanted leadership of the Forsaken, but if they were going to survive, she knew someone had to do it. Sylvanas was used to commanding the Rangers, a group of fighters, trained together, experienced with a specific set of skills and with a common goal, success at whatever their missions were and protection of their land. She had never wanted to command an entire race with as many interests and goals as there were people in its ranks.
She had been surprised when Sylvanas had fallen into working so easily with Jessir. Everyone had been surprised at how seamless they worked together, as it seemed like they had centuries of ranger experience together, when in fact they had literally just met for the first time. But, most people missed the little things. The tentative partnership had quickly turned to Sylvanas subtly looking to Jessir to make the decisions. She hadn't once challenged Jessir's choices or commands.
She had even stepped back from her command of the Dark Rangers, and put Elaine in charge. Anya wasn't the least bit offended by the choice. She would always follow Sylvanas, a choice she was certain she had made clear, though apparently her true motivations had been too transparent.
Sylvanas' confidence and belief in her own will and authority, which had survived death and enslavement at the hands of the Lich King, had finally been completely decimated by her failure to her people. Now, with each reminder of her failures or perceived weakness, it was like rubbing salt into the wound.
Anya suddenly understood her Queen so much more than she had before. She understood why Sylvanas had fallen so easily into Harry's group. Despite the disparate personalities, which Anya knew from her own experience should have set her Lady's teeth on edge at the very least.
Ultimately, this group didn't expect anything from her. They didn't look to her as a walking legend, as well as someone whose every sign of weakness or mistake could be reflected on the Forsaken as a race. They didn't treat her any differently because of her affliction. She was allowed to just… be.
Her Lady was now in a group of night elves,forsaken, draenei, which was a race entirely new to Azeroth, and high-ranking members of two different flights of dragons. All of them were different personalities, yet somehow kept together, circling in orbit around one Human. If, knowing what she knew of his background, Harry could even be classified as Human.
Harry was anomaly. He was also very clearly the center of this group. He didn't often take command in battle situations, letting Jessir and Sylvanas lead and working around their orders in his own unique way. He didn't try and exert authority over how they behaved. But Anya knew without a doubt that if he ever actually asserted his authority in a commanding way, even the dragons would fall into line. But he didn't. He didn't treat this as a military unit, or view things along a racial or seniority line. He treated them all, Anya as well, as a… family.
The last piece of the puzzle fell into place for Anya. She could feel Sylvanas' eyes on her in her extended silence. Anya met Sylvanas' gaze and, with a courage she never would have had before she met Harry, finally replied. "I won't do either of us the disservice of lying."
Sylvanas didn't react just stared at Anya silently, so Anya continued. "My own feelings notwithstanding. Your fate will never be that of an eternal slave to Arthas."
The Banshee Queen watched her silently for a long moment before she spoke, "How can you be so certain of this?"
Anya actually smiled faintly, "Putting aside the fact that Harry has removed the remnants of the curse on all of us, preventing it from happening again? I know because this family won't let it happen. Harry would storm the gates of Icecrown Citadel itself if Arthas captured even one of his family."
A thought occurred to Anya and she chuckled, "Based on his comments, and what I know of Harry, that may likely be in our future anyway."
At Sylvanas continued intense stare, Anya shrugged. "Out of all the people in Azeroth, is there anyone you would be more willing to gamble on ridding the world of the Lich King forever?"
There was silence in the hall, filled by only the clanking and smashing as the other women explored the room the San'layn had emerged from.
Sylvanas looked past Anya and saw Harry standing not far off, his arms crossed as he watched them with concern on their face but gave them the respect of their privacy. Unassuming, with no need to be flashy or showy, Harry simply raised an eyebrow at her gaze. She looked at him for a long moment before she turned to Anya once more.
She straightened somewhat feeling better than she had in quite some time. "Perhaps you are right. Perhaps the Lich King will pay for his actions."
Sylvanas pushed away from the wall and moved to walk past Anya, but she stopped for several seconds next to the her, who had also stopped mid-turn and was facing the Banshee Queen, awaiting her next words.
There was a long pause as Sylvanas seemed to debate something before she turned her head to face Anya. "I was not unaware of your feelings toward me." Anya flinched once more and looked down.
A very small amused smile crossed Sylvanas face. "If we are restored to life, perhaps I will give you a chance to show me the… extent of your devotion."
Anya's jaw dropped and she looked completely gobsmacked whether from the unexpected comment or the implications, or both.
Sylvanas didn't say anything else, just walked past Harry who had a raised eyebrow at the expression on Anya's face.
"Nothing," a voice called from within the room, which attracted all their attention, and moments later Onyxia emerged, followed quickly by Arko and Ysondre. "There's nothing inside worth our time."
Jessir nodded, and motioned for everyone to follow. They quickly made their way to the ballroom, and adjacent banquet hall, before they ducked into the passageway they had found earlier.
Everything was the same. The forbidding smear of blood, and the sense that things lay beyond that were not meant to be disturbed.
But they all know, that if they left this all for someone else to find, who knows what could ultimately be unleashed upon the world.
The women guarded Harry and Onyxia as he broke down the ancient wards that surrounded the door. While he did so, he explained the process in detail to the Dragon Sorceress beside him, and any of the other women who thought to listen. He was methodical in his analysis and deconstruction, as he felt there was no need to be hasty now that they were hopefully so near to the end of this particular adventure.
The appearance of the Scourge had cast a damper on the group, and most just wanted out of the tower that seemed to be founded upon the idea of causing pain to others. Most of the girls stood silently as they waited, but more of them stood and began to pace while Harry stripped down the protections.
Eventually, a crack of stone was heard, and the door opened a few inches before it suddenly stopped moving. Everyone waited for a few moments for something to happen, but they eventually relaxed and realized nothing would.
"The door was definitely forced open at some point," Harry finally said as he glanced at the stonework around the door. "I think they broke whatever mechanism that would kick in once the wards released the locks on the door."
"That I can handle," said Arko as she picked up some rubble on the ground and presented it to Harry. "Care to make me a lever to pry this open with, Minion?"
Harry rolled his eyes as he started firing spells at the piece of rock, lengthening it into a sharpened steel rod that was two meters long, "Yes, Mistress. Would you like some whips and chains, too?"
"No," said Arko snootily as she wedged the rod into the small gap of the door, and was joined by Disidra at the far end of the pole. "I'm sure Nixy will get around to organizing fun stuff like that back at hooooome!"
She roared as she and Disidra began to pry the door open. They managed to pull it out another eight inches before the rod finally couldn't provide enough torque to move it further. Ysondre took over at this point, and grabbed the edge. Emerald scales briefly flashed across her visible skin, and the door swung open with a loud screech of stressed metal and stone.
With the door finally open, it revealed only a darkened stairwell, which proceeded down and out of sight. There was no hint at all as to what lay before them.
"Well," said Jessir. "That certainly doesn't look inviting."
Arko snorted as she hefted her shield in one hand and held her sword in another, "Inviting to you would be a bunch of naked women, moaning your name."
"No," she said without shame. "It would be all of you with Harry."
"Moaning your name or his?" inquired Anya with a smile, the first they'd seen since they'd encountered Tethis.
"I won't dignify that with a response," said Jessir as she shooed Arko forward.
They proceeded like always, Arko, Ysondre, Jessir in front, along with the rest of the group following behind. The rooms were completely dark, and it appeared that whatever magical torches that were present down below had long since lost the capability to burn when they sensed the presence of others.
The blueball flames that Harry conjured to light their way cast an unholy light upon the scene of nightmares that they encountered in each passageway they entered. Every room they entered, they realized, was a sick horrific mirror of a room from above ground they had previously entered.
Sometimes a room above would've contained guest quarters or a storage room. Below, they were dungeons filled with more medieval torture devices than Harry had ever seen.
The starkest contrast were the formal ballroom and banquet halls, which they had found were filled with the ancient remains of spent runic summoning circles. The whole thing looked eerily similar to the work that had brought Harry initially to Azeroth all those months ago.
The biggest surprise was the silence. The halls of misery that lay beneath Karazhan were empty. There were no monsters to be seen, no rodents crawling through holes in the wall. Just the silence of halls that had long ago been abandoned, and the remnants of work that had been intended to enslave a world before it had been stopped.
Deeper into the dungeons they went, finding nothing of interest, other than memories they would hope one day to forget. The first sign of something notable had been when they reached what should have been the equivalent to the Master's Library from the tower above.
The doors to the place were smashed out, as if something had long ago escaped its imprisonment within. The hypothesis was corroborated by the mutated remains of some demonic creature which had long since met its end here. Its skeleton, which lay in blackened splotches on the floor, looked to have taken a considerable amount of effort to kill. It was completely unidentifiable to all who saw it, but everyone knew that somehow Medivh had created it or summoned it from somewhere not on Azeroth.
The ancient spellfire remnants on the ground were evidence that it had met its end by either demonically fueled fire demons, or incredibly strong flames which had been used to snuff out its life quickly. More remains were found further in the room, and all had suffered from the same fiery end.
Past the room were more stairs, which they descended in single file. They reached the next dungeon to find more rooms devoted to torture and demon summoning, when all of them were hit with a surge of magic together.
They were caught in a collective vision, and none were able to break its grasp. Each witnessed what the others saw, and despite how horrifying the images became, none could look away, despite knowing what they saw couldn't be true.
There was a flash of light, and they were suddenly back in what some recognized as Onyxia's cinder-cone hatchery in Dustwallow Marsh in Kalimdor. Onyxia, in her full majestic natural form, laid her side. There were massive wounds and tears in her majestic wings, and similar lacerations along the scales of her side. Arrows protruded from her body everywhere, while her eyes were wide and lifeless.
A tall burly man, dressed in the royal garb of Stormwind strode forth. He had a massive chin and a deep gruesome scar across his face. He hefted a mighty sword in the air, and beheaded the dead dragon with one mighty swing of his sword.
The vision shifted again, and a now undead Onyxia was seen, moved along like a puppet on marionette's strings as she fought random intruders in the rocky depths of some fortress in an arena of some sort. A roar was heard to the side, and a very dead Nefarian joined his sister in fighting the intruders in his domain.
The scene swirled chaotically, and they were suddenly in Ashenvale, at the foot of the Emerald Dream portal they had fought and saved Ysondre.
Yet this time, a massive group of Orcs, Trolls, Tauren, and Forsaken were there, and they were massacring all green dragons and their allies in the area, before their attention turned to Ysondre, who quickly fell to the army arrayed against her. Her fate seemingly the same as Onyxia's as her body fell to the side, shaking the ground with its impact.
Another flash of light, and they found themselves in a massive underground cavern. Bodies were impaled on spikes, or smashed underneath rubble that had fallen from the ceiling. In the center of the room, was a massive being that dwarfed even the dragons in their full form. Harry would've called it a one-eyed rancor from Star Wars, if he had been able to even comprehend, in his stupefied shock, that such a being could even exist.
Suddenly, there were only two combatants alive against the monstrous creature. One of them, a mage, made a portal quickly, and attempted to go through, but was crushed under a falling boulder that had fallen and rolled down a slight incline into him.
Now, only one combatant remained, and suddenly, everyone recognized who it was by the distinctive armor.
She attempted to reach the portal the mage had created, but at the very last moment, she tripped, and the giant creature grabbed her with one of its huge hands. It roared in triumph then held Disidra up to its face.
"Unworthy," it boomed in a voice that may have been a whisper for it, but shook the very foundations of the cavern.
The last thing they saw, was the jaws and gaping maw of the beast as it bit down on Disidra's armored head, shattering it like a grape.
The scene shifted again, and Arko was seen, naked and alone amongst the demons Harry had found her in Felwood. The cage she was in showed that she had been there for quite some time. She had lost weight, and shivered uncontrollably in fear constantly. Her eyes were red and she wept softly. The still bloody bones of a large cat lay next to the cage, just out of reach.
Another shift saw they were still in the same caverns, only now the Dread Lord Harry had killed had positioned Arko's beaten and abused body in the middle of a runic circle painted in blood, and a long chant began. The ritual culminated in Arko's screams as her very soul seemed to be flayed as it was torn from her body and absorbed by the Dread Lord.
Another flash of bright light, and this time, all they could see was darkness.
Then, there was a whisper. A horrifying, soul twisting sensation of tendrils on the inside of their skulls. Insidious and malevolent were the only two words that could be found that described the voice as it echoed both outside and inside their minds.
"You will die."
There was suddenly a vision of Jessir, in her normal armor. She stood before a massive gated wall, amidst hundreds of Alliance and Horde soldiers, all in rank and file.
She had lost weight, and there were dark circles under her eyes, which looked dead on her face.
A gong was rung upon a raised dais to the side, causing the gate to open. Huge Anubisath Warbringers rushed forth, freed from their eternal prison and eager to once again battle forces of Kalimdor.
"Your friends... will abandon you."
The Night Elf Hunter, without concern to her own safety, was skewering bug after bug in the cavernous hallway of a massive hive. She fought recklessly and mindlessly, almost as much a danger to herself as she was to the insects that swarmed around her.
"Your courage... will fail."
Jessir stood, paralyzed with fear before massive eyeball that grew out of shadows from the ground. It was twice the size as Onyxia in her dragon form, and dominated a temple-like room that was the size of a cathedral in its proportions.
The Night Elves that surrounded her were slaughtered by massive tree sized tentacles that erupted from the ground, impaling many viciously and without mercy.
"You... are already dead."
Jessir had been forced to her knees and was barely capable of movement. Wounds littered her body and blood pooled at her feet.
As the massive eye focused upon her, she closed her eyes and released a world-weary breath that seemed to be the only sound the silent witnesses could hear. Jessir didn't watch as a red beam of death fired upon her and incinerated her body into ashes.
The light flared again, changing their perspective to what appeared to be the Plaguelands. A cruel-taunting laugh was heard and drew all their eyes. Colette was on the ground, crawling, since most of her battered and broken body didn't seem to be able to function at the moment.
She crawled slowly away from the crashed citadel of Naxxramas, which had apparently been sacked and now lay in ruins somewhere above the lands it had formerly held in thrall. Between the necropolis and Blaumeux, walking slowly as if he had all the time in the world, was Arthas himself, in his full Lich King regalia.
"So you thought you had escaped me? Hardly! You were always my puppet dancing on invisible strings. Now I take back what is mine."
The Lich King unsheathed Frostmourne, and in one swift strike, stabbed Colette straight through her armored chest. Everyone could hear her thoughts and fears as, once more, her free will was smashed by the iron-clad power of the Lich King with the power of Frostmourne.
The familiar flash of light occurred again, and this time they found themselves on the road leading out of the Exodar. Kudrii walked, alone carrying what few worldly possessions she had. She boarded a boat for Dark Shore, hoping to begin a new life on this world that had initially promised so much, yet had brought nothing but the same pain everywhere else had brought to her.
She was haunted constantly by the voices and faces of what she perceived as her ancestors. They accused her of failure, of cowardice, of not dying with honor like the rest, but running when fate had called her due.
It was on a road in Darkshore, just a few miles out from Auberdine, she was waylaid by bandits. Her death was not quick and was very brutal, and most who watched could not stomach to see the acts that had been inflicted upon her before the end.
She died an unknown, and completely unmourned. Her fate was to not even be buried in a shallow grave. Wolves took what remained of her body to their den to feast.
Another flash, and those who had yet to see their possible future or alternate fates began to grow weary, knowing their time was coming. No one capable of thinking of a way to break the slideshow of horrors they were witnessing.
This time, it appeared to be back on Earth. Fleur was present alongside her sister and a few remaining members of the Veela that had travelled to Azeroth. Gabrielle was killed in front of her, and Wizards apparated into sight, only to stun Fleur
She awoke to find herself a Ministry holding cell. Minister Percival Weasley was before her, taunting her about how she was the last of her people, and she would pay for the death of his family.
A barrage of images flared, each one a different person shouting "Crucio!" and using the torture curse upon Fleur. No one actually touched her skin, as she was now considered a Dark Creature, and not even worthy of abusing physically, for fear they may somehow sully themselves.
Pain exploded along every nerve of Fleur's body and she writhed on the floor screaming hoarsely. The pain would stop for several long seconds only to start again. The cycle repeated itself until she had torn her vocal cords screaming in agony.
A flash of familiar green light snuffed out the light of all as it hit her squarely in the chest, which quickly became another flash of bright light.
They were in a silent forest at night. It was no different than dozens of other forests the group had seen, so the location was altogether unknown.
There were footsteps suddenly heard, and Sylvanas burst through the trees. Her armor was in shambles, and her cloak was even more tattered than normal.
There were scratches on her arms and face, and it was obvious she had been running for her life from something. Exhaustion had set in, yet she still kept moving. She was alone in her flight, and in obvious fear of something terrible on her trail.
Suddenly, with a mighty roar from the treeline, a massive brown orc was upon her, and he smashed her into a tree idly, before he buried a massive axe into her back.
A very familiar axe. In fact, it was the weapon they had just recovered from the top of the tower. Gorehowl, and this Orc had just given a mortal wound to Sylvanas with it.
The Orc, obviously pleased with his handiwork, began to chuckle darkly.
"...and so ends the Forsaken at the hands of the Iron Horde. Their bitch of a Queen dying last," he uttered as he began the swing that would behead her.
Sylvanas stared back the orc with visible hatred that the group had seen previously only reserved for Arthas himself. When the stroke of the axe fell, and her head rolled away from her shoulders, her still open eyes dimmed and no longer glowed red.
The flash of light appeared yet again, but this time a new source of magic was felt nearby. A wandless gesture from Harry produced a massively bright light, and a familiar stag burst from his hand, ripping all from the nightmarish visions that had captured all of their minds.
As the group once again realized they were in control of their bodies, many of them began to take deep breaths to steady themselves. Some, like Kudrii actually leaned against a nearby wall in order to remain standing, tears flowing down her face as she hung her head.
"What in Elune's name was that?" asked Arko finally.
No one could answer with any definitive answer what it was, but Sylvanas was the one who decided to apply logic to what they had seen. "We saw possible futures, and possible pasts. Roads now closed now that we're with Harry, as well as some possibilities that may yet come. The 'Iron Horde' obviously does not exist yet, nor have I ever seen a brown orc."
"I have," said Disidra, who had removed her helmet so she could breath easier. It was easy to see the visions had affected even her normally unflappable countenance.
"It is what the Orcs of Draenor looked like before they drank the blood of Mannoroth and formed the first Horde. Once they drank the blood, their skin turned green, while others who fully surrendered to the demonic bloodlust turned red."
"Why would that particular Orc have Gorehowl?" asked Anya, who was obviously angered by that fact. They had all just discussed the desire to never see Gorehowl pointed at them again, and here they just witnessed Sylvanas' death by the weapon.
Harry spoke up here, an idea forming in his head he didn't like, "Thrall asked me, back when we were in Orgrimmar, to look for Orcs still on Draenor if we ever ventured there. I can see Gorehowl being passed on to a descendent of Helmscream if one exists."
"So, shall we agree then?" said Onyxia suddenly. "Any Orc we find that descends from the line of Helmscream should be starved in it's crib?"
"Or die a bloody painful death?" added Anya.
Jessir was the one to pull them out of their desires for bloody vengeance. "I don't think we'll be able to do anything overt. If this Orc was important enough to be given Gorehowl, he's likely already a prominent figure on Draenor. We'll need to find a way to assassinate him without attracting notice."
"No bloody painful death?" asked Anya, and everyone began to smile over the likely unintended whine heard in her voice.
"No, he'll die quietly in his sleep," said Jessir, and there was no missing the hard edge to her voice. "But he will die."
Harry had said nothing during the exchange. He thought, for a brief shining moment, that they were all planning something wrong, and yet that feeling was squashed almost as soon as it formed. This 'Iron Horde' had already apparently almost wiped out the Forsaken, and was doing Merlin knows what else.
No, he certainly had no problem if this specific Orc simply died in his sleep or disappeared one day.
"Okay, the Orc dies and Anya is not allowed to plan it," said Harry once the rest of the women had quieted for a moment.
"Speaking of you two," added Colette. "I don't mean to be crass, but I did notice you and Anya had no nightmares shown."
Everyone looked at the duo, and it was Anya who spoke first, though she looked at Sylvanas when she did, "I believe I did see my worst nightmare."
"And I think all of what I witnessed was my absolute worst nightmare," added Harry. "I haven't feared death for a very long time, though losing everyone around me again scares me more than anything else."
As those very frank admissions sank into the group's head, Jessir decided they had stood still long enough, "Okay, who knows how long that took for us to see all that stuff? There's a hundred Violet Eye mages above us, who would eagerly slaughter us all if they could get their hands on a book that showed them how to wipe their asses better with magic. Let's finish this and get out of here."
They set out once again, hoping this last push would find the last portions of the dungeon's before them, so they could get out of this sideshow of horrors and back to the familiar protections of Azshara.
After one final set of stairs, they reached a shattered set of dark iron doors. Inside, they found what they had been slowly working towards.
Medivh's true chambers.
Harry was taking no chances. His patronus moved ahead of the group into the room first, just to be safe. He didn't dispel it, instead kept his magic funnelling to it. He didn't know what had caused the nightmare effect but until he could guarantee it wasn't going to happen again he wasn't going to drop his best protection against it.
The others certainly appreciated Prongs, though he saw Fleur stare at it for several long moments, and continue to cast glances at the fully corporeal patronus as they moved.
The room was shaped exactly like the chambers at the top of the tower, and yet they were the exact opposite in atmosphere. The furniture here, unlike the majestic tapestries and ornately stained and carved woods above, was completely wrought in dark iron. The entire room was cold, clinical, and gave no sense of life at all. The floor, instead of being made of stone, was a glassy obsidian.
Ultimately, it was the perfect place to research and oversea plans to betray and destroy the world.
As they stepped into the room and looked around, all of them unconsciously avoided the center of the room. It was dominated by the remains of what must have been an intensely hot conflagration at the foot of the room's imposing bed. It looked as if something massive had been burned via fiendfyre, and the glasslike obsidian floor was testament to that, pitted and warped beneath it.
Ashes were still scattered and scraped away in lines, as if something had remained of what had died here, and some third party had taken the remains away. Prongs was completely unphased by the spot in the middle, moving through the area without any sign of ill effect.
"What 'appened 'ere?" Fleur asked quietly, obviously having the basics but wanting more detailed information. She looked toward Onyxia for explanation as she had been the one who had offered up the most details of the history of Karazhan. However it wasn't Onyxia's voice that answered.
"A great and terrible battle," came a deep voice from one side of the room.
The group reacted as one, weapons were drawn and every single one of them slipped into a defensive stance aimed toward the side of the room where the voice had emanated from.
There stood a man, broad shouldered and large. He wore a cloak that was faded from head to toe, but was definitely red once upon a time. His hood was up and obscured his face, hiding all but the grey hair of a goatee on his chin. Around his shoulders was a set of curiously ornate paulets with black feathers sticking out from the crafted metal. He wore a pair of brown fingerless gloves, and held a staff in his hand as he observed the group.
The same staff that Kudrii now held.
His head was tilted slightly as it regarded the patronus still standing proudly in the middle of the room, its eyes fixed upon the intruder. "Impressive bit of magic, unlike anything I've seen before." His voice was musing, and not at all concerned with the weapons pointed in his direction.
It was Onyxia who spoke softly, her voice caught with an odd emotion of anger and a dose of fear. "Medivh. The Last Guardian of Tirisfal."
He looked oddly at her, then chuckled lightly, and there was a bit of despair in his laugh. "Yes, the Last Guardian. That was the title I held when he stole my form. Irony, that both the title and himself were something I inherited from my mother."
"No, whatever claim to that title I had, died there," and he pointed to the blackened center of the room, "before you in the ashes you all have avoided thus far."
"I am Medivh, but I am neither the Guardian nor am I possessed by Sargeras any longer. I am but a humble prophet now. Empowered by the magics that flow through this place. I'd thought I'd spent all my energies leading the races to unite at the World Tree to defeat Archimonde once and for all…"
He paused for a moment as his eyes clouded in memory, then shook his head, "I was content to take my place among the legends of the past… but, it seems like Fate isn't finished with me yet." He gave a weary sigh and leaned back against the wrought iron of what appeared to be once a desk.
He looked up as if remembering and shook his head slightly, "You have no need for your weapons, I intend you no harm."
"Forgive us, but your reputation precedes you," uttered Sylvanas, who still had an arrow notched on her bow and aimed squarely between Medivh's eyes.
"I am hardly the only one with a reputation, Lady Sylvanas Windrunner, Banshee Queen and former leader of the Forsaken." Medivh replied with a dry voice.
"What is it you want, Prophet?" Onyxia demanded. "You speak of Fate, but historically you have hardly been a bearer of good omens. War and death follow whenever you appear."
"That is the thing about Fate. Sometimes it is unavoidable. No matter what choices one may make." Medivh heaved a sigh as his hand traveled along his staff, a habit of thought, more than anything. Then his head lifted, and his tone brightened considerably. "At least I believed that until recently."
"Oh?" Onyxia inquired, her entire posture still tense but she seemed to at least be extending him the same courtesy he was extending the group.
"Oh yes. Until about a year ago in fact. Then something happened… to completely erase the dark future I had seen this world almost running towards. Now everything has changed, and it continues to change almost every day." Medivh spoke quietly.
Jessir and Arko's eyes both widened infinitesimally as they glanced over at Harry. Harry's wand was still pointed at Medivh and he hadn't moved, his entire stance tense, though he was able to split his focus enough to keep Prongs active. He hadn't so much as twitched at Medivh's words, so reminiscent of Elune's words a few days after he had arrived on Azeroth.
"The world still moved towards a dark future? After all that effort you made in the last war? Sounds like you didn't really change anything then, Prophet," said Onyxia, her voice somewhat condescending.
"You are one to talk, Broodmother of the Black Dragonflight, given how your fate has been changed recently. In fact, every one of your ultimate destinies has changed," he said as he looked around the room, though his head stopped in the direction of Fleur. "Though, your fate is much harder to see in the sands of time, almost as if they had not touched you until recently."
His gaze turned to fix on Harry, "And all of these changes, are because of you."
Medivh seemed to ponder Harry's very existence for a few moments, while Harry said nothing. Eventually Medivh laughed, and said, "You don't do normal, do you, Mr. Potter?"
Medivh continued to chuckle good naturedly, which sounded very odd coming from someone who very nearly damned the world.
"Normal would have had me dead before I reached the age of two, let alone adulthood," Harry responded, his voice calm.
He didn't trust Medivh, not after everything he had heard about the man over the past year. Certainly not after all that had been inflicted upon this world because of the former Guardian's actions. Combine those past actions with his claims to see the future, and the former Guardian gave Harry some major concerns.
"You are a child of Fate," Medivh said, the humor now lost in his voice as he began to speak. "That is not something you simply wash your hands of and let it disappear. You were meant to help your people rise into a golden age on your world, Mr. Potter. The fact that others people and the Legion meddled in Fate's designs does not mean whatever plans the universe had for you have simply vanished. By relocating to this world, the change and force of will, that you were supposed to have brought to Earth, has now been brought Azeroth."
"I make my own choices," Harry eventually said in a steady but heated voice as the surprisingly lively dead man's words sunk in.
"Forget ripples on the water after a stone is tossed in a pond. Your choices have been like a tidal wave sweeping across Azeroth, leaving nothing untouched." Medivh's voice was mild and thoughtful.
"If I have chosen to intervene in events I encounter, then that is my own business. If there are burdens thrust upon me here, it is simply because I choose to solve them in order to save lives or because I'm doing what I think is right." Harry said, he couldn't help the trace of defensiveness that creeped into his voice.
"Righting wrongs, on a world not your own?" Medivh observed.
Harry's reply was immediate and firm. "I have chosen this world as my home. I may have had an impact, but the people already here would have solved their problems in their own time."
"Don't attempt to fool yourself," Medivh said, his voice turning sharp. "The races of Azeroth would have followed the flow of the tides of fate straight to their doom."
"You don't know that. This world doesn't seem to be filled with the same apathetic people as mine was. They have the will, and would have found their own way." Harry shot back, heat entering his voice.
Medivh shook his head slowly, his voice still firm. "It's not about the people's will. Look at those that surround you. Do you doubt their will?"
Harry tensed up slightly at the implied insult "Of course not. These are some of the strongest people I've ever met."
"And yet, without you, all of their recent accomplishments never would have happened. Most of these women would have been dead within a year of your arrival." He paused and his dark eyes glittered slightly as they swept over the dragons, the night elves, Fleur, and Kudrii.
"Those that wouldn't be dead would be inconsequential," he glanced at Disidra and Collete, "Or would be headed down a path that would lead to the destruction of everything and everyone they fought for before their demise." His gaze fell finally upon Sylvanas who for just a moment had a look of utter horror on her face, before it was hidden behind her normal mask
He let his gaze linger before turning back to Harry. "It is not their will that is in doubt, but the opportunity they lacked. An opportunity you provided, Harry Potter. You are the catalyst for it all. And that is the heaviest burden, and one you take on your shoulders willingly for a world that needed it."
"Whatever burdens he does take on, he will not carry alone. We will be with him." Sylvanas said instantly, as she remembered the words she had spoken to his parents during their brief meeting.
"The challenges he's driven you to have faced. The tasks that he's set before you that you now work to overcome. The requests given to him that you've all strived to fulfill. Do you understand why he's done this?" Medivh asked suddenly focusing on Sylvanas, his tone mild.
"Because he's Harry?" Jessir finally spoke up, her voice reflecting the puzzlement reflected in everyone's eyes.
The Magus started to shake his head no and then stopped with a soft chuckle, "Yes, he is, but that's not quite the answer I sought. Do you know why someone carries the burdens of the world on their shoulders?"
When no one responded, he began to speak, "There are three types of people who bear the weight of the world on their shoulders. The first… are those like Lady Windrunner." He said with a gesture toward the Forsaken.
At her raised eyebrow he expanded, "Someone who is forced into their position by circumstances beyond their control. Just as she was forced into leading her people in order to ensure their survival."
Sylvanas didn't say anything but a slight tilt of her head conceded the point to the old man.
"The second are people like me." Medivh said gesturing to himself. "They are born to it, bred for it even," he said with a wrinkle of his barely visible nose. "This is done without any consideration as to whether they are ultimately suited to that role."
Medivh heaved a little sigh, "For some that burden is too great." He shook his head, also shaking himself from his thoughts and looked around.
"The third kind is the one who takes on the burden voluntarily. Because to do otherwise is anathema to them. Because to sit back and do nothing while letting someone else shoulder the burden just isn't acceptable."
As the Magus finished speaking, everyone noticed he was staring straight at Harry.
"You can stop kissing up to me," growled Harry, "and just say, whatever it is you mean to say. Quit buttering me up, and get to your point."
Medivh chuckled softly, clearly taking no offense to the blunt statement and shook his head, "Actually I hadn't gotten to you entirely Mr. Potter. I have never met someone who has, at different times, filled all three of those categories. Despite your experience with the first two in your last world… you still voluntarily take up the burden in this world."
There was a pause in the air before Medivh spoke. "You interest me, Mr. Potter."
"You know, I didn't like the last old wizard I encountered who liked to manipulate events the way he saw fit. He also liked to speak in circles, and was masquerading as an innocent looking geriatric when he took an interest in me as well. Didn't work out so well for him in the end. I made sure of it," Harry said blandly.
The corner of Medivh's goatee quirked in amusement, though he pressed on. "I have been able to see the story of your life, and I'm sure you've been told my history." At Harry's short nod, Medivh gestured at him with his free hand, "I'm sure you see the parallels in our lives."
"Right… I was instrumental in defeating the Burning Legion's incursion on my old world, while you almost destroyed yours by letting their servants in through the front-door. I can totally see the parallels there," Harry responded sarcastically.
Medivh's lips thinned slightly in irritation and shook his head, "It's not really pertinent to why I wanted to speak with you. But I did find the similarities in the circumstances of our births most curious."
Medivh actually smiled in amusement at his lack of reaction, "I refer to the fact that your mother, considered the brightest witch alive at the time, bedded a powerful wizard and then you ended up with a piece of your worst enemy within your very being. Further, you were instrumental in bringing your worst enemy back to life, willing or not. Something we can both relate to."
All trace of amusement or sarcasm dropped off Harry's face, his expression had gone stone cold.
"My patience is wearing thin." Harry said, and the tip of his wand glowed a near blinding red, and there was no one there who mistook the spell that was charging as a benevolent one.
Medivh seemed to sense that he'd crossed a line and held up his hands. "My apologies, I didn't mean to offend you." He put both of his hands on his staff and seemed to slump downward, weighed down by a great weight.
When he spoke, it was once more with the weary sound in his voice. "The Guardians of Tirisfal were an order of powerful magic users who were each further empowered by the Council of the Order of Tirisfal to fight the Burning Legion and any other demonic creatures that threatened Azeroth."
"My mother was the Guardian of this world for a millennia, and, in her own hubris, decided that her offspring should carry the mantle after her. She has, to this very day, still not forgiven herself for her choices that led to this. She could not have known where they led." Medivh's voice had turned sad and sorrowful.
"First, she dissolved the Order of Tirisfal and then she passed her powers to me. In time, I became known as the Last Guardian." Medivh looked up. "Everyone assumed there would never be another Guardian, because the power that propelled me was gone. Lost. And they were right. That power is gone." Medivh wasn't looking around now, his head was gazing directly at Harry.
"Prior to your unexpected arrival upon this world, I foresaw a future where, during the war with the Lich King that draws near, a new Council would be formed at my mother's urging. Surprisingly, my son would be chosen as the First Guardian. However, your arrival changed that, Harry Potter."
"You wield more power than even I wielded at the height of my abilities and you have not yet to reach your full potential. My son, even with an expanded council gathered, and led by his mother Garona, would not hold a candle to the power you will someday wield naturally." Medivh took a moment to pause and look down, scratching his staff against the ground.
"You have touched and wielded the darkness necessary for the position and you have the will to use your powers only when the circumstances are appropriate, not when it is convenient."
Medivh's voice gained strength as he spoke "You stand against the Burning Legion by both word and action. You have led the people of this realm to increase ties at a time when there was no direct benefit to do so. You have guided the cleanup effort in Ashenvale, and inspired efforts in other territories to remove the lingering threat of the Legion."
Medivh slowly began to stand tall, and Karazhan itself seemed to answer some call as he strode forward. He held aloft his staff, and the staff at Kudrii's back began to glow just as the spectral one in his hand did. "I require no Council's approval in my decisions, and no ritual or gifting of power to recognize a simple fact."
"I am no longer the Last Guardian of the Order of Tirisfal. Azeroth now has a new Guardian."
Medivh gestured around him at all those present. "I offer one last bit of advice, and a request for the new Guardian. You have support all around you. Keep them close, rely on them to help you. Don't make the same mistake that seemed to affect all Guardians prior to you and think, because you're an order of One, that you must always act alone."
Medivh began moving backward, "I ask that, if you get the opportunity, help my mother. She continues to blame herself and is so afraid of repeating her mistakes, that she is now content to stay in the shadows of another powerful mage offering advice when she could be doing so much more.."
Harry frowned and stepped forward slightly but Medivh backed up even further until the shadow behind him seemed to reach forward and swallow him.
By the time Harry reached the corner, the shadows had shifted even beyond his ability to sense, and Medivh was gone without a trace.
As the final shadow settled, a voice filled the air all around them, "My task is done, as is yours. The Ivory Tower has fulfilled its last duty to the Guardian, and is needed no longer. Take what you will from this room and leave this place. The Tower shall handle the usurpers outside. Go, and good luck."
"Well," Jessir finally said after a few moments as they all took the latest earth-shattering change to befall their group. "As eery as this place is, we should take what we can and get out of here."
As they started to move through the room, collecting documents and various valuables, Jessir and Sylvanas approached Harry.
"Will we leave the tower standing once we're done here?" asked Jessir, and it was clear she was asking both Sylvanas and Harry.
The duo shared a glance, before both shook their heads. "As much as I would like to use Runic Bombs and level the place, I'm not sure I want to stick around here anymore than necessary after that little spiritual visit," said Harry, and Sylvanas nodded her head silently in agreement.
"What about the Violet Eye mages outside?" asked Jessir, pressing the issue he had honestly already forgotten about.
"Medivh said he would handle the 'usurpers'," said Sylvanas with narrowed eyes. It had long been made clear she hated the organization after it managed to spawn a nightmare like Kel'Thuzad from its ranks. "I assume he was referring to them. Let us take our leave of this place. I doubt there's all that much left in this tower that could cause serious harm anyways."
All three were in agreement, and split up to aid in tearing the final room apart. There didn't seem to be very much to actually go through. Harry walked the perimeter of the room, casting spells looking for hollow walls, as well as hidden compartments in furniture, but ultimately found nothing. A few documents were summoned from out of reach places, but ultimately they were nothing of importance.
After Harry had determined that the looting of the room was well in hand with the others, he allowed Onyxia to head him off into a very small side room, which contained the wardstone for the tower, which was half buried in the solid bedrock that had been excavated to this point.
He examined the stone with Onyxia for the better part of twenty minutes, recording each unfamiliar set of arrays present, as well as identifying which part of the stone was responsible for ensuring the tower stood structurally sound. After all, a good portion of the tower had been blown outwards right above the Opera House, so something magical had to be keeping the place standing. He wanted to determine if it was just the sheer amount of magic in the area, or a warding scheme he'd never seen before.
Ultimately, the stone was left where it lay. Harry had hoped something as massive as this structure would possess more than one so a few could be taken back with them. But with only one present, they were required to leave it in position so they could make their own escape from the tower without it falling down around them. The warding schemes were a nice takeaway though, and he was sure something in there was what was inadvertently blocking portkeys, apparition, and house elves, so it would be fun to experiment and determine the culprit.
Harry decided he would come back on his own and pull the ward stone afterward. It was saturated with power and would be useful. He also definitely didn't want someone else to gain entrance into the basement and take it for their own. A quick conference with Onyxia showed agreement.
When Onyxia and Harry emerged from the warding chamber, they found the room turned essentially inside out, and Dobby packing the last of their findings away for them.
"We're done," said Jessir as she saw them approach. "Let's get out of here."
There was no argument from any of them. They ascended the path they'd taken, and Harry's Patronus never left their side. Fleur had even managed to produce one of her own, a small falcon, that swooped around the group as they went, though it was obviously taking more effort for her to maintain it than Harry.
When they reached the dining hall again, they shut the door to the lower levels behind them. None felt it was in anyone's best interests to leave such a thing open to future possible inhabitants. Once it was secured, they quickly proceeded to walk towards the Opera House. Once again, they climbed into the spectator's balcony and then beyond to the broken stairs, which would provide their method of exit.
Harry took out his carpet from a trunk, unrolling it on the ground. The nine by twelve foot length of carpeting was by no means large enough to carry all of those present, so they decided that most would go with Harry, while Ysondre would fly away on her own power, with Onyxia suffering the indignity of having to 'ride' another dragon. There was still a desire to keep her presence among them secret, and a Black Dragon flying alongside a Green would be extremely suspicious in its own right.
A glance down as they were about to depart showed the Violet Eye members fleeing in terror of something, and the group just hoped that whatever it was that Medivh had done, they wouldn't be blamed for it.
In the end, the carpet was extremely cramped, and Jessir jokingly said this was likely the carpet's last hurrah. Harry, Jessir, Arko, Disidra, Kudrii, Fleur, Anya, Colette, and Sylvanas all sat in rows of three, barely fitting comfortably on the centuries old axminster. They lifted off slowly, and headed east to the swamp they had originally appeared on this journey. Behind them, Ysondre suddenly grew in size, ferrying along an extremely unhappy broodmother of the Black Dragonflight.
The group arrived back in Azshara via portkey, not a dozen meters away from the Temple of Elune they all now had claimed as their home. After roughly six days in swamps, desolate fog-filled canyons, decrepit towers, and the horrors of the underground dungeons, the sun of an Azshara afternoon felt amazing on their faces.
Before anyone went anywhere, Harry called for Dobby and the rest of the elves.
"Start unpacking all of this. The books go to the library, but leave them unsorted. I won't deprive Disidra and Colette the joy of sorting through everything. Put the furniture and paintings in one of the unused buildings we've restored that's open to the Veela, the Flamels, and Neville. Repair what you can, but be mindful of curses. We'll go through it all later and figure out what to keep and what to get rid of."
The elves left without a word to go accomplish their tasks. After a few moments of silence, when no one had moved, he said quietly, "I think everyone's had a rough past few hours. I think everyone should get cleaned up, then we go sit down and rest together somewhere. I don't believe anyone should be alone right now."
He sighed, "I know we talked about heading to Outland soon, but I really think we all need at least a few days downtime after what we just saw before we even ponder another long-term trip."
There was a general nod of agreement found, and the decision was made to meet in one of the climate controlled veranda's that overlooked the bay in about an hour.
Harry knew that everything that had happened to the women was surmountable. Most of the images seen were easily identifiable as things that 'could' have happened, and would most likely not occur now. However, there were a few, Sylvanas in particular, which had no familiar context around them, and were still a source of potential long-term problems.
He quickly made his decision, and apparated straight into his own personal bathroom. He had his battle robes and armor divested in seconds, and a magically heated shower running soon after that. There was no relaxation in the bath he took, as his mind was firmly on the person he felt had been affected the most by the tower's events. He flew out of the shower once he deemed himself clean enough, and a blast of magic had him dry and ready to dress.
Dobby apparently knew enough to know what was on his mind, and a pair of sweatpants, comfortable shoes, and an oversized tshirt were waiting for him on his bed. Switching spells had them on in moments, and he didn't break stride as he left the room.
As he exited, he saw some of the girls were still making their way up to their rooms. Apparition along with an extremely fast shower had been enough that he was certainly the first ready. A glance across the domed building saw that the subject of his thoughts had reached her room, and had already shut the door.
He set out immediately for the chambers Sylvanas had taken as her own. She had chosen a room on the west upper level side of the Temple. Apparently, her family's ancestral apartments in Silvermoon City away their estate in the Ghostlands had been in the westernmost districts of the city, and she preferred to see sunsets from her window due to how it reminded her of times long lost.
When he reached the room, he confirmed that the door was indeed fully closed. That was odd, as most of the women rarely shut their doors, even at night, unless he was with them and they wanted privacy for whatever activities they were up to. Most left them open because of the tranquil sounds that floated up from the Statue of Elune at the Temple's epicenter and the surrounding fountains were often conducive to good night's rest.
A quick knock on her door brought no answer. After he waited a few moments, he knocked again. Finally, the door opened, but only just slightly. One ruby red glowing eye could be seen, looking out tiredly.
"Can I come in?" Harry asked when he saw Sylvanas did not intend to say anything.
She waited a few seconds without a word uttered, or a change in her eyes. Finally, she seemed to sigh in resignation, and opened the door to allow him entrance.
She shut the door behind him, and walked off to the window that she had asked Harry to build in the temple's side. Her armor was still on, and she looked to have her thoughts anywhere but the present.
Harry approached her silently, not quite knowing how to aid the former Banshee Queen, but knowing that he needed to be here at the moment.
After a few moments of uncomfortable silence he asked, "Do you always keep your weapons and armor on, even in your own quarters?"
She nodded, her voice a monotone, "It's always been safer that way."
"You're safe here, you know?," Harry murmured quietly, keeping his voice soft. "This isn't the Undercity, with potential enemies always coming and going. The only danger I think you'll face here is Jessir getting a bit too grabby… or maybe Anya."
There was no response to the joke, so he continued, "No one is getting past the wards on this place unless we invite them in. The moment anyone does anything hostile towards someone keyed into the wards, they'll find themselves five miles offshore in the ocean."
When she continued to give no answer, he asked, "You're coming tonight, right? When the rest of us get together just to relax?"
After a slight hesitation, she gave a nod, and that was all Harry was looking for, "Well, you're certainly not going to relax while wearing this armor."
He reached for the heavy bow slung across her back, his movement was very slow, giving her a chance to protest. When she didn't protest or make a move to stop him, he moved on, emboldened. Then he looped the extremely battered quiver over her head, and down her opposite arm. He set the weapons down against a bare wall, easily within reach, but still, no longer on her body.
Harry reached slowly, and began to undo the clasps the held her cloak attached to her armor. The cloak was a rich burgundy, though it looked as if it hadn't been cleaned or repaired in years. With the last clasp undone, he folded the cloak once over his arm, and set it on the back of a chair. It instantly disappeared once it had been laid down, and Harry knew one of the House Elves would return it in moments, clean and whole as the day it was made.
She still had not moved from where she stood, so he lifted her arm, and unbuckled the straps that held her pauldrons fastened down to her chest armor. She was watching him impassively. There was no resistance offered as buckles were undone, and straps were slowly unwound from under her arms. He lifted the feathered pauldrons from her shoulders, glancing only briefly at the runes he had engraved in them so many months previous.
He moved to set them carefully down on the ground next to her weapons, but had to ask something to break the tension in the room, "So, why skulls on this armor?"
Sylvanas actually looked like she'd never been asked a question so obvious, "I've never been exactly a kittens and rainbows kind of girl, especially after what was done to me."
"I could add rainbows to it if you wanted," he said with a slight grin. "I'm sure Dobby could scrounge up the materials and Arko would have the armor ready in a few days," said Harry, doing his best to try and get a bigger reaction from someone he had started to see as a friend. "I'm sure I could even make a cool little magical effect so the rainbow rises off-"
She cut him off with an armored palm over his mouth, "There will never be rainbows on my armor, Harry."
Her gauntlet was lowered, and Harry went to place the pauldrons on the ground like he had initially meant to. She surprised him when she said, "But if you do think of a more appropriate theme for my armor, do let me know in advance before you craft them?"
Harry nodded when he saw that it was a genuine request, and went back to his work. He lightly grasped one of her forearms, and uncoupled the bracer from where it attached to her armored leather gloves. Her arm slid slowly, with some resistance, out from the thick forearm protector, which in this case actually extended nearly to her elbow.
He repeated the process with her opposite arm, then laid the bracers upon the ground next to her shoulder pads. Returning to her hands, he slowly unbuckled the straps that held the gloves to her wrist, then slipped them off each of her hands.
Unsure what to remove next, he decided the safest route was best, and conjured her a large chair to sit on, with a foot rest in front of her.
"Sit?" he said simply. It wasn't so much of an order, but a request. She moved without thinking and sat down, lifting both of her feet so they now rested up on the raised step before her. The chair had exaggerated armrests, which she quickly took advantage of, giving the impression she was nobility holding state and he was a servant at her beck and call. He smiled as he conjured himself a stool, so that he could sit down before her.
It was the first time he had ever taken a closer look at what she wore on her feet. His first impression was that the boots looked extremely uncomfortable. Unlike the majority of her outfit, which either did not restrict her joints or had softer materials encompassing them, her boots completely encased her ankles with solid unyielding pieces of armor trimmed leather, and Harry could not see how it couldn't limit her mobility
He lifted one steel lined boot to his lap, and slowly undid the straps that encased her calves and ankles. He cleaned each piece as he did so, as there was mud and other dirt long since worn into the leather. Slowly, the armor that protected her feet was removed , which left her in solely her armor lined trousers and breastplate.
With only two single, but large, pieces left to go, he helped her to her feet once again. Where before, he could tell she had been only distantly paying attention to him as he shed her armor for her, now there was a marked increase in the interest in her eyes as he reached the last two pieces of armor, both of which hid the last vestiges of her modesty from him.
"You realize," she said softly, "That there were numerous beings who have tried in the past to see what you're now attempting to reveal."
"Oh?" he said slowly, not stopping his eyes now from raking her form. "And what happened to those individuals?"
She her mouth curled into a smile which had likely been used to inspire terror in thousands of people in the past, but only made her look more attractive in Harry's mind, "I killed every one of them for their temerity."
His looked straight into her eyes, and while the smile she wore promised pain, her eyes held something different. He vanished the chair, stool, and footstool he had created, and then moved to stand behind her.
She made no move to stop him as he began to unhook the heavily armored clasps that held her armored brassiere in place. As the last hook gave way, and the brasserie began to fall away from her large cleavage, Harry quickly conjured an overlarge dress shirt, and held the loose armor in place as it was draped over Sylvanas shoulders. He also conjured a bathrobe for her to wear once she had completely divested herself of her armor.
When she had placed both arms in the sleeves, Harry dropped the chestpiece, placing it gingerly next to the rest of her armor on the ground. She turned her head when he felt the shirt settle on her body, and he couldn't tell if she was satisfied that he had not taken the opportunity to gaze upon her bare chest, or disappointed that he didn't. There was really no way to judge the look she gave him.
He ignored whatever hidden intentions lay in that look, and moved to her front. The still-unbuttoned dress shirt barely did anything to hide her figure, and he purposefully focused his attention on the last task at hand. He took a knee, and began to unhook the metal gstring that lay over the long laces that secured the front of her leather trousers.
Once he had removed the bolts held it in place, Harry took an extra moment to actually look at the extremely small excuse for a codpiece that she had worn over her pants, when he actually heard her chuckle. "Do you still intend to enchant that?"
He looked up to see a definite amused expression in her eyes, and couldn't help but respond, "Only if you model this immediately afterwards for me."
"Though," he added, his smile growing. "You should probably wear this by itself. Wouldn't want your other enchanted items interfering with it as you try it on the first time."
Without waiting for a response, he returned his eyes to the dark leather pants she wore. There were segmented pieces of armor attached to them, that ran up her legs, and only ended just shy of the top of her thighs. He unhooked each piece carefully, allowing them to fall down her leg in turn, and set them aside. Finally, he undid the ties of her pants, and slid them down over her hips.
They fell easily from her legs once they were past her rump, which allowed her to finally take a simple step out of each one as they gathered around her feet.
He looked up, only now truly grasping the fact that she was now totally nude except for the wide open white shirt he had given her to wear.
Trying not to stare, he stood up, and forced himself to look Sylvanas in the eyes. She met his eyes evenly, still no trace of emotion in them, even though there was very little of her not completely on display to him at the moment. Her eyes had a challenge in them, and he was unsure if he had passed or not with the actions he had taken thus far.
Finally, he looked away, and summoned the bathrobe he had previously conjured for her. Holding it open for her, she nodded slightly, and shrugged her shoulders, causing the open shirt she wore to fall to the ground. She stepped forward, and despite the open robe now blocking his view of her, he just knew she was sauntering in front of him as she walked.
Sylvanas stepped as close as she possibly could, her face just inches from his, before she abruptly turned and pushed an arm into one of the robes sleeves. She slowly pushed into the other sleeve, then pulled the robe fully on her shoulders with her back still to him. She adjusted something at her waist, which he assumed was the sash to close it, then turned to face him.
She had closed the robe, though there was still a very large hint at the cleavage that lay below from the valley that started at the point the robes closed. She looked at him, and her normally stoic nature seemed to have lessened a bit now that she was out of her armor.
"Feel better now?" he asked.
"A bit," she said hesitantly, though it was obvious she wasn't comfortable in the least with sharing her inner feelings.
"Come on, let's lay down for a bit before we join the others," he finally said.
Emboldened by the fact he had essentially seen one of the most powerful people on this planet nude, he reached down and picked the Banshee Queen of the Forsaken up into a bridal carry, and walked over to her bed.
Harry knew none of the Forsaken they had in their group actually slept, but he had insisted that each be given all the furniture that would normally be found in a private apartment for their personal chambers. It added a bit more normalcy to things, even if it was never used.
Sylvanas gave an almost undignified squawk at being suddenly lifted into his arms, but said nothing as she settled against his chest. In fact, she seemed to burrow even closer to him as she closed her ruby red eyes
He laid her gently down in the center of the bed, then climbed behind her, so that she lay between his legs with her back to him. Her head rested against his chest and his arms wrapped around her, just below her chest. The were silent as she lay in his arms, and eventually she placed her own hands over his as they held on to her still form.
"We haven't had the chance to sit alone like this very often," he observed quietly.
She nodded, "We've been rather busy."
"A lot has happened since then," he thought aloud, thinking of the many things they had done since that particular rest they had taken where Sylvanas had shared a seat with him against an old decrepit tree, or since she had spoken with the shades of his parent's.
She didn't respond, and instead sat there silently. As she didn't seem to want to add anything to a simple conversation, he saw no other alternative than to try and force the issue.
"You asked me in Karazhan what vexed me after we ran into that chessboard," he finally said into the silence as he reached up and brushed her cheek with the back of his forefinger. "Let me ask you the same. Do you want to talk about what happened?"
He felt her grasp his hands all the tighter when the question was asked. Eventually, she said, "What isn't bothering me would be the better question."
She took a deep breath, even though he was sure it was an old involuntary holdover from when she was alive, "I nearly saw you die at the hands of that Eredar, not feet from me. I've never seen anyone parry blows like that, and I knew you were putting yourself at risk like that solely to protect me."
"Then, I saw a vision of my own death, at the hands of someone I don't even know, proclaiming that all of my people were gone," the anger as she said this was palpable, and he certainly knew better than to make any comments yet.
"Finally, I hear that gods-forsaken Prophet explain how, if we hadn't met you, everyone I've worked with these past few months would be dead or enslaved within a year, and I would continue to fight for my people, only to fail and lose everything."
The grip on his hand was almost painful at this point, even as she continued to vent her frustrations. "So yes, its rather difficult to learn that such a massive change in our destinies came only through a quirk of fate which introduced you to our world."
She rolled her head, frustration evident in the motion, like she was unsure what to say. Her hand let go of his and balled into a fist, and actually pounded on the back of his hand a few times as she struggled with what to say.
"I feel relieved I have this chance. I feel angered that the path I was on would've led to the deaths of so many of my people. I feel robbed and cheated that the opportunity to possibly live again you've brought us would never have been offered."
Sylvanas turned her head, and he could just barely see the red of her eyes as she looked back at him, "And… I feel my heart ache since I would have never met you."
She turned her gaze back to the ceiling. "Ever since Arthas did… what he did, I've tried to not feel. I've allowed my anger, my hatred to flow, but that's it. It's not like there has been much joy in this cursed existence. There has been no laughter. I have been nothing more than a slave to this torment, simply existing and failing to find ways to truly help my people."
Sylvanas turned now, her body now sideways against him and her forehead resting against his neck. She brought her legs up to her chest with her arms, which allowed him to wrap his arms around her and hold her close.
"But then you came. You swept in, turn all our lives upside down, and you didn't even mean to. I have made plots that have stretched out and taken years to come to fruition. My plans killed thousands, who died for the simple crime of being in the wrong place when my plan enacted and they were superfluous to the goals of my people."
"Through all that, all the pain and misery I've inflicted on others while trying to aid my people, you did more in a few short months than I've done in seven years."
"And today I'm told…" she paused for a brief moment, and it almost seemed to Harry that she was reliving a thousand things at once, and had no idea what to speak about.
A few seconds later she continued, only now her voice was an extremely harsh whisper, "I'm told that everything I did up to this point, and the path that it would've have led to... All the suffering Inflicted. All the lives sacrificed. The monstrous choices I made. The monster I became through no fault of Arthas. All of it still would have led straight to the extermination of my people…"
As Harry listened, as he knew what he was hearing was a unique event. Sylvanas had no contemporaries. For years, her position as leader of an unwanted people had afforded her no true allies, merely associations of convenience. Even her own people couldn't be trusted, with the exception possibly of her own Dark Rangers.
For her to hear that everything she had worked towards would have ultimately failed, it had to have been earth-shattering to her. Right now, as he held her in his arms, was likely the closest to despair the woman had allowed herself to go since she had died and been resurrected as a slave to Arthas.
He had no idea how to respond to her self-recriminations. To hold off answering, he just held her the more tightly, pondering how to help the woman who had been through far more pain and suffering in her long life than he ever had at the hands of Voldemort and Dumbledore.
There was one emotion though that Harry felt beyond the need to comfort the woman in his arm. Incredulity. Did she truly think so low of her actions?
Harry's voice was soft and gentle, though he couldn't hide the incredulity in his voice. "Do you really believe you've accomplished nothing? Better yet, you believe that your people are now worse off for having your leadership than someone else?"
Harry didn't give her a chance to respond, and simply barreled through what he assumed would be her arguments and fears, "You believe having one glimpse of a possible bad future undoes all that you've done for your people? You've fought Fate every step of the way so far. Your people were supposed to never have been free after the rise of the Scourge. You were supposed to serve that monster until the day he took over this whole planet."
"But you've fought him every step of the way. When others came in and said that you didn't deserve to live, even though you'd reclaimed your minds, you fought them too," as he spoke, his voice became more heated, though the volume didn't change.
"Everything you've done, you've done so that others could live a better life. So that they could get the chance to live a life, period. The only difference now is that you've got us helping your people as well. Everything you've done has lead to this point."
"And we'll make sure that pig-spawned orc doesn't harm a hair on your head."
Sylvanas had slowly lifted her head as he talked. She said nothing as he spoke, only allowed her glowing red eyes to bore straight into his. No one had comforted her since she had died at Arthas' blade. It reminded her of times centuries earlier, when she had been held by her parents or Alleria through troubled times.
At the thought of her long-lost sister, she involuntarily gripped the necklace they had found at her family's estate in the Ghostlands; the last reminder of her sister's love for her. A love she hoped would be returned if she ever saw her again, though she wondered if that was just wishful thinking once Alleria found out about her actions after her death.
"You really think I'm going to let anything happen to you if I have the power to stop it, after what you said in Karazhan? After what you admitted to me just now?"
She appeared ready to shrink within herself at this, but held herself steady, then resolutely stared into his eyes.
"You don't detest the idea? After all I've done?" she finally asked, oddly vulnerable for a moment before her normally impassive face locked down again.
He chose not to answer her, and instead lifted her chin up. The distance between their lips was less than an inch, when Silvanas' door abruptly was thrown open, to reveal Anya.
"My Lady, we-" Anya came up short, only now having registered what she had interrupted. "Well, I…"
Anya looked at the door, and it was apparent she was looking for a place to escape, and both Harry and Silvanas noticed the pained furrow of her brow. She abruptly turned to head out of the room when Harry spoke first.
"Anya, stop," said Harry.
"Stay," added Sylvanas quickly.
Anya gave a quick glance at the two of them holding each other in a very intimate embrace, and the pain in her eyes increased tenfold. It was obvious to Harry what bothered the woman, as the statement by the San'layn, as well as Anya's own actions towards both him and Sylvanas, showed the woman had deep feelings for both of them, which had never been publicly or privately reciprocated.
Noticing that Anya still had her armor on as well, Harry looked down at Sylvanas, "I think Anya needs the same treatment with her armor that you received."
Sylvanas glanced at her long-time friend, and gave a half smile that grew the longer she looked upon the intruder in her room. Harry noticed her hand, hidden from Anya by the angle of her body, slipped down to the sash that tied the fluffy bathrobe shut. A quick movement of her hand, and the sash was undone. The robe would billow open the moment she stood.
'I guess she didn't mind at all what I saw,' thought Harry, reevaluating everything he remembered about the experience of undressing Sylvanas.
"Yes," she said slowly, eyes actually glinting a bit. "I do believe she does."
In the downtime from their experiences in Karazhan, most of the women split up to report back to their respective cities, hatcheries, or lazed about the temple in Azshara if that was the only home available to them.
Ultimately, only three people were in Azshara for more than few consecutive days; Harry, Fleur, and Colette. Fleur could barely be counted, as she spent most of her time with her sister and fellow Veela, explaining as much as she could about what she had seen over the past week.
This left Colette and Harry alone together for what was essentially the first time. It was difficult initially for the two to bond as friends, as Colette's background was initially as a holy paladin of the Order of the Silver hand, and Harry came from a world that had no such entities to pray and seek guidance with.
They did however, find common ground in the Shadows. Whenever she was left alone by the others, Colette would always gravitate towards the numerous books, tomes, and scrolls about the Shadow and Void that Harry had collected. Harry was interested in how to create Void Zones with the ease Colette could manage, and Blaumeux wanted nothing more than to learn how to Shadow walk.
It took nearly two and a half days to teach her. Entering the void proved to be almost instinctual to her, but leaving it, and then leaving it specifically where desired is what took her the most time.
Now, they were doing their first test of her long distance travelling abilities.
Harry emerged first in the pitch black room, followed immediately by Colette. Her glowing blue eyes actually provided a bit of illumination, but it wasn't until Harry cast and threw half a dozen blue ball flames did she realize where she had followed him to.
Medivh's quarters under Karazhan.
"Why are we back here?" said Colette, and there was no mistaking the uncomfortable tone in her voice.
Harry nodded his head to a corner, and she followed. They walked into room that adjacent to the cold iron bedroom, and she immediately realized what Harry must be after.
"The wardstone," said Colette with a nod. "You wanted to come back and get it once you were alone so that you could escape the tower without worrying about anyone else's safety because of your Shadow Walking."
"And now you can shadow walk and be safe too," Harry said with a happy grin. "This way, when the others ask, I can say I took precautions and say I didn't come back to the creepy tower all by myself."
Colette watched in silence as Harry walked around the wardstone, occasionally casting a spell or two at it. He took out a notebook and began to write things down in silence, which left her literally standing there without a clue.
Eventually she spoke, "Harry, I realize I'm just a dumb Death Knight grunt here, but could you possibly at least say something while you're doing this. Its unnerving being back here, especially with just two of us, and even more so in this light-forsaken silence."
"Well, its actually not all that complicated," said Harry as he put his notebook away and stood up."
He waved his hand around him. "Karazhan sits atop the largest number of known Ley Line intersections on the planet. Seven. It's absolutely insane the amount of raw magic being pumped through the stone in front of us. Hogwarts, the school I went to back on Earth, sat upon three ley Lines and its wards, when actually turned on, were considered to be an impenetrable fortress. Not that the morons actually used the things in the last few centuries."
"The main thing of importance though," he pointed at the stone, "Is that the stone in front of you, when its had as much magic as this one has had channeled through it, actually begins to retain some of the magic on a permanent basis."
"We could place this stone anywhere in the world. It could be in the middle of the most magically dead place on the planet, and that stone would have enough latent magic in it to last a thousand years."
He looked back to Colette, "Starting to grasp how valuable this thing is?"
"So how do we get something like that out of here?" asked Colette finally, clearly trying to understand everything that was happening. "It's not like either of us can sling it over our shoulder and just Shadow Walk out of here."
"Oh, that's simple," Harry said as he pulled out a trunk that was square shaped instead of rectangular. "I set up a cushioning charm at the bottom of this. Just drop her in, and away we go."
Colette appeared a bit doubtful that it would be as simple as that. She had heard and seen how more than a few odd things occurred around Harry. Ultimately though, she decided to trust him, and mentally prepared herself to grab Harry and Shadow Walk out of here in case something went wrong.
Without waiting for her to acknowledge him, Harry began to cast spells at the stone. Magical 'flows' became visible, and suddenly broke, visibly disconnecting the stone from whatever source of magic lay just beneath them. The process was repeated three more times, one for each face of the cubic stone.
As the last arcane flow of energies snapped, a visible shudder passed through the walls and loud groans of stone were heard from far overheard in the tower. Briefly, she hoped that there were no other living beings in the tower above them, nor outside trying to get in.
"Guess we're on the clock now," she heard Harry mutter.
"That's about the least reassuring thing you could have said right now, Harry," she said in exasperation, as she glanced between the Harry and the stone walls around them.
Colette certainly wasn't panicking. Alone in a deep dark dungeon of a magical tower that honestly scared her more than some of her memories of Naxxramas. A tower, of course, that appeared to have just been destabilized by the man next to her, and the only means of escape she had from this room is an ability she'd only just barely learned to a decent degree hours beforehand.
No, she certainly was not panicking. Death Knights do not panic.
The former servants of Arthas merely get concerned.
Harry began to levitate the stone over to the open trunk. His steps were slow, methodical as if he were carrying an incredibly large weight. His brow was furrowed, and Colette could tell that every movement he took was done with an immense effort.
He glanced only an instant to get her attention, and despite his obvious concentration on his cargo, he asked, "Can you close the trunk once I've dropped it in? This is throwing off an awful lot of active magic."
She stepped to the edge of the trunk's lid, and angled it slightly so there would be no doubt it it would line up perfectly to the direction Harry walked towards it. The stone floated directly over the edge of the trunk, then began to fall down as Harry directly the levitation spell to allow the arcane object to descend slowly into the trunk.
The moment the bottom edge passed the lip of the trunk was when everything went straight to hell
A previously invisible current of magic, which had innocuously been going straight down from the stone into the ground, became visible as it overflowed from the sides of the trunk.
"Oh, who actually returns the excess magic they take from a ley line through the bottom of a ward stone?" he said loudly in exasperation as he looked at the energies visibly pooling at their feet.
Suddenly, the magical energies, which had pooled over the lip of the trunk, surged along the line of Harry's levitation spell, and straight through him.
All Harry could do was scream.
Colette hesitated for only a moment before she ran up and kicked Harry's wand out of his hand. The stone dropped immediately into the trunk, just as Harry slumped unconscious to the ground.
"Oh, by the Light, why me?" Colette muttered as she shut the lid of the trunk, just as a dust began to leak from new cracks in the ceiling that grew before her eyes. She quickly grabbed the wand, wincing as rocks began to pelt her armored head.
Her knowledge of trunks was limited, and she had no idea how to shrink it down for easier transport.
In desperation, she called out for the one person who Harry always seemed to call for now that he had travelled to Earth.
"Dobby!" she screamed at the ceiling, hoping he would come for her.
Now that the wards on Karazhan had fallen, the elf immediately appeared in a loud pop. His eyes widened once he realized where he was, and grew panicked once he saw Harry on the ground.
Dobby was about to rush to Harry, when Colette stopped him. "Dobby, take that trunk home, I'll get Harry out of here. It's why he came here in the first place. I don't want this trip to be for nothing"
The elf looked mutinous for a second before he grudgingly snapped his fingers, and he and the trunk disappeared.
Larger pieces of masonry were now falling, and Colette realized she was out of time. She picked Harry up in a bear hug, and blindly stepped into the shadows. Immediately she forgot some of Harry's primary lessons, and instead of thinking of the destination, she began to focus on an emotion.
She stepped out of the shadows a moment later, only to find herself in her old apartment inside of Stormwind.
For one brief shining moment, she forgot herself. The concept that Harry's life was in mortal peril didn't cross her mind. The fact that she needed to contact the others to make sure he received medical attention vanished from her thoughts.
For one brief shining second, she felt something in her chest beat for the first time in seven years when she saw her old quarters in the Dwarven District of Stormwind, still untouched from the last time she had marched to war eight and a half years previous.
But, it only lasted one brief moment.
"Dobby!" she said as she viciously ripped her attention away from the memories before her.
Dobby reappeared in an instant, surrounded by four other elves this time.
"Please take him, I'm not sure I trust myself right now," she said regretfully. She truly wasn't in the shape to move him back to Azshara, not with how stressed she was, as well as standing here amidst the dusty remains of her living life.
Dobby disappeared, and the other elves were about to as well, when Colette shouted, "Wait."
When they didn't move, but looked inquiringly at her, "I know we need to get back to Azshara, but can some of you come back here to this apartment soon and take everything back with you to my room? This is where I used to live when I… was living."
The elves took a quick look around and nodded, before each vanished as well.
Colette took one last look around, before she reached for the jewel that hung on a necklace between her breasts.
"Portkey or Shadow Walking," she mused aloud, before making her decision. "Activate."
She was gone in a swoosh of distorted air, leaving the dusty apartment empty once again.
A moment later, she appeared in Azshara, and abruptly ran to her room to get her mirror. She had women to contact who weren't likely to be happy with the stunt Harry just pulled.
A few days later found Harry, while recovered from his ordeal, effectively 'grounded' by the various ladies that he had surrounded himself with. The dressing down he had received once he had awoken a day later had been legendary, and he suddenly knew why Sylvanas had been called the 'Banshee Queen', even if she hadn't actually used any of the Banshee abilities she had acquired in death.
Each of them had returned to Azshara once they'd learned what had happened, though none of them, like Harry, actually understood what had happened. He had never actually seen a wardstone set up like that. No wizard on Earth would've ever pondered an "Eco-Friendly" wardstone that had an active return path created to push magic back into the ground.
The concept of concentrated magic from a wardstone flowing through a person was just unprecedented. Wizards who had misaligned wardstones in the past when upon strong ley lines usually died when the magic discharged, so he had no clue what had happened when the wardstone decided to push its excess magic straight through him.
The good news was, as proclaimed by both Kudrii, Disidra, and the Flamels when they visited, that Harry was now in perfect health. None understood the side-effects of what he had experienced though, as it was playing absolute havoc with his ability to use everyday mundane magic.
The first time he had used magic, was immediately after getting cleared to be out of bed by Kudrii when he took a shower. When he finished and realized he had forgotten his towel on his bed, he attempted to wandlessly summon it, but instead summoned the entire bed, which violently crashed into the door of the bathroom, flinging shards of shattered wood upon his soaked body.
His magic had been strengthened by what happened. He had no idea if it was temporary or permanent, but knowing his luck he assumed he was stuck with it for the foreseeable future. His control was thoroughly shot though, and he anticipated some downtime while he regained the ability to cast spells that didn't put his life in danger when overpowered.
Since he was being 'punished', he decided to enjoy the the calming sound of the bay that served as the Temple's 'back yard'. He had conjured himself a cabana to sit under, as the day was actually quite warm despite the soft rolling breeze from the ocean. On one side, he had a beverage that Ysondre had showed him, fermented snowplums and berries from Northrend.
On the other, a potion he had, thus far, avoided drinking for nearly the last decade.
It was a strangely appropriate time, he thought. All his life, he had wanted to do this, but had always thought he would choose something he wouldn't be magically powerful enough to accomplish, wasting his chance at a connection to his parents and godfather.
Harry actually laughed out loud right now. At no point in his life, had he actually heard of a wizard as powerful as he was right at that very moment. The idea he wouldn't be powerful enough to accomplish this now was almost laughable. If he didn't have the power now, there was no way he ever would.
He pulled out an object he'd long ago acquired from the horde of items recovered at Blackwing Lair. The object had been identified by Onyxia, and later given to Harry when he asked for it, though he didn't give a reason at the time. Originally, it had been a solid black, with a clear liquid sealed inside of it, but ever since he had touched it after his accident in Karazhan a few days ago, metallic silver lines of magic now pulsed over the edges of the it. It was almost hypnotizing how his magic had seemingly modified the last ingredient, and he simply hoped it was a good omen.
If he actually went ahead with this.
He stared at the potion for another half minute, before he finally groaned out loud.
He cast a pulverizing charm at the object in his hand, turning it into a fine powder, that quickly turned to a dark slurry as the liquid inside mixed with the powder. As he stood up from his cabana seat, he reached for the vial. He placed the cork in the end in his mouth, pulled it out, and spit it away. Slowly and carefully, he allowed the liquid reagent to pour into the vial, slowly absorbed into the mixture he had desired and dreaded taking for so long.
After he shook the vial with his thumb over the cap for a bit to ensure it was thoroughly mixed, he walked forward to a wide open area a fair distance away from the Temple.
It was a beautiful view from where he stood. One that he hoped would soon get a very new perspective.
He placed the vial to his lips, and threw back his head, downing the sludge like contents in one gulp. At first, he didn't feel anything, just a slow percolation of magic as it spread through his body.
Pain suddenly wracked every fiber of his being, just as he expected it to, and all he could do was try and relax and ride out the change he knew was about to take place.
*Author's Final SUB-Note*
So yeah… I totally wanted to smoosh the Wicked Witch in Kara with something, and I totally and blatantly stole the ACME spell and Mr. Black from one of Rorshach's many numerous "Make a Wish" stories. I couldn't help myself… it just 'fit'. Don't expect it to show up more unless its for pure slapstick reasons. Anything from Mr. Black is obviously just way to OP for general use and would be nerfed like hell by Blizzard.
Just like Paladins should've been at 60.
Lilian Voss did not join Harry's group. She's still in the Undercity, nursing her grudge against the world, etc. Not the sort of person I wanted to add to the group. My collaborator asked where she'd ended up, and I wanted to throw that out there. I doubt she'll return later to the story.
She's just too damned emo.
Cast of Characters:
Arko'narin – Alliance. Night Elf, Warrior. Former Sentinel of Darnassus. Current wielder of the Ashbringer.
Jessir Moonbow – Alliance. Night Elf Hunter. Former Sentinel of Darnassus. Former student of Jaelyn Evensong. Tends to lead in any situation involving Harry's group and Darnassus sentinels. Has a bit of a one track mind at times. And has no shame.
Kudrii – Alliance. Draenei, Priest. Enchanter. Current wielder of the Staff of the Last Guardian of Tirisfal. Spending time among Harry's group has done wonders for her pride and confidence.
Disidra Stormglory – Alliance. Draenei, Shaman. Former member of an 'infamous' guild wiped out attempting something a bit too much for them. An outcast who found a home. A historian who likes learning about other cultures.
Onyxia – Black Dragonflight – Brood Mother. Most powerful daughter of Neltharion, Aspect of the Earth. Was caught impersonating the fake daughter of her father's fake human persona within Stormwind, and now has a death contract out on her head from the King of Stormwind. Her eggs and brood were rescued from Dustwallow Marsh and has established a new hiding place. Slowly working at cementing alliances in a bid for Earth Aspect.
Ysondre – Green Dragonflight – Lieutenant of Ysera. One of Ysera's four most powerful sons and daughters. Was corrupted in battle with the 'Nightmare', a power of the Old Gods to sway the minds of others. Freed and now accompanies Harry in his ventures.
Sylvanas Windrunner - Horde. Undead, Hunter. Former Faction Leader of the Forsaken. Former Ranger General of the Sin'dorei, was killed in Arthas' invasion of Quel'thalas. Her soul stripped from her body, she was reformed into a banshee. Currently establishing herself as a hero for her people.
Colette Blaumeux - Non-aligned Undead Paladin. Former Paladin and member of the Order of the Silver Hand, she fell in battle during the early stages of the 3rd War. Freed from Arthas' influence and joining Harry through her friendship with Sylvanas Windrunner
Anya Eversong - Horde - Undead Dark Ranger. Former High Elven Ranger of Quel'thalas under the command of Ranger General Sylvanas Windrunner. Turned to a Banshee by Arthas, and later freed from his control in the aftermath of Illidan's failed strike upon Icecrown. She is one of Sylvanas' chief lieutenants. Maintains her sense of humor despite her condition.
Fleur Delacour - Non-aligned, Veela. Former Tri-Wizard champion. Formerly enslaved to Bill Weasley. Freed from that enslavement upon his death. One of 23 Veela currently remaining alive. Volunteered as emissary as part of Harry's group. Newly arrived on Azeroth.