Sorry for the delay in posting the next chapter, I lost my internet access and Word technically only allowed me to use it when I had access, also since all my documents were on One Drive I basically couldn't access them. So instead of having four days to write two chapters I had two, these are the two days of work I created, and then some. So, I am sorry but also proud of how much I did, honestly I had no idea I could do it.
This is effectively the end of the Adelina Arc, from here we are delving into another arc revolving around the events following the Summit. We will see Ichigo interacting with a lot of characters and from here major events will be unfolding.
Now as I said previously I will be making changes to some of the old chapters back at the start of the story, fixing a few glaring issues and trying to make things more smooth. But try to remember that those chapters were made over four years ago, so you can't blame me for being a worse writer back then than I was now. So I hope to fix any glaring issues back then and also get some nagging individual off my back to change things.
But don't worry. This isn't going to become a dumb ass fic where he so much as looks at someone they either die, fall in love or worship his ass. This isn't the Naruto Fandom. This is Bleach, and around here we try our best to be at least believable and not generic copy of every other Naruto fic ever made.
Without further ado I hope you enjoy the newest chapter of 2021.
Chapter 79: An Accord is Struck
Ichigo crossed his arms and listened to Romulus give them some instructions on the summit, some last-minute details before everything started. Although most of it was for Adelina, anything for him was don't do this or that and try not to come off too antagonistic or threatening. Also oddly enough the Keeper told him not to respond to anything anyone said, this was not about him right now, it was about the people settling things for themselves.
"I get that, but shouldn't I have my opinion out there?"
"You wanted this summit to commence, forcing your own desire beyond that shows how you wish it to end without any consideration for the adjoining parties. You have sway, over many, and that alone can divide the different groups." Romulus stated. "We must allow all parties to bridge the gap and discover the best path to peace."
"That could fail though."
"Forcing it and making them choose simply because you say they should will only cause it to crumble. Your opinion matters, that is without a doubt true, but if you guide them to it without them considering it than you may cause more harm for the future. What trust you might have gained will be lost and another summit such as this may never come to pass."
Ichigo understood what he meant, if he simply told people that this was the best way to go and presented the facts they might believe him simply because of his reputation. But the issue is that the facts and minor details that could be exploited because of that fact could make things worse. If the different groups agreed without complaint or discussion than it left them all wide open to exploit the peace down the line and from there they would be dealing with another catastrophe.
"Lets hope everyone is in a amicable mood." Ichigo muttered, looking towards Adelina. "Don't worry, everything should go alright, and if people give you shit just fuck them off."
He made sure to express those words by showing her how to flip the bird, he wasn't sure she was biting her lip to hold back a laugh or doing it out of nervousness. Although Romulus was giving him a very annoyed glare, another stern warning not to do anything stupid.
"You never said she couldn't do it." Ichigo retorted back, only receiving a much sterner glare from the Keeper.
"Prepare, the delegates are arriving." Romulus said, straightening himself and his expression become impassive.
Ichigo turned and watched from the edge of the trees the different delegation groups arrived, from five separate paths they filed in. Each moving to a table with several seats, five upon each, but not enough to seat the majority of the different members. Most had to stand in the back, while the main negotiators for their party took those seats.
From the far right the Horde took their place there, Ichigo recognised Mairne Ragetotem and Hamuul Runetotem, he also saw several other faces in the back such as Baine, Rexxar and two orcs from that Burning Blade clan that he had a run in with. The three remaining seats were occupied by a Tauren around Mairne's age along with two orcs, one was familiar but Ichigo couldn't exactly place it.
The next table beside them had the Highborne, and their associates. Codexia, Mordent, Caelyb, Marta and some guy from the Shen'dralar. Apart from them they had no one else, you could tell that they were not allowed here when the bare minimum was how many they brought.
After that it was the Theramore delegation. Jaina, Pained, Lorena, Captain Pentigast and oddly enough Azore was with them. Wasn't that guy part of some Knightly order or something over in the Eastern Kingdoms?
The Sentinels and Circle had two tables to themselves, that alone spoke on the divide between the two organisations. Tyrande, Shandris, Iyeana, Hymaercia and Anesia amongst the Sentinels while the Circle had Lord Fallowmere and Elder Sareth'na – he was glad they had some friends on that table. But the majority was made up of Fandral Staghelm's allies, including the man himself, he recognised two Masters of the Peak.
Ilyrnae Darkember and Fahnelor, the presence of the latter made Ichigo's blood boil, but he held himself back.
"Welcome to Moonglade, here there is peace and harmony, all are welcome should they step into this groove with peaceful intentions. No violence will be allowed here, no harm shall come to any of you under my watch. Strength and power mean nothing in these sacred lands, only your words will hold sway over those around you." Romulus said. "Speak freely and openly, for this summit is to alleviate the fears and hate that has festered in your hearts. Let what is discussed here today allow you some semblance of peace, both in mind and between your neighbours."
There was a short silence. Ichigo could tell despite those words that this was not going to go smoothly, there was tension in the air and these people did not want to be in proximity to one another.
"Adelina Oakwalker shall preside over these negotiations, all parties will share their words but hers shall be the one that silences all dissention." Romulus said.
Adelina turned to him and he offered an encouraging nod, whispering to her. "Keep moving forward."
She steels herself and moved forward, standing on a small stage between the Cenarian Circle and Horde Delegations.
"I greet you all, and thank you for attending this summit, here we can finally bring an end to the tension that threatens to see us lash out at one another in hate and fear. It is my hope, and perhaps all of ours, that this ends with us not only accepting peace but also seeing to an end to past grievances that have guided so many of our present-day actions." Adelina said.
"Is that your hope?" Fahnelor inquired. "To wash away the past and hope it never surfaces again. Much of this chaos stems from your actions, is this summit not but a farce to clean yourself of your sins?"
Ichigo really had to hold himself back here, he found it easier to resist his Hollow taking over than keeping himself from lunging at the man and throttling the life from him. He hoped that someone would speak up and denounce the bastard, but instead they remained silent and watched.
"This summit is here to cast away all lies and deceptions, what fabrications were made during and following the Desolace Campaign will be brought to light here. That is including your own Master Fahnelor." Adelina replied, turning and addressing said man with a stoic gaze.
Ichigo was surprised, goddamn shocked, she had stood up to the bastard and from the looks of it the man did not see that coming. It lasted a moment, but he was speechless, the girl he had tormented and ridiculed for years had stood up to him and turned his words on him. But the next moment he snarled and stood from his seat.
"You are unfit to wear the robes of a Druid, a traitor to this order as well as your people, no different than your father!" Fahnelor barked, jabbing a finger towards her.
Adelina took a deep breath, calming her nerves and trying to remained focus, she was doing a better job than he was. It was that alone that gave Ichigo some semblance of calm, to actually see her standing there without breaking down, it was inspiring.
"Maybe false claims have been spoken of since the acquisition of Eldre'thalass by the Sentinels, and even more since the occupation of Ethel Rethor. Claims of seizing territory, disrupting the delicate balance that keeps our two peoples from conflict, both sides believing that the other will use these new holdings to their advantage in whatever war is to spring from this sudden increase in territorial power." Adelina said. "As Lord Romulus has said, no deceptions will be allowed here, all must reveal the truth of their intents here. No more deceiving and propagating towards war, all will be laid bare and we will work towards a decision that all parties can agree upon. There will be no value to you if you only desire to incite conflict out of senseless hate, if you cannot do so, then be silent or depart from this summit. To do neither, you bring only shame to your people and those beside you."
Fahnelor bristled at the words, but a hand from Fandral halted him from saying anymore, forcing the Master to his seat and whispering some words into his ear. It calmed him somewhat, but the bastard still looked displeased.
"To understand what has transpired all must be aware of how it came to be, many may already know this, but please, let us hear the words of the one who knows the story in its entirety. Codexia, could you please enlighten us all as to what led you down this path towards the raising of Ethel Rethor." Adelina said, gesturing towards said Primalist.
Codexia revealed as such, going back several months before the city was raised and even before Eldre'thalas had been invaded and conquered by the Sentinels and Warsong. Codexia had come to the Desolace to search for the resting place of one of the Primal Spirits, Thetis, who is said to have resided in a Great Tree resting on an island off the shore of Kalimdor.
"Through meticulous perusing we discovered that Ancient Highborne mages built a city around the tree, and named it Ethel Rethor. It was sunk during the Sundering, and beyond our reach, but I also learned two things, the location of an artefact that could raise the city and of the Primal Spirit of Life's location." Codexia explained.
She continued from there, learning that the Sceptre of Light also known as the Caduceus of Thetis, could raise the city but it would be sealed by Highborne magic and needed to be unlocked. Azore confirmed this and stated that he had actually met with the company when they arrived and explained this fact to them when they learned of the relic's existence. From there Codexia planned to infiltrate Dire Maul to awaken Druantia and seek help from the Shen'dralar. But when her scouting party arrived they discovered they city under attack by demons.
"I can explain from there." Mordent started. "Some months ago we suffered a breach in our cities defences, one of the pylons in the Western district had been tampered with and when we investigated we found a summoning circle engraved on the pylon."
Ichigo was intrigued, he was likely referring to the very same pylon he was summoned before when he arrived on Azeroth. Caren had told him that his summoning had to be intentional, pure luck didn't cut it.
"Do you know who did it?" Adelina inquired, likely on his behalf, he was glad she was helping.
"No, who was summoned was a Dreadlord that wreaked havoc across our district before escaping into the east with the other demonic beings. But as a result of its summoning the entirety of our draught had been siphoned, leaving us with nothing to satiate our hunger for magic." Mordent said.
Mordent continued to explain the mass hysteria that followed this along with Prince Tortheldrin going mad with rage as he attempted another purge. Only the threat brought about by the ogres and demons were enough to direct his rage away from the people. During that time several prominent nobles in Tortheldrin's court began rallying together, specifically the six Nobles who had taken up leadership of the Highborne following their departure from Eldre'thalas.
Codexia surmises that she offered them a chance to escape the city and to leave Tortheldrin to die, they accepted and lead them to the Desolace.
The details then went over towards the events revolving around the campaign, Jaina, Shandris, Mordent and Codexia providing some of the details. Rexxar and Pentigast gave their two cents as well, along with written testimony provided by Keeper Maladras. When it came to the Nobles and Highborne it was the Shen'dralar mage, Arcanist Tarelvir, someone whom Maluineth Moonscribe had made into her second, and Caelyb Greenearth.
They detailed most of the Highborne leaderships actions during the entire campaign, what their leaders were doing along with how they achieved it.
From there it ended with the recapture of the city through a joint effort between Highborne separatists, the Sentinels, Tauren and Cenarian Circle forces. After that it was the battle to hold back the elementals and the eventual sealing of Terramok. But what was most damning was that the evidence presented also showed that the allegation the Circle had been leveling against Adelina had been fabricated and false.
More than that it also implicated them trying to sabotage negotiations as well as implicate the Horde in wrongdoings. Not only that it also implicated Fandral in this because he is the one who revealed these allegations to his peers and made them act on it. This however did not go over well with his camp, the man himself was stoic in the face of these accusations, his supporters were less calm than him.
"This is nothing but an attempt to place blame upon the Circle, a vicious and vindictive attack on our order to cover for your own crimes." Ilyrnae stated, her words venomous.
"You and the Masters of the Peak have been openly against negotiations with the Horde, delaying any delegation that moves for your peak. In fact when word reached you of the turmoil below you only intervened when Thal'darah Groove was threatened." Adelina replied. "Besides, you fabricated evidence to implicate me, evidence to incite anger towards the Horde and remind them of the great losses we suffered at their hands in the past. You sought to instigate war."
Adelina was calm and cold with her declarations, she was not being shaken by their words anymore. She was growing stronger the more they tried to tear her down.
"Worse still, you even deceived your own people, our Priestess herself bought into your lies and it nearly led us to ruin. All for what? To spite my father?" Adelina asked. "For all his failings, for all his mistakes, he at least had the courage to own up to them. Unlike you, who still try to deny your wrongdoings like some impertinent child."
"We have nothing to hide and our words are nothing but truth!" Fahnelor shouted in response.
"Then you would call the High Priestess a liar? The Sentinel-General too? Lord Fallowmere, who rules over the same peak your conclave resides? Along with the Elder to your right?" Adelina asked, daring him to speak up.
He didn't though, he was trapped, he denied it he would only be inviting those same people to call him out on his lies. Problem was he was too proud to ever admit he was wrong, especially in front of someone he hated. Ichigo was hoping he slipped up, made a mistake, would be good to see the bastard get some well-deserved ridicule.
"Do you have anything to say Master Fahnelor?" Tyrande inquired, expecting an answer from him, with the way she was starting she likely was going to do something that would tarnish not only his reputation but also Fandral's.
He probably picked up on that as well, because he spoke up before Fahnelor could.
"This is a matter for the Circle, there appears to be some conflicting information, and if there is any baseless claims to be found they will be discovered by our people." Fandral said, defusing the situation. "As Adelina Oakwalker has said, this summit is to bring to light the truth of the matter, and it appears that what we thought as truth may have been wrong."
"You say that you did not known the truth, even if that was the case, you have been openly hindering peaceful negotiations ever since this began." Tyrande stated.
"If you are referring to the Tauren delegation to Stonetalon Peak, as mentioned before there have been attacks down the mountain pass. Those can obviously be the reason for any lack of progress, and if I am not mistaken Thal'dorah Groove is the furthest of the Grooves down the pass. If that was attacked only recently than it would make sense for us to not know of the Tauren's dire circumstances during their ascent to the peak. After all, the peace we have with them is that we would not transgress into their lands near the base of the mountains."
"And what of these accusations against Adelina Oakwalker herself?" Codexia inquired. "Your associates had beaten her bloody and done so out of a sense of justice."
"Regrettably, my actions in giving this information to the Masters of the Peak may have been less out of professional obligations to apprehend a criminal and more towards the breaking of my humor. It is no secret Adelina Oakwalker is ostracized due to her heritage, a sentiment shared amongst many Druids and Sentinels, alike. When her involvement in this incident became known it obviously led to those outside the view of the truth began formulating possible reasons for how events unfolded as they did." Fandral said. "It is truth that she grew a Great Tree, would it be so difficult to believe that during such a feat she connected it to the Emerald Dream? An act that, even before or after the city was formally occupied by the Tauren, meant she provided them with a power that is best not to be in their hands."
That was the biggest load of shit Ichigo had ever heard, the guy was playing this off as people got too emotional and simply started sprouting wild accusations just because she was present. He hated it that he brought it up, but a rational part of him realized what Fandral was doing.
He won't accept blame, most politicians never do, you can never be seen as fallible in the eyes of those that follow you. But what he was doing was giving reason to why things went the way they did, he was actually wiggling his way out of the noose and getting away with his actions. Slimy bastard knew how to outwit them.
"Regardless of that fact you also gave me this information, presented it to me and convinced me of its validity. This is something that cannot be overlooked, you fed me lies Archdruid, lies that could have seen to a war we may not have needed to fight." Tyrande said.
"Yes, it goes to show how detrimental this was to us, that the mere mention of her name in this had caused us to become wild and lose our sense. This is a serious matter for us, given the dire nature that formed as a result of this altercation, it has led me to think it is best that the Circle look into this to ensure it does not transpire again. I will do so personally, to ensure that no further strife is wrought by fragile emotions." Fandral said.
That son of a bitch, he was literally playing the emotional distress card, he was making it all sound like a crime of passion that overwhelmed them and that this was nothing but a huge mistake. How he said it also made it seem like Adelina was still at fault, that her presence was still a determining factor in how things nearly went wrong.
This bastard didn't know how the keep his mouth shut.
"Do you think that is a valid excuse Staghelm?" Tyrande asked.
"Were you not also infuriated when you learned of her involvement in this?" Fandral asked, the question was simple but it also had a lot of implications to it.
Ichigo actually saw Tyrande's brows crease and her fingers clenching into a fist, he was calling her no different than them in regards to hating Adelina's parents. Ichigo had no idea if Tyrande had any resentment of animosity towards Adelina's mother, but the fact she was being compared in any way to them did not sit well with her.
"You best watch your words Archdruid, I will not tolerate a thinly veiled insult such as that again. Even in the presence of Romulus." Tyrande said, she wasn't making an idle threat either.
"I merely refer to when I brought the information to you, that one of your own people had betrayed us, such a feeling can overwhelm the mind. I am certain that in that moment you too were overcome with a desire to see this person brought to justice and to face her crimes." Fandral said, deflecting the accusation and giving another point of view, but he was only messing with her.
Tyrande narrowed her eyes, figuring it out as well.
"Please, there is nothing to gain from this, we must look to the future, holding onto what has happened and for what reasons will do us no good. If Fandral Staghelm says as such we have no choice but to accept his words as truth." Adelina said.
She defused the situation, a good thing as well, last thing they wanted was the two closest allies in this summit being at each other's throats. It wouldn't change how things were but Ichigo hoped to divert away from that discussion, it was only aggravating him hear this guy weasel his way out of taking any form of culpability.
"We all know where we stand, all our fears and all truths have been revealed, now is the time for us to decide what can be done. We do not need to fear conflict when we seek to make peace, and provide goodwill." Adelina said.
"Goodwill? The Sentinels bar entry to Dire Maul and leave the Tauren to fight for their lives in Feralas and Thousand Needles. If they seek to do anything than let them die to their mortal enemies than how can that be anything but hostile." Morgosh said, the orc next to Cairne, he was the guy that he had met during the attack on Dire Maul a few months back.
Word was the guy didn't like him very much, apparently, he took to any show of strength from anyone outside the Horde as a threat. This guy was going to be a pain to deal with.
"We will provide sanctuary to the Tauren." Shandris spoke up. "From there they can be sent to the Desolace where they can resettle, in safety."
"That is no different than leaving them too the Centaur." Morgosh countered.
"Not so, as explained before with the Great Trees in the Desolace, their power comes from the Emerald Dream itself. It saturates the very land and in time the Desolace will not longer be a barren wasteland, instead it will return to its former glory as Mashan'she." Adelina said. "But it cannot be restored as quickly as we hope, so as a token of good faith from the Circle we are offering not only to aid you in restoring the land but also offering an invitation to your people into the Circle."
The Tauren delegates looked surprised by the suggestion, they murmured to themselves, their whispering was hasty and it seems that the idea did appeal to them. Ichigo was glad that was going alright, nothing worse than them not liking the idea.
"The Sentinels have also promised to support their relocation, protecting the entrance to Mashan'she at the Twin Colossi and guiding any of the clans trapped in Feralas there." Adelina said. "Old grudges have divided us, made us forget the shared love we have towards nature, let this union be the start of a new friendship between our two people. Not only as Druids, but as children of Kalimdor."
That certainly seemed to have put the Tauren in good spirits, the idea of finally getting back to ancient roots lost to them appealed to all of them.
"There are still issues with this, when the Tauren depart Feralas the Sentinels will be the only force present there. And once the Centaur have been dispatched there will be no opposition left to resist them taking over the region." Morgosh said, narrowing his eyes. "With such a large city they would hold too much power, especially close to Mulgore and the Desolace, if they decide to attack those two places would be the first to attack. And if they can reach the Desolace from that city, in spite of the mountains, who says they cannot do the same Mulgore."
Ichigo wanted to crack his fist upside this guys head, even if it sounded like a reasonable issue, he was simply trying to pick apart this deal.
"The Sentinels would have free reign to take any holdings they wanted should they wish." Morgosh said. "It is not a surprise that they would attack at random and without warning, how we first met them was the case, and even after the peace they struck at us with impunity."
"Keeping you from the forests was out main concern, your lumbering operating in Ashenvale is something we do not wish to see repeated in Feralas." Shandris stated. "And considering your position you have as much a chance to invade western Ashenvale through the charred pass."
"Hah! What chance is there when you have these Druids who spur us at every turn holding onto the leash you seek to bind our Tauren allies with." Morgosh said.
"The Sentinel General is right to fear an attack, even with this agreement and their inclusion into the Circle there is nothing to stop the Tauren from siding with the Horde in an attack." Fahenlor said. "Teaching them the Druidic arts would be no different than arming the enemies who would be invading them."
"We would never allow such a sacred place to become tainted with blood, the Loom of the Earthmother is sacred to us and we would not see it tainted by conflict of any kind." Hamuul shot back, clearly angry with the accusation.
"Bold words, but your kind has disappointed us before, there is good reason for the animosity between us. Even if you have forgotten, we have not, and that alone is enough to be suspicious of you and those that you keep as friends." Fahnelor said.
"A sentiment we share, for if this is the treatment we would receive from this who would be our equals, accepting an invitation to your order would only see is shackled to tyrants." Cairne said, his words low and gravelly. "Your people have always had a streak of arrogance and viewed your own kind above all others, it seems that some of you have not let go of your Highborne heritage."
That was probably a terrible thing to say right now, but considering that the Circle was not too keen on accept the Tauren they had a right to be displeased. It wasn't a gift if those who would help them were going to be antagonistic towards them.
It descended into chaos from there soon after, all sides having it out at one another. Racial grudges and past grievances young and old came to the forefront, no one was safe from persecution here.
Even those who attempted to mediate were ridiculed.
"We came here to negotiate peace, to end conflict." Thrall said. "The Horde will honour its agreements."
"As you have done so in the past? You cannot even keep this warmonger and his band of mongrels from chopping down our forests!" Tyrande retorted. "Had you any power over that rabble they would not be in Ashenvale. Now you would use this as an opportunity to deforest the rest of it as well?"
Others saw no reason to hold back on insulting those they despised.
"It is a tragedy that the Circle has fallen so low since the Shando's absence, to think he would allow men like you to lead in his place." Hamuul shouted, pointing at Fahnelor.
"A better alternative than beasts such as you!" Fahnelor cried.
What civil argument could be made did not lead to any conclusion, only an impasse where neither side could make any headway.
"If the Horde marshals a force in the Desolace there is no alternative but to respond, they cannot be allowed free reign in the region." Shandris said.
"Barring the Horde from this region is too much, to isolate them from our lands would be a dishonour we could never approve of. We would trade bad blood with the elves to our orc allies, and in either case the elves would still hold ill will." Mairne replied.
Even amongst their own factions there was division.
"Must you continue down this path of stupidity, enough have suffered under your deranged logic long enough!" Lord Fallowmere bellowed, pointing towards Fahnelor and Ilyrnae.
"These savages would exploit every opportunity given to them, like they have in the past, Ashenvale has suffered enough with the presence of the orcs. Let us not give any ground to these Tauren." Ilyrnae retorted.
Ichigo watched the spectacle, disappointed how quickly it all fell apart, no wonder Tyrande and Jaina were so worried about this going pair shaped. It just took one voice for everything to fall apart, one argument and everyone was shouting at each other either trying to back out or try and keep things from escalating further.
He's had enough.
If you can't act like adults than you will get treated like children. And he remembered one Old Man's tried and true method of keeping children in adult bodies from acting out.
He released his spiritual pressure, making sure he made it nice and dense so that when it crashed down they all felt like a Kodo landed right on top of them. The arguing died instantly, they all sagged forward and some dropping back into their chairs, just like that he had silenced the entire groove. He let it hang for a few moments before letting it go, and watched as they all took collective gasps of air.
Most looked towards him, shocked at the sudden display of power, he would be amused if he wasn't so disappointed.
"If you are done, I think we should continue the meeting." Ichigo said.
"Ichigo, do not…"
"Shut the fuck up." Ichigo cut Tyrande off right there, he wasn't having any lip from her.
She looked surprised, his glare and his words likely taking her off guard.
"This entire meeting is nothing short of a joke, we came here and put aside all past grudges and laid our hands on the table to show we had no ill will. But the moment we make progress you all start acting like children that doesn't know how to be patient. So I am going to say this once: if you act up and start picking fights or disrupt this summit again, I will drag your ass out of here and put you in the kiddie corner until this meeting is done."
He made the point clear by actually picking up a seat, carrying it over to tree and facing it towards the trunk. They wanted to act like children, he would treat them like it, teach them what happens when they misbehave.
"What childishness is…" Thrall started.
"I make it childish to match up to the children in front of me, honestly you cannot put anything behind you and look at the big picture." Ichigo retorted. "You see only what they are taking away rather than what you are getting out of it, let me tell you the truth, nothing you get out of this is going to be exactly what you want. There will be no perfect ending for everyone, no one will get everything that they want, no questions asked. So, you have to suck it up, look at what you can get and mitigate any problems down the line, and work through this. Because everything is not going to be solved if you keep shouting at each other like some pack of toddlers fighting over a rattle."
His piece said he turned and nodded towards Adelina, she was motionless for a moment and likely caught uncertain how to continue on from that.
"Uh… yes. He is correct, we must look at what all sides can offer to this, to try and gain what they desire. I know that you will not be satisfied unless your demands are met completely, but we cannot do so, it would be no different than us expecting no argument from you when giving our demands." Adelina said.
"She is right, we cannot hold to reach a compromise if we keep holding out for unreasonable demands, and neither can these compromises come to pass if we continue to resist out of suspicion." Jaina said. "We must make sacrifices towards peace, we must put some trust towards those we made these agreements with. If we cannot trust those we made a pact with, the pact has no meaning."
There was silence for a moment.
"The contested natures of the Feralas and Desolace are the main concerns here." Shandris stated.
"Due to their close proximity to territories controlled by the other, there is no stopping the fact it will lead to hostility and anxiety down the line." Lord Fallowmere stated.
"The Warsong and Horde at large are in constant need of lumber, even if this summit passes through you would not stop lumber operations. You could stop in Ashenvale if you thought it prudent, but even then you would be stuck with only two place to harvest. Mashan'she and Feralas." Tyrande calmly stated. "In either case a build up of an orc clan we have had many skirmishes with would only inflame tensions further."
"With the number of Centaur in Feralas it would make sense that the Sentinels would deploy a vast number of their soldiers to face them. Such a large gathering would be seen as threatening even if there were altruistic reasons behind it." Cairne replied. "Its proximity to regions where the majority of the Tauren live would be quite concerning for our people, if things were to turn bitter between us again, there is little stopping an invasion."
"There would also be the issue of the Circle's involvement, even if we join we would not receive the same privileges as them. They would come to limit our influence and the potential to become druids rather than elevating us, that would make them no better than wardens rather than teachers." Hamuul stated.
Yeah, that was just the short list of issues they had to deal with. Nothing good was coming of this, and it didn't seem like anyone was going to make any suggestions that anyone wanted to agree too.
"I have a suggestion, if you would listen."
Ichigo turned to the guy, immediately he felt like this was going to blow up worse than when Morgosh got started. After all the difference between that orc and this guy was the latter being smarter and more long lived.
And there was one thing Tyrande had said to him: Never trust Fandral Staghelm.
"What do you suggest?" Thrall asked.
"I think that the Tauren should accept the invitation, but instead of being provided teachers and guides, they seek them out." Fandral said, surprising everyone at the suggestion. "Hamuul Runetotem, is a seasoned druid and if invited into the conclaves I think it would not be so difficult to gain supporters for his desire to uplift his people. I am also certain that with the aid of Romulus and his Ambassador that can be achieved even quicker."
That… was actually a good idea, instead of the Tauren being given what they could get the Circle was offering any member who desired to take part to go themselves. With the Tauren having complete say in who got to come and who didn't, you couldn't argue with something like that.
"Any I ask?" Hamuul inquired.
"Yes, if they wish to aid you then they can join, we will gain nothing if there is a divide between the teachers and students. Only when both seek to meet each other do they gain something, it is important that both parties be receptive to the others wants and needs. With this you can ensure that there are none who delve into your lands that are not there to help." Fandral said.
That was giving a lot of power to the Tauren, they literally were the ones holding the leash in this dog show, that was uncommon.
"Are you satisfied with this?" Lord Fallowmere asked, clearly perplexed.
"As long as we have Druids who can keep the circle appraised of the Great Trees and the power within then there shall be no issue. So long as the Tauren respect our wishes there is no reason to restrain them." Fandral replied.
Despite that Lord Fallowmere looked even more confused, he didn't understand what the hell was happening. Ichigo didn't know what was happening but whatever it was this wasn't normal. This guy was the leader of a very isolationist and racial superiority faction, why the hell would he give all that power and authority to a race he saw as nothing short of animals? Unless he didn't believe as vehemently as his cohorts.
"Solving the contested issue with Feralas and Mashan'she can be solved by changing two things, changing whom controls the two cities that are present in each region." Fandral said.
"You would have us change their occupants?" Codexia inquired.
"No, but ensure that neither the Horde or Sentinels have control over them, neutral cities will mitigate any hostilities. Any neutral force in the world is under an obligation to never take sides between the Horde and Alliance, especially regarding military matters." Fandral said. "Ethel Rethor should be given to the Highborne to rule as their discretion."
That suggestion left many starting at him in shock, he was actually saying that the Highborne should be free to rule the city they now occupy, with no one looking after them. It was expected that there would be opposition to the idea of letting the Highborne off the hook, but Fandral stopped them before they could start yelling.
"As a neutral city they are free to allow anyone entrance, including Druids of the Circle and the Tauren. And since they are neutral, they are subject to the same rules as all neutral naval tariffs." Fandral said.
"Neutral ships need to submit to inspections when passing through waters controlled by other forces." Shandris said.
"Correct, Feathermoon Stronghold can serve as a perfect location for that." Fandral said.
"You would make us sacrifice that city to those elves?" Morgosh demanded.
"Yes, for a chance to be within Eldre'thalas." Fandral said.
That took everyone by surprise.
"Due to the threat of the Centaur and displaced Ogre tribes it would not be prudent to leave them to their own devices. I believe a joining of forces would be a better alternative than marshalling a single force. The Sentinels and Warsong fought together to claim Eldre'thalas from the demons, why not work together to fight off the Centaur that run rampant through Feralas?" Fandral said.
That was a little hard to sell people on, working together with the Warsong was not exactly the easiest thing.
"While the Warsong would be present so too would be the Tauren, I am certain that both of your forces working as one to save a common friend would not be so hard. Due to the cities tactical position I think that the Warsong can be given a place in the city to protect its access over the mountains." Fandral said. "But more than that, we can also solve the lumber issue for a time until a more permanent solution can be ratified."
"How do you mean?" Thrall asked.
"Feralas is a vast and mostly unexplored forest, it is not a foolish thing to say that trees do not fall down. Given the fact the ogres and Centaur are now running rampant through those forests it is likely they will begin to chop down those trees. I am suggesting that any fallen tree, as well as any trees cut down by the Centaur and Ogres be given to the Warsong and Horde as payment for their aid."
And for a time, the Circle can be present to ensure that both sides maintain good relations, Night Elf and Tauren. In doing so we prevent further conflict between our forces and perhaps build a mutual respect amongst former enemies. In time who knows what may happen, such a long campaign to reclaim the forests might usher in a better result than what happened after the Battle of Mount Hyjal." Fandral said.
Ichigo had to admit the idea had some good points to it. If the Highborne took over Ethel Rethor and maintained their isolated attitude they could escape from a lot of prejudice and risk. Also with that the Horde would lose a lot of its military advantages without the city but would be able to remain in control of the region.
The situation with Eldre'thalas would be a temporary one but given how hard it was for them to make a clean cut deal this was the best they can do. If the city was open the Horde and Alliance this could be used as a test to see if the two forces can put their past aside to do what is best for the Tauren. If the Night Elves aided the orcs allies and willingly gave them lumber and protection within the city, that would speak volumes on the trust they were giving the orcs.
They were all about honour, if the Night Elves did this the orcs would literally be bound to respect them and do all they could to mee those expectations. It was a ploy, but one that could see to improving relations down the line and also ending hostilities between the Horde and Alliance after years of tension.
That is what he saw, but the way some people were looking at Fandral he had to wonder what kind of angle he was playing right now.
Two Hours Later
The summit was over.
Agreements had been made and a treaty had been signed, it was a momentous occasion that had not been seen since the Battle of Mount Hyjal. But even the three-way alliance between the Forces of Lordaeron, the Horde and Night Elves out of mutual survival did not amount to the cooperation that was occurring here.
Especially with how fast it was being implemented.
"What the hell is he up to?" Codexia said.
She had been called to a little meeting, those that she knew she could consider allies in creating peace. Even those technically not known to her very well shared the same sentiment, after all it didn't take half a brain to see that Fandral Staghelm was playing an angle.
She looked around at the occupants.
Jaine Proudmoore, Pained, Tyrande Whisperwind, Shandris Feathermoon, Mordent Evershade, Caelyb Greenearth, and Lord Fallowmere.
Everyone came from different standings and positions, even more dividing that just their seats on the meeting tables. They were leaders and politicians, they knew the game well and how it worked, not even one of them could figure out what kind of angle Fandral Staghelm was playing.
"This goes against everything he stands for, he would never give ground to someone else, especially when it goes against his own interest let alone our entire peoples." Tyrande said, she sounded a little paranoid but none could blame her for being so.
"He has resisted the Tauren's inclusion for years, even when they were in dire near of it, to accept now and after everything his party had tried to achieve… it makes little sense." Lord Fallowmere agreed. "This is a calculated move, he is waiting for something."
"What does he gain from this?" Mordent inquired. "He gave my people a way out, peace and a chance to continue on with our way of life with no repercussions. Had I not known sly individuals before now, I may have believed his benevolence, but this is too good to be true."
Codexia knew that was a jab at her but kept it to herself, it also could be against anyone else who showed ill will. But he was right, Fandral Staghelm was the leader of a party that had absolutely no desire to mingle with outsiders, they would never help anyone outside the Circle – let alone their own race.
"How does he expect to keep his own people on his side?" Codexia said, having experienced this she knew exactly how hard it was to keep people in line.
He had done more than just sacrificed a major holding in Feralas, to the Horde no less, he also pardoned the Highborne along with giving them their own city that he had no right to give away. But most damning of all, something that would definitely cause a rift between himself and his followers.
He apologised to Adelina Oakheart, following the meetings conclusion he stood up and apologised to her for her suffering and the pain that she had endured. Even mentioning her father, saying his faults were his own, and while she shouldered an unnecessary burden it made her into who she is today.
He told her to take pride in her strength.
No one expected that, no one thought he would go that far, he was definitely playing at some game.
"He is pulling his people away from the Desolace, from this entire situation." Jaina said. "He might be trying to figure out who is loyal to him to the very end."
Codexia mused on this for a moment, the pieces coming together.
"He is letting his enemies with the circle gather, he forgave Adelina so that anyone that tried to resurrect her father's faction wouldn't face opposition." The Primalist stated, smirking at the ploy, it was smart but it took a lot for him to do it. "But it doesn't help him, he would be weakened from this."
"Not necessarily. He is pulling back his people from this situation, if his loyalists remain, they would have less resistance in other sectors of Ashenvale, Moonglade and Teldrassil." Tyrande said, recalling how Fandral said he would distance the Masters of the Peak from this to ensure no conflict would occur.
"Would that be enough to challenge the Priesthood?" Jaina asked.
"No, my authority is absolute, he won't be able to challenge me." Tyrande replied.
"Yet." Codexia replied. "This man had this planned out, or at least had a plan in place in case this happened, he pulled it off perfectly. Nothing can be that smooth, he knew it might come to this. He was able to convince the Horde, something no one has been able to do, even Morgosh sided with it."
Cairne and Hamuul liked the idea of having a say in what Druids came into their lands and helped them, even saying that aid beyond the Desolace was acceptable.
Fandral was allowing the allocation of Circle resources and people to help the Horde, that certainly got the Tauren jumping to join up. He was giving the Tauren a lot of power that new members really should not have. Resources they could direct to saving their people and restoring the Desolace, but that could move towards Mulgore and even the Barrens.
That alone would force the Tauren to pressure their orcish allies to concede to the stipulations. Not that it mattered.
Thrall was quite eager to achieve peace with his neighbours, he was the mediator of the group and didn't want a war to start – but he also couldn't stop his Warlords from doing what was necessary to keep his people alive. Fandral was able to make peace by removing the tension around Eldre'thalas along with providing cheap lumber without any hostility between the Warsong and Sentinels.
It was a remarkable ploy.
"He must know something." Codexia said.
"Such as?" Shandris inquired.
"That it won't last, or that something might happen that makes this meeting all the more pointless." Codexia replied.
That was a scary thought, what if there was something out there that they didn't know about that might put that entire region in the firing line of something. They were missing some very important clues, which Fandral likely had, he had plans in motion.
Whatever he had lost here today would mean nothing in the long run, he had some scheme in the works that would get all his power back and then some more. But exactly what that might be she didn't know.
"All we can do is move ahead with this plan, it is what we wanted, maybe not perfectly but this can see to the end of a lot of hostility. Maybe even actual peace in the future." Jaina said, looking towards Tyrande.
"I suppose that is right, as much as I loath to sacrifice a major holding this might be a better solution." Tyrande stated. "I will have my Sentinel-General coordinate with their Warlord, along with Cairne Bloodhoof, see if we cannot begin evacuations of Feralas and Thousand Needles as soon as possible."
The High Priestess nodded towards Shandris and both departed.
"I will be compiling a list of candidates that the Tauren will want to join them, I will keep you appraised of any happening that I might catch wind of." Lord Fallowmere said, giving a bow and departing.
Jaina said her farewells and she and Pained left. All that was left was Codeixa, and her companions, Mordent and Caelyb.
"Do you think Terramok could run rampant again?" Caelyb asked.
"With the trees in place it should be impossible." Codexia said, but right now she couldn't rely on that being the case, she needed to see about finding the other Primal Spirits and getting them to Ethel Rethor. "I need to step up my timetable, we need to find the other three Primal Spirits."
She needed help though, Marta wasn't going to work with her, understandably, so she needed some help. Maybe reaching out to Jaina could help, possibly even others.
Azore was a good candidate, his connection to the Argent Crusade could help her here, they had recruiters all across the world. If he put out some feelers maybe they could look into any obscure information and ruins that might help her.
"Lets get back to Ethel Rethor, we need to plan ahead." Codexia said, she turned towards Mordent. "Looks like you and your two friends are off the hook."
"Maybe to the Night Elves, but I doubt our people will be pleased to see us again." Mordent replied.
Codexia also worried about having those two back, last thing she wanted was either of them doing anything stupid. But she had to prioritise, the Elemental Spirits came first.
"Can you please go away." Ichigo asked, glaring up at the dark furred Furbolg with one eye, this guy has had it in for him for as long as he has been here. "I am not in your little cave and you cannot do jack while I am out here, so go away."
Gorn One-Eye glared down at Ichigo before turning away, his guards following behind him.
Ichigo really didn't like that guy, he was such a pessimist, always thinking ill of everyone that came through the hold. Maybe the reason these guys attack people because one of their prominent members is an asshole who thought everyone was out to get them.
"You should take care with who you insult, you might be trapped out here."
Ichigo turned to Mairne and gave an uncaring shrug, if that overgrown furball didn't like him he could shove it. He wasn't here to make friends with a guy who would sink his teeth into him the moment he let out a fart in his hole in the wall.
"So, you guys happy with how things turned out? I mean you are leaving pretty fast after the meeting." Ichigo said, three hours after everything was settled and the treaty was signed, he thought maybe it would go on a bit longer.
"This summit was to agree on the path we should follow from here, the minor details can be settled with time and diplomats. It is best that we do not stay to close for too long. Tensions may rise through prolonged contact, best we keep the peace by not being present to cause hostility." Thrall said, stepping forward.
Ichigo nodded to that, likely if they kept close to one another there would be butting heads with each other after too long. Thrall was actually a very intelligent and cunning man, despite many seeing orcs as savages he certainly seemed more human in some ways.
But that was besides the point of his being here, Thrall had called for him to speak on matters before he departed back to Ogrimmar. Jaina had insisted he go, saying making friends with the Warchief would be good, saying that he had earned his favour.
"So, what do you want to see me for?" Ichigo asked.
"I wished to take measure of you, see what kind of man you are, one that has earned a great deal of respect from my Tauren allies." Thrall said. "You are certainly young, I had thought you to be in your prime, but I suppose the other rumours around you match your age."
Ichigo could tell he was making fun of him, but he wasn't going to hold it against him. He had a lot of people making the same comment because of how old he was, surprisingly fifteen years old didn't get you a lot of respect. Not unless you do a few things that drew people's attention.
"Most people dismiss me to quickly for my liking, although I know for a fact that I tend to rub people to wrong way when I talk. I am a bit too crass when making introductions, that usually is when people paint me in a certain light." Ichigo replied.
"Then you surprise them afterwards." Thrall said, smirking as he said that. "You have done much for the Horde, even if you do not realise it, your actions in aid of our people have become known. While there are some who doubt you, many still respect you for what have done. Many clans will come to know that it was thanks to your efforts that this peace was made, along with you being instrumental in bringing this peace."
"Thought that was Adelina and Fandral." Ichigo replied.
"The young girl mediated quite well, as for the Archdruid, he is someone I do not think can trusted when it comes to making peace." Thrall said. "It is no secret you came here to help the Tauren, your meeting Hamuul at Sunrock Retreat had reached my ears. You went to great lengths to help us, for that I am thankful."
"Don't mention it." Ichigo replied.
"I had heard you are not one to accept praise too often, but maybe this can help you." Thrall said, handing him a small stone with the symbol of the horde etched into its surface. "This is the mark of the Warchief, it should help you if you run afoul of some wayward band of warriors. Last thing I would want is my people dying at your hands because you were walking somewhere you shouldn't."
"Drekhve." Ichigo muttered, smirking.
"You make allies quickly, even of your supposed enemies." Thrall laughed. "Don't forget you have friends in the Alliance and Horde, and if this matter is settled and we proceed as planned, I hope to have you nearby to help solidify the peace between our two factions."
Ichigo guessed as much, he wanted him to help make sure this peace lasted and that what came of it produced results. He could get behind that, likely he would be going to the Feralas before long, fighting Centaur and ogres again.
"I'll help however I can." Ichigo replied, reaching his hand out.
Thrall reciprocated and they shook hands.
"Aka'Magosh, Ichigo Kurosaki." Thrall said.
"Genki de, Thrall, son of Durotan." Ichigo replied, deciding to be a bit more formal with the man.
Thrall turned and mounted his Wyvern, the rest of his party following his example, and soon they took off into the sky. Ichigo watched them depart, looking down at the stone he had been given and wondering what lay ahead of him from here.
He had an inkling of what was ahead of him, what kind of threat might be present down the road, it scared him to think about. But he needed to be prepared, there were things about to come that he knew he stood no chance against. So right now he needed to focus on preparing for it.
He turned and moved back towards the Hold, he had to start preparing. First thing he had to do is meet with Adelina, he needed to make sure she was safe, and the only way to do that was to make sure she wasn't anywhere near him for the foreseeable future.
Hope you like it. Let me know what you think.