Sorry for the previous post, I uploaded an old version. My apologies.
Authors note: In case anyone is curious the language I use in most of my Fics to refer to demon tongues is Marathi. This is not because I think the people or the language is evil in any sense of the word, but because when it's written it looks fucking awesome.
Also, had some questions about why Harry's animagus form is a Hybredian Drake which looks like a smaller sleeker black dragon. Well, for starters I like the idea that magical creatures are possible morphs for this and honestly the magical creatures of forest lord, barghest and chupacabra work a lot better for describing the marauders than simple stag, dog and rat. A Kneezel and scarab also relate a good deal more to McGonagal and Skeeter than tabby cat and beetle.
Aside from that, I had wanted to give Harry the form of a Thesteral. JKR suggested that the form you take has a lot to do with your child hood and the experiences that shaped you, so what I took from Harry was that he was a slave, often denied food and small and skinny because of it, loved to fly, is usually very quiet and non-confrontational, but when you push him has a rage that scares his friends shitless, and wants nothing more than to be invisible but is always highlighted by people who want to kill him. Similarly the thestral is a beast of burden, who looks skeletal and starved, can fly hundreds of miles an hour, is usually silent but has a horrible death knell for a voice and is invisible to anyone who hasn't witnessed a death.
My sister however pointed out that Harry was rather obviously brave, could speak a tongue limited to serpents and reptiles, was viciously loyal to his friends, suffered under the weight of the wizarding worlds expectations to be something large and powerful for most of his life at the point he started learning to be an animagus and was considered by the sorting hat for a house characterized by greed, cunning and intelligence ahead of and even above the house known for bravery, foolishness and straightforward action in which he spent most of his time. So, brave and powerful, rash and wrathful, Intelligent and cunning, something to do with serpents or reptiles, black hair (or skin while transformed) and green eyes because those always seem to carry over with the book animagi, and small with grand expectation attached to it. Given that having him as one of the smaller breeds of dragons made sense. Hybredian drakes are in the fantastic beasts and where to find them and are noted to be as big as a suburban home. Onyxia was as big as Stormwind castle and her father large enough to squat on an entire city block.
AN3: Ju Iman Chakari, means to serve elf.
Without further ado, chapter twelve.
Archimonde frowned deeply. Cenarius and his minions had defeated their beach head in the western continent. While that had not been unexpected it had happened much earlier than he had planned for. Drawing a claw through the air to carve a series of jade lines into the air before him, the legions warlord left his position as oversight for the human resistance in central Lorderan and teleported to Northrend. With an enormous bang and rush of air he appeared over top of the Icecrown Glacier. It was time so to see a man about a dragon and he had a bone to pick with his brothers stooge personally.
His nearly mile high frame made the trip down the glacier and towards the Dragonblight a swift one and soon he found himself at the sight of the excavation. "मृत्यू Death नाइट knight,आपली report प्रगती your अहवाल progress", he thundered.
The human traitor turned to face his nominal leader and quickly mounted a proto-drake Lich so that he might speak to the monstrous general face to face. Archimonde sniffed at this, to think the worm considered raising himself up to speak to his betters, as if he was an equal. It mattered little, he was a pragmatic god if nothing else, and there would be plenty enough time to disabuse Kil'Jaden's pitiful experiment of such notions once the Legion had consumed this world. As the armor clad death knight made his way up to Archimonde's height the Massive general observed the land around them. Like maggots over a corpse the undead remains of Northrend's human population, and a fair size of what was probably Lorderan, toiled away flaying the ground of ice and rock before passing it off to their fellow slaves behind them.
To the west was a volcanic rift that swarmed with small draknoid creatures and the occasional ebon dragon. He would deal with them soon enough. Separating them from the dig sight was a large rift full of bones which were in the process of being systematically removed and assembled for the creation of draco-lich or whatever the Nathreziem were calling them now. To the south and east he could just make out the peak of the distant Wyrmcrest temple. Tilting his head to the side he considered the place. He had torn it from the ground in the previous war and used its bulk as a club against the aspects themselves. Evidently they'd repaired it since then. Ah, fond memories... perhaps he could do it again?
He shook his head. Only after he'd eaten the night elves´ world tree. The four of them had been a tough fight last time even with the bronze one missing and the black traitor turning it into a three sided battle. Better to empower himself with the soul of this world before he did so again.
More directly to the west was another ravine and the Titan's path, the broken highway which hadn't seen use since his masters' compatriots had left this world fifty thousand years previous.
Here where he was standing however lay over a thousand square miles of desolate waste filled with bones and the backbone of a skeletal being so massive that made even the mile tall Eredar wonder at the power of this world. Galikrond. Servant of the Old Ones and father of dragons the massive three mile long beast had once possessed a wingspan of 21 miles, weighed several megatons and challenged the world-shaping might of even the Titans themselves. Even several tens of thousands of years before having left the pantheon, Sargeras had heard tales of the creature. Buried as it was with the bones of the millions of its children, grandchildren and further descendants it was the focus of Kil'jaden's minions current efforts.
Even now, Arthas the betrayer approached him standing astride one of the beasts, most of whom were little larger than the elemental lizards he'd dined on during both conquests. He looked at the beast before him, its bones and ice preserved scraps of flesh billowing with ice blue flame. Such waste, with the beast leaking power like this it was unlikely the Human was on schedule. Perhaps he would have sufficient excuse to punish the worm early? आपली Report.
The living Lich bowed slightly and stiffly. "Efforts precede as scheduled, my lord" the human bit out. "There was some sort of delay with the condition of the dragon bones," he admitted sourly "something to do with shifting timelines, but that has been resolved with the successful mining of Proto-drake corpses." He sniffed. "While not nearly so large or versatile as our original targets they make up for their lack with numbers and the ease with which they are raised. We now have twenty thousand and more are being sorted and assembled hourly. In addition to their use as mobile artillery I believe they could be utilized as mounts by our more powerful Lich and an aerial delivery system for our more conventional troops."
"महान ड्रॅगन काय What of Galakrond? " he boomed, voice calm. He was somewhat disappointed he wouldn't have reason to punish the worm yet, but the troops seemed satisfactory for the moment. A single dragon was worth nearly a thousand demons in the last war; even if these were weaker they were still the basis for the dragons he had battled and with twenty thousand of them at his command?
He gestured to the enormous half buried rib cage.
Arthas' eyes widened. "It's' bones drink in our magics as fast as the necromancers among your men and mine can cast them. Thus far however there has been no response. Even my king's personal weight added to the efforts has only allowed us to enchant a single vertebra. All due respect, it will take time."
Archimonde smiled. It was a horrible sight to see, a leer stretching hundreds of feet and filled with hundreds of wickedly sharp teeth. With the barest hind of concentration he lashed out at the living lich and Arthas howled in pain like nothing he had felt under the auspices of the Ner'zul and his torments. "आपले प्रयत्न अशा प्रकारे आतापर्यंत स्वीकारार्ह आहेत म्हणून आपण जिवंत होतील. समजून घ्या, तरीही, नाकारणे की एक पर्याय नाही. आपण या ड्रॅगन च्या वाढवण्याची आणि लढाई आपल्या मृत्यू नाइट च्या तयार राहील. आपले स्वत: चे नाही, आपण मोठी संख्या सवडी येथे आवाहणे जाईल, सज्ज व्हा.Your efforts have thus far been acceptable, so you will live. Understand, however, that to refuse is not an option. You will continue to raise these dragons and prepare your death knights for battle. Be ready, for you shall be summoned at the Legions convenience, not your own."
When the lesson ended he released Arthas and began issuing orders to the nearby Lich and Nathreziem. It was time for the invasion of Kalimdor to begin.
George watched silently as Tyrande placed her hands on a series of altars surrounding the chained night elf male, this Illidan, and prayed. Light, moon bright and silvery blue flowed out of her body like a larger version of how magic boiled out of a wizards core to fill their entire being before being drawn into the man before them, darkening and sinking into his skin and lending it a shadowy quality. It was hard to adequately describe, but if pressed George would have to say it was like looking at the magic flow between two different poles of a magnet. One side is always consuming, but never full, the other always emitting but never empty. Equal and opposite yet somehow not in opposition but rather two halves of the same whole.
It made a strange sort of sense, after a fashion. Tyrande had introduced the winged man as the avatar of her goddesses' dark side, the night warrior, though he had to wonder how he'd gotten the wings. None of the druids of the Talon had had wings until they'd transformed, but in the end it ultimately mattered little. Tyrande had been friendly enough, she was the avatar of the goddess's light side, the white lady, ultimately it simply meant they had another ridiculously strong ally, and against an endless army of demons that was never a bad thing.
"So..." the dark figure said, rubbing his wrists as he stepped down from the platform "It's a war is it?"
"Yes, old friend." Tyrande nodded. "One of the big ones."
Shrugging his wings and electing a series of wet cracks Illidan moved over to the side of the room and started messing with a panel on the wall. "Got a list? Who are up to become victims this go round?"
Tyrande sighed heavily. "No victims, Illidan. Not this time. Not if it can be helped, just straight up slaughter." As she said this, the wall clicked and slid apart to reveal a pair of wicked looking blue-silver warglaives and Illidan turned sharply to look at her.
"Do tell?" the raven winged elf asked, his voice calm, but shoulders tense as he slowly turned back to retrieve the glowing weapons.
George watched on with interest as the pair of them argued. Given that Illidan seemed to know him this conversation was likely going to end up being important later. "This is the big one Illidan, you know Elune will summon you back here if your corruption grows too deep, that was our deal after all. Given what's coming I won't have the time to come here and release you constantly because you're gorging yourself on demon souls. This won't be like the other times, a simple agent or two and his little nest of traitors, we're talking full blown invasion, just like when we were kids."
Illidan's wings drooped a little and his burning blue fire eyes seemed to somehow pout despite his expression remaining unchanged. "Not even a little one?"
"George, talk sense to him! Please?" Tyrande asked, turning to the wizard in exasperation.
George however cocked his head to the side. "How do you expect me to do that? I don't know either of you from Adams off, not yet anyways." He smirked as the gorgeous navy haired elf sent him a glare he'd seen too often on his sister Ginny, the one that promised retribution later. "Though if you told me about yourselves I guess I might be able to come up with something..."
The pair of them looked at each other and Illidan went off to play with other wall panels, presumably gathering other items he might need later and the priestess nodded. "Back in the first war Illidan did something...stupid. I don't quite remember the whole sequence of events anymore, but somehow he got it into his head that he could stop the demons and save the well of eternity from the inside. The queens high councilor Xavius had kidnapped me briefly at that point, we had won a major battle against the demons and Malfurion" There was a crashing at the sound of the name, and the sound of something breaking but Tyrande continued "had decided that the best way to stop the Legion was to deprive them and the highborn of the waters of the well as they had tried to deprive us."
"Hold up a minute, I'm lost here, what well? Everybody keeps mentioning it, but it's like they assume I already know what they're talking about. Is this the high elves Sunwell that got blown up recently?" At this the pair of Night Elves looked at each other.
"The well of eternity was a lake of enchanted water placed at the center of our world by the Titans" Tyrande explained. "Back then the three continents of Azeroth along with a great deal more land between them was one enormous ring shaped continent with the lake at the center, the well of eternity. The waters of the well were a direct conduit to the twisting nether, capable of allowing nearby casters access to every type and branch of magical energy ever known. According to myth the well was placed there to nurture our world and maintain a set of wards holding back some unnamed horror. It allowed our race to rise to prominence when the world was ruled mostly by the trolls and their masters, the Loa and Mogu. Unfortunately the power of the well attracted the attention of the Burning Legion who saw the waters as a way to consume all magic and turn everything to the mad energies that corrupt them. They'd made numerous attempts on our world both before and since, but it was the highborn, the elven nobility, that gave them their first real entrance to our world."
"It was a slaughter" Illidan called from the back of the room where he was donning a set of leather armor that seemed to writhe with shadows. "On both sides... We kaldori were good, taking down dozens demons for every warrior that fell, and many thousands for each mage after we figured out what was going on and Master Rhonin destroyed the hound master. The demons though... they were endless. Even after Shando Potter took charge of the war effort it was little more than a war of attrition. A question of which would happen first, us running out of soldiers or the demons figuring out how to drag their pet Titan into our world."
He walked back into the light, midnight black dragon hide armor covering most of his body, his expression foreboding and full of fangs like that of a wolf. "Someone had to do something and destroying the well wasn't the answer. Legends aside we were going to need that power when the demons came back. And as you can see, they obviously did. You faced one of them recently if memory serves. One of their commanders you told me."
George nodded "Archimonde." he said. None of them needed any further explanation. "So how does this lead into you eating demons? Or being corrupted?"
The pair of them snorted in unison. Old friends indeed. "When I got to Azshara the stupid bitch was lounging in front of an open portal with a steady flow of demons double timing it out of the hole through the palace, and everyone's favorite world eating space god was on the other side. Son of a bitch burnt out my eyes and gave me a pretty funky set of tattoos. The power boost each of them gave me was more than welcome, but all in all it wasn't one of my finest moments. Arcane corruption leads to a lust for power, like it was a drug, and the basic elven profile all magic using races seem to develop as they advance. But the mix of energies demons use turns that drive into an insatiable, desperate hunger that drives the corrupted to do any act, no matter how gruesome or horrifying, to sate themselves on magics of all sorts. Before Tyrande and Elune cleansed me I'd already been empowered by Sargeras, the veritable god of the demon races, and eaten a fair few demons along the way. Drinking the fouled waters of the well of eternity and playing with the corrupted medallion forged by Deathwing himself certainly didn't help either."
"And since he has this cage as his safety net and keeps most of the power he consumes when Elune and I cleanse him, my brother in law has developed this nasty habit of eating demons more often than he kills them." Tyrande finished. "Malfurion's no better either, but where Illidan's habits make him too loose with his morals, my husband's have made him too stiff. If I didn't love the pair of them so much I'd have seen to it that both of them were locked away permanently just to avoid the aggravation." The raven winged night elf gave her a wounded look and George snickered.
"Ah, I don't know what to tell you really. The old druids and priests on our world used to have a number of cleansing rituals for situations just like this, but that was well before the use of wands became widespread so I really couldn't tell you about it. Maybe the boys at DoM would have something, but I doubt it. The ministry's only three hundred years old, it's a miracle they have as many old things as they do." He plucked the light saber off his belt and looked at it. "I don't suppose you have some sort of Lunar Essence lying around, or perhaps a dedicated priestess you could assign to keep an eye on tall, dark and feathered here?"
The pair of them stared at George for several long moments before Tyrande began cursing up a storm in elvish and Illidan let loose with bellowing laughter.
"I'm missing something, aren't I?"
Tyrande was the one who calmed down enough to answer first. "Like the Sunwell you mentioned our people maintain a series of mystical pools filled with the waters of the well of eternity. These moon wells are at the heart of every temple and exist in every elven settlement, constantly tended by sisters of Elune and blessed by the goddess herself nightly. On top of that my husband has often tried to order Priestess Shadowsong to stand warden for Illidan in my stead. Despite our love for each other it's one of the more constant quarrels."
"Shadowsong... Maieve? The head of the order of the night warrior..?" Tyrande nodded at George's question. "So it seems you have facilities and personnel." he nodded slowly before looking between the two, hand caressing a beard that had appeared on his chin for the occasion. "And I assume either of you could teach this Maieve how to keep birdboy's corruption in check? Still a question of how to keep you cooperative..."
Illidan smirked. "I could hold myself back..." he said, his already deep voice becoming velvety and suave "for the right price..."
Tyrande glared at him. "I'm not kissing you" she deadpanned.
As the pair began bickering again George shook his head. It reminded him of Sirius' habits and the old dog's tales of Lily and James relationship. It could be fun to watch some other time, but for now... He had a castle to crash.
Jaina's brushed a lock of hair out of her face as she bent over a map of Kalimdor in the war room. Her mind was awhirl with the secrets revealed by the rescued night-elf Aszune. The rituals of the Loa were incredibly fascinating. Imagine, the literal creation of gods! Beings that could create, destroy, curse or bless with but a thought. Shapers of kingdom's, whose power is tied to concepts and faiths of their supplicants. The mind, it boggled. The downside to this, most often, was that the ritual of ascension required the sacrifice of a million souls on the low end and a vessel to fuse them all within.
This was irrelevant however, and she fought to turn her scholars mind once more to leadership and battle. Her map had come alive with activity since returning from the fight with Mannoroth, elves in the northern third of the map flowing into the forest accompanied by humans of all things. She and her scryers had made an effort to expand the monitoring waves of plum fire and found a collection of Islands a few hundred miles off shore. Good sized ones too, all up and down the sides of the continent. One in particular was interesting to her. It was an archipelago of similar size to her home island of Kul'tiras. Maybe a bit bigger.
For the most part the islands were sparsely populated, housing what her scryers had identified as bear men and something that looked to be a half breed between those and owls. Both were sentient, magically inclined and apparently lived in fairly harmonious concert with elves. More than likely the ancient elves Lor'Danil had talked about. The northern Island on the other hand was a bustling hive of life and magic thick enough that the projecting had threatened to burn a hole in her table before she'd raised it a couple of inches. Nearly twenty percent of the people on the island were humans, while the rest were various hues of the color designated for elves and those were swiftly making their way out. At best guess there were forty million people on the island and they were leaving quickly by boat, gryphon and some form of teleportation.
At least she hoped it was teleportation, to have that many people dying as simply disappeared from her map would suggest cultists in what she almost held hope would be a proper group of Lorderan survivors.
Or a war with less than friendly neighbors, another thing she just couldn't deal with at this point in time; especially with the imminent invasion of the burning legion.
Jaina was then distracted by a pounding on her door. With a gesture she opened it, still leaning over her map. "What do you need?" she asked softly.
"Your majesty! There's been a disturbance at the gates!" said the person who'd come in. Jaina looked up in annoyance, still uncomfortable with the royal title she'd thought shed when she'd become a mage. It was one of the guard officers, his face flushed from running. Jaina frowned and motioned him to continue.
"Well, don't keep me in suspense..?"
The man looked down and stammered. "Well, it's quite odd your highness, a man dressed in strange robes of scaled leather showed up at the back gates and asked for entrance. We'd never seen him before and so we challenged him. Asked why he was here and who he was. He claims to be a wizard and is looking for padfoot." The guard hesitated as Jaina's eyes went wide. "Forgive me, my queen, but isn't padfoot what you sometimes call your familiar?"
Jaina was about to rush out the door, demanding the guard lead her and gather a group of guards and mages along her path to the gates when a floating eyeball drifted in over the guards head. It looked at her for a moment and she felt a sense of power collecting just beneath the eye. Quickly raising a shield and preparing a curse she was stunned as a red-haired man in scaled green leather appeared between them, just as the guard had described.
"Well, hello pretty lady!" the redhead said with a wide grin, only for the expression to fade slightly as a sword and glowing arcane spire appeared at his throat. "Not really the welcoming type I see," the redhead muttered "hardly my fault you don't have anti-apparition wards."
"Like we asked at the gate, mate, who are ye and why are ye ere?" Ground out the guardsman.
The redheaded 'wizard' rolled his eyes and the guards sword turned to rough wood planks. "It does not do to meddle in the affairs of wizards, for we are subtle, and quick to anger. Besides, I told you why when I was at the gate." His form rippled and flowed, changing from the freckled redhead man into a taller finer skinned brunette Jaina was quite familiar with. "I'm looking for this man. He may be a bit healthier or look like an enormous black dog that goes by the name of Padfoot. My scryer said he's been seen in the company of small, pretty and blond here. Care to shed some light on the subject?"
Instead of backing down the spell Jaina was holding split into a dozen shafts of arcane light and positioned themselves around the intruder, the missiles ready to gut him at a moment's notice. "You're from Lord Black's former world then." She said simply. "Are you here to arrest him? I was under the impression what he'd done was impossible to follow and that was why he was having so much trouble making his way back."
The pair of them stared at each other for several moments as the sound of booted feet grew in the hallway outside. Then abruptly the shape-shifter dropped Sirius form and became the redhead again, laughing loud and hard. "Arrest him?" He laughed again. "The authorities declared him dead more than a decade ago!" he laughed some more. "No," he said calming down and grinning, "I'm here on behalf of his nephew and son in law. Poor brat never really gave up on the old dog. Moved heaven and earth to get me here so I could make sure padfoot was alright."
Jaina nodded and a few of the arcane missiles winked out, but not all of them. "And I suppose you wouldn't mind waiting in the brig while I sort this out with Sirius himself?" she asked, as the guardsmen who were filing in around them looked on in confusion.
The redhead slowly, ever so slowly, reached into a pocket and drew out a wand. "If you would allow me?"
She looked at the wand in curiosity. The rod wasn't nearly as large or extravagant as most she'd seen, it could probably only perform a single spell, and not necessarily repeatedly or quickly. An arcane missile or something similar she reasoned. "That depends on what you're going to do."
The redhead smiled. "I was going to send Sirius a message. My scout eye was going to find him for me originally, but then I found you and figured he would be close by. My mistake. It occurs to me though that I have not introduced myself!" He bowed deeply and mockingly. "I am George Fabian Weasley, fourth son and twin of the Weasley family, owner, proprietor and inventor of the multinational corporation Weasleys Wizarding Wheezes! Creme?" he finished holding out a sugar puff.
"And chef it would seem." she said taking the sugary confection and looking it over her eyes glowing faintly blue. She turned away still examining the treat she'd been given as she made her way back to the map. "Send your message," the lady Proudmoore decreed "and while we're waiting, tell me about what you intended this to do. I've never seen such delicate spellwork."
'George' grinned even wider. There was a flash of white and the feeling of a Holy spell, but before she could question it he was talking again. "It's a dual transformation potion. Built as a joke, it turns the consumer into a giant canary for several minutes before causing them to molt into a plucked goose. When the last feather falls off they transform back into themselves. I sell them in my shop for a couple of silver pieces. They were a great hit when my brother and I made them during our fourth year at school."
Jaina looked up in shock and then giggled. "It's like a polymorph you can eat! Fascinating!"
Then a warm feeling filled the air again and Sirius popped in with a brilliantly glowing silver fox at his side. "You're still peddling those old things, young pup? Don't you know spells like that go out of fashion after five years or so?"
The pair of them laughed and embraced fiercely while the gathered warriors and paladins stared at the fox sitting on its haunches between them. "Perhaps, old bean, but you can never fail with the classics!" he said boisterously as the fox winked out of existence.
"Is it regular for wizards to use light magic where you're from?" one of the Paladins, Meer she recognized, asked into the stunned silence.
George looked at Sirius who'd just let go of him moments before. "You showed them your patronus? How? I mean, you left your wand with us when Bellatrix blasted you through the veil."
Sirius shrugged. "Took me nearly three years, but I got over it. All I can say is thank Merlin for animagi transformation and apparition. Traveling with Lady Proudmoore here has given me plenty of opportunity to work on my wandless magic as well. Gets into all sorts of trouble, she does. A lot like a mutual friend of ours." George nodded, smiling at Jaina's huff of indignation. "Speaking of which, how are you here? And more importantly is Harry alright?"
"See for yourself." George offered, handing him what looked like a mirror.
Jaina moved around the table and leaned forward to look at the artifact. A scrying device that could peak between worlds was definitely an item of interest to her and the alliance. Wanting a better look at it, she allowed a few more of the arcane missiles that hovered over their uninvited guest to fade leaving seven of them just over vital points in the human body.
"Harry?" her companion, familiar and friend said, his voice hopeful and pained in a way she'd yet to hear.
"Sirius? SIRIUS!" called a girls voice on the other side of the mirror. "Good Merlin Sirius! Is my brother there? How are you both alive?! Hold on, I'll get Harry, HARRY! IT'S SIRIUS, GEORGE HAS FOUND HIM! PICK UP A MIRROR! Well?"
Sirius had an odd expression on his face. "Who are you?" he asked as Jaina maneuvered her way over to see a pretty red haired woman who vaguely resembled the intruder.
Fascinating... She'd have expected such a powerful artifact to be... more mana intensive? Instead it just seemed to be even more delicate and complicated than even the canary crème she'd been handed earlier.
"Sirius... don't you remember me at all? All our talks in Grimauld place when I was trying to get you to help me catch Harry?"
"Gin?" Then Sirius laughed. "You look different all grown up, little Gin! Finally got him then did you? How much effort did it take?"
"Not as much as it probably should have." came another voice as the mirror split between two figures. "We were married right out of school." The redheaded man, George, tapped his fingers across the mirror and suddenly full color ghosts of the people she'd seen appeared in front of them. Insubstantial, but visibly present. A communication device! Perhaps a simple scrying mirror equipped with a beacon to attract the attention of others with similar artifacts? Or was it a single dedicated spell? Good gods light and dark... if all of that was a single spell... she began muttering chants and drawing sigils in the air, trying to get a better view what exactly was going on here.
"Andrea." As Sirius and this 'Harry', the nephew old grim had mentioned on occasion, began talking Jaina's attention turned to the intruder, George. He had pulled out another mirror and for some reason Jaina couldn't shake the feeling that this conversation was more important than the one between her companions and his family. "I've found him. Also, you should probably alert the council we've got a refugee camp here." A pause "yeah, definitely alliance. Yes, Jaina Proudmoore. Tell them to bring the whole entourage, and see if you can wrangle the High priestess and her friend as well. Well, he's got these enormous bird wings and jet black skin. Hard to miss. Thanks."
Then he looked up and saw her eves dropping. "Why couldn't I hear the person on the other side?" the blond asked.
"A small privacy spell." George replied, offering a smile that made her knees weaken slightly. "I'm pretty surprised you could hear my conversation at all. I guess I still have some work to do tweaking the matrix."
Jaina returned the smile, but she still hadn't released the remaining arcane missiles. Sirius had vouched for the man with his display earlier, but that didn't mean she was quite willing to trust him. More than she was willing to trust Thrall and his dog Hellscream perhaps, but mages were apt to stab you in the back for a book and she doubted wizards were much different. Always best to be prepared. If Sirius was any indication Wizards certainly didn't lack for power either. "So, you called in reinforcements. Anyone I should be worried about?"
George morphed a beard again and crossed his arms, stroking it. "I don't think so." he mused aloud "depends on how you left your relationships in Dalaran when the Prophet sent you towards exodus. You are the same Jaina Proudmoore, right? Former apprentice of Archmage councilor Antonidas?"
Jaina winced but nodded. "How is my old master? And you say Dalaran survived? How? And who else? The prophet said that they were all going to die and or scatter."
"He's dead." George said bluntly, causing a stab of pain to pulse through her heart. She pushed past it though, she had known her old master was going to die in Azeroth anyways; It was a large part of why the prophet had been able to convince her to lead so many away. "He died shortly before I arrived on your planet. According to what Medivh has told me everyone else was about to go too. Thankfully for you lot my typical flashy entrance caused a bit of a ruckus allowing Dalaran time and opportunity to uproot itself and flee. Apparently getting their asses handed to them by half of Lorderan's unburied population was just the kick in the pants everyone needed."
"And the survivors?"
"Twenty million all told. Seven human, eleven elf and two million mixed half elves gnomes and dwarves. Civilians, mostly, along with the citizens of Dalaran and Silvermoon. Last map I saw before we left the continent had a couple dozen heavily fortified camps, Gilneas, Kul'Tiras and the Hinterlands were still in alliance hands. The trolls of Zul'aman too, though they're probably under siege right now. The Legion commander was rather unhappy with us when we disappeared on him, it's just a question of whether he continued east or went south over the mountains to pick on the dwarves."
Jaina nodded solemnly. Twenty million. When she was a child before the second war which moved up from Azeroth to ravage Lorderan the census her father had received from the other kings had indicated the population of the Lorderan Alliance had been nearing four hundred million souls. How were they supposed to survive when the Horde and scourge had already cut them down this far? Her one consolation was that Greymane and her own home seemed to be OK for the moment.
"How many did you manage to bring with you?" George asked.
"Huh?" she asked, snapping out of her depression. "Oh, uh, thirty million. Civilians mostly. Took every ship in Southshore, stole a few dozen from Gilneas and my mage friends and I put extensive work into expanding the inner dimensions. We started out with twenty million humans, five million dwarves and four million elves. Had a fair number of Gnomes too, but most of them insisted on being dropped off in the Wetlands so they could make their way back to Gnomeregan. They were talking about retaking it from someone. I wasn't really clear on the details; I think it was some Orcish holdouts. We lost a good half of the ships on the way over, but they've been filtering in over the last month so I hold out hope for the rest of them. Right now we're hovering around 18 million spread across my mountains, the lower savanna and the swamp."
George nodded. "So about the same as us. More humans and dwarves though. And fewer elves." He glanced down at the map still spread on the table behind them. "Taken most of the mountains huh? Should be pretty good defenses, most of the undead are ground based as were a lot of the demons I saw. You should still look into moving the rest of your people up into these valleys and setting up some sort of air defense. The demons commanders liked to rain some sort of burning green meteors down on us and there were these flying bull people with whips and curved swords."
Jaina wrinkled her nose. "Doomguard." she spat. "My master taught me how to recognize various types of demons in case we ever had to deal with some idiot warlock whose summons became too big to cover up what they were messing with. It wasn't common, but one would show up every five years or so."
George nodded. There weren't a lot of people stupid enough to mess with demons on Earth either, but Harry had ended up dealing with two groups in five years in different parts of the world.
"Paladin Meer! Get these men out of here and inform the gate that we're about to have guests! Gavin, alert the kitchens if you would? Roland! Go to the sanctum and get me Lor'Danil!" The orders went on and on until the room was cleared, everyone having been given a job to do. George nodded. He could see why Sirius liked this girl. Small, cute as hell and most definitely in charge. Going by earlier comments he apparently got into trouble a lot, and just like Harry, had grown to be capable of handling it with aplomb.
Tor'Jin the Puppeteer cursed as another flaming stone gollum fell upon her minions, scattering them and breaking many. The trolls of Zul'Watha had been holding out against the blazing jade monsters for nearly two weeks, but they were being overrun. Her warriors and shadow-priests were strong, and the puppets they made from the fallen demons mighty, but the hordes of monsters were relentless. Even with the blessings of their Loa the trolls couldn't go for more than a week without sleep. Coughing out another guttural prayer to her living gods the surviving chieftain doused the gollum's flames in shadow and squeezed. After a few seconds of twitching the stone body of the Legions projectile soldiers collapsed.
Beginning a new prayer she revived her fallen soldiers and drew deeply on her manna to add the stone behemoth to her thralls. It was almost a pity that she couldn't reanimate the majority of the invaders own zombies and lich, but they were too far gone to be of any real use. Each member of this scourge required an entire soul to power their undeath, whereas her spells relied only on her own indomitable will.
Such limitations were not without their own benefits however. Hakkar the soulflayer, a Loa she usually avoided for all that its worship offered the highest rewards, was quite happy to lend her it's aid against this 'scourge'. The reason for this shift in devotion was quite simple, in exchange for blessings and favor Hakkar demanded souls. The more souls you offered the serpent god, the greater the favor and the stronger the blessings. Unfortunately, under normal circumstances, Hakkar was one of the less reasonable Loa and would not simply tear the soul out of a designated foe for you. You had to do it and THEN offer it to him.
Hakkar was also a pragmatic god who, for all his savagery and blood-lust, considered wisdom, intelligence, magic and other related blessings to be the penultimate of his favor. This being the case Hakkar was quite willing to offer his blessings under the very real threat that if he waylaid them his minions would be slaughtered thus cutting off the supply of souls to feed him. The Zandalari of Zul'Gurub in the south and Zul'drak in the north may still offer a steady diet of humans, but losing the midland kingdom of Zul'watha would cut his diet down by a third. On top of that the souls of the undead hordes were poorly tethered to their corpses and helping freely allowed the dark god of the trolls to gorge himself.
Tor'jin sent out another brace of sacrificial daggers the Loa had gifted the spell for her and her tribesmen and women. The blades sought out the hearts of the creatures she targeted, impaling the fresh wave of zombies. As the daggers struck the scourge screamed and flashed brightly as they were consumed, prompting the soul flayer to refresh their reserves of strength, manna and focus. Renewed by the blood of their enemies a cry went up among the ten thousand remaining defenders as they felt life flow back into their tired limbs, but Tor'jin knew it would not be enough. Each time they were refreshed the feeling of power lasted less time. They would need to do something drastic. And soon.
Archimonde thundered across eastern Lorderan, his calm pace nonetheless sending seismic ripples across the earth as he moved. Hands clasped behind his back as he traveled, a frown crossed his visage as his pace ate away miles at a time. This world was resisting. There were eleven human strongholds on this continent alone, along with one elf and one troll. Of the thirteen points of resistance there were less than a hundred thousand souls holding him off. How were they doing it? The full might of the Legion was pouring through the rip in the hills south of Dalaran and yet still they held him off. Millions of Doomguard. Tens of millions of Felguard. Hundreds of millions of human undead.
What was he missing?
It did not seem to matter that he threw pitlords at them; the light cursed paladins would swarm them immediately upon entering the battlefield. They were not being swayed by the Dreadlords, so thick was the light within the strongholds that their psionic vampirism could only affect single targets at a time and not always without notice. They did not care that felhounds dogged their spell casters, for all priests wore plate armor across every inch of their body and the mages flew on carpets. Even the undead broke against their walls like the sea waves, for they were brittle and their bodies quickly disposed of to prevent resurrection after being defeated or dismantled.
It was because of Dalaran he decided, and the red haired wizard.
If not for the pair of them the humans would have been spread out. Hundreds of poorly defended fortresses with but a handful of priests and these new... paladins, to subvert the legions normal tactics of fear, sorcery, attrition and overwhelming numbers. While nearly three hundred million humans, elves, dwarves and trolls now swelled within the ranks of his undead army, there were still forty or so that had fled across the sea leaving only the staunchest defenders to band together and resist his efforts to consume their world. A mere hundred thousand to protect sixty million would have fallen easily, one by one, their power spread thin and run ragged, succumbing to exhaustion and falling beneath the teeth and blades of his slaves.
Small points of eight thousand or so and a country hidden in arcane mists however had time to make repairs and settle rotating shifts to battle and defend against the legion. Worse, those who were not torn apart or slain on the battlefield for too many hours of battle could be resurrected by the Naru's void cursed light.
The trolls however were a much easier nut to crack.
The trolls of the eastern edge of the continent were near the elven holdouts and their light cursed fortress, but relied on more... local... deities for their strength and protection. For all their ferocity they were being worn down much, MUCH faster than the humans or elves. Not even two weeks ago a kingdom of 13 million tusked morsels had shrunk for a mere thirty thousand defenders spread out across three cities. Like the elves of the previous war for this planet they called upon the local gods of this world for their protection and empowerment. Such beings were not much above him in their magical abilities and often well below him in their martial prowess as he had proved several times during the last war. Unfortunately only the pig and the crab had died at his hands before a human had come out of a portal then too and stopped his fun, organizing the gods' resistance to blessing their warriors and hiding in the background.
Here though, here he would win. The human had already come and messed things up, he wouldn't make such powerful waves again, and such had been the pattern in the last war. Today the trolls would bow or fall, and then he would turn his attentions on the world tree.
His plan was simple, as the best strategies often were. A small, steady stream of demons would remain dedicated to wearing down the varying fortresses. More portals would be opened up to allow for the admittance of more demons to harass the fortresses and keep them from figuring out what was going on. Then he would take the main force and head straight for the world tree. Like a hammer they would strike through the elven ranks and that of their defenders and while his legions were keeping the locals busy with an all-out war under his various field commanders, he would eat the elves world tree, drink the waters of the lake that fed it in their entirety and ascend to the level of Sargeras, or even beyond. Once that was done there would be nothing that the locals could do to keep him at bay and the conquering of this world could finish in earnest, as it should have ten thousand years ago.
As the Eredar's paces took him into southern Quel'thalas he came across the first of three cities. The defenders within were haggard and weary. Stepping onto the battlefield he halted the advance of his troops and magnanimously offered the defenders a place as foot soldiers of the Legion. The creatures' ability to regenerate themselves would certainly be a useful addition to his forces. Instead the lean green skinned primates glared at him sullenly before simultaneously committing suicide, glowing daggers in each chest. He snorted in disgust, they at least recognized that there was no more recourse for them, but he would make use of their souls and bodies if nothing else.
As he was about to cast seize their souls for torment however the collected bodies and souls rushed towards the center-most male and melted together. In their place was an enormous overly muscled troll nearly his own size. Archimonde's icy mask broke and the demon lord grinned. Things had just gotten a lot more interesting...
Bwonsamdi grinned through his spectral tusks. "De soul a da dead belong ta me, Erada! Ya be wantin dem? Ya come an get em!" As the demigods of troll and demon faced off the dead all around burst into flame. "Rise fallen wariras, don de mask o de Loa, an shake da bloody spear!"
With that the battle was joined. The flaming dead, demon, troll and former members of the scourge alike leapt upon the legion while their masters clashed across the heart of the chaos. Ebon flames and blood red energy dripped from Archimonde's claws he swiped at his opponent. Bwonsamdi gave him no quarter. Spinning a cane in one hand and using a shovel like an ax in the other the pair of gigantic gods battled back and forth. The earth shook like the epicenter of a Richter 5 quake beneath the force of their feet and blows. Ebon flames and shadow flew from Archimonde's hands as he bellowed in the gutteral language of the demons and the Loa hissed in pain.
A swipe of the cane dismissed the nether energies and conjured a wave of dead trolls from Bwonsamdi's personal graveyard to swarm up the interloper like ants. Ghostly spears, swords and axes tore tiny grooves in the giant Eredar's hide, even drawing blood on some of the thicker infestations where the summoned spirits worked together. This attack was dismissed nearly as fast as the previous one though as Archimonde burst into jade flames and consumed the apparitions.
The attack had achieved its aim however, distracting the slate gray monster long enough for Bwonsamdi to plunge forward with his gravedigger, the ghost-iron blade piercing deeply into the Legion general's stomach.
Bwonsamdi's own pain was not over either. The loss of all of those souls had enraged and distracted him enough for the back-blow of wounding the demon to catch him across the shoulder. Corrupted blood and uncontrolled gout's of unholy flame seared through the troll god's ancient ramnant and charred the flesh off his ethereal muscles, leaving extensive second and third degree burns.
The diefic opponents glared venomously at each other, slowly circling as their minions continued to battle each other. "You no bein bad inna scuffle, Ereda!" Bwonsamdi spat "bud you be pickin on da wrong Loa. I be da god a da dead! I don av ta beat ya me self, evra momen we fight me minions take more a your! So, was it gonna be, mon? Ya gonna run away, or join Bwonsamdi's collection? Dat bein de only way ouda dis!"
"मी माझ्या स्वत: च्या दिशा करा I take my own direction..." the demon lord replied, slamming his clawed palms into the stirred up earth.
Bwonsamdi gaped in shock to see that in the upturned dirt was somehow drawn a diagram of loops, spikes and craters that was filling quickly with the sickly green energy of the interlopers. Sensing danger in the ritual the monster before him had somehow been able to craft turning the midst of their battle the ghostly Loa patron of the shadow hunters danced around, cutting further grooves in the pattern. Messing with rituals was dangerous business and often ended in the incautious caster or interfering party's exploding in dazzling gory messes but the summoning ritual Archimonde had used was robust. Instead of tearing open a gateway to the twisting nether and the demon god general's much needed reinforcements it summoned a singular creature.
Entropus; the elemental lord of the deep dark. The god general personification of magic that settles in the depths of space the creature had been responsible for the creation of several planets becoming faction-aligned with the Ethereal race. Nearly sentient due to multiple epochs of existence, Entropus signified the ordered and inexorable decay of all systems and energy, the unstoppable stagnation of order that would lead to the eventual death and oblivion of the universe.
And most importantly, the prime (visible) rival to the Burning Legion. An entity even their leader the great Sargeras would not risk engaging in any sort of direct battle.
"आपल्या स्वत: च्या मृत्यू, मजेत गाणे म्हणणे मध्ये चैन. Revel in your own doom, troll.मी लोखंडाचा मिळाले पाहिजे. I shall enjoy the irony." And with that the lord of the Legion disappeared, vanishing without even a rush of air to mark his departure.
Bwonsamdi waited several minutes to make sure that his opponent was gone before he broke out in deep belly laughs. "Psychic horra, et gets em erry dime!" The battle over, the Loa departed for more comfortable climbs, dismissing the illusion and presence of death he'd used to save himself. Tor'watha was lost, there' was no denying that, but he was the Loa of death, hiding a good sized island from the Legion shouldn't be too hard. From willing death come life anew, the troll god thought, already feeling his body shifting in preparation to break up into those who had offered themselves for his power and protection.
If nothing else, trolls were survivors.
The second troll city was much easier for Archimonde to deal with. Forgoing any sort of offer or battle with the inhabitants he simply drew another diagram in the earth and collapsed the troll's fortifications on top of the defenders. For those fighting in the open areas the wounded and fuming Eredar general called in a storm of Infernals flattening anything that survived. The undead minions and his Nathreziem generals were unhappy with his decision, but knew better than to interfere with their boss's tactics. Doing so without providing swift and direct results usually ended in a few millennia of torment. The type even they couldn't manage to enjoy.
After that he headed for the largest and final troll city in the area, Zul'watha.
Tor'jin twitched irritably. The battle was dragging on and as it did the smell of blood and snake oil had been getting thicker and thicker. There had been a sudden spike not an hour back and the puppeteer couldn't help but feel a deep and abiding sense of worry. The feeling of anticipation she was getting from her connection to the Loa Hakkar's magic was coming to a head. Something had to be done, and quickly. If she was right then the wind serpent Loa had almost acquired enough sacrifices to manifest itself within the walls of the city. Such a thing would require several million souls in a short period of time and truth be told, the shadowpriest wasn't entirely sure which would be worse, extinction at the hands of the dead and their monsters, or the proper arrival of the Soulflayer.
Then suddenly there was no more time left.
Bones and flesh of the dead ceased their struggle on the troll's behalf and flew, tumbling head over heels, towards the pinnacle of the main temple. The sky turned red and the blood laden dirt and waters of the surrounding battlefield rose as well to join the corpses as a swirling funnel cloud. Within the midst of the storm the corpses of the dead were exploding, sloughing off their meat so that they were naught but bone. Where the fresh and rotting bodies of the dead spread out to join the rest of the cloud the bones of the long dead, the undead and the freshly dead began to compact themselves together to form a the spine of a massive creature.
Tor'jin watched spellbound as more and more bodies flew in from what looked to be a great distance to form the three hundred foot long spine of an enormous serpent. Another literal cloud of bodies tumbled through the air from the direction of Zul'Aman to join in the tableau, their bodies forming the great wings of the windserpent Loa and Tor'Jin understood. That last push she had felt in her veins and magic. It had been the sudden death of an entire city. She could only wonder what had prompted it. Was it the demons? Did they have someone of such power that tens of thousands of the forest troll nation's best warriors and magic users could be snuffed out in a single attack? Or had Hakkar gotten into their heads? Convinced them to sacrifice themselves willingly to allow him entrance where the glut of souls and blood taken in war would not have been enough on their own? She didn't know, but for the first time since the massacre of Arathor Tor'jin gave into despair.
As the skeleton finished forming the blood and gore that filled the air began to collect itself into streams a whorls of viscera that tightened, condensed and glowed. Theses streams of biomass coalesce into the ultimate expression of blood magic, forming muscles which attached themselves to the bones, organs that filled the cavities between bone and sinew, skin scales and feathers that were the hide of the great serpent and finally, the great glowing eyes. By the bone of mine enemies I am restored! Hakkar's voice hissed in the minds of every surviving being in three hundred miles. By the flesh of mine servants I am healed. By the blood of all I take new life! Cower before the might of Hakkar!
Archimonde looked up from where he was applying souls of the recently slain to heal his wounds. Hakkar... The monolithic Eredar scowled viciously. He had faced the troll god in the last war for this world and torn him apart. The local deities exposed heart had made a fine victory snack and given him a fairly reasonable boost in power, but the problem was he'd been sure the worm had been dead. What was it about this world that these creatures kept surviving? What did it take to properly put them down? Someone was going to pay for this... and when he found their soul it was not going to be pretty. He wouldn't simply eat it, no; such oblivion would be too good for the one responsible for this insult. He was going to get creative. Such horrors would be visited upon the one responsible for reviving his kill that even Kil'jaeden would take notes.
Standing, the lord general of the Burning Legion let out a roar. "Azgalor!" he called out, summoning his captain. Once the Pit Lord appeared he ordered the creature to take the main force and head for Northrend. Once there he was to send Arthas back to Lorderan to oversee the war effort here and take the dragons the man was meant to be raising to Kalimdor. The night elves' had had enough respite.
The meeting of the collected local leaders was a tense one.
Tyrande kept throwing dirty looks at Vol'jin for some reason George couldn't discern. The troll leader was reading some book that had Ju Iman Chakari emblazoned on its cover and snickering. Similarly Jaina Proudmoore and Kael'thas Sunstrider were moving around each other with a nearly palpable aura of discomfort and the Orcs were clutching their sheathed and holstered weapons in white knuckle grips whenever the Human leaders passed too closely.
Nobody had died yet, but Sirius assured him it was only a matter of time. According to the old dog Proudmoore and Sunstrider had history. Kael'thas had at one point been Jaina's mentor in the field of fire based battle-magic. Their relationship had been... intimate, but hadn't quite gotten to kissing, mushy crap or sex. Then he'd found out she'd been recently engaged to Prince Arthas Menethil and had caught them on the near edge of having sex in the halls of his tower. Needless to say they hadn't worked things out yet.
The situation with the Orcs was even more interesting. The Orcs were apparently former patsies of the current big bad, the invading demons of the burning Legion. They'd torn through the eastern continent slaughtering over half the populations of Dwarves, Gnomes, elves and humans. Considering that the total population had been nearly four hundred million across the continent the death toll was pretty impressive. Twenty million elves now reduced to 8 million and three million varied half elves. 100 million Dwarves now reduced to 40 million, most of who lived in the Arathi and northern highlands. 50 million gnomes, the gnomes had actually come off fairly well during the first two wars, losing only five million, though apparently they'd been having some sort of significant internal problems since.
The humans, all told, had the most to be angry about though. Between the northern and southern sections of the continent they'd held a population numbering roughly 330 million at last census; 200 million in the north, 130 in the south. After the Horde swept through southern Azeroth during the first war 130 had fallen to a mere 15 million and during the second Lorderan had lost just over 60 million. After twenty years the Kingdom of Azeroth had recovered to 40 million and Lorderan had gone up to 190 million before the Scourge had burnt through reducing the human population to 100 thousand in assorted fortresses across Lorderan, 7 million in the city George had helped set up, one million in Dalaran and twenty spread across Jaina's mountain new range. The clincher in this entire tableau was that the undead scourge had been revealed to be commanded and directly controlled by the Orc sorcerer Ner'Zul, another stooge of the Legion now set to destroy the world.
George had been impressed and horrified by the numbers until Hermione had pointed out that Europe held 700 million people, was much smaller and had also recently been through two world wars.
What neither of them could figure out though was why Vol'jin's book and, indeed, simple presence was offending the beautiful elven lady. All they had been able to get out of either of them was a smirk from Vol'jin, a scowl from Tyrande the simple comment that it was a cook book from both of them. What was being cooked in the book was left unsaid, as were the methods of food preparation of cooking. Hermione laughed loudly when they'd given her the limited details but wouldn't explain either.
"So," George said "What are your thoughts on introducing wand lore to Azeroth? Magic on various levels seems to be a pan-national, pan-species thing here. The clergy channel the power of active gods, something that hasn't happened on earth for over fifteen hundred years, village hunters apparently communicate psychically with animals and imbue their arrows with crude magical effects, their engineers are often enchanters straight out Transylvania and there's literally a dozen separate disciplines of wizard that have literally nothing to do with each other."
"Yeah," Sirius added with a smirk and a laugh, "there are even fish and pigs who cast rudimentary spells without the aid of magical foci."
"What?" Harry asked as everybody looked at Sirius in alarm. "Pigs and fish?"
The Grim animagus grinned. "There are a pair of species here of questionable sentience which are often used as food stuffs by the locals. The Murlocks and the Quillboar. Murlocks are a cross between fish and frogs that stand anywhere between two and eight feet tall depending on the species and often use rudimentary sorcery focusing around the manipulation of water. They're a menace because among other things they have chloroform in their bite. You often find them strung up in fish markets because they taste quite good and when they move into an area they tend to eat all of the fish and destroy the environmental balance. The Quillboar are similar, looking like a cross between wild boars and porcupines. They commonly walk around on all fours and have hoof like hands and feet, but can move about upright, magically manipulate earth and plants and follow the same psychic control of animals I've seen in the small town hunter. Their meat is more akin to venison than pork though."
Everyone else continued to stare at him in alarm.
"Right... Moving on!" Hermione Stated loudly "we were talking about the impact of introducing wand lore to Azeroth. Pro's? Cons? Societal impact?"
At this point Harry decided to weigh in. "From what the pair of you have said we can assume a population of around twenty million magic users before these recent series of wars. Three million in Dalaran, another four or five in Quel'Thalas and enough small time local wizards and witches for keeping track of them to be a full time job for a sizable population of Dalaran according to my talks with Archmage Modera. Add in the priests and the new Paladins maybe a few hundred thousand more, most who died during the three recent wars. On the other hand George's new friend Tyrande has been explaining how every night elf female serves a term of service in the sisterhood of Elune and is a qualified priestess with a variety of spells related to both the dark and light sides of their goddess. Additionally they have a variety of enchanted weapons and armor, and are capable of similar spell casting on their bows and glaives. Nearly all of the males are also druids, a wizarding discipline I understand allows them to manipulate plants animals and even the weather on a level that would have Merlin himself crying in shame."
"The elves high elves are also a hoot." Sirius added. "They've spent the last ten thousand years consuming magic in pretty much everything they eat, drink or inhaled. It's made some rather fantastic critters and as far as ritual components and potions ingredients go their plants are second to none. You'd think this would make them boring as the purebloods, them being so used to magic and all, but it really hasn't. There are these absolutely crazy things they do with alcohol and they throw the wildest parties. Come to think of it, I've probably got a few kids there."
In the mirror Harry was pinching the bridge of his nose and everyone was staring at the man again.
"What? Was it something I said?"
George snorted and Hermione shook her head.
"Ah, right." concluded the shaggy old wizard "We were trying to be me weren't we?" He held his hands up as they all groaned. "Sorry, couldn't resist. Wands though. As far as the elves, light and these new dark ones, they probably won't change life a whole hell of a lot. It'll get them more in touch with their inner wells of magic, but that'll only really be helpful for the younger ones who haven't put themselves through mage training at their local tower or... tree I guess? Cave maybe?" He shook his head and continued. "There probably won't be a whole lot of change in dwarven or gnomish culture either. The gnomes will take to it like wildfire because they're all about learning new things, but to them it'll just be one new thing to add to the list of things they're eager to learn. The dwarves aren't particularly fond of magic as a whole. With those who are, it'll make it easier to get started, but outside of their mead halls they're a pretty stuffy lot. Outside of priests it's hard to find a dwarven magic user who doesn't center their entire education on earth, stone and metals."
Pausing, Sirius turned to one of the wandering servers and beckoned her over with a grin and a comment in Thalassian that made the elf girl blush. Once he had a cup of wine in his hands he continued. "I think the biggest cultural impact will be for the humans, though considering the upheaval they're in already it might not be quite as important as it really should be."
"Nice and cryptic..." Hermione commented dryly. "Care to elaborate?"
"Pretty simple really. The relationship between human wizards and the rest of the populace is pretty much the same as it was for us before the fall of the Roman Empire. They're feared by the normal population, held in awe, and generally disliked unless you need something. You can usually find one or two mages in every city, town or village just like at home, there doesn't seem to be any sort of lineage to go along with magical power here. Local hedge wizards will teach you anything if you have money and it's not uncommon to find random villagers lighting candles with a spell or seeing the village blacksmith use a spot of magic to make his metal easier to use. Most wizards though tend to be intellectuals. Misfits shunned by their community for being too smart to really fit in. You should know the feeling Hermione, Lily expressed the sentiment often enough and if you're anything like I remember you're a lot like her. They go to their local hedge wizards, show an aptitude for actually learning about magic and then end up in the capital cities mage quarter or Dalaran."
He shrugged. "Introducing wands would take away the main limiting factor. As is, you need some serious sort of dedication to learn how to use magic. Intelligent, focused, be the type of person who finds learning easy and fun. If you introduced wand lore, and more importantly wands, to Azeroth pretty much anyone could perform magic on a dueling or household level."
Hermione looked caught between excitement and horror. "An entire planet of wizards? Conceptually I'm excited, but considering the problems that developed in our own world with a ratio of only one in four thousand I find myself worried."
Sirius shrugged. "It's not really all that big a problem. According to Lily and confirmed by my own research in our seventh year and during my mastery, the marauders determined that the problems began when we separated ourselves from society and stopped moving around regularly; the eleventh century if you're curious. This was the beginning of the active witch hunts, a joke to most of us, but on the occasion they caught us the panic did tend to make the rest stay closer to home and truly stop providing assistance to our muggle neighbors. The lack of movement outside of the community lead to inbreeding and the increasing separation from the muggles led to a cognitive disconnect. This came to a head when the Beltane children's massacre of 1702 caused us to create the statue of secrecy, but didn't really hit us until the muggles industrial revolution a century later."
They were all staring at him again.
"Sirius, what's with the lecture mode?" Harry asked. "I'll admit I didn't get to know you very well what with Dumbles and the ministry always interfering, but I'd have hardly called you the professor type. That was Mooney, before the idiot got himself killed."
The older man gave a barking laugh. "Honestly Harry, you're friends with George Weasely and you still don't understand? I was fourth in my year at Hogwarts seven years running, and that was only because Mooney and Lily used to team up in the Library. Your father tied with me for third. You can't create something if you don't understand the concept behind it and your father and me, we invented all of the marauders potions, charms, curses and traps used in our gags. Half the stuff in Zonko's when I visited you after my escape was stuff we'd made in school!" Then he looked slowly at George. "Although... from our conversation I've learned that we masters of pranking might have been upstaged by a certain red-haired upstart!"
George and Sirius bowed to each other grins plastered across their faces. "Prank war?"
"Well,.." Sirius said slowly, "I think we'll have to... direct our targets a bit. We're about to be in a real war after all."
The pair of them cackled. "I thought you'd never ask. It's been difficult to really find someone who can keep up with me and whom I can play ideas off of since my brother died."
This cause the jovial atmosphere to die and Sirius frowned. "Bloody hell. I know I've been gone for a while, but why is everyone dying on me? Please tell me that at least Peter is gone now? And what happened to Mooney? I can't believe I missed his funeral. The three of us promised not to let each other get too somber in case the others died and I've missed two of them now."
"You missed all three of them actually," Harry replied somberly "Though I doubt Peter had much of a funeral. The silver hand he got for resurrecting Tom killed him when he hesitated killing me. We sort of left him there and ran." Harry snorted. "Not one of my finer moments. Though in my defense we were in the middle of Malfoy Manor at the time."
"And the others?"
This time it was Hermione who answered; her voice soft. "Dumbledore died a year after you disappeared, suffering from a long term degenerative curse on one of Tom's Horcrux. Moody dueled with Tom personally after being given up by Mundungus Fletcher. Fred Weasley, Mooney and Tonks all died in the battle of Hogwarts facing off against Tom's assembled army. Harry still destroys things every time someone reminds him." the buxom bookworm finished sadly, gesturing to the mirror where the arm of his chair was snapping under a half transformed hand. "He's now godfather and adoptive father to Ted Lupin, Mooney and Nymphadora's son."
"It was the first time my brother and I ever didn't face off against someone side by side." George added quietly. Then he laughed softly "We even managed to duel our way past Bellatrix and the Crowlies before we got separated. If anyone should have killed one or both of us it was those three, not some random stooge nobody could tell me the name of."
"Back to the issue at hand though," Harry said gruffly. "I get the feeling that while introducing wands will give local wizards a noticeably wider range of spells it won't be that big for them. Everything George has come back to me with suggests that most of their spells would burn out any wand we gave them so it would be a dedicated few mages who actually took one up. Most likely the 80 year apprentices who are looking for a way out of a rut. Therein lays our biggest hurdle. Getting wand woods and core materials in sufficient quantities and moreover matching them to the locals. The dragons here are highly intelligent and Alexstrasza tells me they're highly protective of their families' remains. I haven't recognized any of their magical creatures as being similar to ours yet, so there'll be a learning curve there too."
"That's not... entirely accurate." Hermione spoke up. "I've been looking over Olivanders's books, the ones he authored after we rescued him. You can forcibly attune a wand to someone by coating the core component in the users' blood. It's not good, but it won't be useless like trying to use a wand that would either be a poor match or would never choose you in the first place."
"I have a question about woods though" she continued, looking between Sirius and George. "With the world as saturated with magic as you say, would any tree work? Olivander was never quite clear on how he chose his woods, only that he preferred new branches from trees with bow-truckles in them. Considering the trees themselves were often the most important deciding factor in relating to the wands choice of users I find myself curious. Also, you mentioned druids who could control the growth of plants? I'd worry about the spells involved limiting the new wands to their makers, but if not it could significantly ease the bottleneck on finding suitable woods. Freshly grown like that the grains would all be aligned and because of the method of growth it would be naturally attuned to handling high levels of power."
George nodded slowly. "That could... take care of the arcing problem when too much power is forced through a wand."
"Arcing?" Harry asked.
"The wand heats up and starts smoking." Hermione replied quickly. "Like ritual magic the interaction between the rune web, wood and core material takes place in flows of plasma. Our magic is attuned to our bodies and so it's naturally warm, and where we're concerned, harmless, but if you try to force too much through the wand at one time, its basic function of condensing the flow also concentrates the heat turning the energy into a damaging arc. Forcing a wand to perform above its limits repeatedly causes them to fail over time. Badly matched wands can even ignite which is what was happening with our old classmate Seamus Finnegan."
"Oh..." Harry replied nodding. "That happened pretty much every time I fought Voldemort or used my Patronus. So that's what was going on..."
"It would have helped if you weren't facing fifty of those monsters or better every time you used it." Hermione shot back with a smirk.
"He doesn't get any better either." Said a new voice. Everyone turned to see Tyrande walking up to them, an amused expression on her face. "I can't even count the number of times he's overextended himself doing something silly, romantic or heroic."
Hermione George and Sirius laughed while the green eyed hero turned away from the mirror in a huff. "Done with your war meeting, Priestess?" Sirius asked. "I'd like to introduce the others to Jaina."
Tyrande smiled and nodded. Taking the mans shoulders she gave him a peck on both cheeks, french style, before stepping back. "It's good to see you again, Sirius, old friend. Though, I suppose for you this is the first time, no?"
As Jaina walked up to join them Sirius grinned widely. "I think I rather like you, Priestess. If this is how you meet people all the time, I can only daydream about what you're like with your friends!"
"Do you ever stop?" Jain asked her companion as Tyrande laughed.
"Nope." George answered. "For the time I knew him he only ever stopped flirting with the nearest girl when he was worried about Harry. So, the meeting?"
"Over. It was largely a meet and greet. Reunion, drinks, compare troop movements and agree there are bigger issues than who hates who. The Kel'dori are going to be supplying a couple of herds of hippogryphs and Dalaran is offering some mages and these fascinating flying carpets while we supply them with food, a small troop exchange and contacts with the Tauren." She snorted and shook her head. "I'd liked to have spread some of the Trolls and Orcs up through the northern colations fortifications as well, given the prophets warnings, but not only are the trolls few in number, but the Kel'dori have a particularly bad relationship with trolls in general and the northern alliance refugees trust the orcs even less that I do."
"Jaina managed to get a mutual opponents pact hammered out with the horde" Sirius added to George's confusion. "Everyone hates the Legion at this point and the green chumps came back trying to re-enslave them. We trust each other enough to know who the real enemy is, but the survivors of Lorderan don't even have that understanding."
George nodded. "Given everything I've been told I can hardly blame them." He shrugged "A ninty percent death rate in twenty years is hard to argue with. Any idea how many of them are left?"
Jaina nodded. "My scryers have counted a hundred thousand give or take a couple hundred. About ten percent of them are trolls they picked up on the way here and another ten are orgre's and Mok'nathal, Orc-Ogre halfbreeds. They're also protecting a bunch of five to seven year olds, numbering between 20 and 30 thousand. We blame Thrall for those as they were all born in the two years the man spent cracking open our internment camps."
George nodded. "Right." He looked over at where Tyrande was regaling the others with Stories of his, Harry's and Sririus' adventures in days of futures past. He should probably be over there listening or finishing their discussion on how to quickly introduce, mass produce and offer basic training in wands, but this he had something almost as important to talk to the Leaders of Lorderan about. "Tyrande told me about a number of allies the trolls could offer us. She called them Loa and Mogu. Do you have any ideas on how we could gather their support?"
Jaina's eyes widened. "I know about the Loa, they're troll gods born through sacrificial rituals. The Kel'dori Pantheon was started by a variation of the ritual. I've never heard of these Mogu though."
"Think our friendly neighborhood troll chief might know? Could ask Tyrande for details if all else fails."
Jaina pursed her lips in thought, but before she could answer the hall shook with the sound of a gong.
"TO ARMS, CHAMPIONS OF THE ALLIANCE!" Korilistraz voice thundered through the halls of the floating city "THE LEGION STRIKES ONCE MORE!"
The invasion of Kalemdor had begun.