11th Hour Challenge.

06May10

This is my entry for the 11th hour blogging challenge set by Single Abstract Noun This is going to be something of a bearwall (to borrow a word from BBB)

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It’s always a pain in the rear to wake up and not know where you are, even more so when you can’t remember who you are, or why your head hurts so much. But, that’s the situation I found myself in.

I felt very groggy, almost as if I had been over-medicated on purpose. My hearing told me that I was alone in the room so I chanced a quick glance at my surroundings. I recognized this place, but could not tell you where I was to save my life. There was light coming in from the open doorway, it appeared that I was not a prisoner, at least not yet. I pulled back the warm coarse blanket that had been covering me and discovered that, while not completely naked, I was not in a position to go anywhere yet. Glancing around I spotted some clothes on an end table, and propped against the wall next to the table was a curious staff. It seemed there were enduring flames flickering about the end of it. Also propped against the wall was  a traveler’s backpack that looked well stocked for a serious journey.

I got dressed and glanced in a mirror that I noticed in an alcove toward the back of the room my head was bandaged heavily, and the dressings were still quite tinged with blood meaning the wound hadn’t completely closed. I surprised myself when I wished my head were healed and the headache would go away.. a green glow surrounded me and I felt better.. I could use magic.. this was a pleasant development in my day so far. I still couldn’t remember anything and I wanted answers.

Suddenly I heard someone approaching, not wishing to be seen just yet, I again wished for a way to hide. Something happened, I wasn’t sure just what, but my perceptions were subtly changed I seemed to be seeing things from closer to the ground than before, I padded into the corner.. Wait.. padded? I was on all four legs, why? I looked back at myself and was startled to find that I was no longer the tall beautiful woman I had been moments before, I was a purplish black panther hiding in the shadows of the room. What was happening to me?

Just then the approaching footsteps resolved into a tall beautiful woman with an owl on her shoulder. She glanced around the room eyes lingering on the empty bed, but the staff and backpack still sitting there. She said something and the room was suddenly brilliantly lit up, revealing me hiding in the corner. Discovered so easily I was suddenly very angry and scared. To my surprise, and most likely the strange woman’s as well I started growing and changing. I felt more than adequate to fight my way free, but still didn’t know where I was escaping from, or where to go even. I glanced in the mirror in the corner shocked to see a bear standing where I was cowering moments ago. The strange woman spoke a single word, “Sleep” and I collapsed like a house of cards.

When I awoke again, She was still there, as was this strange tree blocking the doorway. Before I was even fully awake the woman was pressing some strudel into my hand and suddenly very hungry I ate it feeling my energy return and my nerves calming somewhat. I finally managed to ask “who are you?” to which she frowned and simply replied “A friend.” Glancing at the tree she spoke again, “Tam? You will keep an eye on her. Yes?” The tree simply nodded and moved to allow the woman to leave. As she walked through the doorway, she looked back and said “rest friend, you are safe here” and then she flitted away like the wind.

Feeling nearly myself again, (except still didn’t know by what name I went by) I got up and looked about again. The tree simply watched me, impassive and impassable. I finally asked the tree “where am I?” For a while nothing happened, the tree just stood there, then it’s features melted and reformed into another tall woman. She told me that I was in Auberdine in the Darkshore region. And had been brought here three days ago by the huntress that had just left. She said I had been found lying in a tide pool on the coastline, with a very nasty bloody dent in my helmet. Not having any reason to doubt her, I accepted this as truth. I asked why I was being kept jailed in this room. She simply laughed and said I was free to go, but would not be safe out there till I was once again in possession of a full quantity of marbles.  I nodded, thankful to know I wasn’t a prisoner, but was being protected and cared for while whoever did this to me still roamed free. I decided to get some more sleep, perhaps I would begin to remember things while I dreamed.

Sure enough, I had one hang of a dream, I saw in my dream a bone dragon floating lazily above a citadel made of Ice. The image shifted to a sleeping green dragon, then to a sad red dragon looking over the field of a battle, a golden dragon in a pitched battle over a small sandy area, and finally a great, terrible black dragon who seemed to be watching me. That image was enough to bring my fully awake. I knew then that something was wrong not just with me, but with the world as a whole, something was about to happen.

I was rather shaken up by the dream I had, but still was very tired so I lay back down to try to sleep some more. This time I did not dream, or rather had very mild dreams without any dragons..

This continued for a couple more days, I was never able to get a lot of information from the guard tree, but from the things she let slip here and there, Something was happening at a place called Master’s Glaive. Finally one day the huntress returned to me and we were able to sit down and talk a bit about the details of her finding me. I asked her to take me to the place that I might regain some memory by visiting a place I am known to have been. She reluctantly agreed and we set out. Once again I surprised myself while we were getting underway, when she called for her faithful steed, I simply said “Come?” and before I knew it a virtual army of horses, cats, and elephants surrounded me waiting for me to pick one and climb on. For some reason this Storm grey cat seemed to catch my attention so I picked her and we rode out in search of my memory.

As we rode through the forest toward the spot on the beach where she found me, the huntress told her owl “Tux go scout ahead” and off it went. I hoped nothing bad would happen to the owl. We continued on and eventually the huntress pulled to a stop and pointed at a small tide pool. “You were right there.” she said. I climbed down and started searching the area for clues, but.. being a tide pool most clues would have already washed away.  She pulled a scrap of cloth out of her backpack and asked me to take a look. The cloth was maroon and a strange device was embroidered into the fragment. She said that she found me with this clutched in my hand.

Suddenly the huntress got a strange look in her eyes, her eyes were vacant like she wasn’t in her own head for a time. After about 20 or 30 seconds she was normal again, but had a thoughtful, worried look. Her owl came flapping into view but one wing seemed injured. Not knowing what I was doing, I willed the animal healed and a green light surrounded it. When the light faded the bird’s wing looked good as new. The huntress thanked me for the kindness I showed her pet, and told me what the bird had found.

“Just east of here is an excavation site, and on the other side of it, is a place we elves consider sacred. It  is the site of the demise of one of the old gods at the hands of one of the titans. We call it the Master’s Glaive. There are people at this site wearing clothing matching that scrap in your hand. Judging by what we saw, they are up to no good and may be trying to raise the old god again. Please druid, go investigate and see what they are really up to.”

“Druid?” I ask, “Is that my name?”

A sad smile played across the huntress’ lips, “No, that is what you are. You are a druid of the claw, a shapeshifter. Come, we must take you to the head of your order, he may be able to help you remember more. But, before we leave. I must send out a call for others to keep an eye on our friends at the Glaive.”

She glanced at her bird again, “Tux, go tell Onu, then make your way to Auberdine and raise the alarm. If you can find him, Brusaoiri is a capable tracker when he’s sober. Have him come keep an eye on things.”  The owl hooted twice then flew off like it was trying to escape a hurricane. A few minutes later the owl came back followed by a black and grey tiger clinging to the shadows as if it were made from them. The tiger looked up at my companion and growled a couple times. She nodded and turned to me. “He says his name is Ash, and that Brusaoiri will be along shortly. Ash will go scout and keep an eye on the Glaive.”

We call our respective rides, this time a purple elephant tossed me onto his back with his trunk. And head back to Auberdine. Once there, we ask for a ride from the gryphon master and make our way into Darnassus to meet with Arch Druid Fandral Staghelm. On entering his chamber he glances up and stares at me hard. As if deciding between tossing me in no.. under the jail or just killing me on the spot. The huntress relates my story and the current situation to the Arch Druid who relaxes slightly. He spent a few minutes in quiet thought before I started to get impatient, I cleared my throat which seemed to bring him back to the here and now.

“Kattrinsaa” he said, looking at me pointedly, “I’m afraid I have good news and bad, the good news is I do know who you are, Kattrinsaa Wyrmstalker you are a druid of the claw. You also are considered a traitor to the alliance for helping a wounded tauren escape from one of the alliance traps in Alterac Valley. It matters not that he was also a druid, and I probably would have done the same, just not in view of that crazy paladin that always followed you around. The Cenarion Circle however would like to commend your dedication to seeking balance even amid a fight between our two sides.”

“This news you bring now” he continued, “is dire and will be dealt with. For now, I will keep your name out of the official report, once this issue is settled; we will have to determine your fate. You could work some of your social debt off in handling this matter yourself. Take what help you can gather, and clean the Twilight cultists out of the area and defend it from any reinforcements that may come. Speak with the trainer downstairs, he can help you regain the use of all of your abilities. Do this and I will speak with the elders about finding a way to restore your memory. It is of little use to punish someone that cannot remember their crime. No?”

Feeling that was a dismissal I turned to leave. We went downstairs and found the trainer who tested me in many ways forcing me to learn again the things I knew. How to use my bear form for defense, cat form for attack, to cast offensive and defensive magic, how to control healing magic and even a form I was not aware of consciously, that of a large feathered beast with antlers. I found that in that form, my spells hit harder and I was resistant to a lot more damage.

Armed with my newfound knowledge we made the trek back to the Glaive and met up with a very sodden dwarf hunter. Brusaoiri could have been a military genius, but under that cloud of alcohol fumes it was hard to tell if he was even awake. Ash was prowling about nearby, so I decided to join the cat in poking my nose where it’s not wanted. Having been taught how to properly use my shapeshifting talents again, I was padding away on all fours before the hunters had a chance to say anything. We studied the layout of the landmark for quite some time, the hunters both had very good eyesight, and the lengthening shadows helped to obscure Ash and myself. We decided to attack at midnight, a few well placed traps would catch the ones asleep, and between my bear abilities and the two hunters and pets we were sure to pick the gathered cultists apart.

Along came midnight, we started the attack stealthily, pulling down sentries and insomniacs wandering the perimeter. But eventually it was bound to happen.. While sneaking up on one guard, I stepped on a dry twig, he whirled around and yelled who’s there loud enough to attract the attention of several others who started coming his way. I wasn’t watching behind me and an alerted guard literally tripped over me. I got singed by a falling meteorite and lost my ability to stay hidden and secret. Smoke trails are a right pain..

I shifted into bear form and started gathering the bad guys up and swatting them down but even with the hunters making pincushions out of them one by one, I was getting badly injured and starting to have a hard time moving around. A green glow surrounded me and I was immediately feeling better, not daring to stop to see who had helped me this time, I kept pushing till the entire camp of cultists lay at my feet broken. I turned back to my companions and was shocked to see who had joined us, it was none other than the tauren I had helped.

“Greetings” he rumbled, “I am Badmoorising, I was sent to help you by the Arch Druid. It seems I arrived just in time.”

“Thank you for your help, I am honored” I said bowing to my unexpected rescuer.

“I brought a couple companions as well; allow me to introduce Krendis, and Blueboltz.”

I shivered as the first companion stepped forward, only his eyes were visible underneath his armor, but they glowed a pale blue, his armor was the stuff of nightmares, impenetrable plate mail embossed with skulls that glowed with the same pale blue as his eyes. In his hand a sword engraved with strange runes. A ghoul followed him around and acted as a pack mule. He simply said “I am krendis.” I nodded his way in greeting and turned quickly to his other companion. Krendis had a voice that seemed to originate in the ground and echo through your skull it gave me the willies…

Blueboltz appeared to be an elf, one of our distant relatives from across the sea. An aura of magic enveloped him like a cloak; his robes were of a deep blue that was almost purple, and in his hand a staff with an icy top. Following him was a water elemental that looked bored if nothing else. He spoke, “Greetings druid, we thank you for helping our friend here, and were glad to be of some help returning the favor. While we of the horde do not have any love for the alliance, we do understand the need to sometimes work with you to overcome greater foes. Should they have succeeded in raising this old god, it would have been a minor catastrophy.”

I thanked them for their help, and introduced Brusaoiri and turned to the huntress realizing I had not yet caught her name. She had a cold look in her eyes, especially toward Krendis. “Names have power; I choose not to give anyone power over me. If you need to address me, call me huntress.” And with that she walked off a ways and sat polishing her bow. Her owl Tux remained perched in the tree above me however, meaning that the huntress would still be aware of the remaining conversations and strategies we devise.

One evening, the cultists tried to return and oust us from their lair. Luckily we had plenty of advanced warning, Tux and Ash had been making friends among the native animal population, so by that time we already had a network of animal spies helping us. Our first hint of an attack was brought by a squirrel trying to get his nuts home. His warning was such that we were a little worried; the incoming party was 50 men strong. This might be more than a match for the 10 of us (counting pets.) Tux flew off like a shot to raise the alarm in Auberdine, and was back within minutes hooting happily. Ash slunk off to scout the incoming party a bit more thoroughly, as did Badmoorising. A whisper in the stillness came from the tree, it was Badmoorising reporting in that there were actually about 80 cultists and they had brought many demons with them. We could not hope to stand against that many. I relayed the information to the hunters and to badmoon’s companions and we came up with a plan. The hunters started laying their most devious traps, hundreds of them, all around the old god. We even imbued some of the firetraps with some nature magic designed to hold their victims in place.

Blueboltz was busy making food and drink for us, I guess he assumed it would be a long drawn out battle that we could take regular breaks during. Krendis shook his head in the direction of the mage, probably thinking that the mage was wasting time and resources. We make for hiding and watch and wait for the arrival of our party guests. Since there are owlbeasts in the region I assumed the form of one for camouflage. We watch as the invading group cautiously enters the depression where the Master’s Glaive rests. The hunters were smart to put a delay on their traps, get more people in range of them that way. Not seeing any resistance the cultists pile down into the jaws of the waiting trap. All total 80 cultists and 20 demons, against 6 adventurers and their pets. I notice the movement of Badmoorising’s stealthy cat form, but only because I’m looking for him. I tell him the plan quickly and quietly, and give him his assignment.

On que, the traps spring as one. Hundreds of snakes appear, the ground is covered with ice, fire, explosions, and roots. The traps have done their work well, about a third died in the first wave, the remaining ones are severely wounded. Krendis wades in from the south and starts cleaving his way to the middle leaving a line of bodies in his wake, the hunters open up with volleys of arrows raining down, Blueboltz starts raining down ice everywhere, I start bringing down lightning and Badmoorising keeps Krendis alive despite the overwhelming numbers. The cultist leaders were chopped to pieces, they were Krendis’ objective, the group is in complete chaos and they all start running, well due to the falling ice walking rather, for the exit ramp. Which happens to be where we setup our main kill zone, not a single cultist made it to the ramp. But, one did manage to climb the dirt bank and escape.

After searching through the bodies we discovered the leader’s orders in a messenger pouch on a nearby acolyte. They were indeed trying to awaken the old god that had died there so many centuries ago. We took the evidence to the Arch Druid who setup a permanent encampment on the site, complete with a hippogriff rider for calling for emergency help. The cultists won’t make the same mistake again. The Arch Druid sent me as courier to speak with King Wrynn in Stormwind. I was cleared of the treason charges, and sent as an envoy to speak to Thrall about further cooperation in defending this site.

Apparently I impressed the orc, He sent a battalion to help guard the site, as did Wrynn. To work off steam, we setup a non-lethal combat ring for the two sides to test each other in. Somehow I ended up the field commander. I don’t think we have seen the last of the cultists, but I don’t think they will show up anytime soon either. They lost a lot of men thanks to our surprise.

On my last leave of absence I went to visit the Arch Druid, he had his own surprise for me. Several healers were there, and they started an ancient rite that hasn’t been used in over 5 centuries. I never caught the name of the rite, but as they finished chanting, a golden light surrounded me and I lifted off the ground. When at last I was released from the light, I remembered. I was whole again.

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5 Responses to “11th Hour Challenge.”

  1. Oh man, this is fantastic! I loved this Adversity, and you really ran with it (and then some!). The screenshots really add to the whole feel of the post- great challenge post all around 🙂

  2. 3 Pilfkin

    Wow… just… wow – the is utterly fantastic!

  3. I hope that BBB does one, I just know his would be a hoot.

  4. 5 Frank

    What just happened?


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