Thanks to those who reviewed the previous chapter, I'm glad it was found very favorable across the board. I hope the next is enjoyed nearly as fully. ~F

Chapter 137

Shattered Sun Offensive

Khadgar was waiting on the road, well outside Shattrath's walls, as the army of the Dark Horde returned from Shadowmoon Valley, their leader Nobu'tan at their head.

"Hail, and well met," Khadgar said as the human-demon hybrid approached, riding a Dreadsteed from one of the Legion's worlds. "How fared the battle?"

Nobu'tan halted, signaling for the army to proceed onward, and turned toward Khadgar. That was when the Archmage noticed the Skull of Gul'dan, floating in the air around the warlock. He would have recognized that particular artifact anywhere, but the fact that it had become animated was a curious new feature he had not been aware of.

"Judging by the presence of that, I suspect you had victory," Khadgar supposed, and Nobu'tan nodded.

"Illidan will not trouble Outland ever again," Nobu'tan explained, "the Warden, Maiev, will see to the removal of his body, and his followers; and the Draenei, Akama, will take control of the Black Temple."

Khadgar nodded, "and with Kael'thas' forced defeated by the Alliance, and the Legion being pushed back on all fronts, Outland is safe at last, more or less," he surmised, "I suppose we have much to thank you for,"

"What I do, I do for my own reasons," Nobu'tan said, almost proudly, "if it so happens that my actions, or those of my followers, assist others, so be it…"

"You should be aware, Kael'thas survived the attack from the Alliance," Khadgar said, "Where he is, we do not know, but he still serves the Legion."

Nobu'tan didn't seem to react to the information, tilting his head toward the floating skull, which had stilled for a moment. "Nothing that cannot be rectified," the warlock said after a while.

"Just be aware, I know that your Dark Horde also had conflict with him, directly and through Illidan, so he may come after you."

"He can try, and it will go about as effectively as the first attempt on our lands," Nobu'tan countered, smirking sinisterly at some memory that Khadgar had no insight into.

"If that is all, I thank you, and will continue with returning to the Hellfire Citadel with my forces," Nobu'tan said, urging his demonic steed forward.

"Till we meet again, Nobu'tan of the Stormreaver Clan…" Khadgar said, watching the warlock ride away, even as the army continued to march past, their banners in the wind and instruments striking a powerful beat to match the footfalls of their warriors.

Khadgar had no doubt that he would encounter the Lord of the Dark Horde again. His charge to Outland had been fulfilled by the Dark Horde, and Khadgar would be returning to Azeroth once he squared away his business in Shattrath. Danath and Kurdran would likely join him, and the remaining Sons of Lothar would at last go home.

Turning away from the pounding drums and blaring horns and pipes, Khadgar charged the Arcane around him, teleporting back to the seat of A'dal in Shattrath.

The Naaru already knew of Khadgar's intention, and preparations had been made for a transfer of leadership and the shared responsibility that the Aldor and the Scryers would be taking in leading the city under A'dal.

The two factions, in light of the survival of Kael'thas, and his threats to the city, had merged into one cohesive unit, the Shattered Sun's Offensive, and were waiting for the moment to strike back against the mad Blood Elf Prince when he decided to rear his head and threaten them again.

Khadgar had no doubts that the refugees of Outland would be safe in their hands.

"Khadgar, you will not be dissuaded from your course," A'dal said, the light of his thoughts penetrating the Mage's mind.

"I will not," he affirmed, "It's time for me to depart, and return to where I call home. The ills of Outland are taken care of, and Shattrath is in good hands. I am no longer needed here."

"Then we will not try to hinder you." The Naaru said, "You must go where you are needed, and Azeroth has many threats that it needs protection from."

"That is my concern. The Sons of Lothar came to Outland to protect Azeroth, and now that venture is concluded. We now return to the home we left to protect."

"All of Shattrath go with you in spirit," A'dal said, and Khadgar felt the truth of the words.

"Then I will take my leave, and return to Azeroth," the Mage said. Word had already been sent to his fellow Sons of Lothar, and they would journey on their own time, in their own manner. Khadgar had wanted for them to step back to Azeroth together, but one didn't always get what one wanted.

Exiting the central chamber, Khadgar felt lighter than ever. The weight of responsibility, at least for a moment, had lifted.

He could go home…

Arcane generated wind swirled around him, even as Khadgar teleported to the Stair of Destiny, breathing his last taste of the arid air of Outland.

The battle over the portal had fallen silent some time ago, the commanders of the Legion's army finally relented when they realized that Azeroth united would withstand whatsoever they threw at their forces.

The Alliance battalion was shocked at his appearance, while the two Hordes forces were interested but unsure as to why Khadgar had come. He nodded at their leaders, the paladin, shaman, and warlock each having given their all to hold this important line throughout the campaigns that had spilled across this world since the portal opened.

Soon enough, Khadgar was once again facing the swirling green vortex that connected two worlds across the cosmos of the Nether, and stepped forward, silently bidding farewell to the land he had fought so long to defend.

The destruction of the Blasted Lands was not something that Khadgar would ever become accustomed to seeing, when he could remember the lush marshes that once dominated this region.

Swinging his staff wide, Khadgar transported himself far to the north, to where his next pressing matter would take him.

Dalaran would rise once more, greater and stronger than before, cleared of the pride that had blinded them to the fate that befell them while Khadgar had been sealed on the red world.

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Garrosh spent much of his time outside of Orgrimmar since the news of the Dark Horde's numbers was revealed to the other leaders of the Horde.

He was convinced now that, despite how wise and aware of various situations regarding their people Thrall was, he had forgotten the needs of his race, the orcs, over the needs of the Horde as a collective.

Therefore, Garrosh devoted much of his effort to lifting those that struggled in the harsh lands of Durotar. It was a great disservice that they had settled in such an unforgiving and desolate place, when the empty and far greener lands of the Barrens were just to their west, and the vast forests of Ashenvale north of that.

There were resources and to spare all around them, and yet Thrall was content to let his people scrape and claw for enough to just passably survive.

Garrosh did what he could, but he knew it wouldn't be enough in the long run. A change of priorities was needed, and the Mag'har knew that he had to confront Thrall once again about this matter, try again to make him see the suffering that he was permitting all around him.

Many of the denizens of Orgrimmar recognized him as he rode inside, many orcs calling to him and waving. Garrosh had become something of a celebrity because of his efforts to make their lives easier, but the young Mag'har was focused on his mission.

Riding through the drag, he barely spared a glare in contempt at the gaping hole that led down to the Cleft of Shadows, where the vile warlocks still practiced their dark magic under the feet of the redeemed and healing orcish race in Azeroth.

But that was an argument for another day. Garrosh dismounted in from of the Hold, passed the tree bearing the armor and tusks of the Pit Lord that had enslaved their people, and entered the center of power in Orgrimmar, and the Horde as a whole.

Thrall was there, down from his throne and speaking with several advisors and messengers, including a few Blood Elves. Garrosh didn't know much about this race of pointy eared, pale creatures, but he was distrustful of their cunning eyes and the smell of raw magic that surrounded them. The only member of the Horde he disliked more was the Forsaken, but he kept his peace on that matter.

Clearing his throat, Garrosh announced his presence to the group, and watched as the Warchief turned to face him. The look of grim worry in the face of Thrall disarmed him, and Garrosh couldn't help himself as he blurted out, "What's wrong?"

"The Blood Elves report that their former Prince has returned to Quel'Thalas," Thrall explained, "He has gone to their former source of magic, the Sunwell, and tore open portals to summon demons of the Burning Legion to swarm the island the Sunwell is located on."

Garrosh felt his blood boil at the thought, "Then when do we leave to drive them out?" he asked, deadly serious.

"We will not act hastily in this matter," Thrall replied, which sent Garrosh into a rage.

"What do you mean act hastily?" he retorted, "Are these Elves not our allies? If they are threatened, is it not our duty to protect them?"

"We will do so, but not without a plan. Kael'thas has something up his sleeve, and to rush in blindly would be folly for whatever force we send." Thrall countered, and the steel in the older orcs voice was enough to make Garrosh pause, and think on the matter a bit more.

"You… are right," he said, quieting his rage, with effort, "What do we know about this island, then?"

"It's completely isolated," Thrall continued, gesturing at a map that the Elven messenger was holding. Garrosh approached to get a better look. "The only meaningful entrance would be by water or air, until we get mages on the field to open portals."

"With the Dark Horde's command of the lower waters, air would be the wisest choice of entry," Garrosh suggested, indicating the shoreline up the eastern part of Lordaeron, "If we could easily get to the Undercity or Silvermoon, they would be optimal launching places for an aerial assault." As much as he may have disliked the undead or their Elven allies, Garrosh would never throw away the tactical advantage that their locations provided.

Thrall was nodding, "I agree, if they are planning what I suspect, judging from the reports from Silvermoon, we do not have time for the Horde ships to cross from Orgrimmar to Silvermoon. We will have to funnel our warriors by portal and cross with the Blood Elves' support."

"Is there any word of other factions taking action against Kael'thas? Or are we the first to receive any news?" Garrosh asked. If the Alliance or the Dark Horde caught wind of these events, they would have a much harder time securing the isle against the rogue Elves. Judging from the scale, the island was not particularly large, and therefore wouldn't hold multiple armies if it came to all out war against the demons.

"So far nothing," the messenger replied, "We are the first to know of these events, although I wouldn't doubt that they will learn of it soon."

"We have a small advantage, then," Garrosh said, nodding. Clearly Thrall wouldn't see it that way, but for the Glory of the Horde, they needed to be the ones to put an end to this threat.

"Assemble our elite warriors," Thrall ordered, "We will clear the way for more upon the isle, and end this threat before they try to summon the Legion." The Warchief turned to the messenger, "Send word back to Lor'themar, we need portals to Quel'Thalas, and air support to their isle."

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Nobu'tan was nearly deaf to the celebration that heralded their return to Hellfire, and through portal to Blackrock itself. The precession of their army was flanked by those left behind, the guards of their territory, the elderly and the young, those with child and those caring for them. Where many had been able to find flowers in this desolate land, Nobu'tan idly wondered, but nonetheless, petals showered their army as they entered the mountain itself.

It was the first major campaign that the Dark Horde had fought, and their celebration was merited by the overwhelming victory, and survival rate of their forces. Only one in a hundred had been injured, and only one in three of those injured were slain. They were born upon their shields by comrades of their various Clans, and would be buried in respect within the lands of their people.

For himself, Nobu'tan was aloof of the praise for such a success, consumed with the return of a fragment of his mentor, father, and master to his side. He was at least aware enough to stand and raise his goblet, along with the other leaders of the Dark Horde, as Lucius spoke to the assembled peoples of the Dark Horde, all gathered in the great center of Blackrock Mountain. "This night, we remember those that gave their blood to defend this world, our allies, and the honor of the Dark Horde! Hail the victorious dead!"

"Hail…" Nobu'tan muttered, alongside the solemn call of the entire assemblage. He drank of the Azerothian wine, already feeling himself pulled away from the festivities that were soon to start.

Excusing himself swiftly as the food was set out, Nobu'tan wandered slowly through the rejoicing peoples, up to where his chambers were set, feeling almost drawn to a more solitary place. Why this was, he found out fairly swiftly, as when he entered the windowless bedchamber of the Stormreaver Chieftain, Nobu'tan froze at the waft of Fel power as Mephistroth manifested before him. It was not the Dreadlord himself, but a very life-like image of him.

"Well… I would say congratulations are in order," the Nethrezim said, sincerity distinctly lacking from his voice. "Illidan's betrayal was a stain on the glory of the Legion, which you managed to remove by slaying him."

"I live to serve," Nobu'tan said, keeping his tone expressionless, knowing that the Dreadlord would be able to see through any attempt to directly lie to him.

"Kil'jaeden would have you do a further service for the Legion," Mephistroth continued, not listening to Nobu'tan whatsoever. "Kael'thas Sunstrider, the former Prince of Quel'thalas, and former Lieutenant of Illidan, has gone to the font of his people's magic, the Sunwell, to open the way for the Legion to invade Azeroth once again."

Nobu'tan gave a massive effort to remain emotionless, but inward he surged. This was the moment, the pivotal time when the Legion would be fully dependant on him alone. The years hunting down every member of the Shadow Council, and eliminating them, had all been to press to this exact moment and opportunity.

"You alone, with the might of the Dark Horde, are the only one capable of assisting the wayward Elf accomplish this task." The Dreadlord said, glancing at him for a long moment, "You are to go to the isle of Quel'Danas, and fortify the island against any attempt from the other denizens of this world to assault it, in preparation for the Legion to sweep over this world, just as they did your own."

"Hearken not to the corrupting words, he is trying to provoke a response, and test if you are defiant in any way," Gul'dan whispered inside Nobu'tan's mind, and the warlock exerted a greater effort, smiling pleasantly and nodding, "I will do so, Lord Mephistroth. The Dark Horde serves the Legion, completely…"

Whether the Nathrezim believed that, he gave no indication, but huffed, "See that you follow through on those words. Kil'jaeden himself is overseeing this matter, and failure is not an option."

"Understood," Nobu'tan replied, and Mephistroth vanished in a haze of Fel magic, reeking of brimstone and ashes.

"The Legion must not be allowed to manifest on this world again," Gul'dan hissed, and Nobu'tan smirked, thinking of what expression would have crossed his master's face once he learned of all the preparations that his apprentice had taken to reach this moment.

"And they won't…" he said solemnly, "That I can promise you, as vengeance for your death, my Master."

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Velen snapped to full awareness, feeling the reaching surge of Fel magic erupting from across Azeroth. It was not from the Dark Horde, originating far too northward from their lands. Worse still, was the particular brand that carried the magical signature of Kil'jaeden along with it, which set the Prophet's teeth on edge.

"Prophet?" a voice said, drawing Velen's gaze across his bedchamber to the door, where his Vindicator guards were peering in, looks of concern on their faces.

He rose, steadying himself against the waves of magic that coursed across the world, like a ripple. "Something has happened," he said, acknowledging their concerns and the clear unrest that seemed to flow through the Exodar.

"I sense Kil'jaeden's magic to the east, steadily growing in power," he announced, less than an hour later, to the rest of the leadership of the Draenei. Grand Artificer Romuul nodded, already working to try and locate the origin of the burst of Fel magic.

Fareseer Nobundo seemed on edge, "The elements are in a fury over this surge. I cannot fathom that every Shaman on Azeroth isn't aware of what is going on."

"Then both the Horde and the Dark Horde likely will know soon of this event," Velen said, "yet our allies of the Alliance will be woefully unaware."

"Then we must warn them, and make sure that we all converge on whatever place the Legion is attempting to assault to stop whatever scheme the Deciever has planned," Vindicator Boros, leader of the Triumvirate of the Hand, suggested.

There was wisdom in that, and Velen agreed. "Prepare a messenger and send them to Stormwind," he declared, "meanwhile we should assemble the Vindicators, and prepare to assault the location ourselves."

A chiming ring sounded all around the gathered Draenei, and Velen felt the words of O'ros enter his mind, "The Naaru of Outland are already in motion to fight back against Kael'thas Sunstrider, who leads the group trying to bring Kil'jaeden into Azeroth."

Velen nodded at the information, "We must confide with A'dal and the denizens of Shattrath…" he said suddenly, drawing the attention of all the others.

"With Kil'jaeden's focus here on Azeroth, and Illidan slain, and the Fel orc clans destroyed or allied with the Dark Horde, we are safe to return to those lands without consequence," Vindicator Boros surmised, agreeing, "we can arrange a small selection of Vindicators to escort you there, and rally their forces to join our own."

"I will go now, bring some guards and summon an individual to open a portal to Outland," Velen said, stepping away determinedly. He would track down a mage himself, as the call of the Naaru was not to be ignored.

The decisiveness was a shock to those around him, but nevertheless they did not resist the Prophet of the Light in this matter. A mage, and several Vindicators were summoned, and a portal to Shattrath was opened, a far simpler task now that a direct channel between Azeroth and Outland was opened.

Stepping through to the Seat of the Light, Velen breathed the air of the world formerly known as Draenor, and sighed in relief. The Fel fog that had lingered over this world had noticeably lifted, and he had a warlock of all beings to thank for that.

Shattrath was in a state of hurried activity, Blood elves and Draenei warriors, priests, and mages assembling in the central courtyards. Velen noticed immediately the new symbol and tabard that both races wore, representing unification between the former factions of the Aldor and the Scryers.

"Prophet Velen," the musical voice of A'dal came through the air to his mind, "A surprise it is, for you to return to us so shortly after the defeat of both the Legion and Illidan here in Outland."

"If only the reason had been so simple," the Draenei said, stepping toward the towering creature of the Light, "But I bring terrible news from Azeroth. Kil'jaeden's Fel signature has been noticed there, emanating from the northernmost region of the Eastern Kingdoms, and it is feared that the Blood Elves have continued in the work of their Prince to follow the demon's commands."

"It is worse than that," A Blood Elf Mage said, stepping forward, and leaning heavily on a short cane, "We know that Kael'thas survived the battle in Tempest Keep, he told us so himself, and if where you suspect if the truth, I can tell you exactly what that madman is planning."

"We are sure," Velen said. The Grand Artificer had pinpointed the location just before the Prophet departed. The small island above Quel'Thalas was the only one that was large enough to be considered.

Relaying that information seemed to do nothing but confirm the Blood Elf's fears. "The isle of Quel'Danas;" he said solemnly, "the site of the Sunwell, and our races' once great source of power and magic."

Velen understood the implication immediately. Such a font of magical properties, however damaged, could serve as a conduit for the ravenous power of the Fel, and be easily turned into a portal to channel even the strongest servants of the Legion anywhere.

"We of the Exodar are sending a force to the Isle," Velen informed the Elf and Naaru, "as well as notifying the Alliance of these same events. I am certain that both the Horde and the Dark Horde are also aware and possibly even sending their own assaults there."

"Then we shall beat them all to the punch," the Blood Elf said, "and take the Shattered Sun Offensive straight to the Isle from here, establish our headquarters, and prevent any violence between the factions as they arrive at the island."

Velen was pleased at that knowledge. He had briefly foreseen an all out conflict between all factions involved, but with the forces of Shattrath acting as a buffer, there would be sufficient restraint to focus all their ire on Kael'thas and Kil'jaeden's forces over infighting over their petty conflicts.

"Let us pray that it is enough," he said, satisfied already with the information exchanged between himself and the forces of the Shattered Sun. they would be quick to put an end to whatever scheme that Kil'jaeden and his pet Kael'thas would enact with the Blood Elves' sacred site.

Given the nature of the Fel corruption that likely had already happened the Sunwell was likely polluted and unusable by the Elves for their needs, therefore Velen had an inkling of something that he alone could do, and seal up that potential way into their world once and for all.

"Very well," he said after a moment, "Everything is set in motion now, and I shall return to the Exodar for a time, before my own forces depart," the Prophet said, already turning to depart. There was little time left to prepare, and to purify an entire font of pure magic would take some research and meditation.

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Teron Gorefiend could sense that something was amiss.

Standing aloof of the festivities, the need for food, drink, and warm company having long vacated him, the ancient Death Knight counted one among the numbered throngs as distinctly absent.

Young Nobu'tan, chieftain of the Stormreavers, and the shadow leader of the Dark Horde, was no longer in attendance with the celebratory feasting.

The wafting of the Fel had also taken a new tint as it poured down, unseen, from the upper reaches of the mountain. It stank of the Nathrezim, and if Teron were to guess, one had just visited the Grand Warlock of the Dark Horde while he was seeking solitude.

Slipping from the open hollow forming the center chamber of the mountain was child's play, and soon enough the Gorefiend was stalking through the shadows toward the source of the new taste of the Fel.

Naturally, his path led directly to Nobu'tan, sitting alone in his private quarters with the skull of their mutual master floating at his side.

"Nobu'tan," the Death Knight called, sliding into the room with the grace of death itself. "What keeps you?"

"Teron… I should have thought you, or someone else, would discover my extended absence," the young man said, his tone torn between downtrodden, and giddy.

"I trust that your visitor has already departed…" the old orc spirit infused within a human's body asked.

"Oh yes, and what terribly wonderful news it was." The warlock replied, "The Legion has, at last, no one else to turn to in order to guarantee their arrival into Azeroth, and have demanded of the Dark Horde to ensure that Kael'thas Sunstrider succeeds in this task."

"The Prince of Quel'Thalas?" Teron asked, straining his memory of what felt like a bygone era, "What does an Elf have to do with any of this?"

"A long story, one that does not, in the end, matter," Nobu'tan said, "What matters, is that an elite strike force must be assembled and ready to sail northward as soon as possible, so that we can arrive at the Isle of Quel'Danas long before any of the other factions lay siege to the island, and make a show of assisting the mad Blood Elf, while secretly laying the groundwork for his destruction."

Teron stiffened at the curtness and direct manner that the Warlock was speaking of open defiance against the Legion, "But if they were to overhear, or be on the watch for any sign of betrayal."

"They may be," Nobu'tan said, shrugging, "but I have learned new secrets of the Fel, which at last rid me of their devious spying…" he sent a smirk at the skull of Gul'dan, which continued to hover innocently at the warlock's side.

"I see," Teron replied, understanding. It was plain as day that the spirit of their master had endured all the death and torment that had undergone him in the time since the tragedy at the Tomb, and the return of his favored apprentice had revitalized his spirit in a manner that even the Gorefiend, in all his experience with undeath, could not fathom.

To explain further, Nobu'tan reached upward, his clawed fingers striking a fine web-like mesh of shimmering Fel magic above his head. The light radiated outward and downward, covering the entire room in a bubble that Teron hadn't even noticed as he entered.

"So subtle, and yet perfectly sound against unwanted tampering, or spying," Nobu'tan added, pleased with himself at the feat of magic.

"Then we are perfectly safe to discuss the needed points in order to shatter their scheme completely," Teron surmised.

"Indeed," Nobu'tan agreed, gesturing for the Death Knight to sit in a chair by his desk. "In truth, I've been scouting the island remotely, and I've determined the best route to proceed."

The warlock unrolled a scroll of parchment, revealing a very in depth map of an island that Teron had never seen before. He could only presume that this was the isle in question, but the level of detail was remarkable.

"If we sail from Arathi's eastern coast, straight upward, we can reach the isle within a day," Nobu'tan explained, gesturing at the right side of the map, "from there, we have a large space that I suspect the other factions won't even consider expanding into when they come to stop Kael'thas."

Teron could see the reasoning. The moderately sized settlement on the southern coast, closest to the mainland and the Elven city, was significantly more ideal for an encampment, and would attract the attention of any conventional fighting force immediately. Therefore, with their extended resources, the Dark Horde's ability to set up a camp wherever would be excellently employed in order to be out of sight if and when the other factions came to fight the Legion.

"The real question is, where has Kael'thas secluded himself?" Nobu'tan asked aloud, gazing at the map, "I know he's no longer in the actual structure surrounding the Sunwell, but neither has he left the island. Which leaves this place…"

He indicated a structure at the southwestern side of the island, on a tall cliff and with a clear view all around it. "It would be an ideal location to monitor activities both on and off the isle," Teron agreed, "That would be my first guess to explore."

"Now who do you bring on this particular mission?" Teron asked, diving to the heart of the matter, if the change in Nobu'tan expression was any indication. "I trust that you can only bring those who fully understand the situation, and your goals with the Legion."

"Indeed," Nobu'tan replied, "Tenebrous, naturally, will be at my side in his, once he has recovered from his injuries. Many from the Black Harvest would be welcome additions, but I don't wish to risk too many of our number in the chance that something goes terribly wrong."

"Understandable," Teron said, urging the young man to continue his reasoning.

"You and Voldemort of course," the warlock continued, already rising to his feet in order to pace the room in thought, "and my servant, Teg'Ramm, would be ideal to deal with anything that would be physically overwhelming."

"A solid group of five, but I suspect you want to make a show of it for the Legion before metaphorically dropping the axe across their collective necks." Teron prodded, seeing the hesitation in the Nobu'tan face.

"They would expect more, if we are to be bringing an army to defend their location." He said, eyes darting as he made mental calculations, "But I wish to bring as few as possible as to not send the wrong message to the rest of the Dark Horde. It would be, politically, very dire if word got out incorrectly that we were aiding the Legion, however false it would be. But at the same time, to announce publically that we were fighting against them would be equally folly, as the Legion would overhear without any doubt."

"Spies in the ranks," Teron surmised, and Nobu'tan nodded.

"There are plenty here that report to other powers," he said, "I've allowed it, if only to appear ignorant of their devices for the time being. Better to keep an enemy close to the chest, when you know that their blade is aimed at you, rather than wait for them to spring from the shadows when you least suspect it."

"Then trust if your suspicions, and bring only what few you can trust, with the promise for the Legion and their Elf slave that you will summon your armies from afar. If haste to reach them is necessary, it would make sense that you wouldn't try to carry an entire army up the coast before the other factions had time to muster themselves."

"It just feels too simple," Nobu'tan said, already shaking his head, "But I suppose I'm just over thinking the situation. If the Legion feel that this plan will succeed, they wouldn't care about the other cogs spinning in their own way toward the end. But I know the Legion and their ways. They've been foiled too many times in the past, and will be on the lookout for even the scarcest trace of betrayal, up until the very last moment."

For the briefest of moments, Teron felt himself transported back to a time long ago, when he and Gul'dan would have similar conversations, speaking of the Legion and the orc Chieftain's inevitable plan to overthrow them and take the Nether for his own. In hindsight it was bold and foolish to think that such a plan would have worked, but to see the same level of care and worry on the face of Gul'dan's greatest apprentice was a nostalgic moment that even the ancient Death Knight couldn't help but appreciate.

"You must do what you think is best," Teron said, echoing words he had often said many times before, "but I trust you will find the right path for this end, and I will be ready when you commit to your course."

Rising, the Death Knight moved to the exit, feeling the magic waft over him as he left the chamber, and knew that he had to keep these plans to himself. For the time being, secrecy was their only weapon against the demons and their conniving manipulations.

But he trusted that Nobu'tan would see this through, and would prepare the very best of his Shadowmoon warriors and warlocks to join them, if the young human decided to go with a larger assault force than the five he had handpicked.

In any case, he was ready to return to the sunlit lands of Quel'Thalas, and succeed on their lands where the Horde of old had failed.

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Narcissa sat alone in the small garden of Stormwind Keep, reading while Aurora played on her own nearby. Varian was preoccupied with his Kingly duties, and the now twelve-year-old Prince was engrossed in various lessons and increased training to prepare him for his future throne.

Still, Narcissa was enjoying the quiet time. The Keep was perfectly safe, and she had an eye on her daughter, as did the guards surrounding the garden. Not that Aurora was prone to wandering off just yet, as she had only just started to toddle, and still stuck mostly to crawling around wherever her mother was.

Glancing over at her daughter, Narcissa smiled at the little girl, who was currently fascinated by butterflies as they fluttered among the flowers.

She started back to her book, some novel that writers in Stormwind had created years ago, but it gave an excellent picture of the culture and trends of the older generations of the city's citizens, when a pair of hands fell over her eyes.

"Surprise…" came the melodious voice of her husband, and Narcissa dropped the book in shock and delight.

"Lucius!" she said, rising and embracing him, relishing the warmth of his arms around her.

"I've returned once again, my love..." Lucius said, equally soaking in the moment. Narcissa knew that the time apart was easily harder on him than her. She had Aurora to keep her company, and Lucius had to miss out on both her presence, and the milestones of their daughter.

"How long do you have?" Narcissa asked, but Lucius put a finger to her lips.

"None of that, there hasn't been any summons for my presence, and I suspect we're going to have quite a while without being parted again. Although that in and of itself worries me."

"Nobu'tan's being secretive," Narcissa said quietly, well under the hearing of the guards around the garden, "That usually doesn't mean staying idle. Something new in the works most likely."

Lucius nodded, but their conversation was stalled as Aurora toddled over to them, excitedly babbling at them, and clenching something in her fist. "Maa…Maa…Maa…" she repeated, looking pointedly at Narcissa.

Together, the adult Malfoys turned, and gazed in amazement at the perfectly crystalline butterfly in their daughter's hand. It was clearly her first bout of magic, and at such a tender age.

"Draco didn't perform any magic until he was nearly three…" Lucius noted, beaming in pride.