So I thought I could finish off AQ in this chapter, but I was wrong.
Thanks go to Joe Lawyer and Umodin for beta-reading and lore advisory, respectively.
For such a confusing mess of an army, the Might of Kalimdor managed to get itself re-organized surprisingly quickly. Usually, the post-battle recovery could take a whole day or even more.
Of course, it helped when you had people that could just magic away injuries…
And that was another thing. In the wake of their crushing victory and Luna's feat of mass resurrection rendering their losses almost nil, Saurfang was dealing with the amusing problem of his soldiers having too much morale. Everyone was fired up and raring to go, forcing the old orc to ride herd on them so that they didn't just stampede towards the enemy in their enthusiasm.
Not that they really encountered much resistance for a while. The only noteworthy enemy they found was a silithid broodmother of some kind and its nest. That was dealt with by a judicious application of fire. It was tougher than it looked, but not a real combatant by any means, so it went down quickly.
The rest of their progress through the ruins of Ahn'Qiraji went largely uncontested. There were still plenty of straggler bugs and the odd anubisath sentinel, but nothing that would really be classified as a threat. Their path was almost suspiciously clear, in fact.
The minor mystery was solved then they reached the steps of the temple and the greeting party that awaited them.
Some sixteen anubisath stood like statues at the base of the steps, eight on each side. In the middle of them stood an unusual specimen of their kind, one with sky blue skin instead of obsidian black and a hawk or falcon head instead of a jackal.
Going by the naming conventions of these things, Harry mentally dubbed it a horusath and he was wary of it. If the earlier experience with Moam had taught him anything, it was that enemies that stood out from the norm were troublesome.
Behind this obvious honor guard, up on the halfway point platform of the great staircase that presumably led to the temple, awaited a most peculiar qiraji. It stood on a circular array of arachnid legs, but had an illogically upright posture for an insect or spider. The patterns of its chitinous shell created the illusion of a man in an ostentatious robe, helped along further by the garish gradient of purples that colored it.
It was also quite large, standing at least three or four times the height of a man, but Harry was not concerned with its size. This one was a sorcerer, he could sense it in the way its aura of power was rigidly controlled.
"Mortals, you trespass upon sacred ground!" The magic bug boomed as they arrived, sounding remarkably erudite. "The return of the ancient ones will not be stopped, cannot be stopped. The Age of Darkness is at hand and I, the Prophet Skeram, will see it ushered in to the symphony of your dying screams!"
The rude bugger didn't even allow any time for a response, instead casting a spell that sent a shockwave of force at the Might of Kalimdor.
Harry sensed it coming and identified it as an earth elemental spell, one that travelled through the ground and up the feet of anyone standing in its area of effect. He avoided it with the expedient solution of a well-timed jump.
The people around him had less attuned senses and grunted as they were hit, stumbling slightly before righting themselves.
It probably wouldn't have done much harm given his spellforged bones, but if that had hit him before he had changed bodies, it would have left cracks across his entire skeleton.
Even after doing everything he could to speed up the magic saturation of his body, the simple fact was that Earth-born humans were just not as sturdy as Azeroth's natives. The local humans hadn't even evolved from lower primates, but instead came about as the unwanted runt offspring of the half-giant vrykul according to what Luna had managed to get from Elune at his prompting.
Talk about starting with a few extra levels in badass…
And it showed. Where that one spell might have once crippled him, the rest of the army merely stumbled and shook it off.
The anubisath advanced like an obsidian wall to block the advance of the Might of Kalimdor, but Harry still had plenty of his little explosive devices. The anubisath were tough and took multiple direct hits from siege weaponry to bring down. Moam himself endured nearly three dozen cannon balls and boulders after Arko crippled it before finally dying.
But all of that impressive sturdiness wasn't much use when the force of the explosion had only one way to go. The sixteen anubisath fell with their chests ruined in short order.
The one horusath, however, did not. The explosion squeezed out through the tiny gaps at the sides and when that wasn't enough to relieve the pressure, simply blasted back the adamantine disc that made up the main body of the device, overcoming the spell that should have kept it in place.
Harry could only goggle at the unblemished chest of the horusath. It wasn't even singed.
"What arrogance to think you could harm Ossirian the Unscarred." Skeram mocked. "He was blessed by our god for slaying the great dragon Grakkarond. Neither blade nor spell will wound him."
Harry had read about the bronze dragon Grakkarond in the accounts of the last War of Shifting Sands Tyrande had provided. He had been a major force contributing to the qiraji defeat, until an anubisath had nailed him in the wing with a thrown sword and brought him crashing to the ground.
Ossirian must have been that anubisath…before whatever had happened to transform him into a horusath. Well, Skeram could claim whatever he liked, but if C'thun could hand out blessings of permanent, perfect invulnerability willy-nilly then Azeroth would have been boned a long time ago. There was definitely a weakness to it, and probably a significant one.
But, much like the situation with Moam, he had more immediately pressing concerns. Dangerous as Ossirian was, the real threat here was Skeram. Harry was all too aware of what a powerful magic user could do if left unchecked and he frankly didn't trust the Kirin Tor or the various other mages in the Might of Kalimdor to match the bug wizard. They were once again maintaining a barrier, but he could see it shudder with every spell that hit it.
He had to keep Skeram's attention away from the army.
"Contact Jessir." Harry said, speaking to a small item hidden inside his gorget. "Jessir."
"Harry?" Her voice sounded in his ear, emanating from the communication bead attached there. "What is it?"
"Ossirian has a weakness somewhere. It's probably going to be huge, but subtle, so keep a sharp eye out." He instructed.
"And what are you going to do?" She asked suspiciously.
"I'm going to challenge Skeram to a dancing contest." He replied and cut the connection, launching himself through the air and landing on the awning over the temple's entrance.
Skeram had seen him of course, and turned to face him.
"What is this? A mortal dares challenge me alone?" Skeram scoffed, easily keeping up a shield to block the continued projectile fire aimed at his back.
"Big words for an insect." Harry taunted, grounding his stance in preparation. "I'll be showing you back to your proper place on the food chain."
With the customary pre-battle trash talk complete, battle was joined.
Skeram threw the first spell, sending out multiple volleys of Arcane Missiles.
Harry knew this spell, it was a fairly basic one for mages in Azeroth, but quite powerful once mastered. Instead of wasting power putting up a magical shield, he conjured a slab of granite from Deepholm, the realm of earth within the Elemental Plane.
The Arcane Missiles struck the rock and did nothing. As soon as he sensed that Skeram had stopped channeling the spell, Harry punched his conjured shield. The punch wasn't actually necessary, but it helped him visualize the powerful banishing spell that sent the rocks slab flying towards his foe.
Knowing that it wouldn't pose any real threat to Skeram, he immediately followed it up with another conjuration, sending a stream of greasy oil spraying all over the staircase.
Skeram responded to the flying rock slab with an earth elemetnal spell of his own, although one meant to break stone rather than conjure it. The blast of shrapnel largely got caught in the oil spray and Skeram was quick to cast another spell to keep himself from being drenched in it.
He did not, however, pay any mind to the streams that hit the stairs to the side of him and started oozing down towards his feet.
The insectoid prophet retaliated with a blizzard spell, which Harry had to cancel because now it was raining sharp icicles all over his spot. Even if it couldn't do any real harm through his armor, cloak and metal skull, it would still be very distracting. Skeram proved cunning, however, and took that opportunity to cast another Earth Shock at him.
Busy as he was dispelling the blizzard, he didn't react in time to the spell racing up the stone, so the Earth Shock rattled his bones. Fortunately, his metal skeleton and armor absorbed most of the shock and he suffered only a slight discomfort.
Annoyed at having his foe draw 'first blood', Harry retaliated by throwing a spread of small firebolts in Skeram's general direction. The bug blocked the ones heading for him with contemptuous ease, but predictably ignored the ones that were going to 'miss'.
Except they didn't miss, because the ground was covered in flammable oil.
The prophet let out a screech of both pain and surprise and let loose a Frost Nova, instantly snuffing out the flames and freezing the oil, but the distraction cost him. Harry had begun charging up a bolt of lightning almost before the firebolts had left his hands and now pointed two fingers right at the bug to direct the sparking energy.
It was a direct hit, but Skeram still managed to put up a hasty barrier to defend himself. It didn't block the attack entirely, but he was far from beaten.
As if to add insult to injury, though, several arrows and lesser spells struck his now unprotected back, the rest of the army not failing to take advantage of the distraction.
"ENOUGH!" The insectoid prophet roared angrily, arcane energy bursting from him in a dome, once again protecting him. "Your blasphemy is at an end. Know the glory of C'thun and serve!"
Harry felt something new now, not any kind of spell he was familiar with. There was a maddening whisper at the edges of his mind, trying to wiggle into any crack in his mental defenses, caressing his soul with temptations of power and promising to take away all pain and doubt if he would just give in. It was eerily reminiscent of the Joining, but warped and perverse, the presence on the other side a twisted abomination completely incompatible with humanity.
"Fuck off with that bullshit!" Harry roared furiously, using rage to throw off the external influence. "I don't serve anyone but myself." He punctuated his refusal with a spear of blazing hot flame.
Skeram countered the flame spear with a shield of ice and seemed downright outraged. "You dare refuse fulfillment in service to C'thun? Then perish!"
Harry turned sideways to let the Ice Lance pass him by and sneered condescendingly. "You're sounding awfully confident for someone that's about to get fucked from behind by a whole army."
Skeram visibly startled and quickly turned around to look at the fight going on behind him, just in time to see Ossirian fall.
Jessir wasn't a gullible elfling still in her first century and hadn't believed Skeram's claims about Ossirian any more than Harry had. Nobody and nothing was invincible, there was always a weakness. Whether that weakness was reachable was another matter, but it always existed.
That being said, she wouldn't have really known what to look for if Harry hadn't said anything to her. The very first thing he told her when he began teaching her about magic was that there was a certain balance to it. The balance might not be obvious and it might be on a scale that mortals can barely even imagine, but it always existed.
His words just now reminded her of that lesson. If Ossirian was truly impervious to harm – and judging by the fact that even Arko's sword bounced off his legs he apparently truly was – then he must be tremendously vulnerable somewhere else.
Ossirian wasn't some eldritch cosmic entity that existed beyond mortal comprehension; his weakness would be more grounded.
Jessir scrutinized every inch of the sky blue horusath, watching how weapons and spells failed to leave the slightest mark on him. The Might of Kalimdor was relying on its druids and shamans to mess with his footing to keep him from running wild while they searched for a weakness, but Ossirian never really tried to leave his post guarding the stairway.
Why not? The horusath would have been a huge problem during the battle against Rajaxx, so why had he not been there?
…unless Ossirian couldn't leave here. Harry and Luna had explained their bone staves to her and Arko when they asked. Jessir hadn't understood all the mage jargon, but she got the gist of it. The seeming invulnerability of the bone staves was just an illusion. Instead of trying to magically fortify the brittle bones, they had simply moved the weakness elsewhere. Taken too far from their presence, the bone staves would crumble to dust on their own.
Jessir's eyes slid away from the horusath, wondering if it could really be that simple. There were a pair of blue crystals encased in a cage of glyph-graven stone sitting atop the edges of the stairway. She had previously dismissed them as mere decoration, given that there was no shortage of obelisks all over Ahn'Qiraj, but those were rather conspicuous.
She nocked an arrow to her bow, loaded it with arcane power and fired it at one with as much force as she could muster. It struck true, but did minimal damage to the pillar.
That…irritated the huntress. She had never really lamented her lack of destructive ability before, favoring precision over power, but she had also never gone up against huge monsters until joining up with Harry and Luna either. Once this was over, she was going to take to Harry's magic lessons with more enthusiasm.
Still, despite the seemingly insignificant hit, Ossirian visible flinched.
"The crystals up there!" Jessir shouted to her fellow archers. "Aim for the crystals!"
Not that long ago, they might have questioned her, but the battle against General Rajaxx had garnered their entire party a great deal of reputation and credibility. Her prompt was listened to without question and a stream of arrows flew at the crystals. Jessir had to admit that the implied respect was a pleasant stroke to her pride.
Seeing what they were doing, the dwarven riflemen up front joined in and so did the mages assigned to offensive duties. Soon the crystals broke under the barrage.
Ossirian let out a stony groan and fell once the objects holding his life were gone. The army let out a brief cheer at their victory before charging forward to attack Skeram.
Harry seemed to have the upper hand over the qiraji prophet regardless, but this wasn't an honorable duel. Jessir dipped another arrow into her hip pouch and waited for that shield to go down so that she could kill another bug.
As it turned out, Skeram was not completely out of tricks despite the bad situation he was in. Before the army could reach him, he Blinked up to the main temple platform before the entrance.
Blink being the local version of Apparition. Very short range, but much safer to use. In fact, Harry would not dare use Apparition on Azeroth, as that particular means of transport was sensitive to outside interference and Azeroth had so much free-floating magic in the air that the odds of something going wrong were dangerously high.
What Blink did not do, however, was make copies of the caster, which was what happened to Skeram. One bug went in, three came out.
Harry's eyebrows shot up in surprise. That was no mere illusion. Each copy had a distinct aura of power that an illusion would not have. He rather doubted that all three bodies were 'real', but the false ones could not be disregarded as harmless either.
The Might of Kalimdor faltered only briefly at the feat before continuing their charge, storming up the stairs. Two of Skeram's images were blocking the access points to the entrance platform, while the third was in the middle, facing Harry.
"Do not think this changes anything, mortal." Skeram spoke, still oozing confidence. "The will of C'thun will not be denied."
"The will of C'thun has already been denied." Harry reminded him mockingly.
Zealots tended to be easily riled and Skeram was no exception. He hissed at the mockery and fired off a spell in retaliation. Judging by the force of it, this one was likely the real Skeram, so the rest of the army should have little trouble with the two fakes even with the positional disadvantage.
Luna hadn't needed to do much in this fight yet. Fighting Ossirian was much like baiting a bull; as long as you didn't stand still and let him hit you, you would be fine. In the case of the horusath, that meant having multiple paladins heckling him while druids and shamans worked to impede him. In the event that the horusath managed to land a hit, the paladins were reinforced by their own abilities with the Holy Light and by the collections of priests and priestesses to be able to weather the blows.
Due to Ossirian's invulnerability, it was a stalemate, but a stalemate creeping into their favor since Harry seemed to be more than a match for Skeram's magic. There was a small scare when the insectoid prophet pressed down on her husband of many years with that icky mental/spiritual pressure, but Harry had thrown it off with little difficulty.
Unfortunately, Luna doubted that more than a few people in the Might of Kalimdor would be capable of doing the same. A fear that came true when Skeram's mirror images did the same thing when the army began to press them hard enough.
Luna shivered when she felt the presence try to worm its way into her soul. It was a thing of the Void and radiated with all the heaviest emotions; despair, apathy, hopelessness, fear, depression and the like. She knew them, had felt them in the past, but had never allowed herself to wallow in them.
Ever since coming to Azeroth, the more uplifting emotions had come to her more easily. Where on Earth the Light had been a mere echo of something long past and the Void was a portent of the heat death of the universe, here things were different. The Light and Void were more like new layers to reality with their own inhabitants and agendas instead of the directionless primeval forces she was used to.
Luna could easily use the Holy Light, but favored Elune's moonlight version. And not just because she used to be a moon goddess herself. As uplifting as the Holy Light was, it was also too rigid. It allowed no room for nuance and accepted only one path. Given Harry's proclivities, that was never going to be an option. Elune was a lot more reasonable and accepting even if she didn't approve.
It was a very big sister attitude.
But now this bug prophet was trying to twist people's souls by preying on their doubts, fears and insecurities. If allowed to succeed, that icky god thing of his would wedge itself into every crack and it would be a huge pain to get it out.
Most worryingly, Arko was one of those affected and was now advancing down the stairs with a berserker assault of fisticuffs. The Holy Moonlight Greatsword had become heavier than a mountain as soon as she was compromised, Elune not allowing the weapon she blessed to be so misused.
Luna Blinked over there and immediately blasted her lover and all the others that had been affected by Skeram's vile mindbendy magic with a wave of purifying moonlight. It served to stop them in their tracks in sheer confusion, as the reason why they were attacking their own comrades was no longer clear. Not letting up, she reached out and wrapped them all in what was effectively a big spiritual hug. The shallow forced devotion to C'thun that Skeram's trick created was washed away.
"Wha…? Luna?" Arko asked, shaking her head in confusion. The last few seconds were making no sense in her head.
"Here you go." Luna summoned back the Holy Moonlight Greatsword and offered it to her lover, pointing her staff at the image of Skeram. "That nasty bug tried to mind control you. You should cut it up."
That, at least, cleared up the important parts. Arko grabbed her sword and charged at Skeram with a furious battlecry,
"You only… delay… the inevitable." Skeram gurgled out, collapsing from his many injuries.
Saurfang replied by hawking up a loogie and spitting on the fresh corpse. "Filth!"
He had not been amused at the attempt to twist his mind and soul into serving the Old Gods. It hadn't worked, the wisdom granted by age and experience and his certainty in his path enough to ward off the attempt, but it had worked on some others.
Meanwhile, Arko was stewing in anger and disappointment, all aimed at herself. Even if it had only lasted for a few seconds before Luna had come to save her, she had still been turned so easily and it was not doing her self-esteem any favors.
"Hey, don't feel too bad about it." Harry consoled, lamenting his inability to pinch her butt through the armor. "I didn't expect to run into a combat version of that skill, but teaching you to resist it is on the agenda."
Arko just huffed and looked away, glaring into the distance.
"Close your eyes." Harry ordered.
"What for?" The night elf asked sourly.
Arko huffed, but did as he asked.
Harry stepped behind her and put his hands on her armored hips, leaning in to speak directly into her ear. His voice was low. Soothing. Hypnotic. "Take a deep breath and hold it."
Harry noted that night elves appeared to have impressive lung capacity, as it took longer than he expected for air to become a problem. Not important right now, however. "Focus on the feeling of your lungs burning, burning like your anger. Feel your heart hammering inside your chest, like an enraged beast desperate to leap out and tear C'thun apart for what he did to you… and release."
Arko exhaled gustily, her breathing quick and heavy as her body hastened to compensate for the recent lack of oxygen.
"Now deep breaths, slow and measured. Controlled." He continued murmuring instructions. "The beast calms. The anger cools like newly forged sword, turning cold and sharp. Keep it ready for when the time comes to take vengeance for the insult given to you."
Arko's kept up the almost meditative breathing for a while longer. With a final deep exhale, she opened her eyes and looked at him.
"Thanks, Harry." She said , not smiling but much more composed. "I'm going to go help set up camp." She gave his hand a quick squeeze before leaving.
"You do that." He replied, patting her armored rear and smiling when she embarrassedly tried to evade him.
Their little interlude didn't go unnoticed, many a curious eye noting their closeness and cooking up theories about their relationship.
Jessir was also among the watchers, but her thoughts were going in an entirely different direction.
"What did you just do?" She asked, puzzled.
"She thought that being subverted by C'thun's influence was a failure of her willpower, but willpower has very little to do with it. All I did was redirect her anger to where it belongs."
"Yes, but how?" Jessir pressed. "Arko has always had a bad habit of blaming herself when things went wrong and I never managed to talk sense into her like you did just now."
"I've met people like her before." Harry replied with a small smirk. "She's a very physical person, so words aren't much use on their own. You have to communicate to her body."
He didn't share his suspicion that Arko had also internalized the idea that the aggressive direction of her sexuality was something shameful and repressed it. That kind of thing could easily create unnecessary guilt and frustration in other parts of her life.
"I don't really understand what you mean," Jessir admitted shamelessly. "but I do know that you're good for her."
"Of course." Harry grinned and leaned over to nibble on her ear. Night elf ears were so big that they were perfect for nibbling. "There's not much point in being in a relationship if you're not good for each other."
"Harry." She protested, shivering slightly. "Not here."
"Oh? Are you ashamed of being seen with me?" He asked, putting on a false hurt tone.
"No, but…" Jessir squirmed, trying to subtly look around at the small audience they were drawing.
A noisily cleared throat interrupted anything she might have said.
"If you two are quite finished, we could use your help fortifying this position." Saurfang said in a distinctly unimpressed tone.
Jessir jumped away like a startled cat, apparently too distracted by the ear nibbling to hear the High Overlord coming. Harry gave the orc an unimpressed look of his own. "One day we are going to need to have a discussion about this blatant violation of the bro code, but I suppose I can lend my superior magical talents to the task."
"Just…get to work." Saurfang sighed.
"Aye, sir, High Overlord, sir." There were perks to not being the man in charge, such as annoying the man in charge and being too valuable for him to do anything about it.
Despite their initial great success, nobody among the leadership of the Might of Kalimdor expected that they would be able to just charge into C'thun's chamber and kill the thing on the first day. For one thing, they had no idea about the layout of the temple and initial scouting had already revealed that the orderly stoneworks at the entrance quickly gave way to a labyrinth of insectoid tunnels. Exploring and mapping those out would have been a huge pain even without the bugs infesting them.
For another, people got tired. The priests and priestesses among the army could bolster stamina, but it was no replacement for proper rest.
It had already been hours since the offensive started and almost all of that time had been spent either marching or fighting. The Might of Kalimdor was still combat-able, but not fresh anymore. In his younger years, Varok would have pressed on with a bloodthirsty fervor, but now he was old and knew better.
Taking the time to create a fortified fallback position for their elite raiding parties was well worth it.
It was on the topic of those elite raiding parties that the High Overlord now walked towards a certain tent. The man it belonged to had more than lived up to his boasts about being the most powerful mage in the army, and the rest of his party had been similarly impressive.
They deserved a personal invitation to the vanguard, although Varok had little doubt that the arrogant magic user had already presumed his place in it.
The use of a tent at all so close to enemy territory was in and of itself arrogant, as a tent could become a deathtrap if one was caught off guard, but the wizard inside had assured everyone that he had set up an alarm ward that would alert him to any hostile intent.
Varok wouldn't have put his trust in that, but he knew how mages were with their magic.
Just walking into the tent would be rude and yelling to get the occupants' attention would have been awkward, so Varok was glad when an alternative presented itself.
Even if seeing an elaborate double door behind the tent flaps was exceedingly strange. Varok shook his head at the eccentricities of magic users and made use of the door knocker, receiving an 'enter!' moments later.
Pushing the doors open, Varok froze in shock. He had expected a small, cramped space, given that the tent looked just barely large enough for four people. What he got was the inside of a mansion.
"Up the stairs, the second door to the right!" Luna's voice echoed down a beautiful set of double stairs, made of expensive white marble.
Varok closed his eyes and took a deep breath.
"Mages…" He exhaled in exasperation and followed the directions.
The short trip was enough to tell him that it wasn't just a clever illusion. There really was a whole mansion stuffed into a tent. Well, if nothing else it further reinforced the reason he was here.
He opened the second door to the right after climbing the stairs and was hit in the face with a blast of steam.
"Good evening." Harry greeted with a grin that made Varok want to punch him in the mouth. "What can we do for you, oh sourest of fangs?"
It wasn't just the stupid puns that made the old orc's face eyebrows twitch in irritation. It was because the damn wizard was lounging in a bubbling tub of hot water, along with all three women in his party.
Varok had known they were in some sort of relationship and hadn't cared, still didn't care, but this kind of lackadaisical attitude on the enemy's doorstep really stuck in his craw.
It made him long for the days of his Warchief cooperating with Jaina Proudmoore. He hadn't realized how lucky they had gotten with her until he had needed to deal with the rest of the Kirin Tor, or now this overpowered and deliberately annoying wizard.
"Your group has distinguished itself in battle thus far." Varok began, deciding to just ignore the innate awkwardness of talking about such serious matters with naked people. "I would have you in the vanguard as we make our way into the temple."
"And you came to tell us that yourself? How sweet!" Luna gushed.
He would have thought she was mocking him, if she wasn't almost painfully sincere.
"Of course we'll be in the vanguard." Harry said, sounding more as if he was stating facts than accepting the invitation.
"Good, then I will expect you to be ready first thing in the morning." Varok nodded firmly and turned around, eager to get away from this conversation.
"That was awkward." Jessir sighed and slumped against the hot tub, tension visibly bleeding out of her shoulders.
Night elves might be comfortable with nudity, but lounging around while a disapproving commander in full armor stared at you was another matter entirely.
"Was it?" Luna asked, puzzled.
"Yes." Arko rolled her eyes.
"If you say so." Harry chuckled, having found the whole thing hilarious.
There was silence for a few seconds before Jessir spoke up again. "So… the vanguard, huh? I can't say I'm really surprised, but I didn't think we would get a reputation this quickly."
"It's mostly the gear at this point." Harry said bluntly. "On your own, you two still have quite a ways to go."
"You don't have to rub it in." Jessir pouted.
"About our gear…" Arko started awkwardly.
"Problem?" Harry prompted.
"My helmet." She admitted. "I know I said it was fine after the battle in Demon Fall Canyon, but things are different here."
"The demons were about the same size as you?" He guessed.
"That too, but the battle was also more orderly. I only had to pay attention to what was in front of me." Arko explained, shaking her head. "Once Moam showed up and messed up our lines, I had trouble keeping track of my surroundings. I'm afraid that I'll end up swinging at an ally if I wear that thing in a more chaotic fight."
Harry hummed thoughtfully and sunk below the water until only his eyes were visible. He had been careful to ensure that the visor wouldn't excessively impair her vision, but if Arko found the helmet that disorienting then he may have severely underestimated how much night elves relied on their hearing for situational awareness. That was not good at all. Protection was well and good, but not if he crippled her ability to perceive her surroundings, because the chances of them eventually getting into a more chaotic fight was close to 100%.
He couldn't even say that she should have warned him about this since night elves had never worn helmets that covered their ears.
"It should be fine for now, but I would rather go back to my old helmet design once we're done here." Arko continued.
"Alright, I'll make you a new helmet." Harry said, rising from the water. "Come on, let's go."
"Wait, what?" She blinked. "I said it's fine for now."
"Except it's not and I don't want you ripping it off mid-battle in frustration." He grabbed her hand and pulled her up. "We'll just nip back to the tower and spend a few days, a week tops, making you a new helmet."
"But we don't have that kind of time!" Arko protested.
Harry just raised an eyebrow at her and waited for her to figure it out.
"Right, time magic."
Testing determined that night elven hearing was only slightly more sensitive than a human one. Where it truly shined, however, was in categorizing and processing aural information.
In other words, Night elves couldn't eavesdrop on a conversation from half a kilometer away any more than humans could, but they could isolate individual conversations even if there were a dozen people talking over each other. In Arko's specific case, it allowed her to keep track of friends and foes around her in battle without needing to see them, simply by the sound of their movements. It was almost like 50% of a sonar.
"This helmet bothered you a lot more than you let on, didn't it?" Harry asked her with a frown once he realized this, holding up the headgear in question.
He had noted that she didn't like it, but he himself didn't like helmets either and it was only natural that having her ears covered for the first time would be unpleasant, so he hadn't paid it much mind. Turns out that he might as well have made her wear an eyepatch.
"I thought I would get used to it." She confessed. "You put so much work into it and I didn't want to seem ungrateful."
"I did put a lot of work into it." He agreed. "Because I want you to be as safe as possible. Don't doubt for a second that if I had an opportunity to improve our entire armor sets that I will gladly remake them all even if we only wore them once. So please, tell me if there's anything I can do to make your gear better. Alright?"
Arko cheeks turned a slightly darker purple and she smiled, pleased by the obvious care he had for her. "Alright."
Arko kept her eyes closed as her breathing slowed down, simply enjoying the sensation of relaxed bliss that always lingered after a powerful climax. She smiled and put up no resistance when Harry pulled her into a spooning position against his heated flesh. The only thing that would have made it better was if Jessir and Luna were here, too.
The thought was like a persistent itch ruining her enjoyment. This kind of debauched relationship was something that the Highborne might engage in, and something that night elven society had shunned ever since the Sundering. Arko had always felt frustrated and stifled with the two kaldorei males she had been with, wanting to be more aggressive but not wanting to seem to not be in control of her urges.
Having three lovers and hours of sex almost every day was like soothing rain after a long drought. Now if only that relief and euphoria wasn't constantly accompanied by a nagging sense of shame that she was acting like one of the depraved Highborne ladies in Queen Azshara's court.
"I can feel you twisting yourself into a knot." Harry suddenly said, briefly squeezing her closer. "What are you thinking about?"
"It's nothing." Arko denied immediately and unthinkingly.
"Arkoooo~." He growled, dragging out her name in a way that made her shiver. "I haven't told you this yet because it hasn't come up, but when people lie, their words color the air with falsehood… which I can sense."
"Oh." The night elf winced.
"Yes, oh." He agreed. "Now I know that I'm not as good at pillow talk as Luna, but you can talk to me if something is bothering you."
Arko chewed on her bottom lip for a few seconds before twisting around in Harry's embrace so that they were face to face.
"I'm just not sure if I'm worthy of becoming a paladin." She confessed. It wasn't a lie and it was connected to her earlier thoughts, it just wasn't… the whole truth. "I've been trying to meditate like Luna taught me while you were working, but I haven't managed to connect to Elune at all. Maybe that one time against Moam was just a fluke?"
Harry was quiet for a moment before replying. "I've met a lot of priests and priestesses in my life, but only a few that could be called truly pious. Most were just one bad life crisis away from losing their faith, even if they didn't realize it. To devote oneself fully to an ideal, one first has to know oneself fully."
"You think I don't know myself?" Arko asked with a raised eyebrow, feeling just a little bit indignant at the insinuation.
"I think you're afraid of what you might find if you looked inside yourself."
Perhaps it was the intimate position, the comforting heat radiating from his body, the knowledge that he would know if she lied or even the lingering remnants of post-coital bliss, but Arko found herself being more less defensive than she expected. "How do you suggest I get rid of my fear, then?"
"You don't." Harry stated as if it was obvious. "In fact, you mustn't. Fear is the most primal of all emotions and the most powerful impulse of spirit. It lies at the root of the mortal condition and influences every thought and action. It gnaws at the entrails of the faithless and faithful alike. Without fear to guide you, you would become a monstrous thing indeed."
"I didn't mean completely." She rolled her eyes.
"Well you don't get rid of it temporarily either. You confront it and master it." He punctuated his statement by kissing her on the nose.
"But I don't even know what I'm supposedly so afraid of, according to you." She pointed out, fighting a smile.
Harry responded by rolling on top of her and giving her a deep kiss. "Don't you worry about that. I have some ideas on how to plumb the depths of your soul, but right now I'm thinking about plumbing the depths of your body."
"But you just did that." Arko protested, although without any conviction. She was actually already angling her hips to give him easier access.
"Since Luna and Jessir aren't here with us, I'm afraid you're pulling triple duty." Harry replied solemnly, but his grin gave him away.
Feeling new heat bubble up in her core, she decided that heavy thoughts could wait.
"This is very different from the first one." Arko commented, turning her new helmet around in her hands.
The original had possessed little in the way of style, save for coloring and the elegant artistic embellishment common to night elven armor. This new helmet retained the light purple coloration and the swirling lines, but also featured two 'wings' at the sides that looked much like night elven ears. The faceplate also actually had some vague resemblance to an actual face, with a distinct eye and mouth area.
A vaguely menacing face, as the 'eyes' were a Y-shaped visor made of some kind opaque glass-like material, with a slight overhang from the forehead imitating the downward tilt of eyebrows inherent to a frown. The grill-like mouth, on the other hand, imitated bared teeth, turning the frown into an outright scowl.
It wasn't something a night elven craftsman would think to make, but Arko found that she didn't mind the design.
"But wouldn't it have the same problem? I can see that my ears are still meant to be covered up."
"Of course." Harry gave her an amused look. "I still don't want you losing them, after all. Try it on and tell me how it feels."
Arko gave him a dubious look, but carefully donned the helmet nonetheless. Her ears slid into the now familiar pockets, sitting snug and comfortable in place. That was where the similarities began to end, however.
The visor large enough that her vision was even less impaired than in the previous helmet and it was apparently only opaque from the outside looking in, because things looked only marginally dimmer looking out. Her breathing, too, felt different. While the previous helmet was designed so that she was not constantly getting hit by the backwash of her own breath, the air coming in through the strange mouth-like grill felt… strangely bland. If it was possible to wring the flavor out of the air, this was what Arko imagined it would feel like.
The biggest change was to her hearing though. Despite still having her ears stuffed under the helmet, it no longer felt as if she was trying to listen to the world around her through a thick wall.
"I can hear!" She said, startling herself as her voice came out with an almost mechanical overtone.
"Good. Any strangeness to it?"
"Aside from what it's doing to my voice?"
"That's just to make sure you'll be heard if you need to speak over the din of battle."
The explanation was perfectly reasonable, but she couldn't help but suspect that he had ulterior motives for it.
"Well, it's almost like I'm hearing things through a tunnel, but… not? I don't know how to explain it." The night elf frowned in frustration at her own inability to describe the sensation.
"Yes, that would be the sympathetic magic." Harry explained. "I couldn't find a way to preserve the helmet's conceptual purity as a defensive item while also letting you use your ears normally, so I went with the next best thing and linked your senses to it instead. Keep in mind that its protective properties aren't as strong as the previous design, so avoid taking any particularly strong hits to the head."
"It's not like I was going to let myself be hit before." Arko pointed out. "This just makes it easier."
"Fair enough." He smirked. "Aside from that, I managed to incorporate air filtration into the breathing part of your sense of smell, so the mask can be relegated to a contingency measure."
All four of them had specially enchanted cloth masks hidden in their collars that could be pulled up in the event of a toxic environment. Given that multiple subspecies of qiraji and silithid were venomous, that had been an obvious consideration.
"Alright, are we heading back now?" She asked. "It feels a bit strange to be spending days in here while knowing that we only had about six hours before the first expedition into the Temple of Ahn'qiraj was supposed to start."
"You get used to the temporal disconnect after a while." Harry assured. "And no, we aren't leaving quite yet. I still have to make three more helmets for the rest of us."
Arko blinked in surprise. "But why? None of you are melee fighters."
"Yes, well, I already had a far too close encounter with that supergiant wasp silithid and we're likely going to be facing constant ambush while we're trawling through the tunnels inside the temple. As much as I would like to, I can't be sure that we'll be able to avoid being engaged at melee range." Harry explained with a slight frown.
Bright and early on the day after their defeat of Skeram, the Might of Kalimdor was concentrated around the entrance of the Temple of Ahn'Qiraj.
Most of it, anyway. While the vanguard and its support units had pushed on against the insectoid menace, the rest of it had spread out across the surface ruins and wiped out the remains of the qiraji and silithid forces.
Saurfang had wanted no surprises while they were pushing into the depths and that attitude persisted now.
"We will advance slowly and carefully." The old orc commanded. "While the vanguard fights the enemy's main force, the rearguard will follow behind to secure our retreat. Initial scouting has revealed that we face a massive warren of bug tunnels, so be ever watchful."
"I have some toys to help with that." Harry spoke up, giving Saurfang a slightly irritating smile as he made his way to the front.
To his disappointment, the High Overlord only looked annoyed for a fraction of a second before nodding and gesturing for him speak. "By all means."
"Alright boys and girls, gather 'round." He said, dropping a chest on the ground and opening it. "These will help with the bug tunnels."
"What are they?" Duke August Foehammer asked, curiously picking one of the round-ish items up. "They look almost like grenades."
"They are grenades." Harry grinned wrily.
"But where is the fuse?" Another dwarf asked dubiously.
"No fuse, you just pull this pin here…" Harry took the grenade from Foehammer and pulled said pin. "And then you have three seconds before it explodes."
He hurled it at an empty corner. Contrary to many expectations, there was no blast of fire and shrapnel. The grenades instead exploded into a thick, pale yellow goop.
"Perfect for filling up bug holes." Harry said with satisfaction. Just like the flyer units in the open, the bug tunnels would have been their worst enemy down in the tunnels. "Just don't throw it at your friends, even if it would be funny."
There were some reserved chuckles at the joke.
"For my next toy, I need a few dwarven riflemen volunteers, both from the vanguard and rearguard."
Having been impressed by the design and ingenuity of the goop grenades, said riflemen did not hesitate to step forward, eager to see what new gizmo he would be presenting.
Far be it from Harry to disappoint. Another chest was deposited and a vaguely rifle-looking thing pulled out of it. It had all the features of a rifle, such as the barrel, stock and trigger, although of a sleeker design than they were used to. More curiously, there was a bulbous pod attached to the underside of the barrel.
"This…" Harry said, pointing the weapon at a wall. "is a flamethrower, and its function is self-explanatory."
A pull of the trigger and a plume of bright golden flame erupted, bathing the wall and sticking to it. There were some exclamations of surprise, but in a world with as much magic going on as Azeroth, bursts of fire were hardly a novelty.
"Now this isn't regular or magical fire. As you can see, the flames are sticking to the wall-"
"I can sense the presence of the Holy Light in those flames!" Von Zeldig interrupted. "How did you bind it to fire? And why?"
Because he wasn't going to miss out on the chance to purge things in holy fire.
"I'm an alchemist, taking things apart and binding them together are my specialty. Now as I was saying, you'll note that the flames are sticking to the wall. That's because the fuel for these flamethrowers is a sticky gel that catches fire as soon as it is exposed to open air. Definitely do not shoot it at your friends, because that won't be funny at all."
The chuckles were a fair bit more nervous this time.
"Alright, that's all I'm sharing at this moment. Keep in mind that both the grenades and flamethrower fuel are a finite resource and we don't know how big the tunnels under our feet are, so don't go too crazy with them."
Harry stepped back and let them arm themselves, amused as the dwarven riflemen almost got into a fistfight over the flamethrowers. He would bet good money that Ironforge was going to be dedicating some brainpower to making flamethrowers of their own once this was over.
"You are a very peculiar mage." Saurfang commented quietly at his side, also watching as people strapped the provided grenade belts around their waists and over their chests.
"Normal is boring." Harry smirked and put on his helmet. It was the same as Arko's, although colored differently. He had seen no need to change the design overmuch, even if the simile of night elven ears wasn't necessary for him and Luna. It was mildly impractical, as the 'ears' could be grabbed or tangled in something, but extra power he was able to squeeze out of them being part of a set made up for it.
Plus, combining a distinctively night elven aesthetic with the features of a Space Marine helmet tickled his funny bone. It hadn't occurred to him at the time, but he was definitely going to model the next generation of the girls' armor on the Adepta Sororitas.
"These helmets are not cute at all." Luna complained, her pout audible despite the mechanical overtone. The moonlight glow of her eyes was just barely visible through the visor.
"They're not meant to be cute, they're meant to keep your pretty head safe." Harry answered reasonably.
"You just wanted to make a Space Marine reference." She accused, not without basis.
All four of them were wearing the new helmets, their long hair tucked inside and mooncloth hoods covering them in another layer of protection.
"What are Space Marines?" Jessir asked. "And why do we all sound like iron golems?"
Because Harry had attached a voice modulator to the mouth grill. It was easily removable and didn't actually serve much of a purpose despite what he told Arko earlier, but he wasn't going to tell the girls that. Not yet at least.
"Space Marines are mighty warriors from a dimension that is fortunately very, very far away. We can talk about this later, looks like Saurfang is ready to get started." Harry shut down the conversation and turned to face the High Overlord.
The old orc had overseen the distribution of the grenades and flamethrowers. Once that was done, he briefly re-organized their formation to take advantage of the new equipment. That didn't really affect Harry and his group. Arko was still at the front, Luna was still in the middle and he and Jessir were still just behind the melee fighters.
The stonework of the temple was really quite extraordinary. Harry had listened to the stone and learned that it had been worked by beings of great power, the remnant of which continued to linger. That explained why it was still in such good condition despite having been made tens of thousands of years ago.
It didn't feel like a temple, though. He had visited many temples in his life, both great and small, built by many cultures in many different styles. Such places had a certain presence to them as they absorbed the feelings and faith of their congregation. Whatever this place had originally been meant for, it most definitely was not religious.
Plus, there was the obvious chitin and membranes of the qiraji/silithid growing on the place, so clearly the bugs hadn't built the original construction, merely taken it over.
They encountered nothing in the upper reaches of the temple, a lack of opposition that was visibly putting some people on edge. It was also very dimly lit, with only a faint bioluminescence from the growths hanging from the ceiling providing any light.
It was no issue for the night elves, but most everyone else that hadn't been blessed by Elune to have beyond perfect night vision would have some trouble. Luna did away with the problem by providing such a blessing, but people were still on edge.
Harry noted that Saurfang didn't seem to have any intention of reassuring anyone, either not noticing the problem, not thinking it was worth paying mind to, or not having any experience maintaining morale.
"Easy now." He said, knowing that Arko in particular was probably being reminded of the Shadow Hold. "These aren't mere animals, they won't give away the element of surprise by attacking us yet."
"Right, they'll wait until we descend into the tunnels so they can come at us from both sides." Jessir said, mostly to herself. It wasn't new information, but it served to steady her nerves.
Harry nodded with a hum of affirmation. "And that looks like the start of the hive proper."
So far, it had been insect growths over stonework, but now they had come upon what looked like a hole punched into a wall. From there on, everything was the distinctly alien organic qiraji/silithid construction; circular tunnels, web-like walls, hanging bioluminescent pods, honeycomb alcoves and most notably, bug holes.
"Seal those up." Saurfang ordered, throwing a suspicious glare down the tunnel. "Commander Windstryke, take a look ahead. Carefully."
Lynore Windstryke had pretty much insisted that she would be taking that duty, so Harry and Luna had kitted her out similarly to what they gave to Valeera Sanguinar not that long ago. She shouldn't have much issue staying hidden.
As grenades were lobbed into the bug tunnels to goop them up, Harry calculated how many of those they would need and, despite having made hundreds in preparation for this raid, realized that it might still very well not be enough.
Going back to the Hyperbolic Time Chamber to make more would be tedious. Doubly so because he had expended most of his materials making the current batch and would have to first transmute a sufficient amount of that as well. Still, denying the enemy the ability to jump right in your face from a hole in the wall was worth a few weeks of tedium.
Lynore came back about ten minutes after leaving, fading out of stealth like some kind of long-eared ninja.
"The tunnel splits into two directions, one turning east and the other spiralling straight down. The downward path was swarming with worker and soldier drones and I think I even caught sight of one of the qiraji priests among them. The eastward tunnel was by comparison almost empty aside from a few worker drones going about their tasks." The night elf rogue reported.
"The path down may be another silithid nest, while the eastward path leads to our quarry." Harry opined.
He wished that he could use a spell to check. While it was well within his abilities to conjure a simple magical construct and possess it for scouting purposes, he did not dare expose himself in such a way. Not when he could feel C'thun deep below them, the Old God's mind a vast, alien thing that seemed to suck the hope out of the air itself. Even staying around the place for too long ran the risk of people falling to its corrupting influence. The sooner this operation was finished, the better.
"It seems likely." Saurfang agreed. "I doubt the Twin Emperors would deign to pass through swarms of their mindless minions on their way to the surface."
There were few accounts of the Twin Emperors, Vek'lor and Vek'nilash, from the last war, but all such accounts painted them as having the arrogance one would expect of royalty.
"We're going to get attacked from behind no matter which way we go first, aren't we?" Luna asked with a sigh.
"Not necessarily." Winstryke refuted. "The eastward tunnel seems to open into a larger chamber of some sort, likely a connecting hub."
"A perfect place for an ambush." Saurfang noted thoughtfully. "Whereas attacking us at the split would not allow them to make use of their numbers advantage."
"Would they really abandon a whole nest, though?" Luna asked.
"There abominations care nothing for casualties." The night elf rogue retorted icily. "A thousand years ago, they would send the silithid to die by the thousands simply to distract us. Leaving a nest to burn to preserve the element of surprise is something they would do without hesitation."
"Regardless, we will act as if expecting to be attacked." Saurfang decided. "The rearguard will clear out whatever is below us while the vanguard secures the eastern tunnel."
That was a bit backwards, but it made sense. If their supposition was correct, then the main bulk of the enemy was to the east.
"I see what you mean about that place being good for an ambush." Harry commented, using a small hand telescope to peer down the several hundred meter tunnel. "The walls in that chamber have sphincters arrayed all around it. If they don't open up like a loose butthole and start shitting bugs all over us while we're in there, I'll eat my boots."
"Did you absolutely have to describe it like that?" Arko asked with audible disgust.
"Among my people, toilet humor is regarded as a sign of great maturity."
"He's lying." Luna provided helpfully.
"I think we got that." Jessir giggled, a sound that came out rather strange with the mechanical overtones her helmet gave her.
"Focus!" Saurfang cut in sharply, glaring ahead. "Von Zeldig and Foehammer should be starting their assault on the nest any second now."
The front line of heavily armored paladins and warriors, all holding large shields, tensed up.
But, as Lynore had warned them, there was no reaction when the agonized shrieks of roasting insects reached them. Minutes passed, and then an hour, and still there was nothing.
Eventually, the rearguard climbed back up, looking a bit gory but otherwise in high spirits.
"Lad, those flamethrowers of yers are a wonder." Foehammer said to Harry immediately while von Zeldig reported the results of their attack to Saurfang. "What kind of oil did ye use for them that makes the fire so sticky?"
"It's a secret." He smirked teasingly.
Not that he was all that keen on keeping the knowledge of how to make napalm away from the hands of the dwarves, or any other of Azeroth's races. If they wanted to play with fire, then he would happily provide the means. Any accidents would make for valuable learning experiences.
No, his concern was the enemy's spying and industrial capacity, which at this point was uncertain. The last thing he wanted was flying demons dropping napalm canisters or something similarly ridiculous.
"We advance carefully and keep our back and flanks secure." Saurfang ordered. "As soon as the ambush begins, fall back and dig our heels in. Do not let yourselves be surrounded. Warriors and paladins, keep up a defensive wall. Casters, impede their movements and busy us time to fortify."
And so they went, maintaining a tight wedge formation. The further into the large chamber they advances, the higher tensions rose. As they were passing dangerously close to the center, Harry decided that any more would be too risky and froze one of the wall sphincters under a miniature glacier.
Saurfang gave him a momentary furious glare for the show of initiative, but when no response came from the bugs, indicated that he should freeze another.
That proved to be the breaking point, as whoever was controlling the silithid deemed the element of surprise to be thoroughly lost. The tunnels opened up and soldier drones began pouring into the room.
Harry and the other mages immediately began throwing frost magic at the tide of bugs, freezing some solid and forcing others to clamber over or around them. Meanwhile, druids and shamans used their own skills to summon up entangling roots or create tremors in the ground, respectively.
But the bugs had extreme numbers on their side and eventually pushed through regardless. They were met by cones of holy fire by the dwarven riflemen using the gifted flamethrowers, while the melee fighters stubbornly refused to budge.
"Fall back!" Saurfang bellowed over the chaotic din, never ceasing the swings of his axe.
Little by little, they managed to squeeze back into the tunnel they came from, preventing the silithid tide from using their numbers advantage to its fullest potential. Yet still the bugs swarmed at them in a vain attempt to simply overwhelm.
Eventually, a qiraji priest of the same species as Skeram – albeit a more blue-green color rather than lurid purple – showed its face. It was clearly frustrated by the failed ambush, but fortunately it didn't have to live long with those feelings. Jessir took the opportunity to dip another arrow into the alchemical explosive and assassinated it as soon as she had a clear shot.
That sent the silithid into a frenzy, but it was only another ten minutes before they dispersed. Most likely under the direction of another qiraji.
"We need ta fortify this position." Foehammer concluded with a heavy sigh. "Advancin' without clearin' out those side passages would be suicide."
"Agreed." Saurfang said unhappily, the other commanders nodding along.
"We can't linger down here too long, though." Harry warned quietly, so that nobody else could hear. He wasn't technically part of the command, but had usurped the position of 'expert on all things magical' by sheer weight of ability, much to the Kirin Tor's irritation. "You might not be able to feel it – yet – but I can hear C'thun whispering to us. If we dally too long, we're going to start experiencing morale problems, short tempers, paranoia, hopelessness, irrational outbursts and finally, outright betrayal."
"That might very well be the qiraji's plan." Saurfang growled. "Delay us until their god's corrupting influence can do its foul work. How would you suggest we fight this?"
Harry was pleased to see that the old orc had enough sense to defer to others when he lacked expertise on something. So many leaders failed to demonstrate that kind of common sense. "Cycle people out so that nobody spends too much time down here. I have a room under temporal dilation back home, allowing us to get days of rest while only minutes pass on the outside, so we'll be fine, but the others won't fare as well. Luna will be able to shield them from the effects for some time, but that has limits."
"So that is how Lady Luna was able to return so quickly." Von Zeldig realized. "Can you provide such a sanctuary for others?"
"To a limited degree." Harry frowned. "It takes a lot of work to set up a room like that, but I could expand the space inside some tents to allow maybe a few hundred people to sleep inside each one and then take those tents into the room. But to do that I would have to create a permanent portal to my tower, because teleporting so many people every day isn't feasible."
"That would still allow us to make use of our best warriors nearly constantly without exhausting them." Saurfang said. "Do it."
Harry pushed down his irritation at being ordered around. He'd never liked pushy people and that translated to being told what to do, but this was not the time for his personal quirks. "Right."
"We will have to make certain that we do not lose ground." Malagav spoke up, his quiet tones contrasting with the tauren's huge size. "The enemy seems to have no end to their numbers and we will never get anywhere if we have to keep fighting to take the same areas over and over."
"Ya leave that to me engineers." Foehammer stated. "They'll have this place locked down tighter than me uncle's brewery."
What a stereotypically dwarf thing to say. Harry loved it.
"And with a closer fallback position, my scouts and I will be able to map out this warren properly." Windstryke added.
"Then it sounds like we all have work to do." Saurfang ended the conversation. "Best get to it so that we can be done with this hellhole as soon as possible."
OMAKE – Na na na na na na na na na
"I thought he was just going to make you a new helmet?" Jessir asked Arko in confusion. "Why the new armor? And is that a bat symbol on your chest?"
Arko, her mouth visible under the dark, bat-themed cowl, could only shrug in confusion. "I have no idea what got into him. He was just testing my hearing when he suddenly got this look of realization on his face and started making a whole new armor set. I tried asking him to explain, but he just insisted that I had to wear this armor."
That armor being a mixture of black and grey with a pitch black bat symbol on the chest. A black cape completed the ensemble.
"But why black? Didn't you want light purple?" Jessir continued to press for answers to this confusing dilemma.
"That's another thing he wouldn't be moved on. He insisted that it had to be black." Arko was similarly perplexed by Harry's odd behavior.
"Maybe Luna will be able to get something out of him…"
"Harry, why?" Luna asked in confusion. "You always said that Batman overrated and that batwoman was the saddest attempt at a female superhero in the entire superhero genre."
"Did I? Well I'm sure that's all true, but it doesn't matter right now." Harry countered, looking a bit wild-eyed. "See, night elves are descended from giant bats native to Azeroth and that suit will bring out the full power of their heritage by tapping into the bat totem. I just need to make another one for Jessir and we'll be set."
"… Have you been skipping out on sleep in favor of work again?" Luna asked suspiciously. "I thought we broke you of that habit centuries ago."
"No!" Harry denied. "Well, yes, a little bit, but it makes sense! They're nocturnal and they have huge ears that work lot like bat ears."
"Dear, I think you need to get some sleep and come back to the issue with a fresh mind."
"I'm fine," He insisted.
"No. Wife veto power. Go to bed."
"Should never have pinky sworn on that one…"
Random reminder that anyone who has the urge to throw money my way for writing this stuff can find me under the adult section of Subscribe Star. Only do it if you've got nothing else to use it on, though.