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 An Axe to Grind

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DanielCoffey
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PostSubject: An Axe to Grind   Sun Aug 26, 2012 7:08 am

When Bunion reached level 20, he was sent by his Trainer to the Barrens to learn how to summon a Succubus. The person he met in the Barrens told him of a pair of Night Elves - lovers who died in each other’s arms on a battlefield. Where they fell, the great Heartwood grew. It was a tree of astounding beauty which became a symbol of their love.

Over the generations, Warlocks by the hundred have crept and skulked their way through the vast Ashenvale Forest seeking this tree in order to take a branch to act as bait for their Succubi. By now of course the Night Elves have learned of this and keep a watch in the forest for anyone with a shifty expression bearing an axe... and when they find a Warlock...

PART 1 : Diary of a Demonologist
PART 2 : An Axe to Grind

===



“They had assumed it was an attack and were
rushing to defend their ruins. This was it... a
perfect opportunity! Dragging his tired, bruised
body across the now empty clearing, Bunion
crawled towards the Heartwood tree...”


===

BUNION, AN AXE TO GRIND

As his grey robe snagged on a Bloodthorn bush taller than his head, Bunion once again cursed the Deity that saw fit to make Gnomes so small. As, for the tenth time, his boot was twisted off his foot by the sucking mud and clawing vines, he shook his fist at the cloud-laden sky.

He hefted the lumber axe he had dragged all the way from Ironforge and attempted to hack at the offending Bloodthorn bush but only succeeded in losing his grip on the slimy handle and fell face first into the stinking rotted leaves.

“Pffaug! Ptui! A pox on all Night Elves! Klathnagma! Where are you?” he yelled.

Klathnagma the Voidwalker had been calmly hovering over the twisted, filthy mess about fifty yards behind Bunion. The blue glow of his eyes turned to scan the dense forest and located his Master flailing in the mire. He slowly drifted closer, the air sizzling as he moved.

As he hauled himself to his knees, one hand on the handle of the axe, Bunion noticed an armoured gauntleted fist had been thrust down to help him up. Seizing it, Bunion struggled to his feet and looked up... into the calm face of a Night Elf in the armour of Astranaar.

Absent-mindedly brushing leaves and mud off his robe (which only served to rub the dirt into the cloth), Bunion stared at his would-be rescuer with dread in his heart. He had been told over and over what the Night Elves did to Warlocks who were caught trying to steal pieces of the Heartwood. Once, they would only punish you if you were caught with a piece of it on your person. Now... they didn’t even wait for you to approach the tree. Warlock plus axe equals dead Warlock. On the plus side, you got to keep the axe. But you were dead. Simple. Those were the rules.

“Er... greetings, um... Sentinel”, Bunion stammered.

The cool eyes merely watched him.

Thinking fast, Bunion continued.

“Thank you for your assistance there... I was just... um, learning my way around this lovely forest you have here when I... got lost and fell, yes, and fell and got covered with... mud... and...”

His voice trailed away. The Sentinel’s eyes flicked once from Bunion’s sweating face to the axe and back again.

“This? Oh, this... ah yes, this is a new Gnomish Walking stick, specially engineered to be useful in jungles with dense foliage like this... er, Bloodthorn bush here. Yes, indeed, if you were out for a jaunty walk and got snagged on a bush, you press the button here... oh, it seems to have fallen off. Never mind, and this blade here pops out and you can use it to help... free... yourself from the obstacle. Not an axe at all, actually. Not even remotely axe-like.”

Again, the cool stare from the Sentinel.

“Oh, wait a minute... you think I’m a Warlock yes? I heard all about those fellows. Nasty folks creeping about with axes all the time? Why, a man’s fruit-trees aren’t safe any more with those chaps around the place! Me? I’m a... um, Mage, yes. I’m a Mage, out for a walk in the, um, Forest of Ashenvale, collecting specimens, yes, that’s right. I’m a Mage. Not a Warlock at all!”

The Sentinel was just beginning to grin when Bunion heard a faint sizzling noise behind him. Klathnagma was about to come into view from behind the clump of Bloodthorn bushes. This was not going well!

Seeing the Sentinel’s eyes widen then frown in recognition, Bunion turned.

“Oh no!” he yelled. “It’s a rogue demon! A Voidwalker even! Without a master! Help!! Save me!!!”

With that, he slithered in the mud to behind the Sentinel’s legs. Once the Sentinel couldn’t see his hands, Bunion made eye-contact with Klathnagma and gave the sign for “Kill!”. Sure, the Sentinel was probably stronger than the Voidwalker, but it would buy him some time.

Mouthing a quiet “Sorry...”, he made good his escape as the Voidwalker and Sentinel charged each other.

The roar of anger from the Sentinel as Bunion had released the anchor that held the Voidwalker to this plane had echoed through the trees. Then, the pursuit had begun.


Thirty minutes later and completely out of breath, Bunion slid down a steep, muddy bank and collapsed briefly between the buttress roots of a towering tree.

He had forgotten what good trackers the Night Elves were! He had slithered through muddy culverts, hidden under logs as booted feet crashed past and dived into piles of stinking leaves in an attempt to evade pursuit.

And it wasn’t just the one Sentinel any more either! A shrill whistle had sounded and been answered from a few hundred yards away. Now there were several after him. Three or four? Who knew? It was too many... all alert and looking for a Gnome Warlock!

Wiping slime from his eyes, he looked round. By chance, that last muddy bank had been part of the long slide into the valley which housed the Ruins of Ordil’Aran - the home of the Heartwood. He was close. Very close.

Decades ago, the Ruins of Ordil’Aran had been overrun by the Dark Shroud Cultists. Though evil and Warlocks themselves, they weren’t interested in the Heartwood tree at all. They merely wanted to explore the ruins and learn from the ancient carvings there.

The galling thing was that the Night Elves let them! They let them! Oh the bitter irony of it all - to dodge the Sentinels and find the Heartwood only to be attacked by a bunch of Warlocks more mad and power-crazed than he was! Well, he’d got this far and he wasn’t going to let some bunch of long-shanks humans in fancy robes get the better of him!

Bunion reached into his Soul Pouch for a fresh stone to summon a Voidwalker but found to his horror that his hand went right through! Some dratted thorn had torn the bag right open and one by one his precious Soul Shards had fallen out and now lay lost in this festering jungle! Ahead lay the Heartwood tree - achingly beautiful - and between him and his goal were the patrolling Cultists! So unfair!

Suddenly the thick forest silence was shattered by the blast of a war-horn about two-hundred yards behind and to one side of him. Glancing over a shoulder, Bunion saw at least a dozen Sentinels silhouetted against the light of the setting sun at the top of the slope to the valley of the Ruins of Ordil’Aran!

“Oh, what fresh hell is this?” he asked himself and turned back to the Heartwood. So close!

To his amazement, he saw that the Cultists were charging towards the slope screaming curses and trailing their demonic minions with them. They had assumed it was an attack and were rushing to defend their ruins. This was it... a perfect opportunity!

Dragging his tired, bruised body across the now empty clearing, Bunion crawled towards the Heartwood tree...

===

Her name was Cattwen... she was worth every bruise!


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