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The Hammer Reforged

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Why had he accepted this job? This was insanity. Sure, he was one of the best footpads in all of Ironforge, and of course he was also a fantastic bombmaker. So when the man from SI-7 had approached him with a sack full of gold and a mission, it seemed only natural that he should accept. Besides, being one of the best footpads in Ironforge meant that sometimes he had to leave Ironforge to let the heat die down for a while.

Still... Orgrimmar? This was nuts. He'd never pulled a job like this before. He was surrounded by thousands of savages who'd love nothing more than to rip him from limb to limb. Then they'd probably tear out his beating heart and eat it or something. He'd heard the stories.

Inwardly, he was beginning to curse his lust for gold and the comforts it brought. Twenty thousand gold pieces had overwhelmed his common sense and brought him to this point. Maybe this should be his last job. He could take the gold and retire to some quiet corner of Stranglethorn. Sun, sand, and surf. Oh, and girls. He was sure he could find a dwarven lass or two who would follow someone with that kind of gold.

He ducked into the shadows between two buildings, in an area of the city already shrouded in shadow. His pack - full of explosives - was gingerly placed on the ground. He pulled out a map. Gather your nerves, get your bearing, do your job, then get the hell out of here. Definitely retiring after this.

The map said he was in the part of the city called the Drag. His target was in the Valley of Honor. Not that much further to go. Less foot traffic here. His confidence rose again. Of course he was going to make it! He was way too smart to let a bunch of orcs and trolls get their dirty mitts on him!

The next hour or so was spent slipping from cover to cover, making his way into the deepest area of the city. The Horde's military headquarters and the gladiatorial arena loomed on hills above him. At this time of night, the fires of forges burned low, and the pounding of metal and stone had fallen quiet. A few bored sentries stood guard, but they were easily avoided.

The target stood in the middle of a row of buildings to the right of the district's entrance. He quickly found the correct building, then put his map away and pulled out the building plans he'd been given. He checked over his own notes, the design he'd put together to ensure his bombs created the most destructive explosion he could manage. The building would be completely demolished.

He stopped for a moment, a tiny voice of conscience wondering why SI-7 was so eager for this job to be done. Who lived inside this building? What had they done that had earned them this sort of death? How many innocents would he end up killing by doing this?

The voice was silenced by the reminder of the other half of his payment awaiting him back in Ironforge. Bunch of savages anyways. He'd probably end up a hero, after all. If these Horde had caught the attention of SI-7, they must have done something particularly horrid.

He spent another hour setting the charges, preparing the fuses, and ensuring everything would go off correctly. Everything had to be perfect, because he had absolutely no intention of being on this continent when the bombs exploded.

The first signs of pink began to spread on the horizon. Dawn was nearly here. One last check of the setup, and he set the timer. By the time the bombs went off, he'd be long gone.

He sneaked away from the target, hiding behind another to pull a scroll from his now-empty sack. The paper was enchanted to whisk him away on the winds of magic, delivering him back to Stormwind in the space of a heartbeat. He began to read, the unfamiliar words slipping off his tongue as the magic began to take hold.

The sun slipped over the canyon wall. A beam of sunlight illuminated the spot where a dwarven footpad had stood only a moment before.

Then the sun disappeared again, obscured by a column of fire, smoke, and debris.


Cowardly Terrorism In the Heart of the City!

This morning at dawn, an explosion rocked the Valley of Honor. Investigators have discovered the remnants of Alliance-made explosives at the scene. The perpetrator remains at large.

The target of the attack was the headquarters of the guild known as Sanctuary, an organization noted for its calls for peace with the Alliance. No indication has been made why the Alliance would attack one of its last remaining allies left amongst the Horde. The building has been completely destroyed by the explosion.

Two victims of the attack have been identified. Durk'atar Son of Martok, also of the Earthen Ring, and Saphiara Sunspell, diplomatic liaison to the Army of Quel'Thalas, were present within the building at the time of the explosion. Both were believed dead at the scene, but upon the removal of the bodies from the rubble both regained life with the use of magic.

Both individuals are still seriously injured, and are currently recovering in the Valley of Spirits. Investigations into the explosion are ongoing. This paper will continue its reports when more information is available.

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"I have answered your question. Several times, in fact. Posing it with different wording will not change the answer."

"So you never saw the individual who blew up your headquarters. You don't know him?"

"No. For all my knowledge, your report of the use of Alliance explosives is falsified in order to use us as propaganda."

"What if I told you our spirit-talkers confirmed with the earth that the perpetrator was a dwarf? Your leader over there can confirm it for himself."

Saphiara went quiet for a moment. "Possibly an independent agent. Nothing says he was Alliance." She didn't sound convincing. "Are we done then? Can we leave?"

The investigator checked something off a list in his hand. "One last thing. How did you manage to recover so quickly?"

"The result of a magical experiment. I have yet to find the event that can kill me. Once you removed me from the rubble, my ability to heal reasserted itself. As for the shaman... I assume you know their ability to return their souls to their own bodies."

"Of course." He looked skeptical, but she knew he would confirm her ability with Silvermoon. "You're free to go. We'll contact you with any further information."

Saphiara hopped off the medic's bed she had been laying in, joining Durk'atar as he walked out of the infirmary. The orc shaman was young but dedicated, and she had known immediately that she had made the right choice by giving him the title of Warboss. Despite her earlier temporary stint at Sanctuary's command, she had never desired the position; her skills rested in logistics and strategy. Besides, better the tradition was kept with an orc as Warboss.

The two were ambushed as they exited by a goblin wearing a wide-brimmed hat, a card with the word "PRESS" stuck into the band. He was carrying a notebook and quill, and behind him a small robot carrying an imager whirred and clicked. "Hey! Hey, you're the two who were blown up, right? You got a quote for the Orgimmar Caller?"

Saphiara took a step back, letting Durk'atar take the spotlight. He cleared his throat, glaring down at the tiny reporter. "Yes, I have a quote for you to publish. Tell the people this:" He stood tall, letting his voice ring out into the valley.

"For too long have we fought for peace in the face of Alliance hatred. Time and again have we reached out with the open palm, only to be struck back by the closed fist. That time as at an end. This morning, we experienced betrayal most foul at the hands of those we wished to call friend."

At this point, a small crowd of passersby had gathered to hear him talk. "If the Alliance slaps aside our offers of peace, then so be it. They hunger for war. They thirst for vengeance. We will give them all they can stand and more!" His motions had become dramatic now, with mighty sweeps of his arms. "Sanctuary stands for peace no longer! They brought war to our doorstep, and so we will bring it to theirs! LOK'TAR OGAR!"

The crowd cheered him, with a tone that seemed more congratulatory for someone who had finally come around to something the rest had known a long time.

While the goblin recorded his words eagerly, the two leaders of Sanctuary pushed their way forward into the streets. With no headquarters to return to, there was nothing to do but use the Shattrath hall for a time. Saphiara smirked, walking a step behind the Warboss and speaking low so that only he could hear. "That was well done. Hopefully word will spread of our new intentions."

Durk'atar nodded. "The rest of the Horde must know that we will stand by them in the coming war. Is everything ready?"

"Yes. All supplies are gathered, the personnel are in place, and the rituals have been enacted. We should be ready for our first mission shortly."

"Excellent. We strike as soon as we are ready then. Both Horde and Alliance shall know our resolve."

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Splintertree had been attacked a short time earlier. Sanctuary had landed, quickly contained the attackers, and pushed them west into Ashenvale. The Alliance, knowing of Sanctuary's reputation, had simply fallen back into the town and allowed the innocents to protect them.

Now, Astranaar burned.

From a hill overlooking the island, Durk'atar coordinated the assault. An Alliance squad bringing reinforcements from Darkshore was intercepted and quickly eliminated. Flashes of purple could be seen as Sanctuary swept the town, searching for civilians. The hearthstone buzzed constantly as the coordination assured the job was complete.

Durk'atar. I have reports of Horde reinforcements moving up from Splintertree. Saphiara was down below, acting in her capacity as field commander while the shaman used his elemental pleadings to call support from afar. He turned to the east, calling upon the spirits to guide his sight. Sure enough, a unit of wolf-riders was swiftly approaching.

I see them. We have a few short minutes remaining. Finish your task quickly. He turned his eyes back to the town, seeking out the area where the fire burned hottest. Blazestone... are you prepared?

The mage had two major responsibilities in this operation, and the first had been performed with gusto. His fires had quickly engulfed Astranaar, and would ensure its destruction. The Alliance would rebuild it of course, but the damage would be done. Time and resources would be spent here instead of against the Horde.

Removing the last of them now. It will be complete well before our support arrives.

"Excellent." Durk'atar walked down the hill, his body shifting from a two-legged orc to a four-legged wolf as he descended. Faster now, he dashed to the eastern end of the twon, where the road passed through the kaldorei gates. After a few minutes had past, he stood awaiting the arrival of the wolf-riders.

Their sergeant pulled up, calling his squad to a halt. "You bear the tabard of Sanctuary. Do you intend to lecture us on the need for peace, and interfere with our duty to avenge our brothers in Splintertree?"

Durk'atar grinned, his tusks prominent. "No. Simply saving you some time. Astranaar is destroyed."

The sergeant quirked an eyebrow, his disbelief evident. "Surely you jest. Your band is known for its soft ways when it comes to the Alliance."

"See for yourself. Not a soul remains alive in Astranaar."

The sergeant entered, and saw the truth for himself. Of the citizens who had previously lived their lives in the town, nothing remained but ashes.

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The task was simple enough. Burn the town. Fire was in his very blood, and the urge to unleash it upon anything and everything capable of setting alight was one that took his focus to resist. Such focus was easy to find though, for his ancient family had spent centuries mastering the magic of flame.

Bring destruction without bringing harm. That had been the instruction he was given at the start of the attack. The field commander had assigned to him a vital task for the success of their mission, and he would fulfill his orders.

He was new to the cause, still unsure it could ever be possible, or if he even believed in it at all. She believed in it though - and for her, he would do his best to make the dream a reality.

In the few moments his thoughts had wandered, the fire had spread. His control was still intact, however. Most of the town was burning now, and its residents were slowly gathering in the center square, milling about as if in a fog. That was the signal for his second task, one that would prove much more difficult.

Mages had long since codified the art of portal-summoning, and all mages were taught the sigil sequences that would bend space and connect their current location to many of the major cities. However, this portal couldn't go to a city. He had spent weeks studying old tomes, calculating over and over again the exact sigils he would have to cast in order to reach the correct destination. He was certain of his work; now, he only had to prove it to the others.

He began to speak in the ancient tongue of magic, slowly gathering the ambient arcane power around him as his hands moved through the casting sequence. He could feel the rift forming, a tunnel through reality capable of crossing worlds with a single step. A crack like thunder signified the opening. A rush of warm tropical air rushed out in a gust, and a bright southern sun illuminated his little corner of the dark forest.

"Esemeli. The portal is ready. Bring them to me."

As he spoke, the Kaldorei civilians turned to walk his way, forming an orderly line to walk through the portal. Without a permanent circle at the other end to keep the portal stable, he was forced to focus his mind and energy upon it. He proved up to the task however, and the residents of Astranaar continued their forced evacuation.

Blazestone... are you prepared? The line had shrunk significantly, and the dispatched guards were being gathered up and carried through the portal as well. "Removing the last of them now. It will be complete well before our support arrives." Melos looked through the portal, where the Home Guard was busily organizing and assisting the new refugees. Once the last of the Kaldorei had stepped through, he allowed nature to assert itself and force the portal closed.

"Durk'atar. Mission is complete."

Excellent. Sanctuary, gather at the eastern gate. We will welcome the outriders to our victory.

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"The Warchief thanks you for your service." The Kor'Kron guard had emerged from the inner chambers of Grommash Hold, where Sanctuary's strike team had been escorted by the outrider.

"But he will not see us." Durk'atar made it a statement more than a question.

"The Warchief is occupied with strategic meetings. However, he did authorize me to pass on this message." The guard handed over a small scrap of parchment. "Strength and Honor."

They had been dismissed out of hand. Durk'atar nodded curtly and turned, walking back to the sitting chambers where the rest of his group waited. The priestess and mage had taken advantage of the chairs, but Saphiara and Kor'gond were both on their feet, obviously irritable. As Durk'atar entered the room, the paladin glanced up.

"The Warchief was occupied, I assume." Ever since the change in power, her status as an ambassador had been greatly diminished. The Horde rarely sent emissaries to the Alliance these days.

"In a strategy meeting. No doubt planning the next strike on Alliance territory. However, he did deign to take the time to scribble a message." He held up the note, then tucked it into his pouch. "Come. We have much to discuss, and I would prefer not to do so here."

The group left the Hold, retrieving their mounts and riding out of the city gates, heading west towards the Barrens. The destination was Ratchet, then on to Booty Bay, where a swift elven schooner was docked and waiting. Better to trust their own transportation than rely upon the Horde's, given their destination.

"What does the note say?" Saphiara looked down from the wheel at Durk'atar, who was sitting cross-legged and staring out over the ocean. He sighed, pulling it out and unfolding the paper, reading it aloud.

To the members of Sanctuary -

Congratulations on finally joining the Horde.

Warchief Garrosh Hellscream

"ACTING Warchief." Kor'gond, leader of Sanctuary's Twilight Hunters, grumbled from his spot at the middle of the ship's deck. The death knight was no fan of sailing ships, which only served to increase his irritability.

"With Thrall departed, our own position is precarious. We have long relied upon his support for our own survival amongst the more... aggressive... Horde organizations." Saphiara sighed, keeping her eyes glued on a growing spot on the horizon.

"I'm aware. That's why I agreed to this deception. We still walk upon a hair's breadth, however, and there is nothing but disaster below us. We cannot afford to vocalize our dislike for the changes to Horde leadership." Durk'atar glanced up at the other orc. "How goes your mission?"

"Better. The Twilight Hammer has grown bolder. They are taking advantage of their varied membership to commit atrocities and increase hostilities between the great powers. We have stopped a few, but such successes are more a matter of random encounter than viable intelligence. Far too many are still escaping our grasp."

Durk'atar sighed, watching as the island grew closer and larger during their approach. The world was on the brink of disaster, and his small group was barely making any mark at all upon the growing list of tragedies on both sides of the conflict. It was growing time to send out the call. Those who had departed to care for their own lives would need to be summoned back to the banner.

Sanctuary had to become a force for good once again.

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The ship arrived in the dark of night. The hull was black, as were its sails. No name or symbols marred its hull to offer a sign of allegiance. It was clearly of human design though, built for transport rather than war. It slipped into the island's cover, where Durk'atar stood waiting for it. He walked out onto the water, and as he did so a gangplank dropped down from the deck. A score of crewmen disembarked, passing by the orc on their way to the refugee barracks. Behind them, a woman hidden beneath a cowl descended as well, standing upon the water with a crackle of freezing ice.

Durk'atar regarded the woman for a moment, then grinned and bowed. "You honor my small organization with your presence, Lady. I had expected a subordinate, not you yourself."

"I wanted to see your operation for myself. This will probably be the only time I come. If I made this trip regularly, someone might catch on and follow me here." She looked up the shoreline, where the kaldorei were being roused from their beds and led down to the ship. "Can we walk?"

Durk'atar nodded and gestured to another building, where he kept his own quarters and office. She followed, watching as the rest of Sanctuary stationed on the island began to gather. Each of them in turn realized who she was, despite the cover of her hood, and in turn she acknowledged them.

"Must you really destroy their homes in the process of saving their lives? It will be weeks or even months before their village is returned to normal." She had heard the frustrated rumblings from various treasurers amongst the Alliance. The newest war was drawing pursestrings tight.

"You know enough about the Horde to understand the desire to remove the enemy entirely. If fire is to be the tool we use to remove any trace of corpses, then we must be prepared to use fire to destroy our targets in their entirety. It's the only way to hide the signs of our lies."

Saphiara stepped forward. "In addition, it serves as a political tool. Every coin spent on restoring civilian facilities is one not spent on weapons. If we cause enough hardship amongst the populace, perhaps we can force an early end to the conflict."

The human woman frowned. "I suppose that makes sense. I just wish there was another way."

"As do we." Durk'atar sighed. "But it's become clear that neither side is willing to listen to reason at this point. It's all Sanctuary can do to win these little victories and still survive the new Horde order."

"I know, and it's appreciated. You're risking your lives to bring a little good out of all this misery."

"Thrall trusted you, and so shall we." The shaman gestured to the rest of those wearing the purple and gold tabard. "If there is anything we can do to help Theramore, let us know. Yours is the Alliance we need to survive if any peace is attainable in the years to come."

The human nodded, then looked back at the ship. "It seems we're ready to depart. Good luck to you, Sanctuary. Keep heart that this will all work out in the end." She turned, and in the blink of an eye was standing on the ship's deck once again. The vessel unfurled its sails and started the long journey back to Kalimdor - and with it, a village's worth of kaldorei the Horde considered dead.

Durk'atar watched it depart, then turned to regard the members of Sanctuary gathered around him. "Very well then. Who do we rescue next?"



Now is the time to join Sanctuary as it enters a new world; contact an officer for more information.

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