Darkhowl's worn recorder

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The quality of the recording is low and scratchy

" September 17th 10:40 PM."

" All this time i've been trying to make a name for myself and it turns around to bite me on the ass. Apparently my record is noticeable! But only as a scout. Combined with my engineering ability, Command has decided I would work best in our Azerite operations out in Drustvar."

" If you've never been there, don't go. It's a cold, damp hellhole that makes Gilneas look tropical and cheery. But it appears to be good enough for farmland to have several towns scattered throughout it."

" All things considered it's a pretty cushy job. I just need to deliver a report every few days as I sweep the same areas. It gives me time to explore and a lot more freedom than the guards and miners in the mountain range near Krazzlefrazz. Save for the threat of being in enemy territory, it was going to be boring. At least, that's what I thought."

" At first I thought the place was just grey and ugly, but at night you can practically taste how wrong everything is here. Witches... I've heard the term enough and I thought it was just an insult or maybe an off-brand of magic. Primitive arcane, blood, or maybe even Loa based. But no, if there's anything that's truly a witch, it's the bitches out here."

" Right now i'm still not sure how all of this works. I've never seen the circles and symbols they use before and the very magic they call upon only bares a passing resemblance to the necromatic and shadow spellwork I know. But it involves a lot of sacrifices and revolves around a lot of soul infused constructs, much Trollish golems. The organization is women only and of those women, only the practitioners and converts are allowed inside. The rest are enthralled by whatever they're weaving... Whatever it is, it's horrible. A healthy person should never thank me for killing them."

" Whatever it is it has more uses than mere mind control. It's corrosive and ruinous as well, one week in and i've already lost my blades. It rusts metal, makes leather wither and crack, and skin rot while you're still alive. Compared to what else they can do to you, a death by rapid decomposition is merciful. It was better to lose my sword than my face but there's something insulting about working all campaign with a weapon that survived the entire Legion suddenly becoming useless. What's even more insulting is how fast they replaced it.

"They gave me a standard issue insurgent's blade when I showed them the shards. Imagine a butcher's cleaver got real tall and real thin and then screwed a pick-axe. It's a weapon without finesse and messy as hell but for what i'm fighting? It's perfect. At least Horde command seems to appreciate my initiative. A few strikes against hags when they're caught out in the open isn't in my job description but they agree that these things need to be kept in check."

" It's looking bleak out here. Talking with my friend only makes it worse. While i'm rubbing feeling back into numb fingers she's walking face first into troll abs in the tropics. Dunno if it's luck of the draw or karma, she's earned the reprieve. I should stop whining about it. I wanted a good fight. Doesn't get more good and justified and murdering witches. Wonder if my Mom ever had postings like this..."

" Around the time I start going back to THAT subject I know I should stop. Gunheya out."

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  • 11 months later...

The voice recorder is found in a pile of seaweed within Nazjatar, near the wall of water overlooking the flooded marketplace

Everything hurts.

I've been in my fair share of crashes but this one was leagues beyond anything i've ever suffered. Speaking of leagues i'm at the bottom of the ocean, though if you're listening to this chances are you know that already.

Maybe I should start from the beginning. The Horde needed more technical know-how with what few ships we had left. Starting to think that was all of a ruse because as soon as we saw the fleet, what few forces we had hoisted all sails and flew like bats out of hell. Yet somehow we wound up in just the right area for the Naga's massive magic show, right next to Azshara's old palace.

When it comes to Sylvanas and her inner circle I don't believe in coincidence anymore. Nathanos disappearing within the first hour only makes me more suspicious.

This isn't the first time we've been in this situation, in fact it seems to be how the Horde thrives. The enemy strips them of most everything, we befriend an oppressed or troubled native and through grit and guerilla tactics we pull through. This time, they call themselves The Unshackled. A race of Kelfin, not gilblin, they don't like that word. But basically, they're aquatic goblins. Sins, webs, gills, you name it. I don't trust them, they ask a lot for our help sure but they also give freely with what little they've got. Might be racist but i've spent too much time among merchants and tradesmen to just accept it at face value.

For now, we're settling in and doing what we can as we establish a base and the Kelfin establish a home that's suddenly a lot dryer. We're low on supplies, short on people, have an overabundance of enemies including the Alliance Fleet that fell in after us, but this isn't anything new. First few weeks is going to be us scrambling for supplies, mapping the area, and proving our worth to the locals.

Despite the same song being played yet again, i'm on edge. The wall could come crashing down any day now, who knows what's even keeping it up or why the Naga decided to even the playing field like this rather than drag us into the water where we cannot fight nearly as effectively. They're always plotting something, and this close to their Queen's house it's gotta be important.

Imagine anyone making record of this is saying the same damn thing I am, trying to write on soggy pages, luckily I grabbed something a big more waterproof. Tomorrow they say i'll be cleared to assist them out in the field, sure as hell doesn't feel like it but we're so understaffed right now they can't afford to wait for everyone to be at 100%. You can walk and swing a blade you better get your ass out there.

Selris...Dad... Was always good about keeping the pain down. He tried to show me how but I never had the patience it required like he did. Focus only on breathing, making that one unconscious action something you control. I'm not used to having my ass beat this badly, usually I can avoid the worst hits... But there's not a lot I can do against gravity is there?

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  • 5 weeks later...

Adrenaline will have to keep it at bay. I know I need more time but we can't stop. Those that were able had to leave in the middle of the night to deal with a disastrous summoning coming from the north, and before they could even leave the camp they were split in half to handle another point to the east. Plenty of soldiers survived the crash thankfully but we've still stumbled into the heart of enemy territory and they're having fun stretching us taut already.

Honestly, I feel that if the Naga are so plentiful they could have just stormed Newhome and wiped us out by now. We don't have any siege weapons or high-tier magic defending this cave, best we have is a few sea giants and Thalyssra. Instead, they continue about their business as if the combined forces of the two aren't inching towards their throats. Either they're so arrogant that they don't recognize us as a threat, or... I'm not sure.

I awoke to insistent prodding today and some excited Gil-...Kelfin, babbling a stream of incomprehensible, excited gibberish in my face. Her named is Iisha and apparently she's going to be our guide down here.... As we scrounge through supplies and salvage what fell off the ships. Felt like Dachi was about to bite off the end of that too long nose of hers but she calmed down. Felt like it's going to be a constant clash of jaded and optimistic with these two but I at least know they'll have my back.

Two campaigns of service under my belt and to High command i'm still nothing but a scout. I should have been grateful for light duty honestly, my shoulder is still aching something fierce, my ribs are tender, and my foot is cramping from whatever the medic did to it, but I can't help but feel I drew the shit end of the stick.

*The recording cuts out, the next segment picks up soon after.*

Turns out most of the shipwrecks' cargo fell into the Northwest corner of this watery canyon, right into a hydra lagoon and some murlocs' village. Haven't seen these things as a threat since before I hit puberty but one thing remains the same. When one makes a fuss and rushes you, there's another half-dozen of the slippery bastards who will hear it and join in.

I was wrong, the shoulder isn't just aching, it's so stiff that I can barely use it for anything but a clumsy swing. When there's no grace to the fight, you just have to rely on speed and force. It was messy as hell but it did the job alright. Iisha knows how to use a the spear pretty well and Dachi has come a long ways with using claw and tooth effectively. We held our own and acquired quite a haul from the wreckage, mostly waterlogged weaponry but with these Gilb... Right right, Kelfin, and no way to receive supplies we need to cobble together every piece of scrap that can hold an edge or have a rock tied to it.

Wish that wasn't the case because i'm already needing to steal from my own salvage supply to replace something. I put the sword down for two seconds to get a crate open and that's all it needed. Some murloc just ran off with my damn weapon. That stupid blade was nothing special but after over a dozen confirmed witch kills I was growing fond of it; now some red, scaly fuck is going to add it to a shinies hoard.

Seems like i'm full of complaints lately but I think with how shit is going i'm allowed to snarl a few times. We armed a few more soldiers and supplied our new friends with crap that they insist they can use, guess that's all I can wring out of the day.

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You know what saying I really hate? "Back in my day" It's the go to saying for every veteran whenever anyone without grey hair starts complaining. "Back in my day we had to sacrifice materials for our spells. Back in my day the rocks didn't summon people. Back in my day you had to work HARD for drinking money. Back in my day we had to mind our ammo."

I hate the saying because this time they're freaking right.

Dachi, Iisha, and I have been making these runs for days now. Hoof it up north for several hours to steal from the Bloodfin or the Naga or whoever thoughtfully started hoarding supply crates, kill them, take their stuff, and hoof it several hours back with our haul. I've replaced my blade and finally got to change out of soaked, torn leather into... Damp, sketchy leather... But ammunition is a problem, swords and axes will survive the rough landing and a thorough soaking, but ammo crates are another story. Every bullet has to be examined to make sure the powder didn't get moist.

I don't miss often but i'm still used to having a few clips everytime I head out, now i'm lucky if I have a full one. I swear i'll never make fun of the tight-ass logistics officer again so long as they can keep me swimming in brass after this.

Good news though, the supply runs are finally beginning to match demand. Sure they're always needing more and runs are a daily occurrence, we're always running low on flotsam, sea weed, food, conch shells... But we're running low instead of running out within minutes of delivery.

Iisha is happy, though she always has been. She's saying that the flood of land dwellers is a blessing in disguise. Suddenly they have allies and so many more hands to help keep things running and supplied. The situation is shit but she sounds like it's Winter's veil every day. Think she pisses me off because I wish I could be that optimistic.

Dachi is itching for a better hunt. We run into a fight every day but it's usually small fry and beasts of little consequence getting in our way as we make our way around. She wants to sink her teeth into a Naga commander I bet. We haven't had a decent fight in a while... And privacy has been nil.

I'll put in the request for a change tomorrow. The ships only brought so much with them and only a bit of that survived the crash. We've been bringing back what we can but those crates are getting harder to find, it's inevitable that if we want to keep our food stores filled and our weapon racks ready we'll have to steal from those with the means, and the Naga have been gearing up for this fight for a long time.

Their outposts are dangerous but ripe with supplies, like a juicy peach made out of knives... I miss sugar.

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In short, got to a Naga operation, killed naga, and ran when more of them showed up.

But shut up! This is more important...Nobody else is talking except me.

Gunheya clears his throat

One of the Seers that came with us, some tauren, I forget his name... He had a vision. It might all be smoke and mirrors and the images might just be that, something he crafted. But if what he said is true, things are BETTER down here. Sylvanas is going to execute Baine.

Before I even left harbor, Baine had been taken in for treason. He was too obvious and rushed, left too many witnesses and the returned the ship he stole, who does that? All so he could return the reanimated remains of a Proudmoore to that bitch, Jaina. That was yet another divide between thinking that this year has been rife with, violating the one rule she had for raising them in order to get a leg up on the war.

I don't like it. This sets a horrible precedent going forward. But Baine killed other Horde soldiers all to return a body to one of the biggest war criminals the Alliance have ever promoted. Debts are important but in the middle of all this you do not betray your own side because it "feels right".

Of course nobody wants to hear my opinion so I kept my mouth shut. I don't know what they're doing but the champion, one of the few people who can leave this place has gone back to Orgrimmar. I don't know what he's planning on doing.

Appealing to Sylvanas? No way, Baine removed her trump card that they spent weeks finding, plus she's cold as ice. Breaking him out?... Another divide. Some would support it, others would roar that they're a traitor too. But a traitor who has been working to save Azeroth as it bleeds. There are too many conflicting interests. They're a hero but also a traitor to the state, does that make them good? Bad? What does that make Sylvanas?

An asshole, but an asshole with effective tactics while everyone else is hoping to win a war with good deeds.

This is a lose-lose scenario. Regardless of what the Horde does next we're coming apart at the seams. If Baine is killed by Sylvanas, the tauren will riot. If the Champion saves Baine, they'll be on her shit list too and who knows which side the people will support. These decisions are made so quickly and without a thought by anyone considering the consequences.

It's like a baby playing with a hand grenade... Trust me, I know.

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There's an air of relief in Newhome today that has me on edge.

Yesterday, everyone was freaking out about Baine. Today? Nobody is even mentioning it, meaning that he either got released or the champion really did break him out of jail. This is not a thing to be celebrated! He attacked his own side, destroyed a weapon we could use to turn the tide of this war, and they're all happy that the acts of Horde on Horde violence continues to escalate!

Feels like all of Azeroth is huffing something and nobody passed me the bowl.

We've been established well enough in Newhome now that we're no longer surviving day to day, but also taking shots at the Naga. There are even whispers about taking a stab at the Palace. People are worried, the Tidestone of Gol'ganneth is what cause the ocean to part and the water to move in a way that water should NOT move. It's the reason we're all stuck down here and all of a sudden they're paranoid that Azshara will stop the spell. That much water comes flooding back into the space it would crush everyone except for the Gil-KELFIN... And the Naga themselves.

It might also wipe out the buildings but they've existed for millenia buried beneath the ocean so who knows.

Something about this does not add up though. If she could easily crush us just by dropping concentration, why didn't she? Why is she allowing us to run around, foil her plans and kill her soldiers? One thought is that in her legendary arrogance, she really is just that bored. But hell with as much magic power as she's rumored to have she could have conjured something, kidnapped gladiators... ANYTHING. No, I think she wants us here for her own agenda. Somehow our plans are tied up in hers.

And I can't discount the possibility that Sylvanas's plans are tied in somehow. Nathanos still hasn't returned and thinking back to that day I can remember him at the head of the fleet, holding that blade as if it were a compass. Somehow he lead us straight into the one spot where the ocean would part. It seems insane that Sylvanas would have anything to do with Azshara but after Stormheim... Well it's not the first crazy water queen she's made a deal with.

This sort of paranoia is enough to make me want to speak up. Maybe we should focus our efforts on escape rather than trying to take Azshara out. Call me a coward but my gut is squirming, something about this place, especially the North where the Tidestone is... Something is telling me not to go there. She's planning on it, I can feel it.

I might just be tired and frustrated. No dry clothes for weeks, inadequate sleep, and constantly watching your back does the mind no good... Wonder if this is how Vilmah felt during her exile.


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Forget huffing, Azeroth is flat out injecting the crazy juice now.

The day arrived, our forces gathered and were set to strike at the Tidestone with a recently acquired javelin that can pierce the shield surrounding it. In all of their wisdom, someone invited the Alliance. No, not just the Alliance, the worst of them. Greymane and Proudmore were leading the Alliance forces and that old son of a bitch was itching for a fight. We should have done the world a favor and given it to him but Thalyssra and Proudmoore advised cooler heads.

The hypocrisy of that mage preaching patience and tolerance boils my blood. After Dalaran and Dazar'alor she has no right to advise others in anything, much less in how we should be calm and work together. So much self-righteous arrogance in one place I found myself looking for Xandric and Shokkra.

For the time though, the two forces grudgingly agreed to work together and we began our assault. It seemed laid back by comparison to all the others. The fight against the Naga wasn't as chaotic or nearly as intense as Broken shore... or even the Iron Horde. But the two were able to play nice for the time and I finally got to see Lor'themar in action.

He moves pretty well for a guy with one eye in robes, where the hell was he even keeping that harpoon?

Between the two groups it was easy to get to the Tidestone, too easy. It took the combined power of Proudmoore and Thalyssra to seize control of it but we established a foothold at the door to the Palace. From there, we will lay siege to it, or more accurately, break down the door and flood in. We're taking on one of the oldest villains that Azeroth has ever known next to the Old Gods, and we're doing it without siege weapons or even proper equipment.

But she backed us all into a corner and made it clear that the only way out was through her. We're going in and we'll either see dry land again or die trying. There's no other option.

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  • 2 weeks later...

The only sound in the recording is the dull roar of water  for the first several seconds.

I... My gut instinct... We made a mistake

We had no other choice, that's what I have to tell myself. We had no choice. We could not get at her any other way but to follow her down. But there was a choice wasn't there? Get Jaina to do whatever she did to escape to Orgrimmar again, send the Champions and the Heart of Azeroth topside and forget about us. We could have died denying her her prize and delay her plan.

But we didn't.

The roar of water continues for several moments before he speaks again

The palace was like Azshara herself, unsurprisingly. Beauty, power, and grace on the surface with grand armies, wonders that no one else could match, and magic on a whole other level. But the further down you go, the more twisted it becomes. The hatcheries, the devoted naga driven so mad as to revere her as a god, and that thing.... A faceless one that I had never seen before and now I can't unsee it or what it did.

He was insistent that minds and eyes be opened... And I know that I am one of several who have been forced to observe. I've had my experience with the mentalists and creatures that attack the mind but this is different. Like a cold to the Plague.
I have a guest now that I can't remove, ancestors forgive me but my eyes aren't my own.

When we arrived, weary and battered,we were set upon a stage, a stage of Titan design. She made us fight for her amusement as the artifacts were drained and battered, abused by her lackies and defended by us. She did not need us to be there to break them, she just wanted us to witness it. We were extras in a play she wanted to watch and direct.

It was not until too late that we realized that this, all of this, had been her plan. Getting the Heart of Azeroth down to the wards was the first step, and when it was there it didn't even need to be in her posession to be of use. The wards were drained and turned, a process I can't even begin to fathom yet performed at the same time that she finally stepped into the fray.

To our surprise, and more surprising to her, she was beaten. But in those moments that I see every time I try to sleep, none of us could step up to take her head. Chains made of Starlight forged by hands the size of mountains and designed by minds older than our sun... Shattered. The sea turned red and an all-seeing monster finally opened its eyes. We could only watch as Azshara was forced back to life and dragged into the dark.

She played us and it deemed us no more of a threat. Somehow we are still pawns in this game.

The way home seems like a mocking gesture now. A pat on the shoulder and a 'you did your best' spoken in sympathy to the losers. We failed everyone and everything down here... And even if the world suddenly was turned right back on the surface it won't matter.

They'll want me to spy, they'll want me to run, they'll want me to invent, and every step of the way he'll be watching, waiting, and whispering. Everything i've ever done has always been in service to someone else. The Horde, my parents, Dachi, Kalisto, Tirien, Vilmah... I'm always someone's servant.

But now, I serve with no purpose. I serve because it wills it and whether I live or die is of no consequence because it has thousands of others who will serve it as well as I will. I have no choice except to do so, or do nothing. Even the choice of who or how has been taken away. I trudged out of that pilot surrounded by an army yet feeling alone and sick. What purpose do I even have anymore?

I... Think i'm gonna go for a walk. To whoever finds this. I... Was Gunheya Darkhowl. If you see me, assume the worst.

The recorder clacks as it hits the ground, the sound or roaring water is all that is heard for several more minutes before the recorder runs out of space and shuts off.

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