Best laid plans of mice and elves..

Alanduin was a simple man.

He was drafted to the Rangers when the borders of Quel'thalas were threatened by orcs, but he was no marksman. Sure, he could hit an orc from a hundred yard's distance, but that was the bare minimum expected from his people. The others had younger, sharper eyes than him. War was not the proper business for someone of his age. Fortunately for him, his unit saw little combat. The few times he did see a living orc were from a safe distance. Still, the aftermaths and the horror stories were more than enough for him. After the battle of the Spire he received a honorable discharge from the Rangers, alongside a humble salary. Just barely enough to pay the carpenters to build a small cabin for him deep within Eversong.

Alanduin's retirement hasn't gone as he had hoped. The first winter was colder than he anticipated, but at least he didn't have to starve. While hitting a rabbit or a lynx was tougher than downing a lumbering orc, he eventually got the hang of it. When the spring finally arrived he had a nice stock of furs to sell. He bought some salt and other supplies and returned to his cabin. As far as he was concerned, the life of a hermit was more than enough for him.

Although Alanduin was living healthily, his health deteriorated during the winter. But since he got somewhat better during springtime, he didn't think much of it. Old age, he thought. But one winter it got worse, much worse. His insides ached constantly and his mouth felt like sandpaper. But there was no priest who knew of his predicament, and he was in no condition to travel through the blizzard back to Silvermoon. As the months progressed, so did his condition grow worse. Food did not sate his hunger, and his skin started losing it's color. He had always known he would eventually die, but.. not like this. Not like this!

Against all odds, Alanduin survived through the winter. His skin was as grey as ash and he was unnaturally thin, even for an elf. The cart he used to transport the furs felt heavy, although he knew there were less furs than before. The previous winters were good, so there should be enough money to see a priest. He would get himself fixed up, restock on supplies and be on his way again. Eventually, the walls of Silvermoon glinted on the horizon and the cart felt slightly lighter. It was good to see the sun again. Still, something was wrong. Alanduin did respectfully greet the passersby, but his greetings were never answered. Young people, no manners. Eventually, he arrived at the eastern gate.

The gate guards stood like they always did, as majestic as the statues that adorned the capital. But instead of a simple glance, this time the guards' eyes stayed locked at him.

"Greetings, gentlemen. Could a humble trapper enter the glorious capital to sell his wares?"


"I know I look less than presentable, but.."

Alanduin's explanation was cut off when the guards both took a single step towards him, moving their shields in front of their faces and readying their glaives.

"Look! I know I'm sick, but.."

"At least you are not delusional, Wretched."
"Is he salvageable?"

"Salvageable? I know this looks bad, but the first thing I'm planning to do is to see a priest to be cured!"

"The Magisters will decide your fate. Or us, should you give us an excuse to do so."

"I will not raise my hand against the defenders of the High Home."

"A pity. Now, come on."

The guards escorted him inside and straight into the prison. Whenever he tried to look around, the guards prodded him. Why was he being treated as the enemy? He had seen the city hundreds of times. He was no spy.

It did not take long for them to reach the holding cells. Alanduin's eyes took a minute to adjust themselves to the nonexistant light, but when he looked around, he realized that the other prisoners shared his ailment. This was not isolated. It was an epidemic! All of them shared the ashen grey skin color, but many had already lost that Elven posture and hunched like trolls and other beasts. And some of them had something glowy growing from them.

A few days passed. Some of the fellow inmates were not taking their incarceration well, and were trying to test the strength of the bars with no success. Alanduin had taken the opportunity to get a bit of much-needed rest. Still, he felt hungry. The guards did give them food, but it had no flavor either. Like eating leather. His meal was interrupted by sounds of the outer door being opened. A young male in red flowing robes and a staff entered the cellblock. He gently tapped the base of his staff against the stone floor and the headpiece, the regal golden eagle, started to shine. He took out a piece of scroll, a bottle of ink and a quill from a shelf next to the jailor's post. He spoke a few words and the scroll rolled itself open and the quill dip itself to the bottle of ink. He slowly walked towards the cells, and the writing implements floated behind him.

The magister pointed his staff towards the first prisoner, illuminating him better.


The prisoner slumped down in defeat. Alanduin heard the quill scribbling on the scroll. The magister walked to the next cell.


Eventually, the magister reached Alanduin. The magister pointed his staff towards him.


Maybe what? What was this illness? Did he have a cure? Questions raced in Alanduin's mind. The Magister spoke a few words and the scroll rolled itself up, hovering slowly to his hand.

"This, this and.. this. Arrange for their transport."

The Magister handed the scroll to the jailor. The bottle of ink hovered down to his desk and the quill lowered itself down to the jailor's hand. The jailor dipped the tip into the ink and signed the scroll. He folded the scroll and dipped a small amount of wax to the seam. The Magister flattened the wax with his ring, completing the seal. It was done. Alanduin felt optimism take over him. Perhaps this day would end well.

This time the guards were as courteous as expected from the Royal Guard. A carriage, drawn by one of the purebred hawkstriders waited outside. The Magister slowly lifted himself from the ground and sat on the front seat. The three climbed on. The Magister spoke a few words and the bird pulled the carriage into motion. This time there was no guard to stop Alanduin from looking around. The citadel looked mostly the same as before, but he did not remember seeing the large green gemstones before. As they passed the eastern gate, he noticed that his cart was no longer there. The bird steered the carriage along the western road.

"Citizen Windwalker, your donation to the Silvermoon Reconstruction Fund was most appreciated.", the Magister spoke as he turned towards Alanduin.
"Oh, the contents of my cart? Anything to serve, but.. what reconstruction?"
"You'll see shortly. I understood you have been away from the capital for a while?"
"Yes, but.."
"A very wise decision in retrospect. Look."

Alanduin could not believe his eyes. A long strip of the woods had been.. burned or something, and the land was as black and sickly. The black path ended on a collapsed piece of the outer wall, an another incredible sight. Never before had an enemy reached the capital itself, let alone breach the walls themselves.

"It is called the Dead Scar. It was a memento from the thrice-cursed human prince."
"There was a war against the humans?"
"And not just any war. Look to the left."

Undead? Here?

"But how.."
"They are called the Scourge. All will be explained soon."

Questions filled Alanduin's mind again. The orcs had used the foul arts of necromancy before, but humans as well?

The western gate slowly moved into view, and the bird pulled the cart towards it. As they entered the western gate, the magister spoke up again.

"Not all of the destruction was caused by the war. Prince Arthas' goal was our beloved Sunwell, and his foul deeds had reprecussions beyond our anticipations. The loss was devastating in more ways than one. Not all of our people could stand it. You too felt the loss, but simply couldn't know what caused it. Too many were simply driven mad."

The ruins around the road underscored the magister's words with great effect. Broken sentries still patrolled the other roads, and Alanduin saw a couple of these.. Wretched fighting over a single orb of mana. The smaller one yanked the orb towards him. The taller lunged forward and grabbed the other's throat. They lost their balance and tumbled down the small incline together. The taller ended up on the top, but did not release his grip. Alanduin had to look away.

"Will that happen to me as well?"
"Hopefully not. That would mean that I was wrong about you. Do you have the will to resist?"
"I had sworn to never raise my hand against the High Home. That oath binds me now stronger than before."
"Good. We're almost there."

The carriage passed through the northwestern gate, towards the Sunstrider Isle.

"On the hour of our greatest need, His Majesty Prince Kael'thas Sunstrider sent Grand Magister Rommath back to us, armed with power, hope and knowledge to sate our hunger and to
rebuild our city. And here, on his royal estate, you three will learn how to sate your hunger and regain your strength and pride.

The bird slowed down and finally stopped. Armed with more questions than answers, Alanduin climbed off and walked towards the main building.

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