Sunday, October 7, 2007
The rocky path down from the Redridge Mountains leads to the green of Elwynn Forest. Elwynn is a peaceful land, and it is easy to see why the founders of Stormwind chose it as their new home. Before their corruption, the northern forests of Lordaeron possessed a fierce aspect, the trees looming over travelers as if ready to strike. Even some of the more developed areas in that land were not so far from wilderness and the dangers therein. Such dread is less apparent in Elwynn. The trees are not so close together as to block the sky, and grassy clearings bask in curtains of sunlight.
I saw relatively few travelers as I journeyed west along the road. I was somewhat troubled by the fact that I saw no Royal Army marching to Lakeshire. Perhaps the militia would once again have to defend their homes.
I arrived at the Eastvale Logging Camp one-and-a-half days out of Redridge. Though nestled in the heartland of Stormwind, Eastvale still bears the traces of a frontier town. Such a quality may be inevitable in an industrial settlement. Hard-working peasants toil in the woodlands and mills of Eastvale, many of them quite young.
“A lot of youths, looking to make their way in the world, come here to do some work. It’s hard but the pay’s decent and it builds a strong character in most of them.”
The words came from Jeron, a tough and grizzled veteran of the Second War. He was immensely proud of his accomplishments, and worked as a foreman in Eastvale.
“What kinds of workers come here? Peasants, townspeople?” I asked.
“Mostly the younger sons of farmers who want to do something else with their lives. A few years ago there was a man named Tyniar, an adolescent from one of the riverbank farms. The family estate was going to go to the eldest as always, and he could either leave or spend his life as a farmhand. Pretty easy choice if you ask me. Now he runs a woodcarver’s shop in the city. Makes a decent profit, has a wife and a baby daughter.”
The policies of Stormwind used to shock and anger the northern kingdoms. One decree in particular upset them; that peasants in Stormwind have free right of movement across the realm. This was one of many tactics used by the king of Stormwind in order to increase loyalty in his subjects and weaken the nobles. The ties of land, town, and family still run strong. However, there is no legal obstacle to a young Stormwinder leaving in search of his fortune once he or she reaches the age of fifteen. Lordaeron did not adopt a similar policy until a decade before the First War.
“Do you get any aristocrats?”
“Ha ha! Actually we’ve had a few. Most of the nobles are silly sots that leech off of our king. Some of them know that they need to teach their wastrel sons how to work like a normal person. Though the baronet we have working here right now isn’t so bad. He never tried to lord it over us, doesn’t get upset easily. His arms are still like sticks, but that will change on its own soon enough.”
“I’m assuming there are also some career lumberjacks here?”
“A good number. The only problem is that we always get a few that are just real bad sorts. I haven’t been there in ages, but they say the Stockades in the city are so full of bandits that they send pickpockets and minor thieves over here to do labor.”
“Is there a large bandit problem in the kingdom?”
“There could be. I’ve heard that some highwaymen have been causing trouble in spots, but I’ve never seen them or met anyone who has.”
“Do you have a security force to watch the criminals?”
“We usually act as our own, though we had to call in the marshal a few times. Sometimes the hard work seems to straighten them out, but others are just bad through and through. We’ve had to hang a few. All in all, I’d much prefer not to have them.”
Though most of Eastvale is business, practiced with traditional Stormwinder sobriety and discipline, the southern and eastern edges contain some large and well-appointed houses. These are the vacation homes of the wealthy, mostly merchants and a few nobles. The land is expensive because of its resources and natural beauty. Still, it offers the wonders of nature without being too far from civilization.
I spoke with one of the dwellers in a vacation house, an elderly Kul Tirasi aristocrat named Oliva Modin. She had married a minor Stormwind noble who was currently in the capital taking care of some family business.
“We spend more time here than in the city nowadays. As darling Heldmar and I grow old, we learn to appreciate the quiet beauties of the forest.”
“How have you gotten along with the loggers?”
“Hm? Oh, we really haven’t spoken with them. We keep to our crowd, and they keep to theirs. There’s been some disagreement recently, but Heldmar and I haven’t been involved.”
“Of what sort?”
“The loggers want to use the southern reaches, but we love the forest here. We bought the land, but the loggers say that it is too valuable for us to hold on to. I don’t see why, there are still plenty of trees in the north.”
“Why haven’t you been very concerned with this?”
“Darling Heldmar and I are both getting on in years. By the time the situation grows very tense I’m sure we’ll have both passed on,” she laughed.
I set off for the town of Goldshire the next day. Travelers on the road become more common west of the lumber camp, many of them porting goods between Eastvale and Goldshire. The frequency of soldiers ensure that the roads remain safe.
Passing through the verdant land, my mind drifted back to Lordaeron, particularly the region around Andorhal. Even then, as I have mentioned, the natural differences were significant. But a similarity did exist in the feeling of stability and prosperity. The history of the northern kingdoms (and Stormwind, for that matter) is one of treachery and cruelty, yet the times before and immediately after the First and Second Wars were times of peace.
Lordaeron was a place of strength despite the losses suffered in the Second War. But in less than a year the Scourge reduced it to a ruin, the lush forests turned into the rotting nightmare I'd so recently explored. Indeed, I must confess that I felt a stab of envy when seeing Elwynn. Humans walked about proudly, confident in themselves and their nation, loved by friends and family. Did they too take it all for granted?
Perhaps there is truth to the theories of some sages that the process of undeath has an inevitably darkening effect. Over time, it grows difficult to remember the joys of life. The scenes, the events, the details remain to a greater or lesser degree, yet the emotional attachment alters. Looking back on my time at Dalaran, the memories of joy cannot always overcome the feelings of rage and envy. Rage that it was taken from me, and envy that some still experience similar pleasures. Hatred is companion to such thoughts, and for a moment I wanted nothing so much as to inflict all of my suffering on the people of Stormwind.
Or perhaps it is just the sort of petty thinking favored by the Apothecarium.
A few days later I was startled by a tiny marionette crossing the road on its own volition. Made of ragged bits of wood and cloth, it walked with a stiff, halting gait reminiscent of a Scourge zombie. The strange figure reached about halfway up my calf. It turned its carved head, unadorned save for three eyes painted with gilt, and stared at me for a long, uncomfortable moment. Losing interest, it continued on its way.
Baffled, I looked at the contraption a while longer until I heard a noisy rustling from the bushes by the side of the road. A disheveled gnomish woman stepped out, her pink hair in disarray and her face red. She gripped the marionette with both hands and it made some half-hearted struggles before going limp. She shook it as if to make sure.
I opened my mouth to say something, but nothing came out.
“Apologies sir, I hope I did not alarm you.”
“No, I wasn’t alarmed. I am curious though—”
“Master Theocritus is very strict on making sure that none of his experiments get away. Last year a spider-kettle got into one of the farms and nearly scared a poor old woman to death.”
“Master Theocritus? Am I near the Tower of Azora by any chance?”
“That you would be! I’m Miya Arcaneavolt, a Servant of Azora.”
I had nearly forgotten about the Tower of Azora, despite its important place in the history of magic in general, and enchantment in particular. Being located in Stormwind, the work of Azora had been viewed dubiously by the mages of Dalaran, so I allowed Miya to explain the history to me as I accompanied her back to the tower.
“Did you know that Azora spent her adolescence up in Gnomeregan?”
“I had heard that somewhere. My memory of my studies is not as good as it should be.”
“Well she did, that’s how she became such a fantastic conjurer!”
The practitioners of magic in Gnomeregan usually preferred the conjurers of Stormwind to the mages of Dalaran. In the conjurers they saw kindred spirits, individuals willing to experiment with the infernal magic prohibited by the mages.
“She was the first woman conjurer too. I can’t imagine why you humans here wouldn’t let women practice magic until later.”
“As I recall, Azora so impressed the king and his court that he appointed her to the Order of Conjurers,” I said.
“I think he also wanted to remind the conjurers who was in charge. They were getting a bit arrogant.”
The conjurers at the time acted as the king’s personal watchdogs, ensuring that the post-civil war nobles stayed in line. They grew more and more willful over the years, and were above the law in many ways. The people of Stormwind feared and often despised them, and the church railed against their use of infernal magic. Eventually, some conjurers sided with the rebellious Knights of the First Blood, whose revolt initiated the slaughter remembered as the Culling.
“Anyhow, Azora became more and more interested in enchantment. She’d learned about it among the gnomes, but even I have to admit that she pioneered some amazing work. That’s how she eventually got the title, “Royal Enchantress,” and took an apprentice. This tradition was maintained through the years, until now Theocritus holds it. He’s the first non-Stormwinder to occupy the tower since he was actually born in Alterac, believe it or not. The local mages were not happy about that, but he didn’t care. Heh, they’ll be even less happy when a gnome becomes the successor.”
“Are you his apprentice?”
“No. Not yet. A few of the more promising enchanters up in Ironforge came down here for training. The strange thing is, he seems a lot more keen on us doing things without magic. Some of us are really bothered by that, though I just think it forces us to be more creative. In two years, he’s going to announce the apprentice. I think I have a good chance. Even if I don’t get in, it will look quite good on my resume.”
We reached the Tower of Azora, a simple structure built in a flowering meadow. Though I was curious to see the inside, Miya informed me that the tower was currently closed due to an experiment. I thanked her for her time and resumed my journey.
I remembered also that Azora had a brother named Ilgalar, who delved deeply into infernal magic and crossed the bounds set by the conjurers. He built his own tower in the wilds of Redridge where he hoped his activities would escape notice. When he began experimenting on foresters and rangers, the authorities were quick to react. Guided by Azora, they reached his tower. Ilgalar was gutted by one of his own demons. A gnoll shaman briefly occupied his tower after his death, but since then it has stood empty to the best of my knowledge.
The aptly named town of Goldshire rests in the heart of Elwynn Forest. Though Goldshire has a large population, the town itself is spread out through the forest, giving it a rural feel. Some of the larger streets lie beneath the shade of wooden pergolas, festooned with flowering vines. It has all the marks of a successful town of living humans. The place is similar to Lakeshire in some ways, though the Goldshire populace is not nearly as hardy.
The first iteration of Goldshire fell victim to the bloodshed of the Culling. The Culling itself was a kind of sequel to the Stormwind Civil War. After the end of that conflict, there still existed a large body of nobles who fought under the king’s banner in the war, only to receive meager rewards that offered little in the way of actual power.
As has so often been the case in history, all it took was one idealistic firebrand with an exaggerated sense of self-importance to plunge the land into disaster. He was Achian Tersus, Baron of Eastvale. He gathered like-minded nobles in a conspiracy against the crown. The nobles aimed to restore the rights and powers that they enjoyed in the past, forming a group called the Knights of the First Blood, in reference to their aristocratic heritage.
The Knights of the First Blood recruited the embittered nobles of the Stormwind heartlands. The amiable King Pardemnon Wrynn was completely oblivious to their activities. After a year, the trap was sprung. Pardemnon was slaughtered in his own castle along with his wife and children. Achian immediately sought to consolidate his rule. Terrible riots tore through Stormwind and Goldshire and the Knights of the First Blood suppressed them without mercy. As an object lesson, his troops burned Goldshire to the ground with all its citizens.
Calling himself King Tersus, Achian ordered the nation to swear fealty. In a role reversal from the Stormwind Civil War, the borderlands pledged their loyalty to the true crown. Rather than a rabble of corrupt noblemen, it was the doughty mayors and burghers who confirmed their allegiance. The Wrynn family lived on in Mardrich Wrynn, Pardemnon’s younger brother.
Achian’s kingdom was already collapsing, the Knights splintering into quarrelsome factions and his kingdom erupting into rebellions. News of the Goldshire atrocity spread far and wide, and Mardrich quickly established a foothold in Forest’s Edge. Upon hearing this, Achian abandoned Stormwind and fled into the mountains. None know what became of him.
Some of the rebellious nobles attempted to parley, but were given no quarter. Thus began a purging of the nobles nearly as bloody as Achian’s own purge of Goldshire. Only a handful of the Stormwind nobility survived the Culling. The king’s rule was unquestioned. Goldshire was rebuilt to its former glory, surviving until the First War. The humans built it yet again, just before the reconstruction of Stormwind City.
“Get out of here!” cried a shrill voice to my side.
For a moment I feared that my disguise had been somehow exposed. Fortunately, the interjection had nothing to do with me; a fight had broken out next to a smithy. One of the pugilists, a skinny, tightly-coiled youth with a frantic expression rained blows on a giant of a man. The larger fighter scarcely seemed to feel the hits and responded with a terrific stroke of his own, sending the smaller man flying.
“Look, Kessin, I got the contract before you did. No one wants some scrawny urchin like you digging ditches anyway,” scoffed the giant, a sneer on his face.
Kessin pulled himself up on unsteady legs. He looked as if he would soon pass out. Then in one quick motion he seized a shovel and swung it at the large man’s head. Too surprised to react, the shovel blade hit the large man’s left temple with a painful sounding crack.
Then it was over. Two armed guards seized Kessin, who struggled wildly. His opponent sat in the road, blood streaming from the side of his head.
“Try that again—” screamed Kessin. One of the guards punched Kessin in the stomach and his yells turned to chokes. Some of the townspeople went to help the larger man to his feet.
“Outrageous! Third fight this week! You guards need to put an end to this,” demanded someone in the crowd. He was greeted with shouts of agreement.
“Citizens, please return to your business,” ordered a guard. “We are working to maintain order in the streets of our town.”
I was surprised to learn that violence is so endemic in Goldshire. I tracked down an off-duty guard named Marta Donner. Marta was a tough woman new to the Goldshire guards.
“It’s my story too. I mean, I came here a few years ago looking for work. The captain says that Goldshire was a really quaint little town for about twenty years after the war. All the action was in Stormwind. Then the place started growing.”
“Then there are a lot of young people looking for work?”
“Definitely. They usually find it too. I mean, there’s always something that someone needs doing. A lot of them, me included, had vague plans of seeing the far corners of the world. The idea being that we start out here, get money and some experience.”
“I take it this does not usually happen.”
“Some of them go off far away and aren’t ever seen again. Some go home, and some stay. My brother’s in the army, but when he was in training he... well, he pretty much trained me too, because he wanted me to be able to take care of myself. That, and I kept badgering him to teach me how to use a sword. In the Guard we’re usually supposed to use billy clubs or fists, but a good sword arm helps, so I joined up.”
“Why do you think there are so many fights? You said work was plentiful, but earlier today I saw a fight over a ditch-digging job.”
“That happens all the time. Mainly it’s because they’re young and hot-headed. I know the fight you’re talking about; Kessin and Doyle. Doyle’s new, hasn’t caused any trouble yet, but Kessin is a powder keg ready to go off.”
“What will you do with him?”
“That’s not for me to decide. We can’t send him to the Stockade, because it’s full, and his crimes aren’t bad enough to warrant that anyway. Maybe we’ll put him to work in Eastvale,” she chuckled.
“Speaking of crimes, is there some sort of bandit problem here?”
“Not so much in Elwynn. Westfall has become a warzone though. There’s this entire army of bandits called the Defias, you can tell who they are because they always wear red bandanas over their mouths.”
“Are they in Elwynn as well?”
“Some. There just aren’t enough soldiers and guards to do a proper job of protecting the place. A good number of the newcomers here in Goldshire get money from escorting travelers, protecting farms, and the like. It isn’t nearly as bad as it is in Westfall though. Huge swathes of land there are empty now, the farmers killed or driven off.”
“Has Stormwind sent soldiers there?”
“Of course. I mean, they would have to, right? I think over in Forest’s Edge they’re making some plans. I’m sure it will be over before you know it, but they really took too long to react.”
Marta spoke truly about her town. Goldshire's streets are filled with young people. Most are busy at their jobs, frequently as porters or peddlers. Others simply loiter and make nuisances of themselves.
That night I stayed at the Lion’s Mane Inn, a large, rambling building in the center of town. Sensing an opportunity, the proprietor offered inexpensive rooms of decent quality, attracting some of the more favorable newcomers. The parlor room was packed with patrons talking of the day’s events and tomorrow’s plans.
“I’m only here to make some coin. I’ll be going back to the farm in a few months,” explained a young man named Tommy Stonefield.
“Would you say that’s typical of the travelers here?”
“I haven’t spoken to all of them. Actually I think it’s getting too crowded, there are some real bad sorts here. That’s another reason I want to head back.”
“Is it hard for you to find work?”
“No, I found it early on. Some of the local masons hired me to build some new houses. When I said too crowded I meant that too many folks come here and don’t do anything except cause trouble.”
“Let me put it this way. When you see a young fellow like me, but who spends all the day in a tavern instead of doing honest work, chances are he isn’t up to any good. A few weeks ago there was a real vicious fellow named Larcos who did nothing except try to get handouts. Yelled some really crude things at you if you didn’t give any. The townsfolk here tend to keep to themselves, so they just tried to ignore him. Then one night Larcos went up to an acquaintance of mine named Paul and asked for some money. Paul told him to shut up and start working, since it was not as if Larcos was crippled. Just lazy.” Tommy trailed off, his face gloomy.
“And then?” I prompted.
“Uh, well Larcos was really angry, but we all figured that was the end of it. Next day, we found Paul in the rubbish heap, his throat slit and his head beaten in. Larcos skipped town the same night. He probably joined the Defias.” Tommy said the last word very quietly, as if it were some dreadful oath.
“Are the Defias a common sight around here?”
“Uh, I wouldn’t know. I mean, everyone knows they’re here. But I try to keep clean, not get involved in that sort of thing. It’s a sure way to end up dead. What happened to Paul doesn’t happen often. Goldshire’s still basically a law-abiding place. It does seem like it’s getting worse though.”
“What about the Guard?”
“They try to stop the fights, and listen to us if we complain. Still, I sort of get the feeling there’s more here than they know about.”
Tommy became reticent, and to humor him I changed the subject to safer matters. He spoke of his life in Stonefield Farm, one of the riverside farming villages. He said it was a quiet life, and seemed very proud when speaking of the hard work and care that went into managing such a place.
I did not stay long in Goldshire and soon journeyed to the sacred fields of Northshire Abbey. I traveled with a gaunt-faced man who spoke sternly of Goldshire’s wickedness. His name was Lensius Torven, a peddler of herbal cures who went between Goldshire and Northshire.
“The people of Goldshire can think only for themselves. You must have seen that, even if you weren’t there for very long. They have no understanding that our spirits are as one. They care only for money and perversity, completely self-absorbed,” he criticized.
“One could argue that they increase the Light by at least cultivating their own happiness,” I said.
Lensius smiled at me.
“Ah, I can tell you’re a Lordaeronian. Heh, when a person tries to make only themselves happy, they are doomed to fail. Their joy is completely superficial and there is little benefit to sharing it. It would be preferable that they have some sort of constructive sorrow that at least binds them to their neighbor.”
“‘Is not the act of joy itself a benefit to the world and all men? Yea, for the Common Spirit rejoices in the happiness of the one,’” I reminded him, quoting from the Exegesis of the Light. “It is the same book in Lordaeron as it is here.”
“I jest, I meant no disrespect. There are many good men in Lordaeron, and Light willing their numbers will increase. Still, from my understanding the northern kingdoms usually placed more emphasis on the Teachings of Happiness.”
He referred to one of the portions of the Exegesis that, while small, are immensely influential in the northern church.
“Yes, they did.”
“There is much good there, much wisdom. The believer needs to temper it though, and in my mind the larger context makes it more important to actively strive for a better world.”
“Yet the believer also needs to realize that the world cannot be changed in an instant, and in some ways may be impossible to change. The Virtue of Perseverance,” I said.
“This is true. But even if something is impossible, we still need to work for it. That is part of what Perseverance means. Some of it is ingrained into the Stormwind psyche, I think. We carved a mighty kingdom out here in the wilds. We just don’t feel right if we aren’t sweating or bleeding for something,” he laughed. “I think you’ll enjoy Northshire.”
Northshire Valley is a sanctuary from the rest of the world. The already lush meadows of Elwynn are amplified in that place and the trees glow with health. It is little wonder that Sternen Hallenmard, the spiritual father of the Stormwind Church, declared the valley to be an ideal home.
It was not that long ago when the old Northshire Abbey was destroyed by rampaging orcs, and the valley seized by the Twilight’s Hammer Clan, a group vicious even by the standards of the old Horde. More interested in pursuing an ideal of annihilation than in serving the Warchief, they pulled down nearly every human structure in the area. So great was their antipathy towards construction that they themselves refused to build anything within the valley. Only the catacombs and libraries beneath the Abbey were preserved. The clan leader, a lunatic ogre-mage named Cho’gall, thought the information too valuable to be destroyed. When the humans returned, the priests were pleased to find that many of the books had survived.
Northshire Abbey itself is a graceful structure built in a traditionally monastic style. The Abbey looks a bit like the Scarlet Monastery, though smaller and without the aggressive fortifications. The thick stone walls give a feeling of solidity and security even as the rising church tower promises something more ethereal. The stained glass windows are remarkable and have achieved a degree of fame beyond the borders of the kingdom. Some portray traditional images, such as Cassian’s epiphany or the construction of the first church. Others have a more nationalist sentiment, showing the role played by the faithful in the founding of Stormwind.
Northshire Valley is perhaps too lovely a spot to be inhabited solely by clerics. Farmers from small communities around the Valley come to the Abbey every Saturday to sell their wares. The local trademeet lacks the controlled chaos inherent to most marketplaces. Instead, the commercial process is quiet and subdued. Vendors talk pleasantly with each other, offering merry salutations to the students and theologians who look at their wares.
The Abbey was once the center of higher learning in the kingdom. After the Second War, other educational institutes appeared throughout the kingdom, offering a wider breadth of knowledge. Northshire Abbey is unparalleled in religious studies, at least in Light-worshipping lands. Greater colleges had existed in Lordaeron, but are now only so much rubble. Many of the younger people at the Abbey are novitiates hoping to join the ecclesiastical ranks.
I explored the place after spending a night at the Abbey’s shelter for travelers. I came across a gathering of students, nine in total, who were listening to one of their number giving a speech. The speaker was a delicate but energetic youth with a shaved head and black beard.
“This is the greatest oversight that the Church has ever committed! How can we ever achieve enlightenment when countless numbers suffer endlessly in the most hideous society that ever existed! This must be more than a war of steel and spellfire; it is also a war of ideas,” he preached.
“Come off it Aurelan. They’re demons—”
“Are not demons sentient? Are they not self-aware?”
“They are corruption incarnate!” fumed a young woman.
“And what can be corrupted can also be redeemed! Brothers and sisters in the Light, do you not see that these cursed ones are still our brethren? These are individuals thrust into the Burning Legion, who have known nothing but pain and hate all their days. Yet if we introduce them to the concepts of mercy, to the Three Virtues, they might slowly change. We could help make the Burning Legion a Legion of Light!” Aurelan’s face glowed as he spoke.
“These are good points Brother Aurelan, but I must remind you that metaphysical corruption is not the same as normal corruption. A man who has lived a life of iniquity can be cleansed, if he is repentant. However this is not the case with something like a demon. There, the corruption is so deep as to manifest itself physically. Likewise, many of the demonic races may have been corrupt from the beginning,” argued a deep-voiced youth with a thick beard.
“Granted, granted. Those are good points Brother Stancius. But we cannot make the assumption that they are inherently evil until we know far more. I am not willing to risk it if there is even the possibility that a soul, as much of the Light as yours or mine, exists within a demon’s tormented form.”
“But how do you deal with a creature which is only happy at the misery of another? That in itself works against the Light.”
“Are we sure that they can only gain joy from another entity's suffer—” began Aurelan.
“Yes. This has been confirmed.”
“I am sorry, Brother Stancius, but I cannot believe that. That may be their base nature, however if they are introduced to the precepts of the Light then I have utmost faith that they can be as virtuous as anyone else. It will not be easy, but surely you admit that we must try?”
The bells suddenly rung, and the students quickly picked up their books and headed inside, still talking with each other. I have to admit that Aurelan’s idea is intriguing though I am skeptical as to its accuracy.
The interior of the Abbey is cool and serene, befitting a holy place. The great hallways echo with the sounds of quiet discussion and prayer. I spent much of the day simply exploring the Abbey. The tunnels beneath are open to visitors, though in truth there is little to see there. The priests keep the prison cell of Garona, the half-orc spy of the First War, for posterity’s sake. The orcs rescued her in a daring raid that gutted the Abbey’s defenses.
The library is home to a wealth of information. It is second only to the Royal Library of Stormwind in number of books. The Northshire Library also contains a number of obscure and esoteric (and potentially dangerous) texts that exist nowhere else in the world. I learned of this from an elderly librarian named Belgrano. Though blind, his formidable erudition made him invaluable to the Abbey.
“Books that have been forgotten and condemned have a way of ending up here. Perhaps my eyes chose to fail so as to protect my soul,” he laughed.
“I have to say I find it strange that a religious organization would preserve so many corrupt texts.”
“One never knows when they might become useful. Cho’gall perused many of those books in his time here. Knowledge of them might prove useful when dealing with his followers.”
“I was under the impression that the Twilight’s Hammer Clan was destroyed.”
“The clan was, yet their beliefs were not. As we speak in this Abbey, the new followers gather in the lonely places of the world in their terrible crusade for oblivion. For them the ultimate prayer is to destroy, and the only blasphemy is to build.”
“Are they a threat?”
“Maybe they will simply be a new group of gnolls, annoying the kingdoms and nations. Or perhaps they are worse than the Scourge. I cannot say at this point.”
“Do you think some of the forbidden texts here influenced Cho’gall?”
“I believe so. We know that he at least read the Nosicae Scriptures.”
Nosian was a defrocked priest in Lordaeron who preached hedonism and reckless license to his followers. Through their indulgence, he argued, enlightenment would occur. Many of the faithful argued against his methods, saying that his philosophy was shallow and self-destructive. In return, Nosian decided that all who were not Nosicae had to be put to the sword. That way, all that were unhappy in his eyes would be destroyed, and the Light would finally triumph among the elect. The last of his followers fled to Stormwind after losing a series of bloody battles. Stormwind’s church finished what its northern cousin started.
“I do not believe anything is accomplished by destroying books, even if they are corrupt. One can still learn from them after all. And I believe that you have only yourself to blame if you choose to follow some damnable ideology,” he continued.
“Anyhow I am but an old man puttering away in his library. I can no longer read, yet I take comfort simply from being in the proximity of so much knowledge.”
“Do you have people read to you?”
“I have occasionally pestered someone into doing it for me, yes,” he chuckled.
I spoke a while longer with Belgrano, who seemed to know a great deal about everything. I took my leave at sundown, thanking the man for his time. As pleasant as Northshire was, the metropolis of Stormwind City beckoned. I left early in the morning after, headed to the greatest bastion of humanity left in the world.