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Kalaneia considered what Mezzthyk and Aelyla had told her about the book. A text that was perhaps about a ritual to connect two stars — worlds, most likely — written in the script the Nathrezim used on their homeworld… this tome could be more ancient than she had originally thought. It might even pre-date the assimilation of the Nathrezim into the Burning Legion. Fascinating, indeed.

Now where might she find a reader for the dead tongue of the Nathrezim?

Hmm, perhaps the Forsaken? The Banshee Queen had had Dreadlords in her service — until their sudden, yet inevitable betrayal. Though Aelyla had said that the Dreadlords rarely used their ancestral script outside of their home, perhaps there was a Forsaken warlock who had been able to learn some of it.

Assuming that Sylvanas would have brought her most powerful servants to Orgrimmar with her after she became Warchief, Kalaneia traveled to Orgrimmar. To her disappointment, only Orcish warlocks were in residence in the Cleft of Shadow.

“What…?” The apparent chief of the Orcish warlocks, Kranosh, seemed quite taken aback by Kalaneia’s request for information about the whereabouts of Sylvanas’s warlocks. “Where in the great dark did you find that?” he exclaimed when she showed him the book, by way of explanation.

Kalaneia shrugged. “I didn’t find it. It found me.”

“Well, now,” Kranosh mused, “this book may be just the leverage we have been seeking.”

Now it was Kalaneia’s turn to be taken aback. “What…? You didn’t even know this book existed until I showed it to you just a moment ago.”

“Exactly,” said Kranosh. “Tell me, acolyte,” — Kalaneia bristled momentarily at the junior form of address — “what do you know of the Council of the Black Harvest?”

“I… have not heard of any organization by that specific name,” Kalaneia admitted. There had been rumors, though; rumors filtered through the gossip mill at the Halfhill Market, rumors brought by the adventurers who trickled through the Frostwall Tavern, more potent and believable rumors discussed by the coven of warlocks that Kalaneia had been carefully cultivating at Frostwall. “I have heard, however, of a society secretive even for us, a society said to ignore the boundary between Horde and Alliance. A society thought to be responsible for the disappearance of Shinfel Blightsworn.”

Shinfel was a Sin’dorei warlock who had honed the art of using shadow and fel magic to afflict and torment her enemies to a very fine edge; she was notorious for her cruelty. Shinfel had been part of the raiding party that had finally taken down Cho’Gall in the Bastion of Twilight; her blood had become corrupted during the fight and her arms were now covered in black marks where the corruption had erupted from her skin. It was after that experience that she had taken the name “Blightsworn”; it had only served to increase her sadism. Shinfel hadn’t been seen by anyone since about the time that the Sunreaver Onslaught and Kirin Tor Offensive began their effort to control the Isle of Thunder*; there were many even in the secret chambers of Silvermoon who were glad that she was gone.

“Is this the society of which you speak? What does this have to do with my book, and with my search for someone who can translate it?”

Kranosh chuckled. “Ha ha, to know even that much, you are very well informed!” He continued, “Your instinct to seek out a Forsaken to help you was good; if there is anyone who is not themselves a demon that knows enough about demons to read your book, it is Jubeka Shadowbreaker. Unfortunately, she, too, has been missing these past few years — and your mysterious tome might be just the thing to lure her out of whatever hole she has been hiding in.”

“Why do you think she is in hiding, rather than just outright dead?” Kalaneia asked, puzzled.

“Because, like Shinfel, she was a member of the Council of the Black Harvest. After the defeat of Deathwing, six of the greatest warlocks gathered together with the intention of teaching all warlocks advanced forms of magic stolen from our defeated foes. They made a pact, and then they all disappeared. Jubeka kept a record of that meeting. She left it here when she departed on her quest. Let her tell you what happened…” Kranosh gestured toward a slim sheaf of loosely bound parchment lying on a nearby shelf.

Kalaneia skimmed through the notes. It was remarkable how well-balanced this Council was: three from the Horde, three from the Alliance, one from each faction of the three main paths that warlocks tended to follow — destruction, affliction, and demonology. They had divided up pairwise by favored school** and gone in search of the darkest, most powerful magic they could find: the Orc, Rittsyn, and the Worgen, Zinnin, to the Firelands to search for Sulfuras; the Sin’dorei, Shinfel, and the Gnome, Zelifrax, to hunt down the remainder of the Twilight’s Hammer; the Forsaken, Jubeka, and the Human, Kanrethad, to Outland to pursue greater mastery of demons. The pact had been that they should return together — or be destroyed by the others.

“And when the year was up?” she inquired, though she already thought she knew what the answer would be.

“None of them returned,” Kranosh replied. “But we already suspected that they would not. About three months after they left, we received a package from Outland. It contained this.” He turned to the shelf and rummaged through the other books and scrolls lying on it until he found a book that looked like one of the experiment logs used by the Royal Apothecary Society. He handed it to Kalaneia, flicking the note on the back cover as he did. “Jubeka’s journal of her research in Outland. It seems that a need to locate her has now arisen. Read the journal and use the information contained within to track down where she went. If you can find the soulstones she talks about in that note on the back, you should be able to use them to locate her.”

~*~*~

* The Green Fire questline came out with Patch 5.2, which was also the Throne of Thunder raid patch. Dealing with the time-skip of having spent all of Warlords idling in my Garrison was a challenge for this story. The wording of Kalaneia’s information on Shinfel Blightsworn is mostly directly quoted from page 3 of Legacy of the Masters (Part 1). It seemed logical to me that if the six members of the Council of the Black Harvest were such powerful and prominent Warlocks, they ought to at least have been known by members of their own races. Thus, Kalaneia should already know about the Sin’dorei member of the Council.

** It bugs me a great deal, therefore, that as Order Hall Champions in Legion, four of the six members of the Council of the Black Harvest have their specializations all mixed up. Rittsyn is still Destruction and Shinfel is still Affliction but Jubeka the Master Demonologist is now Destruction. Kanrethad the Master Demonologist is now Affliction. Zinnin who was Destruction is now Affliction. Zelifrax was Affliction, but his replacement Lulubelle is Demonology.

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Apart from the chains and socket binding it, the book seemed quite normal. How it had gotten into her hands was something of a mystery; it had simply appeared in the mailbox of her Halfhill farmhouse one day, a parcel wrapped in ordinary brown paper tied with ordinary twine, with a note, scrawled in an unfamiliar hand (with a vestigal style of penmanship that suggested Stormwind), reading simply:
A friend of mine told me that a friend of a friend of hers (that would be you) might find one of these useful. — Cim

Feeling content in her current prowess, however, Kalaneia had laid it aside. There would be time enough to probe its mysteries later.

~*~*~

Time passed, in the way that time does when one is not giving it sufficient attention.

~*~*~

Kalaneia looked out upon the patches of fel-blackened earth marring the Barrens and determined that now it was time.

After about a month, the Legion assaults on Orgrimmar’s rear gate, the Crossroads, Gadgetzan, Tarren Mill, Kharanos, and Sentinel Hill had stopped as abruptly as they had begun. The commoners breathed sighs of relief and began attempting to put their lives and psyches back together, but Kalaneia knew that the Legion’s apparent retreat was not what it might seem. The attempt by the Horde and the Alliance to crush the Legion invasion at its center, the Tomb of Sargeras on the Broken Isles, had been an unmitigated disaster. More horror was yet to come… and more raw power would be needed to push it back.

Yes, now it was time to open the book, discover its secrets, and master its power.

~*~*~

Truly inspecting the book for the first time, Kalaneia noticed that as she examined the mysterious socket that locked the chains together, her fingers began to feel unnaturally stiff and cold. The sensation swiftly spread up past her knuckles, twisting her hand into a crone’s claw, almost reaching her wrist before she snatched her hand away. As she massaged feeling back into her aching hand, she realized what had happened. Quickly, she conjured a Healthstone and pressed the glowing green oval into the socket. It fit perfectly. As she had anticipated, the Healthstone rapidly dulled and faded to blackish-grey as the socket absorbed the life energy contained within, and the curious clasp fell open.

Given the apparent ancient age and unfamilar, quite possibly non-Azerothian, materials and craftsmanship of the book, Kalaneia wasn’t surprised to discover that she was unable to read the ornate, sprawling script in which the book was written. The problems now were three: first, determine the language in which the mysterious text was written; second, determine if there was anyone who could translate that language; and third, determine how best to compel that person to do so, if they initially proved to be unwilling.

The elaborate symbols on the pages looked somewhat similar to the demonic runes that she knew, but not similar enough for her to be confident that she could correctly discern any of their meanings. As she studied the unfamiliar runes, it occurred to her that perhaps one of her demon servants might be able to recognize them better than she herself could.

Kalaneia snapped her fingers in the direction of her imp, Pagnar, who was on the other side of the room, toasting ants as they emerged from a crack at the base of the wall. She’d always considered imps to be rather like cats that were capable of speech, so she didn’t really think he’d be very helpful, but she figured she ought to at least ask him before summoning one of the more intelligent ones.

Pagnar hopped over, squawking unintelligibly, and asked lazily, “…yeah? ‘Sup, boss?”

Kalaneia held the tome down in front of his face. “Do these runes mean anything to you?”

“Hmm…” Pagnar pretended to ponder for a second or two, then turned a backflip. “Nope! Sorry, boss, I have no idea. Zip, zilch, nada, none.” He turned another backflip, for emphasis. “Do you have something for me to burn, or can I go now?”

“Go take a nap,” Kalaneia replied, and began summoning her voidwalker.

Mezzthyk materialized with its usual complaining sigh: “I don’t like this place.” It looked around and threw up its hands, exclaiming, “Dismiss me, mistress! I wish to return to the void.”

Ignoring its whining, Kalaneia showed it the book. “What can you tell me about this tome?”

“Words are not the way of the void,” Mezzthyk protested, but as it looked at the book, the cant of its brow shifted from irritated to intrigued, and it reached out and flipped back and forth through the pages. “This is… curious, mistress… I do not know… this part… appears to connect two… stars? together… I cannot make out any more than that,” it concluded, shrugging. “Send me back.”

“This time,” Kalaneia replied, and dismissed it.

Kalaneia despised succubi in general, and she despised the sort of warlock who preferred them even more. Nonetheless, succubi were perhaps the most intelligent of the lesser demons that novice warlocks routinely learned to control. It had been so long since Kalaneia had summoned “her” succubus, though, that it took a few moments to recall the correct form of the incantation.

“Why, hell-o, Miss-tress!” Aelyla pouted. “I was beginning to be afraid that you had forgotten all about me!” Her pout turned to a simper. “What kind of… service can I provide you today…?”

“Don’t give me that nonsense,” Kalaneia snapped. “You were glad that I’d forgotten all about you, and we both know it. Look at this book and tell me anything and everything that you might know about it.”

“What?” Aelyla made a face. “You just want me to look at some dirty old tome? Ugh,” she rolled her eyes, “how disappointing.”

Despite her flippant tone, as the succubus examined the book, her bored expression became curious and focused, and she turned the pages with greater care*.

“How fascinating,” Aelyla drawled, “this text appears to be written in the script of the Nathrezim… you know, Dreadlords? They rarely use it outside of their home.” She closed the book and lightly traced the swirling pattern on the cover with a fingernail. “I think this says something like The Codex of Xerrath. Who or what was Xerrath? Maybe a sister world to Xoroth?” She handed the book back to Kalaneia. “Well, that wasn’t so un-interesting, after all. Do you have anything else that I can help you with?”

“Not today,” Kalaneia replied, “Don’t call me; I’ll call you.” She dismissed the succubus and resummoned Pagnar.

“That was not enough of a nap!” the imp grumbled.

~*~*~

* Some of Aelyla’s reaction to the book is informed by the Legion Archaeology item that reveals that succubi like to keep journals.

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Cenarius finally coughed up the lookalike of the Emerald Nighthold Druid tier robe for Kerisa. Hooray!

My Warlock finished her Order Hall Campaign. Five done, seven left. Can I manage to get seven more Order Hall Campaigns completed in only four weeks — three and a half, really, because of this conference I’m going to at the end of the month?
I was surprised that compassion — albeit in the somewhat limited sense of even if you don’t give a damn about the rest of the world, you should still take care of the people who are part of your own community — emerged as one of the main themes of that story. I wasn’t expecting that from the Warlocks. Good job, devs!

I went and did the Wound quests in Silithus with Kamalia and Kaylynda, just in case they might go away in Patch 8.0.

I had been under the impression that one had to complete the Broken Shore campaign to do the Mage Tower Challenge, and I just didn’t have time energy or desire to do that. Reading posts about the imminent end of the Mage Tower Challenge, I realized that I’d been mistaken. So Kaelinda hurried to do the questchain that leads up to the Mage Tower Challenge, and do to the Wound quests in Silithus to get her Artifacts to be OP, and then I started trying the Frost Mage challenge. It is a kiting fight, and I am rubbish at kiting. After making a half-dozen-ish rather feeble attempts in which I felt like I was making little to no progress, I decided that I had other things — both in-game and out — that I’d rather spend my Monday evening doing. Specifically, my Rogue finished Chapter 3 of her Order Hall Campaign.

Many many thanks to Coffee Cakes & Crits, who tipped me off that the Tabard of the Lightbringer is BoE and can sometimes be found on the AH. I looked, and there it was. The list price of 255 K might not be much for some folks, but for me, it took a bit of pooling cash — with Kamalia and Kaelinda, who have been level 110 the longest and thus have had the most time to rake in gold from Order Hall missions, being the major donors — to be able to afford it.

Now Patch 8.0 is here, but there’s another week before the pre-launch-event quests begin. I’ll need to do those with the characters who will eventually be heading off into BfA content.
For the Blue Team, we have Kaylynda the Human Mage, Kerithian the Night Elf Druid, Kjerstin the Dwarf Shaman, and Kyraleia the Dwarf Paladin.
For the Red Team, we have Kaelinda the Blood Elf Mage, Kerisa the Tauren Druid, Kamalia the Tauren Shaman, and Keija the Tauren Warrior. Kaelinda, Kamalia, and Keija will have to go to Zandalar eventually because the only Professions I care about any more are the ones that make me things I can use for Mogging and they are my Tailor, Leatherworker, and Blacksmith, respectively. The leather-wearer position for the Red Team is theoretically flexible, but it will probably end up being Kerisa because of my four level 110 Horde leather-wearers, I am the most attached to her.

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I’m still trying for that Druid robe from Emerald Nighthold.

It was Darkmoon Faire week. Normally I do the Darkmoon Faire on Sunday, or maybe Monday, but last week I was more interested in pushing the Warlock and the Rogue through to 110. So I didn’t do the Darkmoon Faire until Wednesday. About half of my alts will get to 800 skill points in their primary professions next month, just before BfA launches. The rest will get to 800 skill points in September, just after BfA launches and the profession skill cap goes up again…

It was World Quests bonus week. Thirteen alts was too many; I didn’t get it done on all of them… let alone the ones who actually needed it the most.

I was distracted by re-mogging all of my characters who’d gotten dressed up for the Midsummer Fire Festival and needed to change their clothes after the holiday ended.

And there was some more RL family stuff, too.

End result: I didn’t get any Order Hall Campaign advancement done.

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Kerisa was so close to completing the Druid campaign that I decided to just finish it up — including going to the Broken Shore and recruiting Thisalee Crow. I’ll probably do this — go to the Broken Shore to recruit the 9th champion as soon as I finish up the 7.0 campaign — with my remaining characters, too. Cenarius still didn’t give her the Emerald Nighthold Druid tier lookalike robe, though.

By queueing up for LFD while doing zone questing, I managed to get both the Warlock and the Rogue to level 110. Whew!

So now that everyone is finally at 110, what next?
Finishing eight more Order Hall Campaigns, of course.
I’m debating whether to try to focus them down one at a time or do a little bit with multiple characters each night. The first method would probably help me keep track of the stories better — I confess that with over a year between when I pushed everyone through Chapter 2 of their Order Hall Campaigns shortly before we got our baby and now, I don’t really remember what’s going on in any of them.

My Paladin and Monk also need to run 8 different dungeons to get their Order Hall pants. I’m keeping track of which dungeons they have to run as part of their Campaign so that then I can just run the ones they haven’t already done for the pants. I’d also like to get the Order Hall pants for my Warrior, Death Knight, Hunter, and Priest — but they can come back and solo Legion dungeons at level 120. It’s only the Paladin and Monk that I want to get done while Legion is still current content, because those are the Order Hall sets that I’m the most interested wearing as complete sets.

And I really need to go to Argus with somebody. When it’s Kirin Tor Emissary, I’ve been picking up Argussian Reach tokens with my Demon Hunter and Army of the Light tokens with my Alliance Mage. Because I’m more interested in the Void Elves than in the Lightforged Draenei, it’ll probably be the Demon Hunter who goes to Argus first.

Meanwhile, in the world beyond Azeroth…

One of my colleagues took a job at another institution in the state, so I spent a couple of weeks of June in search committee meetings finding his replacement. Our new faculty member has a lot of experience teaching general chemistry, but the person she’s replacing didn’t have any standard general chemistry in his courseload. To help her feel more comfortable in her first semester at a new institution, I decided to give her the option to take the section of general chemistry that has been “mine” for the past four years. She took it, so now I am rearranging my schedule and preparing to teach the rest of the courseload that had been assigned to the person who left: general education chemistry and physical science. These are two classes that I’ve never taught before, and I have a month and a half to prep them… So as much as I might like to daydream about tackling the Mage Tower Challenge with Kaelinda to get that beautiful Challenge apppearance for Ebonchill, or with Kelisanna to get those amazing rapiers for the Dreadblades, I really can’t afford to let myself get distracted by that…

We got our adoption legally finalized in April. We then waited until BTH’s parents returned from their mission to serve in the Bern Switzerland Temple before getting our adoption ecclesiastically finalized by having our son sealed to us in our local Temple this Saturday. Now we can finally say that our little boy is 100% ours!

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7 weeks until BfA

All done with Trial of Valor, hurray! Kaelinda got the Priest lookalike shoulders from Cenarius, but Kerisa is still trying to get Cenarius to give her the Druid lookalike robe.

I was feeling tired of leveling. There was a cluster of extended family events this week. I acquired and read Before the Storm. Midsummer Fire Festival began and I had a heap of holiday-related Mogging I wanted to do. So neither the Rogue nor the Warlock did any leveling this week. Maybe next week.

Most of my recent level 110s are sitting on Order Hall quests that have them going out into the wide world to do non-dungeon things. Kerisa had a quest for Eye of Azshara that was the last thing she needed to do to recruit her 7th Champion, so I went and did that just so that I wouldn’t have made no progress at all on either leveling or Order Hall campaigns this week.

I enjoyed Before the Storm. I particularly liked the characters of Vellcinda (who is not an actual NPC in the game) and Parqual Fintallas (who is); it seems my Kivrinne has friends in Undercity that I didn’t know about yet.

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8 weeks until BfA

…But how many weeks until Patch 8.0?

Kamalia and Kerisa finished the Trial of Valor quest. Yay, I only have to listen to Odyn and Helya griping about each other once next week! Emerald Nightmare gave me only Artifact Power… sigh.

Monk dinged level 110. Only Rogue and Warlock remain. Somehow those two are always the last two to get leveled, even though I do rather have fun playing them when I do play them.

Keija reached Exalted with Valarjar. Now she can work on Suramar and Highmountain.

Katewatha got the Legend of the Monkey King to unlock the Hidden appearance of Fu-Zan on only her second day of tapping the Bubbling Keg. She would switch that Order Hall upgrade over to the other choice that buffs her troops… except she doesn’t have enough Order Hall Resources on hand to do so.

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