The less said about Ironforge, the better. Even if I wanted to discuss it, which I really don’t, now isn’t the time.
Deliana returned with me from the Eastern Kingdoms, and we met Ji briefly in Ratchet. He had good news (relatively speaking, at least) from the errand I’d sent him on, even though it had ended up running him from Desolace to Feralas then all the way back up to Stonetalon. After we all exchanged notes, I sent Ji back home to Orgrimmar. He resisted at first; he wanted to come with us for this next step. But he was already deeper in this mess than I’d wanted him to get, and besides, this was my fight, not his.
Liana and I arranged windrider passage from Ratchet down to Mudsprocket. From there, it was a fairly short ride over to the Wyrmbog, and the cave that used to be the lair of Onyxia.
We entered the cave. We didn’t venture far, just deep enough to find a corner where every point of entry was visible. Onyxia’s been dead for years, of course, but that didn’t stop it from being unnerving to go in there. I’m sure it would have been unsettling in any case, but considering the rumors Theldren had brought back about Nefarian’s old forces being restless again, I found myself still half-expecting a black dragon to come jumping out of the shadows at any moment. After all, Nefarian and Onyxia had both come back from the dead once already. Not that I’m one to talk; I’ve died a couple times myself. Spirits willing, I’d like the last time to stay the last for a good long while.
Eventually, we heard footsteps, and saw the light of a torch approaching from the same direction we’d come. The footsteps slowly drew nearer, until a single tauren stepped into view. Between his dark fur and the shadows that shifted around him in the dim cave, he probably seemed a lot larger than he really was.
TAUREN: You are Mokvar?
MOKVAR: Are you alone?
The tauren tilts his head and cocks an eyebrow.
You know what I mean.
TAUREN: We honor the terms of the meeting, of course.
MOKVAR: <faint grin> So in other words, the rest of your friends are waiting right outside the cave.
DELIANA: Do you want me to check outside and see—
TAUREN: If we’d wished to harm you, little one, you would already know it.
MOKVAR: There’s no need, Liana. He has a point – if we’re screwed at this point, we’re screwed no matter what.
The tauren looks back and forth between Mokvar and Deliana, then back up the passageway through which he’d entered. He lifts a horn to his mouth and sounds a low blare. Deliana continues to watch him closely; the tauren returns her gaze bemusedly.
TAUREN: You’re going to make me think you don’t trust us, little one.
DELIANA: You might say you have something of a reputation.
TAUREN: <nods toward Mokvar> So do the orcs. That doesn’t seem to have affected you.
DELIANA: <shrugs> I like green.
The tauren chuckles. From the passageway, footsteps become audible again and grow progressively closer. After a moment, Magatha Grimtotem enters the chamber and scans the scene.
MAGATHA: Ah, Mokvar. It’s been too long.
MOKVAR: Magatha. I’m surprised you remember me, to tell the truth.
MAGATHA: I never forget a face. <looks to Deliana> This one is new, though.
MOKVAR: Yes, she is.
MAGATHA: You’re not going to introduce us, Mokvar? How rude of you.
MOKVAR: On top of everything else, Magatha, do we really need to maintain the pretense that we’re friends now, too?
MAGATHA: I’m merely trying to be cordial. <to Deliana> Is he always this prickly?
DELIANA: No. You must have that effect on people. <looks to Mokvar, then back to Magatha> But, if it makes you feel any better… Deliana Hawthorne.
MAGATHA: The pleasure is mine.
DELIANA: It would have to be.
MAGATHA: I’m beginning to see why you two get along.
Magatha looks around the cavern.
This is an interesting choice of venues, Mokvar. Something of a step down from your usual accommodations, isn’t it?
MAGATHA: You’ll find the Grimtotem tend not to hold grudges long against their own kind. And I can be very persuasive.
MOKVAR: Just as well. It made it a little easier for Ji to get my message to you.
MAGATHA: I must say I was intrigued. I’m not unaccustomed to being the object of some…pursuit…but usually only from your Warchief’s usual lot of knuckle-dragging lackeys. Your furry friend, however…
MOKVAR: Not your typical Orgrimmar grunt, I know.
MAGATHA: Yes, he had a polysyllabic vocabulary. And spent a not-inconsiderable time musing over whether we had anything extra to eat.
MOKVAR: That’s Ji, yeah.
MAGATHA: Regardless, I’m quite curious as to why you would seek me out, given the company you usually keep. Then again… <looks to Deliana> …I doubt your current companion would be well received in Orgrimmar herself.
DELIANA: Maybe he’s trying to make me look better by bringing in one of the only people who would be less welcome.
MAGATHA: <chuckles> As plausible a theory as any. <looks back to Mokvar> But not the right one, I suspect.
MOKVAR: I have some business that’s going to require me to travel to the Firelands. Trouble is, I’m still relatively inexperienced as a shaman, and my ability to influence the elements isn’t nearly strong enough to keep me safe there. You, on the other hand…well, whatever else I might think of you, there’s no disputing you’re a powerful shaman.
MAGATHA: You flatter me.
MOKVAR: Take it with a grain of salt. It’s one strength offsetting I don’t know how many despicable things about you.
DELIANA: I bet she’d also go great with fries.
MAGATHA: If we’re going to be racist, I’m sure you would be quite adept at climbing trees and picking bananas. <sneers> Especially green ones.
MOKVAR: The point is, I think you might know a trick or two that could help keep me alive when I go. That’s why I wanted to meet with you.
MAGATHA: And why turn to me, Mokvar? There’s certainly no shortage of shaman in Orgrimmar you could have turned to.
MOKVAR: I’d prefer to keep this trip to the Firelands off the record.
MAGATHA: The Cenarion druids at Mouth Hyjal? Thrall and his Earthen Ring?
MOKVAR: Very off the record.
MAGATHA: It must be quite the scandal you’re sitting on if you’d rather turn to me than confide in your supposed friends.
MOKVAR: I have my reasons.
MAGATHA: And those reasons would be…?
MAGATHA: Cairne would have liked you.
MOKVAR: Then it’s a shame he was murdered by a traitor before he got the chance to know me.
MAGATHA: You shouldn’t talk about your Warchief like that.
DELIANA: As much as I’m enjoying going back and forth with this…
MAGATHA: Indeed, let’s cut to the chase. You need my help, Mokvar, so now for the real question: Why should I give it to you?
MOKVAR: We both know you don’t harbor any ill will for me, Magatha. I may work for Garrosh, but your quarrel is with him, not me. He’s the one you hate.
MAGATHA: True enough. But that’s merely why it wouldn’t be worth it to me to go out of my way to hurt you, Mokvar, not why it would be worth helping you.
MOKVAR: You’re focusing on the wrong part. Think about this, Magatha. I work for Garrosh. I’m there in Grommash Hold every day. Do you not think that makes me someone who would be…useful to have indebted to you?
MAGATHA: Surely you’re not naïve enough to assume I don’t already have my informants.
MOKVAR: Are they in Garrosh’s inner circle? Do they attend every meeting with him? Keep a written record, literally, of nearly everything he says and does?
MAGATHA: <smiles thoughtfully> Interesting…
MOKVAR: I thought you might think so.
MAGATHA: I think I may have an item or two that might help augment your abilities sufficiently for what you have in mind. Nothing worldshattering, mind you…
MOKVAR: That’s fine. I’ve already lived through too many shattered worlds as it is.
MAGATHA: We can meet again here for the exchange. Tomorrow at this time?
DELIANA: How do we know you won’t just be setting a trap?
MAGATHA: How did you know I wasn’t setting one tonight? There are two of you – three if you count your bouncing bear friend. I could bring dozens with a word. But Mokvar was right about one thing – I have nothing to gain from harming him. And whatever else you might think of me, I’m not in the habit of doing harm when there’s no benefit to myself or my tribe.
MOKVAR: Tomorrow night, then.
MAGATHA: Tomorrow night.
Magatha gestures to the other Grimtotem, and they make their way back up the passage.
DELIANA: Are you sure about this?
MOKVAR: Not even remotely. I may spend the next year washing my hands.
Mokvar peers up the dark passageway for several moments.
I think we’re clear.
Mokvar and Deliana start to walk up toward the cave exit. As the passage narrows, a low whooshing sound is heard. Deliana hesitates a moment while glancing around.
DELIANA: <whispering> Did you hear that?
<whispering> There’s someone stealthed in here.
MOKVAR: <whispering> It’s Garona. She came in not far behind us when we arrived.
DELIANA: <whispering> You knew she was following us?
MOKVAR: <whispering> I was counting on it.
We’re staying in Mudsprocket until we go back to Onyxia’s lair tomorrow night. With any luck, things will go off without a hitch there, and Magatha will have something useful for me. Then that much will be over and done with.
Then comes the hard part.