Founder of Ebon Flame
Joined: 15 Dec 2005
|Posted: Wed Feb 22, 2006 7:03 pm Post subject: History of the Ebon Flame and it's Founder
|I decided to copy a story I posted in our roleplay forum to the public forum, so that those who are interested can learn more of our history.
A path ahead, and a path behind
Thalos was born into a rich noble family. The son of the noble Erethas and his wife Kiristree, both high ranking members in night elf society, he was unfortunate enough to be cursed with the mark of prophecy on his first birthday, in this case a black swirl on his right hand that would not come out with water or leaf. The mark was a sign of great portent, apparent in only a few elven children, and was visible only by priests or druids of great power. Once it was noticed, it was acted upon immediately, for it very often suggested a life of great power or impact - for good, or for evil.
In any case, with the endless conflict with the horde raging, and the threat of Arthas' corruption hanging in the air, it was felt that for Thalos to remain even in the comparative safety of the capital city was unwise and could bring untold destruction on the delicately safe community. It was hard to see the threat in such a small child, everyone said, but the long lived elves could all remember tales of marked children who had caused disaster among their family. The elves of the Cenarion Circle, aided by the noble families, convinced Erethas and Kirstree to effectively banish their own son, sending him far to the east, to Dwarven lands. Erethas was reluctant to heed the council's bidding, but Kirstree and he both realised that to keep Thalos at home could pose a great risk to both his safety and those of the other members of the family, whether from real enemies or from superstitious rumours born of fear. Reluctantly, they travelled with their son to the Kingdom of Ironforge, and arranged for Thalos to come of age far from his real home.
It was arranged with King Magni Bronzebeard that Thalos would be best protected by a single individual, someone who did not attract attention yet had the power to fend off most threats that were likely to pass by. A grizzled old hunter named Dorgan, who had previously served the King well, was chosen to be the child's "grandfather", and he was charged to protect the young elf prince at all costs as he grew up in secret, far away from his real home. Dorgan lived in solitude in the wilds of Dun Morogh, in an old log cabin in the hills, tired of adventure and seeking nothing other than fresh air and the company of his pet, Boku. The addition of the child was an annoyance to him, but he soon grew very fond of the gangly creature and, once it had passed him in height at the age of twelves years, started to teach Thalos the art of combat.
(The warriors among you may now understand why, when under pressure, Thalos tends to revert to a simpler, more direct approach to using his blade, one which echoes the glorious simplicity of the hunter who has no time for style with hand weapons and simply seeks to get the job done, much like tree felling. It is habit that years of later training in the Silverwing guard could not drive out of him fully, and there are those that whisper his heroic strikes still bear a frightening similarity to the strike of the raptor.....).
To go back to our story, the lonelyness of soul that started with his upbringing with his grandfather continued as Thalos came of age. Returning to his homeland with his seemingly unaged guardian, he enjoyed a brief, tearful reunion with his family, and several long happy summer months passed in Teladrassil. But all was not to last. Despite Dorgan's best efforts, the boy was not elven trained, and so seemed clumsy and outlandish to his more noble cousins. He spoke the language well, but in a clipped, clinical tone that never captured the lilting grace of a true elfborn. Everyone was polite, but aside from his parents no one truly welcomed him home, and there were still rumours (despite the time that had passed) of a dark threat coming, and worries about how the sign that appeared over Thalos so many years ago might be related to it.
So it was that Thalos realised he had no home here, and he thus bid his parents farewell and began to travel on his own. He started in service with the Sentinels, protectors of elven lands throughout Azeroth, and in his early service with them hunting the minor beasts of Teladrassil he met the first love of his life in the form of the maiden Calia, a young druid in service to the Cenarion Circle. Thalos was no stranger to women, having spent several weeks in Ironforge with his grandfather, passing through the Lost Caverns on many a drunken evening in his later years. But never had he walked so closely with one of his own kind, and they forged a partnership of blade and nature which took them forward for many young, happy innocent years. Eventually however, after many seasons of travelling together, they entered the city of Darnassus... whereupon the world changed.
News of growing conflict between the alliance and horde had reached Darnassus, as had disturbing rumours of a rise in the Silithid population far to the south of Kalimdor. In human lands, the Syndicate and Defias guilds were rapidly gaining power and influence, and the King of Stormwind had gone missing! Troubled times, and in the hushed whispers and darkness of a tavern one evening, they came crashing in on Thalos' own world.
An elderly elven priest, in the last few years of his life, entered the inn that evening. As he crossed the threshold, the buzz of the room quietened, the flames flickered brightly then dimmed to a dark, yellow glow, and many patrons looked up from their drinks to see him pass. Walking slowly but calmly, leaning on a large staff marked with intricate symbols, he crossed the room to where Thalos and Calia sat.
"I bid you greeting, Thalos, son of Erethas. Many moons have I laboured to find you". He looked Calia, who had got up half as if to leave. "You should stay, my dear, as this concerns you too. Someone will need to guide him, for he has been ill prepared... yes far too ill prepared for this moment".
He sat down at the table, ignoring the astonished glances of his immediate companions and the whispering going on at other tables. Drawing back his hood to reveal an ancient face, he smiled and looked at them both. They drew back, shaken. Where the elf should have had clear, bright orbs of light, as with all elves, he instead had a dark, flickering shape forming what looked like ... human pupils! The sense of power and age hit them both at the same time. This man was dying... but with what strength left in him!
"Who are you, old man?" asked Thalos gently. The old man smiled. "That would take an age to tell you, young man. For now, I must tell you *what* I am. My personal history is irrelevant."
"Throughout time, a secret order called the Ebon Flame has existed in this realm we call Azeroth. Their numbers vary greatly, from thousands at the peak of their power in the past to only a few remaining today. In fact, I am the last, the heart of the flame. The dark shape you see here (he gestured) is the soul of our brotherhood, kept safe in the most senior of our order since time began. It represents the past lives of all who have gone, and all who will come to be. It is... a heavy burden."
He chuckled, then went on.
"The size of the Ebon Flame varies with the need for it. Some guiding force seems to influence its shape and form. In times of peace, only a few guardians carry forward its ideals, and keep safe the past texts of battle and glory, much as I have done alone in recent times. Yet in days of great need, always a new leader will come, and with him, fresh warriors ready to carry the cause of our brotherhood. You, Thalos, have been marked, since birth. It was apparent to any of magical sight that looked at you. You, all the time since those many years ago, have been destined to meet with me here. And go on, leaving me behind, a tired old man. You are the new leader of the order."
He reached forward and offered his hand, palm out, to Thalos. "There is no choice, my dear boy. You must do this. When you touch my palm, you will know all there is to know. Understand, and see, the past and the future as it must be formed. You will age years with my wisdom, even though you have still the body of a young warrior. And I... I will be no more."
Calia looked horrified. "But surely, you can live without this... this soul? It is unnatural." She wrinkled her nose. "Human warlocks are known to dally in the knowledge and art of preserving knowledge beyond death, but not we elves. It is against our very nature". She flushed.
The priest looked sad. "I am afraid that I, nor Thalos, can control what is happening here. It *must* happen. The Flame is eternal, and guided by a force far more powerful than this wretched city, and all who live within it, or even than this entire continent. What it chooses, in terms of its path, and its leader, will happen. We can merely steward it. As for the "soul" of the Flame... what can I say? It is benign, and grants great life, but when it fades, we return to ourselves. Unnatural it may be, but none of us chose this path."
He paused and grinned. "Some of us learned to like it, however."
Turning quickly to Thalos, he shivered. "My time grows short, young one. I see in your eyes you understand. Touch my palm... and let me rest. The Flame cannot, must not die.".
Wary of Calia's frosty and distrustful gaze upon him, Thalos considered the feelings rushing through him as he looked at the priest. Purpose... pride... yet fear. Surely he was not *this* important, surely the mark was just about his future skill at arms, or some deed he would perform deep in the dungeons of the Burning Steppes? Yes a cold, hard certainty was growing in him. Compulsive, programmed thoughts, presumably planted years ago at his birth and now flooding through him, took over. He sensed his palm reaching forward, touching the priests old, dry skin....
He gasped. A fiery shock flooded through his arm, and he felt alternately hot and cold as a screaming torrent of memories and thoughts cascaded through his consciousness. Dimly aware of a gasp of shock from those near enough to see what was happening, he saw the darkness in the priest's eyes fade, becoming hazier and indistinct. From the open stares coming from those around him, he knew that the dark flame had transferred to his own eyes, marking them like the old man's had been. Struggling against a sudden sick feeling in his stomach, he closed his eyes for a moment.
A battlefield. Horde warriors pouring through a gap in an Alliance defensive line. He was higher, above the battle. The leaders of the alliance battle group were calling vainly for order, shouting about "guards" and "aoe". Looking down, he saw a ghostly image of himself, dressed in the armour of a seasoned warrior. Below him, set back slightly from the chaos in the alliance line, was a small group of warriors and magic users, all dressed in the same dark overtunic. He caught a glimpse of a yellow flicker on the tabard, a sight which made his spirits leap, before suddenly a figure in the front of the group raised a mailed fist. The light was strong with this one, and his voice penetrated the chaos.
"For the Flame!!"
In sudden movement, in many directions but somehow still working together, the figures charged toward the gap in the Alliance line. For a time, the battle raged, before eventually the power of the assault from the dark clad warriors penetrated the horde lines. A feeling of elation filled Thalos, then quickly faded.....
Another vision. A thick, teeming jungle, viscious beasts sliding through the undergrowth, ancient ruins poking out from within, overgrown, dark, dangerous. In amongst them a huge circular arena, with tiers of seating rising far into the sky. Soaring up over the scene, Thalos looked down and saw some tiny figures moving on the sand in the center of the circle. The same mailed one from earlier was crawling toward an old, oak bound chest in the center, bleeding from many wounds, whispering prayers to the light. A shorter, figure, a gnome, near him, was muttering incantations furiously at an approaching member of the horde. Moments later the orc fell to the ground, burning into ash, but there were more, and too many for the little gnome. He fell next to the human warrior, clutching many wounds that impaled his little body. The warrior tried vainly to comfort him, even though he knew his own death approached. From the other side of the arena, the soft singing of elven bowstring pierced the air, as a beautiful night elven hunter sent her arrows slicing into the approaching enemies, tears falling from her eyes as she saw her friends in peril. More horde fell, their wounds grievous and many.
Yet, betrayal. Thalos felt confusion, uncertainty in his mind, and in those in the arena. An alliance hunter, smeared with the blood of the horde, spat grimly as the last troll fell, swinging his mail helm around to look at the injured warriors of the Flame. A grim smile split his face. "I am Tugakilt... and that chest is ours." He paused for a moment. "Kill, my pet".
The snarling beast at his side sprang toward the horrified elf, who tried vainly to sprint toward the chest in the center of the ring in the hope she could reach it, perhaps find some power within, before it was too late. But the cat was too swift and powerful, and she and her wolf were swept aside in a moment, breath sighing from their bodies as they hit the floor.
For a moment, there was silence. Stepping forward, glancing cautiously around at the stands, the hunter walked to the chest, and started to open the lock, his face flushed with elation. Seconds passed. The wind whistled, the only other sound the clinking of his fingers on the catches of the chest. A small movement scuffed the sand behind him, as if the wind were stirring it up. Everything lay still. The big cat lazily yawned, then snapped its eyes open and growled suddenly at the air, head snapping around. But it was too late.
A slender figure of dark leather and flying blades slipped out of the darkness, seemingly materialising out of the humid air, and drove her weapon with furious might into the back of the hunter as he stood opening the chest. Blood flew in all directions, mail shattered and his gun knocked to the floor. Scrambling away, roaring with pain, Tugakilt whistled for his pet, but the figure was ready. A blinding flash, and the pet's claws closed on thin air. Blinded, confused, the hunter stumbled. Moments later, the elf again materialised at his side, this time a slender shortsword in hand, the only visible detail on her form the golden flicker of light emanating from her tabard. Carving her way quickly through his defenses, she soon stood alone on the arena floor, panting slightly from the exertion, her eyes flickering darkly around the clearing looking for any further threats. Stepping lithely, quickly, over the fallen bodies, she moved to the chest and began to unlock it. The chest opened slowly, a blue glow inside... and then the vision faded.
A third scene. A warrior riding an enormous Frostsaber with gleaming harness, surveying a valley beyond him. Murky, dark trees all around, a mountain vale within a gloomy forest. With a shock, Thalos realised he was watching himself below.. older, a grim look in the eyes, a powerful aura to his stance. The Frostsaber fussed, eager to get into combat. He quieted it. All was still... except...
A large crash resounded through the forest, as an ancient tree some twenty feet across was abruptly scythed in half by a flash of movement. It fell to the floor with a cracking, groaning sound. With a thud that shook the ground, an enormous shape continued past the tree and landed in the clearing. Glittering green wings tipped with claws the size of a man, glowing scales covered with murky liquid and ash, the beast was a terror to behold. Its wings would have spanned easily the length of stormwind bridge, and its neck swung high up to a head the size of several wagons, puffs of smoke and posion billowing from its nostrils. It was a dragon, one of the ancient ones.
Thalos looked on as his "real" self cocked his head to the side, as if talking, or listening. He nodded, and then said a few words, seemingly to no-one. Turning back, he looked at the dragon, his eyes narrowed in thought. The forest was again still, the beast seeming to ponder the insignificant creature it could sense on the hilltop, perhaps assessing if it was worth the short flight for lunch.
A distant sound became more and more distinct. The vision swam, and Thalos saw himself looking back at himself on the mount, standing pawing the ground and panting on the top of the hill surrounding the clearing. The sound became louder, and soon cries, voices could be heard in the cool air. "Thum, tha dum tha dum..." went the sound, "thum, tha dum, tha dum..." until soon he could feel the very air shake with the noise of it, an unending base rumble which filled the clearing. Thalos on the ground seemed unperterbed, merely turning and smiling grimly, drawing his blade and raising it high in the air as if in salute.
A line of silvery points, from staves and axes, lances and swords, erupted from the hill line behind Thalos. Some two score warriors, clad in all sorts of garb but all with the one flame emblazoned on their chest rode forward to line behind him, calmly and steadily forming ranks on either side. Thalos turned his saber with his knees and kicked it along the line, hailing each of his brothers and sisters in turn, before turning it back the other way and reaching the other end.
He called out, and a few figures dismounted, hurrying along the lines. The air fizzed with magic, and soon each member of the group was glowing, magical energies surrounding them. The dismounted figures remounted, and there was silence once more.
All eyes gazed to the center of the clearing. The dragon stood panting, its attention now fully focussed on the intruders to its realm. Thalos reared the saber and cried out, his words carried on the wind to his riders and the beast in front. "For the Flame!" There was a roar from the riders behind, and then the line surged forward, one single unit of black and gold, slicing through the misty air toward the beast. Sensing peril, it turned to fight, rising up as Thalos approached it rapidly, his weapon and shield raised. The large head swung down, there was sharp crack of impact, sharp pain, and then silence and blackness.
Thalos woke up as if he had cold water all over his face. His heart was beating fast, and he still felt ill. The inn seemed frozen in tableau, as if he had barely moved, but surely it had been minutes?
A weak hand touched his wrist, a paper thin voice speaking where once it had been strong. "And so you see, my boy, what it means? You see what you must do?" Thalos nodded. "Good. The knowledge and spirit of the ancients are with you... and there are many young souls who will aid you. You have seen them, you know them..." Thalos nodded again.
The priest struggled to his feet, his face etched in pain. "I feel so alone" he whispered. Pausing, he looked back at Thalos. "Go find them. Soon. There is much you must do.... if you are to accomplish what you saw. Not all is written... the pain.. the darkness you saw... it will not clear until much time has passed. Then you will know your fate that day, and the fate of us all."
He hobbled away, the crowd drawing back as he passed. With each step, he seemed to grow weaker, till at the end, near the door, he stooped with age, a thin, skeletal hand clutching his staff. Thalos, and a wary Calia, her eyes flickering occasionally across the table torward him, watched him go.
"I bid you good journey, my friend Thalos" he whispered, his eyes glittering as he turned to face the room. "Like it or not, you are now the Master of the Ebon Flame". He smiled.
And passed into the night.