The Great Dark Beyond

When debates on cosmology began on Azeroth, scholars quickly tumbled to an obvious question: where does it end? If Azeroth is surrounded by the Emerald Dream, and separated from other material worlds by the Twisting Nether, what lies beyond the boundaries of the Nether? The result eventually agreed upon, as much a philosophical placeholder as an answer, is the Great Dark Beyond. Neither black nor white, hot nor cold, living nor dead, with a beginning hard to define on the chaotic fringe of the Nether and an end impossible to define: the Beyond is all that is unknowable about the cosmos. Were part of it to be journeyed to or defined, it would become its own plane — leaving the Beyond on its horizon, eternal and all encompassing.

Drann dove to one side to avoid the centaur's charge, rolling his bulky frame across The cracked mud yet still smoothly drawing his boot daggers. Behind him, he heard Stonehoof's triumphant yell as he brought his halberd down on the horse-man and severed him cleanly in two. Scrambling to his feet, Drann raised his daggers and leapt onto the mass of snarling quilboar hunters in the creek bed below. He ignored their spines as they pierced his armor and flesh, the freshly drawn blood fueling his rage. Again and again he stabbed until one of his daggers caught on bone and snapped. Then he slashed at the enemies around him with the remaining blade, ready to fight with his bare hands-

Then it was over and silence fell across the bloody flats, broken only by the death gurgles of the creatures fallen around him. Drann looked for his companions and found Stonehoof panting as he leaned against his ancestral weapon; Makil, the goblin Tinker, rising up from beneath his tortoiseshell armor and grinning as he began to loot the bodies; Feulia, the half-Kaldorei archer, pulling one of her enchanted arrows from the eye socket of a fallen wildkin; and finally Renmar and Talario, brother helping sister to her feet and both humans gathering their scattered spellbags. Only Captain Dumont had fallen in the battle, run through in the quilboars' opening attack.

"Look at all this stuff!" cried Makil, tugging at the leather thongs of a centaur's jeweled breastplate. "All this could fund my next two projects. First, I'll make a mine thrower, then one of those flying machines with the spinning blades, and then maybe one of those little Tiny clockworks that can sneak around at night and— "

"Is the jar intact?" Drann interrupted, his father's impatient orc blood getting the better of his mother's calming human influence.

Talario reached into her spellbag and pulled out the earthenware pot, cradling it carefully in her arms. "It's fine," she said. "Is this the place?"

Feulia had already climbed a nearby ridge for a better view, watchful for another attack. "Those rocks over there were pulled from a quarry somewhere and brought here. If there were any rain in this blasted place and it washed away this mud, I bet we'd see a marble floor."

"This has to be The place," said Stonehoof. "I thought the centaur were angry when we stole the jar from their village, but the way every creature in the region came down on us when we got here has to mean something." The tauren reached down with a massive hand to push aside dirt piled against a nearby rock. "Look — there's some of the same script here found on the jar."

Renmar hurried over and brushed at the rock with the sleeve of his robes, his lips moving as he traced the words inscribed into its surface. "... sealing them away so that our world might know new life," he read. "It's the capstone! This is it!"

Working together, they cleared away the corpses, dirt and rubble, revealing a carved but weathered altar. Setting the jar upon the altar, Talario read the outer line op script curving around its sealed edge, in a strange dialect of Darnassian. Then her brother read the next line, growling out the husky syllables of the draconic language. Finally, they read the last line together, turning the jar and shouting out the ancient language over the rising wind. As they reached the last word, both stepped back and Drann brought down his fist upon the brittle clay, shattering it to dust.

A blast of heat sent all of them tumbling backward. Stonehoof caught Drann and helped him to his feet without turning his eyes from the sight before him: a fire elemental, bigger than any Drann had ever seen, towering into the sky. "Free!" it roared. "Free, and brought to the piercing!" It gazed down at them with blazing eyes. "I will take you to my home, and you will be rewarded!"

The air around them rippled as the fire elemental reached out and tore it apart. The landscape of the Barrens was pulled away to reveal a sea of glowing magma surrounded by broken mountains erupting fire and ash. "Go!" said the elemental to a nearby phoenix. "Go to the castle and tell my father that the prince has returned!"

"Uh, Drann," said Makil, tugging at the half-orc's belt. "I'm not sure there's any reward here we want. Can we go home now?"

USE®. KOLeriaxiHS ^AKH^

At high levels of play, especially epic levels, characters will likely pursue adventures beyond Azeroth to other planes of existence. There, they will encounter Eternals and demons, other epic-level heroes and villains, strange and vastly powerful creatures, and conflicts that span worlds — if not the universe itself. The Warcraft RPG core book (see Chapter Five) provides an introductory look at the three planes that comprise the setting's cosmology — the Elemental Plane, the Emerald Dream and the Twisting Nether. In this chapter, each plane receives a more detailed look: specific locations and their denizens are discussed; new creatures and templates are presented; and, to inspire the GM, adventure hooks are suggested. As well, Outland is described fully for the first time.

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