Shoveling snow. Stanis never thought that when he and Gerald signed up for the Argent Crusade his days would be filled with this menial task.
We'll see the world, Gerald had said.
We'll be great heroes, Gerald had said.
On the outskirts of the Argent Tournament Grounds, in northeastern Icecrown, Stanis worked alongside a half dozen other knights as they cleared a bank of snow. A pile of fresh lumber to build new Bolvar Fordragon Memorial training facility sat in a neat pile nearby. At any time Highlord Tirion Fordring would arrive to check on the progress.
Stanis leaned on his shovel. Here he stood, on the roof of the world, as it passed him by.
With the Lich King defeated, the Scourge had become almost sedate. They could still deadly if provoked as poor Gerald had learned the hard way on their patrol three months ago.
The new recruits from Hearthglen told of great gains being made against the scourge, but also of the terrible carnage of Deathwing's Cataclysm. The last group of recruits brought stories of newly discovered land, once enshrouded in mists.
The Horde and the Alliance warred over the new land as they did over everything else on Azeroth.
Stanis glanced down the line at a Troll wearing the Agent Crusade's tabard. The Crusade had no interest in their war.
The bell on the mess hall rang. Stanis wiped his brow and decided to take one last shovelful before dinner.
With a clang, his shovel reverberated in his hands as it hit something hard. Bending down, Stanis brushed the snow away from the object.
His hand trembled and he shot straight up.
"Call High Crusader Adelard! Quickly!"
# # # # # #
Two years earlier
Kabed Bronzebeard, known to his friends and comrades by the call sign Honor's Hammer, banked his bronze drake north toward the newly built Argent Tournament Grounds. Highlord Tirion Fordring had called for a gathering of heroes right on the Lich King's doorstep. Honors and his team, fresh off their victory over the Old god, Yogg Saron, had nothing to prove. They had ended a long list of evils and tyrants in their time together. They didn't need to jump through any hoops for Tirion Fordring. Still, they answered the call, just like they always did.
A shadow blocked out the afternoon sun interrupting Honors thoughts. He looked up expecting to see the Skybreaker, but instead drew in a quick breath as he recognized the silhouette of a Frost Wrym - the largest of its kind he had ever seen.
He had dealt with them before. Most recently, Saffiron in Naxxrammus. But that had been with the backing of his entire team. Honors directed his bronze drake toward the mountains hoping to avoid detection.
He checked the position of the Frost Wrym again. It banked around and dove toward him.
Failure. He had been spotted!
Honors drove his spurs into the drake's side begging for more speed. A high pitched shrieked filled the sky followed by the sound of rushing wind.
Tiny shards of ice pelted him as the impact of the Frost Wryms icy breath crashed against the back of his drake.
He reached a hand down to the neck of his drake, "Steady girl," his voice creaked. Her wings had already gone slack. Wind rushed by pinning him to the saddle.
The ground came at him quickly. Calling on the Light, he surrounded himself in a golden shell of protection as the dragon slammed into the soft snow.
He blinked twice and took a quick inventory. Nothing seemed broken, and he could still breath. The Light had protected him.
The snow and ice entombed him. He could barely move, and already the chill seeped through his armor and into his old bones. He tried to dig out, but fresh snow and ice filled in every crevice he created.
Drowsiness worked its way into him. He fought it as long as he could, but slowly he felt his will to keep conscious slipping. In one final act, he forced his body to turn to stone. That should keep him alive long enough for the search party to arrive.
# # # # #
You could smell the Great Forge from anywhere in Ironforge. It smelled like home.
Honors found himself lying on a stone table, wearing some sort of cloth robe. The aroma of the Great Forge was no distant memory. It was present and real.
He opened his eyes and looked around. He recognized the bluish stonework inlaid with turquoise - the Mystic Ward. How many years had he walked these halls during his training.
But something felt wrong. Hadn't he been in Northrend?
Memories flashed through his mind. The Tournament. The Frost Wrym. Falling. The Cold.
More questions followed, and the hairs on the back of his neck prickled as he considered them. How had he gotten back to Ironforge? What had happened to his gear?
Honors hoped off the stone table and tried to open the door.
His unease turned to anger. He summoned the power of the Light and directed it into the door.
Nothing happened. The door had some sort of magical protections. Honors had seen enough. Even though he knew it would be fruitless he rammed his shoulder into the door. It didn't even budge.
He searched around for a menas of escape when he heard the footfalls of someone approaching. He scrambled back to the table.
A few moments later, a pink haired gnome entered with a tray of food and drinks.
"Oh good, you're awake!"
"Don't you worry one little bit," she said putting the tray down next to his table, "we'll make sure you get all your effects just as soon as the High Priest checks you out."
Honors glanced at the door. The gnome had left it slightly ajar. Despite the growling from his stomach, he bolted for the door.
"WAIT!" the gnome yelled after him.
He cleared the Hall of Mysteries, his heart pounding a rapid cadence. His intuition proved correct. Something was wrong. Just across the way he spotted two soot colored dwarfs. Dark Irons! Here in Ironforge! They didn't appear to be in combat, and none of the other drawves around them raised an alarm.
What in the name of the Light is going on here?
He prayed to the Light for the might to take on these usurpers even without his weapons. Raising his fist in the air, and letting loose with a battle cry, he charged.
The two Dark Irons looked at him with a mix of shock and fear, but just as he reached them, he felt a sudden pain in his side. An arrow had lodged itself in his gut.
Thanks for the weapon.
Honors pulled the arrow free and spun it in his hands. He raised it to strike the Dark Iron, but his arm went limp. He knew immediately what had happened. Wyvern Sting! His whole body relaxed and though he tried to fight it, sleep took him and the world faded to black.
# # # # # # #
In the Stonefire Tavern, Honors sat across the table from SI:7 agent Sully McLeary working on his third flagon of mead. It had been just a few hours since his encounter with the Dark Irons. Sully had explained to him just how much had changed in the two years since he had crashed into the ice near the Argent Tournament. The world as he had known it was gone. Arthas defeated, a Cataclysm that remade most of Azeroth, the Hour of Twilight, King Magni turned to a crystaline statue, the Council of Three Hammers, and now the discovery of a new land.
Even worse, Honors learned his entire team had perished during the Cataclysm. Honors took another long drag off his flagon. It was a lot for one dwarf to take in.
After a long silence, Honors looked down and said, "What do I do now?"
"Well, " Sully said, "your reputation from Naxxramas & Ulduar is well known. King Varian Wyrnn would very much like to meet with you, and ultimately have you accompany me to this new land we have discovered."
"What did you say it was called?" Honors asked.
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