Otaku, I have been expecting you…….
We stood at the top of the short flight of stairs. Below us was the courtyard; beyond that Sulfuron Keep – the abode of Ragnaros, the Fire Lord. Behind us was the bridge leading from the now vanquished gatekeeper. Looking across the expanse we could see sheets of flame washing over it every few seconds. A trio of flame druids stood on the stairs opposite us, daring us to risk the fire and try to reach them. Just beyond them, I could see a hazy silhouette standing on the other side of a wall of flame.
Everytime I looked at the distance over that courtyard and through the flames, it seemed greater and greater. Knowing we needed to cover the distance quickly, I summoned my faithful wintersaber climbed into the saddle. Feeling the pre-battle energy in the air, he opened his mouth and roared, pawing at the ground and impatient to charge. Slowly everyone mounted up and I gave my lead warrior the nod. Gathering the reins of his mammoth, he dug his heels in and thundered across the courtyard with the rest of us in close pursuit, a motley assortment of cats, horses, camels and others.
As he reached the base of the stairs, in a single fluid motion, the warrior dismounted and charged into the druids with a bellowing warcry. Suddenly the air was filled with shouts and screams as my companions sought to take down the enemy as quickly as possible. Immediately one of the traitors fell with a sword through it’s throat, writhing and gagging on it’s own blood before expiring with a choked shriek. The second was beaten down by a Death Knight and as it lay stunned, was savaged and hammered into the ground by the unholy warrior. Looking around for the third and final druid, I saw it change to a cat and leap towards my fellow healer. As I began to shout a warning, it dropped from the air, a smoking hole in it’s body from the blast of pure arcane energy our mage had punched through it.
Carefully everyone checked themselves for injury, and we patched each other up as best we could.
Now that we had defeated the guards, we could see that the wall of flame has disappeared. The silhouette walked forwards and we saw that it was the fallen Arch Druid – Fandral Staghelm. As he reached the top of the stairs, he paused and stood there looking at us. Rolling and flexing his shoulders, he appeared completely non-plussed by the sight of our group of ten defenders of Azeroth.
“Very well, you have defeated my guards, now witness the raw power of my new lord!” The voice of the treacherous Archdruid rolled across the courtyard and echoed around the towers.
Looking around my group I silently assessed and weighed up each of my friends and how they would fair against this powerful minion of the Fire Lord. At our head was Calipateiras, as human warrior who knew that he was about to get pretty beat up – his job was to distract Staghelm and take the brunt of his attacks. Ready to close in for the kill were Keosil, Acrania and Yddaear. This Death Knight, Warrior and Shaman were tasked with bludgeoning, slashing, cutting and slicing at our enemy until he fell. Also preparing to unleash a volley of arrows and magical bolts were our hunter, priest, warlock and mage – Andissiel, Reyni, Debzonne and Typhinia. Finally, at the back and hoping that our combined mastery of forces of Nature could keep our companions standing were myself and Salmander – a druid and shaman both skilled in channeling our powers to heal others.
Earlier I had encountered a rogue at Nordrassil. Apparently he was a the sole survivor of a previous foray in the Firelands. The band he was with had fallen to Staghelm after a long battle. As he could quickly disguise himself in the shadows, he had managed to escape and crawl back to safety, avoiding the pursuit of the fallen druid. I had spoken with him for some time and the advice he had given me would hopefully help us now.
As we assembled in the middle of the courtyard I quickly explained the plan to the group.
“We will begin by grouping up roughly in the middle, apparently he has a tendency to switch to a scorpion if you -“
“Scorpion!” Interrupted Andissiel, “I thought he was a bloody druid! I have never seen you change into a scorpion Kat!”
“Let me finish!” I snapped at the cheeky hunter. “He likes to swing his claws around and it will be more troublesome for him, and less harmful to Cali if we group together. However, he will also get faster and faster with his attacks so sooner or later we will have to disperse.”
I paused for a breath, keeping an eye on Staghelm but he seemed uninterested is us, as if we were amusing insects or similar and he was simply waiting to see what entertainment we would provide him with.
“The rogue told me that if you move away from him he will try and change into a cat and leap on people, while setting the ground alight under them. While doing this, he will also summon mirror images of himself that need to be dealt with. Unfortunately he will also do this faster and faster until we have to try and group together again and force him to shapeshift back to a scorpion.”
“Finally he will occasionally switch to an Elf again and cast a kind of a living bomb on some of us. We cannot use magic to purge it, so each of you will have to try and judge when the spell will detonate and move away from the rest of us.”
“Ok, ok, lets go!” Acrania, the gnome warrior was getting jittery after standing still for so long and was desperate to engage Staghelm.
Calipateiras straightened up and drew his sword while hefting his shield. “Andissiel, on my word send him to me.”
With a curt nod, Andissiel slipped into his hunting mode and silently crept forward towards Staghelm. He positioned himself in the shadows, in line with where Cali was standing. The rest of us gathered together in the centre of the courtyard.
Yddaear and Salmander opened their pouches and drew out the small stones that would allow them to summon their elemental totems. A series of small popping noises accompanied each totem as it was placed. In turn we each then cast the various spells that would aid us in the fight – imbuing us each with vigour, speed and improved magical capabilities.
Seeing we were ready, Calipateiras waved his shield at Andissiel – the signal to start. From his concealed position the Night Elf Hunter launched a quick volley of arrows towards Staghelm. The druid sensed the incoming missiles and turned to face them. Seeing only a warrior before him, Staghelm roared with rage and ran towards Cali.
The warrior responded with his own battlecry and surged forwards to meet the attack. As the two fighters slammed into each other, both rebounded slightly stunned before attacking the other with all their strength. Staghelm snarled at Cali and swung his staff in a great arc that nearly knocked the warrior off his feet.
“PULL BACK!” I bellowed at Cali as he regained his balance. Carefully and slowly he kept Fandral’s attention on him as he walked backwards towards our group. A sweeping blow was deflected by a hasty parry, but the momentum was swiftly reversed into a devastating blow towards Staghelm’s shoulder.
Staghelm contemptuously batted the sword aside and then roared when he saw us in the middle of the courtyard. His body flowed and changed as he grew a hard gleaming carapace and additional legs forced themselves out through the fresh shell. In the space of a few seconds we were no longer facing a fiery Elf but a giant scorpion.
Hissing and clacking, it scurried forwards, it’s tail whipping over it’s body trying to impale Cali. Suddenly I felt a huge infusion of power wash over me, I looked around and saw that Yddaear had unleashed one of his most powerful spells. The raw power surging through me made me feel as if I could do anything! I could feel myself growing in size, suddenly my spells were almost casting themselves and I saw that everyone else seemed to be the same.
Typhinia summoned her small army of clones and together they all poured blast after blast of raw arcane power into the shell of the scorpion, leaving smoking craters and deep furrows across it’s chitinous armour. Yddaear’s arms became a blur as his weapons bit larger and larger chunks of carapace from his foe.
Then, just as we seemed to be gaining the upper hand, the scorpion’s huge claws scythed together and swept across us all, ripping flesh, clothing and armour as if it were parchment. None of us could avoid the blow. Quickly I drew on my skills and called forth ghostly swirls of natural magic from the ground. They enveloped the most wounded members of the group and the jagged slashes and tears closed almost instantly At the same time, Salmander doused the party in a refreshing and potent rain of healing water. Within seconds, we were all back to our full strength and ready to continue the fight.
However, the Archdruid wasn’t about to let up with his attack, and his sweeping claws began to cleave at us more and more frequently. Calipateiras growled through gritted teeth as a claw gouged through his shield and shattered the bone of his arm, forcing him to his knees. Immediately Salmander and I poured our most powerful spells into him and the wound closed, allowing him to face up to Fandral once more.
I heard a cry from my left and saw Reyni almost gutted by a vicious backswing of a claw. Using a barrage of natural energy I pulled her back from the edge of unconsciousness and death, before once more channeling a wave of healing power over the whole group.
“This is too much now, “I gasped to Salmander, “we have to break up!”
“Spread out!” I shouted hoarsely, “move!”
Everyone swiftly moved away from Staghelm and suddenly the mass of clicking chitin and snapping claws burst into flames. The carapace melted in seconds and from the shell emerged a huge flaming cat. Immediately it lashed out at Cali, only his quick reflexes and speed saved his legs from being sliced from under him.
As we spread further away from the melee in the centre, I saw Fandral turn to me and bunch his hindquarters as he prepared to leap. I waited until he pounced and then leapt to one side, just managing to avoid rolling into a huge pool of fire on the floor. Winded, I clambered back to my feet and saw his mirror self fade away as a hail of dark magic and arrows pummelled it.
To my side, the blaze refused to diminish. Looking for the best position to move to, I noticed that once again Staghelm seemed ready to pounce on me. I tried to jump away again, but missed, landing on the edge of the blazing circle. Pain seared through my legs and hands as the flames licked over my skin. Concentrating, I hardened my skin and it took on a tough, bark-like appearance. While still painful, the toughened skin negated most of the fire and I was able to get out of it with only minor burns.
My armour still smouldering, I moved around towards Typhinia and Debzonne. Staghelm prepared to leap again, but thankfully it wasn’t towards me this time. Gathering my strength, I prepared a spell to mend whatever damage he would cause on impact. Sure enough, he targeted another weak member of the party and leapt upon Debzonne with a loud roar. The tiny warlock barely managed to escape, her robes aflame and her scampering cackling imp bouncing along behind.
Luckily, the rest of the party had seen the trouble Staghelm was causing and were much more cautious when he next jumped. No one was seriously injured, but we now had five large areas of fire spread across the courtyard. Looking around, I saw it was getting hard to move, and only the centre was clear.
“To the centre” I yelled and run towards Cali and the melee fighters. The other ranged combatants swiftly followed and as Staghelm prepared to pounce again he suddenly shimmered and shifted into his Elven form with a laugh. I tried to move, but was stunned and couldn’t speak or move at all as he carved intricate patterns in the air with his staff and chanted the words of a demonic spell.
As he completed the spell, his skin darkened and hardened as he once more shifted into his scorpion form. I could feel something growing and burning inside me, but could not expel it through my magic.
Yddaear called out “This must be the explosive spell!” He gasped and then shouted “if you can feel it ready to detonate get away from everyone” as he ran out of the group.
A few seconds later flames erupted from his body and he was engulfed in a raging inferno that sent rings of fire out from his body. We were far enough away to avoid the brunt of the blasts, but the heat was fiercely intense. The fire then calmed downed and Yddaear was left standing dazed and sweating. He staggered back to us panting, his skin grimy with soot and dust, the sweat leaving huge trails in the muck as it ran down his face.
“Damn, that was hot!” he gasped. He wiped his face and whimpered as he saw that most of his bristly red beard had singed away. “Ach, fifty years good growth gone” he exclaimed with a sigh.
Readying his weapons again, Yddaear jumped back into the fray. “Right you fiery bastard, you’re gonna pay for that!” he bellowed as he attacked.
Just a few seconds later, Acrania came hurtling out of the melee, streaming smoke and screaming. As with Yddaear, the gnome burst into flames and then flew back into battle once they had subsided.
Suddenly I felt a change in the flow of the combat. Staghelm was weakening! The gruff voice of Keosil growled over the noise of the flames and ringing steel. “Nearly there! Get him down!”. Despite the weariness we all felt, everyone seemed to find hidden reserves and the air became streaked with volleys of arrows and conjured missiles. Shadowy bolts of dark magic flickered across and pounded in the scorpion’s body. Wave after wave of pain hit Fandral from the shadow magic Reyni was heaping on him and the scorpion seemed to shudder with every blast.
Even in his weakened state, Staghelm continued to lash left and right with his claws, decimating the strength of the party. Feeling that we were nearly finished, I used the last of my reserves to shapeshift into my most impressive form – the tree of life. As my body changed I could feel the additional power at my disposal. Salmander also called upon his most mighty and draining abilities and it was clear that this was do or die.
Frantically we poured out as much healing energy as we could in our companions as they fought tooth and nail to bring down the corrupted druid. The power of Salmander’s totems started to wane and we could feel the fight slipping away as everyone became more and more injured with every swipe of the scorpion’s pincers. Lifting my branches to the blood red sky, I called out to Elune to aid me and suddenly I felt invigorated with energy. I thanked the Moon goddess with a silent prayer and used this new found power to channel a massively powerful healing spell. As my energy, and the spell, ran it’s course, I heard loud shouting and cheering.
Exhausted, I looked down. Once again I was an Elf, the power of the Tree of Life having left me, also Fandral was defeated. In my concentration I hadn’t noticed that our party had triumphed over him. Wearied I sat on the floor and greedily ate and drank to replenish myself.
A shadow fell across me, looking up I saw Yddaear standing over me. His face still smeared with sweat, blood and soot, a look of determination in his eyes. “Get up your lazy Elf, there is still the Firelord to kill!” Then he walked off towards the entrance to Ragnaros’s lair.
Yes, that’s right, Otaku are now 6/7 🙂 I thought a little story was better than just writing “Woot we killed Staghelm”. I have taken a bit of licence with the fight and it didn’t happen exactly as above, but hey – my blog, my story, my raid 😛
So onto Ragnaros!