The New Adventures of Stamp take place after The Continuing Adventures of Stamp
No. 1 (Gizmik Fazzle)Edit
No one knows where he is!
I've looked everywhere. Absolutely everywhere! And where I haven't looked, I've got other people looking.
This is bad. This is very, very, very, very bad.
Steepen Sprocklebert wants to make this Demon Space Paladins! movie and our star Tauren's gone missing.
"We have a contract," Sprocklebert reminds me each and every chance he gets. "You understand the terms of the contract, don't you?"
I do. I understand the terms all too well. But I might not have been all that effective in explaining the terms to Stamp.
He's not in Orgrimmar. He's not in the Undercity. I've got people making regular checks in the bars around Ratchet and Gadgetzan. Hells, I even went to the trouble of hiring some poor schlub of a dwarf to hang around Blackrock Mountain all night and day, watching for him!
I talked to his sister, Raysha. She doesn't know where he is, either, but she's plenty worried. Apparently, he took the collapse of Storm Earth and Fire pretty hard. The clan had been a family to him, and now the family's shattered. He's hurt. He's angry.
"I've never seen him like this," Raysha told me.
The last time she saw Stamp, he was climbing the ramp of the wind rider tower in Thunder Bluff.
He could be injured. He could be dead. I just want to make sure he's okay and that he doesn't fall afoul of Sprocklebert's financiers.
This Rote fellow seems to think he can find Stamp just fine.
"Oh, it shouldn't be too hard at all," the warlock said with a faint smile. "Not for me and the resources at my disposal. But those resources will not come cheaply."
I don't see much choice.
No. 2 (Stamp)Edit
Stamp talk to Stamp friend Ruarc, elder of Tears of Draenor clan.
Stamp friend Ruarc want Stamp help in misty-growly Sunken Temple. Stamp glad to help. Stamp not do much else besides hit and hit and hit and hit and hit growly-snarly yetis in Winterspring and clacky-thumpy skellies in Eastern Plaguelands. So Stamp ride wind to Stonard and then Stamp ride More Stamp through swamp to temple. Stamp see Elder Ruarc and Stamp friends from old clan, Storm Earth and Fire: Eriyne and Krangloth! Stamp not grumpy! Stamp feel better than Stamp felt in a long time. Stamp hit and hit and hit and hit hissy-clawy lizards and zappy-growly trolls.
Stamp talk to Elder Ruarc again later. Stamp want to be part of a clan again. Stamp tired of roaming the world alone. Stamp sometimes need to be needed and Stamp do well with companions.
Stamp get all grumpy when Stamp alone too much.
Elder Ruarc invite Stamp to sit on beach in Durotar, not far from orcie town of Orgrimmar. Stamp sit and sit and sit with Elder Ruarc and Elder Ruarc's clanmates. Elder Ruarc notice trees stand in water. Stamp pretty sure those trees used to be along beach. Stamp think maybe trees moving. Elder Ruarc not so sure.
Stamp meet a not-deader named Haylei. Haylei also want to be in Tears. Stamp tell Haylei about many times people try to swindle money from Stamp thinking Stamp not too smart. Stamp not best talker - Stamp know this. But Stamp *not* stupid.
"STAMP!" rings out a familiar shrieky-shouty voice in the thick Durotar air. Stamp know Gizmik Fazzle's voice anywhere.
Stamp tell Elder Ruarc that Stamp gotta go. Stamp gotta talk to Gizmik. Stamp owe Gizmik explanation for being gone so long. Stamp owe Gizmik stories about Stamp adventures.
"Be well," Elder Ruarc tell Stamp. "Tomorrow, however, I would ask that you join us at the falls in Orgrimmar."
"Stamp do this," Stamp say.
Next day, Stamp and Haylei stand under rumbling waterfall. Water very, very, very, very cold. Mist thick so Stamp not able to see Elder Ruarc and other Tears on rocks around waterfall. But Stamp able to hear. Elder Ruarc talk about clan and oaths and loyalty and then ask Stamp and Haylei if agree to oaths. Stamp got no argument against oaths. Stamp kinda grumpy about cold water, but Stamp got told later that Elder Ruarc do this to make sure inductees not fall asleep while Elder Ruarc talk. Anyway, Stamp say yes and yes and yes to oaths and then Stamp become part of new clan!
Stamp not grumpy!
No. 3 (Stamp)Edit
"So, all settled in now, big guy?" Gizmik Fazzle ask Stamp. "Got your spiffy new clan tabard? Feeling better about yourself?"
Stamp sit on bench in Gizmik shop on the Drag in orcie town of Orgrimmar. Stamp shrug. "Stamp do okay."
"That's super," Gizmik say. "That's swell. Heck, that's ULTRA-swell!"
Stamp tilt head and scratch snout. Stamp think Gizmik say one thing but mean something else. "Gizmik angry?" Stamp ask.
"Oh, that'd just be wrong, wouldn't it?" Gizmik reply. "I mean, here you are, just getting over your mopiness about your old clan. How could I possibly impose upon you when you're in such a fragile emotional state? After all, it's not like Steepen Sprocklebert poured all kinds of money into that Demon Space Paladins project or anything! It's not like he made YOU the star or put ME in charge of writing the script!"
Stamp growl. "Stamp not like stupid squeaky-wobbly gnome producer."
"We had a contract," Gizmik grumble. "HAD. That's the operative word. We got FIRED, thanks to YOU! Now there's some Tauren named Stormthuman playing the lead role and Sprocklebert got some nutso paladin called Lykis to write a quickie script before HE turned up dead." Stamp look funny at Gizmik. Gizmik laugh. "I didn't kill him! But I wouldn't put it past Sprocklebert to arrange for his demise to avoid spending more money. That's not the point, anyway. The point is: We're finished in the movie business, Stamp. FINISHED!"
Stamp shrug. "Stamp not like it much."
"I *loved* it," Gizmik grump. "LOVED it! And now you've ruined it for me. Absolutely ruined it. Thanks a lot, BUDDY!"
Stamp sigh. Stamp stand. Stamp grab Stamp hit and hit from against Gizmik table. Stamp sling it over Stamp shoulder. "Stamp know Gizmik a long time. Stamp always thought Gizmik friend. Stamp think this even when Stamp friend Gizmik tell Stamp do things that maybe not be right for Stamp. Stamp think this even when Stamp friend Gizmik get into trouble that Stamp gotta get him out of. Now Stamp see that Stamp been wrong all this time. Stamp see Gizmik only friend to Stamp when Stamp make money for Gizmik. Gizmik want Stamp stories to sell. Then Gizmik use Stamp stories to sell Stamp dolls. Then Gizmik want MORE Stamp stories to sell. Then Gizmik get MORE Stamp dolls! Well, Stamp done. Stamp go. Stamp quit."
Gizmik watch Stamp leave. Gizmik shrug. Gizmik sit down at desk and take out parchment and pen. Gizmik mutter, "I'll just find another cash cow." Gizmik dab pen in inkwell and then speak aloud as Gizmik start writing: "Dearest Stormthuman..."
No. 4 (The Chronicler's Tale)Edit
I prowled in cat form over the crest of the hills outside Camp Taurajo, a freshly slain hecklefang snarler clenched in my jaws, and slowly made my way to the fire where Father waited.
Dropping the dead animal, I settled onto my haunches and peered up at Father. "Will this do?" I inquired in a rumbling growl.
Father poked briefly at the hecklefang with a solid black hoof. "It should suffice. Well done. Now, you should clean that blood off your snout. We have received a visitor of some importance. I told him that you would speak with him before dinner. He awaits in the main tent."
Clouds of vapor swirled around me as I shifted back into my normal Tauren form. "Who is it?"
"Stamp Bloodhoof," Father said. "Flew all the way down here from Winterspring."
I knew the name, of course. I wasn't a fan. I don't care for the pursuit of celebrity or self-aggrandizement. I particularly don't care for it when it comes at the price of Tauren dignity. What I'd seen of the Adventures of Stamp, as told by the late Gizmik Fazzle, seemed to suggest that Tauren were all slow-witted, ham-fisted thugs.
After cleaning all traces of the hunt from my snout in the water basin, I made my way into the main tent. I expected to find Stamp lounging on a pile of furs, guzzling ale from a mug, and making everyone around him serve at his beck and call. To the contrary, he was helping one of the elders patch a tear in the tent.
"This should adequately hold the tent against the chill," Stamp informed the elder, speaking in the native tongue of Taurahe. "And keep out those accursed bugs that trouble your sleep."
The elder bowed his head in thanks to Stamp, who then turned to regard me. I said, "I'm --"
"Ulaumao Longplain," Stamp finished, smiling. "I know. The hunt went well?"
"It did," I said. Then, nervously, I asked: "How do you know me?"
"You are a writer," Stamp answered. "You submitted stories to Gizmik Fazzle in the hopes of getting them published. He let them pile up in a trunk in his hut at Shimmering Flats." He gestured to a dark metal trunk sitting just inside and to the left of the tent door. "I wanted to return them to you."
"Oh. Thank you. So, um, you've read them?"
"I have. Even those missives that were not stories. Such as the treatise in which you berated Gizmik for demeaning the Tauren race with my tales."
I lifted my snout, defiant. "I stand by what I wrote."
"Good," Stamp replied. "I especially want you to stand by the last line. What was it again? Oh, yes. It would be wise if you stepped aside and allowed someone to bring much-needed dignity to these adventures."
"Uh," I said. Eloquence was suddenly failing me as my brain struggled to keep up.
"Gizmik Fazzle and I parted ways before he died, so there would be no more Adventures of Stamp even if he lived today," Stamp said. "But I want the stories to continue and I want them to be told with a new voice. Yours. We will share thirty percent of the proceeds. The rest will go to the orphanage in Orgrimmar."
"Erm," I countered.
"Good, it's settled," Stamp said. "Now, there's one other matter. Gizmik's colleagues in the Steamwheedle Cartel suspect me in his murder and they have been asking questions. They may have it in their minds to gain leverage against me, somehow. One way that might come at me would be through my sister, Raysha. She is training now in the ways of the hunt. She travels this way. I would like for you to ... arrange ... to become her companion. Watch over her and protect her." He coughed. "Best if you make it look like she's watching over and protecting you, though. Understood?"
"Ah," I said. "Erm. Errr."
Stamp clapped me on the shoulder with a gauntleted hand and replied, "Continue your training, Ulaumao. You will need all your wits about you when we make our journey beyond the Dark Portal."
"Exactly," Stamp said, and then stepped out of the tent and walked toward the wind rider roost.
No. 5 (Flash Fiction - 99 words or less)Edit
“Did you do it?” the Steamwheedle Cartel goblin asked, green eyes narrowed and glinting. Booty Bay gulls squawked in the pink Stranglethorn sky. “Did you kill Gizmik Fazzle?”
“Stamp not stupid,” Stamp answered in Orcish.
“So you say. But 'Stamp hit' was carved in his forehead.”
“Gizmik got burned. Stamp hit. Stamp not burn. Stamp not be Stamp without Gizmik help. Stamp not hurt Gizmik.”
“That doesn't prove you didn't do it.”
“Stamp not know how to write.”
The goblin frowned. “Got any other good suspects?”
No. 6 (Stamp)Edit
So much is happening.
The Steamwheedle Cartel continues its investigation into the death of Gizmik Fazzle. I am no longer a suspect in this crime, but I have passed along to the Cartel relevant information about possible suspects.
Limduul, a troublemaker of sorts from my past, is one of them. He delivered a severed finger to my sister Raysha at a meeting of the Tears of Draenor in Orgrimmar. He wanted it delivered to me. It turns out that the finger doesn't belong to Gizmik. It's not entirely clear to whom the finger belongs at all. But Limduul suggests the finger - overlooked by Cartel investigators - was the source of some contention between Gizmik Fazzle and his murderer. I find this difficult to believe. After killing Gizmik, why didn't the murderer take the finger rather than leaving it behind? It seems terribly convenient for this new evidence to suddenly emerge.
The other suspect is another warlock, named Heironymous Rote, who once counted himself among the members of Storm Earth and Fire before he succumbed to the madness brought on by his dabblings in fel magics. Ulaumao and Raysha traveled into the Scarlet Monastery with Emissary Kormok and Eriyne, fellow Tears of Draenor, and in the library of the wizard Doan they discovered a ledger that contained an entry referencing a meeting between Rote and Doan about Gizmik Fazzle just a few days before Fazzle's death. Records in Fazzle's home on the Drag in Orgrimmar show he'd had a few dealings with Rote in the past. Gizmik had hired Rote to track me down during my absence, when Steepen Sprocklebert was pressuring Gizmik to get the Demon Space Paladins project back on track.
I know how much Gizmik loathed wasting money. I also know that Rote never tracked me down. It's just as likely that the warlock got distracted. Perhaps Gizmik went looking for Rote in Felwood, confronted him, and died for his trouble.
If this is so, then I bear much responsibility for my old friend's death.
I spoke with Emissary Kormok about these findings. He cautioned that more proof should be acquired before making any direct accusations. I concur, of course, because the Emissary is wise. The information is now in the hands of the Cartel. They have assured me that they will investigate the matter further, and I leave it to their capable hands. Their organization is far-reaching and powerful in its own way. It is doubtful that they need any more assistance from me in this matter.
At a gathering in Stonard, the Emissary informed the gathered Tears that Elder Ruarc had been the target of a Shadow Council assassination plot. Someone posing as one of our number managed to infiltrate the Tears and tried to kill the Elder. Luckily, this plot was thwarted, but it suggests that the forces massed beyond the Dark Portal are fearful of the threat our clan might pose.
I have this to say about that: It is good that they fear.
In recent days, I have joined the fight against the invading forces of the demon lord Kruul. Side by side with elves, gnomes, and humans, I have vanquished numerous demon dogs. But these invaders just keep replenishing themselves. We cannot hope to fully repel them until we have destroyed their source. To do that, we must travel beyond the portal.
I will be among the Tears of Draenor who return to the ruined homeworld of the orcs.
It is a world that I have never known before, and one that has been given a name by Elder Ruarc.
Its name is Earl.
No. 7 (The Regulators)Edit
Swirling torrents of sand spun in the afternoon sun as Chief Inspector Raggle Fiztyk of the Steamwheedle Cartel sauntered through the gates of Gadgetzan to greet the waiting posse of ten goblins who stood next to their stubby-legged turtle mounts.
Known as the Regulators, this elite squad of the Cartel had taken the information provided by Stamp Bloodhoof and used it to track down Heironymous Rote, the notorious Forsaken warlock, to the Tanaris desert. An innkeeper in town reported that Rote had stopped in for supplies just a few days ago. He had last been seen traveling east toward the coast.
"We have reason to believe Rote is holed up in a hut up a narrow trail from the beach," the chief inspector told the Regulators. "We want to take him alive if we can. There's a bonus if he's alive. If we have to kill him, eh, so be it. But, y'know...it doesn't suck to get a bonus. And if we really want to do right by Gizmik Fazzle's memory, we ought to make the most of this opportunity for profit. That means we take him alive! NO EXCUSES! Got it?"
"Got it!" shouted one goblin.
"You betcha!" cried another.
"Take him out at the kneecaps!" yelled another.
"OZMAK, YOU'RE STANDING ON MY TOE!" shouted a fourth, who pushed in vain at the stubby leg of his mount.
Raggle Fiztyk rolled his eyes and ordered: "Regulators, mount up!"
And so the posse rode east across the rippling sands, past the old ruins, and then north of Steamwheedle Port to a strand of beach with a few palm trees and a trail leading up to a cozy cottage.
"Maybe we should have come at night," one Regulator suggested to the chief inspector.
Fiztyk shook his head. "Night or day, it's tough to surprise one of these warlocks with their demon familiars to keep watch all the time." He frowned. "Besides, I happen to believe they're more powerful at night." He motioned for the other Regulators to hold position. Waddling up the trail on his turtle, the chief inspector rode alone toward the cottage. About ten feet from the front door, Fiztyk tugged the reins and brought his mount to a halt. "All right, Rote! We know you're in there! Just stow your demons, drop your wand, and come out with your hands up! Come along peacefully and you don't get hurt!"
For a few moments, there was no reply from within the cottage. The door remained closed.
"Maybe he's out sunbathing," one of the Regulators ventured in a whisper.
"Good day for it," observed another.
"Not sure the Forsaken tan very well," pondered a third, "but special tanning cream might be a big seller in the Undercity." He took out a ledger book and pen, scribbling the idea for posterity.
"Quiet," urged the chief inspector to his underlings. He turned his attention back to the still-closed door and shouted: "Time is money, friend! Let's go, Mr. Rote! Nice and peaceful-like!"
Slowly, the door creaked open. A raspy voice from within the shadows of the house inquired: "What seems to be the problem, Inspector? Did my singing disturb the Wastewander bandits?"
"Er, no," Fiztyk answered. "I am Raggle Fiztyk of the Steamwheedle Cartel. The goblins behind me are Regulators. We're here to take you in for questioning in regards to the death of Gizmik Fazzle."
"If you have questions," the Forsaken in the cottage said, "can you not just ask them? I don't mind cooperating with your investigation."
"If you want to be cooperative, just come along with us," the inspector replied.
"Erm," Rote grumbled. "Very well. I'll just get my hat." The spiky-haired, pasty-skinned warlock didn't look like much of a threat as he emerged from the cottage - a bedraggled stick figure shrouded in purple robes and a turban. He bowed as he arrived before Fiztyk. "H.A. Rote, at your service."
"So you say," the inspector said, brow knitting. "Come along, then. You can ride with one of the Regulators."
Rote nodded, following as Fiztyk maneuvered his turtle around to head down the trail toward the waiting posse. "Goodness. I seem to have rated quite the crowd. Eleven goblins all told, just to wrangle little old me?"
"Standard warlock acquisition operating procedure," Fiztyk answered.
"What's the standard group size for apprehending, say, a paladin?" the warlock wondered.
"A paladin?" The inspector chuckled. "That usually just takes a well-paid pretty girl, a mug of beer, and some sleight of hand to deprive them of their hearthstone should they decide to bubble out. Speaking of which..." He held out a hand toward Rote as they reached the rest of the Regulators. "Your stone. No naughty spiriting yourself away." The other goblins dismounted, drawing daggers and short swords just in case Rote decided to become less cooperative.
"Oh, yes," Rote replied, muttering to himself as he began shoving his bony hands into various pockets of his robes. "It's in here somewhere. Won't be a moment. Your patience is most appreciated. I always like to do everything I can to support the proper authorities, you know. In fact, there's only one thing I like more than supporting the proper authorities." His empty hands crawled out of his pockets like chalky spiders. "And that's BURNING them! BURN!" Crimson fire crackled from the warlock's fingertips and rings of flame billowed from around his feet. "BURN! BUUUURN!"
The chief inspector barely had time to register surprise before he and his mount were consumed in the warlock's fire. The Regulators shrieked in alarm, caught within a crackling nimbus of agony, and flung their weapons aside as they fled toward the ocean.
"Mmm," the warlock observed, watching the little green men hurl themselves into the surf, "that may put out the flames, but..." The wailing began anew. "It *is* salt water." He walked around the toppled corpse of the chief inspector's turtle mount. Raggle Fiztyk had only been burned over about half of his body and might actually live, given proper medical treatment. The turtle was scorched in its shell, though. Rote knelt beside the inspector and whispered, "I will let you live, because it amuses me. Help will be forthcoming. If you continue this pursuit, however, I will be far less merciful when next we meet."
Fiztyk groaned an unintelligible response.
Rote stood upright again, cracking his smoldering knuckles. "Also, I do hope this puts paid to that myth of yours. Warlocks are powerful at ANY hour of the day you might come calling." With that, H.A. Rote turned and walked off toward Steamwheedle Port, whistling a sailor's tune.
No. 8 (The Dark Portal)Edit
"Run!" Raysha bellowed at her druid companion as the orc minions closed on them with clubs and nets through the sickly mist of the Eastern Plaguelands.
They'd been dodging this particular band for three days now, as they journeyed from the ruins of Lordaeron toward Light's Hope Chapel. Now, they found themselves along a ridge with few places to run. Ulaumao shifted from Tauren into the lithe cat form that Raysha, sister of Stamp Bloodhoof, had taken to calling "Slinky." He seemed uninterested in fleeing, though. "Drop your trapsssss," the druid hissed. "Let them bleed."
The Tauren female shrugged, set down several traps for the orcs, and checked the rifle to ensure it was loaded with a round ready to go at a moment's notice. Her black worg hound snarled, growling at the pursuers. "Who *are* these guys?" Raysha grumbled.
Not oblivious to the traps or the decision of their quarry to turn and face them, the orcs stopped about ten yards away on the ridge. "Come along nice-like," the leader of the orcs said, hefting his club. "Boss want you in good shape to work!"
Ulaumao flashed his fangs and raised his hackles.
"Who's your boss, exactly?" Raysha inquired.
"Mighty Stromthuman!" the orc bellowed.
Ulaumao's whiskers twitched. Raysha opened her mouth to speak, then closed it, and just shook her head before muttering: "Kill them."
Panicked by the oncoming assault by the worg and the feral druid, the servants of Mighty Stromthuman flung their clubs aside and tangled each other in their nets, collapsing in a squirming pile of orc flesh atop the ridge.
"Hardly makessss it worth bothering," Ulaumao sniffed haughtily.
And so it was that they departed for Light's Hope Chapel and left the minions entangled in their own nets as prey for the frenzying plaguehounds.
The Forsaken warlock in purple fled across the wasteland, and the warrior followed.
Roiling clouds of not-quite-hereness hung above the wildly canted terrain of Void Ridge as Stamp Bloodhoof continued his relentless pursuit of the warlock Rote, who murdered Stamp's old friend, Gizmik Fazzle, and tried to frame the Tauren for the murder. The crazed warlock had killed nearly a dozen Steamwheedle Cartel enforcers. Stamp had tracked him from the sands of Tanaris to the swamps of Stonard. Ultimately, perhaps inexorably, the warlock's flight and the warrior's pursuit had passed beyond the swirling gateway of the Dark Portal, from Azeroth to the ruins of the wrecked world once known as Draenor and now called Outland.
They paid little heed to the ongoing conflict between Horde, Alliance, and Burning Legion. The great war machines on all sides might dwarf them in size, but they hardly registered with the pursuer or the pursued.
The warlock fled; the warrior followed. Across the shattered landscape of the Legion Front and beyond Thrallmar. Now they had come to Void Ridge, where rumbling crowds of massive voidwalkers churned about in sullen determination as the air sparked and crackled with fel energies.
At long last, they came to the verge of a precipice that plunged into unfathomable depths, fringed by angular shards of purple crystal that quite nearly matched the hue of the warlock's robes.
"Stamp think Rote cornered!" the Tauren shouted in Orcish over the nether-wind that roared from the abyss.
The warlock stood with his back to the precipice, facing his pursuer for the first time in many days. "Recall, Tauren, that the last time I was cornered, some of my captors were scorched beyond recognition."
"Stamp think if stupid not-deader warlock gonna burn Stamp, Stamp already be burned by now," came Stamp's reply, again in Orcish.
"True," Rote conceded. A grim smile creeped across his pasty white face. "Perhaps I was biding my time, drawing you onward, for some other fiendish purpose?"
Stamp narrowed his eyes, peering at the warlock. From over his shoulder, he drew the massive halberd that - normally blood red - now took on a more subdued, dull blue-gray in the not-quite-hereness of Void Ridge. For all its lack of spectacular color, however, the weapon still managed to appear menacing and deadly. "Stamp think Stamp hit!"
The warlock raised a hand, palm out, and countered: "You could, to be sure! Here, on the edge of this abyss, I am surely at your mercy!"
Silent, the Tauren drew back the halberd and prepared to strike. That mordant smile on the Forsaken's face just grew broader.
"Whatever you do," Rote said, "don't look behind you."
Naturally, the first thought that occurred to Stamp was: It's a trap. But then he saw the shadow growing from behind him, starting to engulf him in a wave of not-quite-hereness. He spun to look, and couldn't quite make out anything except the flicker of shadows and a dance of chaotic uncertainty. Caught off-balance, he couldn't do much as the warlock grabbed his cloak with gnarled fingers and yanked, sending the Tauren in an uncontrolled stumble down the slope toward the abyss.
Stamp Bloodhoof fell toward oblivion.
No. 9 (Hard Landing)Edit
Wind whistled in the Tauren's ears as he tumbled off the slope of Void Ridge and into azure oblivion.
Stamp felt certain his days had reached their end; that he would plummet eternally through a chill, endless night.
In fleeting moments, he shifted from shock and dismay to anger at himself for allowing Rote to trick him.
He should have known better.
He should have expected it.
He should have...
...worn lighter armor, because it jarred and clanked violently as he thumped onto a slowly spinning column of stone - a shattered remnant of broken Draenor (or Earl, as Elder Ruarc had once called it).
The landing hurt, but it signaled promise and hope. Pain meant life and landing meant (relatively) firm ground to hold him in one place. Now all that remained was to find a way back to the ridge. He looked up, peering through inky shadows. No luck to be found there, unless he suddenly sprouted wings.
"You dropped this," squawked a familiar voice behind him on the rock. Stamp turned and looked down at the green-skinned face of his old friend, Gizmik Fazzle, holding up a smooth blue-white disk: Stamp's hearthstone.
Stamp took a step back. "Not-deader shrieky-shouty gobble!" He shifted to a fighting stance. "Stamp hit!"
The goblin sighed and shook his head. "No, don't do that! I'm not a zombie! It's ME! Gizmik!"
Frowning, the Tauren said, "Stamp think if that true, Stamp friend Gizmik Fazzle got much talk and talk and talk to do. Cartel first think Stamp hit and hit and hit and hit and burn and burn and burn Gizmik. Then cartel think burny-roary not-deader warlock Rote hit and hit and hit and burn and burn and burn Gizmik. Now Gizmik say Gizmik never dead. Stamp not understand."
"Plop yourself down then, big guy, and I'll explain," Gizmik said.
No. 10 (Dead to Live)Edit
"It all started about the time YOU went off on your pouting binge after Storm Earth and Fire imploded," Gizmik explained, settling into a cross-legged position on the rock as it spun slowly in the shadowy blue mists surrounding this part of Outland. "Steepen Sprocklebert got investors from the Steamwheedle Cartel to underwrite that film of his. When you ditched, it was pretty much like I ditched. And when *I* ditched, that meant the cartel had to spend more money to get a new star and a new script writer. And that meant the cartel wanted someone to pay back the money that already got lost. Sprocklebert pointed them at me."
"Gizmik hired stupid not-deader warlock to fake Gizmik hit and hit and hit and hit and burn and burn and burn?" Stamp ventured.
The goblin shrugged. "Yeah. I faked my death. That Forsaken bastard Rote charges out the nose AND ears too!" Gizmik waggled a finger at the Tauren. "And before you get all judgmental, that goblin was already dead! Rote found the body in a dark alley." His eyes shifted left and then right. "At least, that's what he said."
"Gizmik believe warlock?"
"He can be damned convincing!" Gizmik replied. "I heard about what he did to those Regulators. Messy, but effective. Anyway, I had Rote lead you here so I could tell you the truth. But you can't tell anybody else, Stamp. I gotta stay dead until I get a new identity. Normally, I'd look to the cartel for help with that sort of thing but, er, yeah, I don't see that happening now. I hear there's a bunch of goblins in a place called Area 52. Figure I'll work my way there. Maybe get some honest work!"
Stamp stared at the goblin, brows arching. "Gizmik do honest work?"
"For a change, yes!" the goblin snarled. He took his own hearthstone from a sack slung over his shoulder. He shrugged again. "Anyway, I'm sorry. I know you didn't need the headache when I died on top of everything else, but I didn't have any choice. It was either fake my death or REALLY die when I couldn't pay them back."
The Tauren bobbed his snout. "Stamp understand. Stamp gonna help pay back that money. Stamp owe Gizmik that."
Gizmik waved a hand dismissively. "You don't owe me anything, Stamp! We're friends. I know you've got a new chronicler. Everything I hear about this Ulaumao fella is good. I'm sure he'll do all right. Maybe not the best person to market you as a celebrity, but we can't all be Gizmik Fazzle, can we?"
Stamp chuckled. "No. Stamp think not."
"See you 'round," Gizmik said, activating the hearthstone. As the stone built toward a glowing crescendo, the goblin added: "I'll be in touch." And then, in a blue flash, Gizmik Fazzle was gone again.
Stamp cradled his own hearthstone in his hands. He pondered it. He wondered what to do next. Certainly, he was glad to learn his old friend Gizmik was alive and well. But Stamp had no doubt that Rote was a person of dubious character - cruel, at the very least, and quite possibly evil to the core. He had chased the warlock from the realm of Azeroth to Outland. Rote had sent him hurtling off Void Ridge, presumably to his doom. But the pursuit had been based primarily on Stamp's desire to avenge the murder of Gizmik Fazzle. Now, the murder proved to be nothing more than another of Gizmik's myriad myths.
Besides, Stamp suspected Rote already had vanished for parts unknown.
A brush of his palm over the stone yielded a faint humming and a pale blue glow that grew as the sound increased. It was decided: Back to Thrallmar. Adventure waited.
No. 11 (Skettis Skirmish)Edit
Staggered back by the taloned swipe of the Skettis warrior, Stamp thumped against the wooden railing that encircled the elevated tree platform above the forest floor of Terrokar. He could feel the old wood creaking, cracking under the pressure of his weight.
The Skettis wouldn't care if the railing broke and the Tauren went tumbling to the ground far below. The creature was single-minded in its purpose: Protecting the orb that Stamp wanted to reclaim for the old bird man in Shattrath City. Hissing, beak snapping angrily, the Skettis shuffled a step forward and drew back for another swipe. This time, Stamp mused, the arc of the sharp claws would neatly sever his throat instead of puncturing his shoulder.
"Stamp hit!" Stamp shouted, shoving the haft of his mace into the belly of the Skettis. It knocked the breath out of the creature and bought the Tauren warrior a few seconds to duck under the deadly sweep of the talons before tumbling toward the back side of the Skettis, standing upright, giving a full-on hoof kick to the other warrior's rump.
The Skettis suddenly found itself banging against the railing, which already had been weakened by the Tauren's earlier impact. Hissing its fury once more, the Skettis spun around and glared at Stamp with baleful red-orange eyes. Stamp could see himself twinned in those eyes, like visions of himself within an inferno.
"Stamp hit!" The Tauren yelled again, and swung the two-handed mace so its head shattered the ribs of his opponent. As the Skettis doubled over with a WOOF! noise, Stamp swung again in a sort of hammering uppercut that crunched into the Skettis' jaw and jerked the bird-like warrior off the platform, tumbling him back and through the railing. A rain of splinters followed the Skettis down into the green shadows below.
Stamp favored his bleeding left shoulder with his right hand as he limped to the small altar bearing the glowing blue orb. He grabbed the prize with his left hand and cradled it in the crook of his elbow. "Stamp get," he grunted.
No. 12 (The Greener Hills of Nagrand)Edit
Stamp smelled the camp before he saw it, catching the scents of roast talbruk and distilled bean cider in his nostrils as he rounded the curve on the road through Nagrand. His left shoulder still ached from his encounter with the Skettis warrior in the elevated tree village back in Terrokar, on the verge of the Bone Wastes. It would be good, he thought, to find somewhere to settle for the night before making the final leg of the journey to Garadar.
He spied the crashed aeroplane first. A spiral of oily black smoke twisted from the crater. Just beyond the wrecked aircraft, Stamp could see the canvas tents. As the camp proper came into view, the Tauren warrior slowed More Stamp to a stop, drawing back on the reins, and then he peered at the inhabitants of the campsite. Of particular interest: The dwarf, an older fellow Stamp had met some time ago back on Azeroth, in the wilds of Stranglethorn Vale. Hemet Nesingwary!
"STAMP!" Nesingwary shouted as he recognized his old acquaintance. "Och! You look different in that puke green armor! What happened to your good ol' black and reds?"
Stamp shrugged, dismounting from the kodo, and shook the hand of the famous explorer. "Stamp got new armor from Stamp clan friend Harak. Stamp new armor better armor. Stamp not like color much, but Stamp old armor not as good as Stamp new armor, so Stamp like how it not let Stamp get hit and hit and hit and hit as much."
Nesingwary grinned. "Well, laddy, if the armor works for you, it works for me. Bean cider?"
The Tauren shook his head. "Stamp thank, but Stamp not drink bean cider anymore." He didn't feel the need to elaborate about what happened in Zangarmarsh.
"Ah, well, it's not for everyone, that's a certainty," the explorer noted. He settled into a crouch beside the campfire. "Sorry to hear about your friend, Gizmik. Tough luck, that. They ever catch the lunatic who killed him?"
"Gizmik not..." Stamp caught himself before he could blurt the truth. "Not easy to forget." Stamp grunted. "Stamp think stupid pasty-burny not-deader warlock still out there somewhere. Stamp hope Hemet Nesingwary tell Stamp if Hemet Nesingwary see stupid pasty-burny not-deader warlock."
The dwarf chortled. "I see 'em all the time, laddy. If I see the right one, well, that's another story, eh?"
Glancing across to the other side of the fire, Stamp noticed a familiar leatherbound tome, worn with time, its pages flapping gently in the breeze. Right next to the open fire pit. The Tauren frowned. After all the trouble he'd gone through to gather those pages back in the Vale... Stamp sighed and walked around the pit. "No wonder Hemet Nesingwary gotta keep asking strangers to find bits and pieces of stupid read and read and read."
Nesingwary blinked. "Thoughtless of me, I agree! I get so caught up in everything else that I forget to put it away."
With a shrug, Stamp said, "Stamp take care of it." He leaned over to pick up the book. A high-pitched screech preceded the sweeping shadow of a windroc as it swooped low and snatched the book in its talons. "GAH!" Stamp shouted, lunging to grab the bird's legs. He missed. He came crashing down on the dusty ground of the campsite, aggravating his injured shoulder. Rolling over, he watched helplessly as the windroc lofted away with the open book. Several pages fluttered loose from the binding and drifted down on the breeze.
"Stone and fire!" Nesingwary growled. "Ya gotta fetch that book, laddy! Yonder windroc is gonna make a nest with it!"
Stamp narrowed his eyes. Slowly, he got to his hooves, dusting himself off. "Stamp go. Stamp get."
"Fantastic!" the explorer said. Then, with a sheepish smile, he added, "Could I trouble you to bag a few dozen clefthooves while yer at it?"
No. 13 (Someone Else's Loss)Edit
The soft, almost imperceptible sound of weeping caught Stamp's ear as he dismounted the great gray kodo, More Stamp, just outside the village of Evergrove in the Blade's Edge Mountains of Outland. The sun had sunk beyond the spiny ridge, leaving a dusty twilight over the glade.
Although the Tauren could not speak or understand the common tongue of the Alliance, he knew mourning when he heard it. When he saw it. A young human man comforted the sobbing gnome as she sat on a rock along the shore of the small pond in the middle of the settlement. They shared words that Stamp did not know. The man talked in a tone that suggested an attempt at consolation. The woman smiled weakly and dabbed at her eyes with a blue kerchief. Still, the tears came and she wept anew. The man seemed lost, adrift in a maelstrom without a rudder.
Sometimes, Stamp had learned long ago, it's not possible to just make things better with words.
The man met the Tauren's gaze. Red-rimmed and glistening from his own sorrows, the human's eyes shifted quickly away. Stamp thought he saw shame there. Embarassment. He fears the perception of weakness, Stamp thought. But something else Stamp had learned in his journeys was that the expression of sorrow and other emotions didn't make a person weak. Far from it. One gained strength from the consideration, understanding, and embrace of those emotions.
"They have lost someone close to them." It was a night elf of the Cenarion Circle approaching with a bucket of grain for More Stamp. The elf spoke the native Taurahe tongue. "Someone far from here, in Azeroth."
Stamp bobbed his snout. Loss wasn't unknown to him. He had mourned before himself. And he knew the regrets that came from a loss suffered at a distance, while he was too far away to do anything about it.
"You speak the language of the Alliance?" Stamp asked.
"Of course," the elf said. "Why?"
The Tauren scratched his left side, pondering the question. Why, indeed? What could he say that would make any difference? Certainly nothing could take away their pain or erase the loss. Nothing should, either. Still, Stamp didn't want to let it pass without saying something. He felt involved now.
"Tell them something for me," Stamp said. "Tell them...Stamp sorry."
"Nothing else?" the elf asked, dark eyebrow arching.
The warrior shook his head. It would be enough for him. Anything more wouldn't be right, in his mind.
The Cenarion elf bowed in respect to Stamp and then moved toward the pond to speak with the human and the gnome. Stamp didn't wait to watch. He climbed back into the saddle atop the kodo - interrupting More Stamp's contented grazing from the bucket - and gave the reins a light jerk, bringing the beast around. He still had time to catch a last glimpse of the sunset from the ridge.
No. 14 (Bargain Hunter)Edit
"So, you have it?" The Forsaken warlock leaned over the table set up by the goblin in Area 52 and grinned a pallid grin. "The item we discussed? The price required to secure your...permanent...relief from pursuit by the Cartel?"
Gizmik Fazzle sported a black goatee and a curly black wig, which was about as good as it got for him in the disguise department. He furrowed his brow. "I don't feel right about it."
"How you feel, my friend, is irrelevant," Heironymous Rote replied, still grinning. "Especially if you are incapable of feeling anything at all. Would you not agree?"
The goblin gave a little grunt. "It's just a worthless old helmet. He doesn't even use it anymore."
"Then he won't miss it," the warlock countered, lacing his skeletal fingers together. A looming shape stalked out of the purple shadows to stand next to Rote, a dread, scowling felguard bearing a monstrous axe. "Jhuutom, on the other hand, could certainly use a proper piece of hardware upon his head."
Gizmik shivered at the sight of the felguard. "Right, then. Well. Let it never be said that Gizmi...erm, Fazzik Gimble reneged on a bargain once struck." He opened a crate on the ground next to his table. He rummaged through an assortment of rusted weapons, battered armor, vials of noxious potions, and finally came upon the target of his search: A helmet forged from a large Tauren skull. Gizmik set the helm on the table and regarded the warlock and felguard with a taut grimace. "Nasty thing. Glad to be rid of it, truth be told."
H.A. Rote's gaunt face broke into a broad grin as he took the helmet in his hands, rotating it so he could study each crack and crevice. "Remarkable craftsmanship." He turned toward Jhuutom and chuckled. "Might even fit your head without wobbling too much, eh?" The humorless felguard just growled at Rote, a hateful gleam in its eyes full of loathing for the creature that controlled it.
"We're even then?" Gizmik asked. "Never have to see each other again, right?"
"One never knows how the winds of fate might blow," Rote replied with a smirk. "But if we do meet again, most likely it will be by chance rather than design. Farewell, Fazzik Gimble." He bowed with a flourish before carrying the helmet through the white flash of the protective field in the archway leading out into the wilds of Netherstorm. The felguard, incapable of doing otherwise, followed its master. After they had walked some distance from the walls of Area 52, Rote smiled thinly at Jhuutom and said, "Kneel."
Compelled, the felguard took a knee and waited impatiently as the warlock set the helmet upon Jhuutom's head.
"An adequate fit," Rote confirmed. "Now to see just how effective Limduul's plan would have been."
A cloud of blue and purple sparks began to dance around the helmet, shrouding the felguard's head in a coruscating fog. Jhuutom roared in anger, grappling with the helmet and trying to tear it off his head. "WHAT HAVE YOU DONE TO ME?" the felguard demanded of its master.
Rote shrugged. "I'm making you eminently more interesting."
"I WILL DESTROY YOU FOR THIS!" Jhuutom vowed.
"I think not," the warlock replied.
"INSOLENT WHEL..." The felguard started to launch into a demonic diatribe, but it was suddenly cut off as the bruise-hued cloud faded from around his head. His shoulders slackened and his chin sunk toward his chest. The skull helmet, once a polished white, now bore streaks of red, blue, and silver. It had effectively become fused with Jhuutom's body.
"Remarkable," Rote said, grinning effusively. "Limduul, you mad genius. It *worked*."
Slowly, the felguard lifted its eyes to stare at Rote once more. The gaze seemed more confused and astounded than hateful. "Who are you?" asked a rumbling voice that sounded remarkably like that of the Tauren that had chased him across the expanses of two worlds. He looked at his hands. "What happened to me?"
"You are reborn," the warlock answered. "I have given you new life and new form."
"Nothing was wrong with my old life or my old form," the felguard snarled.
"Aside from your life being over and your form being eradicated, I would concur," Rote said. "You would no longer exist if not for me. You serve at my bidding. When I will it, you appear. When I no longer require your presence, I dismiss you. I am as a god unto you."
"This is NO life for an Overlord."
The warlock offered a philosophical shrug: "Your days as an Overlord are...over...Stamp Bloodhoof."
No. 15 (Striking An Accord)Edit
The former Overlord of Azeroth crouched next to the crackling campfire in the woods of Terrokar and scowled, snarling across the flames at the unduly cheerful Forsaken warlock.
Rote, the creature called himself. He had trapped the essence of Overlord Stamp Bloodhoof within the confines of demonic minion - a felguard.
He turned me into a puppet! A PUPPET!
In years past, the Overlord had slaughtered otherwise loyal warriors for merely looking askance at him. Suffering this indignity shook him to his core.
"Someday, I will break this bond," the Overlord vowed. "When that day comes, warlock, you die."
That elicited a chuckle from Rote. "Stirring words, far-fetched as they might be. The only way this bond breaks is if I die. Someone else will deny you the satisfaction of ending my life. Of course, when that happens, you will cease to exist in ANY dimension."
Grunting, the Overlord replied, "That would have to be an improvement over being held in thrall by a lunatic warlock."
"Would it?" Rote asked. "How did you enjoy the last year or so of nothingness? Defeated by this world's Stamp and his friends, all that remained was your essence, imprisoned within your fel-imbued skull. Had it not been for Limduul's genius and forethought, you would have been lost entire."
"What good is my existence in this form?" the Overlord demanded, rising from his crouch to loom above the fire. Amber light danced on his silver, blue, and red reflective skin. He jabbed a finger toward Rote, oblivious to the rising heat from the flames. "I do not wish to be your servant! I will not serve as your slave! Where you take me, I shall always seek to find some way to break this bond."
"You could do that," Rote agreed, unfazed by the felguard's intimidating posture. "Or we could reach an accord."
Shimmering eyes narrowed. "What kind of accord?"
"Serve me without question," the warlock answered, "and I'll help you avenge yourself against those who made it possible for this to happen to you. Certainly, you'll agree that it is to your advantage, in this regard, that you no longer look like Stamp Bloodhoof. Just another felguard prancing about with just another Forsaken warlock. Our movements will go largely unnoticed."
"You have my attention," the Overlord growled.
"Splendid," Rote replied. "First, though, there's the matter of the Steamwheedle Cartel."
No. 16 (Three Meetings)Edit
The raindrops fell lightly on the gathering spot on Thunder Bluff as evening descended over Mulgore. Watchers tended the flames of the bonfire against the weather as Stamp Bloodhoof emerged from a kodo-skin tent and walked down into the bowl of grassy earth ringed with benches.
He had returned from beyond the Dark Portal for a ceremonial meeting called by a female Tauren named Winatsha. She was a keeper of ancient lore and strove to bind her people closer together at a time when circumstances tended toward chaos and selfishness.
And so it was that she stood alone in the rain by a crackling fire. No, not alone. Not quite alone. Stamp recognized the other Tauren almost immediately: Mograg, a fellow member of the Tears of Draenor.
The pair greeted Stamp as he arrived. He responded with a thumped salute against his armored chestplate and spoke in Taurahe: "It is my hope that the weather will not dampen attendance."
Mograg laughed and Winatsha smiled, but hers was a sad smile. She had hoped for greater response to the call to her people.
They stood, the three of them, and talked for a while. After a time, Winatsha closed the circle and ended the gathering.
"I am glad you came," she told Stamp. "I just wish more had attended."
"Do not despair," the warrior said in Taurahe. "From such small things do mighty trees grow."
That got a brighter smile. "I hope you can come to more of these gatherings," Winatsha said.
"Expect it," Stamp said.
The brown hawk swooped through the azure sky above Nagrand and then descended toward a floating chunk of earth, suspended in mid-air not far from the Throne of Elements.
Upon the island grew a single apple tree. Ulaumao's vision, heightened in hawk form, caught sight of dozens of red apples scattered on the grass around the trunk of the fruit tree. Small flies buzzed over the rotting fruit.
Talons touched earth and then Ulaumao shapeshifted back to Tauren form. On the other side of the tree, the druid found a skeleton sitting on the ground, leaning against the trunk. Orc skeleton, with an axe blade buried deep in its skull.
"Curious," Ulaumao muttered. He knelt next to the skeleton, pondering. When had the orc died? Had he been trapped upon this rock, beneath this tree, for very long? Had he been alone? Had he taken his own life? The druid didn't think so. He looked around for other footprints, but if any existed before, they had been lost to time's passing.
He shifted back into hawk form and lofted into the sky, still perturbed by the grisly discovery. He dove toward the watery Throne below. The gathering of Tears had commenced for Shakina's induction. He would not be late.
"Look at them," the felguard growled, staring down the high waterfall at the Tears of Draenor gathered at the Throne of Elements. "So united. So ... good-hearted and well-meaning."
Rote smirked, waving a gnarled hand at the Overlord-imbued felguard. "For now, my friend. For now."
"I want to kill them all."
"A fine ambition, to be sure," the Forsaken warlock hissed. "When the time comes, they will be yours to do with as you please."
The felguard's blade caught the light of the setting sun as it descended beyond the hills of Nagrand. "First, the Cartel."
"Yes," Rote agreed. "We have unfinished business."
No. 17 (Grinding Axes)Edit
"I want him dead."
Chief Inspector Raggle Fiztyk of the Steamwheedle Cartel's Regulator squad scowled across the mug of ale at the blood elf in the Area 52 tavern. The right side of the goblin's face and his right hand, resting next to the mug, bore the hideous scars that spoke to the conflagration that nearly killed him on the shores of Tanaris not so long ago.
A twist of a smile on the blood elf's face, then: "He's Forsaken. Killing him would be rather redundant, yes?"
Fiztyk didn't smile. He never smiled. Not anymore. Not since the muscles on the right side of his mouth stopped working. Not since Rote's fire.
"Not funny?" the blood elf pouted. "Oh, well. Never easy to tell if it's too soon for off-color humor." He laced his fingers together and tilted his head, getting the glint of lantern light on his long amber-red hair. "You want him dead. That much is clear. The question, Inspector, is why you're looking for hired help to get the job done. Usually, the Cartel handles its own...problems."
The goblin snarled. "The Cartel doesn't see the profit in eliminating Rote. They consider it a waste of time and resources."
"Why is that?"
Fiztyk shook his head. "Not your concern. All that matters is that I want it done and I'm paying."
The blood elf frowned. "Perhaps I should consult with your superiors in the Cartel. If they don't want him dead it might be bad for my business to disappoint them."
"Don't jerk me around," the inspector warned, glaring with his one good eye - the right socket was a dark, scarred green pit. "He's just one warlock."
"Yes, well, that's as may be," the blood elf answered, "but that one warlock killed more than a few of your Regulators. Nearly killed you too. If I do this, it won't be cheap."
"Fine," the goblin snapped. "Name your price."
A piece of worn parchment, inked with delicate letters, fluttered on the wall outside the tavern in Netherstorm's Area 52:
CONTRACT FOR HIRE
Target: H.A. Rote, Forsaken warlock
Last Seen: Garadar, Nagrand
Contract Value: 50 gold, payment upon receipt of proof
Designation: KOS (Kill On Sight)
Provide POK (proof of kill) to goblin mailbox station 922, box 66.
A gnarled, pasty white hand yanked the flier off the wall. Rote peered at the missive and started cackling. "And here I thought I'd have to go to them."
No. 18 (Ambush)Edit
Green grass undulated sedately beneath the soft breeze that blew over the hills outside Halaa. The warlock perched upon his fire-hoofed mount, Normal, and swiveled his gaunt face to snarl at the felguard standing on the ground at his side.
"What do you see?" Rote asked.
The felguard formerly known as Jhuutom, now possessed by the spirit of evil Overlord Stamp Bloodhoof, peered down toward the center of town. His blue-tinged gaze zoomed in on the cluster of goblins gathered around a few blood elf guards who helped hold the town against Alliance intruders on behalf of the Horde. The felguard tilted his head, snorting sulfurous smoke before turning to look back up at the warlock. "Raggle Fiztyk. Some of his Regulators. They talk to the belfs."
"Good," the Forsaken replied. "Keep watching."
After a few moments of chatter, one of the blood elves pointed toward Rote's hill. The badly burned goblin leader, Fiztyk, turned to look in the direction indicated. He squinted, scowling at the silhouettes of the warlock and the felguard. Fiztyk reached into a trouser pocket and extracted a smooth blue-white disk - his hearthstone. He mumbled something into it. Pocketed the stone, and then smiled - well, half-smiled, with the side of his mouth that still worked.
Something shrieked above and behind Rote. The warlock and felguard both glanced around to see a brown-feathered hawk swooping down on the hill. Smoke swirled around the hawk as it shapeshifted into Tauren form. The druid plunged in freefall for a few seconds before shifting once more into the lithe figure of a deadly cat. Landing on all fours, the cat began loping across the hill toward them.
"He's all yours," the warlock told the felguard.
"About time," Overlord Stamp growled, drawing back his axe and charging the oncoming cat.
The druid didn't flinch from the charge. He leapt through the air, claws SNIKTing out as he arced down toward the felguard. He dodged the first swing of the axe and landed with full force on the felguard's chest, knocking the demon backward about three feet and nearly disarming him. The druid came tried to clamp his fangs on the felguard's throat, but Overlord Stamp used the haft of the axe to bluntly shove the cat away. The druid rolled with the defensive move, spun until he could land on his feet, and then shifted once more into Tauren form.
"You have troubled my clan," Ulaumao growled. "You will trouble them no more."
Rote chuckled. "And you think YOU are the one to stop us?"
"I am," the druid answered.
"Silly Tauren," the warlock smirked. "I think you've been writing those heroic tales for too long. You're getting too caught up in the hype."
Ulaumao shifted into dire bear form and roared, charging the felguard. And while those beasts pounded on each other, Rote began the slow chant of an incantation and wove his hands in the air. He directed his venomous thoughts toward the thick-skinned shapeshifter and jabbed gnarled fingers through the crackling air. Fire sprang from fingertips and wreathed around the bulky druid's form. Agonized, the druid fought on, slashing at Overlord Stamp, but suffering from the attrition of strength and concentration as the warlock fire coursed over him. He failed to dodge and the felguard's axe blade dug into Ulaumao's flank. Rote grinned. His fingers danced a little more, setting off a tormenting burst of explosive force that flung the druid away from the felguard like a forgotten child's toy. As Ulaumao rolled through the air this time, he shifted from bear to cat to Tauren, landing flat on his back. Smoldering, the druid stared up at the darkening sky, trying to reorient himself through the pain. The felguard stalked toward him, axe in fist.
"Finish him," Rote growled.
The felguard's axe rose and fell in a fatal arc.
Raggle Fiztyk shouted: "Regulators! MOUNT UP!" He hadn't thought that the druid would die so easily, and certainly not so fast that Rote and his minion would be able to avoid the Regulator squad that was flanking from the west. He stood beside the giant turtle mount he had chosen for this expedition and turned toward one of the blood elf guards. "Send word to Stamp," Fiztyk said. "His chronicler has died."
No. 19 (Stamp Grumpy)Edit
Stamp find out Stamp story-teller friend Tauren growly-slashy druid Ulaumao dead. Stamp friend shrieky-shouty gobble Cartel cop Raggle Fiztyk tell Stamp not-deader burny-snarly warlock Rote kill Stamp story-teller friend Tauren growly-slashy druid Ulaumao.
Stamp very, very grumpy.
Stamp shrieky-shouty gobble friend Gizmik Fazzle dead. Stamp story-teller friend Tauren growly-slashy druid Ulaumao dead. Now Stamp gotta write Stamp own stuff. Stamp not write. Stamp hit and hit and hit! Stamp not talk good Orcish. Stamp write Orcish even worse.
Stamp sad about Stamp story-teller friend Tauren growly-slashy druid Ulaumao. Stamp mad at not-deader burny-snarly warlock Rote. Stamp more grumpy because not-deader burny-snarly warlock Rote got not-deader evil Overlord Stamp stuck inside thumpy-smashy felguard. Stamp friend shrieky-shouty gobble Cartel cop Raggle Fiztyk tell Stamp thumpy-smashy felguard hit and hit and hit and hit Stamp story-teller friend Tauren growly-slashy druid Ulaumao. Stamp grumpy. Stamp more and more and more grumpy! Thumpy-smashy felguard not have not-deader evil Overlord Stamp inside if Stamp never make shrieky-shouty gobble gadgets. Stamp grumpy old Stamp things still hurt Stamp and Stamp friends now.
Stamp gonna find not-deader burny-snarly warlock Rote. Stamp gonna hit and hit and hit and hit. Then Stamp gonna hit some more.
Stamp miss Stamp story-teller friend Tauren growly-slashy druid Ulaumao.
Stamp gonna make thumpy-smashy felguard not-deader evil Overlord Stamp pay.
No. 20 (Blame)Edit
Stamp ride More Stamp slow down the Gold Road through the dusty-dry Barrens. Stamp see stupid hummie spitty pally run and run and run and run from raspy-toothy blue troll shammie. Stamp see stupid hummie spitty pally make bubble. Stamp see stupid hummie spitty pally run and run and run. Stamp see raspy-toothy blue troll shammie laugh and laugh and laugh.
Stamp glad someone think something funny.
Stamp still grumpy. Stamp ride through gates of Camp Taurajo. Stamp gotta talk to Longplain family. Stamp gotta tell what happen to Ulaumao.
Stamp leave More Stamp at stables. Stamp thump and thump and thump on side of Longplain hut.
Stamp see Ulaumao father push open flap of hut. Stamp frown. Stamp tell Ulaumao father that Stamp sorry. Stamp tell Ulaumao father bad news. Ulaumao father tell Stamp that Ulaumao made Longplain family proud. Ulaumao father tell Stamp that Ulaumao always proud to write Stamp stories.
Ulaumao mother not so kind. Ulaumao mother tell Stamp that Ulaumao not be dead if Ulaumao not gone from Camp Taurajo. Ulaumao not be dead if Ulaumao not follow Stamp through Dark Portal to land Stamp clan leader roary-thumpy orc Ruarc call Earl.
Stamp not know what to say. Stamp think not much Stamp *can* say. Stamp think Ulaumao mother right. Stamp think Stamp to blame.
But then Ulaumao father put hand on Ulaumao mother shoulder and then Ulaumao father tell Stamp that Ulaumao mother hurt by loss and the love of Ulaumao. Ulaumao mother speak from anger. Ulaumao father tell Stamp rightful anger belong to not-deader burny-cackly warlock Rote.
Stamp thank Ulaumao father for good words, and Stamp know Rote to blame for Ulaumao, but Stamp also know that Stamp to blame for Ulaumao following Stamp. Stamp know Ulaumao mother right, at least a little.
Stamp not sure what to do. Stamp got no idea how to make hurt like that go away. Stamp not know how to fix. Stamp want to fix! Stamp got no way to do this.
So, Stamp say goodbye to Ulaumao father and mother. Stamp ride More Stamp to hooty-shrieky gnoll camp. Stamp stop More Stamp. Stamp take out Stamp hammer. Stamp stomp into hooty-shrieky gnoll camp. Stamp hit and hit and hit and hit and hit and hit and hit and hit and hit and hit.
Stamp look around at lots of dead hooty-shrieky gnolls.
Stamp still grumpy. But Stamp feel a little better.
No. 21 (Cleansing Rain)Edit
Stamp ride More Stamp from Thunder Bluff to Bloodhoof Village. Rain splink and splink and splink on Stamp armor. Rain splunk and splunk and splunk on More Stamp drums.
Stamp clan friend Mograg galumph along on hissy-clawy raptor. Stamp clan friend Mograg say hi to Stamp. Stamp nod. Stamp not real talky. Stamp still kinda grumpy. Stamp clan friend Mograg galump ahead to village. Stamp catch up a little while later at fire in middle of village. Stamp see Stamp friend Winatsha. Stamp friend Winatsha with other people Stamp not really know. Stamp settle down near fire. Stamp listen to raindrops hiss and hiss and hiss on burning logs. Stamp hear Stamp friend Winatsha talk about Earthmother not-happiness. Stamp hear Stamp friend Winatsha talk about not-good Tauren. Stamp hear other Tauren talk about evil.
Stamp say good and evil not easy. Stamp think some evil start with good intent. Stamp not know. Stamp not sure Stamp good. Stamp not sure Stamp evil. Stamp just Stamp. Stamp just try to do what Stamp think right, but what if people Stamp think evil just do what they think right? Stamp not know. Stamp wonder if stupid cackly-burny not-deader warlock Rote think right when hit and hit and hit and hit Stamp friend Ulaumao? Stamp know Stamp friend Ulaumao made choice to hit and hit stupid cackly-burny not-deader warlock without Stamp or other Stamp friends. Stupid cackly-burny not-deader warlock stupid if not fight back, Stamp think. Stamp not just not fight if stupid cackly-burny not-deader warlock try to hit and hit and hit and hit Stamp. So, Stamp wonder if stupid cackly-burny not-deader warlock really evil or just want to live?
Stamp think good and evil not the point. Stamp think Stamp friend Ulaumao not deserve hit and hit and hit and hit and hit, though. So, Stamp make vow to Earthmother. Stamp throw shiny-roundy gold pearl in fire for offering to show Stamp serious. Stamp gonna find stupid cackly-burny not-deader warlock. Stamp gonna hit and hit and hit and hit stupid cackly-burny not-deader warlock. Stamp gonna make it take long time.
Stamp thank Stamp friend Winatsha after ceremony. Stamp think it help. Stamp still grumpy, but Stamp less grumpy. Stamp know what to do now. Stamp know what to think. Stamp friend Winatsha words help wash away confusion like splink and splink and splink of raindrops.
Continued in Stamp Go! Stamp Hit!: Beyond the Dark Portal
--Lilithia 16:50, 17 April 2007 (UTC)