From Strong to Weak: Kiwe’s Anthology

This was originally intended to be the story of Kiwe up to the point of her joining the Rouge Legion.  Unfortunately, only chapter one was ever published.  It was written by Kiwe and originally posted here.

Chapter One: Homecoming

In her mind that is all she needed nothing more, and nothing less but strength. As long as you had it there was nothing else you needed. Eventually she learned otherwise. When her way of life started to crack and shatter around her she would turn to an unlikely rag tag crew of others. ~ Author’s comment.

I’m home, she thought as she marched forward from the tunnel of furbolgs from Felwood into the lush snow filled world of Winterspring. Each step her feet were buried in several inches of snow and seeping into her shoes reminding her how short her legs were and how cold the environment really was. Being gone from her home so long has reminded her that not even the snows of Northrend were comparable to her old stomping grounds. For a minute she looked around taking the sites and remembering her past. Playing with the animals, other goblins her age and exploring the caves as the risk of her life. With a deep breath she released the tension from her body leaving a smile on her face.

Digging into her pockets she pulled out a whistle pressed it against her lips and blew into it. The sound echoed off the mountains resonating to the sound. From the sky above a shadow formed and was closing in. The shadow touched down to the group to be a wyvern embroidered in red armor and walking toward her. With her hand stretched out she placed it on top of its head.

“Are you ready to hit the skies, Calne?” With a thunderous roar it bucked back showing her its back. “I guess so!” Jumping on its back and pulling the reins and going into the air. The wind blowing against her face stung but she didn’t care: she was headed back home to see her friends, her family and to reminisce about old times prior to joining the struggle against Deathwing to save Azeroth. She encountered a lot of fearsome beasts and monsters during the struggle. In the end she finally had something to show in this still ongoing struggle: a pair of daggers forged from the creatures in Deathwings takeover of Wyrmrest Temple—a powerful set of daggers daggers that were said to possibly cause madness if not treated in the right hands. They weren’t finished yet but once they were they are said to be the most powerful weapons in existence.

Looking around she got to see her home in the greatest point of view. She never thought she would get to see what she knew growing up in such a more majestic and amazing angle. After a while she finally got to see the settlement she was born in and grew up from, Everlook.

“Calne, go down! We’re here,” growling in understanding it started to descend to the ground next to the other wyverns where the attendant was tending to them. The middle aged man turned around and a smile started to form on his face. He walked forward placing his hands on his hips as the female goblin jumped down off her wyvern and meeting him half way.
“My, my, how you’ve grown in the time you left us. Filled out in the right places I see,” he began to laugh as her face formed a slight frown in disapproval, “I’m just kidding welcome home Adrina!”

“How long it has been since I have heard my old name but I had to learn to be called by a new one, well, a codename rather.”

“A codename, huh? I guess it would make since they probably wouldn’t want your enemies learning something that would cripple you.”

“Sounds about right but our battle axe of a warchief could care less if we got caught,” her face started to straighten up and a small smile formed back onto her face, “Are my family home right now?”

“Not right now, they went to Orgimmar to get some supplies. Go on inside and wait on them. They will be glad to see you after all this time.”

“I’ll do just that. Thank you!” grabbing her things off Calne sne walked under the archway and into Everlook. This would be the last few days she would be who she was, Adrina the goblin.

With her bags on her back and looking around town an ease came over her. Some new faces but other than that nothing has changed. She also had to remind herself of her town’s neutrality as well. This was she seen a gnome talking to one of the villagers talking about one of her friends and yetis. The result afterwards was rather humorous. Not to mention either a High Elf or a Blood Elf moved in as well. He was talking fancy and was putting on quite the display. Beyond that her lovable hometown was just the same.

She came up to a small hut, next to the inn and took a peek inside. Prone to what her parents were capable of the inside was a mess. Why am I not surprised at this? Then again they are engineers at heart. she proceeded to go inside setting her bags on the ground and taking a set at an oil covered table making sure she didn’t dirty her clothing more than it already was. Being home for the first time in almost a full year has given her a sense of serenity that was missing from her life. The feeling of being home again was comforting. The sounds of nature, the sounds of machinery, the townspeople, the snow and the cold; all of it was part of her and the heritage she thrived on.

From the opposite side of the room she heard a small shuffle and a soft voice rose above the sounds. Gentle like falling snow, fragile like glass was the best way to describe it.

“Who’s there?” it asked as tapping on the ground was made coming forward was a child. Auburn hair, light complexion, slender face and holding a crutch. It made its way around piled boxes then looked forward.

“Who’s there?” the voice asked again with a hint of fright along with some tremble in the voice.

“Calm down, it’s me. Adrina,” replying back softly making sure it was loud and audible. The small child’s face became to cheer up and a small formed on her face as she dropped the crutches and put her hands forward taking small steps and feeling around for obstacles. She finally felt her way around to the feel of warm flesh wrapping around it and squeezing as hard as she could.

“Sis, it’s you! It really is you! I missed you so much.” Her voice started to get higher and more energetic while she continued to squeeze her sister. This was the kind of thing Adrina missed the whole time, the warmth of her family. The harsh dealings with everything she dealt with the past from Cho’gall, Ragnaros, and the continuing fight with Deathwing himself proved a strong emotional toll on her. Something like this was just what she needed to beacon her back to sanity.

“I missed you, too.” Adrina laughed as she put her arms around her embracing her as well. Rubbing her back then rising up into her hair ruffling it up then let go while her sister did the same.

“Where is our parents? I was told then went to Ogrimmar for errands?”

“They did. They said they ran out of rocket fuel for their machinery.”

“They couldn’t make it their selves with what they have here? I mean look at all this! This is worse than how I left!”

“They ran out of firebloom.” Upon hearing that Adrina sighed putting her head down.

“I guess that would make sense. So how long ago did they leave?”

“About two days ago. The round trip is about that so they should be home in a couple of hours. I know they would be glad to see you again.”

“I know they would also,” she steeled her voice for what she was about to ask, “How is your condition?” Her sister fell silent looking away then lost the cheer in her treble.

“They still don’t know yet. They say that someone must be pulling on my soul. They say it had something to do with the Twilight’s Hammer coming from Hyjal into Winterspring.”

A while back during the fight with Cho’gall and the Twilight’s Hammer cult some made their way into Winterspring causing terror trying to use elementals to destroy the environment there and any possible support that could be provided to the Alliance and Horde there. The place is still intact but with a few changes. The furbolgs lose a settlement or two, more hunters game into the area and there is a new pathway going into Hyjal from Winterspring. The damage done was problematic and not easily fixed.

While Adrina wasn’t there to help defend it she did get firsthand accounts in letters from home talking about it. During one of the assaults the Twilight’s Hammer made a couple of people fell sick and lost considerable amount of strength. Adrina’s sister was one of them. People were making claims that they got ahold of some power to take away peoples souls and make a weapon out of it. People affected first lose their eyesight, their ability to walk, then finally the ability to breathe.

“I’m sorry,” Adrina replied with her voice going down as low as her sisters, “I didn’t mean to ask that as I did.”

“Don’t worry Sis, there wasn’t much you could do. Regardless of things I’m glad you’re home though. How long will you be here?”

“About a few days: I pleaded to get at least a few days before we actually tried to defeat Deathwing. I’ll never know what will happen so I want to have the time I can be with my family before then.”

Adrina pulled out a chair and helped her sister sit down. They continued to have a pleasant conversation until their parents arrived home with the reagents for their rocket fuel. After a while the sun began to burn its light and leaving nothing but the moon in its wake. Their parents had yet to return and it was long past the few hours, and the two day round trip.

A Rouge Goodbye

The story of Haileaus’ leaving the Legion, written by Haileaus.  The story was originally posted here.

Gyroscope swam down to the bottom of the lake.  Even though he was using his GYROBLUB (Gyroscope’s Bubble and Living Underwater Box) he held his breath.  The body hit right in the middle of the lake and would have sunk straight down.  There he is!   Gyroscope swam towards the mass of bones and cloth.  He was looking up, almost right at him, with his back just touching the ground.  Gyroscope didn’t bother trying to repress a shudder.  Gyro waved his hand in front of the face.  No response.  He tapped the shoulder.  No response.  Finally he pulled off the hood.  The head seemed close to coming off with the hood.  Gyroscope stared through the empty eye sockets for a full minute, taking his time to grasp the truth.  He’s deadI…did it…I killed Haileaus!

Gyroscope resurfaced.  He stared blankly at Rfeann.  “Hail’s dead.  It seems parts of his body detached upon impact, though I managed to find most of it.”  Gyroscope pulled the hood from his bag, “Here –  It wouldn’t fit me.”

10 HOURS EARLIER

Haileaus hated meetings, much less setting them up.  If it were up to him, he’d just lead everything by himself.  But then that wasn’t how the Legion worked, and it was not in his best interest to change things.  “While they’re gone I say we discuss some changes to our security and meeting locations.  The Legion will want answers quickly and it’s up to us to provide them.”

They both nodded.

Haileaus sat down on the ground.  “Alright, so we have Gyroscope and Weran.  Let’s send word to Sheevah and Rfeann.  Also Pajamas should come over with some security.  We’ll meet in the master bedroom in 17 minutes regardless.”

16 MINUTES LATER

Haileaus walked into the bedroom.  Gyroscope, Weran, and Rfeann were waiting for him, sitting on the bed which was against the left wall.  The glass wall directly ahead faced south.  It was midday, and with the curtains pulled back anyone entering the room would be met with a blast of sunlight.  Against the wall to the right was a wardrobe which held pocket-dimension Heartcrusher created to hold zombies which would tear anything with a soul to pieces, spreading out until they fell apart.  Haileaus found himself wondering whether the people in the room with fully functioning noses could smell the ghouls.

“Alright, let’s get this over with.  I guess Sheevah and Pajamas aren’t coming.  I suppose I should explain what happened after the ambush to Rfeann since he so selflessly decided to lead the retreat.”

“Damnit Hail, you know I’m no good at open combat!  I saw you, Gyro, Weran, Heartcrusher, Verelyse, and Caera staying and decided th—Sorry.”

Haileaus sighed.  “Anyway, the group was cultists from some sort of shadow dimension Heartcrusher had dealings with.  We…dealt with the intruders here, but Heart, Vere, and Caera are going to pay them a visit to finish sorting things out.  We don’t know when or if they will return.  Questions?”

Weran spoke up, “Yeah, why are we here?”

“Because we are on the third floor in a room overlooking a lake, making it hard to infiltrate the room from the window, and the only door faces said window, which means enemies will be momentarily dazzled by the sun as they enter.”  And because nobody else knows about the ghouls, Haileaus added silently.

“Hail…he means why are we having a meeting.”  Gyroscope offered condescendingly.

“Oh.  Well because we have to keep things under control and assure the members of the Rouge Legion that everything is taken care of.”  Weran raised his hand.  “No Weran, stay.  Mark your territory here if you need to.”

Weran scowled, “Actually I just wanted to point out that I can hear two people coming down the hall.”

“Oh.”

The door slammed open.  Through it staggered a Blood Elf.  Blood flowed freely from a wound in her right leg.  More concerning, the left side of her head had been slashed.  Deeply.  Her red hair was matted with blood, and one of her ears had come clean off.  It was Pajamas.

“Inckkggg!” she said, as a dagger sprouted from her chest.  Haileaus and his companions leapt up to kill the intruder, but as Pajamas fell, the assassin was revealed.  A female goblin, wearing old Alliance Legionnaire’s armor.  For the first time in 98.7 years, Haileaus balked.  Needless to say the other’s did too.

Unfortunately, Sheevah did not balk, but instead threw three knives soaked in Gyroscope’s Fast-Acting Paralytic Poison (GYROFAPP).  One hit Rfeann, who quickly became useless.  The other two hit Weran, who just as quickly got pissed and began attacking the bedside table.  Haileaus proceeded to attack Sheevah, while Gyroscope studied the effect of two doses of GYROFAPP on a Worgan.  He had expected two doses would induce unconsciousness before the “Worgan confusion” side-effect could be seen.  Soon enough Weran hit the floor drooling over his conquest, and Gyroscope got up.  Time to finish this.  Gyroscope lunged for the pair.

Haileaus saw it coming a mile away.  He threw down some flash powder and grabbed two talismans from one of his pockets.  He threw them at his unconscious comrades and they were teleported to Heartcrusher’s upstairs lab.  Hail noted with satisfaction that Gyro and Sheevah were still looking for him.

They found him.  Hail fought well, but with two highly skilled opponents he couldn’t play offense.  Finally he saw an opening.  The force of Haileaus’s kick sent Gryo flying across the room.  Sheevah, visibly tired, managed to disengage, just in time to get out of the way of Gyro’s grenade.  Just before Haileaus broke through the glass, he threw one last special throwing knife.  It sunk into the wardrobe and exploded.  Haileaus fell into the lake listening to the music of screaming zombies.

ONE WEEK LATER

In the abandoned sunken slaughterhouse in Quel’thalas, two orbs shattered.  Underneath the lake, darkness bloomed in Haileaus’s eyes.  He stayed under for a day, letting his body recover and he searching for his hood.  He left the water knowing what he had to do:  Find my hood.  Kill whoever took it.  Find out what happened to Gyro and Sheevah.

Hail decided to start by sneaking into the Rouge Legion’s secondary headquarters.  Usually entering the building undetected would be nearly impossible, but Haileaus could teleport there through Heartcrusher’s closet.  A short walk and an uncomfortable dimensional squish later and Hail was consuming the ichor of some helpful ghouls.  After he had his fill, he went to the meeting room, attached himself to the ceiling (being undead comes in handy for such things) and waited for the next meeting.

Fortunately, that only took 9 days.  After being dead or worse for over two weeks, Haileaus could confidently say it was the most interesting meeting he’d been to that didn’t include murder.  More importantly, it was the first proper meeting since he died, so Hail was able to get a great deal of information.  Caera, Heartcrusher, and Verelyse were still gone.  Gyroscope was at the meeting.  Sheevah had gone missing, the last person to see her was Gyro.  The other base was overridden by ghouls.  Haileaus and Pajamas were the only casualties.  Most importantly, Haileaus learned that Rfeann had his hood!  He even showed it as proof, saying that Gyro had pulled it from the lake Hail fell in.

When the meeting was over Haileaus stalked his prey.  He decided that since Gyro had taken it from the water, he wouldn’t kill Rfeann, but he had to recover his hood ASAP – a classy hat is good for a lot of things, but revenge isn’t one of them.  WHAP!  Haileaus knocked Rfeann out cold, grabbed his hood, took one long look at Rfeann’s hat, and left.

In truth, Haileaus had always distrusted Gyroscope a lot more than he distrusted most people.  As such, he knew where Gyro was likely to be.  Just a quick little murder, I’ll wait for Gyro to enter, sneak up on him, and kill him before he knows.  Haileaus liked silent assassination.  There was a charm to it.  Nay, a beauty to it.  As he was contemplating this, he noticed a small figure approaching from the distance.  Could it be Gyro already?  It wasn’t.  It was a bruised, cut, and highly murderous Sheevah.  Huh, I wonder what she’s up to….

When Sheevah was about 10 feet from the building she threw four GYROBOOMs at the door.  She thought she heard a curse and saw a shadow move just before the blast, but Sheevah didn’t care.  She knew Gyroscope was inside, and that was all that mattered.  She kept walking, throwing vials containing a mixture of paralytic, confusing, and sleeping gas.  Even one vial would have been enough to incapacitate a tauren in a room that size.  As Sheevah walked through the door she took a deep breath.  She’d build up so much resistance that all she felt was a slight tingle.  It calmed her, sharpened her.  Spinning blades came rushing towards her, but Sheevah dodged them easily – that trap was more designed for larger races anyway.  She looked around, but there were no more traps.  Only Gyroscope lying on the floor.  She walked over and kicked him – No response.  She poked his eye – nothing.  She checked his pulse – slow, but steady.  Good.

Gyroscope work up tied to a chair in the corner of the room.  Sheevah was staring at him quizzically, holding a needle.

“Ah good, you’re awake.  If you feel a pain in your left arm it’s probably because I used a large dosage on you and you are getting a heart attack.”  Sheevah put the needle away.  “While you were out I decided to take a look around your lab.  I must say, I’ve always been curious about what goes into making your inventions.”  She walked over to Gyroscope and poured just enough acid onto his head to melt off his hair and give him a nice burn.  “I see you haven’t shared all of your inventions with the Legion.  Like this… ‘GYROCRUSH 3000’?  ‘Guaranteed to destroy even the most durable of trash’.  That’s a mighty strong claim, maybe we should test it out.”  Sheevah took a fancy-looking gadget from a workbench.  “What’s this?”

“No, you can’t…that’s almost done!”  At that Sheevah smiled sweetly.  “It’s my latest invention, the Gyroscope’s PhasEr Weapon!  Please, don’t destroy it, you can have it if you want, but don’t let my –”  Sheevah tossed it into the GYROCRUSH 3000.  Gyroscope watched in horror as it sailed through the air. The lid closed.  Flames leaked out and the smashing of metal could be heard.  “NO GYROPEW!!!!!”

“Hmm, a successful test, but that was pretty small.  Let’s try something bigger shall we.  What next…oh my, what do we have here?  Has someone been lonely?”  Sheevah picked up a metallic arm.

“The GYROscope’s FIne-Surgically-Tuned Experiment helpeR is for strictly professional use!”

“I s – GACK!”  As soon as she spoke the GYROFISTER activated and grabbed Sheevah’s throat.

“Of course, ‘professional’ can refer to any one of my professions.  It’s too bad you Goblins have such skinny necks, any other race would have their throat crushed instantly.  Oh well, I’ve always though suffocation would suit you.”

Sheevah stumbled over to Gyroscope, punched him in the face (leaving a chemical burn and inducing some extra dizziness).  She then grabbed a vial from her pocket and poured it on the hand, which promptly dissolved and released its grip.  Sheevah considered it for a moment before tossing it into the GYROCRUSH 3000.  Gyroscope let out a cry as the flames consumed it.

Sheevah had already picked her next target.  She picked up a model of an aircraft.  Painted on the side in white, read ‘SHADOW BLADE’.  The rest was black.  The wings each had blades on them – sharp ones.  Sheevah could tell Gyroscope put a lot of care into this.  When she picked it up, Gyroscope let out a feint whimper.  “Please, no, anything but that.  I’ll tell you anything, I’ll do anything, just…don’t destroy Shadow Blade.  Not again….”

It was time to get some answers.  Sheevah turned to Gyroscope.  “Oh I’ll destroy it all right, but when I do will depend on how well you answer some questions.  First, why did you turn against the Legion?”

Gyroscope sighed and looked up – not at Sheevah, but at Shadow Blade, as if it were his child, about to leave him forever.  “Because the Legion ruined me.  Before I joined, I had a cause.  A direction.  I fought for the Alliance, I created for the Alliance.  With Shadow Blade I had both the power to make a difference, and the freedom to go anywhere I wanted.  I was a champion.  And then…well then the Horde attacked, and I rushed to defend.  Shadow Blade and I cleaved through the enemy, but then she got hit.  She fell, and to survive I had to abandon her.  I managed to clear out the Horde around me, save for one Blood Elf.  Cloaked.  We fought, until finally she disengaged.  She told me this had been a test.  Haileaus was there too.  They told me about the Legion, and asked me to join.  They said the Legion transcends Horde and Alliance.  I looked around me at the fighting going on.  At Shadow Blade, smoldering.  The Alliance was winning, but I realized I didn’t care.  For me, the battle was lost the moment Shadow Blade went down.  I felt anger, not at the Horde for killing her, but at the Alliance for letting them.  I joined partially because I thought the Legion could open up new opportunities for me, and partially because I wanted the Alliance to realize just how much they needed me.

“At first I thought I’d done the right thing by joining.  Unlike the Alliance, the Legion never expected me to give, and never told me what to make.  It invigorated me.  I worked harder than ever before on my inventions and loved the reception they got.  A year after I joined I’d already asserted myself as a vital member of the Legion.  On the anniversary of Shadow Blade’s death, Haileaus approached me with a mission.  He said the Alliance was designing a weapon that had the potential to wipe out the Horde entirely.  Something about using Gnomish mind-control technology to induce madness.  He explained that the elimination of such an army would leave Azeroth open to attacks that neither faction alone could face.  He told me with my knowledge of the Alliance and engineering and my strength at infiltrating, I was the perfect – and only – person he could trust to complete the mission.  Of course I accepted it.

“It was only after I had completed the mission that I learned the mission was a test.  The base I destroyed was a subsection of Heartcrusher’s lab.  The guards and workers on-sight were under the illusion that they were guarding the King.  The engineers I’d assassinated in their beds, next to their loved ones, had no knowledge of the project.  Haileaus made me kill so many innocents just to see if I still had ties to the Alliance.  That’s when I turned against the Legion.  Because while they gave me their appreciation, they took from me so much more.  They made me someone who would blindly accept a mission.  Someone who would murder my former colleagues in cold blood.  Someone who would trust a monster.  The Legion is a bunch of selfish, greedy individuals, who are only together because it helps them accomplish their own goals better.  And I joined them, leaving my people dying on a battlefield.”

Sheevah yawned.  “Next question, and please try to keep the answer shorter, why me?  I assume could have mind-controlled any member of the Legion.  Why not Weran, or Backstabi or Snoz, or Relikar?  Or Haileaus himself?”

“It is harder to determine the effects of mind control on undead, since their essence does not necessarily reside in their brains.  As for the others, I decided I had done enough damage to the Alliance races.  I figured even if you couldn’t kill Hail yourself, you’d stay alive long enough for me to finish it.  And, if Hail killed you, then all the better – I’ve always hated you.”

“Was this the first time you tried to hurt us?”

“I brought the Hunters upon us and tried to kill Caera in a malfunction during that battle.  That was all.”

“Thanks.”  Sheevah put Shadow Blade on the ground pointing towards Gyroscope.  She then smiled, picked up a toolbox, and slammed it down on the model until it was indistinguishable.  Sheevah watched in satisfaction as Gyroscope sobbed.

“Father?”  The voice came from the doorway.  “Father I couldn’t leave you, what’s wrong?  Please don’t cry.”

A younger, more robotic version of Gyroscope walked through the door.

Terror gripped Gyroscope, though all he could say was “Lissa, I told you to run, you are in danger and I don’t want you seeing me like this.”

“Oh Gyro, you never told me you had a child!  Hey Lissa, I’m Sheevah.  Why don’t you come here and give your Auntie a hug?”  When Lissa didn’t move, Sheevah moved to grab him.  Lissa responded by screaming, grabbing Sheevah’s hair, and kicking violently.  They rolled around.  Lissa was, of course, stronger, but Sheevah had armor and had managed to get one of her daggers out.  Finally Sheevah managed to stab something critical and Lissa was reduced flailing about blindly.  Sheevah took out a vial of acid and held it over Lissa.

Drip.  Hiss.  Drip.  Hiss.  Drip.  GRAHH!  It seemed during the tussle Sheevah or Lissa had kicked one of Shadow Blade’s wings towards Gyroscope, who had managed to use it to escape – then as a throwing knife.

Sheevah dropped the vial, leapt at Gyroscope, and drew her daggers.  Gyro dove for his desk.  He grabbed his daggers and a device.  Then he disappeared.  Sheevah knew he was gone.  She screamed, swore, and began tearing apart the lab.  Then something smelly grabbed her arm, she felt an uncomfortable squish, and suddenly was in Heartcrusher’s lab, watching a fleeing Gyroscope.  She didn’t lunged at him, not even bothering to question what happened or who brought her there.

Haileaus watched Sheevah and Gyroscope fight.  He was glad Gyroscope had managed to get armed, because they the two were quite well matched.  Well, Gyroscope would of course win in a fair fight, but if one of Sheevah’s blades so much as scratched Gyroscope, Sheevah’s venom would end the fight.  Actually, it seemed Sheevah might not need her venom.  Gyroscope was steadily backing up.  Finally, he got desperate.  He dropped his dagger and threw a flash bomb, then ran towards a portal labeled, ‘FORBIDDEN!  DO NOT ENTER!  BACK AWAY!  BAD THINGS WILL HAPPEN TO YOU IF YOU GO THROUGH HERE!’ in 37 languages.  Gyroscope ran through.  Sheevah followed.  Haileaus watched, somewhat disappointed that he couldn’t see what would happen.  Oh well.  He’d as Heartcrusher later.

37 DAYS LATER

The next meeting Haileaus watched from afar.  Nobody in this space-time knew his was alive, and Hail liked it that way.  He saw old members – Rfeann, Aeriwen, Backstabi, and a few others step up and assert themselves.  Yet so many were missing.  Heartcrusher, Verelyse, and Caera were still missing.  Celinne, Cloaked, Kiwe, Twitch…so many others were either gone for good or had faded into the shadows.  Haileaus saw others he had not known well stepping up.   Relikar, Kain, Hassen…so many new names.

Haileaus sighed, turned, and walked out into the cool night air.

Gyroscope swam down to the bottom of the lake.  Even though he was using his GYROBLUB (Gyroscope’s Bubble and Living Underwater Box) he held his breath.  The body hit right in the middle of the lake and would have sunk straight down.  There he is!   Gyroscope swam towards the mass of bones and cloth.  He was looking up, almost right at him, with his back just touching the ground.  Gyroscope didn’t bother trying to repress a shudder.  Gyro waved his hand in front of the face.  No response.  He tapped the shoulder.  No response.  Finally he pulled off the hood.  The head seemed close to coming off with the hood.  Gyroscope stared through the empty eye sockets for a full minute, taking his time to grasp the truth.  He’s deadI…did it…I killed Haileaus!   Gyroscope resurfaced.  He stared blankly at Rfeann.  “Hail’s dead.  It seems parts of his body detached upon impact, though I managed to find most of it.”  Gyroscope pulled the hood from his bag, “Here –  It wouldn’t fit me.”     10 HOURS EARLIER   Haileaus hated meetings, much less setting them up.  If it were up to him, he’d just lead everything by himself.  But then that wasn’t how the Legion worked, and it was not in his best interest to change things.  “While they’re gone I say we discuss some changes to our security and meeting locations.  The Legion will want answers quickly and it’s up to us to provide them.”   They both nodded.   Haileaus sat down on the ground.  “Alright, so we have Gyroscope and Weran.  Let’s send word to Sheevah and Rfeann.  Also Pajamas should come over with some security.  We’ll meet in the master bedroom in 17 minutes regardless.”   16 MINUTES LATER   Haileaus walked into the bedroom.  Gyroscope, Weran, and Rfeann were waiting for him, sitting on the bed which was against the left wall.  The glass wall directly ahead faced south.  It was midday, and with the curtains pulled back anyone entering the room would be met with a blast of sunlight.  Against the wall to the right was a wardrobe which held pocket-dimension Heartcrusher created to hold zombies which would tear anything with a soul to pieces, spreading out until they fell apart.  Haileaus found himself wondering whether the people in the room with fully functioning noses could smell the ghouls.   “Alright, let’s get this over with.  I guess Sheevah and Pajamas aren’t coming.  I suppose I should explain what happened after the ambush to Rfeann since he so selflessly decided to lead the retreat.”   “Damnit Hail, you know I’m no good at open combat!  I saw you, Gyro, Weran, Heartcrusher, Verelyse, and Caera staying and decided th—Sorry.”   Haileaus sighed.  “Anyway, the group was cultists from some sort of shadow dimension Heartcrusher had dealings with.  We…dealt with the intruders here, but Heart, Vere, and Caera are going to pay them a visit to finish sorting things out.  We don’t know when or if they will return.  Questions?”   Weran spoke up, “Yeah, why are we here?”   “Because we are on the third floor in a room overlooking a lake, making it hard to infiltrate the room from the window, and the only door faces said window, which means enemies will be momentarily dazzled by the sun as they enter.”  And because nobody else knows about the ghouls, Haileaus added silently.   “Hail…he means why are we having a meeting.”  Gyroscope offered condescendingly.   “Oh.  Well because we have to keep things under control and assure the members of the Rouge Legion that everything is taken care of.”  Weran raised his hand.  “No Weran, stay.  Mark your territory here if you need to.”   Weran scowled, “Actually I just wanted to point out that I can hear two people coming down the hall.”   “Oh.”   The door slammed open.  Through it staggered a Blood Elf.  Blood flowed freely from a wound in her right leg.  More concerning, the left side of her head had been slashed.  Deeply.  Her red hair was matted with blood, and one of her ears had come clean off.  It was Pajamas.   “Inckkggg!” she said, as a dagger sprouted from her chest.  Haileaus and his companions leapt up to kill the intruder, but as Pajamas fell, the assassin was revealed.  A female goblin, wearing old Alliance Legionnaire’s armor.  For the first time in 98.7 years, Haileaus balked.  Needless to say the other’s did too.   Unfortunately, Sheevah did not balk, but instead threw three knives soaked in Gyroscope’s Fast-Acting Paralytic Poison (GYROFAPP).  One hit Rfeann, who quickly became useless.  The other two hit Weran, who just as quickly got pissed and began attacking the bedside table.  Haileaus proceeded to attack Sheevah, while Gyroscope studied the effect of two doses of GYROFAPP on a Worgan.  He had expected two doses would induce unconsciousness before the “Worgan confusion” side-effect could be seen.  Soon enough Weran hit the floor drooling over his conquest, and Gyroscope got up.  Time to finish this.  Gyroscope lunged for the pair.   Haileaus saw it coming a mile away.  He threw down some flash powder and grabbed two talismans from one of his pockets.  He threw them at his unconscious comrades and they were teleported to Heartcrusher’s upstairs lab.  Hail noted with satisfaction that Gyro and Sheevah were still looking for him. They found him.  Hail fought well, but with two highly skilled opponents he couldn’t play offense.  Finally he saw an opening.  The force of Haileaus’s kick sent Gryo flying across the room.  Sheevah, visibly tired, managed to disengage, just in time to get out of the way of Gyro’s grenade.  Just before Haileaus broke through the glass, he threw one last special throwing knife.  It sunk into the wardrobe and exploded.  Haileaus fell into the lake listening to the music of screaming zombies.       ONE WEEK LATER   In the abandoned sunken slaughterhouse in Quel’thalas, two orbs shattered.  Underneath the lake, darkness bloomed in Haileaus’s eyes.  He stayed under for a day, letting his body recover and he searching for his hood.  He left the water knowing what he had to do:  Find my hood.  Kill whoever took it.  Find out what happened to Gyro and Sheevah.   Hail decided to start by sneaking into the Rouge Legion’s secondary headquarters.  Usually entering the building undetected would be nearly impossible, but Haileaus could teleport there through Heartcrusher’s closet.  A short walk and an uncomfortable dimensional squish later and Hail was consuming the ichor of some helpful ghouls.  After he had his fill, he went to the meeting room, attached himself to the ceiling (being undead comes in handy for such things) and waited for the next meeting.   Fortunately, that only took 9 days.  After being dead or worse for over two weeks, Haileaus could confidently say it was the most interesting meeting he’d been to that didn’t include murder.  More importantly, it was the first proper meeting since he died, so Hail was able to get a great deal of information.  Caera, Heartcrusher, and Verelyse were still gone.  Gyroscope was at the meeting.  Sheevah had gone missing, the last person to see her was Gyro.  The other base was overridden by ghouls.  Haileaus and Pajamas were the only casualties.  Most importantly, Haileaus learned that Rfeann had his hood!  He even showed it as proof, saying that Gyro had pulled it from the lake Hail fell in.   When the meeting was over Haileaus stalked his prey.  He decided that since Gyro had taken it from the water, he wouldn’t kill Rfeann, but he had to recover his hood ASAP – a classy hat is good for a lot of things, but revenge isn’t one of them.  WHAP!  Haileaus knocked Rfeann out cold, grabbed his hood, took one long look at Rfeann’s hat, and left.   In truth, Haileaus had always distrusted Gyroscope a lot more than he distrusted most people.  As such, he knew where Gyro was likely to be.  Just a quick little murder, I’ll wait for Gyro to enter, sneak up on him, and kill him before he knows.  Haileaus liked silent assassination.  There was a charm to it.  Nay, a beauty to it.  As he was contemplating this, he noticed a small figure approaching from the distance.  Could it be Gyro already?  It wasn’t.  It was a bruised, cut, and highly murderous Sheevah.  Huh, I wonder what she’s up to….   When Sheevah was about 10 feet from the building she threw four GYROBOOMs at the door.  She thought she heard a curse and saw a shadow move just before the blast, but Sheevah didn’t care.  She knew Gyroscope was inside, and that was all that mattered.  She kept walking, throwing vials containing a mixture of paralytic, confusing, and sleeping gas.  Even one vial would have been enough to incapacitate a tauren in a room that size.  As Sheevah walked through the door she took a deep breath.  She’d build up so much resistance that all she felt was a slight tingle.  It calmed her, sharpened her.  Spinning blades came rushing towards her, but Sheevah dodged them easily – that trap was more designed for larger races anyway.  She looked around, but there were no more traps.  Only Gyroscope lying on the floor.  She walked over and kicked him – No response.  She poked his eye – nothing.  She checked his pulse – slow, but steady.  Good.   Gyroscope work up tied to a chair in the corner of the room.  Sheevah was staring at him quizzically, holding a needle.   “Ah good, you’re awake.  If you feel a pain in your left arm it’s probably because I used a large dosage on you and you are getting a heart attack.”  Sheevah put the needle away.  “While you were out I decided to take a look around your lab.  I must say, I’ve always been curious about what goes into making your inventions.”  She walked over to Gyroscope and poured just enough acid onto his head to melt off his hair and give him a nice burn.  “I see you haven’t shared all of your inventions with the Legion.  Like this… ‘GYROCRUSH 3000’?  ‘Guaranteed to destroy even the most durable of trash’.  That’s a mighty strong claim, maybe we should test it out.”  Sheevah took a fancy-looking gadget from a workbench.  “What’s this?”   “No, you can’t…that’s almost done!”  At that Sheevah smiled sweetly.  “It’s my latest invention, the Gyroscope’s PhasEr Weapon!  Please, don’t destroy it, you can have it if you want, but don’t let my –”  Sheevah tossed it into the GYROCRUSH 3000.  Gyroscope watched in horror as it sailed through the air. The lid closed.  Flames leaked out and the smashing of metal could be heard.  “NO GYROPEW!!!!!”   “Hmm, a successful test, but that was pretty small.  Let’s try something bigger shall we.  What next…oh my, what do we have here?  Has someone been lonely?”  Sheevah picked up a metallic arm.   “The GYROscope’s FIne-Surgically-Tuned Experiment helpeR is for strictly professional use!”   “I s – GACK!”  As soon as she spoke the GYROFISTER activated and grabbed Sheevah’s throat.   “Of course, ‘professional’ can refer to any one of my professions.  It’s too bad you Goblins have such skinny necks, any other race would have their throat crushed instantly.  Oh well, I’ve always though suffocation would suit you.”   Sheevah stumbled over to Gyroscope, punched him in the face (leaving a chemical burn and inducing some extra dizziness).  She then grabbed a vial from her pocket and poured it on the hand, which promptly dissolved and released its grip.  Sheevah considered it for a moment before tossing it into the GYROCRUSH 3000.  Gyroscope let out a cry as the flames consumed it.   Sheevah had already picked her next target.  She picked up a model of an aircraft.  Painted on the side in white, read ‘SHADOW BLADE’.  The rest was black.  The wings each had blades on them – sharp ones.  Sheevah could tell Gyroscope put a lot of care into this.  When she picked it up, Gyroscope let out a feint whimper.  “Please, no, anything but that.  I’ll tell you anything, I’ll do anything, just…don’t destroy Shadow Blade.  Not again….”   It was time to get some answers.  Sheevah turned to Gyroscope.  “Oh I’ll destroy it all right, but when I do will depend on how well you answer some questions.  First, why did you turn against the Legion?”   Gyroscope sighed and looked up – not at Sheevah, but at Shadow Blade, as if it were his child, about to leave him forever.  “Because the Legion ruined me.  Before I joined, I had a cause.  A direction.  I fought for the Alliance, I created for the Alliance.  With Shadow Blade I had both the power to make a difference, and the freedom to go anywhere I wanted.  I was a champion.  And then…well then the Horde attacked, and I rushed to defend.  Shadow Blade and I cleaved through the enemy, but then she got hit.  She fell, and to survive I had to abandon her.  I managed to clear out the Horde around me, save for one Blood Elf.  Cloaked.  We fought, until finally she disengaged.  She told me this had been a test.  Haileaus was there too.  They told me about the Legion, and asked me to join.  They said the Legion transcends Horde and Alliance.  I looked around me at the fighting going on.  At Shadow Blade, smoldering.  The Alliance was winning, but I realized I didn’t care.  For me, the battle was lost the moment Shadow Blade went down.  I felt anger, not at the Horde for killing her, but at the Alliance for letting them.  I joined partially because I thought the Legion could open up new opportunities for me, and partially because I wanted the Alliance to realize just how much they needed me.   “At first I thought I’d done the right thing by joining.  Unlike the Alliance, the Legion never expected me to give, and never told me what to make.  It invigorated me.  I worked harder than ever before on my inventions and loved the reception they got.  A year after I joined I’d already asserted myself as a vital member of the Legion.  On the anniversary of Shadow Blade’s death, Haileaus approached me with a mission.  He said the Alliance was designing a weapon that had the potential to wipe out the Horde entirely.  Something about using Gnomish mind-control technology to induce madness.  He explained that the elimination of such an army would leave Azeroth open to attacks that neither faction alone could face.  He told me with my knowledge of the Alliance and engineering and my strength at infiltrating, I was the perfect – and only – person he could trust to complete the mission.  Of course I accepted it.   “It was only after I had completed the mission that I learned the mission was a test.  The base I destroyed was a subsection of Heartcrusher’s lab.  The guards and workers on-sight were under the illusion that they were guarding the King.  The engineers I’d assassinated in their beds, next to their loved ones, had no knowledge of the project.  Haileaus made me kill so many innocents just to see if I still had ties to the Alliance.  That’s when I turned against the Legion.  Because while they gave me their appreciation, they took from me so much more.  They made me someone who would blindly accept a mission.  Someone who would murder my former colleagues in cold blood.  Someone who would trust a monster.  The Legion is a bunch of selfish, greedy individuals, who are only together because it helps them accomplish their own goals better.  And I joined them, leaving my people dying on a battlefield.”   Sheevah yawned.  “Next question, and please try to keep the answer shorter, why me?  I assume could have mind-controlled any member of the Legion.  Why not Weran, or Backstabi or Snoz, or Relikar?  Or Haileaus himself?”   “It is harder to determine the effects of mind control on undead, since their essence does not necessarily reside in their brains.  As for the others, I decided I had done enough damage to the Alliance races.  I figured even if you couldn’t kill Hail yourself, you’d stay alive long enough for me to finish it.  And, if Hail killed you, then all the better – I’ve always hated you.”   “Was this the first time you tried to hurt us?”   “I brought the Hunters upon us and tried to kill Caera in a malfunction during that battle.  That was all.”   “Thanks.”  Sheevah put Shadow Blade on the ground pointing towards Gyroscope.  She then smiled, picked up a toolbox, and slammed it down on the model until it was indistinguishable.  Sheevah watched in satisfaction as Gyroscope sobbed.   “Father?”  The voice came from the doorway.  “Father I couldn’t leave you, what’s wrong?  Please don’t cry.”   A younger, more robotic version of Gyroscope walked through the door.   Terror gripped Gyroscope, though all he could say was “Lissa, I told you to run, you are in danger and I don’t want you seeing me like this.”   “Oh Gyro, you never told me you had a child!  Hey Lissa, I’m Sheevah.  Why don’t you come here and give your Auntie a hug?”  When Lissa didn’t move, Sheevah moved to grab him.  Lissa responded by screaming, grabbing Sheevah’s hair, and kicking violently.  They rolled around.  Lissa was, of course, stronger, but Sheevah had armor and had managed to get one of her daggers out.  Finally Sheevah managed to stab something critical and Lissa was reduced flailing about blindly.  Sheevah took out a vial of acid and held it over Lissa.   Drip.  Hiss.  Drip.  Hiss.  Drip.  GRAHH!  It seemed during the tussle Sheevah or Lissa had kicked one of Shadow Blade’s wings towards Gyroscope, who had managed to use it to escape – then as a throwing knife.   Sheevah dropped the vial, leapt at Gyroscope, and drew her daggers.  Gyro dove for his desk.  He grabbed his daggers and a device.  Then he disappeared.  Sheevah knew he was gone.  She screamed, swore, and began tearing apart the lab.  Then something smelly grabbed her arm, she felt an uncomfortable squish, and suddenly was in Heartcrusher’s lab, watching a fleeing Gyroscope.  She didn’t lunged at him, not even bothering to question what happened or who brought her there.   Haileaus watched Sheevah and Gyroscope fight.  He was glad Gyroscope had managed to get armed, because they the two were quite well matched.  Well, Gyroscope would of course win in a fair fight, but if one of Sheevah’s blades so much as scratched Gyroscope, Sheevah’s venom would end the fight.  Actually, it seemed Sheevah might not need her venom.  Gyroscope was steadily backing up.  Finally, he got desperate.  He dropped his dagger and threw a flash bomb, then ran towards a portal labeled, ‘FORBIDDEN!  DO NOT ENTER!  BACK AWAY!  BAD THINGS WILL HAPPEN TO YOU IF YOU GO THROUGH HERE!’ in 37 languages.  Gyroscope ran through.  Sheevah followed.  Haileaus watched, somewhat disappointed that he couldn’t see what would happen.  Oh well.  He’d as Heartcrusher later.       37 DAYS LATER   The next meeting Haileaus watched from afar.  Nobody in this space-time knew his was alive, and Hail liked it that way.  He saw old members – Rfeann, Aeriwen, Backstabi, and a few others step up and assert themselves.  Yet so many were missing.  Heartcrusher, Verelyse, and Caera were still missing.  Celinne, Cloaked, Kiwe, Twitch…so many others were either gone for good or had faded into the shadows.  Haileaus saw others he had not known well stepping up.   Relikar, Kain, Hassen…so many new names.   Haileaus sighed, turned, and walked out into the cool night air.

Rouge Legion Origins: Gyroscope

The story of how Gyroscope became involved with the Rouge Legion.  As of this time only the first chapter has been released, which was posted on the official forums by Gyroscope but then removed.  The version posted here is a revised version, which is more in line with the rules of the legionverse.  All versions are authored by Gyroscope; illustration by Patrick Best.

Illustration by Patrick Best

Chapter 1: Invitations

“Hyah!” Gyroscope leapt through the air at the target dummy, both blades pointed forward toward it’s middle.  With a satisfying feel of resistance, the blades sunk into the dummy right in the kill zone.  Gyro brushed the sweat off his forehead and yanked the blades out of the dummy.  Hopefully this time it will have been good enough for master Tanto.

“Not good enough!”  Dammit.  “You’re still flailing about in the air.  A good way to catch a stray arrow or blow to the legs, wouldn’t you agree?”  Master Tantojutsu, a wizened old gnome and revered instructor of the rogueish arts in Ironforge, had hand-picked Gyroscope from a long list of recruits.  And Gyroscope was beginning to regret it.

“I’m trying, but I just lose focus on anything but my blades and the target!”  Gyro snapped back.  This was his 56th attempt at the move so far, and despite his progress, each failure felt as bad as the last.

“You lack discipline!  You must be aware of much more in a fight.  Your entire being as well as your blades, not to mention your opponent, and most importantly your surroundings.  For every seen enemy, two more lurk in the shadows.  Remember this, and maybe you’ll make a decent rogue one day!”  Tanto then tossed a throwing dagger at him, aiming at his non-vitals.  This was one of his favorite tricks in his training routines, meant to help the students be cautious and alert.

With a flourish Gyroscope’s right hand swung and knocked the dagger into a wooden support beam to the side of the training area.  “I know that, but it’s easier said than done,” Gyro grumbled.  “It’s kind of hard to do that when” was all he managed to get out.

A loud BOOM rocked the caverns, and a shower of pebbles fell from the ceiling on the pair of gnomes.  Gyroscope’s head snapped to his teacher, who dismissed him with a quick “Go, they will need you.”  He nodded and sprinted out of the training area, skidding along the smooth stone floors as he raced towards the hangars.  Running down the rough stone shortcut to the hangar, he could see cracks forming in the walls and ceiling, some wide enough to stick his hand into.  With a shake of his head he darted around the next corner out into the main passageways, a surge of adrenaline rushing through him.

BOOM.  Not again!  Another shockwave nearly tripped him as he slid into the hangar.  He quickly leaped into the cockpit of his own personal warplane, which he called the Shadow Blade, and hit the ignition.  Its black color and sharp-as-steel wings had been the bane of many horde parties in the Dun Morogh area in the past, and today was looking to be no different.  Clenching his teeth, Gyro hit the accelerator and blasted out of the mountainside, leaving behind a wake of rags and overturned tool carts.

Gyroscope nosed the Shadow Blade into a quick spiral, gaining altitude as well as a better view of the fighting below. He noticed the source of the shockwaves immediately: Horde siege tanks, back behind an entire legion of Orc and Undead warriors.  The thinner lines of Dwarven guards were holding them back for now, and the Gnomish siege engines dotted along the mountainside were helping, but the outcome was looking grim.  Looking to the wooden support beams on the enemy siege tanks, he set the Shadow Blade in a nosedive.

A few yards from the ground, he pulled up, almost immediately flying level to the ground.  Yet another reason not to trust a Dwarf with Gnomish technology he thought as he laughed aloud.  The Orcs and Undead saw him flying low above them, and a few even tried swinging their axes at him, but it was too late.  With a quick jerk on the yolk, the Shadow Blade’s right wing sliced through the support beams on the first siege tank.  Success!  With a grin, he made quick work of the rest of them, then set out to see if he could use the blades just as effectively on some of the warriors below.

After turning the Shadow Blade in a quick arc, Gyroscope lined up the plane with the left flank of Orc warriors when suddenly something whizzed right at him.  With a sharp Clang something had lodged itself in the left engine, causing smoke to trail the craft.   This low to the ground, there was no way he could regain control in time, or even set it down somewhere to make repairs with the battle raging nearby.  With a cry of anguish, Gyroscope flicked the emergency release and was launched a good 50 feet into the air, watching his plane crash into the ground.  My greatest creation and best weapon, felled by a mere throwing star.  Someone’s going to pay dearly.  He pulled out his daggers and cut the lines to the parachute and dropped toward the ground.  At the last second the rocket jets in his boots ignited, slowing his fall right before the ground, and he dropped landing in a puff of snow.  Orcs and Undead alike gasped with awe, then grinned and surrounded the gnome.  So I’m just an easy target, eh?  I’ll show them how wrong they are!

Crimson blood flashed through the air from the first Orc’s neck before it even knew what hit it, and the second had a deep gash in its chest soon after.  With a shout the remaining Orcs and Undead charged forward, and with a gurgle they slumped to the ground.  So pathetic.  Wiping the blood off of his daggers on an Undead warrior’s sleeve, he turned to walk away when he heard a familiar whizzing sound past his ear.  Looks like my assailant has decided to show up after all.  With a quick backflip and a firm grip on his weapons, he looked to his opponent through the trees.  A blood elf here, amongst all these Orcs and Undead?  The elf, with reddish hair and a look of confidence on her face, stood opposite him in a small clearing, all the other Orcs and Undead long gone after seeing what had happened to their friends.

“I’m surprised, I didn’t think you would survive a crash this close to the ground,” the elf called out.

“You’ll find I’m not so easy to kill as your … friends,” he said back as he gestured to the bodies around him.

“These idiots are no match for me on their best day, and if my information is correct, you won’t be much of a problem either.”

“No match?  I’ll show you!”  Gyroscope rushed at the blood elf, the rage of losing the Shadow Blade fueling his strikes.  She matched his attacks stab for stab, even scoring a few cuts along his arms and a deep gash in his thigh, until Gyro tried for a quick kick to the ribs.  The blood elf sidestepped his attack, but before Gyroscope could react she knocked one of his daggers out of his hand into a nearby snowbank.  As soon as the blade left his hand, a small light on the back of his gloves started to blink.  Within a few seconds the blinking increased to a solid glow, and the dagger suddenly shot out of the snowbank right back into Gyro’s hand with a solid Clink.   A good thing I finished these prototypes the other day, and even better the magnets in the hilts and on the gloves still stick!  A quick flick of his wrist and a small jet burst from the dagger brought his arm around just in time to block a downward slash from the blood elf.

“Time to go all out!”  With that the jets on Gyroscope’s blades flared into life, nearly flying out of his hands.  Gyro struck out against the blood elf, now with significantly faster strikes and stabs.  The blood elf grunted and swung back hard.  Ducking underneath her swing, Gyro stabbed back, only to have her other blade swing down to block his attack.

After a few more swings of their blades clashing, the blood elf jumped back, holding her blades at the ready.  Gyroscope took advantage of this and jumped back, doing a backflip in midair.  Before his boots hit the ground, the jets inside them roared alight, launchhing him forward to meet his foe.  He brought his blades up to stab her, just the way he was training earlier.  It will all be over soon.

Or so he thought.  The blood elf flashed a smirk, and then she was gone.  Gyroscope gasped, it was too late for him to change his attack or even change trajectory at this point.  She reappeared underneath him and spun in midair.  Oh crap, not this again.  Her leg connected with Gyro’s, sending him spiraling into the branches of a nearby tree.

“Alright, I think that’s quite enough Caera.”  Great, now whose here?

Gyro popped his head out from the branches, left hanging upside down from the elf’s attack.  “Just who are you supposed to be?” he called to the voice.

“I am the reason you are here.”  The voice came from the shadows of the trees around the clearing, and within those shadows emerged an undead in a dark cloak and a hood.  “It’s come to our attention that you are a rogue with notable skills, and surviving your match with Caera certainly helped your case.  I extend to you an invitation to join the Rouge Legion.”

“Rouge Legion?  Certainly you mean Rogue!  Wait, why am I even listening to you, you’re probably behind this attack on the city!”  Gyroscope leapt down from the branches, grunting and falling over in the soft snow.

“You’re listening because you’re interested, as we knew you would be; otherwise we would not have bothered” Caera spoke out, crossing the clearing and offering him a bandage.  “Use this on your leg, it should heal up on its own soon enough.”

Gyroscope grunted a thanks as the undead spoke again; “While it may not be aptly named, the Legion has its purpose, one we believe you could be of use for.  We strive to control the balance of order and chaos in this world, and our observation tells us you have a keen sense of judgment.  Caera can fill you in on the way back to headquarters.”

The Rouge Legion – An Epic by Haileaus and Cloaked

The first story about the Rouge Legion and its resolution.  Book 1 is by Cloaked, and is exactly the same as his earlier tale.  Books 2 and 3 are by Haileaus.  The original story is here.  Minor edits were made transferring the post to this site in the effort to undo any damage done by the swear filter used on the official WoW forums.

Book 1: THE HOSTAGE

The blindfold and the cloth gag are untied; the prisoner of war slowly opens their eyes and comes to, finding themselves in a stone room with only a table and a few chairs – that, and several notable rogues, most of whom were only thought to be rumors. In addition, prisoner’s hands, arms, and legs are bound: chances of escape, let alone surviving, are slim to none.

“What’s it look like, Verelyse?” asks a blood elf, her long auburn hair flowing liberally behind her.

The tanned, black-haired blood elf, Verelyse, stands from her seat and walks over to the table in front of the prisoner. “A human female with dark skin and red hair…” Verelyse nods. “Identity confirmed. Caera, it looks like we’ve got our suspect.”

From seemingly nowhere, a gnome jumps onto the table and looks the prisoner dead in the eye. “I say we KILL HER! KIIIIIILL HEEEEEER!”

Verelyse’s hand settles on the gnome’s shoulder. “Settle down, Gyro; we’ve still got plenty of questions for this one.” Gyro spits on the prisoner and jumps off of the table.

“Heh… as if I’d tell you guys jack. You might as well heed the gnome’s words and ki-” before the prisoner can finish, she takes a crucial blow – a powerful smack across the face.

“If anyone’s gonna ask questions around here, it’s gonna be us, you little shit,” says a brazen woman – another human – who is of a lighter complexion than the prisoner with black hair of the same style.

“I didn’t ask any que- oof! Stop smacking m- oof!”

“Looks like we’ve got us a live one,” speaks a night elf in a soft voice, the brim of her hat covering her eyes, “But I think I’d prefer you not smack her so much that she can no longer enunciate, Snoz.”

Snoz gives the prisoner what is perhaps the coldest glare that has ever been given before wandering off elsewhere. Meanwhile, a goblin begins inspecting the prisoner’s belongings. “Heeey, she’s got some mon’nay!” says the money-hungry rogue, pocketing a significant amount of gold. “Sheevah’s gonna be riiich, Sheevah’s gonna be riiich…” she sings quietly and happily.

“Hey, that’s mine!”

“And you are ours, little human.” The deep voice that spoke comes from a dark corner of the room; from that corner emerges a forsaken rogue whose face is mostly cover.

The other rogues clear a path as he walks through. Despite her grievous rogue training, the only thing the prisoner can gather about him was that his eyes were dark, devoid of any soul or emotion. She tries her best to maintain her composure.

“Can… can you see me? You have no eyes…” the prisoner asks nervously.

“I see many things…” The forsaken rogue continues to approach her slowly, staring her intently into her eyes. She is gradually becoming more confused – more afraid.

“You don’t scare me… I eat rogues like you for breakfast,” the prisoner scoffs.

“What a coincidence; I partake in cannibalism now and then as well,” says another forsaken rogue, this one female, from the far left of the room. The prisoner averts her eyes momentarily to try to catch a glimpse of the figure.

By the time she turns back, the first forsaken rogue is just at the other end of the table. She shivers, clearly intimidated.

“Are you… afraid?” he asks, his stance and glare unwavering.

“Could you blame her?” Caera says, “Even as long as I’ve known you, Haileaus, sometimes you still send a chill down my spine”

A low exhale can be heard from behind Haileaus’ mask; afterwards, his face slowly turns to Caera. “That… is what makes a rogue.” He turns and returns to his corner of the room. The prisoner’s shoulders relax.

“I’ve heard of you… I’ve heard of all of you! Verelyse, Caera, Backstabi, Gyroscope, Haileaus, Sheevah, and Snitz…”

“Snoz! It’s Snoz! Do I have to smack a shit again?!”

“S-Snoz! ” the rogue looks around and observes all of the fierce presences, both aggressive and rational, that she has seen. “You are… The Rouge Legion… The Rouge Legion is real?!”

Verelyse nods; Caera takes a step toward the table. “Now, as for you, Keorics…”

“WAIT A MINUTE!” yells a high-pitched voice from above. Through a secret opening in the roof, a pale, dark-haired blood elf falls, flips once, and lands lightly on the table. She looks up, and her gaze is immediately fixed onto Keorics. “You…”

“You…” Keroics’ face quickly turns sour. “Cloaked…”

“WHY DID YOU NOT ANNOUNCE CLOAKED’S NAME WITH THE REST OF THE LEGION?! Cloaked is a part of the legion, too, y’know.”

“Hmph, hardly. How’d you even get in here?”

Cloaked’s brow furrows and her eyes become ferocious. She grabs her dagger from a sheath on her hip and holds it up to Keroics’ chin. “Would you like to see?”

“Hah, as if. You probably couldn’t even kill me all tied-up like this! You, of all the members, have no notable credentials.”

Cloaked looks at Keroics for a while before returning her dagger to its sheath. “You’re right: nobody knows of anything Cloaked has done. Cloaked’s name is but a word to most.” Cloaked turns around and walks away from the table. “And soon, yours will be nothing more than a memory.”

Cloaked turns around to look at the prisoner, but all that’s in the chair are the ropes she was tied in. “Where’d she go?”

“Cloaked!” Backstabi yells; Cloaked quickly turns to find a knife being hurled at high velocity in her direction. With a minor repositioning of her head, she catches the knife with her teeth.

“Are you shill doubting Cloaked’sh skill?” Cloaked mumbles, her speech hardly hindered from the dagger in her mouth.

Keroics was found and is being physically restrained by Gyroscope and Caera; everyone, including Keroics, looks at Cloaked curiously.

“Cloaked…” Verelyse sighs and covers part of her face with her palm. “Really?”

Keroics bursts out laughing. “Fitting that a circus freak like yourself would catch a knife in your mouth.”

“Cloaked ish not a circush freak!”

Caera sits down in a chair near the table and crosses her legs. “Cloaked… no one can understand you bec-”

“Cloaked KNOWSH that no one understandsh her! Cloaked hash come to termsh wifth that.” Cloaked crosses her arms.

“No, you fool, it’s because there’s a knife in your mouth,” Backstabi says while shaking her head.

Cloaked flips her head back and throws the knife up, then catches it in her hand. “Hmph. Cloaked will never be understood.”

“The hell are you talking in third-person?” Keorics asks snarkily.

“FOOL!” Cloaked throws the knife swiftly; it cuts a small lock of Keroics’ hair off. “There is only one Cloaked. There are not three.”

Verelyse stands up and clears her throat. “If we could begin this interrogation…”

Caera’s fingers and thumb rub her temples. “I second that.”

“Hmph. Cloaked is too busy for these ‘interpretations.’ Cloaked will be… somewhere.” Cloaked takes a few steps back and gradually disappears into the darkness.

“… Hey,” a deep voice says.

“Yeah, what’s up Hail?”

“This is my dark corner…” Haileaus replies, “Go find your own.”

Cloaked steps out of the dark corner angrily, then finds one at another part of the room. “Cloaked will be… somewhere.” She slowly backs into the dark corner.

“Ya be gettin’ a little too close for comfort, Cloaked.”

“Ah jeez, where’d you come from, Kiwe?” Cloaked leaves the corner yet again.

“I been here the whole time, waitin’ ta see if Keorics be havin’ a fightin’ chance; if I see she be givin’ us trouble, I handle da business.”

Cloaked, now completely frustrated, heads to another corner of the room. Before she can reach halfway, a familiar voice yells out. “Don’t even come over here. This is the 2000+ corner, no PvE heroes allowed.”

“DAMMIT! FINE! Cloaked will go upstairs!” Like a child who just had their bottle taken away, Cloaked stomps through the Rouge Legion and heads up the wooden stairs.

Keorics struggles to contain her laughter. “So, this is a typical day for the Rouge Legion, huh? You guys aren’t nearly as tough as all the rumors say.”

“WE ARE TOO!” Cloaked yells from upstairs. “ESPECIALLY Cloaked!”

“ENOUGH!” yells a deep, rough voice; Keroics suddenly feels a strong presence behind her. “Keroics… you WILL tell us… EVERYTHING you know…” The worgen man from behind her growls in a low tone.

“T-Twitch…” Keorics shivers, feeling the worgen’s hot exhales along her neck.

The worgen draws his dagger and licks its side. “Now… I’LL show you how to make a prisoner squeal…” he laughs manically.

Keorics became rigid as he felt the point of Twitch’s dagger against the back of his neck, and the blade of another just brushing the hairs of his neck.

“So,” Caera said, “are you going to tell us why you are tracking us, or should we have Gyroscope…motivate you?”¬

“DON’TTELLDON’TTELLDON’TTELL!!!”

Rfeann raised an eyebrow.

Keorics stammered, “H-hey, n-n-no need to be hasty now! I’ll tell!”

“That’s right you will.” Twitch growled, giving more than just Keorics chills.

Haileaus once again emerged from his dark corner, this time wearing a black hat. “Now, now, let’s be civil. You look thirsty, how about a glass of water.”

Keorics shook his head. Something stirred in Haileaus’s eyes that made Keorics wish they were covered again, and tendrils of dark energy lashed out of his shoulder-pads forcing Keorics back in his seat.

“Are you sure?” Haileaus asked lightly, “Because you really look like you could use a drink.”

Keorics took it, wondering just what he was drinking. Then he started talking. “Alright, here goes.

“About a month ago I received a letter from an unknown hunter saying how my talents are not recognized that if I could locate and show them a way into the Rouge Legion’s headquarters, they would reward me handsomely. Of course I had not been invited to the Rouge Legion, but I figured if anybody was part of the legion it was the renowned Caera.

“It took me about two weeks to find her, but once I did she led me right here.”

About thirty seconds passed as the Legion mulled over his words. By this time Keorics had resigned himself to Twitch’s blades.

Haileaus broke the silence. “Where are the hunters now? Do they know anything? Are you in contact with them now? Be warned, if you are being dishonest I will know.”

“I have not been in contact with them since the letter. It instructed that we meet six days from today, at which point I was to give them any information I had and we would proceed from there. I do not know where they are, and have no way of contacting any of them until the designated day. I can only assume they are ignorant of my and your whereabouts.”

This time it was Snoz who spoke. “Well, I think we will all agree you were quite cooperative Keorics. Then again I suppose Twitch may be the one to thank in this case. Clearly your abilities are impressive if you were able to find us, so on behalf of the Rouge Legion I give you a choice. You may die in a very painful way, or you may pledge yourself to the Legion, and perhaps make a name for yourself – after a series of trials of course.”

A chorus of voices arose, most of them confused or angry. Once they died down enough Caera raised her voice, “Well Keorics, what shall it be?”

“Err, well I’d prefer to live of course, so I guess I pledge myself to the Rouge Legion.”

Twitch put his knives back. “Oh you poor, poor fool….”

“We shall start the trial immediately then. Gyroscope, would you be so kind as to fetch Heartcrusher? You seem to be able to stomach his experiments better than most.”

What are they planning…? Keorics wondered.

Book 2: TRIAL

The next day

Snoz opened the cellar door. Still sleeping? Wow this one isn’t gonna last long.

SMACK! Keorics’ eyes shot open. SMACK! “I’m awake already!”

“We are going. Grab your gear and meet be outside in 45 seconds or I’ll kill you.”

Forty-two seconds later the door burst open and Keorics ran out, holding her left boot while shoving a helm on.

Snoz led Keorics to the room they were in yesterday, where members of the Legion Keorics were lined up.

“Usually we wouldn’t do this test till later, but it seems a lot of people wanted for it to be pushed up. You must survive for five minutes in combat with a member of the Legion. Choose one.”

“Cloaked”

SLAP! “Do you see her her? No. Why? Because she’s on a mission. Now use your eyes and choose! Oh and by the way you may also choose me.”

“Ok, ok, let me think about it then!”

Keorics considered the choices. She needed a strong member of the Legion, but one she was sure she’d be able to kill. Simply surviving would not be enough.

Snoz…she seemed like a pretty dangerous foe, probably best not to fight her.

Gyro…Keorics thought she could probably take him, but gnomes are slippery and something about Gyro told her that he had a lot more to him than meets the eyes.

A large male orc Keorics didn’t recognize…seems like he knows what he’s doing and could very well over-power me.

Next was a nightelf woman in all black except for a blood-red hat. The hat and her head were angled so Keorics couldn’t see her eyes…maybe, but my intuition tells me she might be better left alone.

Sheevah…wait, she’s the one who picked my pocket! But no it’s too obvious of a choice. Still I’m sure I could take her, she’s nothing more than a thief.

Another Keorics didn’t recognize – a male gnome, face masked and with head and facial hair sprouting out everywhere…gnomes are easy to underestimate, and I don’t want them to think I’m picking on the smaller members.

This time a goblin with a pair of axes at his belt…maybe, but if this one is using axes he may have other tricks up his sleeves.

Haileaus, though he had changed his hood back to the original…god no.

Caera…something about her made Keorics know that she was one of the deadliest killers in the world.

Backstabi…maybe, but perhaps I should go for more of a challenge. She looks weak.

Another one Keorics didn’t recognize – a human male with black hair…perhaps, but judging by the way he is keeping his distance from Backstabi I worry he may be too easy. Or Backstabi may not be so weak after all. Either way I should avoid them both.

A worgan male was next. He wore a headband and shoulders with what looked like antlers coming out of them…Looks fierce, but I can probably take him. Definitely a possibility.

Keorics was pretty sure the next one was Kiwe…I don’t know if it’s the eyepatch or what she said earlier, but she seems pretty competent. Then again everyone is clearly good, so maybe.

Verelyse…clearly influential. No way.

Another goblin, head covered with a dark-blue hood so only the eyes could be seen. Keorics saw a deadly calm in her eyes, and felt her probing him for weaknesses…this would not be a good choice.

Another human male. It seems he got his hood from the same source as Haileaus, though this one was less intimidating. From the way he held himself Keorics knew he was confident that he was among the best of what he does, and what he does is kill…I think I’ll pass on this one.

Twitch – Keorics inadvertently stiffened as he felt the memory of his blades on his neck…no.

“I choose the worgan male between Verelyse and the human.”

As soon as Keorics finished Weran rushed forward, blades raised. He moved to stab Keorics with his right, reserving the left for any parrying necessary. Keorics stumbled back and managed to dodge to Weran’s right. When he turned around, Keorics was going for a counter-attack, holding both blades low but too wide in an attempt to strike just under the ribs. Weran stepped forwards and parried both blades, while at the same time kicking her in the chest towards an old pair of green antlers that hung on the wall. Keorics slammed into the antlers, and to everyone’s surprise the antlers went straight through her. In fact, they almost seemed to grow.

Weran grinned, “Looks like I win Keorics. And by the way, my name is Weran.”

Once the light faded from Keorics eyes Weran removed Keorics’s body from the antlers and dropped it on the ground. He then carefully inspected the antlers. They appeared to be undamaged, and very sharp. “I, Weran, claim these antlers as mine. Anybody who contests can fight me.”

Any potential responses were cut short by six Legionguards running into the room. One spoke. “A band of hunters has breached our defenses! All we know is they are strong, I’m not sure how many of us ar–ACK!” He dropped clawing at an arrow in his throat.

Hunters and their pets poured in from the three doors. The Rouge Legion, already prepared for battle, wasted no time in engaging the enemy.

Pajamas, the guard standing next to the one who spoke and the actual leader of the Guard, took out her throwing knives and quickly sent two hunters to their gods.

Madsushi raised his axes, quickly deflecting an arrow with his right while bringing his left down, slicing deep into the neck of a frostsaber. At the same time he brought the first axe down to prepare for his next strike, but on the way an arrow ricocheted off if it and struck him in the base of the neck. As he dropped, another arrow sunk into his chest, and he fell on the frostsaber, their necks crossing as they breathed their last breaths.

Gyroscope took out a grenade and threw it at a group of hunters. It exploded in a cloud of poisonous gas and the coughing hunters scattered.

After clearing the area around them of pets, Haileaus, Caera, and Rfeann exchanged glances and together rushed one of the doors, dodging arrows and the pets which were being cut down primarily by Leitka, Tanto, and Sheevah.

Someone crashed through the doors,

“Idiots.” Ippon muttered under his breath as he saw another member get crushed by a bear. He threw his last knife, nailing a hunter in the eye. Then he swung down, and began cutting down the hunters around him. A knife grazed his cheek – one thrown by a fellow member of the Legion. “WATCH IT YOU USELESS FOOL!” He the culprit, and send both his daggers under her ribcage, pitched up so they entered the lungs. At the same time three arrows in sunk into Ippon’s back with resounding thuds. As he turned back to face his opponent one of the arrows in his back exploded. As Ippon fell, his last word slithered out of his mouth with such venom that would make a lion whimper. “Idiots….”

Kiwe and Rogare both noticed the hunter who had killed Ippon and moved to dispatch her, but Leitka got to her first.

Weran managed to get himself into a fight with the two remaining hunters, parrying, dodging, and striking in such a blur that the other members of the Legion were worried they might hit Weran if they decided to help. All of a sudden both at once keeled over, dead, with axes sticking out of their backs. Standing behind them was a tall night elf with blue hair covered by a brown hat. “Sorry I’m late guys, glad you didn’t finish without me.”

With the battle over and any potential silence broken by Celinne, the room filled up with hushed murmurs.

For the first time in anyone’s memory Haileaus raised his voice. Darkness flared out of where his eyes should be, through the slits covering his “STOP YOUR USELESS TALKING AND LISTEN TO WORDS THAT ACTUALLY COUNT!” Silence. “Now I’m clearly not as surprised as the rest of you since I reject useless emotions, but still I’m surprised a group of the most elite killers can’t handle something like that. Yes, hunters appear to have blindsided us, killed some of our members, and made our false headquarters a bit more risky. But looking around me I see that the members that can hold their own are still here. So, let’s accept we got some fat cut out of our ranks and reap bloody vengeance.”

“Hail’s right,” Verelyse said, “‘Only two kinds of people die in battle – the stupid, and the unlucky.’ We can’t afford to have either of those among our ranks. That said, an attack on the Rouge Legion cannot go unpunished. If you truly are a member of the Legion, then you will leave behind any who died and come with me to start planning.”

As she walked away, the high-pitched voice of Gyroscope spoke up. “We may be able to trace the hunters’ tracks back to their lair. As I am obviously qualified and likely have the most contacts of all of us, I think it is best that I go. You know how to contact me.” Before anyone could respond, he jumped out the closest window.

Book 3: VENGEANCE

Leitka checked the time on her GYroscope’s ROuge Legion mUltipurpuse Device 9600 (GYROLUD). Twenty-seven seconds. She scanned the treetops. A glimmer of light from a nearby tree caught her eye and adrenaline and surged through her, until she realized it was just the reflection off the grinning Kiwe’s dagger. Leitka winked at her. She checked the time again. Three…two…she pressed the COMM button, set to Haileaus’s channel…one… “Leitka set.”

Haileaus noted with satisfaction as every eight seconds, without fail, a member of the Legion would check in. “One of the remaining members,” he thought.

Five…Six…seven… “Cloaked is set.”

Haileaus pressed the broadcast button. “Everyone is in position up top. Gyro?”

“It’s Caera. Gyro’s voice is too high-pitched so I took it from him. This tree is pretty sturdy. I’m starting to think druids may be involved. Give us a few minutes.”

“Alright,” Haileaus replied, “give me an update every minute.” He pressed another button. “Tanto?”

“Still in position, Hail. Sorry we can’t give you something to worry about. Maybe make sure Verelyse and Heartcrusher aren’t…distracted?” Haileaus grumbled, Rogare laughed, and Tanto clapped a hand over his companion’s mouth.

Caera’s voice came on the GYROLUD, “In position.”

Haileaus pressed the “Broadcast” button and said, “Everybody is set. Execute.”

The hunters were sitting at a table. “What do you think, Bullet, is it possible to use a looterang to pluck weapons and other nice items from our enemies?”

Suddenly a hissing erupted from under them. Canisters started coming in through the windows. “Bubbles” picked one up. “Who’s Cloaked?” then it exploded and the hunters learned exactly how poisonous the gas was.

The hunters, now holding their breaths, sounded the alarm and fled.

Snozy threw his last poison grenade into the hunters’ lair and grinned. She prepared a throwing knife. They should be coming soon.

Sure enough, she saw a hunter trying to escape by jumping off the second level. It hit the ground, dead, with a knife in its forehead.

But aside from that one hunter it was oddly quiet. Snozy waited. Out of the corner of her eye she noticed a shift in the scenery, as if some of it was passing through piece of glass. She knew that if she acted perhaps a dozen hunters and their pets would start poking holes in her. She knew that every other rogue was thinking the same thing. And she knew that the hunters were in the same situation. But why weren’t they just running?

Gyroscope grinned. Just as he planned, the hunters were holding their ground. Well, in their own understandably cowardish way. “Looks like we need something to break this standoff,” he told Caera who winced how loud her partner’s voice was even when he was trying to whisper. Gyroscope pulled a tiny box out of his Quantum Qampression CONTIANment dEvice R-6300 (QQCONTAINER, a name which also made Caera wince) which expanded to be roughly a 12’’x12’’x3’’ cube with a big red button on it and an arrow which Gyroscope pointed towards the approximate location of the hunters. Then he took out a device that looked like a gun on a tripod (which also had a big red button) and set it a bit in front of the box. He looked at Caera, who was already stepping back with a slightly worried expression, sighed, activated the devices, and ran away.

Rfeann watched the extra high-tech target dummy unfold under her. “Huh,” she thought, “that dummy reminds me of Ippon. Man does Gyro know his irony.” Suddenly the tripod-gun exploded, Rfeann lost her balance, and found herself standing (feanns always land on their feet) staring at a wall of guns, bows, and crossbows.

Then everything happened all at once. Rfeann threw down a smokebomb and pressed herself flat against the ground; the wall of weapons turned into a wall of bullets and arrows; Pajamas started throwing rocks at all of the traps she’d spotted to “disarm” them; and about ten rogues descended from the trees. In short, the battle began.

Haileaus, who had recently restored his stock of Filled Festive Shotglasses, decided to use one to blindside the hunters from above. This backfired, as a trio of birds, one squawking, one screeching, and one quacking, began furiously pecking him. In pain and with the hunters alerted of his presence, Haileaus was forced to utilize shadowstep, a technique which involves teleportation through shadows that he created by studying the mages’ blink. He shadowstepped behind a hunter on the outskirts of the battle and slid a knife across its throat. Haileaus proceeded to contain the hunters by eliminating any who tried to flee.

Among the many acts of cunning, wit, and raw power a few great ones stand out.

While Verelyse was cutting down hunters with her characteristic skill and grace, one hunter managed to cock her crossbow. As she was about to fire an explosive bolt at point-blank range, Heartcrusher, who was standing in a nearby tree raising ghouls, deathgripped the hunter and punched her in the face. When the hunter hit the ground the bolt exploded.

While Cloaked was fighting two hunters at once, a rogue by the name of Stuffs told her she was fighting like a schoolgirl. Cloaked proceeded to ramp up her kill-speed and ended with the fifth-highest kill count of the entire legion behind Caera.

Snozy and Rogare tied for most hunters killed in one fight, each defeating three hunters and their pets at once.

Pajamas, seeing Weran in trouble, threw a stone at the tiger trying to eat Weran’s face. She swore as the stone stopped in mid-air and was surrounded by a purple glow. When the light faded, the stone was replaced by a large partridge which proceeded to gouge out the eyes of the pet, then moved on to attack the surrounding hunters with unmatched fury.

Soon after the arrival of the partridge the battle was over, with all hunters either dead or long gone. Just to be sure the Legion checked the hunter base for survivors, but found none.

The Legion since claimed the tree as one of their own bases, and in the inner-most room erected a statue of Daxxarri holding in his hands a partridge, modeled after the newest member of the Rouge Legion.

The Rouge Legion – a Tale by Cloaked

The first story of the Rogue Legion, by Cloaked.  Originally posted on the official rogue forums, here.

The blindfold and the cloth gag are untied; the prisoner of war slowly opens their eyes and comes to, finding themselves in a stone room with only a table and a few chairs – that, and several notable rogues, most of whom were only thought to be rumors. In addition, prisoner’s hands, arms, and legs are bound: chances of escape, let alone surviving, are slim to none.

“What’s it look like, Verelyse?” asks a blood elf, her long auburn hair flowing liberally behind her.

The tanned, black-haired blood elf, Verelyse, stands from her seat and walks over to the table in front of the prisoner. “A human female with dark skin and red hair…” Verelyse nods. “Identity confirmed. Caera, it looks like we’ve got our suspect.”

From seemingly nowhere, a gnome jumps onto the table and looks the prisoner dead in the eye. “I say we KILL HER! KIIIIIILL HEEEEEER!”

Verelyse’s hand settles on the gnome’s shoulder. “Settle down, Gyro; we’ve still got plenty of questions for this one.” Gyro spits on the prisoner and jumps off of the table.

“Heh… as if I’d tell you guys jack. You might as well heed the gnome’s words and ki-” before the prisoner can finish, she takes a crucial blow – a powerful smack across the face.

“If anyone’s gonna ask questions around here, it’s gonna be us, you little @#%$,” says a brazen woman – another human – who is of a lighter complexion than the prisoner with black hair of the same style.

“I didn’t ask any que- oof! Stop smacking m- oof!”

“Looks like we’ve got us a live one,” speaks a night elf in a soft voice, the brim of her hat covering her eyes, “But I think I’d prefer you not smack her so much that she can no longer enunciate, Snoz.”

Snoz gives the prisoner what is perhaps the coldest glare that has ever been given before wandering off elsewhere. Meanwhile, a goblin begins inspecting the prisoner’s belongings. “Heeey, she’s got some mon’nay!” says the money-hungry rogue, pocketing a significant amount of gold. “Sheevah’s gonna be riiich, Sheevah’s gonna be riiich…” she sings quietly and happily.

“Hey, that’s mine!”

“And you are ours, little human.” The deep voice that spoke comes from a dark corner of the room; from that corner emerges a forsaken rogue whose face is mostly cover.

The other rogues clear a path as he walks through. Despite her grievous rogue training, the only thing the prisoner can gather about him was that his eyes were dark, devoid of any soul or emotion. She tries her best to maintain her composure.

“Can… can you see me? You have no eyes…” the prisoner asks nervously.

“I see many things…” The forsaken rogue continues to approach her slowly, staring her intently into her eyes. She is gradually becoming more confused – more afraid.

“You don’t scare me… I eat rogues like you for breakfast,” the prisoner scoffs.

“What a coincidence; I partake in cannibalism now and then as well,” says another forsaken rogue, this one female, from the far left of the room. The prisoner averts her eyes momentarily to try to catch a glimpse of the figure.

By the time she turns back, the first forsaken rogue is just at the other end of the table. She shivers, clearly intimidated.

“Are you… afraid?” he asks, his stance and glare unwavering.

“Could you blame her?” Caera says, “Even as long as I’ve known you, Haileaus, sometimes you still send a chill down my spine”

A low exhale can be heard from behind Haileaus’ mask; afterwards, his face slowly turns to Caera. “That… is what makes a rogue.” He turns and returns to his corner of the room. The prisoner’s shoulders relax.

“I’ve heard of you… I’ve heard of all of you! Verelyse, Caera, Backstabi, Gyroscope, Haileaus, Sheevah, and Snitz…”

“Snoz! It’s Snoz! Do I have to smack a @#$% again?!”

“S-Snoz! ” the rogue looks around and observes all of the fierce presences, both aggressive and rational, that she has seen. “You are… The Rouge Legion… The Rouge Legion is real?!”

Verelyse nods; Caera takes a step toward the table. “Now, as for you, Keorics…”

“WAIT A MINUTE!” yells a high-pitched voice from above. Through a secret opening in the roof, a pale, dark-haired blood elf falls, flips once, and lands lightly on the table. She looks up, and her gaze is immediately fixed onto Keorics. “You…”

“You…” Keroics’ face quickly turns sour. “Cloaked…”

“WHY DID YOU NOT ANNOUNCE CLOAKED’S NAME WITH THE REST OF THE LEGION?! Cloaked is a part of the legion, too, y’know.”

“Hmph, hardly. How’d you even get in here?”

Cloaked’s brow furrows and her eyes become ferocious. She grabs her dagger from a sheath on her hip and holds it up to Keroics’ chin. “Would you like to see?”

“Hah, as if. You probably couldn’t even kill me all tied-up like this! You, of all the members, have no notable credentials.”

Cloaked looks at Keroics for a while before returning her dagger to its sheath. “You’re right: nobody knows of anything Cloaked has done. Cloaked’s name is but a word to most.” Cloaked turns around and walks away from the table. “And soon, yours will be nothing more than a memory.”

Cloaked turns around to look at the prisoner, but all that’s in the chair are the ropes she was tied in. “Where’d she go?”

“Cloaked!” Backstabi yells; Cloaked quickly turns to find a knife being hurled at high velocity in her direction. With a minor repositioning of her head, she catches the knife with her teeth.

“Are you shill doubting Cloaked’sh skill?” Cloaked mumbles, her speech hardly hindered from the dagger in her mouth.

Keroics was found and is being physically restrained by Gyroscope and Caera; everyone, including Keroics, looks at Cloaked curiously.

“Cloaked…” Verelyse sighs and covers part of her face with her palm. “Really?”

Keroics bursts out laughing. “Fitting that a circus freak like yourself would catch a knife in your mouth.”

“Cloaked ish not a circush freak!”

Caera sits down in a chair near the table and crosses her legs. “Cloaked… no one can understand you bec-”

“Cloaked KNOWSH that no one understandsh her! Cloaked hash come to termsh wifth that.” Cloaked crosses her arms.

“No, you fool, it’s because there’s a knife in your mouth,” Backstabi says while shaking her head.

Cloaked flips her head back and throws the knife up, then catches it in her hand. “Hmph. Cloaked will never be understood.”

“The hell are you talking in third-person?” Keorics asks snarkily.

“FOOL!” Cloaked throws the knife swiftly; it cuts a small lock of Keroics’ hair off. “There is only one Cloaked. There are not three.”

Verelyse stands up and clears her throat. “If we could begin this interrogation…”

Caera’s fingers and thumb rub her temples. “I second that.”

“Hmph. Cloaked is too busy for these ‘interpretations.’ Cloaked will be… somewhere.” Cloaked takes a few steps back and gradually disappears into the darkness.

“… Hey,” a deep voice says.

“Yeah, what’s up Hail?”

“This is my dark corner…” Haileaus replies, “Go find your own.”

Cloaked steps out of the dark corner angrily, then finds one at another part of the room. “Cloaked will be… somewhere.” She slowly backs into the dark corner.

“Ya be gettin’ a little too close for comfort, Cloaked.”

“Ah jeez, where’d you come from, Kiwe?” Cloaked leaves the corner yet again.

“I been here the whole time, waitin’ ta see if Keorics be havin’ a fightin’ chance; if I see she be givin’ us trouble, I handle da business.”

Cloaked, now completely frustrated, heads to another corner of the room. Before she can reach halfway, a familiar voice yells out. “Don’t even come over here. This is the 2000+ corner, no PvE heroes allowed.”

“DAMMIT! FINE! Cloaked will go upstairs!” Like a child who just had their bottle taken away, Cloaked stomps through the Rouge Legion and heads up the wooden stairs.

Keorics struggles to contain her laughter. “So, this is a typical day for the Rouge Legion, huh? You guys aren’t nearly as tough as all the rumors say.”

“WE ARE TOO!” Cloaked yells from upstairs. “ESPECIALLY Cloaked!”

“ENOUGH!” yells a deep, rough voice; Keroics suddenly feels a strong presence behind her. “Keroics… you WILL tell us… EVERYTHING you know…” The worgen man from behind her growls in a low tone.

“T-Twitch…” Keorics shivers, feeling the worgen’s hot exhales along her neck.

The worgen draws his dagger and licks its side. “Now… I’LL show you how to make a prisoner squeal…” he laughs manically.

The Stats Conundrum

This post is all about one very simple, very common, and very important question:

“How do I optimize my stats?”

There are quite a few common answers to this question.  For each one, I will list why a reasonable person might suggest it, its pros and cons, and why in the end its wrong.  Think you have an answer that isn’t wrong?  Read the article and think again.  If you still think so, I and every other theorycrafter would love to hear it.  At the very end I will give you my own answer to this impossible question.

Wrong Answers

<Stat> is better because <what it does> is good for your spec/class.

Example:

Combat rogue:  “Hey, I know I need the hit and expertise caps, but after that what is the best stat in PvE?”

Helpful Poster:  “Haste is the next best stat because it allows you do use more generators, which advances Bandit’s Guile faster, and more finishers, which reduces the timers on your cooldowns.”

Note that in the current iteration of the game (that is, 5.4) this reply is true.  That is, for most gear sets at max level haste is better than both crit and mastery according to almost every theorycrafter (i.e. person who did some reasonably convincing work to find a good answer of our question).  Unfortunately, if the stuff after the “because” is actually the reason haste is better, then if next patch the value of crit was multiplied by 10, nothing would change.  Think about it.  Haste would still allow you to use more generators, in turn advancing BG faster, and you’d still get more finishers, which lets you use more cooldowns.  Still find that argument convincing? In the end, more of any one stat will likely benefit your character in some way.  Are there exceptions?  Yes – rogues don’t care about int, mages don’t care about agi, and nobody cares about a stat after it has been capped.  But generally speaking, saying a stat is good because it helps you is an extremely weak statement, since what matters is not how it helps you, but how much it helps you relative to the other stats.

A > B > … > Everything Else

Example:

Sub Rogue:  “Hi, I just started getting into raiding and have been enjoying subtlety.  My question is, what’s the stat priority for sub?”

Helpful Poster:  “According to the IcyVeins subtlety guide, Agility >> Hit (7.5%) > Expertise (7.5%) > Haste > Crit > Mastery.”

This is probably the most common answer, especially for PvP.  Usually these priorities are obtained with whatever tool the writer trusts most, the accuracy of which we won’t concern ourselves with just yet.  The biggest issue with priorities like these is that it gives no information on how much better one stat is than another.  For instance, say you have two pieces of gear with the same amount of agility.  One has 100 haste and 100 mastery, while the other has 50 haste and 150 crit.  Which is better?  If you go by this priority, you might think it best to go with haste and crit.  But in reality, the first item has much more haste on it even though it has mastery as the second stat, so depending on how much better haste is than crit and how much better that is than mastery, it could very well be better to go with the haste/mastery item.

<EP Table>

Example:

Assassination Rogue:  “Hi, I am coming back from a break and was wondering, what’s the stat priority for an assassination rogue nowadays?”

Helpful Poster:      “EP Values for Assassination:  Agi:   2.8;    YHit: 2.0;    Exp:  1.4;    Mst:  1.3;    Hst:  1.1;    Cri:   1.0″

To clarify for anyone who hasn’t seen an EP table before (btw, sorry this isn’t in a sexy table format, I’m not so good with WordPress yet), the number next to each stat is used to indicate how good it is.  In the standard EP tables that most rogue theorycrafters use, every stat is being related to one point of attack power.  That is, the value of the AP stat is set to 1.  When you see “Agi:  2.8”, that means that one point of agility is equivalent in terms of DPS benefit to 2.8 points of attack power.  In other words, the higher the EP value, the better the stat. Now first of all, a correct EP table will give you all of the information you need to determine what gear you need.  Can an EP table be correct?  Let’s push that just a bit farther down.  For now, let’s assume that these values were obtained by a trustworthy source.  The problem here with general EP tables is that these values can change quite a bit depending on gear.  Don’t believe me?  Check out these EP tables for the same Assassination rogue, with the only difference being gear:

Yeah, big difference.  You notice that Strength is our second best stat in that setup?  Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying these EP tables are correct, for sure the one on the left is probably not quite accurate since ShadowCraft (the program that generated the tables) is not used to dealing with such crappy gear (the average ilvl of the left one is about 450), but you get the point.  EP values change enough depending on gear there is no one-size-fits-all EP table.  Perhaps even more importantly, these tables are generally made with best-in-slot gear, which means that for the vast majority of players, and all for which this question is relevant, any EP tables that you find will be be like trying on someone else’s cloths.  Sure, it may fit your needs, but if it does it doesn’t mean that it was accurate.  Rather, it means you were lucky, or your you just don’t know how to recognize a good fit at all since your old clothes were terrible.

Use a sim/model!

I combined sim and model into one category since they have similar pros and cons but let’s get one thing straight:  Simulators and models, while used for the same purpose, are very different beasts.

A simulator, such as SimulationCraft, basically pretends to be a player.  It uses its abilities in order when available following a set of rules until the encounter is over.  After a large number of iterations (fights) and number crunching, a DPS estimate is obtained.  Using a simulator to get stat weights means finding DPS with whatever your current stats are, then going through each stat one-by-one and seeing what happens when you add/subtract from it.

A model, such as ShadowCraft, is a bit more complex.  Paraphrased, it basically says something like “Ok, you have a 100 second fight and you’re playing combat with two slow weps.  Obviously you’ll have Slice and Dice up the whole time, which lets us know how much energy you’ll be getting from all sources.  Now let’s figure out how many times you’ll use Slice and Dice, because that’s easy (100/5-cp-DnD-duration).  Ok, so that means we take away the energy cost of those SnDs, plus the cost of getting to 5 CP in the first place, but let’s add on the damage those Sinister Strikes do.  Ok well now we also want to make sure we have 100% uptime on Revealing Strike, so let’s use 100/20 of those, and then put those combo-points towards Eviscerate.  Ok, now we have a bunch of energy left over, let’s put all of those towards Eviscerates and the SnDs used to get them….”  Told ya it gets confusing.  The actual implementation of the only model worth knowing about for rogues (ShadowCraft) is different and more complex, but you get the idea.  As far as I know the EP values of each stat are calculated in basically the same way as they are for simulators, but because models don’t go through an entire fight thousands of times, they come up with values much quicker and are therefore usually automatically calculated every time you change your setup (In SimulationCraft, the only sim worth knowing about for anyone, you have to ask it to give you EP).

Ok, now that that’s over with, you can completely forget about the last two paragraphs and go back to treating them like black boxes that do the exact same thing – give you a DPS estimate and an EP table customized to your setup (stats/spec/race).  So, what are the problems with using a sim/model?

Well first of all, because they are made by humans.  This means that for example Rupture could be treated as having an energy cost of 35 instead of 25 since someone goofed up.  Think that could never happen?  Think again – that example was a real bug.  Similarly, people could simply get the rotations wrong (this is especially an issue with sims where telling it things like when to pool resources can get tricky).  Simply put, the people who work on these projects are probably not professionals, and even if they are, it definitely isn’t their job.  A lot of people consider me a notable rogue theorycrafter, which is flattering, and maybe even true, but before I’m a theorycrafter I am a student double majoring in math and computer science, a member of a sports team, and a whole lot of other things.  The takeaway shouldn’t be that the people writing these things are incompetent.  Far from it, they (I personally do not consider myself a notable rogue theorycrafter) tend to be exceptionally bright, dedicated, and skilled.  Still though, they are human, and occasionally make mistakes, which can be reflected in their work.

The second and I think much more significant issue with sims/models is the assumptions they make.  Due to their nature, models tend to make more assumptions than sims (uptime of SnD is 100% for all rogue specs, as is Rupture for subtlety, CDs are not waited for, openers are mostly ignored, etc), however these model-specific assumptions more or less balance out, so we can ignore them.  The assumptions that compromise the validity both sims and models the most are those of fight type and skill level.  Generally speaking, skill is assumed to be really high, which may not reflect the player using the sim/model.  Even when there is a way to toggle skill level (SimC has certain percentages here), it’s very hard as a user to know what level you are.  Fight type is in my opinion a bigger issue than skill.  Most models/sims assume you have 100% uptime behind a boss that never dies (but does go below 35% HP for part of the fight).  Any tool that supports multiple targets does so pretty unreasonably, with them never dying  and always staying in range.  Since these types of fights are extremely rare, even the stat weights given by a perfectly accurate sim/model tuned to your skill level will be only optimal for one very specific situation.

I tried these setups and found this most effective.

I wasn’t really sure where to put this one.  The thing is, it is really truly terrible in terms of advising people on stat allocation, but at the same time, it is possible the most meaningful statement on a personal level.  Let’s say, for instance, I’m a really good subtlety rogue when it comes to finisher usage.  While most people use their finishers when they have 5 CP, I use CP pooling to ensure that almost every single Eviscerate I land is buffed by Find Weakness, trinket procs, MoS, etc.  Moreover, on multitarget and cleave fights I can seamlessly multiDoT Rupture while keeping CT and SnD up on my enemies and myself respectively.  This would mean that compared to a normal sub rogue a higher percentage of my damage would come from finishers, potentially making mastery a much more valuable stat for me than for a regular rogue.  On the same vein, I could be a really bad assassination rogue when it comes to remembering to use/refresh SnD (***really bad***).  If that’s the case, then I would be getting much fewer baseline poison procs, likely making mastery a lot less valuable for me than for a regular rogue.  In both of these cases it is very possible that the stat priority that gives me the best DPS is entirely different than the optimal stat priority for another rogue.  Clearly, playstyle differences make it so that telling someone your optimal stat priority is quite meaningless.

Of course, now I’ve just seamlessly and quite accidentally transitioned into another, extremely rare, answer to the question:

Figure it out yourself.

I’m actually not sure I’ve ever seen this response, and here’s why:  It’s hard.  In order to get any idea of how much each stat is worth you need to manually try out every single stat priority you think might be optimal.  If you have n stats, then you have n! (1*2*3*…*(n-1)*n) different orderings.  If you try to add in EP values, the number of tests needed goes to infinity.  For reference, this means that even if you somehow know that agi is over twice as good as every other stat (needed for gemming) and yellow hit is the best secondary, you still have to check expertise, crit, mastery, and haste.  That means n=4, so you still have 24 different priorities to check.  Ain’t nobody got time for that!  What’s more, is that even if you ran through LFR with each of those priorities and compared DPS, the result would be meaningless, since not only are things like fight duration, buffs, and debuffs nearly impossible to control for (maybe you didn’t have lust/hero for one fight, or you died, or etc!), but you also have a fair amount of variance in terms of crits.  Check out this graph, taken from SimulationCraft:

The height of a bar corresponds to the likelyhood that a subtlety rogue will do that amount of DPS in a given fight.  As you can see, there’s a pretty good chance that even if you play at the same level with the same buffs and debuffs in the same encounter (fight lengths are within a range here) for every stat priority, there is a very good chance that your stat priority had nothing to do with why you dealt the most DPS when you did.  To even out the effects of RNG, you’d have to vastly increase the number of times you ran LFR (like, multiply by 250)with each stat priority, and make sure you didn’t get any better/worse (remember, as your skill changes the priorities might shift!) as you run these tests.  Also, there are other factors you’d have to control for that I left out (and probably more that I didn’t think of).  So yeah, that’s why this is a terrible answer.  Oh and one more thing, DPS queues.  *shudder*  At least you’d…uh…hrm.  Ya know, I can’t think of a silver lining to this, which is pretty impressive.

My (Also Wrong) Answer

Use ShadowCraft!

What’s ShadowCraft?  It’s a model specifically designed for rogues which you can use to optimize your own character, estimate the dps difference of various setups within a spec, and gauge what upgrades will provide the biggest boost in dps.  Not a rogue?  Uh…well, wow, I mean I’m flattered you are reading my blog, thank you*!  Um, I have nothing more to say to you.  So yeah, use ShadowCraft.  Does it have all of the flaws I mentioned in the model section?  Yes!  But it is also an extremely sophisticated tool that a lot of people have worked on and combed over, which means it is a lot more trustworthy than any other model or sim (SimulationCraft, while a bigger project, has nobody active who’s dedicated to optimizing the rogue class and thus is a lot less trustworthy).  While technically the best method would be to figure it out yourself, that’s a good way to get checked into a mental institution and either way by the time you finish your tests enough variables will have changed that they are probably meaningless.  All other methods have not only serious flaws, but likely the same ones that ShadowCraft does, since where do you think things like EP tables and stat priorities come from?
*Unless you’re a hunter.  Thanking hunters for anything other then letting me kill them is a severe policy breach.