This story is centered on Aldraen Miller during a special episode of his life (previous to the Burning Crusade). It also features Senna Farenc. The first setting is in Ironforge, as mentioned, but in the third depth. The Ironforge players visit it the fifth depth, of a total of eight depths.
This story is going to be part of a little longer series, I don't know the length yet.
Ironforge was buzzing with life. It was even a little more crowded than usual. The third depth of the city didn't see this much people on a daily basis, but this large happening was not on a daily basis. A little more than three weeks had passed since the Explorer's League had announced that they were accepting new applicants and the process had taken place. The normal test, to bring with the 20 best ones for a threeweek-long expedition to challenge their abilites, had followed. And now, they were to arrive back in home again so all explorers could see the name people that passed it. The procedure only took place a couple times a year, so it was something big. A good bit of members had gathered in Ironforge, those who werent currently on expeditions.
Aldraen Miller was there. He was a usual sight during the league gatherings, as he always wanted to meet the newest members as soon as possible. He had been in Ironforge for three days now, spending time reading and continueing on his quest to read through the entire league library. At this time, which was around dusk (but as Ironforge didnt have any open ways out to the day light except the gate and the gyrocopter tunnels, night and day were alike), he was sitting on his bed in a bunkhouse, going through a borrowed book from the library. The bunkhouse was a building of several stories, five to be precise. Each room was long and filled with beds along the walls, making it look like an infirmary. Each story had its own balcony as well with a view over the square outside, that was usualy occupied by different kinds of boxes and supplies that were stocked for expeditions.
Aldraen put the book to the side, handling it carefully. It was a quite old volume on the history of Khaz Modan and the mountains. Good reading, in Aldraen's opinion. There were voices coming from below. He went over to the staircase and walked down to groundlevel, which was three stories down. As Aldraen reached the lowest story, he could see a dozen of people who had just gotten in through the door. Also, most other explorers had gotten down to watch, from the different staircases of the house. The group was a collection of dwarves, mostly male but a few women who Aldraen didn't recognize, who must be the applicants who passed the test. It was not after a second or two that he noticed a human woman standing in the back of the group. She had shoulder-length light-brown hair and looked quite attractive, and it wasnt before seeing that she wore the official explorer's outfit that he saw she was one of the new members.
"Interesting", he thought, as there were at most under ten non-dwarf members taken in as explorers each year.
In front of the group, there stood a tall dwarf (tall by dwarven standards), who Aldraen recognized as Fremot Ironboot. He had been one of the leaders for the test venture.
"Ye ye, ye've seen 'em now. They're nay zoo animals. We're gonna introduce 'em later, at the party. But for now, we're gonna dump the equipment. Make way!", he told the gathered Explorer's League members and lead the group of embarassed and proud newcomers down the stairs to the storage downstairs.
Aldraen stayed behind as the rest of the curious explorers left the room and headed up again, talking to each other. He stood there for a short while before going back up the stairs to his bed. The traditional feast was going to be held a couple hours later. He wanted to ge himself representable for it, even though he usualy didn't stay around for long.
As it got dark over Dun Morogh, Aldraen entered the house that the feast was going to be held in. For the occasion, he had decided to wear the outfit that marked him as the rank of a full-fledged explorer.
After going through a hallway with torches on the walls, he headed into the big hall. This time, they had added one more long table to the normal six. There was another table at the wall, with a large buffe and a good deal of kegs. At the other end of the room there was a small scene, that was used for announcements. The room was almost packed to max with people, being mainly dwarves but also a few humans and gnomes. It was almost all members of the Explorer's League that were currently staying in Ironforge. Chatter was in the air, filling the room that wasn't occupied by people. The smell of roasted boar and different kinds of beer was there as well.
Aldraen went over to the end of one of the tables and sat down next to one of his friends, the dwarf Aldroch Stonefist. He nodded in greeting and looked over to the scene.
Fremot Ironboot came out onto the scene from one of the entrances on the side. After him followed the new people from earlier. Aldraen counted them to eight dwarf men, two dwarf women and the human from before. Most of them looked like blushing, probably due to having the attention of the entire room, but also a bit proud. Fremot went forward and stood in the middle of the scene so that everyone would hear him.
"Greetings, fellow explorers!", he shouted with his thunderous voice. "I'm nay speaker, so I won't try it. I'll get to introducing the fine men and women here who passed the tests. Everybody, meet prospector Whelgar!", he said and pointed towards the male dwarf most to the left, and everybody in the room cheered. He then introduced the other ones, and they were given the same reactions.
Fremot got to the last person in the line, the human woman, and introduced her as prospector Farenc. After doing that, he turned back to the audience.
"Now ye've seen 'em and heard the names. Now give 'em a good welcoming!" Fermot yelled, and everyone went to fill their plates and tankards, as well as inviting the new members to their table.
Aldraen smiled at all the commotion. Dwarves had a way with, feasting that no other race could surpass. The new prospectors quickly found a place to sit. Aldroch headed for the kegs of ale, but Aldraen went to the door after getting something to eat. He kept away from alchohol, and the dwarven way of partying didn't really suit his taste. He had seen the new people, and it was what he had come for.
He got back to the bunkhouse after a five minute walk. He walked up the stairs to the third story and the bed that was his own, for the time being. After that, Aldraen started changing the explorer's outfit for his usual clothing. He then rummaged through his bag and pulled out a scroll of parchment, blank. A quill pen joined it, and Aldraen started writing with his back to the wall.
He had gotten a through lines in when he heard steps in the stairs. As he looked that way, one of the new prospectors came up, Farenc. As she spotted Aldraen, she looked surprised.
"Oh, excuse me! Am I interrupting something"?" she said.
"No, it's alright, I'm only doing some writing. I thought you were at the feast with the others?" Aldraen answered and put the quill down.
"No, not really. I'm not much into drinking with dwarves. I went here to see if I could find a vacant bed. Yourself? I thought an explorer would be eating with the others?" said as she walked over and sat down on the bed next to Aldraen's.
"No, not really. I don't drink, and it doesn't mix well with most of my collegues' style of throwing a party. And how did you already figure out my rank?" Aldraen said and felt a little surprised himself.
"I recognized the outfit earlier, at the feast. You stand out of the usual crowd, you know? I've heard of you before, as well. You're explorer Miller. I'm Senna, by the way." Farenc replied and pulled her foot on the bed so she could rest her cheek on the knee.
"Well then, nice to meet you, Senna." Aldraen said as he reached out his hand and shook Senna's. "I see my reputation preceeds me, then? I didn't know I was famed. And by the way, you can call me Aldraen. I tell everyone to, anyway."
Senna smiled at him and brushed some hair out of her eyes.
"Well then, Aldraen." she said.
"It's always fun to see more of my own kin join the guild. Tell me, why did you decide to become a member?" Aldraen asked and also put the scroll down from his lap.
"A dwarven friend of mine had joined it a couple years earlier, and I thought it was interesting. Plus I love to travel, I used to venture around the world before coming here." Senna told him. She then looked at the scroll. "What are you working on?"
"I'm working on..." he said and help up the scroll so that Senna could read it. "... This. Doesn't it sound interesting?"
Senna read the text through and then nodded.
"Yes, yes it does."
The next day came as the sun rose, but Ironforge was just as bright (or dark) through night and day so it didn't matter. It was only a few hours since drunken dwarves had made their way back to the bunkhouse, so when Aldraen woke up, he found that every bed was now occupied.
"Senna had made a good move coming here earlier." he thought as he looked to his side and found her well tucked in her own bed.
He got out of his bed and put on the clothes he had taken off for sleeping. He then took out the scroll he'd been writing on the previous day and silently walked down the stairs to ground level. He nailed the scroll to the noteboard before going to making himself in order and everything else that the morning procedure was. After doing it all, before anybody else woke up (most of the explorers were still induced in an alcohol-fueled hibernation), he went out on a walk through Ironforge to fix a few preparations.
The scroll was information on an upcoming expedition that explorer Aldraen Miller was going to launch, funded by the Explorer's Guild. The only thing told was that it involved the Stormwind mountains, and that more details would be given at a meeting later the same day, where volounteers could sign up. An extra bonus would be paid on top of the normal wager. The scroll was signed with the curvy signature that was Aldraen's.
Later during the day, a few hours after lunch to be precise (Aldraen had planned it so to let the people wake up in good time and get over their hangovers), Aldraen arrived at one of the houses and was owned by the Guild. It was usualy used for study and to hold classes in, but he had chosen it for the meeting. The largest hall was still in a mess after last night's feast, the bunkhouses had no space to borrow and the museum wasn't a place for meetings. So a home-remade-classroom would fit just perfectly.
As he walked first up the exterior stair and then in through the bastant door, he could hear a good lot of people talking inside. It seemed as if a suitable amount of explorers had showed interest in his planned expedition.
He walked down the stairs to the main room. There was a lot of chairs spread over the large floor, and almost every single one was taken by someone. Aldraen counted it to around thirty people, and he also saw that Senna Farenc had decided to join. He then cruised his way through all the chairs, up to the large map at the other end of the room, the teacher's spot. The room went silent as he entered and he gained everyone's attention.
"I'm glad so many decided to come here today. I'm actually a little surprised so many of you can stand on your feet after yesterday, but what can I say? Some of you here could outdrink an yeti, I'm sure!" he said, gaining a few laughs from the crowd. "As the scroll told, I am indeed planning an expedition. I believe most of you have heard of Modir's Teeth, in Stormwind. And before anyone asks, no, I'm not talking about the city. The capital is Stormwind City, but the mountains surrounding it and a bit to the north are in the zone of Stormwind. The main goal of the expedition will be to scale Snowfang Peak, the second highest of Modir's Teeth. Information and new sources speak of something on that peak that the League would have interest in. Anyway, this expedition will be going into uncharted areas. The place is dangerous with tearing winds, dire wolves, harpies, both ice and forest trolls as well as ogres. This is not going to be an ordinary trip to an exvcavation with mountaineer support. This is for real."
Aldraen stopped for a minute, letting it sink in. A few of the present people were looking unsure.
"If you don't believe it's something for you, then it's not of interest. What I'm going to need is a smaller group of people. Fighting skills are neccesary as we wont be having proffesional backup. Map-making skills, a good head, experience and knowledge on climbing mountains are also what you need to have.", Aldraen explained. "If you don't think you are fit for this or just unsure, then you are free to leave. I want volounteers, noone who think he might not handle it. We are not going to carry anyone, at least not from the beginning."
Around two thirds of the crowd left the room. To Aldraen's joy, Senna stayed. It would be interesting to be able to have a human in the team except himself, but she would have to pass his requirements as well.
"Good, then. If you find yourself up for the challenge, then you can sign up on the scroll I brought over here. I'll then read it through and sort out those of you I think are best suited for my plan. When you have written your name and rank down, you are free to leave. I will contact you later." Aldraen finished his speech. He then sat down on a chair at the wall and watched the explorers sign up for his expedition.
After the last person had written, almost every single explorer had left the room. Aldraen looked up from the book he had been reading to pass the time and saw that Senna had stayed after writing her name down. When the room was empty, she walked over to Aldraen.
"So, this is what is was about?" she asked.
"Yes, pretty much. Fantasticly boring, isn't it?" he said and smiled as he put the book down. "I saw you signed up as well. For being a day-old prospector, you are ambitious."
Senna seemed to be blushing a little and looked the other way as she answered.
"A bit. I've been adventuring almost all my life, I can take care of myself. And no, it sounds very interesting! Do you think I could come?". She sounded very eager, Aldraen noticed.
"We will see." he answered. "I'll of course have to judge everyone first and pick those that would make the best team. But after what we talked about last night, I'm quite sure you are a good possibility. We'll see, I cant really give you a free ticket only because you are a human, and a very friendly one to add."
He could see how she went visibly redder.
"I need to get back to my quarters now. I'm going to read through the list and then consult Ironboot and Stonefall. After that, I'll let you know", Aldraen said and rose from the chair and tucked the scroll under his arm.
"Oh, can I walk with you? I'm going the same way." Senna asked.
"Sure thing. Come, I have a good bit of work ahead of me here and it'd be best if I could get to work as fast as possible.", he replied and she followed him up the stairs.
Half-an-hour later, Aldraen was sitting on his bed back in the bunkhouse. It was empty, as Senna had gone to leave Aldraen to his work, and the rest of the explorers had better things to do than sit around at their beds.
He took up the scroll with the mass of names on it. At his other side, he had prepared another piece of parchment to write the names of those he accepted into an expedition of ten persons, himself included. To add, he was also going to fix with the last arrangements for his expedition in ways of transportation and equipment.
He picked up the quill and looked over the list of names. After a short moment of humming to himself, he dipped the quill in ink and wrote the first name on the second scroll. It said: Senna Farenc.