Ghosts of Ahn'Qiraj
As soon as you pass through the Gates of Ahn'Qiraj, you start to hear all kinds of spine-chilling voices, of unknown creatures from the past millennia. Some of them still wander around, some are long gone.
Hello fellow adventurers,
If there is one place in whole Azeroth that is able to give the same excitement to me every time I visit, even though I have visited it so many times, I can safely say that it is the Temple Ahn'Qiraj and the fallen kingdom it is built upon.
I remember the first time I stepped into the Temple of Ahn'Qiraj a few years ago, with a group of friends who were walking me through the epic raid instance, as I was watching around with my eyes and mouth wide open, breathless with amazement and fright. It was one of a kind experience for me that I will fondly remember till the end of time. I also remember the first time I was able to solo Temple of Ahn’Qiraj; it was a big accomplishment for me to beat the Twin Emperors at only level 67, which in my opinion was a great feat at that time.
As usual with so many things around us that we do not easily notice since we really don't pay close attention to them, I was not aware of one of the primeval secrets of Ahn'Qiraj, which was buried not only under the immovable sands and stones of the colossal Qiraji structures, but also under the heavy and impenetrable threads of time.
Fortunately, as a seeker of secrets across Azeroth, a recent re-visit to Highlord Demitrian revealed that secret to me.
When I first met Highlord Demitrian in his dark and misty corner in The Crystal Vale, far on the northwest Silithus, he simply ignored me, thinking that I was just one of the newbie adventurers, wandering in the desert cluelessly, and not worthy of his precious time. But when I defeated Ragnaros the Fire Lord in Molten Core, then Thunderaan the Air Lord just in front of him, and finally wielded the legendary sword, Thunderfury, Blessed Blade of the Windseeker, he had no choice but to take me seriously, and answer as I talked to him.
As he was congratulating me on my successes in the elemental plains against the most powerful elemental lords, a strange question slipped out of his mouth, as if it was asked to himself; whether it slipped intentionally or not, I did not know:
"... so, is it time for the ghosts of Ahn'Qiraj to finally rest? ..."
Not knowing what to make of what I just heard, I asked: "My lord, could you please tell me what you meant by that? Who are these ghosts of Ahn'Qiraj you speak of?"
He replied, distracted from his flow of thoughts: "What? Did I say ghosts of Ahn'Qiraj? No son, you must have heard me wrong. I said "what time is the Midsummer fest?". I use such random phrases all the time; when you live in seclusion for so long like me, it is natural that your mind starts to work in unpredictable ways."
But I sure knew what I had heard and I was not going to let it slip.
He first tried to avoid talking about what I had vividly heard, so I insisted on him telling about what he meant. As he glanced over me from head to toe, and further realized that I was no ordinary adventurer, he finally gave in and started to tell about some of the past events that took place on these lands many ages ago.
"Ok, ok, brave one, I will tell. But listen carefully my son, as what you are about to hear is not written in any history books you can find even in the deepest corners of the oldest libraries of Azeroth. Only very few individuals, such as myself, have command over this forgotten knowledge, and I should say, we are so very few now. So, this might be your only chance that you will ever be able to hear what I am about to tell you."
He stayed silent for a moment to gather his memories, and then continued:
"The region you now know as Ahn'Qiraj, was not always inhabited by the foul Qiraji. It even had a different name." I looked at him surprised.
"Before the First Age of Creation, long before the recorded history as we know it I mean, before the Titans came, before any race that we know of today walked on Azeroth, when the world was in pure order, when all the existence was in a perfect balance, when the nature and living beings lived in a flawless harmony, a small but highly prosperous civilization flourished on the southern edge of Kalimdor."
"As far as I remember from the ancient scriptures I read during my endless researches about the unrecorded history of Kalimdor, I should add none of those scriptures exists anymore, there was no mention as to what race or origin the builders of this civilization came from, except that they were Azerothians. They were neither pictured, nor described in detail to give you a clear idea about what they looked like. They sure were Azerothians, perhaps among the first ones, and they were able to establish a magnificent civilization that we could only see in our dreams now."
"A civilization that never knew what war is, what hatred is, what weapon means; a civilization that never witnessed bloodshed, that never experienced a fight. A civilization that solely focused on the balance and the good in everything they did, in everything they built, in everything they crafted, in everything they invented, in everything they said, and in everything they felt."
"If I tell you that they had established a heaven on Azeroth, don't think that I am exaggerating. They definitely did, and they lived in that heaven, in such peace and harmony for ages to come. They called the land they built their civilization on as Ef'ees, which meant eternal peace in their language.
"They did live peacefully for ages and they would have continued to live so in their kingdom of peace, had the gravely sad day when they met with the World Enders not come."
The Highlord paused here for about a minute, he seemed like he did not want to continue, but he had trusted me with this knowledge, for a reason beyond my understanding; hence, he continued after his short break:
"They came from south, far souther than Pandaria, from the uncharted lands of Azeroth, in humongous ships, the likes of which these parts of the world have never seen till that time. They came not to conquer, but to destroy and devour; they came not to expand their lands, but to scrape all civilizations from the face of Azeroth."
"Poor Ef'eesians, the most peaceful and innocent beings this world has ever had the honor to be a home for, I am not even sure that they had a clear grasp of what came to them, what happened to them that day. Unaware of the evil the other creatures are capable of, unknowledgeable of any sort of war or even self-defense skills to at least protect themselves, their loved ones and their kingdom, their fall must have been the quickest of all times."
"When the World Enders were done with Ef'ees and its citizens, there were nothing much left, just ruins, fires, death, in plain words, the wreck of a fallen kingdom that was once the heaven for its people."
The Highlord was now looking far far away, towards south, where the silhouettes of the towers of the Temple of Ahn'Qiraj were barely visible. He was looking there in such a way that you could say he was trying to reach there with his moist eyes.
"My son, I have always dreamed of witnessing the major events of the past, to somehow see them as an observer from a distance, to experience them myself, to learn what really happened. But know that this one, the fall of Ef'ees, that I would never wish to see, ever."
His feelings towards this atrocity of the past ages were so strong, I could have sworn that he had already witnessed it with his own eyes. Seeing the silence that descended upon him, I asked:
"Please continue my lord, what did the World Enders do then?"
"Nothing much really, their motive was to end something so precious, something that today's people would consider to be impossible, and that they did, nothing more. They wiped Ef'ees and its peaceful people off Azeroth, to ensure no such civilization would ever be built again."
"Just one thing though... Before they left, they cast down huge crystals from the sky, shiny crystals of black and gold color, and they sealed the whole area with those crystals till the age of Qiraji began, to prevent future generations of Azeroth from ever discovering the tracks of this ever-peaceful civilization. It is believed that it is these crystals that lured the Qiraji from far beneath the ground ages after, to claim what was already destroyed and to continue the inheritance of the World Enders by terrorizing Kalimdor."
"They left quickly as they came. But this time, they did not set sail to the south. They sailed up, to the skies, till their huge ships were no longer visible behind the stars."
As he finished his last sentence, Highlord Demitrian made a head gesture, kindly requesting from me not to ask any more questions to him, and walked towards his tent. Figuring that he needed to be alone to suppress the pain and agony the story he had to remember caused him, I thanked him, hopped on my mount, and slowly flew towards the Gates of Ahn'Qiraj, the story of Ef'ees echoing in my mind.
I was both amazed and depressed by the story I had just heard. It felt like having the purest good hopes for one moment, and in the next moment, having those hopes destroyed by the evil. I was sorry, I was angry, I was pissed; for the first time I felt powerless though, as there was nothing I could do about what had already been done ages ago.
I flew towards Ahn'Qiraj, to explore what I had already explored once more, but this time, from a quite different perspective. My intention was to find any tracks or signs of the Ef'eesians if I can, but I did not have much hopes as many ages had passed since.
As I flew across the golden desert under the same sun that cast its lights on Ef'ees the day it was built and the day it was destroyed, I kept wondering about the civilization of Ef'ees, about its people, how they looked like, how they lived in peace and harmony. I also wondered about the World Enders, and how they could destroy something so beautiful like that. Not feeling strong enough to want to face them, I felt grateful that none of the current civilizations of Azeroth had to experience what Ef'eesians had.
I swept the large area, known to us now as Ahn'Qiraj: The Fallen Kingdom, then I entered the Ruins of Ahn'Qiraj, seeking anything unusual, anything that did not belong to Qiraji, anything that might have remained from the Ef'eesians. Any structure, any device, any stone, any symbol, any grave... I flew for hours, and then for many more hours over Ahn'Qiraj. I spent even more hours on foot, closely inspecting all the walls, all the towers, all the statues, all the gates, all the crystals.
Nothing... I was able to find absolutely nothing that would be a reference to Ef'eesians. As if, with the arrival of the Qiraji, any tracks of Ef'ees was buried under the earth, not to ever be recovered or remembered.
I was losing my hope of finding anything of Ef'eesian people, but I was not going to quit my search till I also deeply explored the Temple of Ahn'Qiraj. One part of me badly wanting to find even the smallest thing from this long forgotten civilization, the other part of me wanting not to find anything in order not to disturb these peaceful beings' rest, I walked through the gates of the temple.
Inside the temple, everything seemed as they seemed in my previous visits. Though I had a different perspective now that I had learned about the civilization of Ef'ees that once rose and fell in this place, everything looked quite the same; the walls, the floors, the stairs, the engravings, the statues, even the sands of the temple, everything looked as Qiraji as they had ever been.
I kept proceeding patiently, sticking to the last bit of hope I had. I climbed the prophet's stairs, passed through the inner gates, crawled inside the labyrinth-like tunnels, ran across the colossal breeding chambers, nests and combs, inspecting the surroundings as I passed.
As I ventured deeper into the temple, I noticed something that I hadn't noticed in my previous visits. A sound, a very faint one, coming from far away, as if it was not coming from our dimension, almost suppressed by the endless, disgusting sounds Qiraji masters and their scarab and silithid servants kept making. My ears wide open, I hastily ran towards the inner parts of the temple, trying to locate the source of the sound.
When I entered a large hall with high walls and a long passway, the sound got louder; I was now hearing it clearly. It did not resemble the sound of any sort of speech or words I could recognize or even make sense of, it resembled the sound of something sad, something unpleasant, like a wailing or mourning.
I slowed down and started to walk without making any noise, checking around the hall to see from where the sound was coming. I hadn't taken more than a few steps, when the sound got accompanied with a disturbing feeling that caused me to stop and shiver in fear. It was the same feeling you would feel when you visit a graveyard of those who were horribly murdered, or a battle field that turned into a slaughter, where you would sense the restlessness of the fallen spirits; not a fear for your own self, but a fear those spirits had experienced, in a way passing to you.
I could now hear the sound inside my head; only this time, it was not coming from one single source; there were many sources, or beings I should say, making similar sounds, as if they were trying to grab my attention to something. I turned around, looked at the walls covered with Qiraji symbols, inspected the ceiling full of cobwebs and fire beetles, then, my eyes landed on the floor, which was made of sand and stone like most of the rest of the temple. But something was definitely different about the floor in this hall.
The more I looked at the floor, the more it felt like it was moving under my feet. The sands and stones of the floor was now on the move, creating waves and ripples like a wavy sea. I don't remember ever feeling as dizzy as that moment; I fell down on my knees, as if I was falling into a bottomless pit.
I was still conscious, but it was no more than the consciousness of a person who was in a dream. I touched the ground with my hands, felt the sands flow through my fingers, felt the hot winds of the desert blow through the hall -which now seemed like an infinite hall- and through my hair, and finally saw what was making the sound, on the turbulent surface of the floor.
I saw strange things on the floor, the likes of which I had never seen before. They were some kind of beings... beings I could not easily describe with any words I know in any language, beings of no shape, of no spirit, beings not from this dimension. They started to appear and disappear like the flash of a light on the floor, one after another, sometimes many of them visible at the same time. Each time one of them appeared, it looked totally different than the others; it was hard for me to identify whether they were once creatures of flesh and bones, or light and energy, or something else I couldn't even imagine. It was hard for me to stick clear images of these beings in my mind, but it was quite easy to notice one thing they all had in common:
The expression of fear and horror.
It was now obvious to me that these images -ghosts would be a better word I believe- from the past ages that had covered the floor of the hall, once belonged to the peaceful inhabitants of Ef'ees. As my mind and soul started to feel the same pain and agony these poor beings had felt ages ago, I unwittingly whispered the word Ef'ees into the endless hall:
What sounded to me as a whisper at first, gradually echoed inside the hall with the help of the ghosts of Ef'eesians, and turned into an extremely loud shout that caused the walls of the temple to tremble for seconds. The shout had become so loud that I fainted, as I couldn't endure the shock it created inside the temple, even though I closed my ears with my fingers.
When I regained my consciousness, the hall I was in looked just like how it had always been; it didn't look infinite, its floor was still covered with sand and stone, and there were no signs of the ghosts of Ef'eesians. Their sound had stopped too, I was only hearing the usual silithid and scarab sounds. I stayed still for a moment in wonder, trying to make sense of what I had just experienced.
I remembered the story Highlord Demitrian told me, and how unwilling he had seemed at first. I was not sure but I thought that the Highlord knowingly mentioned of the ghosts of Ahn'Qiraj, hence the civilization of Ef'ees, knowing that I was now powerful enough to survive this encounter. He was right, I survived. But the pain and agony I experienced, the suffering I felt from the destruction of the most peaceful civilization of Azeroth as those ghosts approached me on the floor, even if it lasted for just a few seconds, will no doubt follow me till the end of my time. Still, I felt glad to have known about the civilization of Ef'ees and to finally deliver their eternal peace to its people.
My spirit clouded with a mix of feelings, I proceeded deeper into the temple, to wipe the remaining Qiraji, the only link of the World Enders to Azeroth, for good.
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5 Mar, 2018 04:47 UTC
Hey Eom :)
Thank you for an immersive story to keep me entertained during a long train ride in a stormy snowy weather. Quite the contrast to the surroundings in the story. It was about time for more posts from you involving Silithus, too! :)
Glad you included the screenshots of the poor Azerothians - I'll be sure to notice them next time, I bet.
I had no idea a new story was up! I just noticed you are on Twitter, and even though I rarely log on there - maybe it can help remind me to check every now and again :)
6 Mar, 2018 02:51 UTC
Thank you for reading, this one turned out to be a semi-story. Sometimes it is hard to keep it as an exploration post, and it extends into a very short story almost naturally. Even that very short one comes out to be long :) So, sometimes I "fear" to start a new post because I have no idea how long it may take to write or where it may lead.
I hope you liked the slow appearance of the ghosts, I thought it would be a fitting detail.
By the way, "long train ride in a stormy snowy weather". That sure sounds like the perfect setting for a storm of inspirations, eh? Hope your journey gave a break at a mystical place and then continued towards mysterious unknown grounds with unexpected adventures!
6 Mar, 2018 05:14 UTC
Hey! I was going to say, it should be tagged as a story :)
I did. For me, screenshots really help my imagination along. I know, that some prefer images all in their head, but I really like it, when I have something I can recognize in game. Helps me remember, too.
Hah, I thought about that sentence after I posted my comment; it sounded a little fairy-tale like. Not too shabby, that!
Thank you, I wish it had. Maybe in my own little mind, it did. Being mindful in the moment is important during that kind of weather. When one is inside, and not freezing their toes off ;)
6 Mar, 2018 05:44 UTC
I know what you mean, but I tend to keep Eom out of the "real" stories. I mean if I have Eom in a post, participating or exploring, then I don't categorize it as a fan-fic story, even though parts of the post might feel like a fan-fic story.
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