All posts by Linaeum

Hero Overview: Diablo — Part 1

Hero Overview is a series that introduces readers to the Heroes of the Storm. This time, we’re going to be talking about Diablo, a Melee Warrior from the Diablo Universe.

Role: Melee Warrior

Universe: Diablo


Diablo, the Lord of Terror is the youngest of the three Prime Evils (ancient forces of chaos that seek to conquer the entire universe and subject it to their vile rule). Along with his brothers, Mephisto (the Lord of Hatred) and Baal (the Lord of Destruction), Diablo commanded the demons of the Burning Hells in their war against the High Heavens.

For the most part, the three Prime Evils acted individually, as they didn’t trust each other enough to truly unite. During the Fifth Battle of the Diamond Gates, however, Diablo combined his forces with those of Mephisto and Baal, and the High Heavens nearly fell—but then, in a move that everyone should have seen coming, Diablo turned on the others in the hopes of becoming the sole ruler of both the Heavens and Hells. This bold stratagem backfired, and the demons were driven back in disgrace.

Many years later, Diablo battled the forces of the High Heavens on the world of Pandemonium. During this fight, the Lord of Terror went face to face with Imperious, the Archangel of Valor, in a terrible duel. The two were evenly matched, and their fight could have gone on forever, if it weren’t for the interference of the rest of the Angiris Council (the Archangels who governed the High H

eavens). Together, they imprisoned and slew Diablo—but in his dying moments, the Prime Evil sowed the first seeds of dissent that would eventually tear the Angiris Council apart.

This was not the end for the Lord of Terror, however, for the Prime Evils can never truly die. They can only be temporarily defeated, and so, centuries after the battle on Pandemonium, Diablo returned just in time to witness the birth of Sanctuary. Recognizing the power that would belong to whoever controlled the new world, Diablo allied with his brothers once more in a bid to bend the people of Sanctuary to his will.

Founding the Triune—a seemingly benevolent religious organization—Diablo attempted to bring humanity to his side. At every turn, however, the demon was thwarted by the Cathedral of Light, a competing religion founded by the rogue angel Inarius (who’d used the Worldstone to create Sanctuary). The Triune and Cathedral battled for many years, until eventually, a nephalem named Uldyssian defeated both organizations and secured Sanctuary for the humans.

For centuries, Sanctuary remained safe, untouched by either the angels or demons—but then, Diablo, Mephisto and Baal managed to break through the magical barrier surrounding the world and began to wreak havoc once more. Alarmed by these events, Tyrael, Archangel of Justice

formed the Horadrim (an army of human mages) and pursued the three Prime Evils.

For ten years, the Horadrim chased Diablo and his brothers, but eventually, they managed to catch the powerful demons and imprison them inside the soulstones. Deciding that these relics were too dangerous to keep, the mages hid the soulstones in a cave far beneath the ground and built a small monastery above it.

Two hundred years later, the monastery had been converted into a massive cathedral, and the large town of Tristram had sprung up around the ancient structure. Sensing his chance at freedom, Diablo reached out and began corrupting the people of Tristram. Getting a member of the royal court to shatter his soulstone—and thus free the Lord of Terror’s soul—Diablo proceeded to reach out and destroy the mind of the city’s king, Leoric.

Despite possessing all this power, however, Diablo still needed a host before he could regain his body. As a result, he kidnapped Albrecht—one of Leoric’s sons—and used the young man’s body to regain his physical form. With his power thus secured, the Lord of Terror prepared to launch his assault on the people of Sanctuary; but then, the unexpected happened, as a trio of heroes descended into the catacombs beneath the cathedral and slew Diablo in an epic battle.

This was only a temporary measure, however, because with the shattering of the soulstone, Diablo could no longer be contained. In an attempt to contain this evil, one of the heroes absorbed the Prime Evil’s soul—only to be driven insane by the Lord of Terror’s whispers. Compelled to follow Diablo’s will, the fallen hero set out and freed the Prime Evil Baal from his prison.

Together, the two demons traveled to the location of Mephisto’s soulstone, where they found that the eldest Prime Evil had already succeeded in freeing himself. Reunited, the Prime Evils prepared to conquer Sanctuary once and for all—but then, a group of heroes showed up and slew Diablo once again.

Over the next twenty years, the Lord of Terror slowly enacted a new plan to gain ultimate power. With the help of Adria—a woman he’d met during his wanderings in Sanctuary—Diablo slew the six Evils (powerful demons who embodied different aspects of evil) and absorbed their power, becoming more dangerous than ever before.

His metamorphosis complete, Diablo emerged as the one Prime Evil and assaulted the High Heavens themselves. Defeating Imperius in a quick battle, the powerful demon shattered the gates of Heaven and attacked the Silver City that lay behind.

Diablo was on the verge of triumph—but then, his plans were once again thwarted by a group of human heroes who pursued him into the High Heavens and did battle with the Prime Evil. Diablo fought back with all his newfound might, but even this was not enough, and he was defeated one more and imprisoned in a newly-forged soulstone.

This appeared to be the demon’s end, but then, Malthael, the Archangel of Death interfered. Stealing Diablo’s soulstone, Malthael attempted to destroy all the people of Sanctuary. In the end, however, he was defeated, and in the process, Diablo was freed once more. Now, the Lord of Terror has arrived in the Nexus, which he plans to bend to his terrible will.



Diablo is a front-line tank who combines survivability with high levels of crowd control. He gets this survivability from his trait, Black Soulstone, which means that every time Diablo kills a minion, he gets 1 souls, and every time he kills a hero, he gets 10. Diablo can store up to 100 of these souls in the Black Soulstone, and for every soul he has, he gains 0.4% maximum health. At 100 souls, this adds up to a 40% health increase, which is a pretty huge deal. In addition, if Diablo dies with 100 souls, he will respawn after only five seconds—but he does lose all his souls in the process.

As for the crowd control section of his kit, Diablo has Shadow Charge, his first basic ability. Charging a targeted enemy, Diablo knocks them back a moderate distance, deals a light amount of damage and gains 25 Armor for a couple seconds. In addition, if Diablo manages to knock the targeted enemy into a wall, they get stunned for a second and take a heavy amount of damage in addition to the initial damage. This ability is great at both engaging with the enemy team and for picking off isolated enemies.

Diablo’s second basic ability, Fire Stomp, sends out eight waves of flame that deal light damage to everything they hit. Once they reach maximum range, the waves return, dealing moderate damage to everything they pass through. Fire Stomp is great at clearing waves of minions, as it has a relatively short cooldown and it deals a bit of damage, but it’s only okay in team fights, as it’s difficult to consistently land the fire waves on mobile enemy heroes.

Overpower, Diablo’s third and final basic ability, grabs a targeted enemy and smashes them into the ground behind Diablo. They take a light amount of damage, and are stunned for 0.25 seconds. This ability is great for pulling enemy heroes out of position, and because of Diablo’s massive hitbox, he can prevent the targeted hero from escaping his clutches long enough to secure the kill.

Diablo’s first heroic ability is Apocalypse, which creates a large demonic rune under every enemy hero. After 1.75 seconds, the rune explodes, dealing a large amount of damage to any enemies standing on the rune and stunning them for 1.75 seconds. This ability is great for team fights in tight, constricted areas such as the tribute spawns on Cursed Hollow, as the narrow paths make escaping the runes difficult.

Finally, Diablo has his second heroic ability, Lightning Breath, which deals a massive amount of damage over four seconds to all heroes in a large line in front of him that can be directed by moving the mouse cursor. This ability is great at forcing enemies off an objective, and the best part about it is that Diablo is unstoppable during its cast, so it can be used to dodge powerful stuns such as ETC’s Mosh Pit.

Learn to Play: Recruit Paladin

Learn to Play is a series that introduces readers to popular Constructed Decks in Hearthstone. This week, we’re going to be talking about the Recruit Paladin deck, one of the most powerful Paladin decks in the Wild Format (and the deck I used to get to Wild Legend in the May 2017 season).


The Basics:


Recruit Paladin is a Midrange Paladin deck that focuses around summoning and empowering Silver Hand Recruits. The deck generates a board by using cards such as Muster for Battle, Lost in the Jungle and Stand Against Darkness to flood the board with Recruits, while also including the new Vinecleaver to help stagger Recruits through several turns.

To empower the Silver Hand Recruits summoned from these cards (and the Paladin’s hero power), the deck includes two copies of Quartermaster, Steward of Darkshire and the new Lightfused Stegodon. Finally, the deck also runs the new Paladin Legendary, Sunkeeper Tarim, who allows your Silver Hand Recruits to trade into minions that are normally much larger.

Midrange and Control Tools:

Despite being based around the core focus of summoning and empowering Silver Hand Recruits, this deck also has a lot of powerful minions to help gain tempo against other midrange decks. These cards include Zombie Chow, Shielded Minibot, and Truesilver Champion, which allow you to make efficient trades against enemy minions.

This version of Recruit Paladin runs two copies of Stonehill Defender to generate extra defenses against aggressive decks such as Pirate Warrior. Stonehill Defender is also good for granting late-game value against control decks in the form of extra copies of Tirion Fordring and Sunkeeper Tarim.

In addition to these midrange tools, this deck runs Consecration and Equality to help deal with other aggressive and midrange decks. It also runs Loatheb to prevent potentially lethal damage near the end of the game, and Ragnaros, Lightlord to heal your hero back up. Finally, the deck runs Tirion Fordring and two copies of Spikeridged Steed, which give the deck survivability and a late-game threat.

The Mulligan

Depending on the class and archetype you’re facing, the cards you’ll want to keep will change. Against Pirate Warrior, Face Hunter, Aggro Shaman and Egg Druid, you’ll want to look for a copy of Zombie Chow or Lost in the Jungle, a copy of Shielded Minibot, and a copy of Muster for Battle. Stonehill Defender is also an acceptable option against Aggro Shaman and Face Hunter, but it’s very weak against Pirate Warrior and Egg Druid, who run minions that are unaffected by the Stonehill Defender’s one attack.

Against control decks like Reno Warlock and Reno Mage, you’ll want to get rid of Zombie Chow—as you don’t want a card that heals your opponent—as long as you already have at least one copy of Lost in the Jungle. Otherwise, you should keep the Zombie Chow, as it’s still a decent turn one play. In addition, Shielded Minibot and Muster for Battle are quite good in this matchup.

Against Paladins, you’ll want Zombie Chow or Shielded Minibot, Muster for Battle, and one copy of Consecration (to counter the Paladin’s Muster for Battle). Stonehill Defender is also very good in this matchup, as its one attack doesn’t matter against Silver Hand Recruits, who only have one health.

The Early Game

In the early part of the game, your main goal will greatly depend on the deck you’re facing. Against aggressive decks, your main goal will be to defend the board by trading your minions efficiently into the smaller minions of your opponent. This is especially important against Pirate Warrior and Egg Druid, as their minions can get out of control if they are allowed to live.

Against control and midrange decks, your goal is to gain tempo by getting minions onto the board. Lost in the Jungle, Shielded Minibot and Muster for Battle are especially good at getting control of the board. You’ll want to avoid committing too many resources to the board, as in the beginning of the game, your Silver Hand Recruits are only 1/1s, which makes them very vulnerable to a lot of board clears (especially Maelstrom Portal, a powerful 2-mana board clear that is almost always in a Shaman’s starting hand).

The Mid-Game

Around turns 4, 5 and 6, your strategy will start to revolve around combining your Silver Hand Recruit Generators with your buff cards. On turn four, if you’ve managed to keep at least 2 of your Silver Hand Recruits on the board, you can use the Lightfused Stegodon to increase their power. Another good play on turn four (or turn 3, with the Coin) is to combine the Steward of Darkshire with Lost in the Jungle, which will create a 3/3 and a pair of Silver Hand Recruits with Divine Shield.

On turn 5, if any of the Silver Hand Recruits buffed by the Lightfused Stegodon or Steward are still alive, you can use the Quartermaster to increase their power. The big issue here, however, is to ensure that you don’t overcommit to the board. If you use too many of your Silver Hand Recruit generators—only to have all the minions destroyed by a board clear—you’re going to lose.

The End-Game

As the game goes on, there will be more and more opportunities for you to combine your Silver Hand Recruit generators and buff cards. On turn eight, Steward of Darkshire can be combined with Stand Against Darkness (to create a 3/3 and five 1/1s with Divine Shield) and on turn nine, you can play Quartermaster and a Lightfused Stegodon to empower the Silver Hand Recruits.

At this point, your late game cards—Ragnaros, Lightlord and Tirion Fordring—will come into play, which will grant you a lot of power on the board. Again, you have to be careful not to commit too many of your late-game threats at any time, or else a single powerful board clear could get rid of everything you have.

On every turn, you’ll need to be looking for a potential chance at killing your opponent, as the damage increases allowed by Lightfused Stegodon’s Windfury and +3 attack Adaptations—or even just the +2 attack granted by the Quartermaster—can often allow for surprisingly fast kills.

Finally, you’ll want to be aware of your opponent’s win condition, and plan accordingly. If you’re playing against an aggressive deck, all you have to do is prevent them from dealing too much damage to your hero with the help of Taunt minions. If you’re playing against a control deck that relies on bursts of damage to win, you’ll want to save your only source of healing (Ragnaros, Lightlord) until they’ve played their Alexstrasza or done a lot of damage to you with burn spells or minions.


Overall, Recruit Paladin is a very powerful deck. Despite having no card draw tools, the deck is surprisingly consistent because of the Paladin hero power, which generates a Silver Hand Recruit every turn (minions that can then be buffed by all the Silver Hand Recruit synergies in the deck).

Recruit Paladin is very strong against control and midrange decks, and while it can struggle against some aggressive decks (especially Pirate Warrior and Egg Druid), the Paladin can win these matches as long as it draws well. As a result, the deck is a lot of fun to play, and I’d greatly recommend testing it out if you enjoy playing in the Wild Format.



Card Replacements and Substitutions

Despite being a token deck, Recruit Paladin contains some very expensive cards to craft. Fortunately, only a couple of these are essential to the deck, and most of them can be replaced with other cards:

Tirion Fordring—This Legendary minion is very powerful, but he doesn’t actually have any synergies with the deck, so he can easily be replaced by either a big minion such as Volcanosaur or a card that does synergize with the deck, such as a second Vinecleaver.

Ragnaros, Lightlord—This Legendary minion provides a large heal, which is necessary against decks such as Freeze Mage, in addition to being a powerful force on board. If you don’t own the card, however, you can duplicate the healing effect with an Antique Healbot, which doesn’t have the large body of Ragnaros but it’s a bit cheaper both to craft and to play.

Sunkeeper Tarim—This Legendary minion has a lot of synergy with the deck, but it is very expensive to craft, so it’s possible you won’t have him. In that case, the best plan is to run a card that has a similar effect, such as the Warhorse Trainer.

Loatheb—This Legendary minion is useful for denying enemy spells, but it isn’t required, so in most cases another midrange minion such as the Piloted Shredder or Azure Drake are just as good in this slot.

Quartermaster—The only Epic card in the deck, the Quartermaster is the foundation for much of Recruit Paladin’s Power. If you don’t have a copy of it, however, a board-buffing minion such as Warhorse Trainer or Mukla’s Champion can work as a replacement.


Escape from Tor’Watha: Chapter 6

“No!” Caladthras screamed as the wicked blade pierced his brother’s body. Raising his bow, he fired an arrow right into the Amani chieftain’s chest. There was a meaty ‘thunk’ as the bolt made impact, but if the elf was hoping for the troll to be slain by this shot, he was sorely mistaken.

Laughing, Vul’garak pulled the arrow from his chest and crushed it in his giant fist. “I tol’ ya,” he declared, “Ya little bow be useless against me. Now, ya all gonna die.” Throwing the mortally wounded Linaeum to the side, the massive troll pulled a colossal battle-axe from his back and charged forward.

Caladthras and Nathanos opened fire on the Amani chieftain as Daelenar leapt forward to engage. Dodging the gigantic troll’s first attack, the Ranger sliced into his enemy’s leg with a powerful swipe. Bellowing in pain, Vul’garak swung his axe sideways, aiming the haft straight at Daelenar’s head.

Leaning backward, the high elf attempted to avoid the attack. The Ranger was still slightly off balance from his last strike, however, and the butt of the axe’s handle hit him right in the forehead. Knocked off his feet, Daelenar went airborne for a second or two before slamming back into the ground with a massive ‘thud’.

“Hah, didja tink ya could beat me?” the gigantic troll laughed, brushing away the arrows that littered his body as he slowly walked up to the fallen high elf, “Now, ya gonna join ya friend in death.”

Sprawled out on the ground twenty yards away, Linaeum watched helplessly as the massive Amani chieftain prepared to finish off the fallen Ranger. Caladthras and Nathanos were firing wildly into the troll’s body, but they weren’t slowing the chieftain’s advance by even a second. “It’s up to me,” Linaeum realized, “I have to save my friend.”

Grabbing an axe from a fallen troll, the high elf staggered to his feet. “Vul’garak!” he roared, raising the weapon with both hands, “You forgot to finish me!” Turning, the Amani chieftain opened his mouth to speak—just as Linaeum hurled the axe with all the strength he could muster. The weapon spun three times before embedding itself in the troll’s head with a fleshy ‘thunk’.

Screaming in pain, Vul’garak stumbled backward. Dropping his battle-axe, the troll scrabbled at his face in an attempt to remove the weapon. “You will pay for this,” the chieftain declared, the words filled with pain. “Zul’jin…will…avenge me!”

“Avenge this!” Daelenar declared, and struggling to his feet, he drove both swords right into the chieftain’s back. The gigantic troll let out one final cry of anguish before collapsing to the ground in death.

For a moment, the four heroes stood there in absolute silence, but then, Linaeum collapsed to the ground. “Linaeum!” Caladthras exclaimed, leaping down from his perch and running over to his fallen brother. A second later, he was joined by Nathanos and Daelenar, and together, the three kneeled down beside the wounded elf.

“It’s okay, Linaeum,” Caladthras repeated, placing a gentle hand on his brother’s shoulder. “You’re going to be okay. Reinforcements are on the way, and…”

“Are the villagers…safe?” Linaeum asked, coughing in pain. Caladthras nodded mutely, and a small smile crossed the dying Ranger’s face. “Thank-you…for coming here…and saving the civilians. For…for making my sacrifice worth-while…”

A heavy fog descended over Linaeum’s mind. A distant horn rang out, but he paid it no attention. “Good-bye…brother,” he whispered, and then everything went black.

Hero Overview: Malthael

Hero Overview is a series that introduces readers to the Heroes of the Storm. This time, we’re going to be talking about Malthael, a Melee Assassin from the Diablo Universe.

Role: Melee Assassin

Universe: Diablo


The Archangel of Wisdom and the first leader of the High Heavens, Malthael has battled against the armies of the Burning Hells for as long as anyone can remember. Alongside his brethren—the Archangels Tyrael, Imperius, Auriel and Itherael—Malthael even defeated the mighty Lord of Terror, Diablo on the world of Pandemonium and recovered the Worldstone contained within.

Intrigued by the power present in the Worldstone, Malthael rigorously studied the artifact—right up to the time when it was stolen by a band of thieves led by the angel Inarius and the demon Lilith. Together, these villains used the Worldstone to create the world of Sanctuary, the home of the Nephalem.

Unable to locate the stolen Worldstone (because of the protective barrier that hid Sanctuary and all it contained), Malthael’s mood darkened, and he became even more withdrawn than usual. Eventually, Sanctuary was revealed, and Malthael went to retrieve his prize—but before he could recover the artifact, the Worldstone was destroyed by Tyrael in an attempt to keep its power out of the hands of darkness.

Giving up his position as a leader in the Heavens, the angel traveled throughout the worlds, trying to learn the answers to the mysteries of the cosmos. During his absence, a human hero defeated the Prime Evil, a feat that Malthael had never been able to accomplish during the entire Eternal Conflict. Instead of rejoicing in humanity’s triumph, however, the former Archangel of Wisdom saw their power only as a potential threat to the Heavens. Deciding he only had one option, Malthael became the Angel of Death and began planning to wipe out all of humankind.

Stealing the Black Soulstone (a shard of the Worldstone that contained the Prime Evil Diablo’s soul and power) from where Tyrael had attempted to hide it, Malthael formed an army of angels who shared his beliefs and used them to launch an attack on the city of Westmarch. While the human heroes were preoccupied with defending the city from the Reapers, Malthael began to modify the Black Soulstone into a superweapon, which he planned to use to wipe out humanity.

Unfortunately for the new Angel of Death, the Nephalem defeated the Reapers much more quickly than expected, and began to march on Malthael’s fortress. Needing more time to complete his plan, the former Archangel sent his remaining forces to destroy the Pandemonium Gate in the High Heavens in an attempt to stop the heroes from reaching his domain. This plan utterly backfired, however, for not only were his forces stopped, but this act of aggression against the High Heavens caused the angels to declare open war against Malthael.

With the aid of the remaining Archangels, the Nephalem breached the gates of Malthael’s fortress and attacked the Angel of Death. In a last-ditch attempt, Malthael absorbed the power of the Black Soulstone, granting the former Archangel immense strength. Even with this newfound power, however, Malthael was still unable to defeat the Nephalem, and he was ultimately slain.

Now, the Angel of Death has reformed in the Nexus, and he will not rest until all the denizens of the realms contained within are slain and their souls are his!



Malthael’s entire playstyle centers around his trait, Reaper’s Mark. A debuff applied by the hero’s basic attacks on non-structure targets, Reaper’s Mark deals 2.5% of the target’s health every second for four seconds and reveals the target for that time. Much of Malthael’s kit revolves around applying Reaper’s Mark to enemies, so keeping the trait active for as much time as possible is incredibly important.

Malthael’s first basic ability is Soul Rip. This ability deals light damage to all nearby targets who are affected by Reaper’s Mark, and heals Malthael a little bit for every enemy damaged. If Soul Rip hits any enemy heroes, Malthael will also be healed for 3% of the damaged hero’s maximum health.

Wraith Strike, Malthael’s second basic ability, teleports the hero through an enemy affected by Reaper’s Mark, dealing light damage and resetting the remaining time on the trait. Wraith Strike is very good for chasing down low-health enemy heroes, or for escaping a team fight by teleporting to a minion.

Malthael’s final basic ability is Death Shroud, which launches a wave of dark mist in a long line. This ability deals no damage, but it applies Reaper’s Mark to every target hit, which makes it incredibly useful for team fights and clearing minion waves.

Malthael’s first heroic ability is Tormented Souls, which grants the hero 20 Armor (reducing all damage taken by 20%) and constantly applies Reaper’s Mark to nearby enemies for 4 seconds. Like Death Shroud, this is a very good ability for the beginning of team fights, and the added bonus of damage resistance makes it especially powerful.

Finally, Malthael has his second heroic ability, Last Rites, which deals damage to an enemy hero equal to 50% of their missing health. This is an excellent tool for finishing off low-health heroes—and the finishing off part is especially important, because enemies killed while under the effect of Last Rites will permanently reduce the abilities cooldown by 5 seconds, to a minimum of 15 seconds.



Malthael is a powerful Melee Assassin who uses the damage-over-time effects of Reaper’s Mark to chip away at his enemies, before diving in and dealing massive area-of-effect damage with a flurry of abilities. Because Soul Rip and Wraith Strike can only be used against targets affected by Reaper’s Mark, landing successful Death Shrouds and auto-attacks is essential for the hero to perform well.

Malthael isn’t overly good at dueling other assassins because his damage is based on percentage-based damage-over-time effects, rather than heavy sustain or burst. He’s very strong against tanks, however, as his Reaper’s Mark will quickly burn through their health pools.

The Angel of Death is also very effective at clearing minion waves, as Death Shroud will quickly apply Reaper’s Mark to all the minions in a group, at which point they can be quickly eliminated with a pair of Soul Rips and one or two auto-attacks. In this vein, Malthael is also very good at taking mercenary camps, as he can out-heal most of the damage they do. Finally, Malthael is very good at killing bosses and boss-type objectives, as he will often be given a lot of time to burn through their massive health pools with his Reaper’s Mark.

Malthael’s choice between Tormented Souls and Last Rites for his heroic ability will largely depend on the map and enemy team composition. If he’s facing a lot of heroes with little-to-no self-healing or shielding, Last Rites is amazing for finishing these targets off. On the other hand, if the other team has a lot of survivability tools, or the map is one that forces very tight team fights, then Tormented Souls can be useful for the sustained damage and survivability it provide.

As far as talents go, Malthael actually has a surprising number of good choices. At levels one and thirteen, all of his talents (Death’s Reach, On a Pale Horse and Fear the Reaper at level one and Soul Siphon, Ethereal Existence, Inevitable End and Shroud of Wisdom) have their own distinct uses, and will be better or worse in different situations.

In addition, there are several talents at different levels that synergize very well with each other. For example, the level four talent Black Harvest (a quest which increases the duration of Reaper’s Mark) synergizes very well with the level sixteen talent Memento Mori (which doubles the damage of Reaper’s Mark the longer it lasts) to burn down tanks, and the level four, seven, thirteen and sixteen talents (Die Alone, Cold Hand, Soul Siphon and Soul Collector, respectively) all work together to increase the power of Soul Rip and allow Malthael to deal a decent amount of single-target damage to assassins.

At level twenty, Malthael’s talent choices will largely depend on the map and team composition he’s facing. Against a team with very weak heroes such as the Lost Vikings or Murky, Reaper of Souls (which resets the duration of Tormented Souls every time it gets a kill) is a powerful talent choice.

Angel of Death (which causes Last Rites to heal Malthael for an amount equal to the damage it deals and halves the amount of kills he needs for the quest) is also a very good talent, as it provides Malthael with a large self-heal at the moments he needs it the most. If the other team is running a composition with lots of burst-healing and shields, however, Malthael may struggle to get his ultimate off, which makes it somewhat unreliable.

Final Curtain (which causes Death Shroud to leave a trail of mist along its line of fire, applying Reaper’s Mark to anyone who enters the area) is possibly the most powerful talent at level twenty, as it allows Malthael to control the battlefield by forcing enemy teams to back up or risk taking a lot of damage.

Finally, Malthael has No One Can Stop Death, which grants the hero an ability that lets him immediately respawn while dead, at the cost of causing his next respawn to take 25% longer. This talent is best used when your team is falling behind, and they need you to get back immediately. Because of the massive respawn increase on your next death, however, the talent is a bit dangerous, and should only be taken in the direst of circumstances.

Overall, Malthael is a very strong hero—however, he does have a few weaknesses. The first is his difficulty in initiating fights. Because he can only use Wraith Strike to teleport to enemies afflicted with Reaper’s Mark, he first has to land a Death Shroud, which can be a bit difficult to do. Then, once he goes in, he has no real form of escape (unless he takes Fear the Reaper at level one, and even then, he’s very susceptible to crowd control). To top all of this off, Malthael is relatively squishy, and can be burned down very quickly by his enemies.

As a result of these weaknesses, Malthael requires a very specific team composition in order to work. First, he needs a dive tank like ETC to stun the enemy frontline, which allows Malthael to land an easy Death Shroud. Next, Malthael needs a strong, dive-oriented dps to distract the enemy backline while he goes to work on their tanks and melee dps. Finally, Malthael needs a good burst healer like Auriel or Uther to keep him healed up until he can get his self-healing from Soul Rip going.

In the end, Malthael is a very powerful and fun melee dps, but he requires a specific team composition to survive engagements, and a specific enemy team composition to perform to the fullest extent. As a result, he isn’t something you’ll want to play in Ranked Play unless you build your team specifically around him. In Quick Play, however, he’s a lot of fun, so I’d highly recommend checking him out.

Escape from Tor’Watha: Chapter 5

Falling back into the woods a little bit, the three companions crept around the outskirts of the camp. Thanks to their training, the elves’ movements were completely silent, but it came as a shock to both of them when Nathanos matched them in his aptitude for stealth.

The human passed through the thickest undergrowth without making the slightest sound, and at one point, he even passed within five feet of an Amani sentry without alerting the troll to his presence. “Impressive woodsmanship,” Caladthras quietly remarked once the three had reached their destination, “Where did you learn to move like that?”

“When I was young, I lived on a small homestead on the edge of a large forest,” Nathanos replied. “Every day, I’d go out into the woods to play, and over time, I became attuned to the intricacies of the woods and the creatures that lay within. Eventually, I realized that I was more comfortable in the forest than around civilization, so I left my home and have been living off the land ever since.”

“If that’s so,” Caladthras asked, curious about his new companion’s history, “Then how did you get captured by the Amani?”

“I got reckless,” the human admitted, “I heard about a giant dragonhawk that lived up in the abandoned fortress above Tor’Watha, and I decided to try and tame it. Traveling up through the Thalassian Pass, I got careless and was ambushed by an Amani raiding party. I got one or two of them, but then they knocked me out, and next thing I know, I’m here.”

“Well, this is all very interesting,” Daelenar broke in, “But can we share our life stories later? We have a village to save.” Nodding in agreement, the other two quieted down and nocked an arrow to their bows. “Okay, on three,” the red-haired Ranger whispered, “Three…two…one…now!”

Leaping out from cover, Caladthras and Nathanos let loose a pair of quick shots, instantly downing two of the Amani guards. Crying out in confusion, the remaining sentries spun around—just in time to see Daelenar charge from the forest’s edge, swords at the ready. “Anar’alah belore!” the Ranger yelled, plunging his blades deep into the nearest troll’s chest.

Kicking the mortally wounded guard aside, Daelenar spun around, decapitating three more trolls in a single blow. “Who’s next?” the high elf exclaimed as the now-headless bodies fell to the ground. There was no answer to this question, however, as all the remaining guards had joined their allies on the ground, slain by the sure aim of Caladthras and Nathanos.

Nodding in sober approval, the red-haired Ranger walked over to the nearest cage and smashed it open with a single blow from his sword. “You’re free,” he declared to the startled elven captives, “Head for Farstrider Retreat—you’ll be safe there.” Nodding mutely, the former prisoners scampered out of the cage and ran off into the forest.

By this point the entirety of Tor’Watha had been alerted to the rescue attempt, and the Amani raiders had begun to assemble. “Caladthras, Nathanos, open the rest of the cages!” Daelenar commanded, slicing through the rope holding the nearest prison shut. “We need to get the prisoners away before the trolls can organize!”

Nodding, the two archers ran over from their cover in the woods and went to work on the remaining cages. It was quick work, and within a couple minutes, nearly all the elven captives had been freed. There were only one or two cages left to open—but then, the trolls attacked.

“Incoming!” Caladthras yelled, nocking and firing an arrow as he did, “Watch out!”

Spinning around, Daelenar spotted the charging trolls, and a sharp curse escaped his lips. “Nathanos!” he barked, thinking quickly, “Get the rest of these cages open. Caladthras, cover me—I’m going in.” With a fearsome battle cry, Daelenar drew his twin swords and leapt into the fray.

With a vicious blow, the Ranger sliced deep into the nearest troll’s chest. Crying out in dying anguish, the Amani toppled backward, pushing the rest of the raiding party back. Taking full advantage of this moment of disarray, Daelenar swung both blades forward in a wide arc. There was a series of loud crunches, and then the entire front line of trolls collapsed to the ground. A second later, they were joined by their newly severed heads.

Smiling at the havoc he’d wrought, Daelenar charged forward into the Amani once more. Holding both blades straight out from his body, the Ranger tore through his enemies in a whirlwind of blood and steel. Flesh tore, bones shattered, and troll after troll fell before the vicious elven onslaught.

Freeing the last of the captives, Nathanos and Caladthras leapt up on top of the now empty cages and fired a withering volley into the remaining trolls. Seven of the Amani warriors were instantly killed by this powerful barrage, toppling to the ground without so much as a single cry of pain.

Between the vicious blows of Daelenar and the expert marksmanship of the archers, the rest of the trolls were quickly brought down. Taking a second to catch his breath, Daelenar turned to the others and said, “Well, that wasn’t exactly how I planned it, but good job. Now, we just have to get Linaeum, and…”

“So, ya be lookin’ for ya friend, eh,” a dark, sinister voice hissed. Jumping in surprise, the three heroes spun to face the chieftain’s hut, where they beheld a large, shadowy figure standing just inside the front door. “Good ting I know jus’ where he be.” The speaker stepped into the light, and the companions let out a collective gasp as they beheld a massive troll holding a barely conscious Linaeum by his neck.

“Put my brother down, you monster!” Caladthras roared, raising his bow and aiming at the giant troll. “Or I’ll shoot you where you stand!” The young elf expected his foe to be cowed by this threat, but instead, the mighty Amani just laughed.

“You be threatenin’ me wid dat little ting?” he asked incredulously. “Dat bow couldn’t pierce da hide o’ a human—how ya be tinkin’ it kill Vul’garak, da mightiest Amani chieftain north o’ Zul’Aman. Besides,” the gigantic troll continued, “I have your friend by da neck—if ya make even one move against me, I’ll squeeze my hand, and he’ll be dead.”

Realizing it was no use, Caladthras and Nathanos slowly lowered their bows. “Now,” Daelenar called, sheathing his swords, “Give us back our friend, and we’ll leave in peace.”

For a moment, the troll considered the offer, but then he shook his head in disagreement. “I don’t tink so, mon,” the Amani chieftain declared, “I tink ya all gonna be dyin’ now.” And with a single swift movement, he snatched a dagger from his waist and plunged it into Linaeum’s chest.

Legacy Raid Overview: Black Temple

Legacy Raid Overview is a series where we go back and visit the old raids of World of Warcraft, talk about the lore of the raids and cover the reasons why they’re still relevant today. In this week’s article, we’re going to cover the Black Temple, the penultimate raid of the Burning Crusade expansion.


The Location:

The Black Temple is a massive stone structure located at the far eastern corner of Shadowmoon Valley. Like many raids, it’s a bit out of the way, so unless you’ve got people there waiting to summon you, you’re going to have to take the long way.

If you’re at maximum level, the best way to get to the Black Temple is by heading down to the Chamber of the Guardian (which lies beneath the surface of New Dalaran) and take the Portal to Shattrath that is located there. Once you arrive in Shattrath, just fly south-east and the Black Temple will come into view after a few minutes.

To enter the instance itself, fly down the central road up to the main structure, avoiding the demons locked in combat with the forces of the Aldor and Scryers. Near the gate at the end of the road, there’s a small crack in the wall on the right. Go through that crack, and you’ll find the Black Temple instance portal, which lets you enter the raid.


The Lore:

The Black Temple is the headquarters of the powerful demon hunter Illidan Stormrage. However, it was not always a bastion of darkness. In fact, long ago, it used to be a sanctuary of the Light. Called the Temple of Karabor, the structure was a sacred site to the draenei and a home to Prophet Velen.

During the orcish assault on the draenei, Gul’dan attempted to harness the power of the Dark Star (a corrupted naaru once known as K’ara). Gul’dan’s control over the Dark Star was incomplete, but he still managed to unleash its power on the defenders of Karabor, killing many of the defenders outright and driving most of the others insane.

Only Velen and a few others escaped the explosion of Void energy, fleeing the temple via the harbor. Shortly afterward, the orcs took control of the now-corrupted structure and changed its name to the Black Temple.

Since then, the Black Temple has changed ownership several times: first, when Ner’zhul used it as the staging grounds for a plot to reopen a portal to another world, and then when the pit lord Magtheridon used it to bring the Burning Legion to Outland in force.

Now, it is the domain of Illidan Stormrage, the leader of the demon hunters. He has conquered nearly all of Outland from this stronghold, which is home to his best troops and his most powerful lieutenants.


The Bosses:

There are a total of 9 bosses in the Black Temple, located all throughout the raid’s many rooms. Each boss has a very distinctive appearance, and fights in a different way. For a fully geared player at level 110, these bosses can mostly be killed in a few seconds, but there are a few (Shade of Akama, Reliquary of Souls and Illidan) which will take a bit. In addition, the Illidan fight has a lot of unskippable roleplay, which makes it take a bit longer.

High Warlord Naj’entus—A mighty Naga Lord, Naj’entus was tasked at defending the Black Temple’s waterways against intruders. Possessing strength and endurance far beyond the normal naga, Naj’entus was able to survive horrific wounds, while dealing out plenty of damage himself.

Supremus—A gigantic Abyssal, Supremus was bound to Illidan’s will during a battle long ago. Now, this monstrosity watches over the Illidari Training Grounds, ensuring that no one interferes with the preparation of Illidan’s army. Once Supremus is defeated, the next four bosses can be killed in any order.

Shade of Akama—In order to keep Akama (the leader of the broken draenei) in line, Illidan took the darkest and most twisted aspects of Akama’s soul and used them to create the villainous Shade of Akama. Abusing the spiritual links that bind all the broken draenei together, Illidan used the Shade to keep the draenei firmly under his control.

Teron Gorefiend—Once a powerful warlock under the command of Gul’dan, Teron’gor (his orcish name) was killed by Orgrim Doomhammer along with the rest of the Shadow Council. Shortly afterward, Teron’gor was resurrected into the body of a fallen Stormwind Knight, thus becoming the first death knight every created. In this new form, Teron Gorefiend terrorized the people of the Alliance, up until the time he was slain by the human paladin Turalyon. Death couldn’t keep the orc down, however, as many years later, he was resurrected with the help of a foolish adventurer. Now, Teron Gorefiend resides within the Black Temple, rebuilding his power.

Gurtogg Bloodboil—A powerful fel-infused orc, Gurtogg commands the dire orcs in Illidan’s army. A fearsome combatant, Gurtogg will do anything to destroy his enemies.

Reliquary of Souls—No one quite knows how this monstrous creature came into being, but it is speculated that it is comprised of the souls of the draenei killed by the power of the Dark Star in the orcish assault on Karabor. It is unknown what plans Illidan has for the Reliquary, but it cannot be good.

Mother Shahraz—Once the first six bosses of the raid have been defeated, the door to Illidan’s inner sanctum will open. You aren’t going to be able to just walk in, however, because Mother Shahraz (a powerful Shivarra) watches over the entrance to Illidan’s inner sanctum. It is unknown how she came into Illidan’s service, but she is among the most fearsome of his lieutenants.

Illidari Council—When Kael’thas Sunstrider left for Tempest Keep, he left four of his most powerful servants at the Black Temple to advise Illidan in his absence. Masters of the arcane, shadows, diplomacy and war, the members of the Illidari Council will defend Illidan to their final breath.

Illidan Stormrage—The first of Azeroth’s demon hunters, Illidan used the power of the Burning Legion to save his people. His intentions were misunderstood, however, and he was imprisoned for 10,000 years. Released during the Burning Legion’s second invasion of Azeroth, Illidan once again proved himself a hero—and was banished for his trouble. Traveling to Outland, Illidan plots revenge, both on those who cast him out and the Burning Legion whose power he took.


Why it is Still Relevant:

One of the most popular old raids, Black Temple is commonly run for several reasons. The first is the lore. In the Black Temple, players were given the chance to battle Illidan Stormrage—one of the most popular characters in World of Warcraft—so the raid is often revisited by players seeking to down the iconic boss once again.

The second reason is the Warglaives of Azzinoth. Illidan’s legendary weapons, the Warglaives of Azzinoth are some of the most iconic weapons in the game, and are sought after by many players. This has become especially true in the past few months, when it was announced that any player who acquired the Warglaives from Illidan would automatically get the transmog appearance upon defeating Illidan during a Black Temple Timewalking run.

Finally, many players go to Black Temple to collect all the pieces of their Tier 6 armor, which is widely considered one of the best tier sets to date.

Overall, Black Temple is one of the coolest raids in World of Warcraft, so I’d highly recommend running it again if you find yourself looking for something to do.

Hero Overview: D.Va

Hero Overview is a series that introduces readers to the Heroes of the Storm. This time, we’re going to be talking about D.Va, the mech-piloting warrior from the Overwatch Universe.

Role: Ranged Warrior

Universe: Overwatch


Twenty years ago, the nation of South Korea came under attack from a massive omnic that appeared out of the East China Sea. Its power level was unlike anything ever seen before, and it did a massive amount of damage before it was finally driven back into the water by the Korean military forces.

The Koreans knew that it was only a matter of time until the massive robot returned, so they began work on a mechanized combat drone to battle the monster. A few years later, they completed the first batch of these MEKAs, just in time to defeat the massive omnic when it returned. Once again, however, the monstrous robot was merely weakened—not destroyed—and it managed to escape back to the safety of the sea.

Every few years, the omnic resurfaced, and every few years, the MEKAs drove it back. Delighting in their triumph, the Koreans grew complacent, failing to realize that the massive robot was constantly adapting to their strategies. This miscalculation nearly proved to be disastrous, for one year when the robot emerged, it came with the ability to shut down the MEKAs’ control networks.

Their own robots rendered useless, the Koreans were forced to scramble to find another way to battle the monstrous omnic. Looking through the options, they realized the only way to save the country was to retrofit the MEKAs so they could be manually piloted. Unfortunately, on such short notice, there was no way to train new pilots, so the Korean military turned to the only people who possessed the reflexes and quick thinking required to operate the MEKAs: the country’s professional gamers.

Many of the best gamers in Korea were drafted, including the reigning StarCraft world champion, 19-year-old Hana Song. Taking the name ‘D.Va’ (after her username in the games she played), Hana was among the first MEKA pilots to engage the massive omnic. Fighting the monstrous robot with the same skill and ruthlessness that she unleashed on her competitors in StarCraft tournaments, the young professional gamer managed to drive the omnic back in record time.

Since then, D.Va has participated in several missions, performing with skill and valor in each. She has even begun streaming her combat operations to her millions of adoring fans, and has gained a global following as a result. Now, D.Va has been deployed to the Nexus, where she and her MEKA will defend any who require her aid.



D.Va has two traits, Mech Mode and Pilot Mode. At the beginning of a match, D.Va will be in Mech Mode, which grants her the ability to move while auto-attacking and makes her auto-attacks affect enemies in an area. When she is ‘killed’ in Mech Mode, D.Va leaps from her mech and transitions to Pilot Mode.

In Pilot Mode, D.Va’s auto-attacks do a bit more damage, but they don’t have any other special functions. In addition, D.Va loses the ability to perform most of her basic abilities, and her health pool is drastically reduced. As a result, D.Va becomes incredibly vulnerable while in Pilot Mode.

D.Va’s first basic ability is Boosters. D.Va activates her mech’s rocket boosters, which increases her movement speed by 125% for 2 seconds. Any enemies D.Va runs into while Boosters are active will take a small amount of damage and will be knocked backwards. This means that Boosters can be used as an escape, an initiation tool and a way to eliminate fleeing enemies. Boosters can only be used while you are in Mech Mode, so it is unavailable once your mech is destroyed.

D.Va’s second basic ability is Defense Matrix, which projects a small defensive field in a cone directly in front of the hero’s mech for 3 seconds. Enemy heroes standing in the defensive field deal 75% less damage, which can help to keep your allies safe in the middle of a teamfight. While Defense Matrix is active, D.Va can move, but she can’t turn the direction her mech is facing, and she can’t auto-attack. Finally, similarly to Boosters, Defense Matrix cannot be used while in Pilot Mode.

Like her trait, D.Va’s final basic ability has two parts: Self-Destruct and Call Mech. Self-Destruct—which requires the hero to be in Mech Mode—ejects D.Va from her mech and causes it to explode 4 seconds later. It deals a massive amount of damage in a large area, and is capable of killing most heroes from full health if they are standing too close to the center of the explosion. Unlike most basic abilities, Self-Destruct doesn’t have a cooldown. Instead, it gains charge based on the damage you deal and the damage you take, and it becomes available once you reach full charge.

Call Mech—which can only be used while D.Va is in Pilot Mode—allows D.Va to reenter Mech Mode (regaining the health and abilities that go along with it). By default, it has a 45 second cooldown, which starts upon exiting a destroyed mech. This cooldown is reduced by 0.5 seconds every time you auto-attack, however, so it will rarely be this long. In addition, if you enter Pilot Mode by using Self-Destruct, the cooldown on Call Mech will reset as soon as the mech detonates.

D.Va’s first ultimate, Bunny Hop, causes her mech to bounce up and down while moving for 4 seconds. During this time, D.Va is Unstoppable, and she deals a small amount of area damage and slows nearby enemies by 40% with every jump. Bunny Hop is very effective at preventing enemy retreats, but it can also be used to help D.Va escape from attackers. Unfortunately, D.Va is unable to auto-attack while this ultimate is active (and using any of her basic abilities will instantly cancel her ultimate), so the ability has to be used strategically. Finally, Bunny Hop can only be used while in Mech Mode, which makes remaining in the mech during teamfights a priority.

D.Va’s second ultimate, Big Shot, deals moderate damage to all enemies in a straight line. It only has a four second cooldown, so it can be used repeatedly, and every time it damages a hero it reduces the cooldown of Call Mech by 8 seconds. Unfortunately, Big Shot isn’t an instant cast ability (it takes about a second to fire) so enemies that are paying attention will be able to get out of the way.



D.Va is a Ranged Warrior who specializes at initiating fights and chasing down fleeing enemies. With Boosters, D.Va can dive onto her enemies’ backline heroes (such as healers and mages) to disrupt the enemy team, before activating her Defense Matrix to reduce damage taken as her own team moves in.

Because Self-Destruct takes 4 seconds to detonate, it isn’t overly effective at securing kills. In addition, the explosion does 50% reduced damage to structures, so it’s useless for sieging. On the other hand, if tossed onto an objective or capture point, it can force the enemy team away, giving D.Va’s team free access. In addition, the explosion is great at clearing mercenary waves, so you can effectively use Self-Destruct to save a fort or keep. D.Va can also use her Boosters to launch an exploding mech into the enemy team, in order to give them a little less time to escape the area.

D.Va’s first ultimate, Bunny Hop, is great for securing kills on enemies, so it’s a good choice if she has a lot of slow-but-powerful teammates. In addition, if she takes the level 20 talent (Stop and Pop), Bunny Hop suddenly becomes capable of dealing an immense amount of damage as long as the mech stays still.

On the other hand, Big Shot isn’t nearly as good at securing kills as Bunny Hop is, but it allows D.Va to quickly get her mech back by poking at enemies from a long distance away. As a result, it’s a great pick if her mech keeps dying from focused enemy fire.

D.Va synergizes very well with flankers and stealth heroes, as she can use her Boosters to knock enemies away from the safety of their walls and into the waiting arms of her teammates. She works especially well with Zeratul, as she can combine her Self-Destruct with his Void Prison to pull of some insane combo plays. In addition, D.Va always needs at least one healer on her team, as she has no way to regenerate health other than visiting a healing fountain or hearthing.

D.Va is strong against ranged auto-attack heroes, as she can use her Defense Matrix to shut their damage down. She’s also really good at jumping on enemy healers and forcing them out of the fight.

On the other hand, D.Va is weak against melee heroes, as they can get out of her Defense Matrix and take her out from the side or behind. In Pilot Mode, D.Va is vulnerable to everyone, as her tiny health pool and nonexistent mobility make her an easy target for nearly every hero.

Overall, D.Va is one of the most entertaining tanks to play, and while she is a bit trickier than most, she’s definitely worth taking the time to learn.

Escape from Tor’Watha: Chapter 4

Crossing Lake Elrendar just to the southeast of Suncrown Village (where the waters were the narrowest), the two Rangers headed north, traveling through the forest at a brisk pace. Unlike on the previous trip, there was no anger between the two companions, only a firm determination to rescue their friend from his Amani captors.

Several hours later, Daelenar and Caladthras arrived at the outskirts of Tor’Watha. Once the bastion of Amani civilization in Eversong Woods, the village had been destroyed during an ancient war and had never really recovered. Only a few parts of the once massive wall encircling the village remained, and the fortress nestled into the hills above lay completely abandoned.

By this point, the sun had already begun to set on the horizon, but the light of numerous Amani campfires kept the village well illuminated.

“Daelenar, do you see him?” Caladthras asked, observing the troll settlement from his position in the upper branches of a nearby tree. “I can’t find my brother anywhere.”

“Neither can I,” the red-haired Ranger replied, scanning the occupants of each cage for any sign of their captured companion, “The trolls must have taken Linaeum away to their ceremonial hut to prepare for the sacrifice.”

“But which building is the ceremonial hut?” the younger elf quietly exclaimed, “I don’t know anything about troll architecture—they all look the same to me!” Peering down at the village below once more, Daelenar realized that Caladthras was right—all of the buildings were remarkably similar in appearance.

“In that case,” Daelenar said, “We’ll have to…” The Ranger’s voice faded off, as he suddenly spotted something he’d overlooked before. On the far side of the village, nearly hidden in the shadows of the trees, was a single cage with a lone occupant.

“Caladthras, look over there,” the older Ranger whispered, pointing at his discovery. Following this instruction, Caladthras’ jaw dropped, as he spotted what Daelenar had seen.

“Is that…”

“It’s not Linaeum,” Daelenar replied, sensing what his young companion was about to say, “He has dark hair, but your brother is thin, and this captive is broad-shouldered and muscular. It would appear that the Amani have caught themselves a human.”

“A human?” Caladthras declared in surprise, “What’s a human doing so far north?”

“I don’t know,” the red-haired elf replied, “But judging by his bedraggled appearance and the state of his clothes, I’d say he’s been here for a while…”

“So he’ll know where the trolls took Linaeum!” Caladthras broke in excitedly. Daelenar nodded, and the younger Ranger continued, “Now, all we have to do is rescue the human, and we’ll be all set!”

Swiftly descending from their perch, the two high Elves sneaked around the outskirts of Tor’Watha. On two occasions, they were nearly discovered by Amani sentries, but the Rangers managed to silence both of them before any sort of alarm was sounded. Other than this, however, there weren’t any issues, and the companions arrived at the cage a couple minutes later.

Daelenar quickly scanned the area to ensure there weren’t any trolls watching. Seeing nothing, he slipped from the cover of the trees and sneaked over to the wooden cage. “Be quiet, and make no sudden movements,” the elf whispered in his best Common (the language of the humans), “We’re here to rescue you.”

Obeying the Ranger’s request, the human stayed completely still as Daelenar sliced through the thick rope securing the cage’s door. With a soft squeak, the door slid open, and the human silently shuffled out. “This way,” the elf said, pointed back to the woods, “We’ll be safe there.” The former captive nodded in agreement, and together, the pair retreated back into the shelter of the trees.

“So, what does he know?” Caladthras asked the moment he saw the two emerge from the tree-line, “Where’d the Amani take my brother?” The young Ranger was practically bouncing with nervous tension, which was understandable under the circumstances.

“Not so loud, Caladthras,” Daelenar whispered, raising a single finger to his lips, “We can’t let the Trolls know we’re here.” The younger elf nodded abashedly, and Daelenar continued, “Besides, our new friend here has just been freed after what was likely a long captivity. He’ll probably need a bit of time to…”

“I’ve actually only been imprisoned for about a week, but thanks for the offer,” the human said in perfect Thalassian (the language of the high elves), “And as far as your brother, I assume you’re speaking of the unconscious Farstrider that the Trolls took away as soon as the raiding party returned.”

Daelenar and Caladthras stared at the human in surprise for several seconds. The Thalassian language was one of the most advanced in the entire world—how did this human know it? This was a matter for another time, however, as there were more important things to take care of. “Where did the Amani take the prisoner?” Daelenar asked.

“Do you see that large, two-storied hut tucked into the area beneath the old fortress?” the human asked, pointing back at the village, “That’s where the village chieftain lives, and that’s where they took your friend. Now,” he continued, leaning back against a tree, “Where’s the rest of your strike force? You’ll want to get them in position so you can deal with all the guards in one fell swoop.”

“Um, there’s no strike force,” Caladthras corrected their new companion, “It’s just the two of us.” The human’s mouth dropped in shock as the elf added, “We’ve sent for reinforcements, but they’re several hours off. I doubt we have that much time before my brother is sacrificed.”

“So the two of you are going to attack an entire army of trolls, by yourselves?” the former captive asked. The two Ranger nodded, and the human let out a sigh. “In that case, count me in—after all, you’re going to need all the help you can get.”

Smiling at this declaration of allegiance, Daelenar handed the human one of his swords—only to have it rejected with a quick shake of the head. “Thanks for the offer,” the man said, “But I’m more of an archer than a swordsman. Could I have one of your bows?”

“Sure,” Caladthras agreed, “You can have Daelenar’s. He’s a terrible archer anyway.” Daelenar shot the young elf a nasty look, but then—instead of continuing the argument from before—he handed his bow and quiver over to the newly freed human, who accepted them with a  grateful nod.

“Okay, here’s the plan,” Daelenar said, drawing his broadswords, “The three of us will move together to free the prisoners. Then, I’ll use the commotion to go free Linaeum, while Caladthras and…what’s your name?”


“While Caladthras and Nathanos cover the civilians’ retreat. Any objections?” Both listeners shook their heads, and Daelenar concluded, “All right then—let’s go kill some trolls!”

Escape from Tor’Watha: Chapter 3

Half an hour later, Daelenar and Caladthras arrived at Suncrown Village. The trip had been an uncomfortable one, as the silent hostility between the two was considerably worsened due to the bruises and scrapes that covered their bodies thanks to their little fight. Upon arriving at the Village, however, the Elves’ silent rage was replaced by a sense of horror, as they beheld the destruction the Amani had wrought.

The streets of the village were littered with the corpses of Elves and trolls alike. Many of the buildings were charred and blackened from the fires that had ravaged the town, leaving the beautiful architecture ruined beyond repair. Sharing a look of despair, the two Rangers slowly entered the settlement, their hearts sinking as they took in the devastation.

“This…this is our fault,” Caladthras whispered, looking around in despondency. “I put my stupid pride before my sense of duty, and now my brother—and everyone else who used to live here—is dead.” A single tear rolled down the young elf’s cheek, and he lowered his head in grief.

Daelenar opened his mouth to console his distraught companion, but then, he heard a strange sound coming from nearby. Motioning for Caladthras to be silent, the muscular high elf carefully crept toward the noise, drawing his swords as he went. He didn’t know what kind of trap the Amani might have left behind, but he wasn’t going to take any chances.

Following the sound down the road a little, Daelenar turned a corner and froze upon seeing a lone Elven girl—no older than ten years old—crying over the slain body of her mother. Quickly sheathing his blades, the Ranger knelt down beside the weeping child and placed a gentle hand on the girl’s shoulder.

Spinning around the second she felt Daelenar’s hand, the young child stumbled backward, a look of sheer terror on her face. “Please, don’t eat me!” she squealed, “I don’t want to die!”

“Hush, it’s okay,” Daelenar whispered in the most soothing voice he could muster, “I’m not going to eat you. I’m here to protect you.” Upon hearing this, the girl calmed down a little, and the Ranger continued, “What’s your name?”

“Ariella,” the girl said, wiping a tear from her face.

“Okay, Ariella,” Daelenar smiled calmly, “What happened here?”

“Green monsters attacked the village,” the child replied softly. “They killed Magister Sar’guin and his wife, and Captain Karanas, and…and…and they killed my mother!” Ariella burst into tears once more, weeping over her fallen mother.

“It’s okay,” the high elf repeated, wrapping a comforting arm around the young girl’s shoulder, “You’re safe now.” For close to a minute, the child continued to weep, but eventually, the tears dried up, and Daelenar asked, “So, what happened next?”

“The monsters took everyone and put them in cages,” Ariella said, “And they were about to take them away when the hero arrived.” The girl’s sorrow was momentarily forgotten, as she remembered the heroism she had witnessed. “There were so many monsters, but the hero charged in anyway, without any fear. He killed monster after monster with every blow—it was amazing!”

“What happened next?” Daelenar asked. If the girl’s ‘hero’ was Linaeum, then it was possible the child knew where the Ranger had gone.

“One of the monsters sneaked up on him, and hit him in the head with a hammer,” the young Elven girl replied, lowering her head slightly at the memory.

“They killed him?” Caladthras broke in. He’d come over when he heard the voices, and hearing that his brother had fallen sent a chill creeping up his spine.

“No,” Ariella shook her head. “He fell asleep, and the monsters put him in one of the cages and took him and the others away.” The two Rangers shared a look of relief at this news—if Linaeum had only been captured, then they still had a chance to get him back.

“Thank-you, Ariella,” Daelenar smiled warmly, “I just have one more question: where did the monsters take the hero?” The young girl considered this for a minute before pointing northeast, toward the nearby Lake Elrendar.

“Tor’Watha!” Caladthras exclaimed, “It’s the largest Amani settlement north of the lake, and there have been rumors that the trolls are gathering their numbers there. If the prisoners are anywhere, that’s where they’ll be.”

“In that case,” Daelenar, “We should take Ariella back to Farstrider Retreat and tell the Rangers there what’s going on. They’ll send a battalion of Farstriders to Tor’Watha, and save everyone!”

“And the hero won’t be sakerficed!” Ariella exclaimed excitedly.

“Wait, what?” Caladthras asked, startled by the young girl’s statement, “Did you say sacrificed?”

Ariella nodded. “When the monsters left, they said that they were going to sakerfice the hero as soon as they got back to their town.” Once again, Caladthras and Daelenar shared a look—however, this time it was a look of horror instead of relief. If Linaeum was going to be sacrificed that night, there was no time to get help from the Farstriders. Once again, they’d need to do this themselves.

“Ariella, do you know how to get to Tranquillien?” Daelenar asked, naming the nearest town. The girl nodded, and the Ranger continued, “Then head there and tell Dame Auriferous that Suncrown Village has been sacked by Amani trolls from Tor’Watha. We’ll try to rescue them ourselves, but help would be greatly appreciated.” Pausing for a moment, Daelenar asked, “Did you get all that?”

“Yes, sir,” Ariella replied, nodding.

“Perfect,” the Ranger smiled warmly at the young girl. “Now, Caladthras,” he continued, turning to his companion, “We have a village to save.” The younger elf nodded, and together, they set off into the forest.

Escape from Tor’Watha: Chapter 2

Traveling at a full run, Linaeum made good time through the forest, and five minutes later, he arrived at the outskirts of Suncrown Village. Taking cover behind the trees that bordered the small town, he peered out—and gasped in horror at what he saw.

The streets of the little village were swarming with trolls, all of whom were armed to the teeth with swords, axes and the occasional spear. The few Elves who had attempted to fight back had already fallen before the blades of the Amani, and the rest were being herded into large wooden cages. By the looks of it, the trolls were nearly done collecting their captives, so if Linaeum and his companions were to stop them, they’d need to strike now.

Turning around, Linaeum opened his mouth to tell the others his plan…and gasped upon seeing that he was alone. “Those fools,” he muttered angrily, “They must have started fighting the second I was gone! I’m alone…” A look of horror crossed the high elf’s face, but it was quickly replaced by one of determination, as he realized what he had to do.

Taking a deep breath, Linaeum charged out from his hiding place. “For Quel’Thalas!” he yelled, raising his sword aloft as he ran. “For Anasterian!”

Surprised by this sudden intrusion, the Amani hesitated for a key second, allowing the elf just enough time to lunge forward and slice his blade deep into the closest troll’s chest. Dark blood sprayed everywhere, and the raider let out a bone-chilling cry before collapsing to the ground in death.

Wrenching his sword from the fallen troll’s body, Linaeum faced the remaining Amani and got into a combat stance. “I’ll give you one chance!” he exclaimed, putting as much force as he could into the statement, “Release your captives and leave the village quietly, or share in your friend’s fate!”

For a moment, the trolls just stood there, dumbfounded that a puny elf would dare to challenge them in this manner. The shock wore off quickly, however, and with a mighty roar, they drew their weapons and charged forward.

Waiting until the charging trolls were almost upon him, Linaeum gracefully leapt to the side, completely dodging the murderous raiders. “Too slow!” he exclaimed, before swiftly driving his sword into the back of the backmost troll’s spine. “Now,” the young elf continued, wrenching his blade from the massive green corpse as it fell, “Who’s next?”

Bellowing in rage, the Amani raced toward the elf again—but this time, Linaeum charged to meet them. Ducking beneath the first troll’s axe, Linaeum severed the raider’s legs with a quick slash from his blade. Without even waiting for his crippled victim to fall, the elf spun back around and parried a couple blows that would have taken off his head.

Leaping above a low-swinging mace, Linaeum lashed out in a broad arc, decapitating a pair of trolls that were standing too close together. Returning to the ground, the elf kicked out with one leg, shattering the kneecap of an oncoming Amani.

Parrying three attacks in quick succession, Linaeum proceeded to unleash a withering series of blows upon the charging trolls. Heads were severed, blood was spilled, and Amani corpse after Amani corpse fell to the ground. Soon, a pile of bodies had built up around the high Elven Ranger, and with every troll that fell, Linaeum’s confidence increased.

“I’m doing it,” the elf whispered, cleaving a foe in twain, “I’m saving Suncrown! And I didn’t even need Caladthras or Daelenar’s help!” Smiling broadly at this thought, Linaeum prepared to smite another troll—but then, a blunt object slammed into the back of his head, and everything went black.