Last of the Auchenai.
My Name, Is Taranas. Last Exarch of the Auchenei. I have been called many things in my life, a life that should have been ended the first time those dark words crossed my lips. Insane, traitor, Blasphemer, Once, I was called Wise. Once I was called noble, I was a lot of things once. Yet now, Here I stand, looking over my Empire of Dust and ashes, thinking how it all began, and how it all ended.
Part One: Awakening
The Soulpriests, caretakers of the Fallen, were abruptly awoken, rather then to the calming bell, or even the alarm sounding. No, the loyal and beloved priesthood of the Auchenei were awoken to cries of war, and torrents of Blood. Terrified women and initiates huddling in Darkened corners, watching as the Vile green and brown skinned monsters surged through their most holy of sites. Slaughtering every Draenei in sight. At the rear of the invasion, bolstering the Savage Orc’s fighting, were the newly created Warlocks, Savage glee crossing their tusked faces. One Warlock, flanked by his newly taken apprentice, an ore of All beings, grinned wider then any. “It is glorious, is it not, Blackheart?” he said to the ogre beside him, whose two heads rumbled their reply. “Glorius indeed, master Vorpil. Imagine the immense reward The Beautiful one will bestow upon us for coming so far in our glorius mission. The Draenei stand no chance.” Vorpil waved a hand dismissively, “I wish every last Draenei a painful death as much as any, My apprentice, but to me, Auchindoun is so much more valuable… In these halls, There are enough souls to fuel our spells forever! Magic enough to Blot out the Sun, or Break the world!” Vorpil regained his composure, though the look of pleasure did not completely fade from his tusked face. The line of warlocks and warriors moved on, and Vorpil and Blackheart followed eagerly. The Sounds of dying Draenei and even the wails of the souls perhaps, echoed through the halls. It was Chaos. So sweet sound had never crossed Vorpil’s ears.
Apprentice Taranas burst into Exarch Maladaar’s chamber, The Beautiful blue and green crystal formations and carvings of their fallen going unnoticed by him today. “Exarch! The Orcs, Sire! They are running unimpeded through the halls! The lowest labyrinths of the dead have already fallen! We must flee!” Maladaar turned to face his newest Apprentice, “I know, my brave young one, Apprentice Aldrimus has been slain, and Apprentice Ramdor has lost his mind at the Destruction… Mere days ago, A vision of the invasion crossed my dreams…” Taranas pulled on the Exarch’s robe, “Please, My Lord! You are our leader! We need you!” Maladaar placed a caring hand on Taranas’ hand, “This, Is where I belong, Child, If I fall, I will fall with thr Bones of our blessed ancestors. You however, Must leave.” Taranas said nothing, too wrought with emotion. “I charge you with protecting our Priesthood. You must gather as many of the Auchenei as you can. Flee to Shattrath. Our dead, must have a keeper.” Taranas reluctantly removed his hand, a tear crossing his cheek. Maladaar crossed to the End of his chamber, performing a strange sequence of taps on the wall and a passage Opening up, as Taranas steps through, Maladaar halted him, “In my vision… Auchindoun is Doomed… But the Auchenei, will not fall. Today.” Taranas nodded once, though his body was rattled, his mind was sharp as he rushed through the Narrow escape corridors. Corridors that other Priests had made use of as well. Upon exiting the Western side of the Great Dome that was Auchindoun, stepping into the lush and thick forests surrounding it, he surveyed his party, His Numbers were distressingly low, Only about two or three dozen, most of them Initiates or exhausted elderly Soulpriests, “We flee to Tuurem, warn them of the Orcs, then we all move as a Party towards Shattrath.” Having finally caught their breath, his small group nodded, running far north as fast as they could. As they crossed the Raastok Glade, Only one looks back, Behind him, Taranas could no longer sense the subtle tranquility of Auchindoun. He sensed within it’s bowels, Something terrible was happening. And vowed that one day, He and the Auchenei would return.
The Fall of Shattrath
Taranas stood on the Ramparts overlooked the Outer boarder of Shattrath, hastily constructed, he could see they would not last long, next to him, Hundreds of Draenei Soldiers, Vindicators and Judicators lined the walls, they knew attack was imminent, Farahlon had Fallen, Telmor had fallen, Even great and Beautiful Karabor had fallen, corrupted and twisted into the Vile Black Temple. And a mere week ago, an explosion rocked the Forest of Terokk, from the Aldor rise, he could see the endless grey destruction all centered around a massive crumbling- Taranas turned his head away. He could not bear the thought. “Auchindoun… Gone… Maladaar…” Taranas thought to himself. Most of all, however, He feared for what laid within the massive crypt of remembrance inside the Exarch’s chamber. “First K’ure… now D’ore… Blessed Naaru, what would you have us do?” Inside the back of his mind, Taranas heard the words, “Fight on.” He turned, seeing no one, Of course there wasn’t. He was certain he had just imagined the Words, but even then, they were right…
Fine Hours Later, Taranas stood with the other Aldor, Vindicators, Defenders of Shattrath them all, They stood before Their most beloved leader. Prophet Velen. “My heart… Goes out to every one of you. “ Velen said, barely able to contain the sorrow in his voice, it was contained though. The Draenei all looked for Velen for strength, and he knew he must provide it. “All of you who stay to defend Shattrath are heroes unparalleled in Draenei history. I have all the possessions you have given me, and I will ensure their survival.” Prophet Velen bowed deeply to all the men, women, and even children who had stayed behind to buy the few remaining Draenei time to escape. He blessed them all with the Light, then turned to his companions, and departed. Taranas knew they ere heading for the Zangarmarsh. They would rebuild. Create a new city. Taranas knew he would never see the city, and he was prepared for this day. As he and all the others marched up to the walls of Shattrath, they all looked our and saw hundreds upon thousands of Orcs, Ogres counted within their numbers too, and colossal siege engines stood ready to break open the walls. In the very back, barely visible but omnipresent, he saw too figures. “One walked on four mammoth legs, had bulky arms and a mane of fire down his reptilian back, the other resembled nothing less then a colossal, winged, giant, red, draenei- “Kil’Jaeden!” Taranas’ thoughts screamed. So he was behind this, Behind everything. The Deaths of countless Draenei, The destruction of their most holy sites. “The destruction of Auchindoun…” Taranas thought Grimly. The Orcs surged. Battering down the walls. “Beloved ancestors, I come…” Without further hesitation, he drew his mighty stave, razor sharp crystal mounted on the top, and began raining missiles of heavenly light upon the Demon empowered Orcs, The Light struck and wounded and tortured them, but it seemed for every one he slew, three more stepped up to take his place. He heard a massive crash somewhere to the east, A wall had fallen. The orcs now surged into the lower city. Strange green meteors had been called down by the Orc warlocks, only to realize what they truly were as the fiery green golems emerged from the craters. As the outer walls began to fall, he left his position, descending into the lower cities with a group of vindicators and a battle-mage. The Orcs, ogres, and demons were upon them instantly. They were soon forced to retreat. Forming tight0knit groups around the passages into the terrace of light. “There is no way we can stop them all.” Taranas thought, even as The Vindicator next to him was struck down by a wicked looking spear. Suddenly before the, a massive, brawny but unusually tall orc, Jaw tattooed black, eyes burning red, wicked, notched axe in hand reared up, his tusks grinned for a moment, then let loose an ear-splitting war cry, so loud that the battle-mage’s spell was disturbed and their shield fell. They fell further and further back, they were almost upon the terrace of light now, when the groups finally faltered. He saw orcs spilling unto the Terrace of light and heading towards Aldor rise. Taranas turned his head, the Savage, red-eyed orc’s blade was careening towards his face, it struck. Then he knew no more.
Taranas’ thoughts wheeled. “Is this What Death is like?” he thought vaguely. He had felt the essence of souls at rest. They had even told him. It was Dark, and soft and warm, Taranas had thought he’d finally be able to lay down the arms he had Bourne for his people. But no. He was Cold, weak, and wet, the Wetness, he realized, was his own blood. Streaming from his own face. Taranas’ let out a painful groan, unable to sit up yet. He tried to open his eyes, and tried again. And saw only darkness. Taranas remembered with horror the axe that axe that had struck his face. The axe that had ruined his eyes. Wounded both psychically and spiritually, he forced himself to sit up, he felt his hands out around him, stumbling forward, and almost immediately tripped. He realized blatantly, he was laying on the body he had tripped up on. It was a Draenei, he realized with further horror. So cold, she was. He felt around even more, Feeling the unusually large tusks, “This must be an orc” he thought, though the smell might have given it away. It then struck him that the entire lower city must have become a dumping ground for Draenei and Orc bodies. Alone in a sea of Blue and Green, Taranas vomited up blood and bile, he shuddered to his core, “What was there left for him in this now miserable existence he called life? Moving on his hands and knees now, he crawled blindly through the lower city streets. Thankfully, no orcs seemed to be on guard, or alive down here. It was then that two pairs of hands seized him by the shoulders, he wanted to scream, but they had covered his mouth. He realized, blatantly, that he was being carried awfully softly, as if the orcs, Were they orcs carrying him? Wanted him uninjured. Taranas was suddenly brought to a stop, and a voice, female and soft, called to him, “Do not fear, We are priests of the Aldor.” The Draenei carrying him had brought him to a small temple. He knew this spot, he realized. It was small, smaller then the tavern, more of an altar then a chapel, but The Draenei had made this their refuge. “Taranas nodded bleakly. “Apprent-…” He cut himself off. Maladaar had wanted him to lead his people, he did not know if any Auchenai he had brought with him had even survived, but he had to be more then just an apprentice now. “Soulpriest Taranas.” The Aldor priestess before him nodded and sighed softly, “Please, take him to a bed, You must rest Taranas. There are many injured here, many who will not survive the night… “ Taranas thought about protesting, that others needed beds and healing more then he, but the priestess seemed adamant. “I am Ishanah.” The Priestess said, Taranas nodded again as he was laid unto a rough cot, he let his head lay back, and drifted into the dreamless sleep of the exhausted.
Two days later, Taranas was readily walking again, his eyes though, had been destroyed by that wicked axe, He had donned a Blindfold to cover the gruesome sockets, and to cover his shame. “Cannot stay here…” Taranas thought blurrily, as is he were in a trance. “The Souls of Auchindoun… The Auchenai… the Foul orcs… They must be-“ At that moment, he bumped into Ishanah. “Please, Forgive me Priestess! I did not-“ Ishanah out her fingers to his lips. “Do not apologize, Taranas. We all have much on our minds.” Taranas nodded sullenly, “I am not forsaken by the Light due to a mere injury of the flesh… But Such an existence is… bleak.” Ishanah led him to the Priesthood resting room, thankfully unoccupied. “You are a Soulpriest of the Auchenai, Yes? Then Since when have you needed your eyes to seen what is in plain sight?” Taranas knew what she spoke of. The greatest Soulpriests of the Auchenei had gained the sight of the perished. True perception. The ability to see souls, and into them, but Taranas knew he would never attain this. “I Am a mere Apprentice forced to be stronger then I am, What good can I do our Priesthood, Our people, if I cannot even see my own soul? So torn and tattered it is now. “Ishanah’s expression did not changed. “Do not underestimate yourself, Taranas. Upon my birth, I had no grasp of the light. Not even the Blessed Naaru could predict any bonding with it. Yet here I stand, being elevated to new grace by the light simply on my faith.” Taranas started to open his mouth again, then closed it, seeing some truth in her words, she then led him back to the recovery chamber, lay down on his cot, and before he drifted into uneasy sleep, he realized that he had been speaking with the High Priestess of the Aldor. Second only to Velen.
The next day, The Priests of the Aldor Searched for Taranas, having found his bed empty, They feared he had wandered off and fallen, or worse, been spotted by the Orcs, They would never know. As by the time he was discovered missing, he was walking sure-footedly southwards through a little-used path through Terokkar Forest. In his dreams the Night before. A light, brighter then any he had ever seen shone into his sightless eyes. The Light of a being older then Draenor itself that now rested within Auchindoun. “D’ore, I come.” He said out loud as he walked on the rocky and unused path. He never tripped once.
Return to Auchindoun.
*Crunch* Taranas’ hooves fell upon the outer boarders of the deepest thickets of Terokkar. An area that he was informed was now called the Bone wastes. He frowned. He knew that all around him lay gray, dusty dirt, though it just felt… -wrong- to him. Nothing was right on Draenor anymore. The thought brought a frown to his lips. He didn’t smile much anymore. “So much destruction…” Taranas thought to himself “For what?” Taranas didn’t even think of the answer to that question. He knew. It was for Nothing. As soon as Shattrath fell, The Orcs believed themselves victorious in their quest to eradicate the Draenei. Of course, There had been no great reward, No endless power bestowed upon the warlocks that had damned themselves and their race. Kil’jaeden had simply vanished. And the Orcs were growing restless. The last scout he heard report in before he departed from Shattrath was that in an effort to reunite the clans again, the Orcs had begun construction on what looked like a gateway of some sort. Taranas snorted. Let them all go through their gateway,” He thought grimly. “And may it take them all to hell.” Outland had been ruined. He knew it. He could not see the sight of the land, But he could feel the land, Feel the demonic energy coursing throughout it like vile blood, and he could hear the world cry out in pain. *Crunch* Taranas stopped. He was about halfway through the bone wastes now. And he now knew what he had trod on. Bones. Countless. Millions. All the bones of Draenei passed, defiled and desecrated, the souls that once inhabited the bodies screamed in rage at having their resting place disturbed, Souls that he could see now. Taranas turned his head to see what had undoubtedly been a cleric in life. The lost spirit walked by him, not even seeming to know he was dead. Taranas extended his Staff, or rather what was left of it. The brilliant sharp, violet crystal had snapped off the shaft, making it more of a blade then anything else, the crystal glowed. And the Cleric’s soul turned to face him, a smile crossing his ethereal features before he disappeared. Moving to the next life. Taranas smiled for te first time since the fall of Shattrath. Auchindoun. It rose before him like some head half-buried in the dirt and bones. The dome’s roof had completely caved in, as had the vast majority of the temple’s underground floors. Some of the Vast mausoleum’s structures remained intact though. As he passed under a beautiful arch, its columns. Auchindoun was no longer a sacred burial site though. He felt Other beings crawling into the deepest crypts tha survived the destruction. Orcs, Arrakoa, Strange, Energy beings whom he had no knowledge of and… Draenei? Taranas blinked. “By the Naaru.” Taranas said. “The Auchenai, some of them anyway have survived…” Something seized Taranas then, Not enemy hands though, He was seized by hope. Quickening his pace, He arrived at the lowest layer still intact, though other layers lay beneath it, They had likely been buried by the destruction, Four gateways surrounded him. He looked to the South one, and sensed a power within. And an entity whose power shocked Taranas, “Must be the work of the Orcs…” He muttered to himself, spitting as he said orc, as if the very word were untasteful. Finally settling on the western passage, Taranas was met with a sight that invoked joy within him. Draenei banners. He had passed this way many times before. Though the entrance had crumbled, He stared into the tunnels that he had taken so many months ago to warn Exarch Maladaar. He saw Draenei guarding the entrence to the tunnels as well, As he stepped into full view to greet them, they visibly relaxed at the sight of another Draenei, undoubtedly the first visitor they’d had in months, joy seized him and he walked into the tunnels of the Temple that had once, and was now again his home.
Exarch Maladaar was in deep meditation when Taranas had finally been permitted to see him. Taranas’ robes were ragged, not having been changed since the fall of Shattrath. Maladaar’s attire had changed as well. Rather then his simple green robe or valiant golden armor, He had donned a set of Blood red and Black armor. “Taranas” Maladaar said without rising or turning. Taranas bowed deeply, “I return, Exarch. To help protect our fallen.” Now Maladaar did rise, “The Light has granted me new visions, My apprentice… though apprentice no more, are you?” It was true. In his weeks in Shattrath and in his own personal quest for vision and guidance, Taranas had become a true Soulpriest and keeper of the dead. Maladaar continued. “The destruction of Auchindoun was a terrible loss and curse on both our priesthood and our honored dead. Yet it unveiled a new blessing. Surely, a gift from the naaru.” Maladaar picked up the rather dusty tome that had sat before him, handing it to Taranas. Brushing off the dirt and rubble with a sweep of his head, his eyes fell upon the Book’s letters tooled into it’s cover.
“The Book of the Dead…”
It has been almost Thirty Long years since I picked that accursed tome. Read it, studied it, made it’s spells my own. I now realize what a fool I was to have even laid A hand on it. The Book of the Dead was a Dark Relic. One brought to thus world from Argus, from the hands of the Eredar. We had thought the overwhelming Light emanating from the Naaru D’ore would negate its presence in Auchindoun. Fate, However, Cares little for the decisions of men…
Part Two: Descent
Arrival of the Legion. Twenty-one years later…
“Welcome, all of you, To the Crypts of our loved ones, our ansectors, our Honored dead.” Taranas had began. He did this often now. His power, and his vision had quickly ascended Taranas in the ranks of the Auchenai priesthood. “Here, you will learn to commune with the lingering souls of our fallen. You will learn of them, and you will learn from them. And More then anything, You will learn to protect them.” The Initiates before him bowed their heads in prayer. Taranas smiled. Decades ago, when the vast majority of the Orcs left this world, The Draenei had rejoiced. A few had even been bold enough to come out of hiding and build new territory. And many, as Taranas was delighted to discover, had joined the ranks of the Auchenei. “You all have your instructions, Report to your trainers for your first lessons.” The Initiates bowed before him, and walked off in various directions through the crypts that the Auchenai had once communed with the fallen in, and now lived among. As he walked deeper into the crypts, he stoped to watch Auchenai monks and trainers reading from their prayer books. Taranas’ hand went to the heavy book that was chained to his waist. The book of the Dead. For years, He had read from this book, called the lost souls from the bone wastes to the Crypts of the Auchenai. He laid his hoof on the grand bridge that once overlooked a natural underground river which had allowed the ever present life in Terokkar to Bloom. With the creation of the Bone wastes, it had dried up. Now, however, An ominous almost fluid red light filled the ravine, Angered souls, he knew they were. He stopped halfway across the bridge, looking down intot he depths. The teachings of the Auchenai had been transformed. Slowly, Subtly, but it was obvious. Obvious, to all but the Auchenai themselves. Having tired at looking at anger, he passed the omnipresent, omnisencant, Guardian of the inner crypts. Summoned by Exarch Maladaar himself a few years ago when the Shadow Council had tried to take the crypts, the Dead watcher, as it was now known, had been crucial in repelling them. Taranas’ hoovesteps echoed loudly as he entered the crypt of remembrance. Exarch Maladaar, Graying but still strong and charismatic as ever, stood at the end of the chamber, before the caved in entrance to the escape route Taranas had used decades ago. Four advanced Auchenai Soulpriests kneeled before him, dressed in black robes adorned with skulls. “You are the Hope, The future of the Auchenai!” Maladaar said with pride. “The crypts are open to you all. Go, and return our ancestors to us!” The Auchenai Soulpriests, No, Auchenai Necromancers bowed to the Exarch, then to Taranas, then departed. Taranas smothered a grin. The Necromancers had been his idea, after reading passages from the book of the dead; they had discovered the way to reunite souls into their former bodies, or even into others. Then they would animate the corpses, giving them life once more. To the Auchenai, It was beautiful. “They will be our greatest assets, my friend.” Maladaar said to Taranas. “Yes, Taranas replied as he watched the last one, an actual recent initiate but having ascended through the ranks at a speed unparalleled, fade from sight, “One disturbs me, however.” Maladaar knew whom Taranas spoke of. Only weeks ago, A Draenei named Nithrin and his Son, Lexivus arrived at the Auchenai crypts. Nithrin had fled mere weeks ago, abandoning the teachings of the Auchenei. Teachings that Lexivus was excelling at. “Lexivus’ father does not indicate his actions.” Maladaar looked over Taranas briefly” He might even become an apprentice to you one day soon.” Taranas wasn’t sure, but something about Lexivus terrified him more then the raising of corpses ever could.
Necromancy, Taranas mused, was certainly a popular prospect. Every Auchenai initiate was now eagerly pursuing their studies of souls and interaction with them, and more recently, binding souls. Taranas frowned at this. His Purpose as a Soulkeeper was to ensure to harm came to them. He shook his head, “Only good will come of this. As it is written in the book of the dead.” Taranas had become seen and known as a Prophet in the Auchenai. Their greatest Spiritual leader, and Second only to Exarch Maladaar, This pleased Taranas, but the Work he did pleased him more then any mortal title ever could. Why was it then, that he had felt so nervous recently? He returned to his quarters, He unchained and opened the book of the dead; it’s words practically glowing to him and read the passages near the back. “The last holders of Book of the dead will be they who will unknowingly betray, and then willingly betray the Auchenei…” Taranas read softly to himself. “What did it mean?” he closed the Book, re-attaching it to the belt he wore day and night, The Book was never far from him. He lay down on his bed, his thoughts awhirl. “I am not the last holder, nor anywhere near those damned souls. The Book of the Dead will go on in the Auchenai. And bring only blessings…” As Taranas drifted off into sleep, he thought briefly, wistfully, “Won’t it?...”
In the Night, Though the Tunnels were underground and always partially illuminated, A being moved, Blacker then black, slinking in shadow’s exceptionally well for a bring of his size and bulk. He was sure and careful though. He had planned for this moment since He ever heard of it. Since he ever heard of the existence of the Book of the dead. Slipping into the prophet’s chambers, the intruder invoked the powers of his birthright. All Draenei were Eredar. “If these Auchenai fools do not realize this, then they will pay the price” the intruder thought. Slowly, he began to coax his will into the Tome that hung from the Prophet’s sleeping form. The Book was created by Eredar. And it wanted to return to them… The Chain broke, silently, the Book of the Dead entered his hands. Lexivus now had all he needed…
Taranas awoke to a chorus of souls. All screaming in agony. Flinging on his robes, He burst into the main halls of the Auchenai crypts. And saw souls. Hundreds of them, all clutching their heads and walking as if reluctantly to the outer levels of Auchindoun. “All of you! With me!” Taranas shouted to a nearby group of baffled Soulpriests. Taranas turned to a Nearby Auchenai Necromancer. “You! Wake the Exarch!” Taranas raced towards the entrance of the crypt. His strong body not having failed him despite not having fought or exerted himself physically in many years. The Auchenai gathered in the Ring of observance in the center of Auchindoun, the other three entrances to What were now known as the Mana-tombs, Sethekk halls, and Shadow Labyrinth, were firmly sealed off. The souls were being led from the Auchenei crypts alone. Taranas reached for the Book of the dead- And grasped nothing. Taranas paled, never believing the Book of the dead would serve another while he still lived. And yet now… “AUCHENAI WHELPS! MISERABLE SOULPRIESTS OF AUCHINDOUN! Kneel before your master!” The terrible voice emanated from above. Taranas and the Auchenai looked up… and beheld Lexivus. It was Lexivus. Undoubtedly, Though he had grown massive. Wore traditional Eredar Armor. And of course, Held the Book of the dead in one hand. “You will destroy yourself!” Taranas shouted at the Former Auchenai. “Destroy myself?” Lexivus replied, “Perhaps you should have a closer look at what you’ve become over the years!” Taranas’ thoughts suddenly flashed back to the passage from the book of the Dead the Night before. “The book of the dead will be held by one who will unknowingly betray the Auchenai…” The words floated through Taranas’ head. “And by he who will willingly betray the Auchenai…” Taranas froze. “Oh Light, By the Naaru no. It couldn’t be true. Could it?” Taranas looked up at Lexivus, who even now laughed demonically as the Auchenai soulpriests behind him clutched their heads and then straightened. Behind the group, More Auchenai monks, Vindicators and Soulpriests emerged from the Auchenai Crypts. Finally, Exarch Maladaar, flanked by Six Auchenai necromancers emerged. Taranas could see into their souls. All of them. They had all fallen under the sway of Lexivus. Under the sway of the Burning Legion. If Taranas had eyes, He would have cried. The Corrupted Auchenai, As now that he no longer carried the Book of the dead, He was no longer under it’s Dark Sway. He could see how corrupted The Auchenai had become. How corrupted HE had become. As they all turned to face him, Taranas could to nothing but flee. The Souls of his ancestors had abandoned him in disgust. The so called “Prophet” Taranas had learned more then communication with the Soul from the Book of the Dead, He had learned Magic, and exerted the last of his keeping the Auchenai from seizing him, and teleport himself away. When he rematerialized, he was not far, He stood at the edge of the bone wastes, Auchindoun still in full view, At the entrance of a tomb unearthed by Draenor’s destruction and outland’s creation, Known as the tomb of Lights. The name went unnoticed by him though, As Taranas fell to his knees and seized his head, “What Have I done?” he asked himself. Once again. He did not answer. He already knew. He had betrayed the Auchenai. Delivered them into darkness. And let them fall under the shadow of the Burning legion. “I’ve been a fool” Taranas said out loud. As he retreated deeper into the Tomb, hands clamped firmly against his ears. There was no refugee, though, Even in madness, From the echo of the Laughter, of Lexivus. Taranas Screamed.
I lived without meaning. I was nothing, A mere pawn on the Eternal Board. My blessings to the Auchenai were curses. My Prayers were words of Darkness, and it was all due to my arrogance. Perhaps If I had been wiser I would not have been nothing. Perhaps If I were wiser today… I would cease to be nothing…
Change Five years later…
The Bone wastes. A monument to the result of the lust for power. Since it’s creation decades ago, It has been host to Corruption, Death, and Betrayal. The Betrayal part, can be largely attributed to the shell of a being that inhabits the Lone tome north of Auchindoun, and a tomb it was indeed as it’s sole living inhabitant, was as dead inside as the souls that inhabited it. “Shut up, Shut up, shut up, shut up, shut up, shut up!” Taranas blatantly realized that he was talking to no one. The Souls had not screeched at him with their hate and accusations. Hate, and suffering that he’d inflicted upon them. “Will I ever atone for my sin?” There was no answer. Which was all the answer Taranas needed. Nothing of Spirit would ever answer him again. But he could still see them. See their ethereal faces with his sight intot he spirit world. They all bore looks of disgust and scorn. Feeling his stomach growl, as it had been all dal, he finally decided to scounge together what he coukd to satisfy his body. “Why.” He stopped and asked himself this. “Why do I keep myself alive?” Taranas still carried with him the crystal blade that had snapped from his staff so long ago, fashioned into a blade now. Many times he had been tempted to and had brought it to his throat, but in the end, it always fell again. Knowing he would find no answers in his mind or in this tomb, he trudged up the steps and unto the surface. Taranas blinked. Mildly surprised to see conflict ensuing outside and Within Auchindoun. Things were Different now. The threat of the Legion had been defeated. Kil’jaeden banished back to whatever pit he emerged from. “May he rot in hell.” Taranas spat. Illidan Stormrage. The Lord of Outland, has also perished. His legacy, it seemed did not die with him. Even now… Even before his eyes, as it were. Blood Elves, Fel Orcs, Naga, Demons, Even strange undead elf beings surged across outland. All bearing the green sigil of Illidan. Taranas, unsure what drove him to leave the Tomb he had made his asylum, still walked away from his usual patch of food and towards the ensuing battle in the bone wastes.
Taranas walked slow at first, then ran like a man in a desert thirsting for water. Something had changed. He could feel it. As he reached the top of the Shadow council base camp known as the Shadow Stair. He saw it. For one, The Base camp had been eliminated. Two, Across the great circular pit of Auchindoin, Lexivus wasn’t shouting his usual prattle from that Damned Book. In fact, He was in the Ring of Observance. Dead. Hope seized Taranas like never before. Lexivus… The demon whose laughter still echoed in his nightmares… was dead. Taranas fell to his knees. His head upturned and arms held towards the sun. “I know I am not worthy… But evil threatens the innocent, tormented souls. I brought this hell here… let me remove it…” Taranas heard only silence. He cringed and huddled over, forehead to the ground and clutching his head. Then, a hand was placed on his shoulder, then another. He lifted his head. Souls of Draenei fallen were helping him up. And rather then their usual looks of scorn, disgust and hate. He saw pride, and determination. The foremost of them spoke. “You lived as nothing… Yet every time you sought to end your miserable existence, you held on. You would not give up. And we will not give up on you. Taranas, so overcome with gratitude simply nodded. Behind him, The lost, tormented, angered spirits of the draenei rose from their desecrated bones and gathered behind him. “For the Light.” He said softly, Then he and his army of vengeance descended into the Ring of Observance.
Taranas heard sounds of battle coming from the Auchenai Crypts, “Soldiers of the Illidari…” Taranas muttered to himself. They were a disease that would have to be delt with. Not today, though. Today, the menace that had ruined Taranas’ life would be brought to justice. With the approval of the Spiritual army he now led, they charged south in the ring of observance, coming to the massive, sealed stone door that guarded the Entrance to the Shadow Labyrinth, where the Orcish Shadow council had made their base so long ago. He noted one thing about the door though. It was gone. Smashed to smithereens, it’s fragments litering the floor. “So the Minions of the Illidari have passed here before us…” Tharnas said to no one in particular, No one in particular, but he did not go unheard, “They are firmly entrenched.” The Ghost of a Female Exarch of the crypts from long ago.”But we are Auchenai. These tunnels are our home. And None know them better then we. Not even you, Taranas.” Taranas was only mildly surprised to hear the words, He knew that the souls of Auchenai keepers long past knew much, but even he had not imagined how much. “Come, This way.” The Passed Exarch said, and Taranas and his spiritual legion were soon moving through hidden passageways that had not seen use since Auchindoun’s construction. They Emerged in a small chamber just beyond what was once the Auchenai prayer hall before it’s capture by the Shadow Council. Indeed, even now, He heard the sounds of combat raging just beyond another massive door. “Time is short, We must hurry if the Spirits of Auchindoun are to ever be at peace once again.” Even as he spoke, the agents of the Shadow council came to test them. But Taranas was no mere soulpriest, and he was not alone. The Spiritual draenei, though spirits they were, had no trouble demolishing the Shadow council’s ranks. And soon they were on the move again. Rounding a corner, Taranas and his company stood before a long lecture hall, here, it seemed, the Shadow Council was preparing itself for siege. Their numbers had to be in the Hundreds, and they caught sight of the army as it approached, grabbing spellbooks, speakings words of darkness, and raising their blades for combat. A tall, muscular spirit approached him, apparently a vindicator in life from the armor he wore. “This is where we play our part, Keeper of the dead, now you must do yours.” Taranas merely nodded, and the ranks of the dead surged up to meet the mortals.
Taranas dodged and weaved through the confusion of battle, he paid it little mind though. “This is all my fault” Taranas thought to himself. “MY arrogance, my insolence, My Stupidity!” Taranas chided himself inside his mind. His focus though, was on reaching the end of the Hall. For there was one who had brought this hell here moreso then he, and that wicked soul wrapped in mortal flesh stood on a raised dias before him now. “Vorpil” Taranas’ words left him slowly. Of course he was still alive, It was he who led the Shadow Council here so long ago, damn him. It was he who had led an army of defilers against innocent men and women and caretakers of the fallen. Vorpil presented a savage figure. His muscular orc body obviously not having given in to the ravages of Age. He wore strange dark blue runed robes, embalonized with demonic figures, and carried a wicked staff in his hands that radiated an eerie violet light. Taranas knew that light to be captured souls, crying for release. They would have it. “What have we here?” Vorpil said smoothly and chillingly. “An Auchenai? In my lair? Hmhmhm… If only your excess courage made up for your stupidity!” Vorpil’s aid mockingly. The words were ment to unnerve Taranas, yet they had just the opposite effect. Ever since his initiation as a priest of the holy light, he had been taught that the shadow will only sting, and hurt, and scar the soul. Vorpil obviously hadn’t listened, and stood here almost more Demon then Orc now. Yet Taranas knew. He knew so many years ago, and he knew now. And he was not going to let this aberration continue. “It is you who are the fool, ‘Grand Master’ Vorpil” Twisting the words as if to be mocking. “You have done great evil in your life, Yet now I guarantee you a swift and painless death. It is more then you’ve given the countless of others you’ve offered to your ‘Dark Lord’ It is more then you deserve.” Apparently pushed to the limit of patience, Vorpil grabbed his staff in both hands, and yelled, “I’ll make an offering of your Blood!” and swept the staff towards Taranas, and dozens of bolts of darkness went flying towards him. Taranas was no amateur however, and merely extended his crystal blade, the bolts of darkness flying towards it like a magnet, dissipating as they touched it. Taranas now took the offensive, lashing out with his blade. Vorpil seemed tireless, however, and his staff of stolen souls met each sword strike. Vorpil dodged another strike of Taranas and counterattacked, tearing a slice across Taranas’ shoulder, wincing at the pain, Taranas used the pain to fuel his next strike, Vorpil narrowly dodging to the side. As the strike sliced over him though, it sheared off a few inches of his robe mantle. Vorpil scowled. “You pathetic Draenei, It is a wonder how you even managed to survive as a species for so long!” and Vorpil thrusted the head of his staff at Taranas’ chest, Taranas was prepared, but the blow was accompanied by a blast of unfathomable darkness, sending him careening down the dias which they fought on. Vorpil laughed triumphantly, standing in the center of the Dias where power seemed to flow to him from soul crystals shackled to the base. “Valiant Try, but know that nothing you ever do will be meaningful, nothing you ever aspire for will be reached, and everything you ever dream of is forlorn.” Vorpil raised the sharp lower side of his staff over his head. “You, Are, NOTHING!” Vorpil screamed as the staff began to descend on the injured Taranas’ upturned chest. While Vorpil’s power though was drawn from the unwilling and tormented souls he had stolen and that of his so called “God”, Taranas’ power was drawn from his faith, and his will. And his unshakable desire to help those whose hopes now all rested upon him, and they gave him their power as he drew new strength into his body. Vorpil’s staff descended- and only embedded itself into the stone floor. He yanked it our with frustration and looked around, searching for the Auchenai. He would not look far, For Taranas was rising behind him, the wounds Vorpil had delt him now sealing, but what captured Vorpil’s attention, was his face, or rather his eyes. Behind the blindfold he wore, two points of brilliant white light blossomed into being, growing brighter still until the Blindfold actually ignited and was discarded from Taranas’ face, whose eyes now radiated with holy fire which likes had never been embodied in a Draenei before. “VORPIL!” Taranas yelled in a cacanophy of voices. “The Souls of Millions of souls are at stake! Their pain, the cause for their burden lies on your hands, Butcher!” Now Vorpil shrank back slightly, So confidant in his power was he that he was having a hard time even understanding what was happening. Taranas’ blade ignited with the same, brilliant, blinding holy fire. “Prepare to pay the Ultimate price!” And Taranas slammed into the now desperate Vorpil. The Orc Warlock drew all the strength he had, pulling the souls of more and more deceased Draenei into his magic so that their life force would fuel his magic. Taranas scowled furiously, his last remaining goal in life was to kill this monster who had taken everything away from him. Vorpil sidestepped, moving around Taranas’ back, Focusing all his energy into a single dark strike that would claim Taranas’ soul. He drew his staff back-
Vorpil looked down. Staring dully at the long crystal sword that now entered his chest and the three inches out his back from which It protruded. His staff dropped from his hands, weakness overtaking him. “Im… *Spits* Impossible…” Vorpil leaned backwards, sliding off the blade. Only now, did he realize how damned he had become, and what evils he had created and what chaos he had wrought. And Now he understood the hell he had put the tormented souls of Draenei through, and he also understood he was about to enter far worse. As his life left him, he could only wonder where the blow that had ended him came from. He lay there on the floor, bleeding out his last, and Before Darkness claimed his vision, he saw the Crystalline sword protruding from the Draenei’s back…
Taranas spat up blood, the Orc warlock lay dead behind him. The malice behind Auchidoun had finally been ended. The Crystalline sword that had once been attached to a staff so long ago emerged from his back. He had known the cost Vorpil’s defeat would be, and he paid it gladly. He fell to his knees, coughing furiously. “I…. have done it… my fallen brothers…” Taranas thought to himself grimly. “But… was it… enough?” Taranas thought, his thoughts growing blurry. “Have I… redeemed myself?...” Taranas’ legs gave up the battle to stay upright, and fell unto his back, staring up with his eyes of holy fire. As he lay on his back facing the ceiling, he could not see the hundreds of Draenei ghosts gathering around him. Vorpil’s soul crystals had shattered, releasing hundreds more. All massing with the sole intent of honoring the one who had saved them from eternal damnation. The Deceased Exarch from earlier leaned over him. Taranas was so weak he could not turn his head to face her, but she held his head in his hands and spectral eyes met his. “You, Taranas Soulseer had walked the path of loneliness for so long… we had thought you lost…” Taranas could only listen as his life left him. “But you redeemed yourself, you redeemed the Auchenai, and only you, could have freed us all…” Taranas’ head began to fall back, yet he could still hear her voice.
“The Light does not abandon its champions, Taranas… May you find eternal happiness, in the next life…”
Taranas heard her words and felt a surge of joy flood through him. Here, Surrounded by spirits like the one he was about to become. Suddenly, he was no longer within the dank, grey halls of the Shadow Labyrinth; He stood under a beautiful sky, surrounded by his long dead family, His Auchenai colleges, his childhood friends. Taranas reached up his hand to feel his face, “Unscarred eyes…” he said to himself. The beloved spirits welcomed him lovingly, and together they ventured into the great halls of the Afterlife…