Bloodwen: Part X Edit
It was only a sliver of land, but that foothold was enough to give hope to the Crusade. The knights erected their walls and tents upon their enemy’s doorstep, all the while dreading their certain march through the dark pass. The Ashbringer guided them, Tirion Fordring barking orders to masons and soldiers alike. It had taken little time for the gryphons to learn the fastest route back through Zul’Drak and soon bristling cannons rested atop the Argent Vanguard. Though the Lich King remained oblivious, his attention diverted by the approaching Horde and Alliance armies from the south of Northrend, even Fordring gave pause when he looked to the pass. Scourgeholme lay beyond.
The inevitability of war soon found them. Its presence stirred the mountains of snow, sending whispers of flakes curling across the surface. Tirion felt it, hand gripped on the hilt of his magnificent sword. His soldiers pretended to remain unaware, keeping to their duties even when the watch commander sent them to the breach. Their stoicism could only last so long, for the slender, armored legs of the nerubians soon emerged from the dark. They stalked forward from their high perches, clawed appendages piercing the hard crust of ice and snow as they descended through the trees, over the hills, and from the web-filled pass.
The soldiers’ screams set the Vanguard into motion.
That was days ago. No one slept since. The nerubians kept up their assault, cut down by the Crusade’s adept marksmen when they came too close. Night brought them their cover, slipping through the starry shroud to clamber over the bulwark. The knights repelled them.
Then the frostbrood wyrms arrived.
Falais watched this all from afar, the blood elf wrapped in layers of fur and leather. The soldiers had not seen any sign of the assassin, for he lit no fire to stay warm. Well prepared for his journey, the winds could not claw their way inside to rake against his skin. Frozen nights found him deep within the snow, covered by a blanket of white fur. The curo rested safe within his pouch.
As eager as he was to proceed to the Citadel, he could not advance past the Vanguard. Too many guards blocked his path and it was the only route he knew. Once he entered the breach and crossed into Scourgeholme he would be safe, for the undead would not dare attack. Not with their Master watching over him.
He could have advanced that first night. He almost did so, watching the giant nerubians skitter across the valley floor. His attention was held fast, however, as they overran the fleeing soldiers, hard tips of their legs punching through the knights’ armor as if the metal were parchment. Their screams brought a smile to his lips, for each dying Crusader only reaffirmed his dedication to the Lich King. The knights brought their end upon themselves, for it was folly to stand against one so powerful.
The giant wyrms were only a further testament of this.
A gryphon rose from the Vanguard, the seated knight stuffing the missive into her pouch. Zul’Drak, and the knights gathered at the Argent Stand, was but a short flight away. The rider hunched low over the back of the beast, flitting through the gargoyles and leathery wings to make the end of the valley. The assorted undead let her pass, for the Vanguard was their priority.
Not so for Falais. The assassin kept low as he ran along the edge of the outcropping. Snow fell away, plummeting towards the jagged rocks and struggling bodies below. Reaching back, he retrieved the feathered arrow. Notching it, he pivoted as the gryphon flapped past, then let the barbed instrument fly.
It caught the creature in the neck. It gave a gurgling shriek, then went limp as it sped towards the ground. The knight tugged on the reins, confused, for no enemy pursued and she could spot none below. The touch of Death was unmistakable upon the gryphon, and she leapt from the beast. Fumbling with something, her cloak expanded, halting her plunge.
“Damn engineers.” Falais fitted another arrow onto the string and let it fly.
She hit the ground with a clatter, cloak fluttering around her. The Crusader remained still. Falais watched until the snow beneath her melted into a red pool. The blood elf grunted. Now the Vanguard would fall. Even the mighty Ashbringer was no match for the overwhelming forces of the Lich King.
Though no cold seeped through his furs, the hair on the back of his neck stood on end. Falais froze. The snow battered his face as the wind picked up. His ears could scarcely pick out the sound of the flapping through the gale. The sun, had it been out, would have revealed his approaching attacker, but the blazing orb was perpetually hidden in this forsaken land. The rumbling crunch hinted at the creature’s girth as it landed. The assassin dropped the bow, hands rising to his blades.
He whirled, drawing the dagger and sword.
The frostbrood almost seemed to smile at his vain attempt. Were it so inclined, it could have snapped him in two. A great will stayed its hand, not even allowing a growl to escape its rotting throat. Silent, it stood and stared at Falais, only a thin stream of vapor rising from its jaws.
He understood. Retrieving his bow, the elf climbed atop its freezing, scaled back. The undead leapt over the edge, winging its way towards the Vanguard. He saw the knights as they rushed up the stairs, swiveling the cannons towards the approaching Scourge front. Ghouls wrenched their way free from the earth, clawing towards the entry. Nerubians skewered any knights that rushed out to meet them. Crusaders screamed as the wyrms’ talons tore through their armor, the undead diving into the outpost to pluck them from their lines.
A blinding glow detonated among the Scourge, blasting them to pieces.
Falais shielded his eyes, looking towards the source. A handful of brave knights risked being torn asunder and manned the cannons. Unlike those weapons guarding the older Azerothian cities, these unleashed a deluge of holy flame. A few direct blasts could even down one of the frostbrood monstrosities.
His mount only made one pass, for its duty was to deliver Falais safely to their Master. The assassin did not waste his chance, arrows streaking from his bow as fast as he could fit them. Each found one of those brave knights, his shafts of death sending them pitching from the walls or leaving them crumpled at their cannons’ base.
Now let them defend the Vanguard, he thought.
Falais could not quite see him through the shadows. The interior of his black helm was lit only by his glowing eyes. What little light there was crawled its way to the frozen throne, dying just before hitting his armored feet. He may well have been a statue, a colossus chiseled from the despair and horror dredged from the souls of the damned within Northrend. An uncaring, unmoving deity, only his repulsive collection of animated corpses dared hover near. Puppets all, their heads turned in unison at his approach.
The blood elf fell to one knee, bowing his head.
You have the curo?
The black armor did not shift. The macabre cadavers waited with their Master, unbreathing. He fumbled in his pouch, bringing the gem to bear. One of the undead took it, wresting it from his nervous fingers and leaving a thin, rotting veil of skin behind. Falais flung this to the floor, pale as the creature shambled to the dais. It placed the stone within the holder, gazing into its depths as it flared.
A sound escaped from the still figure. It was not a pleasant issuance. Metal scraped against metal as the mailed fist clenched. Only the eyes gave away the fury, their sudden fire reflected in the demonic eyes of Frostmourne.
The information I seek…is not here.
Falais opened his mouth to defend against the brewing storm. The air remained heavy and oppressive, but the undercurrents hinted at some terrible consequence. Empty sockets swallowed him whole, the undead shifting as the rage barreled through them. The blood elf would have no time for defense, however, head jerking up. He gurgled, frozen in place, and felt the icy hands of the Lich King tear through his mind.
You were unaware.
He fell to the ground, unable to support himself as the terrible grip released him. Rubbing his throat, he sought to reassure his Master of his loyalty, but only a croak escaped his lips.
I sense a deep desire within you, Falais Moonreaver. There exists an unquenchable thirst, one which I am intimately familiar with. Were it within your power, you would wrest Frostmourne from me.
Do not deny it. I see it. Your thoughts betray you.
You lack the tenacity such a task requires. You lack vision. For all your schemes and betrayals, you would trade one yoke for another. A simple-minded strategy for such a simple-minded creature. You are not worthy of the gift you seek.
The years of planning slipped away from him, slithering into the darkness with his dreams.
“I am worthy!” Falais rose, daring to step towards the throne. “I have sacrificed everything and everyone to get to this point! I have forsaken all I held dear.”
You think yourself worthy to stand by my side?
“I do.” The muscles in his jaw clenched as he stared at the figure. The corpses made no move against him, but it was as if they perched upon a razor’s edge, waiting for the chance to rip him apart.
Then prove it.
The air around Falais grew thick as cold, blue light rose from the ground. He turned, drawing his sword and dagger. The robes would only hinder him. Despite the frigid chill, he threw these down, kicking them away. Moans caressed his ears, voices whispering words of doom that made his skin crawl. Spectral hands grasped at him, drawing lines of blue across his flesh. He flinched away.
The spirits approached from all sides. Crusaders. Orcs. Humans. Beasts. One orc raised his blade, rushing in. Falais met the blow with his sword, numbness snaking down the length of his arm. Another spirit charged. Again he managed to parry the attack.
Why do you fight, Falais? Do you not trust me?
Shuddering, the blood elf threw down his weapons. Such was his loyalty that he refused to even scream as they assaulted him. Each strike burned him. The weapons and claws passed through his leather armor as if it did not exist, searing his skin. Though the wounds ran deep, no blood accompanied them. His soul reeled from the blows. Despite the staring corpses, despite the spectral blades, Falais remained standing.
A searing, blinding pain exploded from his gut.
His hands reached up, grasping at the tip of Frostmourne before it was wrenched free from his body. The elf fell, eyes wide in agony as he felt his blood slip through his fingers. The gathered dead waited.
Release yourself of mortality’s burden if you wish to join me. That is the only way.
He fought against his instincts. His feet moved as if to hurl him from the Citadel and into the snows, but Falais held the panic at bay. He grasped his dagger, shaking hand trying to gain some sense of freedom to slash at his opponents. No such action was forthcoming, for Falais overruled his body's desire for survival and drove the point into his heart.
The blood elf remained upon his knees.
The gathered souls shrieked as the Lich King’s will seized them. The blue light swirled around Falais, each terrible face of death colliding with him to melt into his body. They struggled against the command, screaming as they tried to claw their way from his grip. Into Falais’s chest they sank, one by one entombed in the flesh prison.
The dagger clattered to the floor.
Falais rose, eyes lit by the bound souls. He felt no fear. He felt no pain. In fact, he did not feel anything at all but cold satisfaction. Master and Knight did not need to speak. His path was clear, as clear as the curo set inside the runeblade awaiting him. It would lead him to Sutera.
She had much to answer for.
- Bloodwen: Part XI: Frejya/Bloodwen_PartXI
- Bloodwen: Part XII: Frejya/Bloodwen_PartXII
- Bloodwen: Part XIII: Frejya/Bloodwen_PartXIII
- Bloodwen: Part XIV: Frejya/Bloodwen_PartXIV
- Bloodwen: Part XV: Frejya/Bloodwen_PartXV
- Bloodwen: Part XVI: Frejya/Bloodwen_PartXVI
- Bloodwen: Part XVII: Frejya/Bloodwen_PartXVII
- Bloodwen: Part XVIII - Finale: Frejya/Bloodwen_PartXVIII