Bloodwen: Part XVI
Sutera bent low in the saddle, holding the reins tight as she blinked back her tears. Teake, bounding beside her in his white, grey spotted feline form, did not notice. The deathcharger responded to each tug, each small movement of its master, as if the two had been connected in some dreadful way in her forgotten past. With her visions and the ease with which she pulled the creature from the Realm of Shadows, there could only be one explanation. The revelation brought with it a nauseousness, a ball of bile she just managed to choke down whenever she thought about it.
It was a few minutes before she realized she was alone. Drawing the deathcharger to a halt, she wheeled the corrupt steed around, looking back along their trail. Teake sat on his haunches, ears folded flat along his skull. Unlike most tauren, his feline form lacked the horns that usually swept from their heads. Following his stare, she picked out the swirl of energy lancing into the sky.
Blue dragons screamed as they circled the pillar of magical energy. Lightning sizzled as it boiled the air around them. Teake watched in disbelief as a host of red dragons soared in from the north, barreling into their brethren with teeth bared and claws slashing. Bronze colored drakes soon followed, and the very air near the dragonshrine seemed to rain with blood and reptilian bodies.
He knew not why they fought one another. The druid could not fathom why the dragonflights would. The Dragonblight was their graveyard, their most sacred of lands where they all would wander into to eventually die. What madness overtook them that they would strike at one another? What grand atrocities had the blues performed that would warrant such action?
Sutera waited, biting her lip to keep it from trembling. It was not that the sight horrified her - which it did - but that she found it all so familiar. She twisted her head, eyes alighting on the tower jutting from the snows. It was as she expected. The reds and bronzes came from there, from the temple, and she knew that their queen, Alexstrasza, stood at the pinnacle with the other dragon representatives and her consort. The knowledge did not comfort her, for the undead ran rampant throughout Northrend despite her powerful presence. All at once she felt small, infinitesimal, wondering how she was to aid in their struggle.
Teake’s thoughts were not so far removed from hers. Feline face set in grim determination, he followed Sutera as she broke towards the hills in the distance. Falais had not deigned to follow, and the pair wondered what had befallen those remaining at Blight’s Shadow. Given the insanity of the land, with the undead ravaging the towns and the dragons fighting amongst one another, there was little reason to think anyone survived.
No other sight would fill them with such awe and dread. Not the mammoths stomping through the ice. Not the condors ripping the flesh from the deceased dragons. Not even the magnataur gave them pause. The only thing that served to interest them was the structures jutting from the hills, belching out black smoke and flame. These served as some sort of landmark for Sutera, who often paused long enough to find the next one on the horizon before galloping off.
The undead frost wyrm, however, did send a chill of fear through them. They saw its shadow before its emaciated body, giant wings flitting over them as the creature roared. Perhaps it was the deathcharger, a symbol of the Death Knights, that gave it pause. Whatever the reason, the ravaged wyrm banked towards the north, flying away.
Sutera brought the steed to a halt at the base of a giant hill. The bones of some unfortunate dragon lined the edge, not as if it had died by colliding with the side, but as if someone had rearranged the skeleton with utmost care to mark well the entry. The golden eyed elf did not proceed up the path, though both Teake and her cat, Srymmner set foot upon it. Over the rise they could hear the bellowing of a dozen dragons, screaming as they fought. Teake, loyal to his duty and his charge to the last, was set to charge headlong into the fray, though she could sense the color had drained from his face despite his fur.
“That is not our destination,” she murmured, dismounting. Holding tight the reins, she led them instead up a snowy bank to the right, one that twisted amongst the hills but kept them within earshot of the battle. Goosebumps decorated their skin, so much so that both thought they might forever remain. On they trudged through the snow, until the mouth of a cave loomed before them.
Sutera wasted no time, nor did she issue a warning. Letting loose her steed, she rushed inside. Teake, taking a moment to resume his tauren form, was caught off guard and only managed to stumble toward her while shifting.
The interior was cold. Ice grew along its rim, stretching along the roof to drip down to the floor with frigid talons. It seemed deserted, as if whatever lived here had long ago departed. She gave a shriek of dismay, lurching around like a drunken woman in her effort to locate the red dragon, Celarenstrasza. At length she sagged against the wall, great tears rolling down her cheeks, for her answers, and thus her purpose, were lost to her.
A light flared along the rear of the cave.
It was a gnome. Her short hair was a mix of white and golden blonde, the colors so intermingled that one had trouble telling them apart. Even though the two were much taller than she, the gnome appeared not at all concerned with their presence. She walked toward them with purpose, the light from her staff guiding her.
“You found your way,” she said.
Neither knew what to think. Srymmner, perhaps sensing something ominous about the gnome, slunk off to the far corner of the cave. He lay upon the ground, tucking his head between his paws while his one golden eye stared. Sutera was not certain, of course, but she could not recall ever meeting the woman.
“I will say to you what I said the first time we met, Sutera Bloodwen: you could say that we have met before. To that end, we shall also meet again. It appears I was not in error.” She paused, then her next words escaped her mouth in a guttural, unrecognizable dialect.
To which Sutera found herself responding in kind. Shocked, she clapped both hands over her mouth.
All the while Teake stared at the gnome, dragging himself through all the stories he had heard growing up, all the tales that flitted in Thunder Bluff and Orgrimmar. Something familiar perched on the edge of his recollection, dancing just out of reach. As the words hit his ears, however, he began to tremble. The druid dropped to one knee, overcome with reverence and awe.
“Though there is a certain irony inherent in such a statement, we have little time.” She waved Sutera forward, motioning that she should lower her head. “If you are to accomplish your objective, you must remember what you are.”
The tiny hands pressed on her temples. Though the touch was gentle, the images that assailed her were not. Silvermoon, in all its glory before Arthas trampled through it. Her mother and father, her sister playing with Srymmner. Sylvannas, the great Ranger General, issuing orders through thin, pale lips. The deep woods. Flames. The stench of death. An overwhelming desire to fulfill her duty, to bear the important message to Silvermoon. A warning. Srymmner staying behind with her family to protect them, ordered never to leave their side until her return…
A blood-soaked blade in her hand. Her sister screaming while her mother and father tried to hold back the undead. Undead under her command. Srymmner not knowing what to do, confused by her appearance. Not his master, not his friend, but an abomination of the Lich King bearing down on him…
“No!” Sutera jerked her head away. She covered her eyes, rocking back and forth as if the motion would somehow block the images from replaying themselves. Her protests were weak, for they lacked the truth she knew. She tried to scramble away from the gnome, but the little one held her fast, tighter than even Teake would have managed. Again the hands came to her head, locking her into place, releasing a stream of memories.
They came at her with all the organization inherent in a hurricane. Her free will returning. An escape across the colds of Northrend. A strange dwarf. The red dragon. An ancient book. Light’s Hope and the soul of a dragon intermingled with holy light.
Then it all coalesced into one magnificent vision. A vision of purpose, of hope, of redemption.
“You understand now?” the gnome asked.
“The Lich King will fall, Chronormu.”
“He is but a piece in an infinite puzzle, Sutera. There are others pieces to attend to, matters that have and will present themselves as the threads unravel. Others will come, others blessed by the dragons or whatever gods they worship, and they will reward Arthas for his depravity. But you…you will need to pave the way for them before your time ends in Azeroth.”
Teake looked up now, the first time he had done so in their exchange. Ends?
The gnome looked at him. “Your time as you know it draws to a close as well, Teake Thunderhorn, for all roads lead to your capture. Nighthaven will not recognize you upon your return. Just remember when the nightmares take you to call for your brethren, else all will be lost.”
That was the second time such a cryptic piece of advice was given to him, the first being from the strange raven atop Stonetalon. Teake thought to question her, but one look at her face told him she had said enough, too much perhaps. The bronze dragon took her leave, walking to the cave entry.
“Belan shi karkun,” she said to them. She then cocked her head to the side, as if viewing some other stream of events so far removed from them it might as well have been another world. “That last might not be so accurate, my young allies,” she muttered under her breath.
They did not hear her final words.
Sutera picked herself up from the ground, calling Srymmner over. When she glanced at Teake he saw all the fears and doubts had dissipated, leaving only a calm, collected finality in her eyes. He did not say anything, following her out into the snow. Overhead they heard a dragon roar, watching as the bronze flitted off toward the tower in the distance.
Where to? he asked.
She looked far to the west. “Icecrown Citadel,” she answered without hesitation. “If our capture is part of some grand design, I’ll not have it come easily.”
The deathcharger waited. It pawed the ground before approaching, as if it could sense some profound change had overcome its master. It did not flinch as she strode over, grasping its horns in both her hands. Looking deep into its eyes, she concentrated.
The nightmare black of its skin shifted, the magic flowing over the length of its body until it turned a marble white. The twisted, Scourge-blessed reins and saddle melted into a golden hue, as did the flames riding its hooves. The white of its eyes remained, though the cold gaze the deathcharger visited on its enemies was now soft and warm, akin to both her eyes and that of Srymmner. The demonic horns in her grasp turned to ash, the skulls adorning the tack following suit. Instead, a large, single spiral now jutted from its forehead, slicing the air as the steed pawed the ground, new life flooding through its veins.
She pulled herself astride the aurum courser. As the deathchargers were denizens of the Realm of Shadows, this creature was now blessed with the Light. It sensed her intentions, pulling in an attempt to gallop full-tilt toward the Citadel. Yet Sutera was in command, holding it still.
Teake transformed beside her, no longer expecting any shortage of miracles from his strange companion. He gave himself a moment to marvel at the courser, then nodded. Together the trio, Srymmner included, rode into the dangers of the Dragonblight with nary a fear, as if they might chase the thunder itself from the skies.
- Bloodwen: Part XVII: Frejya/Bloodwen_PartXVII
- Bloodwen: Part XVIII - Finale: Frejya/Bloodwen_PartXVIII