Chapter 41 – Hellheim, death and despair
A/N: Wow, long time no see. I have been incredibly busy, so I apologize for the delay in updating, but here it is! I would like to thank you all for the reviews, I read them all and they really do help me carry the story forward. ENJOY!
Nobody meant anything to her, and she meant nothing to nobody. Her body floated between sequences of her previous life. Before all the episodes in the undead existence. Snapshots of her former life as a young quel'dorei flashed before her. Her father praising her for hunting game as a child. Her mother comforting her wounded self when beasts had fought back.
Alleria teaching her everything worth knowing about archery. How to aim, how to shoot.
Vereesa following her everywhere, copying her every move. Looking up to her, wanting to be like her.
It felt good. It felt like home.
As the void powers grabbed her intensely, she let it. She wondered if this is how the blood elves felt when accepting the arcane magic into their souls. She enjoyed it. Her memories felt real. And she wished to be consumed by them. At least until a voice screeched in hear high elf ears.
"Sylvanas Windrunner, you came back. Alive!"
Sylvanas flung her eyes open and exhaled sharply.
It was not real.
Her sight met Helya. She realised she had been grabbed by her minions upon her arrival and drugged down by their void powers. How could she let that happen… How could she let herself be consumed by imaginations of the past? Her deepest desires. They were never going to be real. Never.
"So what is it going to be? Potion for me or death for you?"
"Neither!" Sylvanas snarled and broke free from the void magic that held her down.
Helya laughed. "Oh you stupid elf. Don't you see? That you will just die either way? I don't care about your meaningless life. As soon as I get out of Hellheim, I shall corrupt Azeroth and destroy your world. It shall all be mine".
Sylvanas trembled. No… She was not going to let it happen. That is why she had come. To kill Helya.
A gripping tentacle.
It hit her hard in the stomach, driving her backwards into a rock. Sylvanas concealed her injuries and bit her lip lifting herself from the fall.
Helya's minions mocked her. Laughed at her. She was scum of the earth down her. Her life was truly meaningless. Alleria was not coming back. Vereesa only got hurt in her presence. She caused her people misery by creating more of them, plaguing the lands of Azeroth with undeath. And Jaina… That's when Sylvanas thought of her.
A single tear ran down her face.
She had caused Jaina nothing but pain. The mage had her life turned upside down after their first night together. Why she had fallen for her awful, undead self, she will never know. What she did know, was that Jaina deserved better. If she was gone for good, Jaina's suffer would be put to an end. She could move on. With someone else. Though the thought of it was making Sylvanas' skin crawl.
"You know, I was going to spare you and your pathetic world if you just handed over that potion. But of course you had to choose the hard way. I see your desires Banshee Queen. I can destroy them in a heartbeat".
"You don't know anything, beast!"
Helya's laughter filled the air.
"Try me" Helya screamed and spewed out toxic liquids that nearly covered Sylvanas. She rolled to the side to avoid it.
"You will drown in the underworld and the real world will know that I, Sylvanas Windrunner, killed you".
"Wow, still talking like a banshee tsk tsk".
"Do you think I care if I die in the attempt of murdering you?" Sylvanas rested her stiff eyes on Helya.
Helya raised an eyebrow at the living high elf that stood before her.
"Because I don't. I am aware what awaits me. If I am lucky, I will be put to the eternal rest. As a banshee I experienced hell when I died. But as a quel'dorei, I choose to believe my fate will be kinder".
Sylvanas stared hard at Helya. A shiver went down her spine. She knew what awaited her. Hell. But for some strange reason, she no longer cared. If she could leave this world a better one than she had made it, it would be okay.
"Oh you have no idea Windrunner. Only eternal torment awaits you for betraying our deal". A grin spread on Helya's face.
That was when a familiar voice filled the dusky air. A sweet voice in despair.
Sylvanas reacted swiftly and turned as a frost bolt launched past her and hit Helya hard and cold. The monster wretched, screeched and ducked under water, withdrawing her tentacles.
Jaina threw herself at Sylvanas and squeezed her so tight that the Warchief's high elf heart skipped a beat. Then the sorceress grabbed her arm hard slapped her right on her cheek.
"Why?!" Jaina screamed at her. "Why did you do this, you stupid, stupid woman?!"
Before Sylvanas could reply, Hanna jumped out of her stealth and slashed a large tentacle that nearly slammed both of them to death in half.
"Guys, not to be rude, but we should get the hell out of here!" Jaina could see the fear in young Hanna's eyes. And she knew the girl was right.
"Sylvanas. Let's leave, NOW!" Vereesa stretched out a hand to her sister.
Tokalas gasped and shouted. "Lady Proudmoore, look out!"
The sea had started swirling, generating a large swallowing pool.
Out of it busted Helya with all her void magic and knocked back Sylvanas, Jaina and the others.
"Pests in the underworld. Take them captive!" Helya called for her fallen, cursed vrykul.
Several of them dived in, grabbing all of them by limbs and arms. They wiggled to get free but it felt as if they were locked in heavy chains. Tentacles had emerged from the ground and gripped them.
That was when Sylvanas reached for her hand.
"Jaina, take my hand! NOW!"
Jaina fought the tentacles that kept her glued to the cold grounds of Hellheim as she struck an arm out for Sylvanas.
The two of them kept brushing against each other in the attempt of grabbing each other's hands and void magic sparkled every time their fingers touched.
"I can't reach you!" Jaina screamed. Sylvanas stretched as far as she possibly could. But it was no use.
That was when Hanna, the rouge, miraculously broke free, as she shadowmelded. Her powers had melted the tentacles into tiny void pools on the floor.
"How did you…?!" Vereesa, Tokalas and Ayawa shouted unanimously before realising, despite their previous doubts, that Hanna had to be one of the forthcoming, most talented assassination rogues to inhabit Alliance territory. Hanna, who had no shields or enchants covering her, stood face to face with Helya herself. Trembling with fear and adrenaline the young rogue tightened the grip around her green daggers.
The other's, still tied down by tentacles, were powerless. Jaina's heart pumped hard. She could not let anything happen to the young rogue. She was supposed to be under her protection.
"Hanna, you don't have to do this! Get out of here, save yourself!"
Hanna ignored Jaina.
A terrifying laughter rung in the air as Helya sprayed void fluids from her breath. Hanna dodged the liquid and rolled to one side.
"I will drown you ALL like rats!" Helya sniggered.
"I will drown you like a rat, beast!" Hanna screamed and launched herself on Helya with crossed daggers, ready for the kill.
Jaina stopped breathing as she watched, and it was as if the young human leaped elegantly through the air in slow motion. Sylvanas finally managed to grab Jaina's hand and she yanked her towards her. Jaina's eyes broke away from Hanna as Sylvanas fingers slipped into her's and she looked down.
Black smoke began to ooze out of their grip and Jaina's arms started to tremble. She breathed heavy as her body grew hotter and hotter. It felt exactly as it had that day in the Emerald Nightmare. To Jaina's surprise, Sylvanas possessed dark banshee magic even in life. The mage closed her eyes.
Imagining Tyrande counting down, like she had done the last time Sylvanas fed her this dark magic, Jaina opened her eyes on the count of three.
Her eyes had once again turned black and she released the grip of Sylvanas' hands before unleashing the powers inside her on the tentacles holding them down.
The tentacles crackled with dark banshee and arcane magic mixture and released all of them immediately before disappearing into the ground.
But there was no time to stop.
When Jaina lifted her eyes back onto Helya, the beast stood with one of her gigantic palms planted onto the ground at the shore and the other fist clenched. Helya's voice were rusty when she finally spoke.
"Slayed by a child. I cannot believe this…" Purple void fluid dripped from her throat where it had been slit open.
"Hanna!" Jaina screamed as she realised Hanna was the thing Helya's fist clenched on to.
The young girl was weak and Helya's grip was clearly so hard she could not breathe.
"Release her at once!" Jaina fired several frost bolts towards Helya and Ayawa entered shadowform, sending of shadow bolts towards the beast.
Dying, Helya smiled. "This will be my last gift. The life of a young human". Helya's life was slowly drained from her and she started sinking into the water, tightening the grip around Hanna who had turned purple and unconscious.
"NO, HANNA, NO!" Jaina bolted towards her, but was pulled backwards by Sylvanas' tight grip around her wrist.
"Stop it, Jaina you can't save her, okay!" Sylvanas dragged her in the opposite direction.
Jaina screamed in desperation and twisted trying to release herself as she watched Helya disappear into the water pulling Hanna with her.
Realising it was impossible, Jaina sank together onto her knees while watching Hanna's ginger hair leave the water surface, drowning with her.
"No…" Jaina whispered and let out a sob…
Orasha ran to the shore and fished out an object from the water and walked over to Jaina, who was still on her knees.
"I think her parents would want this" Orasha said and showed Jaina Hanna's dagger. Jaina turned away from it not wanting to look at, but she nodded. Vereesa kneeled down beside her and pulled her best friend into her arms and let her cry while the others, including Sylvanas, prepared for departure from the underworld. Helya was dead at last.
That night, Orasha and Tokalas worked to set up camp in Stormheim for the evening, while Ayawa meditated under a tree a few yards away. Vereesa had not spoken since their return from Hellheim.
The six of them sat down together for dinner by the bonfire Tokalas had so kindly made. But nobody said a word. The silence was disturbingly painful and Sylvanas put her plate down, not hungry.
"We need to talk, Sylvanas…" Jaina said firmly after they had finished their meal. It caused an awkward atmosphere, as if it was not bad enough already and Ayawa, Tokalas and Orasha cleared their throats while Vereesa's eyes stiffened on Jaina.
"Would you guys give us some minutes alone please?" Jaina swallowed hard and stared into the flames.
"Jaina…" Vereesa started, almost in a warning tone, but Jaina stopped her with her hand and gestured for her to stop talking.
"Vereesa, please, I need to speak with your sister in privacy". Vereesa looked at Sylvanas who nodded at her sister to accept it.
The other's left for their tents while Sylvanas and Jaina remained. It took a while before either of them found the courage to speak.
"I'm sorry, Jaina… But you couldn't have saved her, I didn't want you to get hurt… If you just let me explain everything" Sylvanas suddenly said after a while.
"Don't…" Jaina started before feeling tears pressing on.
Without thinking, Jaina pulled Sylvanas Windrunner in so close that their nose tips nearly met. She stared straight into the high elf's bright blue eyes while her own azure welled up. Sylvanas felt Jaina's warm breath on her lips and her heart raised. It was the strangest feeling. So good.
"I just need to look at you. Just for a minute. Then we will talk…" Jaina whispered while she carefully ran her index finger down Sylvanas soft, honey coloured cheeks. Jaina was mesmerized by the woman in front of her. It was the first time she truly got to see her alive. It was as if she saw her for the first time.
They sat like that for a while. Their lips close together, wanting to kiss, touch. But dared not. Sylvanas was so beautiful, Jaina thought. Just as beautiful as she had been the day of her resurrection. The day when Jaina nearly… Jaina suddenly swallowed hard and that was when decided to pull away.
Sylvanas tried to decide whether she could speak. Terrified of saying the wrong words. She had done so much, hurt so many. Jaina most of all. The only one she had ever loved.
"Listen, Jaina…" This time the young mage did not stop her.
"I was waiting for the day I would feel good. But I never did. I thought I felt tortured when I was a banshee. Well… That feeling never left me, Jaina. I have a living, beating heart".
Sylvanas put Jaina's palm to her chest. Jaina trembled when she felt Sylvanas' heart beat for the first time.
"But I feel no better. If anything, I feel worse. I thought I would feel good about life. Appreciate my existence, my surroundings. But I am more lost than ever. I don't feel any different. I feel contrived with torment every step of every day now. Like I do not deserve to be alive. I probably don't". She slid Jaina's hand off her, and Jaina let her.
"Only one thing is different. And that is my feelings for you. They are stronger, more uncontrollable. I cannot… I cannot contain them and it is killing me. I was able to separate them from my duties, my actions. But I don't think I can anymore. I need you, Jaina. But…".
"But what?" Jaina asked.
"But I do not want to hurt you".
Jaina thought long and hard about what Sylvanas had said.
"I think…" The sorceress started.
"I do think you have hurt me. A lot actually. And I do think it has taken me a long time to see that because I fell for you so hard. God Sylvanas, if only you knew how much I love you. I was even going to die and be risen as undead for you. Varian died because of you. Then you threw me in the dungeons in Orgrimmar to rot and treated me as a captive every day after my release. Anyone sane would not forgive something like that, but I did. I let my devotion for you delude me into thinking all that was okay because you had your reasons. I tried to see something good in you. And now someone else is dead because you wanted to be alive…".
"I wanted to be alive for you. You deserved to be with a living being. I did it for you!".
"I never asked for you to be alive, Sylvanas. You went behind my back and arranged that. You did this for yourself! It was not a selfless act." Jaina instantly thought her words were harsh and bit her lip. Part of her meant it. Part of her knew Sylvanas had done it for her.
"You may have never expressed it out loud, but the way you just spent ten minutes looking at me… You have never looked at me like that before".
"Of course! When you died… I have never felt pain like it. I withered like a Nightborne. But, you broke me Sylvanas. You really did. Our entire relationship you have kept me on the side line, never told me anything. Just carried on with your own agenda".
"But you love me?" Sylvanas rested her light blue eyes on the young mage, desperately trying to turn the way this conversation was going.
Jaina sighed and scoffed. "Of course I do! But how can we possibly carry on this way?"
"Jaina I have my reasons for all of those things". Sylvanas grabbed Jaina's hands.
"Varian was…" She cracked her neck. She had to pretend to regret this one. Perhaps she was as evil as Jaina was painting her right now. "A mistake… And I should have never put you in the dungeons, but you had a dagger to my throat for Sunwell's sake! I retaliated, in defense! As for you being appointed queen of the Forsaken, Jaina… That was me declaring my ultimate love and trust for you! I was giving you my life, my people. I would not have it any other way!"
Jaina shook her head. "Do you understand how fucked up that is? You love me so much you wanted to turn me into an animated corpse?"
Sylvanas sighed and buried her face in her palms. Their view of the world and life was so different.
"I was so excited to just see you alive I even forgot about all that. But it is just all coming back to me. The fear, the horrifying fear you caused me. And not to mention my entire faction hates me for accepting leadership of the Forsaken".
Cold silence filled the air between them.
"I have made a decision". Jaina said and kissed her teeth, trying not to cry more than she already was.
Sylvanas felt a sting in her chest and she suddenly felt scared. That was unusual for her. In undeath at least.
"What about us?"
"I think it would be good if we did not see each other for a while".
Sylvanas stood up. "Excuse me?" She raised an eye brow at Jaina.
"I just feel as if this has given me some clarity, Sylvanas".
Sylvanas frowned and stared confused at Jaina.
"Clarity about what exactly?"
"I just need some time. I blindly follow you Sylvanas and I cannot do that any longer. I am Jaina Proudmoore of the Alliance and the Kirin Tor. I understand you have your duties with the Forsaken and as Warchief of the Horde and I respect that. But I too have responsibilities of my own, and it is time I act like it".
Sylvanas' mouth twisted as the words left Jaina's lips.
"I think we should go back to our separate lives. At least for now".
A single tear ran down the young sorceress' cheek and it froze half way down her face. She quickly wiped it away.
Sylvanas just stared at Jaina. She saw the tear. Jaina's soul had frozen. The frost magic within the young mage only presented itself when she was angry or extremely sad. She did not know what to say. It was all true. Everything. There was no point in defending herself. She knew she should have stayed away.
"I regret the day I came into your chambers in Undercity every day Jaina, believe me. It saddens me that I ruined you. I admit I have not made the best decisions, but whether you believe me or not, I never wanted to hurt you. But you are right, we should not see each other anymore".
Jaina burst into tears and hulked. "Sylvanas, I don't regret it, I mean I love you, I just…" She grabbed for the Warchief's hand but she slapped it away.
"No, please leave. I cannot look at you anymore". Sylvanas was stern and Jaina's reaction was shock, tears streaming down her face.
Sylvanas gave Jaina a gesture to leave.
The former Ranger General turned around and walked away when Jaina did not move, feeling her chest bubble. Anger and fierce sadness stormed inside her. This is what she was. A walking disaster. Damaged. And she had broken the one good thing in her life because of her choices and incapacity of empathy. Most of it in undeath, but she was still that person. She felt no different.
"Vereesa?" Sylvanas cleared her throat. Vereesa turned and saw Jaina cry in the background.
"What did you do sis?"
Sylvanas just shook her head. "Take this".
She placed two small coins in her sisters' palm, one gold and one silver.
"For the Windrunners".
"Where are you going?" Vereesa looked at Sylvanas with a confused expression. She immediately knew that something was not right.
Sylvanas pulled Vereesa in for a hug. It felt good to feel the warmth of her sister against her living skin. If only she was alive inside.
Before Vereesa could query Sylvanas further, the Warchief had summoned a gryphon and she flew away into the night sky.
Vereesa ran over to Jaina.
"What the hell is going on?! Why does it feel like my sister just said goodbye to me for like, forever?"
Jaina wiped her tears.
"It's too hard Vereesa. There's too much water under the bridge now. She won't be coming back".
Vereesa raised an eyebrow in disagreement.
"Are you seriously blaming Hanna's death on her? It was not her fault! Besides she has done SO much for you. And by killing Helya, she saved Azeroth!"
"Vereesa, we wouldn't even be here if it was not for her stupid deal with Helya in the first place! And besides think about everything else she has done. Varian. Throwing me in prison. Pledging me to the undead".
Vereesa just stared at Jaina in spite and slowly shook her head at her best friend.
"I never thought you could be so shallow Jaina. Sylvanas may be a complex person, but think about what she has been through! How can you look past that?"
"I don't and I know, but it does not excuse the list of things she has done!"
"Yes, it does, actually!" Vereesa pointed a finger in her face.
"Vereesa, do you know how it feels to spend three weeks in a dark, cold dungeon without food or water, not knowing when you will see daylight again? And do you know how it feels to lay on a table with a blade to your throat knowing that the next thing you will experience is living death?"
"No, but you know what, I don't care! She is my sister, and one thing is for sure, she knows what all that feels like more than you ever will!"
Her best friend was enraged. Jaina had never seen the usually sweet and happy Vereesa Windrunner like it.
"God knows what you have triggered in her this time, Jaina. But whatever it is, this one is on you!"
The high elf too summoned a gryphon and threw herself on to the back of it.
"Vereesa, we broke up. That's all. Get over it".
"You did a lot more than break up, Jaina. You were the only good thing she had. And you know what, the only selfish person here, is YOU! Don't worry… friend, I won't be coming back either".
"Where are you going?" Jaina asked with a slightly careful tone.
"To find my sister. She is all I got and I would like for her to be breathing for a long time still".
She kicked off from the ground and rode off into the night. Jaina followed the gryphon with her eyes until it was out of sight.
"May I offer my opinion Jaina dear?" Orasha took a step forward and carefully approached Jaina.
"What?" Jaina snapped.
Orasha gulped, but continued. "I think that Warchief Windrunner has done wrong many a times. But I do not think she always sees it that way. And I do believe that her heart is in the right place. At least when it comes to you".
"It does not matter". Jaina quickly replied and started channelling a portal.
"But Lady Proudmoore…"
"Enough!" Jaina shouted. "I will hear no more of it! I have made up my mind and if I am not wrong, we still have more Legion forces to eradicate".
Orasha looked down and nodded.
"We should report to Lady Liadrin and Tyrande in Suramar, my lady. They have been working on finding a way into the Nighthold in order to confront Gul'dan and it is the only place where the Legion remains". Ayawa said.
"Fine, then that is where we are going. Get some sleep. We leave at dawn".
A/N Disclaimer: As always; underlined text is from in-game, not made up by myself.