World of Warcraft (c) Blizzard Entertainment
Perhaps there was hope for this newest batch of initiates after all. Amal'Thazad remained in silence as he observed the two Death Knight Initiates raise their blunted weapons and began the spar just as the Lich instructed.
Events that occurred only a few days ago had utterly shaken the once proud necropolis to its very core. Though in recent events, and the sudden attack of conscious and soul on the part of every Death Knight in it, perhaps 'pride' was the least appropriate word to associate with the former Acherus.
With the Battle of Light's Hope, witnessing the Light of Dawn and the Lich King's outright confession of guilt - gloatingly stating their existence was merely for the sake of drawing a great Paladin out of hiding - many things that the Acherus Death Knights had taken for granted had now been shaken to their core. Of course, this made Amal'Thazad's position particularly precarious.
He was not Death Knight, but a Lich. One that had swore service to the Highlord of Acherus, whomever that may be. Though the Lich King's presence had once dominated his mind, he found his will and soul just as free as any Disciples he trained. One had to ponder why the Lich King would allow the Ebon Blade to retain the services of an Arch-Lich, but for now, Amal'Thazad had something significantly more important to ponder; his now uncertain fate. His Disciples hadn't minded him much, in fact, many of them threw themselves into their studies with renewed vigor. An effort to keep themselves from remembering the atrocities they committed as the Lich King's drones.
As if responding to his very thoughts, at the entrance of the Hall of Frost, fate seemed to greet him. The form of Highlord Darion Mograine appeared, garbed by a new set of armour, like the many other freed Death Knights. Despite his physically young appearance, Mograine was the strongest of the Death Knights. At his fingertips was the power to bring the entirety of Acherus to heel if needs be. Certainly a power to be feared.
Undaunted, Amal'Thazad floated towards the Highlord, moving past rings, and rows of shelves stacked from floor to ceiling. Stopping a sword's length away, the Lich then gave a respectful bow. "Highlord Mograine, you honour me with your presence."
"I've a question for you Lich, whose side are you on?" Artlessly straight forward and to the point. Just as Amal'Thazad had heard the man to be. Of course, it could equally be impatience. In recent events, no one would be willing to make light.
"I am on your side, Highlord Mograine. As are the rest of us of the Ebon Blade." Amal'Thazad offered, cool as the ice magics wielded at his finger tips. Highlord Mograine however, remained stoic and quiet. "Does this answer not satisfy you?"
"We move to attack your fellows in Northrend. Does this not bother you?"
"Not at all. The Lich of the Scourge ceased being my fellows the very moment Arthas abandoned Acherus. They are no more my fellows then they are yours." The Lich paused. He was judging the Highlord's reactions, just as surely as the Highlord judged his answers. "My fellows are my Disciples of Frost and the Knights of the Ebon Blade. I will serve them for as long as you permit me."
"I recall a story. Tell me, Amal'Thazad; Do you recall a Lich by the name of Thel'Zan."
"A former human who betrayed their kind under the compulsion of a Lich's Phylactery."
"Kel'Thuzad's. And there was no compulsion, I assure you." Mograine corrected him, gazing past Amal'Thazad to the Halls of Frost. "Kel'Thuzad was a former agent of the Kirin Tor, who surrendered to the Dark powers in exchange for becoming a Lich. Inigo Montoy returned his Phylactery to the Lich King and was… rewarded with Lich-Hood himself. Thus, Thel'Zan."
"You wish to know if I hold any ulterior motives to serving your cause, Highlord?"
It occurred to Amal'Thazad that he had never once held a conversation with Mograine in the entire time they'd been stationed at Acherus. No, even before that when Death Knights were assembling in Northrend and Acherus was merely a scaffold. The Highlord commanded the Hold, while Amal'Thazard trained the new initiates and judged who would or would not be worthy to serve the Scourge.
Perhaps Kel'Thuzad left a negative impression of Liches on the young Highlord. Rumour said that the Scourge Lich was responsible for Darion's rebirth as a Death Knight in the first place, and that he wasn't particularly kind to his new prize in the following years of service. Amal'Thazad couldn't bring himself to blame Darion for actively avoiding speaking with the Lich.
In truth, Amal'Thazad couldn't stand Kel'Thuzad either. As a fellow Arch-Lich, there was a natural sense of mutual awe, respect and perhaps jealous between the two of them. Their powers were great, but while Kel'Thuzad was skilled at animations and summonings, Amal'Thazad prided himself on shadow and frost magics. But as an individual in the service of the Scourge? Kel'Thuzad was… prissy and all too eager to please Arthas Menethil, even before the latter donned the Helm of Domination.
"Let us say, my past experiences with Liches has made me somewhat wary of your kind." In that moment, Amal'Thazad allowed himself slightly nod. It seems he was correct in his deduction. Of course, assuring Mograine of his intentions would be difficult with that kind of history.
"Certainly a more than fair stance," He offered sagely. "However, I assure you, my lord. Any intentions on my part are not so nefarious."
Once more, Darion Mograine's features held no expression, but he gave a light nod. Perhaps he was willing to believe the sincerity of his words. Amal'Thazad moved to the side, allowing the Death Knight Highlord to see past him. "Tell me, Highlord: what do you see before you?"
"Is this a trick question Amal'Thazad, I am in no mood for games."
"I would imagine not, given the recent state of affairs. Nevertheless, would you be willing to answer the question?"
The Highlord shot him a warning look before glancing around. True enough, the only things he saw were columns of musky and dank tomes, with some initiates attending to their readings. He could see already proven Knights, armoured and advising the lesser trained. Others were sparring, using mind-controlled ghouls as unliving dummies to test their Shadowfrost spells.
"Initiates." Mograine answered bluntly, clearly failing to see the point of Amal'Thazad's original question.
The Lich was patient if nothing else, a fact proven time and again by his calm response. He held up a bony finger, and the dark powers animating his voice hadn't hidden the unbridled mirth in his tone. "Yes. But there is more here than simply your Knights in training, My Highlord. What is present in these Halls of Frost is knowledge."
"And knowledge is power."
"Most certainly," Amal'Thazad answered sagely, "Not only does Knowledge allow us to slay our enemies, but it also gives the disciples a basis on which to train, grow and prosper in your name."
Darion shifted, an unreadable expression over his features. Discomfort, Amal'Thazad guessed. But was it truly the incorrect thing to say? With the Lich King no longer enslaving their will, it only made sense that the new initiates would loyal fight for the Death Knight that first seized his freedom and secured their sanctuary of Acherus, cleansing it of the Lich King's foul stench.
"Admirable but it doesn't answer my question, Lich."
"Quite the contrary, My lord. I have." Amal'Thazad waved a skeletal hand and gestured towards the ring of Frost Disciples on the far side of the hall. "Knowledge is power, but it is also a scalpel Highlord. I would like to consider myself an artist or a sculptor. I am given clay to mold, and I carefully chisel and prune away the unnecessary information, correct mistakes and hone these Knights to perfection."
"Is that all your desire is then? Simply to teach?" Darion questioned, folding his arms while he surveyed the Disciples of Frost. The few that noticed him would halt their task and give him a respectful bow then resume their tasks.
"Mundane compared to my former associates I admit, but yes." Amal'Thazad answered. A beat latter, he added a light humored comment. "On the side, a healthy slice of vengeance would not go amiss either, My Lord."
For the first time in his hearing, the Highlord actually laughed. A short, hollow one, but a laugh all the same. Had the Lich still had flesh and blood, he would be smiling at the small joke.
"Very well. I shall put my faith in you for now, Lich." Darion decided after a long moment.
"My lord honours me with his trust." Amal'Thazad bowed respectfully. "It is not misplaced. Now if that is all, Highlord, I shall return to my duties."
"Of course. Suffer well, Lich." Darion nodded a farewell before leaving the Hall of Frost.
"Suffer well, Highlord."
Original note: Just something that bugged me for a while. While its cool to finally have a friendly Lich since Wrath, he's still a Lick in the service of Death Knights. In an Order that's almost exclusively Death Knights save one member. AKA. Amal'Thazad.
I'd like to believe that unlike other Lichs, his intentions are genuine. He just wants to train new Death Nights. I also played with the idea of Darion having a conscious adversion to Lichs. One set him up to die, and while the other didn't technically meet him, he was still a member of the Brotherhood of the Light - and worked closely with the Agent Dawn. I can imagine Darion hearing of him by proxy as a DK.
As with the others, I'm just experimenting with this universe right now. I love the Death Knights, I love the Mograines, and I'm just trying to get back in the swing of writing and hope I can do them justice in my stories.
Also, I refuse to believe Darion's a humourless jerk. Lots of issues to work through, yes, but humourless? Nope.
New Note: So, I've decided to repost most of my Warcraft stuff to this website. Its only two fictions so far, but I've recently reawakened my passion for Warcraft's Death Knight lore, as shown by 'A Path Not Taken'. Keep an eye out because I intend to start writing for Warcraft once again.
I welcome critic and commentary.