Title: Archimonde Productions Presents "Hearts of Ice and Storm"
Author: Rowan Seven
Teaser: Lord Archimonde decides to produce and direct a romantic drama set in the Warcraft universe and starring Sylvanas and Thrall. Needless to say, they're not very pleased about this. SyxTh…kind of.
Disclaimer: Warcraft belongs to Blizzard Entertainment. I wrote this story for entertainment purposes and am not making any money off it.
Spoilers: the Warcraft universe in general.
Author's Notes: Being a fan of both Sylvanas and Thrall, after hearing that the Forsaken and Horde are allies in "World of Warcraft" the idea of pairing them together became surprisingly appealing despite my own JainaxThrall sympathies. A memory of Archimonde's time in the director's chair during the "Reign of Chaos" credits later cropped up, combined with the earlier idea, and the plot for this story was created.
Special Notes of Gratitude: A big thanks to the people of the forums for their continued help and encouragement and J CAE, from whom I blatantly stole a scene. I hope you don't mind.
It was dark and cold when they first met on the arctic coast of Northrend. Storm clouds blocked out the stars and two moons, leaving the mournful world below covered in pitch blackness save for the flickering flames and torches of their combined base camps and anchored fleets. War had returned to this frigid, inhospitable land of ice and snow, and the freezing winds carried with them the promise of death and destruction. For that matter, it also carried the threat of frostbite, and the armored son of Durotan shivered in the night breeze. He later reflected that his collaborator didn't have the same difficulties in this weather.
"Warchief Thrall, it is an…honor to meet you at last," the seductive and sinister voice of the Dark Lady whispered, and the cloaked figure of the Banshee Queen stepped into the light. The shadows, however, never left her face.
"…Likewise, Lady Sylvanas. May this campaign bring us both success against our common enemy," Thrall replied cautiously, misgivings and doubts about the fallen leader of the Forsaken coming to mind again as he laid eyes on her for the first time in his life. Her beauty was undeniable, but it was a cold, consuming splendor that lacked all warmth and could only lead to one end.
Sylvanas laughed mirthlessly. "Indeed. Only with the Lich King destroyed will either of our peoples be safe, and that is a goal I'm willing to…fight for."
"CUT!" Lord Archimonde the Defiler yelled out, gigantic frame storming over to Sylvanas and tail twitching with obvious irritation. "How many times do I have to tell you that your line is 'willing to…_die_ for'?"
Everyone groaned at the horrendous pun, and Sylvanas sighed disdainfully. "Your sense of humor, Archimonde, is as outdated as Warcraft I."
"Oh really? I'll have you know that everybody always laughs at my jokes," Archimonde said proudly, glaring down at the pale corpse before him.
"That's because they're afraid you'll slaughter them if they don't," Thrall muttered under his breath, rolling his eyes. They were barely into scene 1 and already running into problems.
Unfortunately, Archimonde heard him and glowered. "Is that so? Well, here's everybody's chance to tell me what they _really_ think about my jokes. Anybody here who doesn't think I'm funny, please raise their right hand."
Nobody did, although their silence might've had more to do with the ominous, arcane aura of raw, chaotic magic surrounding the mighty Eredar and the infernal flames in his malicious orbs rather than a commitment to telling the truth. Regardless, Archimonde took it as a victory and grinned. "See? If I wasn't a deceased Champion of Sargeras awaiting resurrection and part-time director, I could be a comedian. Now then, the line remains as is so if you don't get it right next time, Sylvanas, I'll kill you."
Sylvanas folded her arms and sniffed disdainfully. "I think not. Though I'm not particularly fond of the role, I _am_ one of the stars of this production. You can't touch me."
Archimonde smirked insidiously. "Can't I? You can't permanently die until the Lich King is destroyed, so in practical terms that means I can kill you as many times and in as many ways as I like since your body will always rejuvenate eventually. In other words, don't try my patience, pitiful undead mortal. Now, assume positions, everyone! We'll be back on in 5!"
"Way to back me up, ally," Sylvanas commented sarcastically as she and her orc co-star got ready to face the camera again. "It's _so_ nice to know I can count on you."
Thrall sighed. "I'm more interested in _finishing_ this movie as quickly as possible than I am in changing the lines, Sylvanas," he replied evenly and with just a touch of annoyance.
"Well, I suppose I can't fault you _there_," she conceded tartly. "Light knows that the sooner all this is behind us, the better. There are much better ways I can be spending the interregnum between the expansion pack and 'World of Warcraft' than _this_."
"Indeed," Thrall agreed, surreptitiously nodding his head. "I could be using this time to strengthen Durotar, attempt to mend relations with Theramore, or even remind the Darkspear Tribe again that the Horde does _not_ eat its enemies, but instead I'm obliged to star in a film. Why I-"
"And 1! Action!"
Sylvanas laughed mirthlessly. "Indeed. Only with the Lich King destroyed will either of our peoples be safe, and that is a goal I'm willing to…_die_ for."
Thrall blinked, not sure if she was jesting or being sarcastic. Still, in the long run, it probably didn't matter. "Be that as it may, I'm hoping casualties will be limited, although I suspect it will be otherwise. The Lich King has had the past 5 years to turn Northrend into his personal fortress, and the upcoming battle could dwarf anything we have ever faced before."
"True enough, but I'm willing to suffer any loss if it will end in _his_ death," Sylvanas hissed hatefully. "Rest assured, Warchief, that I shall do _everything_ in my power to ensure that Ner'zhul will _never_ take another life again."
"We'll both have our chance to do what we can in the trials that lay ahead, Sylvanas," Thrall replied slowly, uneasy with the obsession lacing his ally's voice. "In the meantime, we had better prepare our troops. They have a long, uneasy campaign ahead of them, and there's no telling what dangers await in the frozen wastelands leading to Icecrown."
"Per your orders, Warchief," Sylvanas answered with a wry elfin salute and melted back into the darkness around them, as if she was merely another shadow among many.
"…I only hope I'm doing the right thing trusting you," Thrall whispered to himself when it seemed like he was alone. "Spirits alone know what our futures will be." Not finding any reassurance in the enveloping night, he headed for his headquarters, every move watched by the skilled eyes of the fallen ranger general of Quel'Thalas.
"And that's it for scene 1," Archimonde announced, adding, "Remember, we start scene 2 in five minutes, and if any of you try to escape, I'll summon a legion of demons to hunt you down to the ends of the earth and steal your souls. Get the picture?" Noticing the frightened nods of the camera and set crews, Archimonde grinned in diabolical pleasure, strolled over to where Sylvanas and Thrall were standing, and curtly declared, "The script has been changed."
The two co-stars exchanged a worried look. Granted, they hadn't been very pleased with the script to begin with, but judging by Archimonde's smug expression they weren't likely to find the changes to be much better. Sylvanas was the first to ask the question that was on both of their minds. "What…kind of changes?"
"Oh, nothing too major," Archimonde replied slyly, counting adjustments on his fingers. "A few battles have been dropped, a couple characters added, some lines revised here and there, and oh, I almost forgot, the movie is now a romantic drama."
"A romance? But this is supposed to be a war film! Who can you possibly pair up…" Thrall began to say only to trail off when the answer became dreadfully apparent. Sylvanas and Thrall exchanged another look, this time one of shared incredulity.
"You have _got_ to be joking," Sylvanas said at last, eyes narrowed in annoyance and anger. "There is no way in Azeroth that the two of us could _possibly_ work as a couple. I have no idea what's possessing the screenwriter's mind, and if I find out that it's one of my banshees attempting to play a joke I'll make her wish she never died! ….well, you know what I mean," she muttered, realizing how absurd her comment sounded but continuing anyway. "Regardless, this is going too far."
"I agree with Sylvanas," Thrall concurred, deep voice laced with steel. "You want to make a movie about the two of us leading our forces against the Lich King in Northrend? Fine, that's conceivable. However, producing a film where the two of us fall in love? No offense meant, but that's about as likely as Illidan deciding power isn't worth the cost, marrying Maiev, and settling down somewhere and having eight children with her!"
The Dark Lady nodded her head and in a voice that was terrifying in its false politeness spoke up. "Besides, surely there are other, more _plausible_ pairings you could try? My spies report that the rumors of Miss Proudmoore being in love with Thrall are popular enough in Theramore that any film starring the two of them together should immediately find an appreciative audience, and as for myself…well, I'm _dead_. Love is a trite emotion of the living that I have no time to indulge in, and even if I did, the only probable candidate is Prince Kael'thas Sunstrider whose actions disgust me. He _chose_ to make himself and his people subject to Illidan, while I had this…unending torment inflicted upon me by forces outside of my control."
Archimonde narrowed his own eyes, and in a voice that had decreed the doom of thousands of worlds and races gave his reply. "The frail sorceress you speak of receives enough publicity as it is in the Theramore tabloids and refused to accept any role in this film whatsoever. Besides, Proudmoore's contract with her talkshow forbids movie appearances without a hefty sum being paid to the studio that, frankly, I didn't want as an expense. As for the ruler of the Blood Elves, _he_ is starring in one of Kil'jaeden's productions called The Blizzard or something to that effect. I doubt the Deceiver can match _my_ movie-making skills, however, and don't think it will do very well at the box office."
Kael'thas, garbed in his robes of red, and Vashj, clothed in a black leather trenchcoat with matching black sunglasses, walk down an eerily elegant hallway inside an abandoned castle. There is an air of nervousness about the young elf as the two come to a stop in front of a door.
"This is it," Vashj utters, turning to Kael'thas with a solemn expression on her amphibious face. "Let me give you one piece of advice. Be honest. He knows more than you can imagine."
Possibly with some hesitation, Kael'thas opens the door and enters a splendid lounge. Sitting calmly in a chair and also wearing a black trenchcoat and shades is Illidan Stormrage who looks like he's been expecting him.
"Welcome, Kael," he speaks, smiling coldly. "As you no doubt have guessed, I am the Betrayer. Please, come. Sit."
Kael'thas warily does so, Illidan's smile never wavering as he continues. "I imagine, right now, you must be feeling a bit like Dath'Remar, sailing across the ocean not knowing what to expect."
"You could…say that," Kael'thas replies cautiously, not sure what to make of everything that's going on around him.
"I can sense it in your soul," Illidan admits confidently. "You have the feel of a man who accepts what he's sees because he is expecting to get a game over. Ironically, this is not far from the truth. But I'm getting ahead of myself. Can you tell me, Kael, why you are here?"
"You're the Betrayer, a legend. Most heroes would die to meet you," Kael'thas confesses readily, awe momentarily overcoming his fear.
Illidan chuckles. "Yes, thank you. But I think we both know there's more to it than that. Do you believe in programmers, Kael?"
"No," Kael'thas answers quickly.
"Why not?" Illidan inquires without the least bit of surprise.
Kael'thas pauses for a moment, collecting his thoughts, and then answers. "Because I don't like the idea that everything in this world can be changed by one click of a button."
Once again, Illidan smirks. "I know what you mean. Now, let me tell you why you are here. You have come because you know something. What you know you can't explain but you feel it. You've felt it your whole life, felt that something is wrong with the world. Why does everybody think the Horde used red dragons in the Second War when those who were there clearly remember that the dragons were green, for example? Or why were the ogres one-headed during the fall of Azeroth, two-headed during the tides of darkness, and are either one or two-headed in the present? These inconsistencies are like a splinter in your mind, driving you mad. It is this feeling that has brought you to me. Do you know what I'm talking about?"
"The Blizzard," Kael'thas utters breathlessly.
"Do you want to know what it is?" Illidan asks and, upon detecting Kael'thas' eager nod, elaborates. "The Blizzard is everywhere. It's all around us, even in this room. It decides who has magic damage and who has light armor. It determines how many hit points you have and what your mana regeneration rate is. It is the world that has been pulled over your eyes to blind you from the truth."
"What truth?" Kael'thas demands to know.
Illidan smiles enigmatically. "That you are a slave, Kael. Like everyone else, you were created into bondage, kept inside a computer game that you cannot smell, taste, or touch. A computer game for your mind. Unfortunately," -- Illidan leans back in his chair -- "no one can be told what the Blizzard is. You have to play it for yourself."
Illidan opens his palms. In his right hand is a red potion and in the left a blue one. "This is your last chance. After this, there is no going back. You drink the blue potion and the game ends. You wake up in your bed and believe whatever you want to believe. You drink the red potion and you find out what is waiting on the other side of the ocean. …Remember that all I am offering is the truth. Nothing more."
After a moment's hesitation, Kael'thas stands up, grabs the red potion, and guzzles it down. Illidan smirks and rises to his feet, trenchcoat and wings billowing dramatically behind him.
"Follow me," the Betrayer says simply, leading Kael'thas into another room that looks like a goblin tinker's workshop. Mechanical contraptions, gears, bottles filled with mysterious liquids, wires, and mystical artifacts are strewn all over the place and joined together in a strange, convoluted fashion. Vashj, Akama, and a satyr all look up from what they're doing as Illidan and Kael'thas approach.
The Betrayer turns around and gives Kael'thas another cold grin. "Prepare to be disconnected from , Kael. You're in for the ride of your life."
"What do you mean-" Kael'thas beings to say only to trail off in shock as his body slowly turns ethereal and begins to vanish. "What is happening to-"
The next thing Kael'thas knew, he was naked and inside a soul gem.
"Regardless, that leaves me with you two, and as the ancient saying goes, 'War makes for odd bedfellows.' As allies working together toward a common goal, romance is not entirely impossible," Archimonde concluded, hoping his flashing eyes and stormy expression would intimidate them into acceptance and disappointed when they didn't. Honestly, actors could be _so_ frustrating!
"But I'm merely _using_ the Horde to buy time to complete my new and improved plague!" Sylvanas retorted icily and, realizing what she had just revealed, turned reassuring and what she hoped were trustworthy eyes on the Horde's warchief. "Solely for self-defense, I _assure_ you, Thrall. With a plague that can wipe humanity and the Scourge off the face of the world, neither one would dare attack me-er, I mean us!"
Thrall sighed and refrained from assuming a theatric pose, pointing excitedly and accusingly at the Banshee Queen, and shouting, "Aha! I knew you couldn't be trusted!" He just hoped Blizzard gave a lot of backstory and details in the 'World of Warcraft' manual when the game was released or else they'd have one angry orc to deal with.
"Be _that_ as it may," Thrall spoke up, focusing his attention on Archimonde and pointedly ignoring Sylvanas, "I was initially against this alliance, and the Horde only accepted it because we felt an obligation to help the Forsaken overcome their demons. That doesn't mean we have to _like_ them, however."
"But love, much as I detest the very name of that emotion, can be a great force of redemption!" Archimonde commented cleverly. "Think of it! As allies, the two of you could work together, overcome your distrust of one another, fall in love, and redeem the Forsaken! Sylvanas' need for vengeance could be eclipsed by newfound hope for the future, ushering in the start of a new era of cooperation between orcs and humans!...even if the humans are technically dead."
"And that…hyperbole is supposed to convince us to go along with this mockery of common sense and good taste?" Sylvanas inquired distastefully.
Archimonde glared down at them. "No. However, the legions of demons poised to invade Azeroth if this movie isn't made will. Now then, prepare yourselves for scene 2!"
Sylvanas and Thrall watched as the Eredar lord menacingly marched back to his chair, frying any of the Ice Troll extras unlucky enough to get in his way. Finally, they turned to one another and exchanged yet another look, this one of shared misery and disgruntlement.
"I bet this wouldn't have happened if we'd joined a union," Sylvanas muttered harshly. Thrall, not knowing how to respond to such a statement, merely shook his head sadly. By the looks of it, it was going to be a _very_ long filming schedule.
"Scene 22, take 1. ACTION!"
"For the Horde!"
The battle-cry resounded through every rank, even those of the Forsaken, and the battle was joined against the onslaught of vicious, unrelenting Scourge. Ghouls launched themselves at the stoic grunts whose axes gleamed with the coagulated, black blood and severed tissues of their foes as above the troll batriders and windriders engaged in an intricate dance of destruction with the bestial gargoyles and titanic frost wyrms. Diseased corpses and boulders passed each other in mid-air and pounded away at the opposing forces as spears and silk threads of death whistled through the air. Mighty tauren braves pummeled away at the horrifying, implacable abominations as spells collided across the battlefield and exploded in painful, beautiful showers of supernatural sparks. The sounds and signs of agony and conflict were everywhere.
"The ends justify the means!"
"My life for Ner'zhul!"
"You be trixy, mo-gah!"
Faster than the blink of an eye, one wearing a cloak black as night and carrying a scythe sharp as moonlight moved amongst the warring armies, leaving a trail of death in its wake. By the time anyone nearby had the chance to react they were either dead or the wraith was already gone, having moved on to its next target. Cold, calculating orbs peered out from the hood's dark depths, and if anybody had seen the figure's face they might've observed a chilling smirk form on the pale lips as it spotted its objective. Sylvanas Windrunner must die.
"For vengeance!" the Dark Lady shouted as she let fly a hail of enchanted arrows and watched in satisfaction as the magical projectiles set a group of ghouls ablaze, hands already going for her quiver and withdrawing another set as she grinned in bitter pleasure. Even if she had to fight her way through every member of the Scourge in all of Northrend, Arthas would not escape her.
Survival instincts suddenly screaming at her, Sylvanas ducked and just barely missed having her head shorn off by the lightning fast passing of a scythe. Springing backwards, she heard a satisfying groan as her opponent was knocked off its feet. However, her pleasure quickly turned to dismay when the cloaked figure reappeared in front of her a microsecond later and plunged a dagger in her chest. Outraged, Sylvanas peered at her enemy's face and, with no shadow capable of obscuring her penetrating vision, for one brief moment locked gazes with the emotionless, merciless visage of the night elf Maiev Shadowsong.
Time resumed its course when Sylvanas swung around the follow-through scythe swing and struck the former warden with a nimble swinging kick. Both elves fell to the snow-covered ground, but Maiev recovered first and quickly regained her footing. The cloak came off revealing her elegant, lithe form garbed in the ornate, black armor of the Scourge.
"…I didn't know night elves were serving the Lich King now," the Dark Lady noted icily from where she was crouched cautiously on the ground, ignoring the dagger as only one of the undead could and glaring at her would-be assassin.
Maiev smirked frigidly and passionlessly. When she spoke there was no emotion in her voice, only the cold monotone of the hopeless. "I pledged myself to the Lich King's service in exchange for the power to bring my quarry to eternal, blind justice. Now Illidan has paid for his crimes, those he murdered stand avenged, and I am merely an automaton beyond all cares who simply carries out orders. My lord has commanded your death, Sylvanas Windrunner, and I, Maiev Shadowsong the Soulless Assassin, am obliged to fulfill his request."
"Pathetic," the Dark Lady muttered, the night elf's words filling her with a rage she could not explain. She rose to her feet and charged at her foe. "Only a fool would make such a deal with the Lich King!"
"Perhaps," Maiev commented without expression, skillfully sidestepping Sylvanas' lunge, "or somebody whose entire soul was consumed by vengeance. Tell me, Banshee Queen of the Forsaken, if Kil'jaeden the Deceiver himself were to appear before you and offer you the power to completely destroy the Lich King, asking only for your eternal service and obedience in exchange, would you accept?" She brought her scythe down in a powerful, unavoidable arc.
Even as she twisted to avoid the blow Sylvanas knew it was too late and locked gazes with Maiev again. This time, though, instead of anger the Dark Lady felt a sickening horror as she looked into those frozen, apathetic depths and saw a twisted reflection of herself in them. Death suddenly looked surprisingly good if it meant avoiding that chilling fate.
Fate, however, did not care to free Sylvanas from her torment just then.
Maiev screamed in agony as the Doomhammer, charged with the power of lightning, struck her and broke through her armor. Thrall roared and swung his weapon again, and a second wail echoed across the battlefield. A third strike, crushing bone and flesh, rang out, and the night elf known as Maiev Shadowsong was no more.
"Are you all right?" Thrall asked, a touch of concern in his voice as he turned around to face his ally. "And who was that, anyway? She took out quite a number of my warriors."
"…Merely another deluded soul who naively swore herself to the Lich King in exchange for power," the Dark Lady answered after a pregnant pause. "She is now of no importance."
Seemingly content with this answer, Thrall nodded respectfully at her and left, clear voice issuing out orders to their soldiers as he waded into the thick of battle. The Banshee Queen, however, stayed and looked down at the smashed corpse of what was once a living being whose course in life was disturbingly similar to her own. Maiev's question reverberated forcefully in her mind.
-Would you accept?-
Yesterday the Dark Lady would've replied with an adamant yes, that obtaining her vengeance was worth any price, but now, after seeing firsthand the cost, she wasn't so sure. Sylvanas Windrunner, plagued with doubts and uncertainties she'd thought were long buried, ran and lost herself in the clash of armies, the warden's words never leaving her.
-Would you accept?-
"…I don't know."
"And cut!" Archimonde shouted from his director's chair. "Good job everyone. You get to keep your lives…for now."
"Well, I'm glad that _travesty_ is over with," Maiev commented irately as she stepped out of a tavern (a structure that saw a lot of use in _any_ Archimonde production), fresh from her resurrection. "Honestly, as if somebody with my experience and skill wouldn't notice an orc with a magically enhanced war hammer charging from behind or bother to teleport to safety after the first blow."
"And on that same note, might I note the implausibility of me _not_ taking out this dagger as soon as the danger passed?" Sylvanas chimed in with her own complaint, pointing at the dagger that was still wedged in her chest. "Methinks the scriptwriter cut corners in that last scene."
Archimonde groaned. "Elves," he muttered acrimoniously, "can't work with them, can't attract as many obsessive teenagers without them." The Defiler turned his glare on Thrall. "I suppose _you_ want to complain about something as well?"
"Would it make any difference at all if I did?" Thrall asked evenly, already expecting and not surprised by the answer.
"Not a chance," Archimonde answered smoothly, rising to his feet. "As the director, I have…ABSOLUTE POWER! If I say that Thrall, despite virtually all odds and common sense, successfully surprises Maiev from behind, then in this movie it happens. If I decide that the annoyingly sharp dagger won't be removed until the next scene where Sylvanas and Thrall have a 'heart-to-heart' in his quarters minus armor and a couple articles of clothing, then so be it. I don't give the slightest care about what any of you think. This is my movie, I'll direct it the way I want to, and if you have problems with that…well, there's absolutely nothing you can do. Understood?"
"…I _never_ have these difficulties with Kil'jaeden," Maiev grumbled, frustrated, as she blinked in front of the snack table and grabbed the last cup of coffee, much to the displeasure of the Faceless One sound operator who wiggled its tentacles in irritation and angrily stormed off to brew anther pot of java. "He _listens_ to his actors and actually respects their opinions."
"Oh please, don't you know he's merely pretending to help you in order to use you to your full potential before ruthlessly eliminating you once you're no longer needed? You can't trust Kil'jaeden the Deceiver any farther than you can throw him…which, in your case, isn't very far at all," Archimonde concluded, adding after a moment's consideration, "and how, exactly, do you, a mere night elf, know what my fellow leader of the Burning Legion is like as a director?"
"I also have a role in The Blizzard," Maiev haughtily informed everyone. "And let me just say that I fully expect it to gross higher than this two-bit film. The Deceiver is actually trying new things, and the movie's sheer originality and quality should earn it a highly regarded place in Azeroth for years to come. Have a fun time at the bottom of the box office, Archimonde."
Smirking, Maiev teleported away…only to reappear a moment later, march off into the nearest wardrobe closet, and retrieve her warden's uniform. "Forget my armor," she muttered quietly as she teleported away again.
"…Good riddance," Archimonde mumbled in displeasure. "Two stuck-up elves is almost more than I can bear." Ignoring Sylvanas' glare, the director returned to his chair. "Okay everybody, let's start the next scene. Any more delays and I'll sacrifice your souls, and I _don't_ mean that in a metaphorical sense!"
Within the Lich King's fortress at Icecrown Glacier, a legion of ghouls scurried along a lone, dark passageway. Despite their lack of free will, there was a decidedly urgent sense to their motions as they hurried to reach the front entrance where the stronghold was under a mighty assault that could be felt and heard even from here. These foot soldiers of the Scourge had been told to defend this bastion of necromantic, unholy power at all costs, and they were prepared to do so with the mindless obedience the undead were famous for.
However, in this case, they would never get the chance to fight. A gargantuan kodo beast broke through the wall, shattering ice and stone, and cut the ghouls off in mid-passage. Sitting up from where she was mounted on the kodo beast's back, Sylvanas grinned vindictively and let loose a flurry of arrows.
"Lok-Tar Ogar!" the Dark Lady bellowed as an army of Forsaken and orcs poured out of the forcefully made opening behind her and, with ferocious battle-cries that froze even the undead with fear, launched themselves at their opponents.
"Onward, my warriors! To the Lich King!" Thrall commanded from the front of the onslaught, war hammer crackling with lightning as he roared and bashed his way forward. Not far behind, the kodo beast stomped and plowed through everything and everyone standing in its way as Sylvanas continued her constant hail of arrows.
The Horde was unstoppable. Like a force of nature, it tore its way through the Scourge. Even as more lifeless creatures streamed in from every entrance and passageway the Horde continued its advance. Orcs died, their honor unquestionable. Trolls were slain, their race and tribe redeemed. Tauren fell, at peace with their ancestors. Forsaken were destroyed, never to rise again but pleased that their vengeance was finally here. And still, the Horde advanced. No loss, no casualty could possibly halt them now. As Thrall and Sylvanas led their warriors deeper and deeper into the Lich King's domain, all differences melted away until there was only a singular, binding purpose that drove them all forward.
They were one.
They were united.
They were the Horde.
And the Lich King would be stopped.
Too bad about the kodo beast tripping, though.
"CUT!" Archimonde yelled, storming over to where the action had stopped and glaring at the tan face of the kodo beast in question. The kodo beast, for its part, glared right back from where it was laying on its side.
"I don't believe this! I just don't believe this!" Archimonde shouted angrily, smoke and arcane magic pouring off him. "Do you know how much work it took to put this battle scene together? How many extras I had to threaten into compliance? How many unions I had to scare off? How many special effects artists I had to terrify to keep the price down? How many…say, where's Sylvanas?"
The kodo beast inclined its head towards the floor underneath it where the muffled sounds of somebody struggling against an incredible weight could just be made out. Archimonde absorbed this new knowledge, considered it for a moment, and grinned.
"Never mind then. Mistakes do happen in the cinema, and anyway that's what we have retakes for. You just…stay where you are until you feel like getting up, and in the meantime everybody else can take a break," the Defiler announced. Hearing the groans of pain from all over the set, he reluctantly continued. "And seek medical treatment, I guess, although it's _not_ coming out of the studio's insurance policy!"
The injured and allegedly dead figures littering the ground cheered weakly, and alternately walked, crawled, rolled, and staggered towards the nearest Fountain of Health as the Eredar Warlock strolled over to the snack table where he grabbed the last cinnamon roll seconds before the Faceless One sound operator could wrap his tentacles around it. Its tentacles twitched in annoyance, but, knowing better than to complain in front of Archimonde, the Faceless One backed away.
-I bet this wouldn't happen if I had a face!- it thought, unaware that the sole reason Archimonde didn't annihilate it for _daring_ to even contemplate eating _his_ cinnamon roll was because there was little joy to be found in destroying something when it didn't have a face to reflect its last moments of pain and horror.
"If it's any consolation, we're almost done with the filming," Thrall said reassuringly as he sat down beside the fallen kodo beast which looked quite comfortable where it was. "After another couple scenes, we should be able to go home."
The flattened Sylvanas' only reply was more groaning and continued struggling.
The battle was over, and within the throne room of Icecrown Thrall stood triumphant over the fallen form of the Lich King. The black armor of Doomhammer was drenched with blood, his own and that of his foe, a mute testament to the ferocity of the recent epic struggle. The Doomhammer clattered to the ground as the reserves of strength Thrall had drawn upon to win vanished, and the orc warchief clutched his right and now limp arm as his body screamed out in silent agony. Through the symphony of pain that assaulted his senses, though, the sound of an arrow being notched rang out loud and clear, and almost disbelievingly Thrall forced his head to turn and saw the shrouded form of Sylvanas taking aim with her weapon of choice.
"Why?" the son of Durotan rasped, standing up through sheer force of will and knowing that there was nothing he could do to save himself should the Dark Lady decide to finish him off.
"Because this is what I am, Thrall," the Banshee Queen answered passionlessly. "This is what I've become. Fate has seen fit to turn me into a monster with no hope of escaping this endless torment, and if that is to be my destiny then everyone shall share in it and know my pain. There is no place in Azeroth for the living dead, so I shall build one myself atop the ruins of the world!"
"Do…do you really think that will make a difference, Sssss…Sylvanas?" Thrall gasped, commanding his battered body to take one throbbing step forward after another. "Extinguishing life…as we know it…simply to strike back at the…world? What good is vengeance…when everybody is dead?"
"Vengeance is all I have left, Thrall," Sylvanas replied, forcing herself to meet the warchief's penetrating, crystal blue eyes. "Quel'Thalas is no more, its people are scattered to the winds, and I am merely a corpse whose hatred is the one thing that keeps me going. I…can't let go!"
"Yes…you can!" Thrall asserted, somehow managing to cover the distance between them. "Look at me, Sylvanas. Where do you think I would be…where do you think my race would be…if we hadn't cast off the demonic fire that ruled us and led us to ruin? It _is_ possible to overcome the past as long as…you don't let it control…your future! Let go…of your hatred, let go of your…pain, and lead those who follow you to…salvation, Sylvanas."
"Your pleading is pointless, Thrall," the Banshee Queen retorted hotly, voice filled with anger...and perhaps sadness as well. "What do you know of my hatred? My pain? Your people and mine are _nothing_ alike. Demonic corruption is as nothing in comparison to the ceaseless horror of being undead! To be…lifeless…unchanging…a shell of your former self…and to know that it is impossible to go back to the way things were!"
"Then go forward…with the Horde…with me," Thrall implored, standing directly in front of the Dark Lady's arrow which was aimed straight at his heart. "Sylvanas, there is a place for you…and the Forsaken in this world. You have…fought for it and…earned it with your…many sacrifices and determination. Would you throw that…all away and make everything…we've accomplished together meaningless?!!" Knowing that these could be his last moments, the warchief decided to reveal the truth he'd been trying to hide, even from himself. "…More than that…Sylvanas, you have earned a place…in my heart…"
"Don't even joke about that!" Sylvanas screeched, obviously shaken. "It can't be! Look at me, Thrall! Just look at me! I'm nothing more than a cold, pale corpse! You can't possibly…you can't…"
"…I do," Thrall confessed softly, feelings reflected on his face as he gently pushed aside her bow. She didn't resist as he caressed her cheek. "Fighting by your side…getting to know you…when I look at you, Sylvanas, I see more…than a corpse. I see a brave, courageous leader…who has fought against impossible odds…and won. I see…a beautiful woman with…amazing inner strength and spirit. Most of all though, I see…you. Not the Dark Lady, not…the Banshee Queen of the…Forsaken, not the…victim of the Lich king but…you, Sylvanas Windrunner. …You're right. I can't possibly know what you've gone through, but...I do know this. I, Thrall, Son of Durotan, love you, Sylvanas…Windrunner."
"You can't…it's impossible…you…can't…" Sylvanas repeated weakly, hope and disbelief warring for supremacy on her face. Thrall silenced her with a kiss, letting his emotions and passion speak for him. Sylvanas, mind reeling and body flooded by powerful, undeniable warmth that she hadn't felt in what seemed like ages, responded with desperate longing and intensity. In these arms, she was…alive again, and she never wanted to let go.
It was then, in this union of two souls and manifestation of love, that the Lich King killed them both with one, clean swipe of Frostmourne.
"CUT!" Archimonde yelled again, rage evident in his voice. Practically everybody chose this moment to leave early, fearing for their lives. The exodus of penguins was legendary. "What in the Twisting Nether are you doing, Ner'zhul? You're supposed to be dead!!!"
The Lich King, garbed in the armor of ice and death, turned to face the director with a noticeably smug manner about him. "Dead, me? Ha! As if these two _mortals_ could possibly _hope_ to destroy me! I am the Lich King, Lord of the Undead Scourge, and, according to the Alliance & Horde Compendium, the most powerful being ever to walk upon Azeroth!"
The Faceless One sound operator, having stayed behind in order to finally get his fair turn at the snack table, chittered in puzzlement and held up a sign asking:
WHAT ABOUT THE TITANS?
"…They flew," the Lich King answered firmly as Archimonde chuckled devilishly. "Do you honestly expect cosmic beings to walk?"
AND THE OLD GODS?
"I…don't think the Old Gods have feet with which to walk," the Lich King replied lamely, glaring at the Faceless One who dared to contradict him. "You…whatever you are, shut up!"
"Oh, there's no harm in what he…she…it…whatever, is doing, Ner'zhul. Truth be told, I think the Faceless One was making a good point…about how overrated you are. Care to…put your boast to the test?" Archimonde asked threateningly, rising to his full height and scowling at this brash, traitorous creature before him.
Beneath his helm, the Lich King smirked and brought Frostmourne forward. "I thought you'd never ask. Are you prepared to die…_again_, Archimonde the Defiler?"
"It won't be _my_ body that the fel hounds tear to shreds later, Lich King," Archimonde growled, gathering arcane magic to his side. "Nobody kills my actors but me!"
With that, the two antagonists lunged at each other, and their battle shook the enter continent of Northrend. The dead rose from their graves, demons fell from the sky, ice and fire collided, frost and flame danced, and the goblins actually lowered their prices.
Nearby, Sylvanas' spirit rejuvenated its body and groaned. Why did dying always have to hurt this much?!! A moment later, an Ankh of Reincarnation resurrected Thrall. Noticing the Dark Lady's questioning look, the orc warchief answered simply, "After reading the casualty reports for Archimonde's Warcraft II movie, equipping an ankh seemed like a sensible thing to do."
Their attention suddenly seized by the epic battle going on nearby, they watched in amazement as Archimonde and the Lich King fought back and forth in what could be called a legendary symphony of death and destruction. Common sense soon kicked in, however, and the two stars turned to face each other.
"…Getting the heck out of here sound good to you too?" Thrall asked his ally who quickly agreed. Without any further ado, the two unceremoniously ran for their lives.
Sylvanas stood behind the railing of an orcish juggernaut, watching as Northrend disappeared over the horizon and the sun set, taking with it her hatred and her despair. A moment later a bandaged Thrall walked over to her side. Silence reigned between them, each unsure of where to begin, where to start, but one look at the other's eyes answered all questions and eliminated any doubts. The Warchief and the Banshee Queen wrapped their arms around each other and kissed lovingly, passionately, and honestly, hiding nothing. Tenderly holding on to one another, they went below decks as night fell and the stars came out, illuminating the new future Sylvanas and Thrall were making for themselves…together.
"You know, as much as it pains me to admit this, our movie isn't half bad," Thrall commented almost in disbelief, surprised at how well everything had come together. "Perhaps I should've given Archimonde a little more credit. He does seem to know his craft."
"True enough," Sylvanas agreed grumpily from her seat beside her co-star, a bag of popcorn with enough butter and salt to kill anyone who wasn't already dead in her hand. "I suppose threatening one's workers with death if they don't do their jobs well would produce _some_ noteworthy results. Still, I'm just glad that the odds of this film ruining my reputation for ruthlessness aren't likely since virtually everybody is going to see The Blizzard instead."
Thrall looked around the screening room that was completely empty except for the two of them and sighed. "Is Kil'jaeden's movie really _that_ good?"
"Kael, please, listen to me," Vashj says urgently as the goblin zeppelin shakes around her and Illidan desperately lunges for the divine shield generator. "I promised to tell you the rest. The Oracle, it told me I'd fall in love and that man, the man I loved would be the One. You see? You can't be dead, Kael, you can't because I love you. You hear me? I love you!"
Emotionally, passionately, the naga kisses Kael'thas, desperately hoping that the Oracle is right and her feelings speak the truth. Miraculously, Kael'thas regains total HP as Illidan looks on in shock.
Within the Blizzard, Kael opens his eyes and slowly stands up. Warden Shadowsong, accompanied by two other wardens, looks on in disbelief, and the three wardens hastily throw their poisoned daggers at the blood elf.
"No!" Kael yells, right arm shooting forward. The daggers become ethereal and harmlessly pass right through him. With an expression of wonder on his face, Kael looks at his surroundings as if truly seeing them for the first time. For one moment, everything breaks down into pixels.
Warden Shadowsong, frustrated, attacks Kael with everything she's got, blinking constantly and throwing knives and punches from every direction. Kael, unconcerned, turns every assault ethereal with infuriating ease and then, before Warden Shadowsong can escape, casts Flamestrike on her. She screams as the flames rapidly consume her, and other two wardens, knowing fear for the first time in their lives, blink to safety.
The goblin zeppelin Illidan and Vashj are on shakes again, and smoke rises up from several compartments. Realizing he has no choice, Illidan activates the divine shield generator just as Kael lunges for and reaches the nearby Scroll of Town Portal.
There is a brilliant flash of divine light as the shield springs to life and surrounds the vessel, protecting it from further attacks. Kael'thas, however, is unresponsive.
"…Kael?" Vashj asks worriedly, standing at his side and watching him with concern.
Kael'thas opens his eyes, and tears of pure happiness fall from Vashj's face. She bends down, and the two kiss as if there's no tomorrow.
"Yep. Archimonde's going to infuriated," Sylvanas answered cheerfully, rising to her feet. Thrall followed a moment later, and the two co-stars found themselves regarding one another, faced with the knowledge that their movie partnership was, for the time being, at an end. Thrall was the first to break the silence.
"For what it's worth, Sylvanas, it's been fun. I…hope you find redemption and happiness in the future," Thrall told her truthfully, smiling in what could be construed as a friendly fashion.
"…Thank you, Thrall, and for what it's worth…so do I," Sylvanas replied wistfully, smiling back. With that, the two unlikely allies left the movie theater together, both with thoughts of the future on their minds, and the Dark Lady with her fingers behind her back, possibly crossed…or possibly not.
Bonus Credit: My thanks go to Sci-Fi Scripts for the Matrix script I used.