(A/N: Intro fic to my Human warrior and Forsaken rogue. Part one of...um...lots. o.O Level 34, Ivhrain exists on the wonderful, lovely realm of Feathermoon Server, as does his daughter, a human warrior named Andi. And my pen name here is only half-related to the character. I started playing her, named and everything, before I remembered my pen name here. Oh well. I heart WoW, I ADORE my server, and all pre-existing characters are property of Blizzard Entertainment and related parties. Any player characters mentioned are copyrighted to their creators, and should be viewed as such. Ivhrain's mine, as are his family and the rest of my little creations. I love my little mind-people. Also, I made some stuff up. Deal with it. ;) Purists are accepted here, nitpicking is not. Also, I don't have my own copy of War3, so a few minor details might be slightly off. When I get my BattleChest (woo!), I'll fix them. :) Oh, last thing - I'm not so good at combat scenes. I tend to try and avoid them. So don't tell me I glossed over, it's not about the fights. It's about the people and seeing things through their eyes. Timeline places this partially during War3, and partly in the interim after TFT and before WoW.)
Living Legacy - All the King's Men
Blood. Death. War.
The parchment's words held nothing but bad news.
A dark-haired farmer sighed, setting down the letter that had such an official stamp. It was Lord Uther's seal, no mistake. Ivhrain looked up at his wife, his dark green eyes apologetic before he even opened his mouth.
Eliriel Jhenvie smiled, placing a slim finger against his lips. "You and Tobi will have to go, my heart," she said softly. She pushed a strand of her wispy copper hair out of her eyes. "You know Andi and I will be just fine. She's capable of taking care of the place while you're away."
Ivhrain smiled, standing to pull his petite wife of over twenty years into his arms. "To be safe, I'm sending the deed to Evan Olsen, who lives just down the way. He's agreed to oversee some of our business while I'm gone. He's a good man, he'll take care of you both."
"Light keep you, my heart, and make this silly war end soon," Eliriel sighed, resting her head against her husband's chest. "And Light help Uther if he doesn't send you back to me in one piece."
Out in the fields on the Silverpine Forest farm's property, a dark-haired young man of twenty-seven lifted his head, squinting at a blurry shape sitting on the farmhouse's roof. He sighed, thumped his hoe into the ground, and wiped his hands on his work trousers before trudging toward the house and his errant rogue of a sister. She saw him coming and slipped backward, seeming to disappear from sight as she melted into treeshadow. "Come on down from there, Shadowslip," he said quietly. "You know Mama asked you to not to sit up there. And eavesdroppin'? You're aimin' for a lot'a trouble, Andi."
The redhead on the roof frowned at her brother, fading back into view. "Go pack, Tobi," she muttered sourly after dropping down off of the shingled roof. "You're papa's squire."
The quirky half-smile faded off her brother's face. Tobias stared at her. "Mama and Papa...is that what they were talking about? War?"
The red-headed girl nodded. "The Lightbringer calleth," the sullen twenty-four year old retorted sharply. She then sprinted away, disappearing into the shadows of nearby brush and undergrowth.
Tobias sighed. He wiped the sweat of his day's labor and marched into the farmhouse, careful to knock soil from his boots before entering. "Sir?"
Ivhrain looked up at his oldest child and tried to grin. "We jus' got our marchin' orders, boyo," said the Stratholme-born man. "Lord Uther's callin' us ta' war. We're gonna 'ave ta' leave the place t'Elli and yer sister."
The dark-eyed young man nodded stoically, swallowing nervously.
"Don' worry, lad. Ye're wit' yer old man. I ain't company tha'bad, am I?"
Tobias grinned. "Na', 's not what I'm worried about. Jes' don't wanna leave mama an' Shadowslip 'ere alone."
Ivhrain nodded. "Understandable, son. They'll be in good'ands. Evan's takin' care o' the place for us while we're gone. Not te' fret, we'll be 'ome afore winter."
Months passed. Winter came. The war wasn't over. Fighting continued, and Ivhrain watched Lordaeron's Prince fall closer and closer toward madness. Uther the Lightbringer counseled again and again, striving to keep Arthas from the choices he made. The young mage, Jaina Proudmoore, urged Arthas to remember his honor and the people he lived to protect. Arthas seemed deaf and blind to the danger he constantly put himself in.
Ivhrain and Tobias, stalwart members of Uther the Lightbringer's forces, watched their Prince fall with every step he took. Their long march came eventually to the ill-fated city of Stratholme, where the hated, terrible plague had already taken hold. "They look completely normal," Ivhrain heard his fellow soldiers whisper, their words hushed and horrified as they watched Stratholme's inhabitants. People scurried here and their, cloaks drawn across faces in worry, people avoiding each other and giving wary glances as they walked.
"There's no saving the city. It must be purged and burned," Arthas declared coldly. His men, and Uther's men, stared at him in shock.
"You can't really think this is the right thing to do," Jaina protested, frowning darkly at Lordaeron's prince. "They're living, breathing human beings. We haven't the right."
"You CAN'T," Uther roared his agreement to the young woman's cry. "Those are innocent people! Time must be spent to find a cure, Arthas!"
The crown prince of Lordaeron shook his head, his face grim. "And wait while they spread this infection to the rest of Lordaeron? No, Uther. We must end it here."
Ivhrain listened to the exchange from his vantage-point not far from the frontlines, and turned to his son. Tobias' face was pale. He looked like he'd be sick any moment. "Tobi," he murmured quietly, knowing the fate that lay before his native home, "you're goin' 'ome. I won' 'ave you 'ere seein' this."
The squire's face changed, and he objected. "Father - Sir! No, you can't send me home. My place is here at your side!"
"Yer place is where I say 'tis, boy. An' I say yer goin' 'ome t'take care o' yer mum an' sister."
Ivhrain wanted Tobias home looking after the farm, that was true enough. But he also wanted his son nowhere near Stratholme when the walls fell. "I've aready spoken ta' Lord Uther. 'e said I 'ad 'is permission ta discharge ya' when I think it's time. Well, boyo, it's time. Ye'll continue in yer studies in tha' cathedral back in Loraeron, y'ear?" He drew his son close, one hand resting on the young man's shoulder. "Go on. Make me proud, boyo. Take care'o them for me. An' tell Elli...I love'er."
Tobias straightened, nodding grimly, and saluted his father sharply. "I will." It was obvious his father never expected to return home.
"Good lad. I want ya' t'live through this mess. An' remember what's gonna 'appen 'ere taday. No one should ferget these poor souls."
Tobias nodded. "Light protect you, sir. And everyone else." And then, with a final nod and salute, Tobias pulled himself onto the saddle of his white charger, wheeled the horse around, and disappeared into the forests of northernmost Lordaeron.
The city in what would later be known as the Western Plaguelands had been flattened by the Scourge and Kel Thuzad. Arthas had turned against humanity, becoming Ner'Zhul's puppet; his soul erased by Frostmourne's dark power, he no longer held any allegiance to any he may have called friend. Ner'Zhul had directed his new puppet to the half-ruined city to retrieve the urn that held the ashes of Arthas' father, Terenas - who had been slain by his son's own hand. Uther knew Arthas was coming; his forces he placed in Andorhal, an attempt to stop the traitor.
Ivhrain's horse whinnied nervously, the white charger's mane tossing as it moved its head. He rubbed the horse's nose and swung up into the saddle, armor clanking. "The men're restless," he observed. "An' so's Liberty." He patted the horse again. The lieutenant beside him glanced over at the farmer and nodded.
"Aren't you, Sergeant? Scouts haven't come back. That means Scourge. It also means Arthas. Uther knows he'll come through here, on some hell's errand. And we're the only thing standing in his way."
"Light'll do with us no more'n it'd do with th'Archbishop o' Lordaeron, Adam. What more could we be askin' for?" Ivhrain's dark eyes glittered as he looked out on the half-ruined city. "Na. When our time comes, we'll've served as best we know. An' I've been given enough blessin' aready. A wife an' two children I love, an' good land to work. M'only regret's that I won' see me son an' daughter's weddins' someday."
The man beside him cracked a gallows grin. "You're fortunate, Ivhrain. Not everybody can say that. Keep'em with you, and nothing can stop you."
"The Bloody Prince approaches! Scourge incoming!" a young soldier cried, his face red, body and armor battered and bloody. "Flee! They stop for nothing!"
Ivhrain's face went hard, and he gripped the massive, two-handed mace hanging from his saddle, pulling it free from its' setting. "It's time, Adam. 's been good knowin' ya."
"There's so many..." Adam breathed from the saddle of his own white charger. The sea of undead figures was massive; it spanned so far that its outer limit was nearly invisible. And in the center, leading the armies of eternity, was none other than the Betrayer, Arthas of Lordaeron...and the puppet of Ner'Zhul.
"Stand down, Uther!" he roared. All eyes of the armies of the Silver Hand turned to their leader, Lord Uther the Lightbringer, and waited on his command. "We'll have what we came for! You cannot stop me now!"
Uther's face was stony; eyes hard and regretful when he spoke. "You will not defile the king," he bellowed in answer. "I will not have him dishonored by his own son even in his death!"
"I warned you, old man!" Arthas said coldly. "You accomplish naught but your own death!" And he brought his arm down sharply, Frostmourne gripped in one white hand.
And the Scourge came back to Andorhal.
Ivhrain fought at first for the honor of Lordaeron; as the battle progressed and the Scourge kept coming and coming, no signs of stopping, he fought for his own life. Ghoul after ghoul fell before the onslaught of holy magic Ivhrain commanded, his prayers and incantations burning them back to their graves. He made his way toward the central region where Uther fought, intent on standing beside his leader as the tides of undeath crashed against them.
"We can't keep this up!" Adam called. "To Uther! To Lord Uther! Fall back!"
"We can' fall back, Adam!" Ivhrain roared over the howl of battle. "We're th'last chance! If we fall back, who else'll stop'em!"
Adam paused, and the two paladins gazed calmly at one another over the howling mass of Scourge soldiers. "Light help them," Adam said softly. He then wheeled his horse, and without care for the ghouls he trod under hoof, he kicked the horse into a dead run, tearing for Uther's location.
Ivhrain sighed, shaking his head, and turned to follow his friend. "Light 'elp us all," he muttered, swinging his huge mace with a cracking crunch as it sank deep into an enemy's skull. The body collapsed to the ground, to join the next few that he ground under his horse's hooves.
"The Betrayer approaches!" called a soldier from close-by. Ivhrain whirled, yanking Liberty's rains to wheel the horse around again, feeling the icy chill of Arthas' approach before he ever saw the dead knight. The chill went through Ivhrain's armor and skin, all the way to his bones, and he urged his horse - who had no objection to it - backwards, and away from Arthas. Before long, a large circle of bodies had closed around Arthas and Uther; master and apprentice gazed at each other across the circle, neither face revealing anything.
"I told you," Arthas said, death's edge in his voice, "that I would not be kept from what I seek."
"And I told you," Uther said, his own voice just as grim, "that you would go through us all before I let you spit on your father's memory."
Frostmourne's blade came up slowly, until its unholy gleam was reflected in the dead prince's cold eyes. "Then go through you I shall. You will die here today, Lightbringer. And all your kind as well." The dead horse upon which Arthas sat reared, its neigh sounding more akin to a snarl. And he charged.
Ivhrain howled into motion, moved to act by Arthas' charge. He raised his hammer. "FOR LIGHT AND LORDAERON!" he roared, charging toward the remaining hosts that moved with Ner'Zhul's plaything. The two armies met once more, and the combat was even more volatile than before. Liches, their frost spells freezing anything they so much as touched, swept through the ranks of the Silver Hand, devastating life after life.
And to Ivhrain's horror, not only did he find that Uther's host was dwindling, but that Arthas' army was growing in numbers. He stared in horror as a dead knight on a dead horse charged toward him...bearing Adam's face. The paladin uttered a swift prayer, squinted his eyes shut, and held out one hand. Holy flame leapt from his gauntleted fingertips and seared the moving corpse's remaining flesh away, and both man and horse's skeleton crumbled to the ground. "'m sorry, mate. Light take ye'."
"Uther has fallen! Lord Uther has fallen! Fight! Fight for Uther!"
Ivhrain felt his stomach drop, and he squared his shoulders. Sliding off of Liberty's saddle, he slapped the horse's flank sharply, sending the stallion careening away from the battle. The equine knew its way home. "FOR LIGHT AND LORD UTHER!" he roared, and, as one man, the Order of the Silver Hand charged.
Three Months Later
Darkness. Fear. Pain. Death. Undeath. Scourge.
Ivhrain couldn't remember when he'd awoken. There was pain - it seemed like there had always been the pain. At first he'd just been overwhelmed by the urge to corrupt and destroy. It horrified a little part of his mind, but that part was sequestered, a prisoner; kept locked away and unable to control his actions.
More time passed.
The winds brought nothing but the smell of death; the former paladin was blind now, most of his skull caved away by the mace blow that had killed him. There was never much in the way of coherent thought.
Until one day, that had seemed like no other. Suddenly...he'd stopped. In the middle of creating another Scourge horror, he'd simply...stopped and walked away. The little part of his mind that always reeled in ineffectual horror was somehow back in control. Much changed, but Ivhrain was himself once more. His mind was his own, though his sight was gone - as, somehow, was his connection to Light. No longer could he channel its holy power. He sat on a crumbled tower in Andorhal's ruins, scowling sightlessly out at a world he couldn't see.
"Woah, Mr. Dead!" a cheerful - cheerful? - voice called out. "Stop, silly horse!"
There were a few moments of confused silence from the blind undead man on the hill, in which the sounds of fumbling with a horse's reins reached his ears, and Ivhrain couldn't help but crack a smile at the noise. Footsteps approached, and the former paladin reached down for the simple wooden club he'd made from a piece of discarded building support, in case this oddly-voiced newcomer meant him harm.
"Hi there!" the voice Ivhrain had heard said cheerfully. "You look like you've had better days. You want some help?"
Ivhrain would have stared at his would-be "helper", had he but been able to see the man. "Yeah," he muttered hoarsely, the harsh words of the undead coming to him like a native language - much to Ivhrain's distaste. "Yeah, mate. I've seen better days. 'O course, those days, I actually COULD see. Y'know?"
He could hear the smile in the other man's voice. "Great! Here, lemme help you. We're going to get you shaped up. You're lucky you got found by the world's best engineer! You can have your sight back, and the rest of your head, too!"
Ivhrain sighed, unable to keep from grinning a little. His newfound friend's enthusiasm despite their surroundings was infectious. Somehow, Ivhrain realized, things would work out. Light had a way of making sure the world happened how it was supposed to. He just hoped his family was all right.
"My name is Loche," said his rescuer. "What's yours?"
"Eh? Oh. Ivhrain," the undead man answered distractedly.
"Nice to meetcha! You should come back to Sidewinder HQ. You'd fit right in!"
Ivhrain thought about this. It wasn't as though he could go home again. Not soon, anyway. The idea of having friends again appealed to him after three months spent alone in his own mind. "Arigh'. I kin' do tha'."
"Great! Let's get you fixed up first. You can't very well meet people with only half a head!"
Ivhrain allowed himself to laugh, then. "No, 'spose I kin't."
Four Months Later
A slightly-decayed face with eyes of pale, gem-gleaming aquamarine gazed into the darkness, set into a face bound by dark, well-weathered leather. A Forsaken rogue sat hunched on a hilltop overlooking Olsen's Farthing, unreadable gemstone eyes unseeing, though they saw everything around him. Clawed, well-kept hands picked at a pebble on his hilltop, and he flicked it idly at one of the shambling, reanimated victims of the Scourge that now wandered the small farm's fields. It bounced off the ghoul's head, and the creature peered in mindless confusion around itself for a moment before returning to its stumbling gait.
Ivhrain Jhenvie scowled down at it and then stood, blending seamlessly back into the shadows as he picked his way off the hill and away from the dilapadated farmhouse. Loche had warned him, warned him so many times that coming back here would do nothing but cause more pain. The Forsaken hadn't listened. He'd had to come back, to see once and for all what he feared the most.
His farm was in ruins, titled to another man, and his family was dead. Well, gone, at the very least. Their whereabouts, he knew not. The rogue sighed, his shoulders slumping, and he shook his head. Finally, he knew - there could be no going back. He walked down to the main road, making his way back toward the hated Undercity. He would be damned if he'd allow himself to be in the service of that unholy bastard Varimathras, or under the bootheels of the Banshee Queen, but all the same...it was time to pen a letter to Loche - to find his new place in the world, for he wouldn't be gong home again.