Screeching metal bleeds thousands of leaping sparks as a crafted blade drags perilously across the grainy surface. Plated soles slap against horizontal sheets of titanium flooring. Glimmering darkness gleams from the once holy armor of a lost paladin.

Strands of graying, darkened hair flee in the opposite direction of the man's tantivy charge. Dark, malicious eye brace my glowing form with the intents of damnation. Curling lips ascend his pale flesh, smile for me a direct confrontation.

Tirion strikes…

But it is not I that shall fight this friend. It is not my destiny to engage the death knight now known as Tirion Lightbreaker. No, another takes that path admirably. A blurred figure dashes from the side of my vision, all signs of his age unapparent. Furious legs expel energy rapidly for the old friend. Fragments of light cling to the ends of the orange and gray weapon known as…Ashbringer.

Carlin advances to engage the armored foe. Intervening on my other side is a ghastly form of a spirit. That same one, a voice that once rested only in my head, pulls along side the aging champion -- the once formless fighter given shape by vengeance, by rage.

Weapons are gripped firmly in all three figure's hands. Two bear the light fully, while one abandons the sacred power for the now commanding chant of death. Minuscule spikes built of damnation dance behind the dragging weapon of Tirion. In a flash the blade releases its grip from the chilling floor, sweeping to an offensive position at the Lightbreaker's front.

Simultaneously, Mark tramples angrily forward, his target a different foe. Shoes sweep across the frosty surface of the platform. Dull light refracts from the concurrent arch of his shield. Light bends to the clutched blade of a short stabbing sword. His figure, Jon, makes slowly at first, but accelerates as he bellows loudly,

"Brother, at long last we can stand together!" The sinister figure spews menacing words as he lunges forward, "Once I drain the life from your body, the Chapel brothers shall feast upon the anguish of the living!"

Brother charges brother. Feet draw both to the inevitable fate. Hands grip weapons constructed for the act lying ahead. Rage drives the soul of Mark, while dark iniquity grasps the soul of Jon. Brother assaults brother. Carlin presses Tiron. Paladin against paladin. Light versus dark. All of them ready for the final confrontation. All of them prepare...

Tirion elevates his weapon and proclaims seconds before impact, "Darkness guide me! Judge the hopeless living!"

A burst of shadows extends from the sinister blade of Tirion. Light carves upwards, bracing the hungering evil in its path using the holy powers of the Ashbringer. Both men are locked in mortal combat. Both are invulnerable to assault, but only we have advantage of numbers.

The Specter shifts to the side of the preoccupied Fordring. Light bends to the shining blade. Jagged lines draw to a fine tip and point towards the exposed flank of Tirion. Swiftly he strikes, but the Lightbreaker is not blind.

With a forceful shove, Carlin stumbles backwards, allowing for a counter attack against the ghostly assassin. Tirion spins the sword upon the air, blurring the blade into a metallic wall -- merely a blur of speed.

Sparks glint briefly from the two weapon's collision. The specter holds firmly, but the might of the dark Tirion is overwhelming. Taking advantage of the moment, Carlin leaps forward again, bringing with him a chance for victory.

Sadly, once again, as if warned of the attack, Tirion breaks from the ghost and whips back to Carlin. Clashing blades chime a screech of failure to both sides. Specter lashes forward, but Tirion strafes to dodge the assault.

As the three continue, Mark collides against his dark brother. Battle cries bellow from both, overwhelming the howling chants of the scraping metal. Eyes lock together. Gray orbs call for the power of darkness. Hazel spheres declare triumph for the light.

But none call as loudly as the banshee near me,

"Arthas!" Sylvanas creeps towards the spectating King, "Too long have you sat upon your hollowed throne!" She hastens her advance, "Too long have you gone unscarred!" Her remarkable pace flourishing, "Too long have I dreamt of this moment!"

Five fighting figures are past by her remarkable haste. As she moves, a wooden instrument of destruction glides forth, coming to her bosom at speed indescribable. Slivers of delicate death lift into a proper position. Arms drag back. Muscles lock briefly.

TWANG, TWANG, TWANG

Missiles sweep towards the armored King. He stands confidently. He stands cocky. One, two, three, perfectly aimed strikes land exactly, but bounce pathetically. All three arrows do nothing more than spin uncontrollably away from the unharmed figure, exposing only strength.

A brief hesitation clenches the woman as she repositions. Wood smacks against metal, giving sign to a discarded bow. Daggers are angrily torn from their once stationary holders, the Dark Lady turning to blade. Unyielding, elegant hands grip the razor sharp tools, directing them for the onslaught.

Without warning, the woman goes for the kill. Leaping headlong at the foe, she makes for a frontal strike. Arthas effortlessly counters with blade and body, catching both her hands with the grand Frostmourne. Swiftly, the Banshee Queen uses the blade to propel her skyward. she bends head over heel mid-air, her grace apparent.

He sweeps his blade to counter, but the springy foe spins perfectly. She passes with ease over the giant, landing with her back against the throne. Dull thuds roll from the shaking, frozen block. Sylvanas braces her arms against the ice, drags her legs inwards, and promptly ejects them outwards. Her feet slam against the heavy armor.

Arthas stumbles uncontrollably down his steps. Metal screams as it shakes. Leather squeaks as it tightens. Once stabilized, the king begins twisting, but his speed is lacking. Sylvanas pushes outwards, taking to the air again, but only briefly. All her body twists and aligns as if built of the wind itself. And this gentle breeze carries beneath it the roaring boom of silent vengeance.

Her feet lock against the side of his helmet, and brace against the spiky shoulders. Arthas shifts beneath the enraged fighter, attempting to dislodge her, but she has made her home upon his sloping form. Daggers twirl in her skillful hands. Arms realign.

"Arthas, how did I manage to falter to such a pathetic fool such as yourself?"

Blades glisten in the doomed light, exposed by the beautiful queen's grace. Arms extend to maximum extent, given power by the lady's will. Energy courses through her angry, smooth legs. All her body prepares for the final blow. Sadly, as she does, her arrogance brings aggression does not continue the defense…

Swiftly the King reaches upward and latches upon a vulnerable ankle. With a jerk and sweep of the forearm, Sylvanas whips forward. Sylvanas becomes a gnat to the gripping jaws of the Lich King's might, snapping off the shoulders as directed by the thrashing arm. A hollow thud rings depressingly as the woman is slammed against the chilling floor.

Briefly she goes limp, but turns to Arthas as his blade redirects towards the exposed woman. Darkness rhythmically bursts from the Arthas' chuckling lungs, like air through a fire plume.

"What a shame that your arrogance led you down the same path as once before"

Metal glistens sinisterly in the King's hands. Finely sharpened iron teeth drip a blue, gaseous drool. Froustmorne hungers for the soul below. It can taste the enclosing demise. It knows…

Arthas jerks his body to the side and holds briefly. He eyes the weak foe, but does not direct his sight properly. Unexpectedly, Sylvanas whips her free leg upward, allowing all five, rather forceful toes to collide perfectly in Arthas'…crotch…

Releasing the woman, he falters briefly, but does stay phased by the strike. Fortunately, he is unable to react before the agile woman recoils to her feet, spins a dagger in her hand, and throws it forward.

A thud slapping sound radiates from the now stationary handle. Weak vibrations ripple from the jerking figure, but the aim is true. Protruding from the left portion of the monster's chest, where he heart should be, is the short handle of a lodged weapon.

Sylvanas cackles as the giant raises his arm to grip the wound, "Fool, never underestimate the might of Sylvanas Windrunner!"

Her feet lock firmly and confidently. Victory pulsates from her rather presumptuous stance.

You are not sure Arthas is dead! He cannot be!

Arthas holds a weak posture. The other five, dancing fighters halt their attacks. their focus now on the two I spectate. Tirion holds back both holy fighters, but keeps his sight locked on his battle stricken master. Jon struggles against Mark, watching to see the outcome…to see if his master is the one to falter now. And, as the room grows silent, as the crowd stares motionless, as the world seems to freeze, one question rings loudly.

Is he…really…

"Ha, ha, ha!" Arthas chuckles, lurching forward. He rips the blade from his flesh and tosses it aside, "What you fail to realize, Sylvanas Windrunner…"

An armor clad arm shoots forward, wrapping its five blackened tendrils around the unsuspecting woman. Gripping rage envelops the fly caught in this spider's trap. Energy releases from the once zealous fighter. Dark aggression draws her unwillingly to her knees.

Once again the dark blade lifts, its tip directing death. Light reflects from the life absorbing weapon. Five, leathery fingers clutch the weak throat of the ensnared queen.

"My beating heart was torn asunder by Tirion himself!" His arm jolts rearward, "And like I did so masterly to myself, I shall carve the chilled, wasted muscle from your chest!"

Blue flame dances damningly. Fingers of one hand strangle life, while the others guide the piercing metal. She has no escape. She has no trick for flight. He has her pinned…

His voice bellows loudly for all, "This time, Banshee Queen, you will not escape my wrath!"

He makes to strike! But the sudden pluck of a tighten string beck to differ...

TWANG, TWANG

Sounds of strumming death ring from my side, "Like hell she will!" Nathanos fires wildly, "Get your hands of my Queen, you canned meat popsicle!"

Dark eyes shit our direction as the feeble missiles clink harmlessly from his heavy armor. Before Arthas can react, another voice calls from my other side.

"Lich King, your creations wish to thank you for your kind hospitality!" Darion lifts his duel blades, "Taste your own foul magic!"

A black, familiar skull crafts between the parallel blades. Green eyes lock upon the target ahead. Darion guides his weapons, aims his death coil, but he shall not do so alone! You are a creation too! You need to blow his freaking head off!

Light, metal, and wood lifts upwards. Dancing runes glow brighter than ever before. Gorgeous power tickles the tip of my righteous spade. Energy clings beautifully to the blade of my shovel. All of it focuses, all of it aligns. Illumination gathers upon the concaved surface, targeting death perfectly. Light. Hum. Flash.

As the dark sphere of the death coil ejects from Darion's swords, the light of my spade expels. Both swirl directly towards the dark master. Both whip past the bewildered fighters. Both glide for the King.

Reacting swiftly, the monster drags his body to the side. Barely does the dark ball of green and black magic barrel over Arthas and slam into the wall. He, however, has shifted directly in the path of my assault.

Without haste he lifts the now limp figure into the path. The monster is using Sylvanas as a fleshy shield! What have I done?! You have to wait…

Exploding majestically from the woman is a beautiful wall of light. It envelops the figure and dances angrily down the dark figure's arms. Thrashing tendrils of light slap mercilessly against the lifeless demon, burning and assaulting his person.

Agonizingly, he whips Sylvanas towards the wall, forcing her to painfully slam against the metal. She goes limp while the Lich King reels wildly. Wafts of burning illumination clings to his flesh. Wafting tendrils of smoky air drifts from her burning armor.

His once free hand now covers his face, attempting to block back the barrage. Frostmourne whips side to side, as he stumbles back to his throne. As the light dims he regains his stance.

Quickly, blue flames gather to edges of his blade. Black swirls lace the swirling magic, while gray streaks build upon the ever-growing fire. Looping flares draw out of the now cluttering mesh of dark magics. The dark, expanding sphere consumes his weapon, but his voice is not lost behind it.

"Light pales to the shrouding darkness!" His face is revealed, his own magic exposing a furious demeanor, "Taste the fury…of the APOCALYPSE!"

Exploding forth, the once roaming magic becomes a concentrated beam of dark horror. As it barrels past the five fighters, they are thrown helplessly to the walls. Nathanos and Darion shift to run, but I do not flinch.

Runes blare brightly as I draw the spade to my front. I draw the weapon vertically, letting the light stretch like a wall to the sides. A foot from me is a bright, illuminated section built of a thousand glorious souls. You are mad!

A sinister fading darkness dims my light as the unbelievable power barrels for me. Each passing second the wall darkens slightly, giving sight to the assaulting evil. With each passing second, it draws closer. Each passing second…the dark beam of the apocalypse

My eyes shut. As they do, a force I never thought imaginable collides into the holy barrier. My feet skid against the metal below. Grand forces drag my back to the spiny wall behind. Black claws thrash at the edges of the eyelid-piercing light. Sounds of a thousand souls scream within my very mind. Edges of reality blur as both forces struggle.

Ringing echoes cling to the pulsating call of the exploding magic. I feel myself slow, reality itself shattered. Light and dark flashes dance across my sealed lids. I feel myself stop. Darkness settles in, but I can still feel the light.

Seals of a zealous soldier break, letting the still glowing air fill my vision. Shifting forward, I can see the still clashing, but now calm, powers of life and death. To my sides, rest the groaning figures of the toppled Darion and Nathanos. Ahead of me is a cloud of swirling matter.

My shovel shifts horizontally. Runes glow bright. Your turn, Arthas. Light, hum, flash!

Exploding through the plume of smoke is a ball of perfect light. All heroes upon the platform become clear, but it is not them of which I am concerned. The spiraling sphere enlightens all villains. But only one is of my focus.

The partially hunched figure that is the Lich King holds steadily as the floating power of light closes in. Arthas stares upon the glowing orb, shifting his blade such as I. Arthas prepares for the unexpected retaliation. But he his arrogance has overwhelmed him…

BRURSH

Flames, constructed of holy energies, billow from the figure. Enveloping light engulfs the once mighty false god. Pure, magnificent powers pour into the air, forcing all shadows to the corners, fleeing from that which is righteous. From here I cannot make out his figure, but I know he is not defeated. You are getting better!

"ENOUGH!" Sinister darkness explodes and dims the once alluring glow, "Do you not know of whom you fight?!" Arthas lurches forward, blue and black flames pouring from every inch, "I am darkness! I am the Death God! I am…the Lich King!"

With each passing word his voice deepens, twists, and is mangled by some unseen force. His fiery demeanor bends. Dark energies gather at all edges of his person. The power expands, extending all the ways to the walls. Black flames lick the air, tendrils of damnation. Blue spines spiral, intertwining with the tenebrous clouds. They stretch the walls, directing their dark clutches to the fine iron. Upon the metallic surfaces blue flames dance and fade.

"Bow before your master! Bow before the fury of a thousand souls!"

I do not move.

"Face the wrath…of the Lich King!"

His arms extend outwards. Pillars of gathering iniquity lift to the ceiling and sidewalls of the partially spherical room. Rumbling tremors tear at my feet. Quaking muscles give sign of impending doom.

Arthas laughs diabolically, death clinging to every word, "This structure was crafted from metal born of the dead! Born from the ones Frostmourne feasted upon!" His armors lift to the side, "Kneel now, to the vast army of the True King!"

Metal screeches devastatingly. Cracking plates shift upon the vibrating air. The whole room begins to shift at its very foundation. Walls bend and creak horrifically. Light penetrates through the separating sheets. Chunks of massive metal crack and fall from the structure.

More and more trails of piercing glow are revealed as the entire wall breaks from the floor. Metal lifts with the dark magic, morphing and melting before my very eyes. The walls begin flattening and twisting, as if making rotate. Gaseous forms take shape as the wall melt from sight.

Within moments, the once massive, metal shelling becomes a swirling tornado of gaseous, mangled darkness. I twist back, letting the constantly building spiral fill my sights. Strange, short strips of black stack together, giving the funnel an appearance of something truly evil.

It is a wall...constructed of spirits…of souls…

Eyes fade in and out of the wall. Agonizing, elongated eclipses draw and vanish over every inch of unbelievable horror. Thousands of dull, distant screeches scratch at my mind. Every one of these twisting, swirling blocks of the wall has an identity, every one calls to me.

"You cannot flee, champion! Within this hollowed vortex, you are mine!" Dark bathed words cling to his demonic vocal cords.

Backing from the twisting, mangled mesh of lost spirits, I pivot upon my heels. I come to face the flame spewing, death-wielding monster of a man. Behind and above him floats a massive construct of wood and iron. Winged bone-dragons spit balls of frozen ballistics while mighty cannons chime fiery counter fire.

This vessel bares the red and black symbol of the horde. In the corner of my eye, the other flying fortress, one of yellow and blue, drifts in a clockwise fashion. Both rain fire upon the death fliers, crafted from death itself.

It is then, as I gawk foolishly upon the might symbols of this world's allegiances, I see a smoldering city, floating upon the wind. A black necropolis floats in the outskirts of the city, flashing of internal firefights and clashes.

As I stand here, a short distance from the dark core of pure iniquity, I come to a grand realization. Here, upon the ice throne itself, the world shall watch in splendor the final skirmish, the final confrontation…the final battle of the Lich King.

"Vile spirits!" Arthas throws his bulky arms to the wind, "May your unyielding suffering bind you to me! Arise! Crush the blind infidels before you! End the corruption that is the living!"

Wind parts and scatters. Spiraling tentacles of lost spirits break from the fallacy that is their solidity. Wisps of black air draw to the dark master. Their wrapping tendrils dance to the commanding individual. They play with his sinister being and cling to his lifted arm. Slowly, he points to me and chuckles.

"Kill him! Kill the false champion! Bring him the truth he so desires!"

In a flash, the tormented wisps shoot forward and collide with the ground. They rest for a moment, bubbling across the saronite floor. Slowly, horrifically, they begin to quake. To my dismay, figures emerge from the bursting collisions, giving shape to men long past. Swords brace their hazy, purple outlines. Black smoke rises from their human forms, giving a misshapen definition to their misdirected evil.

Dozens of figures form in front me. Quickly they form a barricade. A wall of souls bare form, raging ghosts of a time long past.

"Spooks? Worm, where are your friendly ghosts?" Nathanos lifts his bow, "We could use some of your sparkly goodness right about now." A strange sense of concern drenches his shaky words.

Arrows ripples forward, cracking the rift of dark matter. He is right, I need to amass that army of mine! But how? You must draw from within. You must do it. Only in Azshara did I manage to spew the holy army! And then I was nearly dead! How in the world can I do it now? Health well apparent. You must make a sacrifice!

"Worm!" Nathanos steps backwards, even his barrage of arrows unable to tamper the assaulting wall of terror.

How do I muster the strength needed to gather the light? You must sacrifice for the greater good! You must give part of yourself to stop the monster!

But how? It is not possible...

"WORM!" Nathanos' arrow rains fury, but is fear lathers his voice. "Do something!"

My eyes divert forward. Walls of twisted souls march forward, their gluttony for life seeping from their very existence. Arrows shatter their forms, but with each fallen, another emerges from the spiraling horror around me. How can I stop this! How do I give to the light if I do not know! You...He must give that which has followed him for ages.

"Hope!" The second voice that bears form rushes from the interlocked Tirion and Carlin. He almost seems to limp as he approaches me. "Only you can stop him!"

He lifts his sword, "You must think hard, gather strength from within." He whimpers as he falls to his knee, "As I am able to control you, you can force my hand! Embrace the light, Hope. Take into your mind a sword, and twist it. With it, bring my face to your thoughts."

What is he speaking of? What will this accomplish?

"Now, Champion!" He twists to the towering Lich King, "Let the thoughts fill your mind before it is too late!"

Without hesitating, I picture a long, elegant sword. It glistens beautifully. It is held in the hands of a man, the figure I was told to envision. But in my mind is bears no ghastly form, but a true, humanly glow. Pink flesh gleams brightly. A smile forms on his face. Near him, a small child stands. Long, brown hair clings to the boy's face. In one hand, the tiny infant holds the hand of the man, of the specter. Together, they seem so happy, so cheerful. As if in some other time, some other place. So joyful...

He was never alone.

The man speaks, the second voice in my head rings loudly.

He must focus. He must do as I told.

I don't understand...

He must rotate the blade...point it to my chest...and do what must be done. He must let his instincts guide.

Focus, Hope. Let your thoughts wander. Slowly, carefully, the man turns the blade, pointing it vertically. Carefully, he lifts his arms, drawing the blade to horizontal level. Then, without any true thought, any true motivation, the man smiles.

He will be missed."

Then...with all the force possible...the man thrusts his blade...in my mind. No...

Terrifyingly, I open my eyes. Before me, in this terrible time, the figure holds his sword...the tip caressing his bosom. The tip Thrusting blade directed by his one-hand slivers his chest. Light pours from his great wound. Energy courses as he falls to his knees. A sharp, numbing pain grips my chest. What has he done? What have I done? You know what he has done…

"Hope…" Light breaks from his form, his body fading, "I love you like a son…" Pulsing, radiating energy crackles at my sides, "But I failed this world once…"

An elegant explosion ripples from the figure of my own being. A chilling, yet warming sensation attacks my body. I feel as if I am going to vomit! The world spins. My body shivers violently. What is going on? It feels as if my own soul is being sundered within my own body! It is then, with a terrible pinch and horrific surge of agony...the voice speaks...

"I will not fail again..."

Light drenches the dark ground around me. The part of me, the second voice that insulted and cursed my very name, fades…floating into the air. Pain clenches my chest, and I am unable to move.

"How touching." Arthas lifts his blade; pointing to the dissipating friend, "Join my ranks, lieutenant of Tirion! Feed my vast armies!"

He laughs.

"Glorious sacrifice shall not go unrewarded!"

A pulse of dark energy slams into the man. He twists and folds, floating back to the wall of horror. Black claws break from the spiraling wall. They grip his floating soul, dragging him into their fold.

No! No! You will let go of him! Do not take him! You know he did was for you. Stop him! My shovel lifts, flashes, and a spiraling ball of light ejects outwards. A mighty explosion slams into the twisting wall, but nothing happens.

Where is he going?! I will not let this happen! But the pain, I can feel the pain in my chest. You must feed from it. You must know he gave what he had left to defeat his true enemy.

He cannot be gone! Even if he is a sassing jerk, he was mine! A bright haze glows from me. He was my friend! He was…me! Tears build at the corner of my body; mourning the loss of a hero, of a friend, of a deeper part of myself.

But as I stir within my own, pitted emotions…the world reacts…

Energy of holy proportions wafts from my body. Sparks swirl delicately in a pillar above my being. It is the same happening as upon the broken shores of Kalimdor…

I sacrificed myself for Nathanos, and he…sacrificed himself…for me. You got the idea. Energy feeds my veins. Holy might fills my once aching heart. Whipping tendrils thrash against Arthas' nightmarish creation.

He shall not have died in vain!

I spin, shifting my shovel outwards. The blade of the spade scratches the surface of the spinning wall, but does more than merely flake away bits of air. Flashing lights sparkle from the spiraling construct, slowly feeding into it.

"Arthas, your ignorance shall be your downfall!" A grand flash ripples from the circling runes, expelling a grand torrent of bright powers into the soul crafted barricade.

Stripes of white and yellow intermingle with the black and purple pillar. In moments, the once dark concoction of evil begins a battle of light and dark. Both sides lock above us, spilling into the sky. Tendrils of white whip from the spiraling wall, splashing and forming holy figures upon the metallic floor. Arthas has summoned these dark souls into this world. And I shall set them free...

"What is this?! What have you done?!" Arthas twists his body at the skirmishing forces of light and dark, "You cannot take from blade! Frostmourne feasted upon those souls, they are trapped within this blade!" He pivots in his spot,a strange sense of concern wafting from his words, "It is not possible! YOU CANNOT CHALLENGE THE MIGHT OF THE LICH KING."

Darion chuckles as he comes into focus, holy figures at his side, "Arthas, I figured you would have learned what happens when someone gives their life for someone they love."

He draws his duel swords to the ready.

"Kel'Thuzad took my soul in the same manner as you did that warriors'!" He rushes forward, heroes of vengeance at his side, "Now we return, thousands of hate filled souls, yearning for revenge!""

He dashes forward, clashing headlong into the wall of blackened souls, "This time, Arthas, your greed shall be your undoing!"

Darion and the wall of souls clash into the blockade of dark. Clouds of black and white explode, colliding together in combat. The freed souls that I unleashed battling those still trapped within the Lich King's nightmare. They battle, but it is not their skirmish that truly matters. It is the route that is cleared as they all of them are interlocked. It is the path...with Arthas directly ahead.

Voices cry from behind, but only one reaches my ears, "Go, Worm. Cut his head off! I have your back!"

Arrows pluck and whoosh into appearing souls. Nathanos sunders any that dare feed the broken path. This is it, Hope. Engage the Lich King. End him!

Without hesitation, my feet shuffle forward. Muscles fill with righteous rage. Arms shift to the ready. The dark figure ahead grows larger and larger. As I move, clashing figures of all sorts fill my sight.

Jon and Mark are locked in mortal combat, sweat and blood pouring from their faces. Tirion and Carlin fight for supremacy. Ships fire from overhead, a few wandering rounds slamming into the throne. Ahead…Arthas stands ready.

Fiery clouds explodes to his side as a lost shell cracks against the unholy platform. Smoke wafts over his sinister helm. Frostmourne secretes malicious fumes. My spade pours forth-holy light.

This is it!

CLANG

Runes realign as the might of Frostmourne bears down upon me. Blue, empty eyes lock with mine. Gritting teeth reveal an expression of utter damnation. Strands of delicate hair waft to the frozen, pale flesh of the lost figure.

We stand, locked together, Frostmourne hungering for my death. My spade, a solid staff of justice! His strength is unbelievable. His might…remarkable. You must fight! I shall!

"Fool!" I can feel his words pour from his frosty lips, "I destroyed a kingdom!"

Frostmourne shifts forward, latching to my blade, "I ended an empire!"

My legs lift from the floor. Suddenly all grows weightless. Cold air holds me delicately, gliding me like a feather upon a gentle breeze. I am floating. Sadly, a jerking force pulls me back down.

THUD

Sparks rain at my sides as I come to a skidding stop near Tirion and Carlin. My head bounces painfully off the metal. A strange sense of confusion settles in my mind. All sense of focus fades, my attention diverting to all events possible. In the corner of my, Carlin seems to be unable to hold back the unholy enemy, but my attention is lost as cries echofrom below below. Spinning, I see a spiraling mass of black and white. Elongated eclipses twist in the air. Only feet from me, a sharp drop is visible. If only I can see...

You need to focus!

Heavy thuds grow louder as I look down below. Something is coming, but I don't care. Let it come. Let it...I must make sure everyone is alright...

As the world flinches, my head throbbing endlessly, I pull to the edge, glancing at those below. A silver figure holds himself tall, crashing against the vast undead armies. A small, feminine soldier fights against the wall of Scourge.

The footsteps become louder, but I stayed locked on Muradin and Jessica. Below, they fight, just as I fight now. Yes, the fight.

A clenching force grabs my chest, and once again I find myself lifting uncontrollably. Back to reality...

"My father died to my own hands! My people suffered and bled as I commanded!" He pulls me to his face, "What it takes to a be a king, whatever it takes to guide my true empire!"

Arthas glares at me momentarily before sending me flying again. Remarkable strength drags me over his shoulder and towards the throne. This time, sadly, the wind does not guide nor aid me. It simply sends me crashing and skidding into the steps of the stone. Pain radiates from my being. The entire world spins. Once again, I lose all focus. A deep, steady ring rattles my being. I look to the left, then the right. Carefully, then, I tilt my head forward. This time, however, I instantly return to that which is of most importance. Arthas marches feverishly towards me as Tirion slams the butt of his blade into the now limp Carlin. Just behind the Dark King, I see the Lost paladin rise and turn towards me, just as he master marches.

It would seem evil prevails...

My body feels weak, almost numb…You must fight!

Metal boots drag swiftly in my direction. Come on, Hope! Spinning, I brace my arms to the metal and slowly lift my chest upright. As I come to sitting position, a dark, malicious claw lunges downward, latching to my neck.

Pain surges through my body, bones crack against chilling leather. Air becomes bottlenecked in the blocked passages. With a violent jerk, I find myself floating. Again the Dark Master brings me to his eye level. My hands wrap around his bulky arm, but they do nothing to stop the beast.

My shovel slips around my armand falls from grasping range. I can feel his hatred, his malice, and his contempt. I can feel…death…

"Did you really think that you, a lackluster, dimwitted shell of a man were going to march into my palace…my very throne room and end what years of planning created?!"

The world quakes as he gives me a painful shake, "I, Arthas Menethil, defeated Kael'thas, crushed Illidan, and thwarted Ner'zhul. Like all those who dared bring onslaught to my name, you too shall be granted the same fate!"

Frostmourne twists, tip aiming for my vulnerable flesh.

"Join the ranks of the lost, champion! You too shall march the path of the fallen!"

Metal shifts, body aligns, dark intentions glide onwards. Rage focuses and aims. Arthas locks upon my body, his dark plan shifting towards reality. Frostmourne shall hunger no longer…

"Die, Hope Blackwood, die…"

Eyes of blue damnation hone onto mine. Mindless rage, utter hatred, blaring focus, all are familiar. As he drags his blade rearward, I cannot help but take in his expression. It reminds me…of Venomspite, and of myself.

He signifies all that evil within; he signifies all that is horrid. He brings to mind all that is naught all that is worthless. He brings to mind all wrongs I have done, and all the darkness I shall spread under his likeness.

Blade locks, elbow at full extension. I came here today to defeat the evil within, and the evil stirring…but I have…failed...

Suddenly the beast winces. Weapon tilts down while buckling knee signals random weakness. My body floats slightly inward, allowing me a closer position to the monster. He whips his head down and glares angrily at a protruding arrow. Nathanos…

"Goldfish!" Sylvanas! She rests near the edge, blood spots and sores exposed around a bosom propping a bow, "Show this damned bastard the light! Bring him your warmth!"

Yes! The giant, plated helm turns to me as I strike frontward. His eyes align with mine. My shovel dangles to the side, ready and willing. The entirety of my focus shifts forward. Every last drop of energy fuels my arm. But he shall feel no blade this strike. A torn, broken leather glove holds loosely to the weapons of this assault…

My fingers wrap around the unbelievably frosty flesh of the monster.

His eyes widen, blue flames diminishing with each second. A horrific, painful surge of needling ice travels down my arm. Life fades from the slowly numbing, blue skin that is mine. The once pale skin of the beast sparkles, letting traces of light feed through his neck and into his jaw.

Death consumes my limb, grasps my shoulder and penetrates my lungs. Air is blocked, the world blurring. Such overwhelming darkness. Such…horrors. You must not let go! I shall not!

Frosty clouds spew from my mouth as I attempt to draw in air. Arthas' face glows brightly, while a slack jaw secretes light. Once blue, sinister eyes, now orbs of righteous holiness…

It is here, as the two connect for the final time, that I see in his eyes that of something more. It is here, as ice envelops my soul and heat fills his once vacant freezer, that I see a true man. It is here…I see Arthas, the true Arthas…. And I see my true self…

A hero.

Fingers unlatch with cracking splendor. A split second blurs as I slam into the ground, twitching and flailing as the malicious chill departs my slowly warming body. But as it fades, I cannot help but feel the weakness settle in.

Arthas, however, seems lost. He throws his hands to his face, letting his mighty Frostmourne clang uselessly on the metal floor. Howls of agony and despair waft from his throat and cling upon the sky.

"What have you done?!" He spins to his to his throne, stumbling backwards to the icy seat as he does, "This…this…sensation! What is this?!"

I turn my head, watching the man lift the dark helm from his face and placing it under his arm. From here I see white and yellow strands feeding to a pink and pale skinned symbol of confusion.

Sylvanas chuckles as she lays flat on her back, "That is the greatest feeling in the world, Arthas." Her eyes close, and a smile floods her face…an actual smile…"Revelation, Arthas, revelation!"

She laughs again. As Arthas whips his hand across his face, I notice movement amongst the spiraling pillar I so foolishly ignored. It is from that wall that I see a lone, wandering strand float from the black and white mesh. It dances across the sky before finally colliding with the floor. Suddenly, a bright flash bursts from ground. Light pours into the sky, followed by a growing, shapeless man. A figure slowly builds and shuffles forward. It is the image of a glowing, tall character of some distant past.

A heavy, yellow and white fur coat runs from the ground and to the shoulders of the man. Whitish hair clumps in strands, showing signs of balding and of age. Each long, white fiber runs to the top of the head where a circular, cracked crown rests.

He quickly shuffles to the throne, stopping short to stare down at a weapon lying on the floor.

"My son." The man booms a low, commanding voice of a once confident human, "The day you were born…the very forests of Lorderon whispered the name…"

It reaches down, gripping the blade.

"Arthas…"

He shuffles forward, blade lifted to his front.

"My child, I watched with pride as you grew into a weapon…" A mighty metal boot slams onto the first step of the throne, "…of righteousness."

Arthas flinches, eyes wide and bewildered. His once frozen optics glaze over. Lips quiver as he hunches forwards.

"Father…how is it possible? I killed you..."

The man ignores him, speaking as if rehearsed. "Remember, our line has always ruled with wisdom…and strength."

He stands above Arthas, "And I know, you will show restraint when exercising your great power…"

"I did what needed to be done! I could not hold back, father?" Arthas sweeps the platform, scanning all the figures before him. "I did it for my people!" Sadness and sorrow creeps in, consuming his face. "I did it for you!"

"The truest victory, my son…" He pauses briefly, letting the blade float down, pointing away from Arthas, "…is stirring the hearts of your people."

Swiftly the man grips Arthas, pulling the blade to the front as he does. Metal vibrates gently in the ghost's hands. The tip extends forward, clinging to the front of the Lich King's chest. A light glow hums from the blade as the two, father and son, look at each other.

Arthas flinches feebly, tears gathering at his eyes. He gazes, sorrow ridden, at the man before him, "Father, what do I do?"

The man continues, "I tell you this…" the specter shakes, ignoring his words, "…for when my days have come to an end, you shall be king."

"Father? What is this? What are you doing?"

Arms lock, muscles tense.

The men's eyes lock as a penetrating silence follows. It is there, upon the frozen throne, where an aged, ghost of a man holds his son. The same boy covered in a thick, unholy armor. The same boy that once stood proudly next to the man before him. The same boy, that was lost so long ago. It is there, upon the frozen throne, where a lost father...repays his son for all he has done.

It is then, upon a warm breeze, unlike any felt before, that the man breaks the silence. And it is with the next words, that the blade spirals forward, "Succeeding you, son."

Slicing flesh rings. Metal cracking against metal cries loudly. A blade built for one man crushes the very body of its destiny. Arms of a tyrant go limp. Gasps of air flee the dying vessel and its fractured lungs. Eyes of a father, long ago past, gaze into the fading soul of a long lost son.

"My son, this kingdom is at an end." The ghost releases his grip, letting the man fall. A large, metallic helm breaks free and clings off one step, "And with it, with this passing in time, this very day, this very moment…"

The helm bounces outwards, bouncing off of one step. Then another. Finally, it hits a third before skidding to a stop inches from me. Blue flames bellow from the helmet. A strong, overwhelming voice envelops the confine of my mind.

Hope

The dark voice calls to me as the man speaks, "The people of Lordaeron, your people, and the entirety of Azeroth triumphantly whisper the name…"

As the blade vibrates in Arthas' chest, he reaches outward, his hand directed towards me, yet not aiming at this weakened figure. He extends...for the helm...the very helm that speaks to me again...

Hope Blackwood.

Again the voice chimes, but is quickly lost as the ghostly figure turns to me, aging face locking upon my weakened form.

"It whispers the name…Hope."

In a flash, the figure vanishes. Bursting clouds of light shoot back into the spiraling pillar. The Lich king lies on his back, life escaping his form. It is there, his very blade protruding from his chest, like a metallic tombstone to a single source of a thousand souls, Arthas, the Lich King, has found peace. And Frostmourne's hunger is satiated.

It is there…where Arthas Menethil lays…dead…

Hope Blackwood, heed the call of Ner'zhul!

My eyes unwillingly divert downward. Blue fumes seep from all inches of the still glowing helm. It is what is calling to me.

The fool has rid himself from this act, and it is your turn to bring might to the Lich King!

It speaks to me…

Take the mighty helm; brace it upon your brow!

It commands me…

Together, we shall force this world to its knees!

I must do what it says. Hands extend forward, fingers stretch for my destiny…

Come, Hope Blackwood, fate has drawn you upon hollowed winds. It has strung you through a sequence of horrors unimaginable. Bask in your grand reward! As one we shall behold the true power of the Lich King!

The power…can be mine, I am weak, but together…

Yes! Wise words of a man constructed for greatness! Bear the power! Take the name...of Lich King!

My fingers vibrate upon the wind, shaking violently for that which rests only inches for me. It is so close. With it, I can regain my strength. I can...Suddenly, metal slams into metal. A large, gold plated boot appears in my vision, blocking my hands instantly. Uncontrollably I glance upward, starring at the man. This paladin, however, ignores my existence and simply gazes at the fuming construct.

He cackles oddly, "What a fool I was. To believe Arthas had shed all qualities of his humanity," Swiftly he bends over, grabs the helmet, and lifts it upwards, "Ner'zhul, true bearer of the frozen curse, I beseech you…"

Quickly he spins the metal casing, pointing the eyes away from his body. In a flash he draws the helmet of his head, letting it hover gently above his wafting, white hair.

"Let my destiny be at your side. Let my destiny be the one...to bear the curse! I beseech, you, orc!"

You must stop him! The Lich King commands…

Tirion's eyes dart to mine and he smirks, "Ner'zhul, if Arthas can banish you with ease, then I shall bury you into the farthest reaches of the nether!"

Before I can move, the shell of evil slips over the paladin's head. Blue light vanishes into the man, while plumes of holy light trickle from the slits crafted for eyes.

"You shall no longer bear hold over me or my people, orc!" Tirion shuffles across the platform, stepping over the fallen corpse of the lost Arthas, "For eternities I shall fight you. Millennia will wither upon time, but I shall not falter!"

Carefully, slowly, the man spins and slides backwards.

"Upon your glacier of damnation, upon your mighty pillar of iniquity, upon your very throne, I shall destroy you!" He glances to me, " Together, we shall be the Lich King! But alone, I will destroy the very power the name holds!"

A sudden, unexpected rumble echoes as the man skids into a hunched position. One fist grips the armrest of the icy chair, while the other grips tightly to a small, gray object. From here I can make out a small, silver weapon…a mace…

Vibrations rattle the entire structure. Spirits break wildly, spinning and rotating all above the metallic platform. Shocks of pain ripple across my flesh as I bounce uncontrollably.

"Hope!" A voice cries to me, but my eyes stay focused upon Tirion.

The man stares contently forward, thoughts riddling his mind. Five fingers grip the edges of the chair fiercely, while five others stay relaxed upon the symbol of divinity. A smirk forms beneath the diabolic cage, while spirits rise from behind his mighty throne.

"Worm, you ninny!" Fingers wrap around my arms, "This place is coming down! Gonna blow…! Whatever you want!"

Swiftly I lift to my feet, the paladin still in my sight. Resting there, I can see the man as he truly is. Resting there, I see him as the trickster he is, fooling us to the end. Resting there, I see a father, a son, and a hero. Resting there…I see Tirion Fordring, Lord of the Light.

Nathanos drags me rearward, but I cannot help but shout, "One day, Tirion, we shall meet again! We shall reminisce of better days! Of memories long past, of legendary tales!"

I quickly come to the end of the metal flooring, shaking as I do.

"And of dreams redeemed!"

I find myself tripping onto a large, wooden platform. A swift jerk clings to my legs and the object I currently stand upon shifts forward. But still, my eyes do not break from the man. From here, I can see him flinch, his dark armor glistening brightly from the moonlight. It is then, as the ship I am on takes to the air, that Tirion shouts loudly.

"Hope! I would much like that!" He bellows loudly as the flying vessel shifts from the floor and drifts outwards.

I spin around; letting the many faces of familiarity fill my sight. All the heroes stand here, all but the ones lost and buried beneath the layers of frozen mist. All the heroes stand here, say the one's lost to icy blade.

Swiftly, the giant vessel barrels from the icy platform, leaving behind the traces of two bodies, one living, one lost. Spiraling around them both is a towering mesh of souls, the many still dancing from the fight earlier. But now, it is different...

Thousands of souls break from thousands of skeletons, while many more spirits melt from the crumbling dark iron walls. They drag upwards, circling upon the breeze, orbiting to the final call of the fallen Arthas and to the sacrifice of the Tirion. Each one dances upon the air, giving thickness to the ever-darkening wall. Thousands of souls, thousands of lost people finally given resolution. And it is there...where they gather...

A barrier of white, black, and purple encompasses it all, the remaining ice pillar, the throne…the hero.

As we drift towards the mighty city of Dalaran, away from the swirling, spiraling, display of grandeur, a mighty flash belches from the core of the pillar and spreads outwards. I shield my eyes briefly as the burst reaches the ship.

Once the calm clears back in, I see a spike of solid ice rising into the sky. Souls trapped the darkness behind a barrier of their own, locking the evil from sight. They came to their final resting place, forming a thick layer of ice around the entire Frozen Throne. A spire of finally resting, gathered souls. A spire built of all the world's heroes, built for the grandest of the pack, Tirion…

I stand here, taking in what many shall be ignorant of. And as I stand here, lost in the moment and of the display of sacrifice, I feel warmth like no other. A gentle, tickling, just barely noticeable, heated breeze slaps the edges of my face and brings a smile to my face.

My mouth opens and whispers to Nathanos, "Warmth…the greatest pleasure you will find upon these shores."