Author: I intend to update this story once per month. So, here is the second chapter for your perusal. Some people have asked about time scale...think elven measurements: it's been thousands and thousands of years since the current events in WoW.

Disclaimer: Lelthas belongs to me, kinda. The rest of WoW does not.

Warning: Rated R for: Gore, Sexual Themes, Disturbing Imagery/Concepts

Chapter 2

The Howling Ziggurat

"Commanda Lelthas. We of da Eathan Ring have summin for ya."

Lelthas reclined in a chair in her room at the Tranquillien inn, her hooves propped up on an ottoman, the helm resting delicately on one of said hooves. She turned a small, crystal vial in the light, and the neon green goo contained within glowed sickly as it cast eerie patterns on her armored fingers. She could feel the decay and disease through the container and her armor, and it made her scowl.

Somehow, this concoction is making its way into the land. The plants and animals grow fat on it, and while the act of cooking seems to cleanse most of the taint, it still lingers, which is why the Sin'dorei who make their homes in the Ghostlands are...different...from the ones who come from Eversong.

Lelthas tilted the vial slightly and watched the goo slither slowly down the inside, butting up against the secure stopper that was keeping it contained.

The shaman and druids cannot figure out what is in it—just that it is evil and is what is poisoning everything.

She examined it for a few moments longer before she opened it, sniffing the contents of the vial. Her nose scrunched up and she moved it quickly away from her, regarding it with trepidation. It smelled as disgusting as it felt. But, if tests run by shaman and druids couldn't figure out what it was, and they were best with natural poisons, then the contents of the disease could 't be divined by normal methods. Perhaps a rogue? Lelthas' lips quirked in a small smirk. Doubtful. What is in here is as much disease as poison.

Lelthas regarded the vial a little longer before she sighed.

There might be a way for me to find out what's in it. But, am I willing to take the risk?

She examined the goo inside for a minute more before she shrugged delicately. "I don't think it can kill me and I'll probably know what's in it afterwards. I'm immune to most poisons, afterall," she murmured and downed the contents.

It went burning through her, making her clutch at her throat, gasping for breath, her body shivering. She had processed some rather vile forms of undeath and some very potent poisons before, but what she was dealing with was something else. It made her limbs seem ponderously heavy, and she could feel her body struggling to keep her heart beating and her lungs working. The effort, magic, and toxins that had gone into making the goo had obviously been perfected over the centuries, and even her tolerance was being stretched to the limit.

Use my power if you don't wish to die! He told her, the dark energy beckoning as salvation from her pain and possible death.

Can't, she replied tightly. But, oh, was it so would be better than the result of her dying.

But I might become something worse, she thought. Still, she didn't want to die. Options, options, options... she thought frantically.

Inspiration struck and her hands clawed out, wrapped around the hilt of her sword, and she drew on the strength she had carefully stored in it. Using that power, she managed to keep her mind and body just barely above the sickness that threatened to pull her down.

She saw the awful things that the necromancers had done over the centuries to perfect their blight, the unholy energy, distilled agony, the bodies and minds and souls that had been sacrificed in the name of undeath. She felt the necromancers' glee and the victims' pain, tasted the herbs and animal products that had been warped into something evil, knew what and who had gone into making something that seeped deep into the land and those who lived in it, and sapped away life and hope and dreams.

It was a tortuous half hour, but her body eventually neutralized the illness that had been contained in the vial she had been given.

She was trembling and actually sweating, her mouth was dry and her body ached, but in the end she counted it a success, as she hadn't died and did know what made up the blight.

You're an idiot, he told her, a scowl in his voice—although whether from what she had done or the fact that she had denied him once more she was uncertain.

Shut up, she replied weakly. I know what is contained within that now, and no-one's going to like it when I list off the ingredients to them—should they ask.

That had to be one of the stupidest things you've done.

Along with that one time with the valkyr?


She took the helm off her hooves and sat upright, her body protesting every movement. She groaned and coughed.

I think it might be worse than that time with the trapper and—

The shiver of disgust that rippled through her made Lelthas' mouth twist in a small smile. I would think you'd be happy if I died.

You are...a challenge. I want to see you give in to the power I have, not die. If you die, I will never know if you would succumb, and that would be frustrating.

Lelthas shook her head slowly and stood carefully. Her legs were trembling, and she knew that if she attempted to walk, she'd stagger, so she figured that she'd wait a little longer before going out in public. She had a very specific image to maintain.

Her fingers brushed against the pommel of her sword as she forced her disordered thoughts back to focus.

There is no antidote for that poison except to stop it at its source. It's being placed in the land—injected, probably. But where would someone be able to hide something like that? It's not exactly subtle. Deatholme, maybe? That's probably one of the hubs, but in order to disease the entire Ghostlands, there should be multiple entry points.

She tapped her chin in thought, then took a step to see if her legs would support her. When there wasn't even the slightest tremor, Lelthas made sure her sword was secured to her hip, tucked the helm under her arm, and left her room. As she walked down the flight of gently twisting stairs, she saw the activity in the inn briefly hitch before continuing. Her lips twitched slightly at the event—it appeared the Sin'dorei of Tranquillien were gaining respect for her, if ever so slowly.

She left the inn after a nod to the innkeeper and went off to find a particular rogue, eventually locating her with a colleague.

"Ivi'al," Lelthas half-purred, causing the female to jump and whirl, daggers immediately in her hands.

"You have hooves, how can you be so quiet?" the rogue hissed, flustered, as the other rogue she had been speaking to melted away into the shadows.

Lelthas merely smiled. "I have a question of you, my lovely," she purred and brushed her fingers against the Sin'dorei's cheek.

"Would you stop calling me that, and what?" the blood elf muttered, taking a few steps away and concealing her daggers on her body.

"Have you ever been inside either of the Ziggurats?" Lelthas asked as she crossed her arms over her chest.

The Sin'dorei briefly paled, and the shame that flickered across her face told Lelthas that she had indeed been inside, and had been caught, but was lucky enough to make it out alive.

"While you were there, did you see anything of note inside?"

"I never said I was in there."

"I can make my request an order," Lelthas said, catching the rogue's eyes, the tone of her voice becoming hard. "Do not leave out anything."

The Sin'dorei scowled at the ground.

"Ivi'al," Lelthas said softly, the tiniest bit of compulsion ringing in her words.

Ivi'al struggled with herself before saying: "They were all dressed alike, so it was nearly impossible to tell the difference between the men and the women. It was very dark inside, with evil runes that slithered across the walls burned into the stone. While there shouldn't have been any light, a sickly green glow clung to the edges, making it just possible to see."

"Where did the glow come from?"

"This kind of...of...muck that was in a large pool around a central pedestal where one of the crazies was chanting words that made my ears hurt."

Lelthas made a 'hm'ing sound before giving the Sin'dorei a lusty wink. "Thank you for your time, my dear."

Ivi'al snorted and vanished, obviously unsettled, and left Lelthas to her musings.

My suspicions were correct.

She turned on her hoof and made her way to where the other leaders had congregated, greeting them with an orcish salute. "I have something to discuss with you," she said solemnly. "Do you have a moment?"

The other racial leaders looked intrigued and followed Lelthas to the command center they had set up.

"Our progress down the Dead Scar has been exceptional, up to now," Lelthas said and brought up a map of the Ghostlands. Throughout the area that the Sin'dorei had reclaimed—from the edge of Eversong Woods to just above Tranquillien—they had driven the Scourge away and left the land open to healing. However, now that they had reached the edge of reclaimed land, they had hit a wall; they simply couldn't push any further, as the Scourge retaliation was ferocious enough that Lelthas didn't want to put her forces' health on the line.

That was why she had received the vial of poison from the Earthen Ring shaman—she and the other commanders had decided to search for a way to weaken the Scourge enough to break down the resistance they had mounted before they pressed on again. A high-ranking troll (who had recently become a part of their little council) had suggested that they look into the land itself—so they had, and now Lelthas had results and a plan.

The Orcish commander and the Sin'dorei both looked annoyed at the reminder of their failure to press onward. "We know this. What is your point?" the Sin'dorei stated flatly.

Lelthas inclined her head slightly. "The Earthen Ring shaman presented me with an...interesting...finding. The land is being poisoned by a substance that another Sin'dorei identified as something she had seen in the ziggurats. It is possible that if we destroy the ziggurats and whatever they contain, the lack of this poison will weaken the Scourge and help in the recovery of the Ghostlands itself."

The Sin'dorei commander sighed and played with an earring. "We've tried to shut down the them, but no-one has found the mechanism, and we've lost far too many good people on what we've determined is a suicide mission."

"So you're going to give up?" the orc commander sneered.

The Sin'dorei bristled and was about to reply when Lelthas cut in.

"It will not be a suicide mission—not this time," Lelthas asserted and the Sin'dorei snorted.

"Why? Because you are here?"

Lelthas paused and regarded the Sin'dorei thoughtfully. "You still don't fully trust me, do you?" she half-asked, half-stated. "Is it because I am a Draenei? Or is it because of my...abilities?"

"We are grateful for what you have done for us," The Sin'dorei replied, evading the question.

"While your people work with ours in the Earthen Ring, you are not like them," the Tauren leader stated. "You are...different."

Lelthas paused for a second before she spoke: "Commander Bladefist." Lelthas turned to face the orc who was now paying attention to her. "What would I have to do to prove my sincerity to your people?"

"A feat of strength," the orc answered without hesitation.

A feat of strength, hm? What can I do that I have not already done?

They are fools, he sneered.

They are cautious—I am not a normal Draenei, as Plainstalker pointed out. I am a terrifying unknown.

An idea slowly formed, and Lelthas gave it seriously consideration. Yes, yes...that might work.

He seemed amused by her plan, and while that made Lelthas uneasy, she had better things to attend to than his insanity.

She turned away from her musings and caught the eyes of the Sin'dorei commander. "Lady Dawnstrider, which poses a more potent threat to you: the Bleeding Ziggurat or the Howling Ziggurat?"

The woman frowned. "The Howling is closer to Tranquillien, so you could make a case for that being more threatening."

Lelthas nodded slowly as she fully outlined her plan in her mind, and it was only once she was sure that she could pull off what she was planning did she speak: "Elder Plainstalker, Shaman Zan'kai, Commander Bladefist, Lady Dawnstrider. Pick out one person from amongst your soldiers who you consider trustworthy and neutral in temperament towards me. They shall accompany me to the Howling ziggurat."

"What? Why?" The Sin'dorei asked on reflex.

"To prove my sincerity, I will remove the threat that the Howling Ziggurat poses—permanently. We will also see if the ziggurats are helping keeping the land diseased."

"Ya woul go wit onla one pason t' help ya?" the troll asked, obviously impressed.

"They're not going to help me. They're there to observe. When I am finished, not one soul will be left within that building, and the manner with which to shut down the devices is found."

All four leaders stared at her before the troll said what everyone was thinking: "Ya crazy." He sounded pleased.

Lelthas smiled slightly. "If I fail, then obviously I am unfit to lead you. If you receive a negative report from the one who observes me, you can choose to follow my lead or break off. If they come back with a positive report, I will have shown you that when I declared that I would rid the world of the undead, I meant it."

The Sin'dorei was obviously reeling at Lelthas' statement that she would go on a mission no sane individual would take up, but the orc and troll commanders looked as if approved of her resolution. The Tauren seemed intrigued.

"Why? Why go so far out of your way to help a people that are not your own? Who are technically enemies?" the Tauren asked.

"The Scourge are an enemy of all," Lelthas replied simply. "Now, once you pick out your person, I will be off."

Lelthas bowed to the collected leaders and walked out, her heart already beating faster, her fingers brushing against her sword's hilt.

This should be...interesting...

Lelthas wasn't looking forward to the battle up the slope to the ziggurat. She was certain that once she was inside the building that it would be easy, but getting there would be the hard part—especially because she was running low on energy. The temptation to use the soft, dark power that sung to her in the helm was very strong.

She looked at the sword in her hand and grimaced inwardly. For how good I've become, there are still times when I fail to consider all the ramifications of an action.

Lelthas looked over at the druid she had been assigned and nodded. "Remember—you are here to observe. Do nothing to aid me. Of course, should you desire to take down a few enemies yourself, I would not be adverse to it, but do not help me."

The Troll nodded and in the blink of an eye, Lelthas found herself looking at a rather large cat—with tusks, she was amused to find.

Lelthas turned to the slope that loomed before them. It wasn't too bad, all things considered. It seemed as if the necromancers had grown cocky from how well they had repelled her force's movement down the Dead Scar, and they sure as the Nether didn't expect a single person to try and assault them in their seat of power.

Well, Wei always said I was crazy, she thought idly before charging up the slope.

She pulled a number of ghouls to her, and laid down a circle of burning, bubbling energy that crawled up the undead and blew them apart, scattering the field with chunks of smoldering flesh and drawing the attention of caster-Scourge to her while alerting the necromancers inside to her presence.

Afterall, it wouldn't be fun to just sneak in and do what needed doing—she needed to scare the necromancers, as that would make them less likely to make prudent decisions.

She threw out a thread of icy energy that snaked around one of the casters, freezing it so abruptly that it fell apart, bones no longer held together by whatever unholy design had kept them connected.

A flicker of power superheated the liquid that ran through the abominations, bursting them at the seams, rancid ichor and half-decayed organs sloshing out onto the ground around them. In their blind obedience, the Scourge kept on seeking her, and she kept on sending them to a final rest, the energy that animated them flowing steadily to her and her sword.

Her approach sent some necromancers out to meet her, their leader presumably hoping that they would be able to stop her in her tracks by outnumbering and overpowering her. Initially, the number of casters was a problem; however, working on the assumption that magic was just energy and her sword absorbed energy, she took to swatting at any shadow-bolts and non-curses with her sword—and was pleased when her sword indeed absorbed the magical energy.

At least I have one way of combatting their magic, if not their curses.

As she worked up the slope to the Howling Ziggurat, the resistance became more focused and intense, gaining a surprised and desperate air to it. Lelthas knew she had been injured, both by Scourge and spells, but the injuries just...didn't matter. The energy she was collecting was healing her as fast as she was being hurt, and with the exhilaration flooding through her, her wounds were a secondary concern.

Mangled, warped limbs fell to the ground with wet, sloppy thuds amidst the more solid percussion of what had once been living—and Lelthas used the term loosely with regard to necromancers—beings fell to the corrupted forest floor. Lelthas interrupted the gathering of shadows around a necromancer's hands by sending chilling energy through her to break her concentration, and the second of hesitation was all Lelthas needed to neatly cut the woman apart at the waist, the fabric of the cloth robe she had worn stained dark with blood and gore from ruptured organs as she fell to the ground with a cry of pain and desperation. Lelthas crushed the necromancer's skull under her iron-shod hoof and her sword absorbed the soul that vacated the husk before she moved to block the heavy, uncoordinated swing of an axe from an abomination. Her muscles quivered under the brute strength, but she threw the monster off her and let loose a blast of hungering cold, freezing all those around her in solid blocks of ice. She took the brief moment of respite to down a health potion before she struck out with her sword, cutting at the hearts and cores of all those who surrounded her, pulling away bright balls of blue energy from the Scourge and wispier trails of souls from the bodies that fell to the ground amidst the frost that had formed.

She laughed at the curse that wracked her body, shaking off the pain. Before, when she had been working on merely Scourge-energy, it had been an issue—now, with souls feeding her and her blade...well, things were different. She pulled the necromancer who had cast it to her before cutting the man's head off, blood spurting out of the stump of his neck, the liquid invisible against her black armor, his soul drawn into her sword, making her shiver as he was absorbed into the blade.

Any necromancer who tried to run from her—and there were quite a few—were frozen in place until Lelthas could attend to them, cutting them down mercilessly, their deaths painful and efficient so as to replenish her energy and remove the threat they posed as quickly as possible. The bright glow of the runes on her sword were tinged purple from all the blood and gore that coated her blade as she finally entered the Ziggurat itself.

A lesser being than she would have been surprised and thrown off by the magnitude of the malignance and power that bristled against her as she entered the building—it was a significant defense, and would have been effective against weaker-willed opponents. Lelthas brushed its influence on her mind aside, and her sword glowed brightly as it absorbed the magical energy fueling the spell.

The caster on the other end of the spell must have caught on quickly, as she soon found that the oppressive nature of the spell had vanished. Lelthas' lips quirked in a small, feral smile, and in a language long dead, she whispered in a voice that was-and-was-not her own two words that dripped with hunger and savage glee before she continued into the building. She walked around it clockwise until she came to the main central chamber, her sword singing with the need for more.

Inside were four dead necromancers, with one...Lelthas wasn't sure what to call the caster that stood in the midst of the sickly-glowing death-tainted liquid that the necromancers utilized to keep the Ghostlands under the thrall of undeath. He had obviously wrenched the lives of the four dead casters away to supplement his own power, becoming a sort of...super-necromancer?

Doesn't matter, Lelthas thought with a mental shrug.

Lelthas quickly closed the distance between them, and before the caster had a moment to even start to gather power to cast a spell, Lelthas claimed his life, and, through him, four others.

Five souls for the price of one, hm? She thought, amused, as the runes on her blade flared as the life from the body behind her dwindled.

The runes on her sword pulsed in time to her heartbeat, the only light within the dim, dank confines. It was a cold, comforting glow, one that was thick with contained power, beautiful and seductive. Her sword hadn't been satiated on mortal souls for quite some time—it was a welcome change of pace, to not have the gnawing reminder that if she didn't keep it supplied with energy and souls that her soul would be the next thing to go. As she was very attached to her soul, if others had to die for her survival...well, that was the way of the world, was it not?

But, she wasn't quite finished.

There is no way to shut off this gook that I can see here. Which means that the mechanism is somewhere else.

Lelthas scoured the entry and the walls before returning to the central pedestal, her hoof lightly tapping the floor as she thought thought. After a moment, she stepped up the ramp and knelt, then ran her hands slowly and carefully over the altar, using the dead body of the necromancer as cushion for her kneels as she bent low to find any kind of switch.

She had to push the dead man off into the muck before she found a very small switch, carefully and thoroughly concealed deep within the structure. She pressed it and a section of wall came off from behind her. She smirked faintly, stood, turned, and entered the revealed hallway.

The narrow corridors and dark, dank power that pulsed through the place served only to make Lelthas seem more than mortal, more than even a monster, as her eyes and sword glowed dangerously. She didn't have to expend any energy to freeze those she came across in place—her mere presence did that well enough. She was careful to find all the hidden places, and killed those she discovered within. It took some time, but she eventually discovered the secret that would turn off the glowing death that circulated through the building.

You would think they'd be more creative, Lelthas thought dryly. Then again, not many people like me come along to do what must be done—the Sin'dorei would certainly have balked at the method.

After a little more searching, Lelthas cornered a necromancer who would be more than sufficient for her purposes. The man threw his considerable power at her, but Lelthas was able to weather it long enough for her to cut off his hands and break his knees, sending him falling to the floor in a twitching pile of agony. She picked him up by his hair and dragged him behind her as she sought the exit.

When she finally surfaced from the underground labyrinth, her steps left bloody hoof-prints in her wake and she could taste blood and fear on her lips as her sword hung loosely beside her. She took the man she had been pulling along behind her and threw him onto the pedestal in the center of the glowing goo. He attempted to scramble off the ledge, but a brief burst of energy had him ensconced in icy chains, preventing him from running away.

Lelthas walked up to him and gazed at the panic-stricken face that was revealed to her. He was relatively young, and crazed with the need for power—and considering how addictive necromancy was, Lelthas wasn't surprised at how twisted he had become. Lelthas loomed over him and licked her lips.

"For the good of all," she whispered before she ripped his heart out, letting the still twitching muscle fall into the goo that surrounded her. The glow died as the blood and soul of the necromancer were released into it, the muck fading to become a dark black sludge that clogged the drain and smelled horribly. Lelthas delicately wrinkled her nose and turned around, her hoofsteps echoing oddly in the contained space.

Once she was sure no soul was left in the construct, she exited to find the Troll druid regarding her with something between disgust and intrigue.

Lelthas flicked some blood off her sword and hands before she and looked at the tall female. "Have I proven myself?"

The Troll nodded slowly, warily. "Ya done what ya say ya wou'."

Lelthas inclined her head and gave the druid a small smile. "Well, then. Shall we return?"

Lelthas was picking remains of undesirable substances out of her hooves when the Sin'dorei commander found her.

"Lady Dawnstrider," Lelthas greeted as she picked a piece of something-or-other out from between the iron she had attached to the bottom of her hooves and her hoof. "How are you doing?"

"The people of Tranquillien are grateful that you chose to clean yourself outside of the town," she said dryly, making Lelthas smother a snicker.

"It's the least I could do," Lelthas replied as she managed to get a particularly stubborn piece of something free. She looked up at the commander and tilted her head slightly. "But there is more you wish to speak of."

The Sin'dorei regarded Lelthas for a long moment before her shoulders slumped. "You really did it," the female whispered, her fel green eyes defeated. "You did something alone that so many of our own people have failed to do," she half-spat.

Lelthas paused in her actions, then pushed herself to her feet and drew the sword out of the ground beside her, where she had planted it.

"My lady," Lelthas started, holding the sword horizontal to the ground, resting in her spread palms, displaying the runes and structure clearly for the blood elf to observe. "All my life, I have trained to fight the Scourge. Everything that I am, everything that I have, is for the sole purpose of ridding Azeroth of all the Scourge."

Lelthas paused. "Your people have families, have friends and lives outside of being warriors, or paladin, or mages, am I right? They have interests and dreams and other reasons for living?"

The woman slowly nodded, waiting to see where Lelthas was going.

"I do not. My interests, my dreams, my reason for living is to cleanse this world of undeath." Lelthas turned her sword slightly, the light glinting coldly off it. "If you turned your mind, your body, your entire being to one goal, one purpose...surely you'd be able to do things no-one else could in that one realm. I know nothing else."

Lelthas planted her sword in the ground again, resting her fingers lightly on the hilt, tracing the curve of the horns that twined around it. "That is why I can do what I do."

The Sin'dorei looked troubled as Lelthas sat back down and began to clean the blood off her armor, and the cloth she was using quickly became dark red. "Really?" the commander asked.

Lelthas slowly shook her head. "I am an instrument of cleansing destruction. That is all."

"Is that all you want?"

Lelthas shrugged slightly. "I want Azeroth to be free again. For people to no longer worry about someone misusing their body once their spirit is gone, or, even worse, enslaving their spirit."

"What will you do if you achieve your goal? If there are no longer any Scourge?"

Lelthas smiled slightly. "I will deal with it when that day comes. For now, I will focus on my resolution."

The blood elf commander became thoughtful. "It doesn't matter to you, does it? Who you're helping?"

"The Scourge is the enemy of all," Lelthas replied. She looked up from her work and caught the Sin'dorei's eyes. "But I am glad to be helping you, as I was glad to help the Tauren, and the Trolls, and the Orcs." The statement was only partially true, but Lelthas had become very adept at lying.

"Will you be equally so when you return to the Alliance?"

Lelthas smiled faintly. "Of course."

The Sin'dorei blinked.

"Do you trust my good intentions now? I will not abandon you or your people," Lelthas said and disposed the rag she had been using, it too darkly stained to be of any further use.

Silence reigned for a moment as Lelthas searched out a new rag before a soft sigh floated through the air. "The shaman and druids are already saying that the land 'feels lighter', even though only one of the ziggurats is gone" the lady confessed. "You will not abandon us. Where do you plan on going, after you succeed here?"

Lelthas smirked inwardly at the Lady's statement of her inevitable victory. "The Plaguelands."

The commander was obviously about to say something more, but was drawn away by a call from one of her soldiers. Lelthas inclined her head in parting as the female left, then smiled smugly at the ground as she worked a particularly stubborn clot of one substance or another off of her armor.

As she cleaned, she found her mind drifting.

She stood in an icy, secluded cavern in the midst of a frozen wasteland, looking at the weapon she had laid out before her.

She placed a hand over her heart and took a deep breath. "Is this really what you want?" she asked herself aloud, but the waiting silence gave her no answer.

Do you want to rid this world of the Scourge? He whispered to her.

She pulled on one of her neck-tentacles gently, the gesture nervous. "I do," she replied.

Then you must remake me.

She closed her eyes and whispered, "For the good of all."

She shook her head to clear it of the memories and looked at the sword beside her. Blood-stained fingers gently brushed against the runes that trailed down the blade, before she turned back to her armor.

The past is the past, she said. All that matters is the future.

She was glad that he wasn't bothering her, and felt his lack of comment was unsurprising—the more souls the blade consumed, the less of an influence he became. She assumed that the energy absorbed through the souls acted as a kind of barrier between them, keeping her mind mostly her own for however long the soul-energy lasted. It gave her a clear head with which to think and plan.

She worked some gook free from the chinks in her gloves, taking care not to cut herself. She didn't know what could be contained in the blood and ichor that her gloves had accumulated throughout the battle.

I'm glad they chose to send a druid with me, she thought idly. A shaman would have seen my sword absorb souls—spirits—which would not have gone over well. It seems I have some measure of luck.

She put one glove down, and her hand hesitated over the next before picking it up. I will wait a day for the shaman and druids. Then, we shall go after the other Ziggurat and Windrunner Spire. After that, we recover and then clean out the former troll villages. Only once the Ghostlands proper are free of undead will we attack the Dead Scar again—and then Deatholme.

She rubbed her eyes with one hand, not minding the blood that was smeared across her alabaster skin. So many details.

You could just bypass all this nonsense if—

Go away, she said tiredly. I don't need your 'advice' right now. There is only so much time—the Sin'dorei and I may be particularly long-lived, but support dwindles quickly. I must act now, and your comments do not help the situation any.

More power would make things move faster.

It would also make people suspicious.

And they aren't after your trip to the Ziggurat?

They are in awe of me right now. I will use that.

Lelthas put the glove down only half-finished and massaged her legs. It had been a long fight, no matter how easy it may have been, and all the action was taking its toll on her and her body. Still, it mattered little in comparison to what she had achieved.

"Commander Lelthas?"

Lelthas looked up, her eyes settling on a Sin'dorei priest of the Light, who was obviously torn between curiosity and apprehension. Lelthas gave him her best reassuring, 'you-can-relax-around-me' smile and replied, "My Lord Sunsorrow. To what do I owe this honor?"

The blood elf obviously squashed the desire to preen, and instead asked, "Are you injured? It was...difficult to tell when you first returned."

Lelthas gave him a small, apologetic smile. It would have been hard to tell, considering all the gore she had been drenched in. "I understand. As you can see, however," she gestured to herself, clad in only white linen breeches and a shirt, "I am unharmed."

It seemed that her statement only served to make him uneasy.

He expects me to be injured somewhere, she thought, amused. It will make me seem more accessible. Hmmm...

"I have been feeling a little woozy, though—it's entirely possible that some poison entered my system. Would you mind taking a look?" she asked and extended a hand to him.

The priest took it carefully, obviously trying to not get the blood that was on her fingers on his own hand, and closed his eyes.

Lelthas felt the familiar tingle of the Light crawl across her skin and sighed happily. Even as disconnected as she was from it, feeling it so near reminded her of from where she had come and who she had been.

And how far you have fallen.

Shut up.

The priest pulled away, frowning slightly. "You do have some poison in your system—you'll have to see a druid to cleanse it. I've healed all the other minor injuries you picked up, although you should watch your heart. It beats...strangely."

Strangely? "Thank you, my Lord. I will keep that in mind. How are you doing? Have you been kept safe during this campaign?"

"Our warriors are quite adept," he answered.

Translation: We don't need the other Horde races—we would be doing fine on our own.

"Good, good. I'm glad. I apologize for the delay in reclaimed your homeland."

"It is inevitable—the Scourge are quite strong," he replied, but a brief, fierce look passed across his face.

Translation: Hurry it up already! You did it in Eversong, now do it here.

"How are your colleagues doing?" she asked as she worked a piece of some sort of flesh from her hoof.

"We have lost some very good friends—but we are resolute."

Translation: Someone who was really important to me—perhaps a family member or a lover?—died in the conflict. I will get vengeance on the Scourge for him/her.

Lelthas let the conversation wander between a number of topics, making note of the subtle discontents and points of pride, knowing those would be good, for it gave her insight into at least the Sin'dorei psyche.

"I'm sure you have other duties to attend to," Lelthas said as the conversation was dying, picking up the glove she had abandoned. "I'm sorry for monopolizing your time."

"It was no matter," he murmured, and Lelthas could tell even he was surprised by the sincerity.

"We will persevere," Lelthas said in way of parting and a promise as he left, he looking quite thoughtful.

He has given me much to think about, she mused. Including the depth of my power. I will have to cut back.

She sighed deeply and ended up smearing blood through her hair as she ran her fingers through the bone-white strands. It may slow the progress, but it will be necessary to retain faith.

I thought you said people were in awe of you, and would therefore listen?

There is a fine line to tread between awe and fear—awe is good; fear is not.

She put down the cleaned glove and looked at the helm that was staring at her from its place beside her sword, the empty sockets seeming to look right back at her.

It was damningly beautiful, the power that washed over her. She gasped and shivered as it trickled down to her soul, seeping into her very being.

It was all she had been looking for and more.

"Lok'tar Ogar," she whispered under her breath before pulling over her breastplate and running her hands over the intricate patterns that swirled across the surface. "I will succeed. And once I am done, Azeroth will be changed forever."