Author's Note: Slightly slashy Tirion/Darion. It can be interpreted as slash or friendship, whatever you prefer, although there are some rather slashy undertones that are almost impossible to ignore. Yes, Tirion is like 60 (mid-late 50s?), but I'd still totally tap that (I'm 26) in a heartbeat. Tirion is a bit of a jerkass since the end of WOTLK, especially if you've done all his new Silver Hand quests or whatever. He even lets you think you're going to be punished for killing a traitor to the Silver Hand until the end of a long questline. Damn, you, Tirion! Strange Tirion/A'dal slash (?) mentioned. For those who don't read much quest text, Matthias Lehner is Arthas Menethil aka the Lich King. Its an anagram of Arthas Menethil. Hah. Blizzard likes anagrams. First Matthias, then Murozond...
Angels Fall First
I´ll never understand the meaning of the right
Ignorance lead me into the Light
Sing me a song
Of your beauty
Of your kingdom.
Tirion Fordring paced the halls of Mardenholde, restlessly. Now that the Lich King was taken care of, the Argent Crusade almost seemed to have no place in the world. Fighting dragons, fighting corrupt humans...it was all well and good, but for so long his mind had been focused on fighting the Scourge, undead minions of darkness. Without a darkness to fight, the paladin was restless.
Inducting new members into the service of the Crusade became tiresome after awhile. One adventurer had even rooted out treachery beneath his very nose. Tirion was nearly useless, at least that was the way he felt.
He'd made several trips to Shattrath and the Exodar, to commune with those closest to the Light, the naaru, but they only responded to his questions with even more questions. The naaru were irritatingly ambiguous when it came to giving straight answers.
Still, he couldn't be annoyed with the naaru, not after the last gift they'd given him. A chance to speak with his wife and child once more, a chance to apologize and see that they were taken care of.
A'dal had previously gifted him with new armor. Perhaps he was hasty in calling it new, as it was merely an upgraded version of his Lightbringer. He rarely removed the armor except for cleaning and sleeping. One did not take the gifts of the Light for granted.
He eventually came to his bedchambers. It was dark and the paladin felt it was likely time for sleep. As of late, he'd not felt the need or desire to sleep much. Still, it was a ritual that kept him going for another day. While asleep, there was no restlessness. Just soothing calm, and dreams of Light-blessed paradise.
Tirion unclasped his armor and put on bedclothes, or at least tried to. A'dal had not explained how his new armor worked and he had been unable to remove the shimmering golden wings that seemed permanently attached to his back now. Which made putting on anything other than the Light-blessed armor hard or impossible.
The paladin eventually gave up trying to put on clothing that wasn't naaru-plate and climbed into bed naked. As a devout paladin of the Light, sleeping naked wasn't something he preferred, but it was the best he could do for now, and no one would disturb him this time of night.
Tirion was proven wrong as he heard a knock at the door of his bedchamber. Oh, for Light's sake! Who could it be at this hour, and why must I be naked? Tirion said a few choice words NOT sanctioned by the Argent Crusade or the Light and got out of bed and cracked the door a bit to talk to the person on the other side.
Ugh. One of his servants. What could he possibly want?
"Yes? As you can tell, it is late and I am attempting sleep." His reply was unnecessarily gruff, and he immediately regretted it, but it was late and he was attempting sleep...
The servant shuffled a bit, apparently a little scared of the normally quiet and kind paladin's harsh manner.
"There is someone here to see you, milord. He says he's with you in some sort of alliance called the Ashen Verdict. Fordring, milord, he is undead...a Death Knight. Should I rally the Crusade and have him driven out? It was only because he said he was with you that we even allowed the monstrosity to enter our sanctum..."
Tirion frowned at this. An Ashen Verdict member coming here? The Death Knights normally stayed away from Fordring's home, probably afraid of retribution from those who had not witnessed how Darion Mograine himself had led the battle against the Lich King and his redemption at Light's Hope.
"No...if the Death Knight says he is with the Verdict, allow him entry. Tell him I will wait here, unless it is dire, if so, call upon me again and I shall meet with him in the main hall."
The servant bowed from what little Tirion could see through the crack in the door and vanished. The paladin closed the door and donned his armor once again. It wouldn't do him any good whatsoever to have a Death Knight see him naked in bed. He made his bed meticulously and sat in a nearby chair, waiting for the servant's return with his guest.
A short while later, the servant returned with the Death Knight in tow. To Tirion's surprise, it was none other than Darion Mograine himself. The leader of the Ebon Blade had had little contact with the Highlord lately, and this was truly a surprise. Of course, not a bad one...they had their differences, certainly, but Darion was still, at heart, an honorable man. It was circumstance, and love, that drove him to become what he was today. Just as Tirion's adamant honor was the reason he was where he was today, and who he was today. Tirion had been driven by honor, Darion by love. Two both very good reasons to defeat evil.
"Darion. To what do I owe the pleasure of this late-night visit?" Tirion said this quite curiously, because with the Lich King defeated, there really was no reason for their alliance to remain.
"Just...wondering about some things, Tirion. Questions, perhaps..." Darion trailed off.
Tirion stared fixedly at him. "Another paladin could not answer your questions? It must certainly be me?"
"Highlord, you're the only one who...well, other than my father, you're the only one who has ever been the Ashbringer. And my father never cared to explain much about the Light to us."
"The Ashbringer...? Are you wanting the sword BACK, Darion? The sword rebelled against you in my presence. I purified it with a touch when you threw it to me...the sword chose me, if anything. I am not saying it shouldn't rightfully be yours-" Tirion was rudely interrupted by Darion.
"No, Ashbringer. I don't question your ownership of the sword! I know I'm not...worthy. The sword chose you, not the original Ashbringer's own son...I understand that. I...died for him. Died for love. I still remember the words on my lips when I plunged the blade into my chest in front of Kel'thuzad, thinking it would free us all. Save us all..." Darion closed his eyes, remembering that day.
Tirion nodded slightly. "Only an act of love greater than that act of evil...yes, I remember. The day you told me to 'be a hero' and join the Argent Dawn. The day I outright refused. I acted dishonorably...had I joined the Dawn earlier, so many may still live...is that why you came here? To call me on my past sins?" Tirion was defensive now. He had come to terms with the sins of his past, and no longer paid them any heed. If the Light forgave him, who was he to not forgive himself?
Darion sighed. Sometimes Tirion was so damn stubborn. Great paladin of Light, Supreme Commander of the Crusade or not, arrogant and stubborn, was that damn man.
"No, Tirion, I've not. I don't...care, anymore. You freed the souls with your words. When I said 'I love you, Dad' and plunged the sword into my heart, willing to die without fighting it, I understood everything. Then I came back. Back from death. And I didn't understand. I nearly died when I was younger, and a light...I think, THE Light, guided me back to Azeroth...but why did I come back after I was so ready and willing to die?"
Tirion's previous anger vanished almost immediately. A Light question...of course. Tirion could answer that. Easily.
"You already know. The Scourge revived you as one of them, a Death Knight. But thats not what you're really asking. You're asking why, after all the evil you committed, why the Light allows you to live...and yes, you do live, even if your heart doesn't beat." Tirion reached out a hand and placed it over the Death Knight's chest, where his heart would have been beating had he been alive.
Darion gripped Tirion's unplated hand with his own gloved one and used it to move aside the thick black cloak he wore. Tirion's hand connected with the cold, pallid flesh and a wound that had never healed.
"The wound that made me what I am today. I carry with me the evil of that lich every day of my life. I feel it here, where my heart should be, even if it never beat. I don't have a heart, Tirion. It was broken the day I died for my father and became a monster. When Kel'thuzad asked who I loved, I said 'No one'. Kel'thuzad laughed. He broke my heart and my life. Monsters can't love. Evil can't love."
Tirion knew the Death Knight no longer felt pain from the sword-wound that had claimed his life and merely pressed harder on the Death Knight's chest. "You came back because the Light willed it. If you had not, would the Lich King have been defeated? Would the Ashen Verdict have come into being? Would the Death Knights have joined the Alliance and Horde? No, Darion. They all have a chance at redemption because of your great heart, your great love and desire to give up all for love. I gave up all for honor, but it is similar."
Tirion slid his hand down Darion's chest a bit. "Don't think you can't love, Darion. After Karandra and Taelan died, I thought I was incapable of love after so much loss. I thought I was evil. That my honor was evil, was selfishness. I became a pariah, hunted by my own kind, hated even. When Isilien claimed Taelan's last breath, I knew I was wrong. The Light came to me with a fire I'd never known before. I struck down Isilien before he could get a step further from my son's body. I may never love another mortal being again, but that doesn't mean I am incapable of love."
Darion stared at Tirion quizzically. "Mortal? What do you speak of, Fordring?"
Tirion sighed and put both hands on Darion's shoulders, no longer touching his chest. "I will never love another woman, Darion. I am too old for that. Too old and too dangerous...too many people, too many things...want me dead, and I wouldn't put a woman through that. They could use her against me, and I would never pit a helpless woman against all the forces of evil in Azeroth."
"Never love a mortal woman...that doesn't rule out all chances of love, Ashbringer..."
"It doesn't matter Darion. My love, my honor, my life, is with the Light now. Nothing and no one else. Always the Light."
Darion understood and pulled away from Tirion now, shrugging off the man's hands that were still tightly gripping his shoulders.
"Do you regret it, Tirion? Do you wish destiny had been different for you? That you still lived here, in Mardenholde, but with your wife, child, and possibly grandchildren instead of alone as the Supreme Commander of the Argent Crusade?"
Tirion shook his head adamantly. "No, Darion. Not in the least. As A'dal explained to me, had Taelan and Karandra not died, thousands more would have. The sacrifice saved the lives of thousands. The lives of two are as nothing to the lives of thousands, to the life of Azeroth itself. Do you regret what you did, Darion?"
The Death Knight was silent for a long moment before nodding ever so slightly. "Yes. Every day of my unlife, I regret it. I think on all the circumstances that I could have changed, should have changed...just one small event going a different way might have made it so it could be me with the Ashbringer today, me who defeated the Lich King and shattered Frostmourne with a single blow. Arthas was evil, no doubt, but still...he wasn't beyond redemption. We saw that, Tirion. As he died, he saw his crimes laid out before him, all of them, and knew remorse for his evil."
Tirion shook his head. "Arthas was beyond redemption. Even as the souls of those he killed flew out of his shattered sword, he still fought, still screamed epithets. It wasn't until we killed the Lich King that Arthas Menethil was free. Killing the Lich King was the only way to redeem Arthas, and Arthas was, without a doubt, the Lich King. Matthias Lehner was the last of Arthas Menethil that remained. I killed that part of him when I destroyed the stone, the heart. It nearly killed me, its true, but what is death compared to a piece of the Lich King's soul? I was prepared to die there. I didn't and we fled. I lived, thanks to you, Darion."
"Had I died there, after the destruction of the last piece of his soul, we would have lost. Arthas would be leading the world's greatest army of Death Knights across Azeroth in a path of destruction like never before. Do not regret your actions, Darion. Those actions were the actions of a hero and a son. A son who loved his father and was ready and willing to die for him. Regret nothing, Ebon Watcher."
Tirion softly turned Darion to face him and kissed him softly on the cheek. "The Light knows everything you've ever done. The Light is taking care of your father and all the souls you freed in Light's Hope Chapel with your act of love. The Light...the Light does not abandon its champions. The Light never left you, even when you became a Death Knight."
"Perhaps you are right, Ashbringer...when the heroes of the Alliance brought me my father's soul shard from the broken pieces of Frostmourne...I was able to speak with him. He told me that the only thing that allowed him to keep his sanity while within the sword was my love and sacrifice. Thank you, Ashbringer. Tirion Fordring. Perhaps I will be able to find redemption at last."
The old man nodded at the younger Death Knight. "Only you truly know if what you've done is right. To quote an old friend, its our choices that make us who we are. You don't have to find redemption. You've already been granted it."
Darion and Tirion gazed at each other one last time before the Death Knight gave him a small smile from beneath his dark hood and turned and exited the room.
Tirion gazed after him a long while.
A familiar Light lit up the slightly darkened room, eclipsing the candles in the sconces by his bed.
Why do you think I chose you, Ashbringer? You bring hope and redemption to those who think they do not deserve it. Your words and actions are part of something you don't yet understand. When you redeemed yourself, you bought the chance for so many others to be redeemed as well.
A'dal's familiar form lit up his bedchamber. The Naaru and Tirion had become quite close in recent days, even though all A'dal did was answer Tirion's questions with even more questions. He had still given the paladin this armor, still given him Taelan and Karandra's last visit. Tirion felt a fondness for this Naaru that he hadn't felt since he'd been with Karandra, something that greatly unnerved him, but something that he knew the Naaru had to be fine with since he said and did nothing about it except try and make Tirion more and more like one of them.
"I know, A'dal. And still, I thank you for what you've done for me, for what you've given me. Redemption."
You never truly needed redemption, Tirion. You only thought you did. When you realized you didn't, that's when you became something more than human, more than a paladin. The Light doesn't just answer you, Tirion, it is inside you. It is who you are.