An Acolyte of Zero
The Lich King ordered, and he strived to obey.
His flesh was pale, sickly grey. The loose purple and black robes covered his entire frame, safe for a bit of his face —even that half-covered by a thick blue scarf. A long wavy dagger was tied to the sash at his belt, a pouch containing a few ointments and poisons tinkled against it with every step he took.
He had no need for more. His mortal life gifted to the Cult of the Damned, his eternal soul bound by the shackles of ice and magic that the Lich King possessed.
Once, he had been a man, a father of a beautiful girl, a husband of a wonderful wife, a devoted son of a kind mother and proud father. Then the sickness spread through the fields of wheat, and one by one they left him alone.
The Cult found him next, and offered him a chance for revenge.
He knew, in his fever-maddened brain, that it made no sense for Lordaeron to be responsible. Why not blame the cult? Why not blame those who brought the plague?
Because they were but hands guided by the despair wrought upon their very bodies, because they were victims, just like him.
He was one of the lucky, of the blessed. He had been part of the Lich King's own retinue, of his own force. He had called forth powerful Necropolis from thin nothingness, erected mines from the ground to grasp at the precious minerals needed. He had been there, to dig out corpses from the cemetery and turn them to the cause of the Undead.
He then moved to the retinue of Kel'Thuzad, the great Lich. He had no name though. He had no rank, nothing that made him different from his other brothers or sisters. Some, the very blessed, became Shades.
He wondered if such an honour would befall him too, if ever the need arose for another to walk in the sacrificial pits.
At his fingertips was the power to bring forth from the Beyond the magnificent structures of the Scourge, but he would give it all away in exchange for even a fleeting instant as a Shade, a creature of perfection in its death.
It was as he trudged upon the chiselled ice of one of Naxxramas' many corridors that he heard a voice. It was feminine, no older than a child's and speaking strange words he could not understand.
He curled his lips in disgust. There were no children in Naxxramas. No child would survive the cold, nor would he or she be able to live so close to the blessed frozen chill of Kel'Thuzad.
The voice of the child grew stronger with each passing moment. Maybe an experiment? Maybe an abomination or a Ghoul who recalled something of its past life pleaded to its captor, or maybe it was just the howling wind so high in the sky that made his ear hear that which was not possible.
He stilled a few steps after.
There was a perfect green oval in front of him. He clasped his arms tightly, letting them disappear beneath his the long and wide sleeves of his robes as he walked forward.
Someone summoned his assistance from the Great Beyond. He knew the pain would be immense, but that was how the Lich King summoned to assist.
His steps landed him in the middle of tall luscious green grass. The light sheen of frost on his clothes melted away beneath the sun of a normal spring day, as the drops of water fell on the ground in little dribbles. His eyes, dark and uncaring, settled on his surroundings.
There were wizards eying him carefully. He looked back at them with an equal amount of distrust and of scorn. They all seemed healthy. It was so wrong. Was this not Stratholme? Where did the Lich King summon him?
Their tongue was strange, foreign to his ears. He looked around for a moment. No whispers reached his ears on buildings to call forth. No orders barked near him to summon a Crypt, or to haunt a mine for other like him to work.
This was not —it could simply not be— Lordaeron. Where then, had he ended?
A pink haired girl, wearing a black mantle and a white shirt beneath, trudged forward with a visibly angered face. He carefully slid his hand towards his dagger, but stilled midway. The girl gesticulated, screamed at him even, but he could not draw the blade to silence her permanently.
She huffed, and then gestured for him to descend to her level.
Was she asking him to kneel in front of her?
He scoffed. Where was the Death Knight? The Lich? The Dreadlord? Even a Crypt Lord would have been a strong enough Hero to follow.
The little girl seemed to take affront to his scoffing, and grabbed his robes to pull him down. He refused…
…and he backhanded her.
She fell on the ground in a heap, her hands clenching the grass as tears began to pool in her eyes. He locked eyes with the nearing wizard, who spoke once more in that foreign tongue of theirs. He looked particularly angered, but for what reason, he could not comprehend.
It was then that a light of understanding dawned into the brain of the bald wizard, and his gaze lingered for a moment from the girl to him.
He said something to the girl, who stood up massaging her cheek. There was a red welt forming where he had hit her. He scoffed once more. The troubles of having living flesh —of being healthy and with a beating heart that never stopped…if not occasionally…he did not have them.
The girl gestured to him and then to her. He raised an eyebrow, watching her turn a shade of red as she puckered her lips, as if to initiate a kiss. She pointed at him next.
Around them, he could hear the laughter of the other children, all pointing and yelling things in that strange language of theirs.
This was extremely against protocol.
He was supposed to receive orders; be they ranging from erecting a Necropolis to Cursing a Mine to serve the Scourge…He wasn't supposed to kiss a brat too young for his tastes.
Not that he had any tastes. The sicknesses that permeated his body and prepared him from glorious undeath stripped away the mortal wants from his entire body.
He still ate, but most of it was out of habit rather than actual need.
He looked around for a mine, leaving completely befuddled the still 'puckered-lips' girl. Why wasn't there a mine nearby? Was he there for no reason? Gold, Lumber…there was nothing around him.
He began to walk.
The girl screeched something in her strange language, looking positively affronted. He ignored her. There had to be a mine nearby.
He didn't have the starting resources. They always summoned him with the starting resources. It was part of the protocol.
Without the protocol, how else had the Scourge managed to conquer Azeroth?
Even though some minor places still resisted, it was clear the Scourge would conquer the entire world.
If he had looked back, he would have seen the older mage shake his head at the young girl's pleads, before seeing said pink haired wizard charge at him.
Since he hadn't looked back, he was utterly unprepared for the flying tackle that flung him on the ground or for the fact that the girl was now pushing his blue scarf down to expose his lips.
She made a face of disgust, but kissed him all the same while pointing her wand at him.
The next moment, he pushed her off and prepared to slice her neck with his dagger.
He stilled just as the blade was about to reach her flesh, as he ground his teeth and screamed in anger and pain while his hand began to burn from the sensation of…of something being branded on his skin.
"Miss Vallière!" he heard as he gritted his teeth and removed his dagger from her throat.
"Ah…Ah…I did it," the girl mumbled in a tongue he could now understand. "Stupid commoner, to…"
"Acolyte," he hissed back, surprising both the girl and the older wizard —their surprise was visible on their faces. "I am an Acolyte of the Scourge, and you are not following protocol. Where is the Ghoul? Where are two of my fellow acolytes? Where is the Mine and where is the Necropolis?"
"Listen here! I have no idea what you're talking about!" the girl exclaimed. "I am Louise le Blanc Françoise de la Vallière! You're my familiar, I summoned you and you have to serve me!"
"Don't be silly." The Acolyte grumbled back. "You're not a Death Knight; you're not a Lich or a Dreadlord. Clearly, you're not even a Cryptlord. If you summoned me here, where is your steed then? Where is the rest of the army? Where is the call of Ner'zhul? Is this cursed ground in your opinion? You call this cursed?" he stomped his right foot on the luscious green grass.
"I'm afraid I am not familiar with your terms, sir," the older wizard said then. "But it is true that Mademoiselle Vallière summoned you, the runes on your hand mark you as her familiar after all."
He sneered in distaste, looking from the small pink haired girl to the runes on his hand.
"So, what is our mission then?" he turned to look at the girl. "Who is the enemy we must defeat? Where must the Scourge grow to fight? What if the enemy is already preparing his troops as we speak?"
He looked around. "Have you at least done the Tutorial?"
There was a sputtering noise from the girl. "What are you talking about!? Professor Colbert," Louise turned with a pleading look towards the balding man. "Please…he's mad!"
"Now, this is the first time a human has been summoned, Mademoiselle Vallière. Maybe he is just tired from the ordeal?"
Louise bit her lower lip in thought, before nodding.
"I understand Professor…"
"Ah! Louise the Zero summoned a mad commoner!? Really, what else to expect!" there was a sharp bout of laughter from a dark skinned girl with bountiful breasts and flaming red hair.
The Acolyte remained quiet. He began to tap his right foot on the ground.
The older wizard looked to the rest of his students and then exclaimed. "Let us all go back now!"
In between snickers, the students all flew away levitating. He watched them go impassively —stupid mages, always floating around. In the end, only he and what was his master —apparently— remained.
"Well?" he finally stated. "The Damned stand ready…"
"You're right about being damned," Louise mumbled. "Damned familiar."
"Thank you, master," he nodded his head.
"Yeah, that's right! You're supposed to be my familiar, you got that!?"
"I am an Acolyte; my life is sworn to Ner'Zhul."
"Well, Ner'Zhul whatsoever isn't here! Here we pray to Brimir!"
He raised an eyebrow. "Who is this Brimir?"
"You don't know of the Founder?" Louise's eyes widened. She looked around fearfully. "Thank Brimir they all left…only I could summon a faithless heathen…" she hung her head low. "Why can't anything go right, at least once?"
"Indeed, you are a complete newbie at this, are you not?" the Acolyte drawled. "Let us start with the basics then…do you have three hundred pieces of gold?"
Louise sputtered. "Wh…What? You mean Ecus?"
"Three hundred pieces of gold, do you possess them or not?"
"Of course I do!" she replied with a hiss. "I have at least one thousand!"
"Very well," he acquiesced. "Now, give me the order to summon forth a Necropolis."
He looked around. The site wasn't the very best but it was the starting site. Probably, the objective was something like amassing troops. He'd need the lumber…but sometimes units just appeared from the corner of the map when certain requisites were met.
Louise clenched her hands. "You're mad, completely mad."
"I am an Acolyte of the Scourge. I live to obey, master." Then he grumbled. "If only you had read the damn manual…"
"What was that?"
"Nothing, master. So, where should the Necropolis be placed?"
"Oh, just place it over there then!" she angrily replied, gesturing for a spot not too far away. She really wanted to see it, the so-called Necropolis! What was that commoner going to do, without even a wand? Was he going to wave his hands in the air and suddenly…
Suddenly, large bony protrusions erupted from the ground, as the grass quaked and the air turned quite a few degrees colder. Louise's skin paled and her eyes widened in sheer shock as a massive circle of pure green energy brought forth skeletal appendages that seemed to twitch and move in the air as a green form began to materialize in the sky.
Her neck bent backwards as she watched a titanic construction start to form from sheer nothingness into the air. Slowly, brick after brick and wall after wall formed patterns and figures, as she could swear moans and bright pale teal wisps began to circle around it.
She was speechless as her familiar returned in front of her. "Now, if you can also tell me that you possess enough lumber, maybe we can get started on a Crypt and have our first army deployed."
"S…" she mumbled.
"STOP IT!" Louise shrieked. "Annul it! Tear it down! Oh Founder Brimir, oh holy God, oh God! TEAR IT DOWN! STOP!"
She flailed her hands and then grabbed the man's robes. "Stop that thing right now! I don't want that!"
"But master, how are we going to advance on our mission if you don't build a Necropolis?" the Acolyte remarked.
It was getting along nicely too. One hundred seconds were all it took to get one built.
Then the land would decay and, once blessed by the Scourge's presence, everything would be fine.
He just hoped a Ghoul would eventually appear. He always disliked being short on prepared lumber.
Still, he swore to obey his master Ner'Zhul and his chosen Heroes, and so he did precisely that. The entire construction froze, before collapsing onto itself and disappearing.
"I bow to your will, master," he bowed then. "I wish only to serve."
"T-Then you can start by telling me what you mean with…with the Scourge, and Ner'Zhul…" she was trembling as she said that.
She began to weep and cry when the Acolyte told her everything she wanted to know.
Only she, only Louise the Zero…Only she could summon a creature that unmistakeably tied her to the demons and the blasphemers…but maybe, maybe she was still in time.
If she hid her familiar's powers…but then, why summon one at all?
She had demanded a Sacred and Beautiful Familiar.
She had received back a Damned and Sick one.
Her shoulders trembled as a dry mad chuckle escaped her lips. Beneath the clear blue sky, Louise laughed.
"What is your name, familiar?" she asked then.
"I have none, master. It was stripped the moment I became one of the Acolytes of Ner'zhul."
Louise looked thoughtful for a moment, before she gazed sideways and finally decided. "Then…I'll call you Louis."
"Louis?" the Acolyte remarked, "As you wish, Master."
Louise nodded grimly. Good. She could work with this. She just had to trudge on and suffer through the taunts of having summoned a commoner. She'd take them all with grace.
Anything…to keep the news she had summoned some sort of heretic from Mother.
She swallowed nervously. Maybe it was better to lie and claim she had summoned an owl. Nobody was going to fault her back at home. Sure, an owl was an average familiar but…but it would a safe one.
"You have yet to answer me, master, on one question," Louis said then crisply.
"What is it, familiar?"
"What is your class?"
"I'm a second year," she replied. "Summoning you was the requirement to graduate to the second class."
"No," Louis shook his head. "Death Knight? Dreadlord? Cryptlord? Lich? Ah, are you maybe a Lich to be? Is this a quest to turn you into one? So you must be a Necromancer then?"
"No," she shook her head.
"But you must be of a class, my master. It is the only reason Ner'zhul chose you. Ah, say no more. I understand," he nodded sagely, as if he had come to a great conclusion. "You are hiding your true self with magic. An Orb of illusion is a crafty thing, I admit," he took out his own. A small shimmer of light and his appearance completely changed.
Gone were his purple robes, replaced with bright white ones. Gone was his blue scarf or his sickly appearance. He looked like a robust brown haired commoner, the type that spread like fungus on farmsteads.
She stared dumbly at him for a moment.
"W-What is that!?"
"An Orb of Illusion," he remarked dryly.
"Illusion? But…no," she shook her head. It was a tainted and blasphemous artefact from a demon probably. She was not going to be tempted by it. Her faith in Founder Brimir would safeguard her soul. "Anyway, it's useless to use it with the school. They already saw your real appearance." And the professor had heard him talk of the Scourge!
She trembled. She'd have to be the one to talk and come up with some lie. Maybe…the Scourge could be an organization dedicated to killing rats? A very famous one from the world her familiar came from. Yes, she could use that.
She had to.
She began to walk back towards the castle, followed by her strange familiar that seemed to be curiously looking around.
"What are you looking for now?"
"The Mini-map," her familiar replied. "I can't find it."
"The Mini-map?" she parroted. What was that?
"Yes, it highlights the map we are currently in."
"Oh come on now!" Louise grumbled. "If you want a map, I'll show you one back in the library. There's one of the entire country, so you'll have your fun there!"
"Thank you, master."
At least he knew his place.
For being a heretical and blasphemous being that belonged to a cult dedicated to slaughtering the living and making them undead…
She just had to look at the small, nice things. Yes. She only had to do that.
My muse. I hate my muse.
Louise + Acolyte following Warcraft 3 rules = Chaos.
And also, I wanted to try tactical warfare battle writing. (Which will come further down the road)
I hate my muse.