Chapter 19: Shadows Rising
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The Black Harvest leader, Kanrethad Ebonlocke, stared into the distance, "Why would they just leave us here?"
"Why indeed…" a third voice sounded causing both warlocks to jerk their head towards the source.
No trace of its origin could be discerned as Kanrethad and Jubeka looked around worriedly. The forsaken woman's chains rattled as she tried to get a better view below the tower. Kanrethad, was unable to move fully and glanced over at her full of anxiousness, "What do you see Jubeka?"
"Nothing…where did that voice come from?" she said more to herself than him.
The voice began to laugh in an almost sickly cough, "I have heard much of you two…Black Harvest councilors. Warlocks without equal. According to the demons that detained you, your names are quite infamous. Kanrethad Ebonlocke and Jubeka Shadowbreaker…I sense some power within you, but fear as well. How much do you truly know of the demonic arts? Of the true power of chaos?"
Kanrethad growled before releasing a loud demonic howl, "Thal'kituun, Ered'nash ban galar! Achor she-ki! Xerreth Krelexomacht no kada! (Unseen guest, I invoke your name and demand your presence! I Feast upon terror! Xerreth cannot make me despair)."
The unseen voice laughed at his outburst, "Gor'om haguules (Meddling dogs)….Belanora mordanos nenaar ila mornu farlos kada! (Let the echoes of doom resound across this wretched world, that all who live may hear them and despair)."
"A-las kiel Xarkex. (My Dark Soul is strong)." Kanrethad replied calmly as he continued searching for the voice's owner.
"A-krexor zil X Rikk Veni Shi (You are weak and will die feeble whelp)…" the voice responded.
Jubeka glanced over at Kanrethad who seemed angered by the condescending comment. The forsaken woman hissed, "Identify yourself!"
After a few moments of silence, she looked wide-eyed, "Kanrethad, in front of you!"
He barely managed to look up as a shadowy figure appeared before him.
His eyes went wide with disbelief, "You…"
"Yes me…I am surprised you recognize me human," the figure chuckled. He was taller than Kanrethad and clearly muscular. A long beard came down his face and spikes adorned with skulls from his back. It was none other than the most infamous warlock known to Azeroth and Draenor…Gul'dan.
The orc took a step closer and stared at Kanrethad curiously, "Interesting…you are seething with fel magic. Yet you still retain your own will. What manner of demon have you become?"
"Gul'dan…you live again?!" Kanrethad half-choked as the orc grasped the chain around his neck pulling Kanrethad closer. The warlocks both stared at one another for a moment before Gul'dan grinned, "Those who know shadow and fire never truly die. Or have you forgotten the nature of the Twisting Nether? Azachondrius has brought me back. I am but one of many he sought to resurrect."
Gul'dan released Kanrethad's neck chain causing the man to gasp for air. He tried to follow Gul'dan with his eyes as the orc slowly circled him. The orc shook his head and sighed, "I see the legion took no chances in allowing your escape. Normally one fel nullification crystal can restrict even the most powerful of demons. You have six…interesting. Though I wonder is it your power or that of the ember you acquired? What is the nature of your metamorphosis? The fact that it hasn't consumed you yet does credit you some merit."
"You're smart...I'm sure you can figure it out," Kanrethad retorted.
The orc looked away and focused on Jubeka for a moment, "She does not have as many fel restraints like you…but I sense a brewing power within. A very dark power that has long been forgotten. Perhaps you two have wielded shadow and fire…but do you understand your powers? Do you understand where they originate?"
"Of course we do…we followed in your footsteps after all. We are both masters of demonology," Kanrethad narrowed his gaze at the orc causing Gul'dan to grin surprised.
He paced in front of the human doubtfully, "A bold claim…you assume you know the root of my power? You assume you know the scale?"
"You assume you know the root of mine? Not just anybody can wield a Chaos Ember. Only a master of fire could…a firelord." Kanrethad countered.
The orc coughed for a moment before chuckling darkly, "Lord Azachondrius was most interested in your ability to wield the chaos ember. It seems clear to me that you underwent this demonic evolution to be able to wield it. You made a very bold, dangerous choice. I find myself curious about your motivations…what do you intend to do with that kind of power? You've made it clear that you do not serve the Legion. Is it for Azeroth then?"
"I'm not telling you anything until you tell me where that overgrown Nathrezim bastard, Azachondrius, is!" Kanrethad hissed.
Before Gul'dan could answer, Jubeka quickly interrupted, "How did Azachondrius bring you back from the dead!? Where did you go when you died? You weren't a full demon...so how?"
"The Nathrezim understand the Twisting Nether in its entirety…and the close ties it has to the spiritual plane," the orc stated sinisterly.
Kanrethad gritted his teeth furiously, "Where is Azachondrius now?!"
The sound of wings flapping soon caught everyone's attention. They turned to see Azachondrius land on top of the tower. He smiled sadistically at the chained Black Harvest duo before speaking, "Gul'dan is right. The Twisting Nether does not have a strong Firmament unlike Azeroth or other worlds under titan rule. It is out of titan controlled space. Therefore, it is easy to retrieve the souls of the dead and reanimate them. The pathetic Draenei used this practice to preserve their honored dead within Auchindoun. The Eredar and the Nathrezim are practitioners of this knowledge. We use it to endlessly fuel our armies."
"Is that how you demons have been keeping yourselves immortal? Even when you die, you're sent back into the Twisting Nether. I always figured you Nathrezim had something to do with that." Kanrethad said seriously.
"It hardly concerns you, human…but the Twisting Nether is the physical manifestation of elemental chaos. It is a realm that exists separately from the titan controlled one. In this part of the universe, the distance between physical and spiritual planes is very thin. I'm sure Arthas learned of that during his pilgrimage into Hell." Azachondrius goaded.
"What connection does the Twisting Nether have to the Spirit World then?" Jubeka couldn't help but ask.
Azachondrius grinned, "Curious are you? Very well…I'll humor you, warlocks. The Twisting Nether is untamed elemental chaos manifested from the Spirit World. It exists as a separate realm between the physical and spiritual planes."
"What the hell are you talking about? Why does it even exist then?" Kanrethad shook his head confused.
"Now that is the question everybody wants to know…all I can tell you is that it is home to more than simply the Legion. The Twisting Nether is the chaotic half of the universe…home to the Elder Gods. I'm surprised you didn't know that." Azachondrius laughed.
Jubeka shook her head, "So then what's the Legion doing now? Shouldn't you be conquering Outland or Azeroth then?"
"Lord Sargeras wishes to cripple the Naaru and their meddlesome Draenei followers once and for all. Of course…I have my own agenda as well. I have a score to settle with Arthas in due time," the Dreadlord noted casually.
"So why are we still alive? What are you going to do with us?" Kanrethad asked seriously.
Azachondrius looked between the man and Jubeka with a subtle grin, "You were restrained under the order of Sargeras . He believed Cthugha would want to deal with you personally."
"Where is Cthugha? Why isn't it here?" Kanrethad started questioning impatiently.
Gul'dan slowly walked away as Azachondrius made his way towards Kanrethad. The demon twirled Shadowmourne around his arm as he looked at Kanrethad menacingly, "Cthugha has ventured forth to unleash fire upon Outland. They stand no chance."
Azachondrius cocked his head in amusement as Kanrethad looked up at him. The human looked alarmed, "What happened after our battle? I see the portal was opened…"
"You did a pathetic job in hiding the Codex of Xerreth…Lord Sargeras himself had it in his custody. He decided to give it to Arthas in order to follow his progress. Fortunately, the Lich King gave it away to some helpless Draenei…recovering the tome was as easy as defeating you. Now the portal is open, and the full might of the Burning Legion is marching upon Outland," Azachondrius goaded.
The warlock stared at him, "What has become of Arthas?"
"He resurrected Illidan…and others likely," Jubeka answered for him.
"Arthas and Illidan…together? I can see why you brought Gul'dan back then. I imagine you would prove little match against both of them," Kanrethad smirked.
The Dreadlord's lip twitched, "Anach Kyree! (Miserable insect)."
Azachondrius brought Shadowmourne closer towards Kanrethad's face and beamed with malicious happiness, "Gaze into Shadowmourne…see the thousands of souls that fuel its power. Shall I add yours to it?"
The man stared at the axe intently, "How did you create this weapon?"
"I didn't…some fool named Raze did. Although it lacks Frostmourne's power, it is formidable none the less. It was created to imitate Frostmourne…though it was quite weak in his hands. I have properly unleashed its full potential. Would you like to meet its creator?" the Nathrezim asked.
"Not particularly," Kanrethad sighed.
The Dreadlord jabbed Shadowmourne into the ground causing several souls to appear in ethereal form in front of them. The demon smiled as the ghost like souls looked around horrified.
"W-where are we?!" a terrified draenei girl cried. Kanrethad couldn't help but be annoyed at her helplessness.
"What is happening?!" an angry orc soul demanded as he frantically blinked around them.
Kanrethad examined each one of these individuals with an evident curiosity. The most notable among them were an orc death knight, two draenei teenagers, a human mage, a night elf warrior, and a night elf priestess.
"Kaera where are we?!" one of the draenei asked the other.
"Calm down Maelina…everything's going to be alright," the other girl tried to comfort her kin.
"Is there some purpose behind you showing me these souls?" Kanrethad asked Azachondrius. Everyone's attention focused on the two as Azachondrius grabbed Kanrethad's neck chain.
"See them Kanrethad Ebonlocke…if you do not submit to me, then they will be your new company for the rest of eternity," the Dreadlord spoke venomously.
"Awfully bold to threaten me even though your masters want me alive…if this was meant to intimidate me then it's failing miserably. In fact why are you even here right now? Shouldn't you be leading an army, or does the legion leave that to more competent leaders like Kil'Jaeden?" Kanrethad smirked.
The Dreadlord growled angrily as he clutched the neck chain tighter this time, "You're almost as mouthy as Arthas…something I find most disgusting. Do not test my patience you arrogant fool. Neither Sargeras nor Cthugha are here to stop me from killing you."
"Arthas? What do you know about Arthas?!" the soul spirit of Kaera interjected concerned.
"Where is Arthas?! He'll defeat you demon!" Maelina shouted angrily at Azachondrius causing him to glance over and laugh.
Kanrethad looked over at the girl surprised by her comment. 'Why are draenei putting their lot in with the Lich King? How do they know Arthas anyway?'
Before he could say anything, Jubeka spoke up, "Arthas returned to Azeroth…to resurrect the Scourge."
Kaera's eyes trailed towards the shadowy sight of Gul'dan in the corner causing her to drop to her knees terrified, "Light…please save me from this torment."
"The light won't protect you girl…nothing will protect you now. Nobody is going to save you," Kanrethad shook his head in disgust at her crying.
"Arthas would. The light will guide him here to save-" Kaera shot back.
She was interrupted mid sentence by Kanrethad, "Don't speak as if you know the Prince. I've known him since before he was your age. He has never truly believed in the light. His faith was not absolute. Arthas believes in power, supremacy, and above all the death of his enemies. He has slaughtered women and children, razed entire cities, and killed most of the people he once called friend. There is no length he would not go to in order to achieve his goals. I don't know where your faith in him stems from, but it is clearly a lie. That man does not believe in the light…nor will he ever. Not to mention, I highly doubt some useless draenei are a concern of his."
"You're lying!" Kaera shouted causing everyone to watch curiously.
Kanrethad simply rolled his eyes at the draenei, "What makes you think you know him so well? Was he kind to you? I wouldn't mistake that for a virtuous disposition. Arthas' true nature is something not even he himself understands. Arthas is a monster…and he always has been. Even his family was afraid of him. King Menethil and Uther the Lightbringer worked tirelessly to soften his edges. But Arthas was never meant to be like them."
"How so? Didn't he use to be some kind of human hero? What do you know of his family?" Raze, the orc death knight asked as he finally stopped flying around.
The warlock shrugged at the ethereal soul form of the orc, "Besides the fact that he is part Vrykul…there is something unexplainable about his soul. Queen Lianne bred a monster…assuming she wasn't one herself. Do you know why they tried to make him into a paladin? They hoped it would suppress what he was. The royal family tried to keep it a secret, but Jubeka and I could tell even then…he was dangerous. His eventual fall into darkness did not surprise me at all…it was simply his true nature emerging. Arthas possessed unnatural spiritual power for a human…"
Raze cocked his head shocked, "Human…what do you mean monster? What is he exactly?"
"I don't know the right word to describe it. Let's just say that Ner'zhul was interested in him for a reason…I imagine he radiated like a beacon to anyone with spiritual perception." Kanrethad concluded.
Raze along with many of the other souls stared with disbelief. Azachondrius didn't seem all that surprised as he stood there knowingly. Gul'dan perked up at the mention of Ner'zhul, but said nothing.
"You call Arthas a monster?! You're a monster! You deserve this punishment, not us! Somebody like you could never understand the true glory of the light! You think it's weak because it doesn't listen to you? Those without faith could never hope to call upon the light! If Arthas commanded the light, then he truly believed in it…there's no denying that! How could somebody like you, who's probably never even seen the light, claim to understand its design?" Maelina shouted angrily. Both Draenei seemed to dislike the warlock as they had intense looks of hatred directed his way.
"The light obviously didn't listen to you. Your faith is useless now whether you like it or not." Jubeka interrupted annoyed.
Kaera gritted her teeth, "The light will not forsake us…no matter how cynical you may be, I refuse to believe that! And it won't forsake Arthas either! Faith means everything!"
"Oh spare me the speech girl. Faith is no different than begging…you need to work for power if you ever want to get anything in life," Kanrethad sighed in annoyance.
"Calm yourself draenei…there's no reasoning with occultists like this. They have a very warped view of reality. I for one believe Arthas is the only one capable of freeing us from Shadowmourne," the night elf Antarin spoke calmly. He seemed rather passive despite the situation they were in.
Azachondrius silently shook his head in amusement as the souls continued talking to Kanrethad and Jubeka.
"He said your name was Ebonlocke…are you that Tira girl's father? That would explain a lot…" Maelina questioned intently.
Kanrethad glared at her for mentioning the name, "My daughter and wife are dead. That thing you spoke to was an Avatar of Sargeras…he took that form to infiltrate Outland."
Maelina's eyes widened with disbelief, "THAT's Impossible! Th-the Naaru w-would have noticed a being that powerful spying on Shattrah! You're lying! Besides why would he do it himself?! How could he even get past the lightward?!"
"Oh it's no lie…though he could not manifest in his true form with the lightward active, he still had the ability to spy on you all along. How does it feel knowing how unsafe you truly are?" Azachondrius added with enjoyment.
Kanrethad glared at him hatefully, "Do you really have nothing better to do right now? I've seen enough of your little soul show here…can we get on with whatever reason you're here for?"
Azachondrius didn't answer as he continued watching the souls mouth off different remarks about what was being said.
The human mage Layna took a step closer and examined Kanrethad surprised, "Kanrethad Ebonlocke? Aren't you a noble? You went to the Kirin Tor Academy with me."
"Who are you supposed to be?" the man asked.
"Layna…you probably don't remember, but we were partnered for the finals. I thought you looked familiar! You're a warlock?!"
"Just now figured that out did you?" the man mocked, "I was one of the first humans to become a warlock."
She put her hands on her hip, "There's no need to get all condescending…it's just surprising to me. If I recall correctly…didn't you go on to become part of the royal court of Lordaeron? Have you been an occultist all along?!"
"Is this your idea of torture?" Kanrethad sighed as he sent a short glare at the grinning Azachondrius and silent, observant Gul'dan.
"You would deserve it. Anybody that consorts with demons is despicable and pathetic," the night elf priestess, Teryn, spoke up for the first time.
"The only person that deserves torture is me…I created this abominable weapon. I'm sorry all of you got imprisoned inside of it. Darion is probably ashamed of me," Raze sighed sadly.
Azachondrius laughed at the orc's despairing comment, "Indeed…and it has grown far more powerful in my hands."
"Raze…don't give into despair. If you do then the demons win. Hold out and have faith," Maelina said as reassuringly as she could. It seemed to make the orc feel better as his features softened slightly.
"I hope Arthas kills you Azachondrius…I hope he destroys Shadowmourne. Despite the evil he's done…that alone would be justice enough for me. To see you and your kind brought down," Raze replied calmly.
"That's enough out of this rabble…return souls," the Dreadlord laughed.
"Tch…I would certainly hate an eternity with these people. I've seen enough anyways," Kanrethad said grimly as all of the souls returned to Shadowmourne.
Azachondrius nodded understandingly, "Of course…so then you realize that one way or another you will serve me? Why not choose the easy way? What is it you truly seek, Kanrethad? Is there any reason for us to be foes?"
"So…you can bring people back to life?" Kanrethad began as his eyes trailed towards Gul'dan.
"Of course…do you desire your family to be returned to you? It would be a fair trade for your obedience." the demon grinned wickedly.
Jubeka's eyes widened immediately at his comment, "No, don't do it Kanrethad! It's not worth it! What kind of life could they live?!"
"That's enough out of you!" Azachondrius growled as he backhanded Jubeka slamming her against the wall. Her chains rattled violently as she tried to catch Kanrethad's attention.
She spoke telepathically to him, "Don't trust him…"
Kanrethad briefly looked towards Jubeka and spoke back to her telepathically, "You think I'm that stupid? I'm going to break one of your chains. Wait for my signal…once I do, break these arms chains off me and get these crystals out of my back. Be quick…and don't lose sight of Gul'dan."
Jubeka licked her lips in response which was one of her acknowledgement signs.
The man's chains began to creak under the heavy strain of his flexing muscles. He panted heavily as the fel crystals jabbed in his back started shocking him painfully.
"Do you miss your precious child…human? Would you trade your soul for hers?" the demon grinned evilly.
"Yes!" he said angrily as a colossal surge of power caused the tower to shake. The fel rods were at full blast trying there best to subdue him. Lightning, fire, and fel magic crackled in the air as he unleashed as much power as possible.
It did considerable damage, but was unsuccessful in breaking his chains as Azachondrius expected. Azachondrius looked over at Gul'dan and chuckled, "Perhaps I should find their souls in the Spirit World…and make them my slaves instead."
"NO!" the man protested. This caused the demon to laugh triumphantly, "Then you understand you are my slave? You answer to me…whom do you serve, Kanrethad Ebonlocke?!"
Suddenly Jubeka's restraints snapped as fire melted through them. This went unnoticed due to Kanrethad's writhing.
The Dreadlord expected the human to speak his name and submit but was shocked when Kanrethad shook his head and laughed, "The Black Harvest…"
Before he could mouth a response, a streak of shadow magic erupted from nowhere slicing both of Kanrethad's arm chains off. A red beam of dark shadow magic flowed into him.
Gul'dan and Azachondrius glanced over surprised to see Jubeka free.
The orc smiled, "A diversion? They are clever warlocks…"
Kanrethad immediately ripped several of the fel crystals out of his back allowing power to emerge. His body seemed to catch on fire as a green fiery sword formed in his hand. He sliced through the rest of his chains and dropped to the ground.
Jubeka stopped channeling magic at him and immediately ran behind her partner. The forsaken woman ripped out the remaining fel crystals violently and swiftly much to Kanrethad's displeasure. Azachondrius growled angrily and wasted no time swinging Shadowmourne towards them.
Kanrethad parried it with his pure fire sword and immediately followed up by stabbing it into the ground. The Dreadlord's eyes widened as it flickered. He knew full well what was about to happen. Before either he or Gul'dan could make another move, the sword exploded. The sky was quickly ignited as green orange and purple fire devastated the top of the tower. As it blew up, Kanrethad grabbed Jubeka and dove off the side of the tower on his way to the portal.
He carried his partner bridal style much to her displeasure. During their descent, he transformed into his demonic form. He made it a considerable distance closer to the portal before a massive wall of ice blocked his path. It reached high into the sky and soon surrounded him and Jubeka into a hollow pillar on all sides.
The demonic warlock looked around quickly for an escape route but soon found there was none. He landed begrudgingly and turned around knowing full well who had stopped them.
Azachondrius glared angrily, "I have lost my patience with you! Prepare to die Ebonlocke!" He supercharged Shadowmourne before a stream of shadow frost erupted from the axe towards him.
Kanrethad quickly retaliated with a powerful fire blast. The green fire began to streak and change colors as it countered the attack. Steam soon covered the battlefield as fire and ice collided blocking any visibility. Kanrethad immediately turned around and began to channel a streaming flamethrower against the icewall.
"Cover me Jubeka…this might take a minute," he spoke quietly.
She nodded as she began to launch random soul fire blasts into the shrouded battlefield clearing away a line of sight. While doing so, she briefly cut Kanrethad with her dagger drawing blood. He didn't question it as Jubeka added his flaming blood to her attacks.
One randomly seemed to hit Azachondrius as he came barreling towards them furiously. Jubeka chanted a binding spell as a magical sigil formed around her and Kanrethad. Right as Azachondrius reached them, he was met with some kind of red orb.
He swung Shadowmourne furiously attempting to cut down both at once but was shocked when the orb blasted him back covering him in burning blood. It brutally seared his skin, but also served to slow his movement.
Jubeka grinned at her handiwork as the blood soon solidified around the Dreadlord's feet preventing him from moving.
"Argh! You arrogant mortals!" the demon roared.
Kanrethad was finally finished burning a hole through the ice wall and glanced back to laugh at the furious Dreadlord, "You underestimate Jubeka's power…you underestimate mine…"
"You will not make a fool of me!" Azachondrius hissed.
Jubeka slashed her sigil-engraved palm and grabbed Kanrethad's hand. A vortex of blood began to circle the two as a blood shield formed. Holding up their free hands, Kanrethad and Jubeka both channeled power into the shield. Kanrethad's colorful chaotic fire flowed into it as well as Jubeka's red shadow magic. As it mixed with their blood shield, it soon dissipated and condensed into a massive amalgamation of chaotic energy.
Colorful fire and shadowy blood both circled each other as the two combined their attack into a bloody Chaos demon bolt. It fired in a twisted beam covering half the battlefield. Azachondrius was instantly blown away by the attack buying the two warlocks enough time to escape.
As they fled, Kanrethad grabbed Jubeka and began to fly towards the portal again. They were almost there before a lone figure fired some type of tracing shadow bolt at them knocking Kanrethad out of the sky. He managed to get his bearings and fell like a meteor towards the ground. As he landed he set Jubeka down and growled again, "I should have known it wouldn't be this easy…"
Right in front of the portal, a lone figure was blocking them. Jubeka looked up and scowled, "Gul'dan…we can't defeat him and Azachondrius. We need to get out of here, Kanrethad."
"Maybe not individually…but you and I together can get past him," the demonic looking creature replied as he glanced towards Jubeka.
"Yeah, but that won't be possible whenever Azachondrius catches up. I don't see this ending well…" she sighed. Their standoff seemed to attract a lot of attention as a literal legion of demons began to surround them.
Demons began to close in as Gul'dan slowly walked closer. The orc smiled at the two of them, "You're stronger than I thought…you would make good additions to my new Shadow Council."
"We have our own council thanks…The Black Harvest doesn't answer to the Legion." Kanrethad shot back.
"The Black Harvest…what is it? I am intrigued by your motivations. Perhaps they align with my own in some way?" Gul'dan asked.
Kanrethad grinned wickedly, "Wouldn't you like to know?"
"No secret can remain hidden from me…at least not for long," the orc said darkly.
"We need to move Kanrethad…" Jubeka muttered.
"Step aside, Gul'dan, or we'll kill you…again." Kanrethad stated as he formed a fiery sword in his hand once more.
The orc warlock grinned wickedly at him, "I admire your command of fire, Kanrethad Ebonlocke. Truly, you impressed me with that escape from the tower. Unfortunately for you…this is where your escape ends."
"I'm not afraid of you, Gul'dan…I've only scratched the surface of my new power! You will not stop us!" Kanrethad growled angrily as his body began to burn brighter. Jubeka distanced herself slightly as the flaming demonic warlock stared Gul'dan down ready for a death match.
A loud thud sounded from behind as Azachondrius swung Shadowmourne in for a kill. Kanrethad narrowly dodged it before blanketing the Dreadlord with a heavy blast of felfire. It managed to push the demon back, but much to his annoyance, Azachondrius now stood in his way towards the portal.
He hissed in annoyance, "You won't stop us! We're getting out here!"
Azachondrius spoke darkly, "Your pathetic attempt to escape ends now."
"How do you figure? You're not going to beat me this time," Kanrethad shot back.
The Nathrezim leader looked at him annoyed before glancing at Gul'dan, "Perhaps it is time you got a glimpse at just how doomed you truly are."
Gul'dan chuckled amusedly as he watched Azachondrius fire some type of spell into the gateway behind them. It quickly became clear to the Black Harvest warlocks that the two of them were about to be in over their heads.
Their insight proved to be true when moments later, a colossal blue demon came through the portal. Kanrethad literally took a step back and looked up with horror, "Archimonde?!"
"Why did you signal for me?" Archimonde asked as he looked down at Gul'dan and Azachondrius before observing the situation.
"Kanrethad…please tell me we're not actually going to try fighting them?" Jubeka asked worriedly.
"We don't have a choice…" Kanrethad immediately silenced her.
Upon spotting Kanrethad and Jubeka, Archimonde stomped towards them imposingly. Gul'dan stood down near the massive Eredar's feet and looked up at him. The fearsome demon lord glared at the two warlocks seriously, "Are these the prisoners I've heard so much about? You let them escape?"
"They managed to free themselves, Lord Archimonde," Gul'dan explained the situation in a calm tone.
The Eredar lord glared at the orc for a moment before turning towards the Nathrezim, "Useless…you allowed this Azachondrius?!"
"The situation is under control, Lord Archimonde…though I called you here for dramatic effect," Azachondrius answered.
Archimonde simply scoffed in disapproval as he focused his attention back on the escaping warlocks, "This is the one who wields the ember?"
"Archimonde is back…great. What's next? You're going to tell me that Mannoroth and Magtheridon are back too?" Kanrethad shook his head with horror. Jubeka's reaction was one of utter disbelief. She silently stared between Archimonde, Gul'dan and Azachondrius fearfully.
"What have we gotten ourselves into?" she barely whispered. Kanrethad mustered as much resolve as he could and tried to look as fearless as possible. His nervousness was still evident from his defensive posture however.
Archimonde was quick to notice the warlock's lack of cowering and projected his voice angrily, "You are very brave to not tremble in my presence, but foolish as well. You only possess one of Cthugha's chaos embers. That will not be enough to stop me, mortal."
"Do you even know what these things are? One combined with my own power is more than enough to fight you," Kanrethad shot back.
"How did you acquire that ember in the first place? Cthugha is very powerful and unforgiving…" Archimonde asked with an evident interest.
Gul'dan nodded deep in thought, "An interesting question, indeed…"
"Come on, Jubeka…there's no going back. We need to get past them," Kanrethad announced as he began to walk forward.
She stood there for a moment somewhat fearfully, 'He's lost his mind…Gul'dan and Azachondrius are dangerous enough, but Archimonde himself?! Kanrethad is delusional if he thinks we'll last two seconds against them.'
"Oh? And just how do you intend on leaving?" Archimonde asked.
The man gritted his teeth for a moment before answering, "How do you think?"
Archimonde took a step forward and channeled a massive orb of shadow magic in his hand. He looked at Kanrethad annoyed before casting the colossal shadow bolt. Right before it could hit, the warlock deflected it with his flame sword.
The shadow bolt went flying into the distance leaving a dark streak in its wake. Archimonde looked down at him annoyed, "You dare to challenge me? A mortal?! I will crush the very fabric of your being!"
"I am no longer a mortal…I am a firelord!" Kanrethad shouted before chucking his flame sword at the demon.
Right as it got within range it exploded into volley of fire. As expected, Gul'dan and the demon lords warded it off.
"Firelord you say?" Archimonde cocked his head curiously, "What would a pathetic mortal man like you, understand about fire?"
"Let me show you," Kanrethad said darkly.
His body began to glow much brighter than before as fire erupted in all direction. The flaming demon charged Archimonde and delivered a powerful swipe with one of his demonic claws. Upon doing so, three streaks shot out in a claw like pattern. One was green, another purple, and the final one orange.
Archimonde's eyes widened in surprise as he rose an arm to block the attack. Much to his disbelief, the flames cut deeply into his gauntlet and left an agonizing, searing pain on his forearm.
The demon lord scowled at Kanrethad hatefully, "You dare to wield our own powers against us? This insult will not be ignored, mortal! I will make an example of you! Since you so brazenly embrace fel magic and fire against your true masters, then you will receive the Mark of the Legion."
Without even bothering a response, Kanrethad followed up with another flame swipe. This time, Archimonde was ready for it and countered it with a powerful blast of felfire.
The two were deadlocked for a brief moment before Archimonde managed to push Kanrethad back. The demon lord held up his open palm and made a squeezing motion as the felfire from his hand shaped into a massive flame hand.
It completely surrounded Kanrethad and gripped him tightly before slamming the warlock into the ground. He grimaced painfully as he quickly recovered and looked at Archimonde cautiously.
"You are no match for me Kanrethad…let alone for Archimonde himself," Azachondrius goaded.
Archimonde weaved a strange pattern in the air with his dark magic. It started with a circle, followed by an inner triangle and many intricate symbols. As this magical sigil formed in the air, Kanrethad quickly realized what it was, "That seal! Jubeka, get back!"
Archimonde glared at him, "If you wish to wield the powers of demons, then take them! Let's see what breaks first, your will or your feeble body!"
Upon shouting that, Archimonde's spell fired towards Kanrethad and immediately bound itself as a demonic glowing sigil over his head. It floated above his horns and had a fel green hue with streaks of purple in it. A powerful dark aura covered him and immediately forced Kanrethad to his knees.
Jubeka looked at the sigil shocked, 'That's the Mark of the Legion...what is Archimonde doing to him?'
Kanrethad howled in agony as the fel magic covering his body began to engrave itself onto his skin. Archimonde sneered at him, "You've absorbed too much fel energy to control any longer. You are a demon...and your soul is bound to the Legion! Shaza-kiel Kanrethad; Dalektharu she dask daku Xel!" (Surrender your soul, Kanrethad, who in your Arrogance sought to wield our fire as your own weapon!)
As Kanrethad seethed in pain, Jubeka quickly tried to come up with a plan of some kind. Looking at the sigil on her hand, a moment of brilliance came to mind. Quickly she held up her other hand and cast a strange spell on the soul link sigil that Kanrethad gave her. She severed it moments later causing a large magical shadow chain to appear between her and Kanrethad. Link by link the chain ripped apart, and forced clarity within him. She immediately followed up with a banishment spell. While it didn't succeed at sending him away, it did manage to stop what Archimonde was doing. Jubeka canceled the banishment moments later allowing her partner freedom.
Kanrethad managed to shake off Archimonde's spell and immediately flew towards Jubeka. He picked her up and started to fly away at high speeds. Archimonde unleashed a large green beam of fel magic in his direction as he tried to make it to the portal. Thinking fast, Kanrethad made eye contact with several nearby demons. One was a pit lord and several others were Doomlords. He mentally enslaved the lesser demons and used them as shields in his escape. Both doomlords caught the brunt of Archimonde's beam and died instantly.
The pit lord mindlessly charged against Archimonde, and managed to hold him back from chasing after them. The unfortunate Annihilan didn't last long as Archimonde effortlessly blasted it away in pursuit. Thankfully however, it seemed to buy the escaping warlocks enough time to reach the portal.
Before Kanrethad could rejoice in his clever plan, a loud thud sounded in front of him. Jubeka was quick to announce the obvious, "Azachondrius is angry! Kanrethad, look out!"
"DIE WARLOCK!" Azachondrius howled as he swung Shadowmourne furiously. Kanrethad narrowly dodged it as he kept advancing towards the portal. Wasting no time, he immediately flew at the massive gateway, despite Gul'dan still being in front of it.
The orc attempted to stop them as he fired a barrage of spells, but Jubeka quickly warded them with a shadow ward as Kanrethad closed in. He clipped past the orc as he flew by delivering a swift cut. Gul'dan fell back slightly as the two Black Harvest Councilors managed to get past him and flew through the gateway.
Azachondrius immediately stopped as he looked at Gul'dan angrily, "You let them escape?!"
The orc glanced at the cut on his shoulder noticing the blood now oozing from it. Gul'dan glanced up at him and sighed, "They are more powerful than you give them credit for…"
"Kil'Jaeden will not be pleased…" Azachondrius growled angrily.
Archimonde finally caught up to them and growled angrily, "You failed to stop them?"
"Should we go after them, Lord Archimonde?" Azachondrius asked eagerly.
The Eredar grunted unhappily, "No…Kil'Jaeden ordered all Lords to remain behind for a summit meeting. They have played their hand and escaped…for now. It is nothing more than an inconvenience at this point. There's nowhere they can run to. He is branded with the Mark of the Legion. There is no escape."
"Of course…though for now, I will do more research on this Black Harvest. These rogue warlocks might pose a problem…" Gul'dan replied.
"Do as you will Gul'dan. As for you, Azachondrius...come with me," Archimonde ordered.
XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX Shadowmoon Valley, In a dark cave XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX
Kanrethad and Jubeka's arrival on the other side of the portal had been less than pleasant. Thankfully Kil'Jaeden wasn't there, but they had quite a few demons attempt to stop them. The last half hour had been spent dodging pursuers. After killing the last of them, the two warlocks found temporary refuge in a cave.
"What have you done Kanrethad? Has our quest for power really corrupted you this badly?" Jubeka asked as she and Kanrethad both collapsed to the ground. His flaming powers receded causing him to return to a more humanoid form. Horns, wings, and claws still remained however. It was likely a side-effect of his demonic powers.
The man looked at Jubeka thoughtfully, "That doesn't matter right now. At least we're safe for the moment. We have to move soon, but let's catch our breath while we can. We'll have to come up with a plan if we want to evade the Legion."
"I can't believe that demon brought back Gul'dan…we're royally doomed if we have to fight him," she said worried.
"I'm not as worried about Gul'dan…Archimonde is the real problem here. Not to mention, if Cthugha got lose…we're in serious trouble," Kanrethad stated.
Jubeka looked at him seriously, "Did you actually become a demon so you could wield that chaos ember? What's going on?"
"There's no time to explain. Things have gotten way out of hand," Kanrethad sighed. Jubeka watched him curiously as the man pulled a vial out of his pocket. He carefully held his clawed hand over the empty vial and let the fresh blood from Gul'dan trickle down inside.
"We have Gul'dan's blood now…that should make fighting him easier," Kanrethad said confidently as he managed to fill the container up halfway.
"What the hell happened to you? You haven't told me anything about this Chaos Ember yet. Also, what did you mean when you called yourself a firelord? Are you saying you're like Ragnaros now?" Jubeka began to question.
"I'll explain later, Jubeka…there's no time for that right now," Kanrethad shook his head.
"We need to warn somebody about this. I mean if the legion has Archimonde and Gul'dan back…then Outland is doomed. Hell for all we know Mannoroth and Magtheridon are going to be here too! Or worse…Kil'Jaeden." Jubeka said worried.
Kanrethad sighed heavily, "What would you have us do?"
"We need somewhere they can't hunt us down. I say we try for Shattrah. If there's any kind of resistance, then it'll likely be gathered there. Plus somebody has to warn them about all of this," Jubeka suggested.
The warlock shook his head, "That doesn't sound like a good idea. We need to regroup with Shinfel in Azeroth."
"Screw Shinfel! She can come to us…not to mention, Azeroth is the last place I want to be right now. Arthas went back to resurrect the Scourge…he was talking about killing the Old Gods from what I heard." Jubeka exclaimed.
"Hmm…well we can't stay here. Fine, we'll do it your way. Let's go to Shattrah. Hopefully they don't try to kill us…" Kanrethad sighed as he picked Jubeka up and began to fly out of the cave towards their destination.
As they flew, Jubeka looked at the sigil that was still over Kanrethad's head, 'I guess that isn't going away anytime soon.'
XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX Kalimdor with Tirion and Company XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX
Cho'gall turned back towards the fearful front line of cultists and grinned, "Summon him…"
Tirion's eyes widened curiously as the large mob of Twilight's Hammer cultists began to chant some strange language. All of the surrounding fire elementals flew towards them and began to orbit the area. Everyone started to sweat profusely as the temperature grew hotter and hotter.
Darion gritted his teeth, "What are they doing?!"
"Everyone get back now!" Thrall shouted before unleashing a blanket of water to shield them from an explosive blast of fire. Cho'gall cackled maniacally as all of the fire elementals channeled a beam onto the ground.
Their combined fire beams soon tore open the ground forming a large pool of molten magma. Cho'gall himself began to chant an incantation as he added his own shadow magic into the pool. It quickly spread in all directions, forcing the druids and allied forces to fall back.
Thrall continued to channel elemental magic to shield the group from the unbearably hot temperature and spewing magma surges. Many of the Twilight's Hammer cultists were sacrificed in the process, but the survivors quickly retreated.
Cho'gall finally finished his incantations as a strange molten gateway emerged from the magma pool. Moments later a pillar of searing lava erupted into the sky raining everywhere. The druids aided Thrall in shielding their company, but they could not fully prevent the fires it caused.
"Arise…Ragnaros!" Cho'gall's calm head spoke before the wild one added, "Slay them all, Burn Nordrassil in the name of C'thun!"
Everyone visibly gasped in terror as Ragnaros' fiery form emerged from the lava. He held Sulfuras high in the air and didn't waste any time before slamming it into the ground. The landscape was quickly devastated by the attack killing many in the process.
"Tell everyone to fall back now! Get to Hyjal! I'll hold it off!" Thrall commanded. Many people gave him shocked looks. Some tried to protest, but Cairne Bloodhoof quickly enforced his order, "Fall back! Fortify positions in Hyjal! Protect Nordrassil with your life!"
"By fire be purged!" Ragnaros shouted angrily as he looked around at the retreating enemies and the nearby cultists. Sulfuras quickly obliterated any opposition who hadn't already fled further back. Thrall looked up at the towering firelord as fearlessly as he could.
Ragnaros looked down at the orc and pointed his massive hammer at him, "Who dares to stand against me?!"
"I am Thrall, Warchief and shaman of the horde!" the orc announced causing Ragnaros to scoff carelessly.
The Firelord looked over towards Cho'gall, "You waste my time in order to fry these insects?!"
"The world tree lives again! It must burn, Ragnaros…C'thun demands it," the ogre replied.
The elemental lord growled at his remark, "So the Old Masters are returning? So be it…come forth minions of fire! Set this pathetic forest ablaze!"
From the lava pool, countless flame elementals poured forth and began to streak away in all directions leaving a blazing trail of fire in their path.
"No!" Thrall shouted as he chucked his hammer towards the molten gateway trying to stop it. It proved ineffective when Cho'gall appeared in front and deflected the weapon. Thrall called it back to his hand and grimaced, "Strength of the Earth…hear my call. Shield us from fire!"
Jagged rock formations shot forth from the ground preventing the elementals from spreading further and kept the lava from expanding. Thrall quickly added water to the mix trying to subdue the magma to any extent that he could.
He spun his hammer in a circle calling a vortex of wind to surround the area. Cho'gall looked around at it without an ounce of concern, while Ragnaros simply watched cautiously.
"Spirits, come to my aid!" Thrall roared as lightning soon crackled above the vortex. He quickly followed by slamming his hammer into the ground attempting to do any damage he could against Ragnaros. It proved ineffective against him or Cho'gall, but did kill off many of the smaller elementals.
The orc backed away slowly as the rocks cracked. Seconds later they were blasted away as Cho'gall walked towards him with malicious intent. The two headed ogre cackled at the orc's concerned face, "The master's power is far beyond yours, orc whelp…the elements cannot help you now."
"Thrall!" a voice quickly sounded catching the war chief's attention. He looked back and spotted Tirion standing there with the Ashbringer. The paladins' leader briefly made eye contact, "I will deal with Cho'gall…you and our champions will have to take on Ragnaros."
Darion, soon caught up followed by most of the Northrend champions. "You're not alone warchief…"
Thrall looked surprised by the return of the champions, but didn't complain as they all fanned out and took positions around Ragnaros.
XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX Arthas XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX
Several hours passed as Arthas sat atop Naxxramas thinking about the progression of his plans. He knew full well that sending his army away was a gamble, but he couldn't be two places at once, and was not about to let the Legion conquer Outland while he was busy.
During this reflection, he wondered why Outland's fate concerned him at all. Part of him didn't really care, but at the same time, strange memories flashed through his mind. He thought about the orphans he encountered in Shattrah…about Hobb and Vyara…and the three Draenei girls that he met. Despite his depressing past and inescapable, ominous future, Arthas found a slight sliver of comfort in the brief memories of them. Nothing in his past, or any thoughts of the future could ruin those memories. It was a short time…but in those moments, he truly felt a strange sense of peace.
He couldn't quite understand the empathy that Ishka and her friends had for him. Something about those draenei seemed genuinely pure to Arthas. They were truly good in every sense of the word. It was because of this reason that Arthas felt somewhat remorseful for the way he deceived them. Yet even after learning he was the Lich King, they still showed him an unusual kindness.
It was almost sickening to him because he couldn't understand why. He briefly wondered if Ishka was still okay. There was no telling what kind of state Shattrah might have currently been in. Shaking the thought from his head, he focused his attention on Ny'alotha below. The city had been quickly re-purposed thanks to the fast work of undead labor. Many of the surviving highborne, who now regained their elvish forms, were turned undead. His powerful necromancers had quickly put the elves in line forcing them into the Scourge's ranks.
It was hardly a humane thing to do, but Arthas knew it was necessary. The highborne were going to be necessary in moving Ny'alotha to Outland. Not to mention…he didn't like the idea of leaving them uncontrolled now that Azshara was removed from power. Right as the elven queen crossed his mind, a voice quickly sounded in his head breaking his concentration, "Arthas, please let me out of here! Elune's a liar! She's using you!"
'Azshara? How are you speaking to me?' Arthas thought bewildered. Looking down at his sword briefly, he could see the elven queen's reflection inside of it. She shook her head in annoyance, "Why did you do this to me!? I was telling you the truth!"
'I know you were…That's why I put you in there,' Arthas smiled as he forced her presence further back into the sword. In truth he had a feeling that Azshara's motivations were very self-serving, but something about the way she feared Elune was very justified. Arthas himself understood it…the strange aura the moon goddess seemed to radiate. He knew almost nothing about the Moon Goddess, but Arthas was smart enough to realize that she was invaluable to keeping him alive. Whether or not she was truly his ally, Arthas was not about to turn against Elune without good cause. At least not until he had a reason to.
He looked at his Moonlight Ring anxiously. A strange sensation came over him as he stared at it for a moment, 'What would happen if I took it off? I wonder what Azshara was trying to achieve by getting it off my hand?'
Slowly his hand reached down to touch the ring as he lightly grasped it. The tighter his grip got, the more he felt like removing it. A dark voice echoed in his mind as he stared at the ring, "Free yourself, Arthas…she can't be trusted."
The voice was C'thun's much to his surprise. It had a haunting clarity as he felt the same eerie sensation from his first encounter with Elune. Before he could go through with the action, a stream of moonlight emerged from the ring into the form of Elune. She grabbed Arthas' hand and shook her head, "Don't let the voices of evil tempt you. This ring is the only thing preserving your sanity. Stay in the moonlight…"
"Under her control," C'thun whispered.
"Ignore the voices of evil," Elune continued.
"She doesn't want you to know…" C'thun countered.
The glowing, ethereal visage of Elune shined brighter as her soothing voice began to echo in his mind, "Tune him out…C'thun is afraid of you."
"She is afraid of you…" The old god retorted.
"He is desperate…" Elune's voice echoed further.
C'thun's voice grew louder and impatient now, "She is a lie…"
"He is a deceiver and master manipulator. He knows you're coming for him," she followed.
"Come to Silithus…I will tell you what she is," C'thun's voice began to get distant now indicating it was being blocked somehow.
"Just let go, Arthas…he'll get inside your head if you don't." she said as soothingly as possible.
Somewhat reluctantly, Arthas let go of the ring. C'thun's voice was now muted much to his relief. He looked up at the ethereal visage of Elune, "Elune, I…"
"C'thun will not fight you the same way N'Zoth did. Keep that in mind, Arthas," Elune stated before disappearing.
After her ethereal form vanished, Arthas glanced down at Frostmourne for a moment. He looked into the blade and spoke telepathically to its inhabitants, "How are things going in there, Bolvar?"
The image of the paladin's face came to the surface of the blade as he stared at Arthas intently, "This Old God is completely dormant within Frostmourne…but its dark powers have corrupted the blade even further. You yourself, look affected."
Bolvar's presence quickly dissipated as Azshara's reflection appeared on the blade again. He half expected she was going to ask for freedom again, but surprisingly she didn't. The elven queen sighed over-dramatically, "You could have at least left me with better company than this annoying human."
Their presences were forced back into the blade again as Arthas looked into the distance. He wondered about the potential dangers he would encounter in his battle with C'thun.
"Master, you seem disturbed…I apologize for my intrusion, but the others are all gathered down below. Lord Illidan says you have an announcement for our next course of action?" Lady Deathwhisper's voice caught his attention.
Looking back at her, Arthas nodded, "Yes…"
XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX Kel'thuzad's Throne, Naxxramas XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX
Everyone was gathered back in Naxxramas and looked up eagerly as Arthas came from the roof and into the throne room. Deathwhisper trailed behind him with a look of concern. Taking his seat on the throne, Arthas looked around at his minions seriously, "You're all going to Outland to fight the Burning Legion."
"What?!" many of them shouted unanimously.
"But master…what about the Old Gods?" Faerlina asked.
Lana'thel rose a brow, "Is it true you killed Azshara?"
"Silence minions!" Kel'thuzad demanded, "the Lich King is speaking!"
Arthas nodded at Kel'thuzad for a moment before continuing, "Azshara does not concern any of you. I did what I had to do. As for my command…I can't be in two places at once. I want the entire Scourge to go fight the Burning Legion in Outland. We don't want them getting here while we're still fighting Old Gods. Besides…you will all be of more use out there."
"You're staying to fight these creatures alone?! Master, you can't leave us!" Lady Blaumeux gawked.
Lana'thel gulped for a moment, "I don't particularly like the idea of separating from you, master."
"Kel'thuzad and Illidan will command the Scourge in my absence. Malygos and his dragonflight will stay here with me. The rest of you are to leave immediately. I expect all of you to bring swift death upon the demons in Outland. I will rejoin you after my next kill," Arthas explained.
"Who is to be your next target, my king?" Kel'thuzad asked.
"My next target is C'thun…" Arthas stated.
"What should we do in Outland besides kill demons?" Rivendare asked.
"Kill any major demons you can. Try to avoid contact with Shattrah or Dalaran. Force the demon army into a two front war," Arthas commanded.
"As you say, Arthas…we will bring death upon their ranks," Illidan nodded.
Arthas immediately began to take his leave, "Malygos, we're leaving right now. I want to have a word with Alexstrazsa and Ysera."
"Very well…" the Aspect of Magic nodded as he followed Arthas out of the throne room. After they were gone, many of the Scourge leaders looked morbid about their task.
Falric shook his head unhappily, "I do not feel comfortable with us parting from Arthas' presence."
"Neither do I, but his decision does make sense. There is no victory to be gained if the Legion managed to get to Azeroth again," Illidan sighed.
Kel'thuzad looked around seriously, "Make way for the Dark Portal…get this city in the air, immediately."
XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX Arthas and Malygos XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX
Arthas and Malygos didn't waste much time getting to their destination. During their trip, Malygos ordered most of his flight to return to Coldarra as he himself stayed with Arthas. Many were reluctant to do so, but obeyed nonetheless. As Arthas and Malygos closed in on Kalimdor, they couldn't help but notice a very unusual sight. Fires were sweeping across the borders of the forest, and the bright glow in the distance was quite astonishing. Looking closely, Arthas realized it was an elemental.
"Look, over there!" Arthas pointed towards the source of the fire, "I've never seen an elemental that big before."
"Is that…Ragnaros?! We should definitely make our way there!" Malygos said concerned.
XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX Thrall, Tirion, and company XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX
The exchange with Ragnaros did not fare as well as the heroes of Azeroth had hoped. Despite their best efforts, they had only managed to keep Ragnaros at bay for several hours. Ragnaros' raw power was beginning to gain the upper hand.
Many of them were forced to retreat as they were no longer able to withstand the intense heat. The only ones that remained were Darion and Thrall, who worked tirelessly to keep Ragnaros from advancing.
Meanwhile, Tirion's battle with Cho'gall hadn't been much better. The Ogre eventually disappeared after Tirion managed to gain the upper hand, but it proved quite futile due to Ragnaros' increasing power.
Running over to the orc's aid, Tirion spoke seriously, "Cho'gall got away, warchief…we need to fall back! This place is about to become covered in lava!"
Darion covered them during this exchange as he unleashed a howling blast of frost to counter incoming waves. He drew Ragnaros' attention momentarily before looking over at his allies, "Well we need to come up with something fast! We can't fight this guy forever!"
"We can't retreat! If we can't hold him here, then there's no stopping him anywhere. He's just going to keep burning the entire forest!" Thrall protested.
"I can't let you sacrifice yourself like this…fall back to higher ground!" Tirion yelled as he tried to pull Thrall with him. Darion took this as a sign that they were leaving and swiftly covered their escape before high tailing behind them.
Reluctantly, the warchief ceased his channeling of water and followed Tirion, narrowly dodging eruptions of magma along the way. Thrall looked back seriously as they continued, "I don't know how we're going to stop him…"
"Where'd that ogre go anyway, Highlord?" Darion asked Tirion.
The paladin growled, "He escaped…but now's not the time to worry about that. This Firelord needs to be stopped. Fall back to higher ground. We'll come up with a plan along the way."
"You three and your champions have already done enough. You bought me the time I needed to summon the ancients," a new arrival stated. Thrall, Darion, and Tirion stopped in their tracks when they spotted Malfurion walking past them towards Ragnaros the Firelord.
The archdruid held up a horn and blew into it. Ragnaros noticed his display and laughed, "What is this?!"
After the horn sounded, Malfurion spoke assuredly, "You will go no further, fiend!"
Not even moments later, the forest all but came alive as an army of forest creatures came out to battle the elementals. Ragnaros growled furiously as a barrage of ancients repelled his flames with their combined nature magic.
Thrall looked relieved by Malfurion's presence, "Thank you for the help, Archdruid. Where did the champions go?"
"They're further back, recovering. We have druids and shamans working on stopping the fires and healing the wounded," Malfurion explained calmly.
"Good…" Thrall nodded.
Hamuul Runetotem came up to their side and nodded, "We are prepared to make our stand here. The Cenarion Circle and the Earthen Ring are all gathering back up. We've eliminated the other major threats. Now there's simply…him."
Ragnaros watched with disgust as a line of druids, shamans, and others came out from the trees alongside the ancients. He shook his head and laughed, "Is this your resistance? You seek to quell my flames with this meager army?! How insulting…I will show you just how unforgiving fire can be. Flames of Sulfuron, Ignite!"
Holding Sulfuras above his head, Ragnaros formed a meteor of fire over it. Everybody watched with horror as the massive ball of fire rose into the air before exploding. The skies were set ablaze as fire rained down everywhere.
Dipping his hammer in the lava, Ragnaros heated it even further before swinging with full force. A wave of lava, larger than anything they were expecting towered as it made its way closer.
Everyone was too busy taking cover from the raining fire that they had no way to properly counter the lava wave. Malfurion was busy doing everything in his power to counter the raining fire. He channeled as much of his magic as he could to negate the devastating flames. Many ancients assisted him in his endeavor and formed a nature shield to ward off the worst of it.
Meanwhile Thrall conjured forth as much water as he could and tried to counter the lava wave. Not even moments after his water touched the lava wave, a huge stream of frost magic completely froze over both, before solidifying and shattering.
The temperature felt like it was getting considerably colder as the sound of wings flapping could be heard. Everyone looked up in shock to see Malygos had arrived. The dragon touched down in front of them, across from Ragnaros.
Arthas flew off the Aspect of Magic's back and landed powerfully in front of Ragnaros. Everyone present stared with a mixture of awe and horror at the sight of Arthas' 4 dark, ethereal, and twilight-colored wings.
"We got here faster than I expected…" Arthas spoke to Malygos as if they were not in the middle of a battlefield.
The aspect of magic nodded in agreement, though his attention appeared heavily focused on Ragnaros. The blue dragon sighed heavily, "We need to stop his advance…this path leads straight to Hyjal and Nordrassil."
"I've heard about this Firelord before…what can you tell me about him?" Arthas asked calmly. Despite their shocking entrance, the Lich King and his dragon companion hadn't even once acknowledged the resistance behind them.
"He is one of the elemental lords…a servant to the Old Gods. I can't remember which one he serves, but if he's in Kalimdor, I'd wager it is likely C'thun," Malygos speculated.
"All the more reason to deal with him now. Let's finish this quickly," Arthas nodded.
The sight was quite bizarre to many of the Earthen Ring and Cenarion Circle members who weren't quite experienced with Arthas and what he was capable of. Given their struggle to keep Ragnaros at bay…many found Arthas' lack of concern foreboding. Thrall himself seemed surprised by Arthas' presence, "If he was in the Maelstrom, how did he get here so fast?"
"No doubt flying on the back of a dragon aspect helps in that regard…" Darion added.
Frostmourne now appeared darker much to Tirion's fear and Arthas himself was radiating an even greater aura of cold death. Tirion shook his head, "This aura…it's even darker than before."
Arthas finally turned back and looked at assembly of heroes behind him. They all stared disbelievingly as Arthas laughed, "You all having some trouble? Things seemed to be heating up around here."
Dead silence followed his joke. Even Ragnaros stared dumbfounded that somebody would make such a dumb joke in this situation.
"Arthas! Wha-what happened to you?!" Darion couldn't help but ask.
"Nothing that really concerns you all…" Arthas chuckled.
"Another insect?! You will die for this!" Ragnaros roared as he swung Sulfuras down onto Arthas. The Lich King simply raised Frostmourne and parried it.
The sight was quite astonishing to say the least. Despite Sulfuras' overwhelming size and power, Arthas had parried the hammer with Frostmourne. It was clear that the weapon's enormous size strained Arthas somewhat, but he managed to push back.
Dead silence could be heard as everyone could not believe what they had just witnessed. Arthas glanced up at Ragnaros seriously, "I'm the worst possible foe you could ever face…Firelord."
Slowly, frost crept up Sulfuaras and began to freeze the flaming hammer over. Ragnaros could barely believe the sight and actually pulled back retreating slightly. He eyed Arthas with seriousness now, "Who are you, mortal?!"
"I'm not a mortal…I'm Arthas, the Lich King," the man replied calmly.
"The Revenants will come to our aid…I will not fight you alone," Ragnaros said seriously as he immediately retreated. The Firelord wasted no time submerging back into the lava like gateway. Arthas thought about trying to stop him, but was distracted when he heard Malfurion's voice.
"Arthas…what happened at the Maelstrom? The aspects were quite vague in their descriptions. I understand you encountered Azshara?" Malfurion asked.
The Lich King turned around slowly as he made his way towards the group. Everybody besides, Thrall, Tirion, Darion, and Malfurion took several steps back.
"Azshara…yeah I killed her too. She couldn't be trusted," Arthas stated casually. His lack of serious tone caused many present to wonder if he was actually telling the truth.
Malfurion took a step forward, "What has become of the Naga, of the highborne? You slew N'Zoth and Azshara you say? How?"
"They're part of the Scourge now…they'll be more useful as necromancers and cryomancers on the front lines against the Burning Legion. As for the how…you're better off not knowing," Arthas stated.
"Your ego is out of control, Arthas…you forced the Naga into the Scourge as well?!" Tirion demanded.
Arthas shrugged, "Well…they're not really Naga anymore. N'Zoth's death turned them back into elves."
"Wait a minute…you're saying, you purified them? Why would you enslave them into the Scourge then?" Malfurion asked dishearteningly.
"That's where they belong…with the rest of us power-mad crazy people," Arthas laughed, "plus I needed them to help fly my new super necropolis. Not to mention…I highly doubt it's a good idea to just let them go free," Arthas noted.
"You've gone mad with power, Arthas…what was that massive wave from earlier? Was it your doing?" Darion demanded.
Arthas glanced at him and shook his head, "That's better left to your imagination. You wouldn't believe me if I told you anyways."
"Arthas…how are you still alive?" Tirion finally asked as he was still trying to fathom the idea of Arthas killing not only an old god, but the most powerful elf in existence.
"Well, sorry to cut this short, but I need to speak with the aspects. Malygos, let's get out of here," Arthas replied as he flew onto the dragon's neck and made his way for the world tree.
Malfurion simply stared in disbelief, "I fear something terrible may have happened. Why would he be here for an audience with the aspects?"
"We should fall back into Hyjal itself in case Ragnaros returns…" Tirion simply sighed.
Thrall stared at the frost that was still covering the landscape, "Arthas helped us…how strange."
"Malfurion…forgive my asking, but you speak to the Lich King as if you know him personally," Hamuul Runetotem interjected.
The night elf nodded, "Yes…I encountered him on his trip back to Northrend. He had an audience with Elune."
"So then Maiev Shadowsong wasn't lying…Elune actually wanted to speak to him. Why?" Thrall asked.
"She asked him to protect Azeroth…" Malfurion stated as he shifted his gaze back towards the world tree, "though I wonder why she chose him?"
"We should move out and form a new strategy for dealing with Ragnaros. Somehow I don't like the idea of relying on Arthas to help us," Darion stated seriously.
Tirion nodded in agreement, "Let's go."
Malfurion simply transformed into a bird as he made his way back towards Nordrassil hoping to catch up with Arthas.
XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX Nordrassil XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX
As they flew in from a distance Arthas stared at Nordrassil somewhat awestruck. Despite the terrible fate it had suffered from Archimonde's death, Arthas was surprised to see the tree flourishing. He examined the landscape of Hyjal and could tell that someone had been hard at work restoring the forests to their former glory.
'I wonder if Malfurion is responsible for this…the world tree looks alive again. When did this happen?' Arthas thought to himself as they flew in.
Upon reaching the root of the World Tree, Arthas and Malygos walked around looking for Alexstrasza and Ysera. Their presence was quickly noticed by the guardians present. All of them fearfully distanced themselves from Arthas and the blue dragon aspect behind him.
Malygos transformed into his more humanoid form as he followed behind Arthas into a beautiful alcove that overlooked the waters beneath the tree. As they entered, they were immediately greeted by both female aspects. Ysera stared at Arthas seriously, "You killed him…even the titans couldn't kill N'Zoth."
"But at what price…what have you done to yourself?" Alextrasza asked as she examined Arthas' appearance, "have you absorbed that creature's power?"
"Yes and no…it doesn't matter. N'Zoth is dead. That aside, I came to see you two about something serious. After my battle, Nozdormu tried to kill me. He would have succeeded if I didn't have the dragon soul. He said something about this timeline being the worst one," Arthas began to explain.
Alexstrasza sighed as she looked away, "So he has already become Murozond then…because of you? Your actions were the catalyst for this?"
"Sister, don't be so condemning…he had no way of knowing how this would affect things. Arthas might be a grave sinner, but he's done invaluable deeds. I'm not sure how we would have fared against Deathwing…or even Azshara. Not to mention, thanks to his actions, the Emerald Dream is now free from N'Zoth's corruption. Although…there is still the matter of Xavius," Ysera said deep in thought.
The red aspect shook her head, "This isn't right…somebody like him is too dangerous. The titans wouldn't-"
"Again with the titans sister?! I thought we already went over this before…they abandoned us to our fate. We can't rely on them anymore," Malygos interrupted her.
She glared daggers at him, "Do not speak ill of our creators!"
"Regardless of that…what should we do about Nozdormu?" Arthas got the conversation back on track.
Alextrasza didn't seem like she wanted to speak to him, but thankfully Ysera answered. The green aspect shook her head sadly, "There's no helping him now…you'll have to kill him the same way you killed Neltharion. He can't be allowed to tamper with the timelines. The Infinite Dragonflight will likely be after your life now."
"They would have already tried and failed in the past then wouldn't they?" Arthas thought.
"We couldn't say…time is a matter only Nozdormu truly understands," Ysera replied.
"Arthas…what happened to Azshara?" Alexstrasza finally managed to ask.
The Lich King sighed, "I got rid of her…"
'For now…' he thought to himself.
"You have my thanks for that much at least…she would pose a great threat to Azeroth if she was free," Alexstrasza sighed.
Before Arthas could respond, the sound of fast paced footsteps caught his attention. Maiev came charging in behind them and looked at Arthas seriously, "Arthas! You're alive! Praise the goddess!"
"Maiev? Good to see a friendly face after all of this. Missed me that badly huh?" Arthas laughed.
The night elf glared at him, "Don't make things sound like that. I was simply concerned about what happened at the Maelstrom. It's a relief to hear that you succeeded. Though I heard Azshara was involved too. What happened?"
"Well…the descriptions of her pale in comparison to the real thing. She's quite the sight to behold," Arthas said nonchalant.
Maiev's face immediately puckered as a slight, but flustered look graced her face. "I didn't ask about her looks! It doesn't take a genius to realize she was the most beautiful elf ever. Wait…shouldn't she have been a Naga though? You found her attractive in that form?!"
"The Naga turned back into elves after I killed N'Zoth…and let me tell you, what a pleasant surprise that was. You have some real competition now for prettiest elf ever. She even seemed to like my jokes more than you do," Arthas laughed knowing full well it would annoy her.
Azshara's voice immediately sounded in his head upon saying that, "Fancy me that much do you?"
"Stop saying things like that…" Maiev said somewhat more calmly than he was expecting, "your annoying prodding is uncalled for right now. Her appearance and mine have absolutely nothing to do with the situation here. Don't you have anything serious to say? You just killed an Old God! You…you're radiating this aura of darkness. What happened after that battle? What happened to Azshara?"
"No need to worry, Maiev, I killed Azshara out of necessity," Arthas stated.
Maiev stared at him seriously, "I see…so what will you do now? Has Elune contacted you since your victory?"
"Yes, she has. She suggested that I target C'thun next. However, I would like to figure out a way to deal with Nozdormu before battling another old god. His behavior after my victory was…foreboding. I want know more about why this timeline is so terrifying to him," Arthas explained.
"We've already sent investigators to the Caverns of Time to see what Nozdormu is up to. Unfortunately none have returned. If you truly wish to find Nozdormu, you should go by the Caverns of Time in Tanaris. It lies close to Silithus, which is where C'thun dwells," Ysera explained.
Alexstrasza gave her sister an uncertain look, "What good would that do? If he's the catalyst behind Nozdormu's madness, then why would his venturing there help the matter?"
"It's not about helping the matter, sister…it is about understanding the future. It would be wise to address this situation as soon as possible," Ysera replied.
Alextrasza seemed to be deep in thought, "Things are chaotic right now…I don't know if you truly have the time to spare for this. The Old Gods will not stand by and wait now that you've killed one of them. Azeroth is in grave danger."
"It's actually a good idea, Arthas," Malygos dismissed Alextrasza's doubt, "perhaps you could encounter a past version of one of the Bronze dragons that could give us a better insight into why this timeline frightened him so badly. Rushing blindly into these battles might just get everyone killed."
"Hmm…well it's worth taking a look at least. Not to mention, the Caverns are close to Silithus anyways. We'll have a look and see if we can find anything out," Arthas concluded.
Alextrasza stared at Arthas for a moment deep in thought. Finally she spoke her mind, "Have there been any other side effects with the Dragon Soul? Ysera and I are under the belief that Neltharion still embodies it somehow."
"It has a portion of each of our powers inside of it. Arthas has likely felt them all to some extent." Malygos answered.
"I know that, brother…but Neltharion never put a piece of his power inside of it. Right?" Alexstrasza confirmed.
Malygos shrugged, "Who knows what happened since he acquired it from Murozond…"
"Deathwing asked me to take it before he died…maybe he put his power inside with his last breath?" Arthas wondered.
Alextrasza sighed at Arthas, "If that is the case, then a very piece of his soul resides within it."
"What are you saying, sister?" Ysera cut in shocked by the request.
The red aspect looked away distantly as she changed the subject, "I do not understand your alignment, Arthas…but I know you are no enemy of the dragons. I will support you if you spare Azeroth the Scourge's Wrath."
"Deal," Arthas nodded his head. Slowly he reached out extending his hand, "you have my word, Alextrasza…I'll do whatever I have to for the survival of Azeroth."
She seemed slightly surprised by the gesture, but slowly extended her gauntlet-clawed hand into a his. The moment their hands touched, a very bright light emanated from Arthas' chest. Alextrasza quickly realized it was the Dragon Soul.
The glow from it was her power reacting to her portion within the Dragon Soul. After pulling her hand back, the glow vanished. The Life-Binder seemed genuinely surprised but chose not to say anything. There was no telling what that strange occurence was.
After a brief silence, Arthas turned to leave, "I have work to do…keep me updated."
Malygos briefly waved at his two siblings before following Arthas out of the area. Maiev immediately ran out behind them. After Arthas was a considerable distance away, he looked towards Malygos seriously, "Where do you think Neltharion's Soul is?"
"We've had this conversation before…likely the abyss. Sindragosa's is there as well. You know that we will eventually have to go there…" Malygos replied.
Arthas nodded, "Hmm…well let's get going."
"Arthas! Wait!" Maiev shouted as she finally caught up to him. Despite the fearful distance, many of the night elves around Nordrassil were keeping, Arthas noticed that many were watching him intently. Several appeared to cautiously move in closer as they were curious about Maiev's interaction with the infamous Lich King.
Arthas eyed the elf up and down for a moment curiously, "What is it, Maiev?"
"I want to go with you…" she finally admitted after a long, awkward silence. Many of the eavesdropping night elves gossiped like mad at the sight.
He gave Maiev a doubtful glance, "Why?"
She bit her lip and looked around somewhat annoyed, "I would rather we have this conversation somewhere else, please."
Arthas was somewhat confused as to why she would request this, but he quickly figured it was due to the strange looks she was getting from the other night elves. Reluctantly he nodded as he gestured for her to follow him and Malygos further away from Nordrassil.
After a safe distance, in her opinion, Maiev stopped and looked at Malygos, "Lord Aspect, can I please speak with him alone? It won't take long…"
Malygos sighed heavily, "Very well…but please make it quick. Arthas and I have work to do."
After the Blue Aspect flew away, Arthas jabbed Frostmourne into a nearby rock causing it to ice over. He then placed his helmet over the hilt and turned to Maiev anxiously.
"Alright…so is this your confession?" he joked.
Much to his surprise, Maiev nodded, "Something like that. I-I want to help you. You…you're a true force of power in this world. You have the ability to change things…you don't care about what's right or wrong. You just do what needs to be done. In the past I would frown upon such actions, but given all you've achieved, I'm starting to think your way is right. Despite all you've been through, you've risen again and again to fulfill a purpose. Whether your intentions are noble or not, I admire the fact that you never give up on them. You're a lot like Illidan."
"Well, thanks, I suppose. Is this what you wanted to talk about then? You want my permission to come with me?" Arthas said still not entirely sure of what she was getting at.
"More than that…I want to follow you until the end of this," she finally admitted. Arthas was surprised by her remark and was actually serious as he rose a brow.
He shook his head, "I don't think that's what you want…my life is already ruined. There's no need for you to throw yours away trying to help me. Why would you even want to anyways?"
"Well, you might not know this, but I feel it's worth telling you. I'm sort of an outcast to my people. Malfurion and I have come to an understanding, but Tyrande and others have stripped me of any status amongst our society. If it weren't for me being one of Elune's Chosen, or for my past reputation…they likely would have had me executed for some of the things I did," Maiev began.
Arthas cocked his head confused, "If my memory serves me right, didn't you address her to me in some overly respectful way? They didn't seem all that spiteful or concerned about you from what I can recall. Not to mention…you speak so highly of elven society. You're an outcast? Why? Was this because of you helping me rebuild Frostmourne?"
"They disliked me long before then…which is likely why Elune chose me to help you. I'm seen as an extremist…no better than Illidan according to Tyrande. All my life, the only thing I've wanted is to help my people. They do not trust me anymore…they do not believe in me like they believe in Tyrande or Malfurion…or even Illidan. I have no purpose as a watcher any longer or as a huntress…my life is without meaning. Killing Illidan had been my primary motive for so long that after he died, I was left with emptiness in my heart. After the experience with you and him…I started to realize how foolish I had been all these years. My hatred for him and the Illidari was so…wasted. You've helped Illidan in a way none of our people ever could. You've empowered him and embraced him into your cause. His attitude was so different when I saw him again…I saw purpose and fulfillment. He likes being your ally because he actually seems to trust you. I want the same thing," the night elf continued.
"What are you asking for exactly?" Arthas finally spoke up after a short silence.
"I want to join the Scourge officially…I want to stand with you. I want to become a death knight. I'm willing to commit to it," Maiev finally had the courage to ask.
"Are you serious? What about Elune though? I doubt she would approve one of her 'chosen' becoming a death knight. That's not something you should ask for halfheartedly." Arthas retorted, completely surprised that Maiev would request something so unexpected.
She sighed, "Elune accepted you…she would not disapprove of me wanting to help. Don't even try to talk me out of it. I have a Moonlight Ring just like you…I have the capability to help you. All you have to do is give me a chance."
"The life you know would be over. Is that really what you want?" Arthas asked doubtfully.
"I know what I want…and I'm asking you for it. What's your answer? Yes or no?" She asked sharply.
He thought about making a joke due to the context of her comment, but Arthas quickly restrained himself when he realized that Maiev had a much more emotional face than he was used to seeing. 'Why do I get the feeling this is about more than just her becoming a death knight?' Arthas slowly began to realize.
Arthas sighed heavily, "You won't find your fulfillment with me, Maiev. Don't throw your life away following Illidan and I. I'm already dead. Everyone around me eventually ends up the same as well. They're all going down with me. I doubt that's what you really want."
"And how would you know? My life has been one huge waste…even if I had another ten thousand years it wouldn't mean anything. I don't want to miss out on my one and only chance to ask for this. I don't want to live the rest of my days in regret knowing I stood by while you and Illidan fought the tides of darkness. If death is the price I must pay for you then I'll gladly give my life," Maiev said resonantly.
"If I do this…there's no going back. You would forever be damned and your fate would be the same as mine," Arthas sighed.
"That's the way I want it. Will you accept me?" she said softly.
"Very well…I'll make you a death knight. Is there anything you want to say before I do?" Arthas asked.
She briefly made eye contact before looking away, "Do you think…in another life…we-"
Maiev couldn't finish her question as a self-defeating look graced her features. She shook her head in frustration and growled, "Never mind…there's no point in bringing it up now."
'Does she mean…me and her?' Arthas couldn't help but think
"In another life what?" Arthas played dumb, "we could have been friends?"
"No…don't make me say it," she barely whispered. Part of her felt somewhat frustrated that Arthas wasn't being his witty self and taking the hint. She couldn't help but wonder if he was deflecting the idea. Self-doubt filled her heart as she began to realize how this conversation was going to end.
After a long awkward silence, Maiev gritted her teeth at him, "Never mind…forget I said anything. I'm ready to become a death knight."
"You're not really going to do that are you?" a newcomer asked out of nowhere. It was none other than Malfurion Stormrage. The Archdruid had recently arrived from his bird form and had a look of disbelief on his face.
Maiev looked over at him somewhat unexpectedly, "Archdruid? What are you doing here?"
Malfurion focused his gaze between Arthas and Maiev seriously, "Embracing darkness is not the way to combat evil. You should know better than that, Maiev. Look at what happened to him…to Illidan…to Deathwing. The powers they gained did not help them in the long run. After all the years of you hating people for the same thing...you would actually turn to this?"
"It doesn't concern you what I choose to do, Malfurion," Maiev said somewhat aggressively.
"I suppose it doesn't anymore..." he sighed, "your choice is your own to make."
The Archdruid shook his head before looking at Arthas for a brief moment, "I do not approve of your unholy enslavement of the surviving Highborne. Though…after some thought I realize that you probably made the right choice. They are too dangerous to leave free…especially if Azshara is gone. Did you manage to kill Xavius as well? If not, then at least the Highborne are out of his reach."
"Who? Ysera mentioned that name too," Arthas cocked his head.
Maiev's eyes widened, "He was Azshara's adviser…the leader of the Satyrs."
Arthas thought for a moment, "I didn't see any of them in the battle."
"It seems likely that they were away from it. Xavius had been corrupting the Emerald Dream for years under N'Zoth…I wonder what has become of him since the death of that Old God?" Malfurion thought aloud.
Looking over at Frostmourne for a moment, Arthas grabbed his crown and put it back on his head. He then picked up Frostmourne and stared into the blade, "I doubt it'll matter…he's no threat to me with both of his masters dead."
"Arthas, what was it you said about the highborne flying your super necropolis? I don't understand…" Malfurion asked. Arthas glanced towards the night elf,
"Their army operated from a deep underwater city called Ny'alotha. It rose from the eastern side the Maelstrom somewhere near Kul'Tiras. I believe the majority of the Naga's forces were there. Though…I doubt all of them were in that city. Azshara rose it out of the water and flew it through the air with her magic to combat my Necropolis armada. Now that we've seized it, I am re-purposing the city to our mobile base of operations," Arthas explained in more detail.
Malfurion nodded his head, "I see…then where is your army now?"
"I sent Illidan and the others to Outland to fight the Burning Legion. I'm more than powerful enough to handle things here, but I can't be in two places at once."
Malfurion's eyes widened, "The legion is returning?!"
"I'll bet you're glad Illidan and I are here now…" Arthas chuckled as he began to walk away.
"Why do you care about Outland though?" Malfurion couldn't help but wonder.
"I don't…but that's where the Legion is attacking right now," Arthas replied, stopping in his tracks.
He briefly glanced towards Maiev and jerked his head, "If you're coming with me then let's go."
She turned towards Malfurion halfway expecting him to immediately protest, but much to her surprise, he didn't. The Archdruid sighed, "It is your choice to make, Maiev…I can't stop you. Though it would be wrong of me not to voice my disapproval on the matter. Your people need you now more than ever…whether they believe it or not."
"I'm doing this for our people…" she finally replied as she followed Arthas. As the two departed, Malfurion noticed Ysera coming up behind him. The green aspect looked at him seriously for a moment, "We should re-investigate the Emerald Dream…"
"I can't do that yet…not with the threat of Ragnaros returning while I'm asleep. We should build defenses around Hyjal. The World Tree will be a major target in the days to come," Malfurion stated as he walked away.
XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX Black Temple Summit XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX
Gathered around the peak of the Black Temple were some of the most powerful Burning Legion leaders. Chief among them were the infamous Eredar Lords, the Annihilan Pit Lords, the Nathrezim Dreadlords, and many Doomlords.
"Lords of the Legion…at long last we stand reunited upon a single battlefield. This pathetic backwater known as Outland is one of the last refuges of the feeble Naaru and the traitor Draenei. We will crush this shattered world until nothing remains. Our armies march upon their bastions as we speak…but I have called you here to discuss important strategy," the massive red Kil'Jaeden began.
Many of the surrounding demons stared at him with intensity. Not far from him was his brother Archimonde. Many other powerful Eredar were gathered around the two including Lord Jaraxxus, Lady Sacrolash, Grand Warlock Alythess, Socrethar, and many more. To Archimonde's other side, stood many of the Pit lords, notably Mannoroth, Magtheridon, and Azgalor.
From the Nathrezim stood Azachondrius, his three sons Tichondrius, Anetheron, and Mephistroth, as well as the infamous Mal'Ganis. Doomlord Kazzak and his greatest lieutenants were the remaining leaders present.
Archimonde let out an audible grunt of displeasure, "Why do we wait, brother? I could single-handedly crush this shattered world in a matter of days."
"No, Archimonde…I need your help for another matter. The forces here are more than sufficient to cripple their pathetic resistance," Kil'jaeden replied.
Archimonde looked curious, "It must be a serious matter if my aid is required for it."
"I will explain the details to you in private…for now I would like to suggest the Annihilan spearhead our assault on Shattrah. Mannoroth, take command of the forward army and lay siege to the city. Azachondrius, you will assist him in our absence. I am placing you in command until our return," Kil'Jaeden continued.
Azachondrius nodded his head, "Of course, master…though I must ask, where will you be?"
"Do not question him, Azachondrius! Lord Kil'Jaeden will tell you if it concerns you!" a hot-headed Eredar added. It was none other than Jaraxxus.
"You had better learn to watch your tone, Jaraxxus…you do not outrank me," Azachondrius replied venomously.
Jaraxxus' eye visibly twitched as he took a step forward, "I will rip your wings off, Nathrezim!"
Kil'Jaeden held his hand up to ease the rising tension, "Enough, Jaraxxus…the point has been made."
"As you command…" Jaraxxus immediately backed down.
Azachondrius seemed curious for a moment, "Where has Lord Sargeras gone? I thought he wanted to oversee the conquering of this world?"
"I assured him that his presence was not necessary. He has gone to attend another matter while we deal with this wretched world. If he needs to be summoned, Archimonde and I will do it ourselves," the massive red Eredar answered.
"What shall we do, my lord?" Kazzak asked as he bowed his head towards Kil'Jaeden.
The Eredar looked between him and the Pit Lords, "Assist Mannoroth's forces in the siege."
"What will you have the Eredar doing?" one of the other Eredar leaders asked. It was Lady Sacrolash, one of his main lieutenants.
"Eredar Lords stay behind…the rest of you are dismissed," Kil'Jaeden waved his hand motioning for the various demons leaders to depart. They each did so and before long, only Kil'Jaeden, Archimonde, and the other Eredar leaders were left at the summit of Black Temple.
After the other demons lords were gone, Kil'Jaeden focused his attention on the lesser Eredar lords, "Jaraxxus, Sacrolash, Alythess, Socrethar, Talgath, Sironas, and Arazzius. You are the greatest of the Eredar besides Archimonde and myself. You are all needed for tasks of vital importance."
"What would you have us do Lord Kil'Jaeden?" Alythess asked eagerly.
"Yes, brother…what is this matter that requires our combined attention?" Archimonde spoke up.
"All of us are going to the Tempest Keep…" Kil'Jaeden answered with a sinister grin.
I updated! Alright so there's a ton of things I wanted to say about what's been going on. First of all, let me apologize for long span with no update. I enjoy writing this story a lot, but sometime around Christmas, things just became quite hectic in my life to keep up with it. Several months passed, and things finally managed to ease up, but by then I kind of wanted a break from the Warcraft Universe for a while. It's so immersive that playing WOW makes me want to write and writing this fic makes me want to play.
I also started that other fic as a side project, and it sort of blew up in popularity…so now I'm going to have to update both whenever I can. That being said, I've been sucked back into the Warcraft Universe for a while and my primary focus will be on progressing this fic as much as i can. I can't promise quick updates since I rarely have free time that isn't already occupied, but I will be updating both more regularly.
As for what happened this chapter…let's begin shall we? Alright so the Burning Legion is finally moving in…and they've got all their major contenders back in action. The Black Harvest is finally going to meet back up. There will be more to see there soon enough. Also, Illidan and the rest of the Scourge are going to Outland. It's going to be one hell of a battlefield…I hope you guys are ready for it. Moving on, we got to see Ragnaros show up! Though he and Cho'gall retreated…where to and why? Azshara's not out of the game yet either. What ever happened to Xavius? What are Arthas and Maiev going to do? Tons of stuff to be revealed.
Finally, we had the big scary legion of doom meeting between the Burning Legion leaders. Where did Sargeras go? Where is Cthugha? What is Kil'Jaeden planning? What will the Eredar be doing at Tempest Keep? Insert more questions. Also since Jaraxxus is in this story now, there will be some Wilfred Fizzlebang cameos too.
Well anyways…I hope that this chapter was entertaining enough to hype you guys back up for the story. On a side note, I'm kind of curious about who your favorite characters are in this story. They don't have to be main characters…they can be anyone from the OC's to the villains or whatever.
Thanks for reading…