The whispering forest lay peaceful and quiet, nearly forgotten by time. Surrounded by mountain ranges in the western Tirisfal Glades, it was un-touched by devastation caused from the Alliance Siege of the Undercity. Hard to believe that two years prior, the former prison of an old god was discovered underneath the Lake of the forest, in the Tomb of Tyr. However the hustle of the Legion’s forces into and out of Azaroth had quickly directed everyone’s attention away from the gothicly-serene hide away.
And so the day to day routine of nature continued. Plagued Do and Deer flocked to the area, for peaceful feeding, not being bothered by the Plagued Bears who lay around lazily gnawing on tree bark or hibernating. Only at night did the forest awaken, as Fey-Drunk Darter appears around an enchanted mushroom circle. As the Fey perform a ballad of song and dance, the creatures gather for the show each night then disperse peacefully.
It is said due to this ritualistic phenomenon, that the veil between worlds is weakest here. Two years prior, Members of The Grim, Blacktooth Grin, Ritulus Luna, and Borrowed Time ventured to this very spot, to pierce the veil into the Shadowlands, and rescue a dear friend of theirs. It was said that two had lost their lives in that ordeal, yet only one body was recovered…until tonight.
A dark void ripped into existence, radiating shadowy tendrils across the ground before depositing a body roughly into the dirt. “OOF” a black and red adorned mage exclaimed as it hit the earth along with a handful of void imps that began withering into nothing upon entering this realm. Freed from its burden the portal quickly imploded in on itself with a resonating ‘Pop’ leaving Maikull Fireweaver to collect his senses. His head was splitting; his eyes blurred and watery from the impact, and there was a ringing in his ears that didn’t seem to be diminishing anytime soon. He coughed again, kicking up dust as he called out to his allies “Khorvis!?” he groaned in discomfort again, and rolled onto his back, blinking away the tears in his eyes, “Boneslave?! Baalthemar?” he called again, with no response.
‘Where the fuck is everyone?’ he thought to himself, as he opened his eyes, blinking furiously to try and rid himself of the stars dancing in his eyes. The last thing he remembered was inside the Shadowlands. He was holding up a Void Shield as everyone retreated back through Chaoseater’s portal into reality, being chased by hundreds, no thousands of skittering shadow creatures. The shield was holding the creatures back, but weakening…he couldn’t drop it and risk them flooding into our world. He remembered Boneslave closing the portal on him, and combusting into flames, unleashing every ounce on fire magic at his disposal on the shadowy horde…
‘How did I escape that…’ he wondered. His Inquisitor into the Grim, Lilliana was present, maybe the Grim Priestess made a Leap of Faith, and pulled him out at the last second…but then…where was she? His eyes were beginning to focus again on the sky above him, “Lilliana?! Tahzani?!” he called out again in vein as he placed his hand out to sit himself up and immediately froze. Maybe it was pure shock, horror, or shear confusion that petrified the mage, but he could do nothing but stare slack jawed at the hand he had placed on the ground. A smooth, silken, rosy pale hand wrapped in black and red gloves pressed against the dirt holding his body weight up.
It was not the hand of an undead forsaken. There were no cuts, or bruises, no blueness to indicate loss of blood, no decay or exposed muscle and bone. The hand that held him up was pristine, blushing and pulsing with life. He quickly looked at his other hand which bared the same resemblance, and sat back down; examine his hands in front of him, turning them over to inspect the creases and prints on his palms and fingertips. A sigh of wonder escaped his lips, and his breath fogged before him in the crisp forest air. As if he had stepped on a Goblin Landmine, the mage reacted with a violent jerking motion, magically blinking back several feet out of the Mushroom Ring as if to evade a deathly blow.
His eyes were wide, his hands were trembling, no his whole body was visibly shaking. He was out of the circle now, and looked at his hands once again…still living flesh. Slowly he raised his hands to his face. ‘Did I…was that…’ his thoughts were scrambled as he exhaled once more into his hands, and once again the fog blew past his face. Disorientation clouded his mind, “Forsaken don’t breathe!” asserted to himself. His hands continued to rise until they met his face. The found flushed velvety skin, full volume silky back length hair, and long taut ears. No patches, no bald spots, no rot. This…this was madness...
He was always deeply self-conscious about his image since surrendering himself to undeath. He had found magical means in which to appear his ‘normal’ self, His orb of Sin’Dorei for example…and with magical parlor tricks he could imitate a frosty breath…but this, this was no illusion. And to top it off, he had left his orb behind before entering the shadowlands. He quickly patted himself down, and found the orb was indeed missing from his possession. ‘How did…What…Why?’ his mind raced a thousand thoughts a second before finally settling on an action. ‘I need a mirror…a reflection, SOMETHING’ he deliberated.
Not too far from his position was a small dock…the Twilight Cultist was using it as a forward base in the region, and he had once eradicated everything there. He rounded about to gather his bearings and took off towards the lake. It didn’t take long with him magically shimmering ahead 40 yards every other minute. He cautiously approached the water’s edge, and kneeled down.
Staring back at him at the water’s edge was his reflection. A tall Sin’dorei male with pale skin, wood brown hair, and soft golden eyes in Blood mage Regalia looked back on him. The sight alone brought uncontrollable tears to his face. He watched his watery echo mimic his movements, as his hands once again traced along his face, hair, ears, and eyes. Amber yellow, as they day he was born. One solace undeath had brought him was a cure from the fel-addiction his people had been forced to endure. Was this a dream? A elaborate illusion? Or someone’s sick cruel trick? He gave himself to Sylvanas, to death after the Lich King fell. He stood by his queen, his people as they expanded across the Eastern Kingdoms. He was Sin’Dorei, but he was also Forsaken…No magic could have undone that!
There was one thing he could do to test this. “Forsaken don’t breathe.” he whispered to himself, before leaning forward and dunking his head under the water’s surface. When he was raised by Sylvanas’ Val’Kyr, one of the first things he tried was to drown himself. It was always a popular rumor the undead did not need to breath without the aid of magic, and he proved that fact in spades spending a whole day under the lake of Lordaeron. But this was no longer the case, as after only a few seconds he attempted to take in air, and instinctively drew back from the water, spitting and coughing from the water intake to his lungs.
The Mage collapsed onto his back, and began to laugh hysterically, eyes red with tears as he bellowed all emotion out amongst his continued fits of coughs to catch his breath; his face a jumble of excitement, confusion, and grief. It’s unknown how long he laid there on the lake shore staring into the night sky. His mind was so overloaded it’s almost as if it momentarily shut down from all the extreme inputs. There’s no explanation, no rhyme or reason to it…but he was alive once more. How would he face his dark lady in this state, knowing the sacrifice he had given to her so many years ago? What would his allies think, would they even recognize him? Would they believe his story? His allies…
HIS ALLIES! Maikull bolted upright, his face stoic and resolved. The Grim…He had to report back, see what news Khorvis had brought from the Shadowlands. There was still the threat from Argus and the Burning Legion to attend too, he had no time to sit idly by and muse in his newfound life, the Mandate Calls for action! Dusting himself off he took in a last deep breath from the lake, musing in its aroma one last time before summoning forth a portal home, to the Undercity.
A mortal mind can only handle so much shock. Some are capable of steeling themselves, though hardships and horrors. But even the mightiest of armors have their kinks. Maikull had managed to pull himself together from being hit by the metaphorical train that was his newfound life. But for what came next; As Illidian Stormrage has say: “He was NOT prepared…”
Maikull did not materialize on the familiar cobblestone steps of the Magic Quarter in the Undercity. Instead his feet found themselves sunk in soft dirt. His nose that was still romanticizing the soft scents of the lake shores of the Whispering Forest, were assaulted with ash, smoke, and the stench of plague in the air. He immediately withdrew a few steps away shaking his head to try and free himself from the unpleasant smell. He raised his hand to his nose to close it off from the world, and for the second time froze in horror.
Lordaeron Keep was in shambles. The Western Wall was breached, yet hundreds of gallons of pungent plague poured forth from within, rolling onto the scorched path of charred devastation that lead northward into Tirisfal Glades; reminiscent of the Dead Scar that ripped through Quel’Thalas. A battle long since over was waged here…but who was fighting, who was the victor? The Legion? No…he was quickly able to identify Alliance Siege weapons and broken banners scattered through the warzone. But why? What would have brought on such aggression from the alliance? Even as he contemplated theory and reason in his mind, he still stood in a state of disbelief and denial.
This can’t be real…The Undercity fallen? Lady Sylvana’s would never allow it. Him being alive, and a full Sin’Dorei again, it’s a fantasy. “This must be a farce; a lucid dream for me to wake up from…none of this can be real.” He shakenly begins to walk through the battlefield, gawking at the charred bodies and siege wreckage strewn about the place. He then turns towards Lordaeron Keep, but as he begins to advance, a waif of plague clouds envelop him. The pain was intense. His whole body began to tense up and seize, and he began choking on this own breath. He knew this sensation, as it was almost the same way he felt when he willingly drunk a vile of plague that turned him undead.
Maybe this was a test? Maybe he was given life to see if he was still loyal to lady Sylvanas? As his vision began to drape into darkness, he felt willing to give himself back into the sweet arms of death, in her name. His eyes close, and he stops breathing as visions of the Banshee Queen fill his mind, almost like a calming sedative to ease the pain of the impending doom…
The words filled the Mages mind and heart as a burning fire erupted from his soul. His body combusted into flames and he rose to his feet, searing spectral wings bursting forth from his back as he roared into the sky with what breath he had left. The fire cleansed the air around him of plague just for a moment, enough for Maikull to activate a Micro-Gravity well concealed within his wrist guards. The mechanism reversed gravity around him and thrusted him high into the air. The flames around his body dissipated, yet the pair of ember wings remained and gave him what little control he needed to glide to safety atop the remains of the Zeppelin Station.
He was high enough to be cleared of the immediate effects of the plague, but prolonged exposure was probably not recommended. Maikull took a moment of pause, reflecting on what had occurred, and what he had heard. It was a voice, as if spoken from within him, and it was a voice he knew very well, yet he could not put a name to it for the life of him. Shaking away the post-suicidal experience, the vantage point he found himself at was able to give him better perspective.
Regaining an affinity for his natural magical abilities, the Fire Mage summoned forth a Burning Eye, and magically bound his vision to it, sending the magical construct up and over the plague to get a better view of the Keep. This would give him a better understanding of the battle that had transpired, and possibly give him clues as to where to go next from here.
Most of the battlements were still in place, but the entire keep was overflowing with the gaseous plague. He hypothesized that due to the keep walls containing within, that the potency would be ten times as lethal within the walls than what he had experienced on the edge of the field. There were no bodies to speak of, Horde or Alliance within the keep; their bodies possibly liquified by the potent plague that was released. The only real damage was what he had observed before on the forward western wall, probably where the alliance made their breach.
Maikull closed his eyes and severed the magical connection to the eye, letting it vaporize into the night sky above Lordaeron. Whatever transpired, Lady Sylvanas felt it necessary to salt the earth so to speak, then allow the Forsaken Capital to fall into enemy hands. That meant there must also have been a contingency plan. The closest, and last seat of power for the Horde in the Eastern Kingdoms was Silvermoon…assuming that hasn’t been sacked as well. Maikull turned his head north away from the keep, looking upon the warpath leading to it.
Brill…Home of the Gallows End Tavern, and Guild Hall of the Grim. The city had been leveled, only bits of rubble remained amongst the built-up Alliance Camp. Surely his comrades saw this coming and escaped in time, but to where? He had left his Hearthstone in his Bike when he entered the shadowlands after Khorvis, along with his other possessions so he could not contact them directly, and he couldn’t remember any alternate hubs or safehouses other than what temporary gatherings they made for Inquisition. Regardless, he wasn’t going to learn anything more in this place, he had to move and gather more intel. He didn’t trust taking another portal, and opt for a more subtle approach.
Rushing across the field in his summoned Cindermane Charger, he headed East towards the Bulwark, into the Plague Lands. It was a moderate trek on foot, but he could possibly make it to Silvermoon before dawn. Deep in his heart, he hoped his birthplace still stood as he left his former home behind, with each galloping stride, the Sin’Dorei Mage’s resolve sharpened, repeating the words of the Lasher, the Deathless, the Insane, and all others who forged him into the will of the Mandate.
There shall be no peace, until the alliance is cleansed through annihilation!
[[To Be Continued]]
The stories and lives of the Grim. ((Roleplaying Stories and In Character Interactions))