When I first started writing, I did a great deal of fan fiction. Having pre-established worlds to play in allowed me to focus on crafting characters and plots. As time went on, I largely stopped writing fan fics to focus on my own original worlds (with the notable exception of Dispatches from the Romulan War), but when Blizzard announced a fan fiction writing contest last year, I just had to make a contribution. Unfortunately, I never could get their submission form to work, so the story I wrote never got sent in. It’s just been gathering dust ever since, so I figured I’d post it here in the hopes someone might get some enjoyment out of it.
Being me, I had to do a Warcraft story, and, more importantly, a Blood Elf story. Before you ask, yes, I am a Kael fan who despised how the writers treated him in Burning Crusade, and yes, this is an attempt to “fix” his story. I make no apologies for it.
Anyway, I hope you all enjoy the story.
The sun sank in the west, plunging Sun’s Reach Harbor into cool shadow and setting fire to the majestic towers of Magisters’ Terrace.
Annarin Duskfury looked up at the seemingly glowing towers and shivered—not just because of the cooling weather, and not just because of the newly renewed magic withdrawals that wracked her body. She shivered at the thought of what she was about to do.
Her two companions were making their final preparations, checking their armor and weapons. Annarin’s gear was simpler, but she took the time to adjust her newly acquired Shattered Sun Offensive tabard. It had been designed for a Draenei and was much too large.
One of her companions, a huge Broken Draenei and Shattered Sun commander named Laatum, lumbered past her. “If that tabard doesn’t suit you, perhaps we can find you another,” he rumbled in his raspy voice.
Annarin understood his double meaning, and her smooth brow furrowed in irritation. “Watch yourself on the path. You wouldn’t want to chip a hoof on the stones. Oh, wait…”
Laatum snarled but kept moving.
The third member of their party shook her fiery-haired head at the sniping. Like Annarin, the Lady Liadrin was a Blood Elf, but otherwise, there was little resemblance between the two. Annarin was slender and aristocratic, a noble who looked the part. One would never guess at her power unless they saw her use magic. Liadrin, on the other hand, exuded strength despite her slight frame. Once a priestess of the Holy Light, Liadrin had become a warrior, a Blood Knight, after the near destruction of their race and now looked comfortable in gleaming plate armor.
“Let’s go,” Liadrin said, her throaty voice brooking no more argument.
With the last of the light fading, they shuffled up a narrow path up the cliffs surrounding the Terrace. Leading the way, Laatum muttered something about a “pair of blasphemous turncoats” under his breath. Annarin glared at his back but said nothing.
Annarin tried to keep her breathing steady as she steeled her courage. This would be a difficult mission—some might even call it suicidal. Magisters’ Terrace was essential to the Shattered Sun’s plans to retake the Sunwell, but Kael’thas had so far rebuffed all attacks. Then, someone on the inside had sent an anonymous message claiming that they could sneak in a tiny force to take out the leadership within. And the Shattered Sun commanders had decided to take the chance, sending three of their most powerful champions. It said something to Annarin’s power that they had been willing to send her despite her past.
But the danger wasn’t what truly concerned her. It was their mission: kill Prince Kael’thas so that Magisters’ Terrace could fall. A few weeks ago, harming Kael would have been unimaginable to her. A large part of her wanted to turn back even now.
By blood, she and Kael were cousins, but since childhood, they had been nearly as close as siblings. They had played together in the royal gardens. They had shared secrets in the shady gardens of Silvermoon. They had only separated when Kael had gone to Dalaran to practice his magic, and then when Quel’thalas had been destroyed, they had reunited.
If anything, the genocide of their people had brought them even closer. With their lives in shambles, Annarin had become Kael’s confidant and unofficial advisor. She had supported him through all the trials. She had backed his decision to ally with the Naga. She had followed him to Outland and knelt alongside him when he had pledged their people to the service of Illidan. She had always believed in him, and not once had she doubted the path their people were on.
Until the day she drank Demon blood.
They had thought the powers in Outland would satisfy them, but they had been wrong. The more they fed their magic addiction, the stronger it became. She hadn’t flinched when they began tearing energy from the nether beasts. She had barely hesitated when Kael had destroyed Farahlon with his manaforges. But then had come the ultimate attempt to satisfy their hunger: drinking undiluted Demon blood.
The feeling had been indescribable: ecstasy so intense it was agony, a searing power that filled every cell of her body to bursting. She had blacked out from the overwhelming rush of power.
Upon awaking, she had been wracked with an all-consuming hunger. She had been halfway to the hall where the high guard—later known as Felbloods—had taken their grisly meals before she had realized what she was doing, before the tiny scrap of her mind that had not succumbed to the addiction had raised its objection.
It was at that moment that she had realized what she had become, what her people had become. As if for the first time, she had seen the twisted Netherstorm that the Plains of Farahlon had become, the vile creatures her comrades had turned themselves into. And she had seen the madness of the ruler that had brought these things to pass.
Though it had caused her agony then and continued to do so, she never drank another drop of Demon blood. She had begun plotting the unthinkable—the betrayal of her prince. Soon after, with her surreptitious aid, Tempest Keep had fallen.
But it hadn’t ended there. Kael had been defeated, but not killed, and soon after, he had seized control of the Sunwell’s hidden remnant and begun plotting to use it to summon his new master, Kil’jaeden.
Annarin shivered again.
Kil’jaeden. The Deceiver. Lord of the Burning Legion. Creator of the Lich King and indirect author of Quel’thalas’s destruction. More than anything else, Kael’s devotion to such a monster proved his insanity.
The knowledge pained Annarin even worse than her withdrawals. The man she loved more than anyone else still alive had pledged himself to the author of all their people’s misery. It was a sickening feeling deep in the pit of stomach.
They reached the top of the plateau and carefully edged their way along the side of the building, careful to avoid the views of the various windows. In the silence, her companions’ plate armor clanked with what seemed like incredible volume. Annarin muttered a simple spell to muffle sound, her heart pounding.
They came to the small side entrance their contact had agreed to remove the sealing spells from. They glanced at the eastern horizon, where the first stars had begun to appear. It was the agreed upon time.
Cautiously, Laatum raised a bluish fist and knocked. The door opened, spilling light onto the plateau, and the three companions caught their breath.
Standing in the doorway was a seven-foot tall creature that seemed to be composed entirely of luminous energy. Its shape was roughly humanoid, but it seemed to be held in that state only by a few diaphanous bands of shimmering fabric. It carried an ornate staff in one hand.
“Ethereal!” Laatum snarled, drawing a massive warhammer with a head of chipped crystal—a relic from his days as a vindicator.
The Broken swung his staff at the Ethereal—only to have the weapon pass through empty air as the creature somehow transferred itself to a place behind him.
Laatum recovered quickly, coming around and swinging again. The air blurred as the Ethereal deflected the blow with its staff. “Stop!” a wispy, vaguely male voice said. Disconcertingly, the voice didn’t seem to come from any particular part of the creature.
“I know your kind!” Laatum spat. He stalked the Ethereal, who edged back with little jumps that didn’t seem to involve his limbs. “Driven by greed. Friend to none but whoever currently pays you. Purveyors of the prohibited. Allies of Kael’thas!” He spat the last one as a curse, and Annarin winced.
Laatum swung his hammer again, and again the Ethereal deflected it—though only barely. “I am Jareem! It is who sent the message! It is I who have come to open Kael’s defenses and help you put an end to the mad prince.”
Laatum paused, seeming to think, but then prepared to strike again.
Liadrin placed herself between the Broken and the Ethereal and caught Laatum’s arms. Though her limbs were less than half as thick as his, she managed to stop the blow.
“Stop! He means to help us,” she said.
“Ethereals cannot be trusted,” Laatum grated, but he lowered his hammer.
“I swear to you that I am sincere,” Jareem said. “I know my people’s reputation, and I understand your reaction, but I share your goal. Though it is not my home, I do not wish to see this world burn, and I will do whatever it takes to put an end to the monster that is Kael’thas.”
There was a moment of awkward silence.
Then, Liadrin said, “I believe you.”
All eyes turned to Annarin, the tiebreaker. “I’m inclined to trust him,” she said after a moment. “If we do not, we are right back at the stalemate we started from, and if he is deceiving us, then only three lives are lost. The Shattered Sun Offensive will continue on.”
Liadrin nodded. “It is decided,” she said authoritatively. “Jareem, lead on.”
The Ethereal bowed, and they followed him inside the complex, Laatum once again cursing under his breath. Annarin took a deep breath to calm herself, wondering which prospect she feared more: defeat or success.
* * *
They stalked the corridors of the Terrace, Jareem directing them how to avoid patrols and disable magical alarms. The Ethereal led the way, followed by Laatum, who never let him out of reach. Lady Liadrin was next, and Annarin brought up the rear.
Liadrin occasionally shot a glance at the woman behind her. She worried about Annarin’s divided loyalties, but considering her own past, she wasn’t sure she was in a position to judge.
Annarin cast a spell to muffle the sounds of their passing, but their footfalls still seemed too loud. Every clank of her armor set Liadrin’s teeth on edge. The sun had gone down, throwing the Terrace into cool shadow, and there were at least plenty of places to hide.
Liadrin had led people for long enough to know how to exude confidence, but inside, she was deeply concerned. She sweated and chafed in her plate armor.
She did not know what she would do when it came time to fight. Once again, she was without the Light’s aid.
In a different life, Liadrin had been a priestess. She had served the church and been happy. But then the Scourge had come. Her people had all but annihilated. The Sunwell had been tainted. Those losses would have been horrific enough, but that had not been the end of it. As the survivors struggled to continue on and the High Elves became the Blood Elves, all their former allies had abandoned them. Including the Light.
For Liadrin, it had been like losing a limb. She had sunk into a deep depression for months.
Then, hope had come. A group of Kael’s magisters had returned from Outland, the Promised Land, with M’uru, a mysterious creature composed of pure Light. Just one touch of the Light’s warmth, stolen from the creature, had been enough to convince her. M’uru had been chained within Silvermoon, and the Light had returned to the Children of Blood.
With times now far more deadly, Liadrin had abandoned life as a priestess and become a paladin, a Blood Knight. Her prowess with wielding the stolen Light had soon seen her appointed as matriarch of the new order.
Deep down, she thought she’d always known what they were doing was wrong. But the Light was as important to her as air, and she’d buried her doubts. Until a few weeks ago.
The Felbloods had appeared without warning, warping into the Blood Knight citadel through transdimensional portals. They had attacked her people and stolen M’uru, taking it to the Sunwell Plateau to be used for a purpose even more foul than the one she had subjected it to.
It was then that she had realized the truth: that she had abandoned the principles of her faith in order to practice it, that she had pledged herself to a mad prince. Her depression had returned, and she had gone to Outland, to Shattrath, to throw herself upon the mercy of M’uru’s people, the Naaru.
There, she had received the greatest shock of all: that M’uru had accepted, even chosen, its wretched fate. All of it had been contained in a prophecy made by the Draenei Velen:
Silvery moon, washed in blood,
Led astray into the night, armed with the sword of broken Light.
Broken, then betrayed by one, standing there bestride the sun.
At darkest hour, redemption comes, in knightly lady sworn to blood.
Awed by the selflessness of M’uru, a being that would sacrifice itself for a chance of redeeming the very race that would torture and violate it, Liadrin had pledged herself to making things right. But now that the time had come, she wasn’t sure what she could do. She was skilled with her long sword and shield, but she knew that would not be enough to defeat Demons, Felbloods, and their mad master.
A patrol of Kael’s Ethereal collaborators approached, and Jareem had them duck behind a stack of glittering devices containing pure mana harvested from the Netherstorm. Liadrin’s heart pounded, but the creatures didn’t notice them.
Jareem’s featureless “head” betrayed no emotion, and she wondered if he felt as conflicted as did she and Annarin.
“What will happen when your treachery is discovered?” she asked.
“I will be blacklisted and marked for death by the Etherium. They will send out assassins to make an example of me. I may be able to take refuge with the Consortium, but it is equally likely they will kill me on sight. If I am fortunate, my death will be swift and without too much pain.” His voice betrayed no emotion.
The Ethereals had gone by, but a pair Kael’s Demons were now at the opposite end of the courtyard—too far to hear them, but close enough to see them if they left cover.
“Why are you doing this?” Liadrin said to Jareem.
“Several centuries ago, I was part of an Etherium team hired to supply weapons on a world at the far end of the Nether. It seemed a normal venture at first. Eventually, with our aid, one side triumphed and annihilated the other.
“That was when I discovered that this was no normal conflict. Mere weeks after their triumph, the victors turned on each other, again plummeting the world into war. At the direction of our leader, my team continued to supply arms to many factions, aiding in the deaths of thousands. It was at this time that I learned that the world had been infiltrated by the Nathrezim, the Dreadlords of the Burning Legion. They had instigated the conflicts as a way of furthering their Burning Crusade.
“With our assistance, the people of that world continued to destroy each other until there were so few of them left that they could no longer maintain the conflict. At which time the Nathrezim revealed themselves and extinguished what little life was left on the world.
“I have caused much suffering and death in my time, but never before had I caused the destruction of an entire world.” For the first time, emotion entered his voice. It became rough and strangled. “Even we Ethereals have limits. I swore then that I would never do anything like that again.
“But not all my people share this view. Once again, we have thrown in with the Legion. But this time, I will not stand for it. This world is not my home, but I will not see it burned by Kil’jaeden, and if by my life or my death I can prevent that, I will.”
Annarin and Laatum had overheard, and now they looked at the Ethereal with new eyes. A moment later, they left their cover—Annarin looked back longingly at the pure mana—and now, Laatum did not watch Jareem like a hawk at every moment.
Liadrin took some heart from the ebbing of the distrust between her allies. She wished she could feel as confident in herself.
* * *
They found Kael in his inner sanctum—a plush room filled with silk cushions, fluttering drapes, and mana crystals that called to Annarin like a siren. They watched from a servants’ corridor, hidden by both the shadows and a small touch of Annarin’s magic. Two lieutenants—a burly Demon and a red-skinned Felblood—could be seen conversing with Kael. The prince himself was hidden from sight, but she could hear his voice—it sent her heart fluttering.
Then, he came into view, and she gasped. She hadn’t been present when he had been defeated in Tempest Keep—she had been unable to face it—and she hadn’t been aware of the extent of his injuries.
A spike of glowing green crystal protruded from just below his ribcage. Various other injuries scored his bare arms and chest, and she wondered what dark powers were keeping him alive. His eyes crackled with green fire, and his skin was a sickly, red-gray color. His face was sunken and deathly.
Annarin gathered her strength for the coming encounter, hoping she would have the courage to strike down her cousin. Liadrin muttered prayers under her breath. Most seemed to be pleas for forgiveness. Jareem and Laatum were silent.
The lieutenants left, their footsteps growing fainter as they marched down another hallway. Kael was alone.
“Now,” Laatum hissed. He charged into the room, and the rest followed.
“Die, blasphemer!” Laatum roared, swinging his crystalline hammer.
Kael turned in shock but raised an arm in time. A wall of green fire deflected the Broken’s strike. Almost dismissively, Kael waved his hand, and Laatum was hurled aside.
The prince studied the other attackers now advancing on him. His eyes widened as they passed over Annarin.
“Annarin,” he breathed, his voice cleaving at her heart. Then his face twisted into a mask of hatred. “Betrayer!”
He pointed a finger, and a bolt of midnight black energy shot toward her. She dove out of the way.
Liadrin hurled a battle cry and charged the prince, hacking at him with her sword. He deflected the swings with a barrier of fire, then hurled the flame at her. She deflected it with her shield, but it knocked her back, and she cried out as the heat went through her shield and into her arm.
Annarin grabbed two mana crystals from a nearby table. A wave of ecstasy washed over her as she absorbed their power, and she struck at Kael with several bolts of violet energy—pure arcane magic instead of the Demon fire she would have wielded a few weeks ago. Kael stumbled under her barrage but withstood it.
Jareem suddenly appeared behind the prince. Blades of pure light appeared at either end of his staff, and he swung for Kael’s neck. Kael noticed at the last moment, blocking the attack by grabbing onto the staff.
Liadrin and Laatum were advancing again, but a wave of energy knocked them and Jareem back. “Away gnats!” the prince snarled. A look of twisted glee passed over his corpselike face, and Annarin felt energy build. “I’ll turn your world upside down!”
Annarin’s stomach lurched, and she found herself lifted off her feet. Suddenly, all the laws of physics ceased to apply, and she and her companions hurtled about the room at random. Pain blossomed in Annarin’s side as she bounced off the ceiling. Laatum hit the wall with a sickening crunch. Blood sprayed from his nose and mouth, and he went limp. Liadrin managed to curl into a ball, and her armor rang off the walls, floor, and ceiling.
Only Jareem seemed unaffected. He swam through the chaos like a fish, the air around him blurring. He reached Kael, and they struggled, but then a blade of fire erupted from Kael’s hand, and Jareem was cut in two at what equated to his waist.
The Ethereal fell, bits of energy sparking between his two halves. He emitted a sound like a moan of pain. Annarin felt a pang of regret that immediately blossomed into a violent rage against Kael’thas. She gathered her power to unleash her vengeance, but then her head struck the floor, and the world went dark.
* * *
The madness at last came to an end, and Liadrin slammed into floor. Her whole body ached from impacts with the walls, floor, and ceiling, and her burned arm was in agony. She stumbled to her feet, barely finding the energy to raise her sword and shield.
Laatum lay in a pool of his own blood, barely breathing, and Annarin, while less severely injured, was still out of commission, blood running down her slack face. Jareem was still moaning and seemed incapable of doing anything else.
“There’s nowhere to run, Blood Knight,” Kael’thas said. As if to underscore his point, the sound of running footsteps came from the hallways leading to the chamber. His lackeys had heard the commotion and were coming to help.
“The light has abandoned you, but my master grants me more power than I could hope for,” the prince continued, extending a hand that crackled with black lightning.
Liadrin made one final plea to the Light. She knew she could never be forgiven for what she had done, but she begged for the chance for redemption, for the chance to make things right—not just for herself, but for all the Children of Blood.
And then it came: a warm feeling of purest love and compassion that started at her heart and spread throughout her body until she was literally glowing. The aches faded from her body, and her burned arm cooled, the pain receding.
Tears of gratitude ran down her cheeks. The Light had returned to her.
Kael’s reinforcements arrived, but walls of white fire blocked the entrances to the chamber. The Demons and Felbloods hammered at the barriers, but the Light withstood them.
Kael snarled and unleashed his bolt of dark energy, but it faded harmlessly within the radiance that surrounded Lady Liadrin.
“Anaralah!” Liadrin cried, and a bolt of Light slammed into Kael. He flew backward, slamming into a plush couch and smashing it to splinters.
Liadrin spread her arms, and the Light washed across the floor like water to pool around her companions. She begged the Light to show mercy upon her companions, willing its love and grace into them. With a pang of regret, she felt that Jareem was beyond her power to save—either because of his alien nature or the extent of his injuries—but the wounds of the others mended themselves before her eyes.
Her tears continued to flow as she was overcome with thankfulness.
* * *
Laatum awoke to a feeling of unimaginable serenity. He opened his eyes and saw Liadrin, her entire body aglow, and knew that the Light had returned to her. His respect for her drastically increased. If the Light found her worthy of a second chance, that was good enough for him.
Kael’thas emerged from the ruins of a couch and lashed at her with bolts of green fire that smelled of brimstone and made one feel ill just by looking at them. Liadrin withstood the barrage and responded with a volley of glowing bursts that felt as right as Kael’s felt wrong, but he managed to defeat them with his own magics. Annarin joined the battle, but he withstood her strikes as well. The three continued to pound at each other without success.
Laatum forced himself to his misshapen feet. His injuries had been extensive, and even with Liadrin’s healing, pain wracked his body, but he was used to enduring hardship. The sickness that had made him one of the Broken had been agonizing, both physically and mentally. His reshaped body had eventually adapted, but then he had been banished by his own people, who had feared his condition might be contagious. Rather than take shelter with the wretched tribes of other Broken, he had set off on his own and eked out a living upon the Plains of Farahlon. That, too, had been difficult—especially once the world had been shattered and become Outland.
Then Tempest Keep had come, a shining beacon descending from the night sky. He had recognized it as a Naaru vessel and realized that his prayers had been answered. He had set off to find its landing site. But it had come down miles away, and by the time he had arrived, it had been too late. The Naaru had already disembarked and spread through the rest of Outland, and invaders he later learned were called Blood Elves had seized the ship for themselves.
He’d watched in horror as the Blood Elves twisted Tempest Keep’s technology and used it to create the manaforges, hideous machines that warped reality and reduced all around them to transdimensional wastes. Even worse was the nightmare of seeing Tempest Keep’s lone defender, the Naaru M’uru, taken from the ship in magical chains to be used for the Elves’ own twisted purposes.
After that, he had returned to Shattrath and pledged his hammer to Kael’s defeat.
Now, victory was within reach. He overcame the pain in his body and charged, raising his hammer. As he did so, he noted a faint glow from within its crystal. He had been cut off from the Light when he had become Broken, but perhaps some of Liadrin’s light had seeped into the weapon.
A grim smile spread across his melted features. Feeling the righteous fury burn through his veins, he leapt at Kael, who was still distracted by Liadrin and Annarin. “By the Naaru!” he roared.
Kael looked up, and Laatum was rewarded by the shock and fear upon his face.
Laatum’s hammer struck the green spike protruding from Kael’s abdomen, and both crystals exploded in a blinding burst of white and green light.
Laatum was hurled back, dozens of pieces of shrapnel shredding his body. The pain was horrific, and he was deafened both by his own screams and those of Kael’thas, but he was comforted by the knowledge that he had struck a blow for the Light one last time.
* * *
As Annarin’s eyes recovered from the burst, she saw that Laatum now looked as if he had been mauled by several large and vicious dogs. He was covered in blood. At the other end of the room, Kael knelt upon the floor, holding his guts in. The explosion of the crystal had carved a huge hole in his stomach and caused numerous cuts to other parts of his body, and the various injuries all leaked a thick green substance. Both sights filled her with horror. Her stomach heaved, and she tasted bile.
Liadrin rushed over to tend to Laatum. At that moment, Jareem gave a last moan and died, the energies that composed his being spraying outward. To Annarin’s magic-starved mind, it was like shining a light in a dark room.
Some may have hesitated. Some may have found it distasteful. But since the destruction of her homeland, Annarin had learned to do what needed to be done. Reaching out with her mind, she grabbed the energy that had once been her comrade and bent to her own will. The power pooled in the air before her and formed into a thin, hard dagger of pure energy.
As she hurled the dagger at Kael, the prince looked up, and their eyes met. For a brief moment, the fire in his eyes stopped burning, and she saw the person he had been before the Scourge had destroyed their lives.
She felt sure that he could have stopped the dagger. Even as grotesquely wounded as he was, the power Kil’jaeden had given him should have allowed him to stop the spell. But he did nothing, and the beam of energy—containing not just Jareem’s life essence but also his determination to stop the Legion—tore through Kael’s chest and burst out the other side.
Kael made a small, sobbing grunt of pain. He looked at Annarin and mouthed something. She thought it might have been, “Thank you.”
But then the madness returned. “Me demise accomplishes nothing! The master will have you! You will drown in your own blood! The world shall burn!” he screamed.
He keeled over and died.
Tears streamed down Annarin’s cheeks. She ran to check on Liadrin and Laatum.
As she arrived, Liadrin shook her head. “I cannot save him,” Liadrin said, her voice thick. “It is the corruption of Kael’s crystal. The Light cannot penetrate it.”
Laatum’s eyes stared sightlessly. If he wasn’t already dead, he would be soon. Annarin’s throat tightened.
Liadrin stood and drew her sword, the Light now fading from her. She stalked over to Kael’s body and raised her blade.
Annarin rushed over and grabbed her arm. “What are you doing?” she demanded.
“We have to make sure,” Liadrin said.
Annarin remembered Tempest Keep and was forced to see Liadrin’s logic. “Very well. But I will do it.”
Hesitantly, Liadrin handed over her sword. Annarin’s heart pounded, and sweat ran down her back, but she forced her hands to stop shaking as she swung the blade and cut her cousin’s head from his shoulders.
The barriers of Light were starting to fade. The Demons and Felbloods would soon break through.
“We need to go!” Liadrin said.
Hot tears still pouring down her face, Annarin nodded. She spoke several words of power, and arcane patterns formed in the air around her and her remaining comrade. Kael’s enchantments had prevented anyone from teleporting into the complex, but she was willing to bet they did nothing to stop anyone teleporting out.
She was correct. The Demons howled in rage as their prey disappeared.
* * *
A numb haze clouded Annarin’s mind as they stumbled out of the chill night and stopped before a Draenei guard outside the Shattered Sun headquarters in Sun’s Reach. The Draenei held up a lantern and demanded, “Who goes there?”
“Annarin Duskfury and Lady Liadrin,” Liadrin said. “We have returned from our mission to Magisters’ Terrace. Prince Kael’thas has been slain. Without his leadership, the Terrace should fall, and our way to the Plateau will be clear.”
The Draenei woman regarded them suspiciously, and that suspicion doubled when she saw that there was only the two of them. “Where is Laatum?” she demanded.
“He fell in the final battle. It was hero’s death,” Liadrin answered mournfully.
The guard continued to look at them with suspicion. Annarin felt a hot flush of rage as she realized the Draenei was still judging them by their past transgressions.
Annarin reached into a sack and hurled Kael’s head at the guard’s feet. The grim trophy was spattered with red blood and green ichor, and the woman recoiled in horror.
“Kael is dead, now let us through so we can make our report!” Annarin snarled.
The Draenei went a paler shade of blue and stumbled aside. Annarin stomped into the headquarters, and Liadrin followed, pausing to collect the prince’s head.
* * *
Once their report had been made to the Shattered Sun commanders, Liadrin went to the shrine to the Light within Sun’s Reach and prayed for forgiveness as she had every night since M’uru had been taken. For a moment, a faint glow flickered across her body, and she smiled.
* * *
Annarin retired to a room in the town’s recently liberated inn. She drained a mana crystal dry, letting its warm energy sooth her sore body, but it did nothing to ease the empty ache she felt in her heart. Kael’s death was a tragedy succeeded only by his treachery, and she was further haunted by the knowledge that she had played a major hand in his corruption. She knew it would be a long time before she or her people would recover from recent events—if they ever did.
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