Caught up in the wave of feels triggered by the release of the Burning Throne in World of Warcraft, I was inspired to write a bit of fan fiction. It tells the story of my warlock (who is also my demon hunter) up to the final assault on Antorus.
Even by fan fic standards, this is a very self-indulgent story, but I had fun writing it.
And yes, I’ve taken some liberties with how the Vindicaar operates, but it was too cool an idea not to use. And isn’t that the true spirit of Warcraft?
One Last Time
“Get away! Get away!”
Dorotaya Duskfury screamed and screamed, words giving way to incoherent shrieks, but the dead kept advancing. She let loose with all the fury of her magic, forgetting all lessons on subtlety and control taught by her masters, but the dead kept advancing.
She delved deep into her herself, and her slender fingers spewed fire like a Dragon’s breath. The blaze consumed everything before her, blinding her, cutting off her view of the horrific monstrosities shambling toward her.
She’d been told they would be safe. Ranger-General Windrunner would hold the Elfgates. The might of the Quel’dorei would repel the human prince and his undead hordes. The instructors had assured everyone at the academy that there was nothing to fear, that lessons would continue as normal.
But the Scourge had come all the same. The forests of Eversong had withered at their very touch, and the rotting hordes had invaded the academy before there had even been time to evacuate.
Her heart began to flutter, her strength to fail. Her magic abandoned her, and she slumped, the flames no longer leaping from her hands.
The ghouls before her been reduced to piles of ash, but now the classroom was ablaze. The smoke burned her throat with every breath, and flakes of ash settled onto her radiant golden hair.
Coughing, Dorotaya stumbled forward and leapt through the flames, making it out into the hallway beyond. She sunk to her knees, her whole body shaking.
A shiver went down her spine as she felt something warm and wet soaking through her brightly coloured robes. She looked down, and her throat seized.
There was blood everywhere.
She looked around, her eyes widening. The pale stone walls of the academy were streaked with blood, the floor covered in great crimson pools of it. Broken and mutilated bodies were strewn everywhere, their throats torn, their limbs broken, their faces frozen in masks of horror.
Dorotaya rose unsteadily, retching, and stumbled down the hallway, vainly trying to flee from the horror. The fire she had started was spreading, and the hot smoke mingled with the coppery scent of blood in the air.
She tried not to look at the carnage, but it was everywhere. There was no escape. Her friends, her rivals, her instructors… all had been reduced to naught but shredded meat. The famed grace and dignity of the Quel’dorei meant nothing now. They had been slaughtered like animals.
Tears filled her blue eyes and flowed down her pale cheeks.
She emerged from the hallway into a courtyard at the heart of the academy, but that brought no relief. The slaughter had been no less complete here. The bodies were decomposing with unnatural swiftness, and the once vibrant trees and grass of the courtyard were withering away with the foul sickness of the Scourge. The air smelled of rot and death.
A soft noise to her left broke the tomblike stillness, and Dorotaya’s heart leapt into her throat. She held up her hands, knowing she didn’t have the strength to hold off another assault by the undead.
But the figure that came into view was no walking corpse. He had long platinum blonde hair and a strong jaw, and he wore the elaborate blue and silver robes of an instructor, now streaked with ash and gore as hers were. He walked unsteadily, and she saw her own horror mirrored in his wide eyes.
“Xen?” she gasped. Her voice was weak, sounding almost childlike.
She saw recognition in his eyes, also blue, and he rushed to her side. Xen Frostblaze was one of her instructors. He had taught her the very pyromancy that had saved her from the Scourge.
The full weight of what had happened crashed down on Dorotaya, and she sunk to her knees, the trickle of her tears becoming a torrent. She sobbed uncontrollably, and Xen held her as his own tears started to fall.
* * *
The sky above was a storm of raw magic, and Dorotaya eyed it hungrily.
The hunger was always with her now. There could be no relief. When the Scourge had destroyed Quel’thalas, they had not been content with simply slaughtering her people and razing their cities. They had also poisoned the Sunwell, the font of magic at the very heart of their society. Now their addiction to magic raged unchecked, and nothing could satisfy it. Her skin crawled at all hours. Her whole body ached.
“We have discussed this before,” Xen said sternly, his face shadowed by a deep hood.
He sat on the ground across from her, a meager campfire flickering between them. The only survivors of the academy massacre, they had grown close since the fall of Quel’thalas. He had continued her training, and helped her survive a world that seemed to be constantly at war.
The bright robes they had worn at the academy were gone now, replaced by somber garb of red and black. They were Quel’dorei no longer. The Quel’dorei society had died with the Sunwell. They were Sin’dorei now, the Children of Blood, born in blood, driven onward only by desperation and the lust for vengeance.
The red upon their clothes commemorated the blood spilled by their people, the black their mourning over those they had lost. Every last one of Dorotaya’s friends and family, everyone she had ever loved, had died at the hands of the Scourge. Xen, too, had lost everyone close to him. Such was now the fate of their kind. To be Sin’dorei was to have lost everything.
“The Alliance hates us. The Horde distrusts us. The Scourge seek our deaths, and the Legion plots from beyond,” Dorotaya argued. There was a harsh edge to her voice. There always was these days. “We need all the strength we can get.”
She and Xen had grown close over the years, their relationship growing ever more intimate. They were not exactly lovers, perhaps not even truly friends, but they had no one else.
Their journeys together had taken them across the face of Azeroth and now beyond, to the shattered realm of Outland, where the raw power of the Twisting Nether raged across the skies. Yet still they butted heads often, and arguments such as these were only becoming more common.
Xen was always careful about how he fed his magical addiction. That it needed to be fed was not something any of the Sin’dorei doubted, but Xen believed some powers were too dangerous to tap.
Dorotaya had no such reservations.
“Did not the Burning Crystals help us rebuild Silvermoon?” she continued.
“They also drove our prince to madness,” Xen replied, his smooth voice maddeningly calm.
He was not wrong. Kael’s madness was what had brought them and other champions here, to the surreal hellscape of the Netherstorm.
Dorotaya gritted her teeth, her cheeks heating. “We’ll never defeat the Scourge or the demons who wrought them if we cannot match their strength,” she said.
Her eyes blazed, and they were no longer blue, but a burning green, the mark of the desperate measures already taken by her people in their quest to survive. “We need the fel,” she declared.
“You should listen to Xen,” the third member of their party rumbled from beyond the firelight, joining the discussion for the first time.
His name was Voranaku, and he was a Nether Drake, a kind of mutant Dragon found only in Outland. His body was not scaly like that of his Azerothian kin, but smooth and sleek, and shimmering with an inner violet light. He was as much a being of energy as of flesh.
In their journeys across Outland, Xen had done much to aid the cause of the Netherwing Dragons, and in gratitude, Voranaku had pledged to serve Xen for so long as the Elf would have him, functioning as a steed and a valued companion. But though Voranaku and Xen had become fast friends, the Drake had always viewed Dorotaya with skepticism.
Voranaku stalked forward, his sleek snout illuminated by the flames. “The rage of the fel consumed this world and its peoples, and it will consume you too,” the Drake said.
Dorotaya grimaced. It was two against one. She would not win this argument tonight.
Coming to the same conclusion, Xen said, “Enough. You should rest. We have another hard day ahead of us tomorrow.”
She scowled, but she offered no further argument, and soon both of them had retired to their bedrolls, Voranaku settling in to keep watch. He didn’t seem to sleep much.
Xen’s breathing soon settled into a gentle rhythm, but Dorotaya lay awake. The withdrawal pain was especially bad tonight. It felt like she had worms burrowing through her skin. Xen’s earlier words still echoed in her mind, and she felt her face burn with anger. He was holding her back. He was holding everything back.
Frustrated, she kicked out of her bedroll and stood.
Voranaku narrowed huge, dark eyes at her.
“I just need some air,” she said, speaking softly so as to not wake Xen. “I won’t go far, and I’ll be careful.”
Voranaku’s face remained suspicious – it was remarkably expressive for a giant reptile – but he did not say or do anything to stop her.
Dorotaya strode away from the camp, moving downhill across the lifeless rocks. The ever-shifting energies above provided a soft violet illumination, allowing her to find her footing.
When she was out of sight of the camp, she settled down on a cold boulder and pulled out a small sack from within her jacket, along with a bundle of delicate papers.
The spicy scent of dried bloodthistle met her nose as she opened the sack, and she shuddered in pleasure. Another habit Xen did not approve of, but it helped numb the pain… for a time, at least.
As she rolled her joint, she heard a scraping on the stone. She jumped, and her satchel fell, spilling its precious bloodthistle across the ground.
A dark, looming figure emerged from a nearby gully, and she cursed herself for not checking her surroundings more carefully.
Bat-like wings unfurled, and blazing green eyes fell upon her.
“Oh ho, little Elf-girl,” the demon rumbled, drawing a sword that burned with felfire. “Gonna make you scream.”
She briefly considered running for help, but to turn her back on this foe would be to die.
Dorotaya turned to face the demon, and her hands caught flame.
The Doomguard lunged for her, moving with shocking speed, its wicked blade held high.
She drew upon her magic, ignoring the pain as she further drained her already meager reserves, and the air shimmered around her. In the blink of an eye, she reappeared several feet to her left, and the Doomguard’s blade cleaved the stone where she had been sitting moments before.
The beast rounded on her, fel energy flickering from its horns.
“Anar’endal dracon!” she cried, and fire leapt from her hands.
The flames spiraled and coiled through the air like living things. Fueled by the hate burning in her heart, each bolt sought its target with unerring accuracy and struck with unnatural force.
The Doomguard reeled under her assault, grunting in pain.
But the demon was not without magic of its own. “Shaza-kiel!” the fiend snarled as it extended a hand. Crimson flames burst forth.
Dorotaya dodged to the side, smouldering rocks pelting her as the ground where had been standing exploded.
The Doomguard readied another spell, but she flung her hands into the air, unleashing an arcane torrent that tore the energy from her surroundings – including the Demon. Its spell flickered and died, and she felt a hot rush of pleasure as newfound power flooded her.
Momentarily free from the pain of withdrawal, she drew forth all her strength. Her mind filled with the image of her slaughtered classmates, and an overwhelming hatred for all that the Burning Legion had ever wrought filled her.
Her blood boiling, she unleashed a cascade of flame against the Doomguard. It tried to defend, flinging its arms and wings up to shield itself, but her flames burned right through them.
The Doomguard died screaming, and Dorotaya smiled all the while.
When the Demon’s ruined body collapsed to the ground, she at last relented, breathing heavily. She stumbled over to the corpse. Its arms and wings were utterly destroyed, as was much of its torso, but its grizzly head remained mostly intact. Its horns still flickered with felflame.
A fresh wave of withdrawal struck Dorotaya, stronger than anything before it. She whimpered as every nerve in her body throbbed and a hopeless longing filled her heart.
Her gaze was drawn to the Demon’s horns, still alight with foul energy, and something within her snapped.
Kneeling down, she placed her hands upon the horns. They were hot to the touch, but it was bearable – just. Her heart pounded, and she barely even noticed the horrific reek of burnt Demon flesh.
Grunting, using the last of her magic to bolster her strength, she snapped the horns off the corpse’s head, unleashing a spray of neon green cinders that stung her skin.
Her breaths came heavy and harsh, but she was beyond all rational thought. The need for magic had drowned out all else.
She plunged the Demon’s horns into her own head.
She felt their shattered bases pierce her skin, and then even the bone of her skull. She barely felt the pain. The fel flowed into her.
It was a power unlike anything she had ever imagined in her most desperate dreams. It burned along every nerve and filled every cell to bursting. She collapsed, writhing and screaming, as her very soul caught fire. It was pleasure so intense it was agonizing, a pain so fierce it was sublime. She prayed for it to be over, and she prayed it would never end.
An eternity later, she came back to herself. She lay on the cold soil, drenched in sweat. Her throat hurt.
She felt different now. The hunger was still there, but it was distant. For the moment, she was sated.
And she felt a new power coursing through her limbs. She felt she could cast greater spells than ever before. She felt she could take the stones and crush them between her fingers.
She felt around her forehead. The horns were part of her now. She could still feel the rage of the fel burning within them, but that too was a part of her now, and she found comfort in it. The skin around them was cracked, blistered, and ruined, but she felt no pain.
Dorotaya Duskfury smiled.
She could sense the Doomguard’s life energy now. Most of it had already bled away, but traces of it lingered in the air, and she breathed them in like sweetest perfume.
A shiver of pleasure ran down her body.
She came to her feet, and froze.
Xen stood on the ridge above her.
They looked at each other a long moment, neither saying anything. Dorotaya could hear her own breathing in the stillness.
She made no effort to conceal the horns now jutting from her forehead, nor the fel flame that still flickered at their bases. She met her master’s gaze proudly, daring him to object.
Xen shook his head, and turned away.
* * *
“Rise up, Argent Crusaders! The hour of justice has come!”
Tirion’s voice cut through the icy air – colder even than the arctic environment could account for – as he lead the knights of the Argent Crusade to the very steps of Icecrown Citadel, the cold heart of death itself, the fortress of the Scourge. They fought to clear the path for a mighty battering ram that would shatter the citadel’s gates and expose the inner sanctum of the Lich King himself.
Representatives of the Horde and the Alliance brought up the rear, defending the ram even as the undead beset it from all sides, and Dorotaya Duskfury and Xen Frostblaze were among them.
No longer were they master and student, but uncertain partners. Dorotaya had spent months delving into the fel and the shadow, and all powers of darkness and chaos, twisting herself into a living weapon. Xen made no secret of his disapproval, but still he stayed by her side. They had no one left but each other.
A squad of ghouls rushed Xen, and he unleashed a wave of icy power that froze them in their tracks. Voranaku swept down from above and belched a torrent of pure energy, shattering the animate corpses like glass, before soaring back into the darkened heavens.
But this did little to slow the Scourge’s advance. Even more monstrosities now rushed in to fill the gap, and Xen struggled to summon his magic quickly enough.
Dorotaya stepped forth, a cold fury burning in her heart.
This was what they had fought for. This had been their dream from the moment the Scourge had come to Quel’thalas. To end the threat of the living dead once and for all, and exact vengeance upon the monster that had all but destroyed their race.
It had been a brutal campaign across the frozen continent of Northrend, the very roof of the world, but now, against all odds, they had made it to Icecrown itself.
And Dorotaya would let nothing stop her now.
With a wordless cry, flames of red and green spewed forth from her palms, turning wave after wave of ghouls into cinders. She felt the power pulse through her body, and it exhilarated her.
The dark powers she courted had changed her. Her skin, always pale, had become as pallid as a corpse’s, and her once golden hair was now a dull white. Her eyes burned with unholy intensity, and her horns still flickered with the fel.
The Scourge fell before her, but they just kept coming. The Scourge seemed endless, and with each living warrior that fell, their numbers grew. As an enemy, they were like quicksand. The harder you fought them, the stronger they became.
Scanning the melee, Dorotaya identified the source of the reinforcements: a necromancer near the back of the enemy lines.
She gritted her teeth in rage. This was the most hateful of creatures, a man who served the Scourge willingly, desiring the power and immortality the Lich King offered. Dorotaya was no stranger to the lust for power or dark bargains to attain it, but she had perverted her soul in the name of justice. She had made herself a monster that even monsters would fear, so the children of Azeroth would never have to see their friends and family butchered as she had.
The Cult of the Damned could make no such claim.
She fully gave way to the hate that burned in her heart. Shadow and flame rose to wreath her body, and where a slender woman had stood a moment before, there was now a massive brute forged of living darkness, its feet hooved, its hands clawed, its back host to mighty wings.
With a roar like thunder, the monster Dorotaya had become charged, tearing through the Scourge forces with sheer brute force. Lightless flames leapt from her transformed body, ravaging all who came close.
In the face of such fury, the Scourge could not stand.
She saw the necromancer’s eyes widen as she bore down on him. He fired a bolt of dark magic at her, but she shrugged it off, the dark energy wreathing her serving as armour.
Before he could flee, she grabbed the man by the throat and lifted him from his feet. He was a human, pale-skinned and ragged. He kicked and struggled, his breath coming in hoarse gasps that misted in the frosty air, but he could not break her grip.
She could crush his throat in an instant, but that was too easy an end for one such as him.
“Shaza-kiel!” she rumbled.
The necromancer’s body arched in agony as a flickering energy began to flow from him to Dorotaya. His flesh withered away as she drank his life and his very soul, and she shuddered with pleasure as new strength filled her.
The ruined husk that had once been a man dropped from her grasp, the last of his essence now hers. Undeterred, the unliving hordes pressed toward her, but she unleashed the energy she had taken from the necromancer, and a shockwave of dark energy reduced the Scourge minions to ash.
Her strength spent, she let the shell of dark power around her dissipate, and she was but a woman once again. She had bought a reprieve for the forces assaulting the citadel, though, and the lines were now holding. The Scourge’s counterattacks were weakening, and the ram even now hammered against the saronite gates of Icecrown, ringing them like a terrible gong.
Dorotaya strode back to where Xen stood, regarding her with an unclear expression. She read judgment into his stare and bristled. She had saved his life, and even now he doubted her, she thought.
“Well fought,” Xen said, and her eyes widened in surprise. That was not the response she had expected.
Xen leaned on his staff, a construction of polished wood and gleaming violet crystals, and weighed his words.
“I know we don’t always see eye to eye,” he began. “But I’m glad we’re together now.”
Dorotaya allowed herself a guarded smile. “Me too.”
Xen looked up at the spire of Icecrown Citadel. It could not be seen from here, but atop its peak was the Frozen Throne, the seat of the Lich King’s power. It was here that the Scourge had been born. From this place had come the army that had destroyed Quel’thalas and stolen away everyone Dorotaya had ever cared about.
Light willing, this would also be the place where the Scourge ended.
“Do you think we can really do it?” Xen asked. Deep within his hood, his eyes burned with intensity. He may have kept a tighter rein on his emotions, but his hatred for the Scourge was no less than hers.
“I don’t know,” Dorotaya answered. Her heart fluttered. She had scarcely dared hope that this day would come, but now it had. The Lich King was within their grasp. “But I will give everything I have.”
Xen nodded. “I know you will.” He straightened, and a look of determination came upon him. “Come. The gates are about to fall. The time has come. Selama ashal’anore.”
“Selama ashal’anore,” she repeated.
Justice for our people.
* * *
Dorotaya bathed in the light of the Sunwell.
Through great hardship and much sacrifice, it had been restored, and cleansed, infused with the Holy Light by the sacrifice of M’uru. It had provided relief from the eternal thirst for magic afflicting the Sin’dorei, and given hope to their shattered people.
To Dorotaya, though, it had brought less relief. Her embrace of fel and shadow had filled her with a hunger that nothing could ever fully satisfy, and her crusade against all things dark and foul gave her little time to come and commune with the Sunwell.
First it had been the campaign against the Lich King. At last, he had fallen, but shortly afterward Deathwing had unleashed the Cataclysm, bringing forth new troubles, new horrors to fight.
Now, at last, there was a lull in the fighting, and Dorotaya had returned home to find what comfort she might from the Sunwell’s radiance.
The Sunwell lay at the heart of a great temple, its vaulted walls painted red and gold and black, the colours of the Sin’dorei. Its ceiling was open to the blue sky above, letting the light of the Sunwell mingle with the light of the true sun. The Sunwell itself was a pool of clear liquid lit by its own inner radiance Along with Dorotaya, many Sin’dorei pilgrims clustered around its edges, finding relief in the warmth of its light.
A few of the pilgrims looked quizzically at her horns, but no Sin’dorei had escaped the last few years without scars, or without making desperate choices. They understood.
Nothing could ever fully satisfy the hunger in her heart, nor fully soothe the pain of all that she had endured, but here in the presence of the Sunwell, she felt closer to whole than she had since that day at the academy. The hunger was distant, numbed by the power she drank from the Sunwell, and she allowed herself to relax as much as she was able.
She heard footsteps behind her, and she turned to see Xen approaching, accompanied by Voranaku. The halls of the Sunwell were wide enough to accommodate even the Nether Drake’s bulk. Most Dragons could take on mortal form if they chose, but she had never seen Voranaku do so. She wasn’t sure if he wasn’t able to, or just didn’t want to.
“Bal’a dash,” she said, greeting her companions. She sighed, folding her arms. “What new crisis demands our attention now?”
“For the moment, nothing,” Xen said. “That is not why I have come.” Though the words should have been reassuring, his tone remained grave.
Dorotaya’s former master sighed. “I have come to a decision. For a long time, my hate for the Lich King drove me onward, but now that he is gone, the heart for battle and peril has burned out of me. I am still a scholar at heart, Dorotaya.” He met her gaze, eyes sad. “I’m going to return to my studies. I think I serve our people better as a keeper of knowledge than as a warrior.”
Dorotaya’s heart fell, but in truth, she was not terribly surprised. Xen had been different since the Lich King’s fall.
“I’d try to talk you out of this, but I know there’s no point,” she said. She smiled wryly. “Stubborn old man.”
Xen smiled. “You could join me. You’ve a keen mind, and you would make an excellent scholar. You could lay down your burdens and find peace at last.”
She shook her head immediately. “The Scourge may be gone, but there are other horrors stalking this world. There are other monsters that must be made to suffer for their crimes. And somewhere out there, the demons of the Burning Legion still plot against us. I cannot rest.”
Xen nodded. “I knew you would say that. I know I have long doubted your methods, and I still worry for you, but I see now the good that you do. I may not trust the powers you deal with, but I do trust the passion that burns in your heart, Dorotaya Duskfury.”
She inclined her head. “Thank you.” And she meant it.
“I want you to have your best chance to succeed,” Xen continued. “To that end, I am giving Voranaku over to your service.”
“What?” the Nether Drake exclaimed. Clearly this was news to him as well.
“What use does a scholar have for one of your talents?” Xen said.
“I pledged to serve you,” Voranaku argued. “Not your fel-addled apprentice.”
Xen turned to Voranaku, face stern. “Yes, you pledged to serve me, and now I order you to aid and protect my student. Unless you wish to rescind your oath.”
Voranaku scowled fiercely, but he said nothing more.
Xen’s manner softened again, and he turned back to Dorotaya. “Belono sil’aru, student.”
“Elu’meniel mal alann, Xen,” Dorotaya said sadly.
Xen left. Her throat felt tight.
* * *
The years advanced, and Dorotaya’s journeys continued. She fled into the shadows when Garrosh’s Kor’kron came for the warlocks, and she was there to avenge her allies when the Darkspear Rebellion ended his rule.
She traveled across time and space, and fought the Iron Horde beneath the alien sky of Draenor. She watched as the Orcs once again fell under the Legion’s sway.
And with horror in her heart, she saw the demons return to Azeroth.
Upon the Broken Shore, beneath the blazing tempest of the Felstorm, the armies of Azeroth marshaled. They marched upon the Tomb of Sargeras as one glorious, united force: the Horde, the Alliance, the Argent Crusade, and more. All the best Azeroth had to offer stood as one against the burning shadow.
And they failed.
It was Sylvanas Windrunner – once one of Dorotaya’s own people, now something far darker – who sounded the retreat and led the broken remains of the Horde to their ships, and to some semblance of safety.
Dorotaya Duskfury stood at the rail of a decrepit Forsaken galleon, watching the Broken Shore recede. The occasional felbat flew overhead, spitting globules of poison upon the fleeing Horde fleet, but Sin’dorei arrows and Troll spears kept them at bay. It was a token effort by the Legion; the demons were toying with them.
Those who had not been lucky enough to escape the Legion could be heard between the lapping of the waves, their agonized screams forming a choir to chill the blood and haunt the soul.
Dorotaya gritted her teeth. One of the monsters had gotten in a blow with its claws, and deep gashes along her ribcage leaked blood even now. But the pain of that injury was nothing compared to the sting of defeat.
With every breath, she inhaled hate and exhaled fury. But beneath it all was something worse: fear. Fear that she was going to see her people ruined again. Fear that all they had managed to rebuild in the last few years would crumble. Fear that what was still good and lovely in Azeroth would be reduced to ashes before the rage of the Burning Crusade.
Voranaku slumped next to her. He had also been injured, and burns mottled his violet skin. They were not fatal wounds, but for now he lacked the strength to fly.
“I spent my whole life watching the Legion ravage what was left of Outland,” the Drake said. “They burned and broke and tainted everything.” There was a harsh edge to his voice she had never before heard from the normally placid Voranaku. “They took whelps of my own clutch, tortured their bodies, consumed their souls,” he spat.
“I don’t want any other world to suffer that fate,” he continued. “And I no longer care what it takes to prevent that.”
She turned, meeting his dark eyes. “What are you saying?”
“I’m saying I was wrong to doubt you,” Voranaku replied. “I’m saying I want you to kill them. Every last one of them, until demons no longer darken the cosmos.”
Dorotaya clenched her fist, feeling the rage – and the power – rise to her call. “I will,” she said, turning away. The fire of the Felstorm matched the fire in her eyes. “No matter what it costs me.”
* * *
Azeroth burned at the touch of the Legion, but its people rose to fight it, and Dorotaya was among them. She found allies among the warlocks of the Black Harvest and the demon hunters of the Illidari, and with their aid, she made the Legion pay for every crime committed against the peoples of Azeroth.
Victories came slowly, and only at great cost. Good people were lost, and those that survived earned scars that would never fully heal, both physical and spiritual.
But the line held. In the face of the full fury of Sargeras and his servants, Azeroth endured, and in time, its people even began to make gains.
Then came the turning point. The Tomb of Sargeras fell, and Kil’jaeden with it. At that moment, Illidan Stormrage – called Betrayer by some, and a saviour by others – tore open the skies, and opened the way to Argus, the heart of the Legion’s power.
On a clear Aszunan night, Dorotaya looked up the sky, where Argus brooded like an emerald scar upon creation.
“It will all be over soon,” Voranaku said at her side. “One way or another. Stormrage has seen to that. Either we will end the Legion, or the full might of Argus will come down upon us, and all hope will die at last.”
The cool sea wind ruffled Dorotaya’s lank, colourless hair. She was grateful for his presence just now. She didn’t want to be alone this night. “Do you think we can really do it?” she asked softly, a rare note of vulnerability creeping into her manner.
Voranaku looked at her quizzically. “I know we have to try. And I have faith in you.”
She said nothing.
* * *
She could feel the cold steel of the Vindicaar’s hull through her clothes.
She sat on one of the lower decks, amid storage rooms and utilitarian facilities, and leaned against the wall. There were few people on this deck, especially now, and it was quiet, save for the gentle rumble of the arcane mechanisms at the ship’s heart.
Dorotaya welcomed the solitude. The Army of the Light was too desperate for aid to turn anyone away, but the Lightforged looked at her with judgment and suspicion in their eyes. They could not see the difference between her and the demons.
These days, even she hardly saw the difference. The fel had taken a terrible toll on her over the years. She was deathly thin, her vaunted Elven beauty reduced to a macabre death mask. Her skin was dry, her lips cracked, and her fingernails were now more akin to claws.
And always, the hunger for more – more magic, more power, more life – burned within her, gnawing at the edges of her sanity. To keep it in check, to keep herself from becoming the monster so many saw her as, was a struggle that would never end.
She was so tired.
Her sacrifices had not been in vain, though. Against all odds, the Army of the Light and the forces of Azeroth had fought across the face of Argus, and now the Vindicaar prepared to deliver them to the final assault on the very seat of the Legion: Antorus, the Burning Throne.
She had never dared think this day might come, and now that it had, she didn’t know how to feel. She could not bring herself to fully believe a world without the Legion was within sight. There was every possibility the horrors within Antorus would prove their end, and Azeroth would end in flames after all.
As Voranaku had said, one way or another, it would all be over soon.
Needing something to calm her nerves, she pulled a roll of dried bloodthistle out of her pocket and put it between her teeth. Flame flickered from her fingers, lighting the tip, and she breathed deep, holding the hot smoke in her lungs for a long moment. It had a mild, slightly spicy flavour.
She exhaled slowly, a stream of smoke escaping her ruined lips, and took another deep drag.
Almost immediately, she felt the bloodthistle begin to take effect. It numbed her feelings, killing her nerves and blunting her eternal hunger, even as it focused her thoughts and enhanced her senses. She could hear every whir and click of the ship’s machinery. The steel of the Vindicaar’s floor felt smooth as silk beneath her fingertaps, and her clothes caressed her like a lover.
She relaxed, sighing in contentment.
She heard footsteps approaching, and she frowned at the violation of her solitude. She made no attempt to conceal the bloodthistle, however. It wasn’t as if the crew could think any less of her.
“Still indulging bad habits, I see,” spoke a voice she had never thought to hear again.
The joint fell from her lips, forgotten, and she came to her feet. “Xen?” she said softly.
The man before her draw back his hood, revealing brilliant green eyes, a strong jaw, and flowing platinum hair. “They said the final push against the demons was at hand, and I knew you would be here,” he said. “I could not let this moment pass without settling my own debts against the Legion, and I did not want you to face it alone. If you will have me, we will face this together, fighting side by side, one last time.”
Dorotaya smiled, and a grim delight danced in her burning eyes. “Today is the day that demons will learn the meaning of fear.”
Xen returned her smile.
Her manner softened, and she said, “It’s good to see you again. I’m glad you’re here.”
He just nodded to her.
The tenor of the Vindicaar’s machinery changed, and Dorotaya felt her stomach drop.
“It’s time,” she said.
Walking side by side, Dorotaya Duskfuy and Xen Frostblaze made their way to the Vindicaar’s bridge as the ship made its final approach to Antorus.
The bridge was a large, roughly circular chamber with a great crystalline window at one end, through which could be glimpsed the blazing edifice of Antorus. The bridge was crowded with those who would be leading the charge against Antorus, their faces solemn, their eyes nervous.
There were many Draenei, both the lesser Draenei who had fled to Azeroth and the radiant Lightforged, but also many representatives of other races. There was a pair of human women, one gray-haired and stern-faced, another dark-haired and wearing the uniform of an SI:7 operative. There was another Sin’dorei lady, who radiated a strangely sinister aura, her face concealed behind a mask. There was a Night Elf woman with sad eyes and a great spear slung over her back, and there was an ancient Orcish man bundled into furs, his face a tapestry of wrinkles and scars.
They were the best Azeroth had to offer. At other times, some of them might have been enemies, but now, they were united in their quest to see the Legion’s end, and seeing them, Dorotaya dared to believe there might yet be hope for her war-torn world.
There was even a Nether Drake among them, and when he spotted Dorotaya’s companion, his eyes widened. “Xen!” Voranaku exclaimed, lumbering over.
“Hello, old friend,” Xen said, smiling. “It’s good to see you.”
As Xen and Voranaku got reacquainted, Dorotaya moved to the platform at the fore of the bridge, where the great window was irising open to allow disembarkation.
She gritted her teeth in frustration as the Vindicaar moved all too slowly toward her final vengeance, but with an impish grin, she realized she need not wait.
With a running leap, she hurled herself from the platform.
Hot, sulfurous wind buffeted her face, but wings of living shadow spread from her back to catch the blazing updrafts, and she glided down towards the ruined earth, the twisted towers of Antorus looming before her.
A few moments later, Voranaku leapt from the Vindicaar as well, Xen upon his back, and together the three of them soared towards landfall.
Despite it all, Dorotaya found herself smiling, and she felt as if a great weight had been lifted from her shoulders. One way or another, it would all be over soon, and she dared to believe that victory was possible, that had not sacrificed her soul for nothing, that a world free from the fear of the Legion was truly within her grasp.
With Xen at her side once more, she believed it was possible.
“One last time,” she muttered, the words lost to the howling Antoran wind.