Thursday Tale: Insidious Voice
Hellfire Peninsula burned, as usual. Great plumes of fire erupted across the land, bursting from the weakened crust of chasms and cave-ins and scorching the barren, rust-colored ground. It was appropriate, the whoosh and roar of these exhalations ringing through the dry air like the gasping, wheezing last breaths of the dying. The gasping, wheezing last breaths of Draenor.
As she had many times before, Sedrai perched atop the ruins of Honor Hold’s original Keep, her hand dangling limply over her knee. Her soulless gaze skimmed the crumbling horizon, raking coldly over the imposing façade of Hellfire Citadel. Its battlements of stone, wood and rusted metal crouched over a deep ravine, menace dripping from every line and angle. From this distance, the fel orcs that manned the fortress looked like angry, red ants, scurrying in and out of sight along its labyrinthine levels of portals and pathways.
Frantic and furious, she thought, idly watching as a pair of guards rushed across the catwalk to challenge an approaching adventurer. They were both dead in a matter of seconds, culled by the flash and flare of some unknown mage. Like the disturbed hive that surges forth in a futile attempt to attack the rain that is washing them away.
Sedrai shook her head, finding no sympathy for the corrupted orcs. The Bleeding Hollow clan would soon be extinct, crushed between the righteous fury of the Alliance and the smoldering disdain of the Horde. It was, by all accounts, a thorough victory for the forces of Order, for those who oppose the Chaos, but the Death Knight found little comfort in the thought. The past few weeks had shown her too much of the other foes that stood against them.
Frustrated at the direction of her thoughts, she slipped off her plate gauntlets and set them aside, rubbing at the bridge of her nose. Where there is life, there is hope, the draenai reminded herself, clinging to a litany that seemed less capable of comforting her with every repetition.
“There is no hope. Chaos is inevitable, the natural state of an existence twisted by the arrogance of those who called themselves Shapers.”
Sedrai gritted her teeth, slamming the door on her memory of the deep, calm voice that had answered her assertion mere days before. Moontreader. Her quarry. Her assignment.
The Grey Seer had warned her, if belatedly, of the true nature of the creature called Danal Moontreader. Nathrezim, the ultimate manipulator, the hidden enemy inside the nightelven shell she’d come to know. Tens of thousands of years of her own people’s history screamed to her of the menace in his every word, the unimaginable peril in letting his ideas reach her ears. And rightly so. She felt it. Already, he spoke far too loudly to the desolation in her soul, the dark places left when her death and reanimation at the Lich King’s hands scoured the Light from her being.
“No.” She said the word aloud, lending it strength to silence his echoes. She would not be swayed. She would not be twisted. She would do her duty, complete her task as she always did, and move on to the next.
This is our chosen path, she declared for the thousandth time, leaning back against a shattered stone block. No past. No future. Only this moment, this day, this mission. One to the next to the next until there is either peace or oblivion. Staring up into the void that was Hellfire’s sky,
Sedrai pondered which of those two she desired more, feeling the weight of too many days without rest. And too many battles without victory.
“Conflict is Chaos. What makes you think the so-called heroes of these worlds can use war to bring Order?”
She’d hated the question when he’d posed it. No doubt, as he’d intended. It struck at everything she’d done since the day she was freed from the Lich King’s will, and its logic was diamond-sharp. Every swing of her Runeblade was chaos and death… how, then, could she bring peace and order to the worlds? Was she working against her own goals alongside every other misguided hero?
The Death Knight grimaced, recognizing the danger of these doubts but helpless to fully lock them away. Clearly, Danal Moontreader – no, the nathrezim Xonath – knew just where to strike to chip away at her resolve. It was something that she recognized this, sensed her slow slip down the path he built to trap her. But it was so little. So weak.
Slamming a frustrated fist against the rough stone of her perch, Sedrai closed her eyes and latched on to the pain as a tool to clear her storming thoughts.
“This moment is our anchor,” she whispered to the darkness in her mind, building the image of circling like a hawk above her own identity. “This is our self. This is who we should be, who we wish to be. When the river of his insidious words rages around us, this is the boulder to which we will cling.”
A few moments later, her eyes snapped open. Moontreader. Far below, a familiar figure in crimson and white strode across the ruined floor of the keep, his gaze already fixed on the view of Thrallmar and the mountains to the north. He had not yet seen her.
Taking a deep breath, Sedrai gathered her gauntlets and helm, slipping them on with the ease of the practiced. Tonight, she would convince a demon that she had chosen to join his cause. Tomorrow, she would pray to whomever would listen to help her keep it a lie.
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