The Ashes; a Warcraft fan-fictional short story

I decided to dust off the creative writing skills and rework a fan fictional piece I drafted a few years ago for Blizzard’s writing contest. In re-reading and re-writing, ironically enough, I didn’t cringe as I tend to do with most of my own works. So I figured it was worth revamping. I knew there were a few holes I need to address and some character motivations that needed to be clearer.

The result is a something for which I’ve grown attached. See, in the wonderfully and masterfully created universe of World of Warcraft, there are so many stories already in existence both within and outside of the game.

What I chose to do here is pen a sort of dreary story of my own adventure as I experienced the World of Warcraft story, intertwining established lore and events with how my mind perceived them. One of the most fascinating characters that intrigues me the most is that of Highlord Bolvar Fordragon. What interests me is that for such a major lore character, we know so little about him. His life story, his loves, his sacrifices. As the hero of an entire expansion of the game, the lack of backstory on one of my favorite tragic heroes is a mystery.  Most of what we know is what we saw in game from the Vanilla days and revisiting his story as he selflessly donned the helm as the new Lich King.

I fancied a love story for him, as tragic as his life. And I made him gay. I figured why the hell not. Some might be offended by taking a strong powerful character as him and making him gay (I can literally just hear the “oh Gods”‘s and the “you’ve got to be f*ckin’ kidding me”‘s from here in the Pacific Ocean as my ship transits the southern California waters), but I don’t care. And rest assured, there’s no grody scenes in this story.

The time period for this is post-Wrathgate in Wrath of the Lich King. Those who played through the Dragonblight quests in game will remember the cutscene of the battle and the subsequent quest that led you to speak with your respective faction leader before storming the underbelly of Lordaeron, known to us all as The Undercity (an awesome quest no longer available, sadly enough).

I present to you, The Ashes.

In the wake of the burning lands, the smell of charred flesh and the faint remnants of the cloud of death that had lingered over Angrathar, the Dragon Queen stood.

Alexstrasza, the Life-Binder, was beautiful in even her truest draconic form. Scales as crimson as the blood that laid strewn about the land, burning. The amber glow of her eyes offered warmth to any stranger, she the aspect of life itself.In the wake of her steps, the earth shook. And as each step lifted from the ground, life itself sprang from nowhere. Beautiful flowers, fragrant as they were colorful; their sweet floral scent floated in the air, offering temporary solace from the nauseating stench of death.The Dragon Queen perched herself in the epicenter of the devastation, surveying the loss of life. Soldiers of men and orc alike. Great masses of abominations keeled over, their entrails oozing from the weakened stitches that once falsely held them together. It was obvious to Alexstrasza that the sole purpose of this battle was the extermination of life itself. The mere thought made her heart sink.

It was there, Daeryn found himself. Somehow a survivor of the clash between the unified Horde and Alliance forces as they fought the ravaging Scourge and the ensuing plague that sucked the life from everything in the area. His cloth robes were torn from the battle. He placed his hand on his forehead concluding that he must have been knocked unconscious. Dirt besmudged his face while dried tear streaks trailed from his jade-colored eyes. His once kept hair was disheveled over his pale pointed ears, a trademark of his people. He approached the Dragon Queen as she stood before him in the distance.

Beside her stood another red dragon. Only but half the size in comparison to the Life Binder, Daeryn presumed this to be Korialstrasz, the consort of the queen whom he had met as Krasus, the elven-like mage. Krasus stood amongst the council of dragons in their mortal forms above the Wyrmrest Temple directly south of Angrathar.

Daeryn, come to me,” the blood elf heard on the warm wind that seemed to emanate from the Dragon Queen. He paused to look at the pair of dragons before him.

You know me?” Daeryn asked while only thinking the question.

Young priest, I am the Aspect of Life, I know all that are in my charge,” the whisper calmed Daeryn. Her voice soothed as if to hear a lyre in the very clouds of the sky.
As Daeryn approached he heard the two dragons deep in conversation, both voices magnificent on the air.

“My Queen, do they know?”

“No my beloved,” the last word made Daeryn stop. His heart felt as though it were attached to an anvil, ready to sink to the depths of the earthen planes. Beloved. He had only remembered then that amongst the battle he saw his beloved perish at the hands of the Lich king, destined for a torment he could not imagine. With the dragon queen beckoning him, he could not stop just yet to mourn.

“Ashj zila gul kirasath lok ante il lok buras danashj Gul gul,” the Dragon Queen continued in a native tongue unknown to Daeryn. He caught site of Alexstrasza’s warm eyes and questioned them as this last statement was veiled in draconic.

She turned her massive head to her beloved who simply nodded at the remark and continued, “They will not.”

Alexstrasza returned her gaze to the approaching priest.

“My lady,” Daeryn bowed before the great dragon.

“I do not deny that the events here grieve me. Such loss of life cuts me deeper than even my beloved may know.”

“The scourge care not for the hearts of dragons, your majesty,” Daeryn replied turning away to hide his tears from the Life Binder, “nor the hearts of any living creature, it seems.”

Daeryn mournfully dropped his head.

“Darkness stirs, Daeryn,” the Dragon Queen’s voice this time startled. He looked up to her as she stood even more majestically. “A tragic event has transpired that none but the Timeless One could have foreseen. Soon your people will be gripped by anger and hatred. War is on the horizon. The red dragonflight has done all that it can. What happens next is in the hands of the mortal races of Azeroth.”

“Such charge of fate, you think we of flesh who die so easily are capable of shaping the future of this battle? Of this world?” Daeryn demanded. Anger was indeed beginning to take hold of him.

The Life Binder understood him. In a flashing instant she transformed. Daeryn covered his eyes to shield from the intensity of the glow emanating from the Queen. No longer the great dragon of life that towered over the land, but now a being of flesh that looked not unlike Daeryn. The horns still prevalent atop her head were caressed by the free flowing fiery red hair that flailed in the wind. Her skin olive and golden, smooth as silk. She approached Daeryn to make eye contact with him.

“I know what it is that pains you,” she said as she caressed his cheek. “Your heart longs now to be with him.”

The Queen’s words struck Daeryn. Looking desperately for an answer, he could only hold her eyes for a moment before he started to cry, dropping his staff. All the Dragon Queen could do was hold him.

“Only he and I shared this, for, how could we explain it?”

Alexstrasza looked up at Korialstrasz. She smiled and returned her attention to the grieving priest.

“Love is as uncontrollable as water. It flows where it will and cuts through the thickest of walls. Do not be ashamed. You dishonor him by putting weight into the critiques of others. Be strong now, there is work to be done. Regrettably, as your journey begins with anguish, a father has lost a child today. You must bear the grim news. Gather the armaments of Saurfang and return them to his father.”

“I will do as you wish, Dragon Queen, but might I also do one other thing?”

“I know what it is you will ask. And I will not deny you your request. Your heart grieves, much as mine does for what has transpired.”

Alexstrasza tilted her head in wonderment. This mortal creature impressed her, as most tend to do when they reveal strength in times of strife. She pointed into the distance.
“His shield is there. Take it to his king and inform him of the events here. My consort is a member of the Kirin Tor, for which the king’s ally mage is obliged. I believe she will be more than willing to offer you aid.”

“Aye, the Lady Proudmoore. She is a long-time acquaintance.”

With a struggle that only a heavy heart would offer, Daeryn walked past the Dragon Queen to where the armaments laid of Saurfang the Younger. Kneeling down, Daeryn removed from a side pocket a small satchel. The Dragon Queen raised her eyebrow as she watched Daeryn stow the armaments. Only through use of clever elven magic was the bag able to stretch over the gathering and once all pieces were inside, return to its original size. Again, the Dragon Queen was pleased.

Daeryn forced a smile as he again walked past Alexstrasza. Upon reaching his destination, he slowly fell to his knees. Before him was a shield unscathed from battle, but covered in the toxic ashes that floated in the air. Blowing gently across the face of it, Daeryn admired its craftsmanship; the gold and silver reflected in the late afternoon sun. The crest of the Alliance, the head of a tenacious lion, was the dominant element on the face of the shield. Daeryn lifted the shield and placed his forearm through the armguard as he slung it onto his shoulder. To the average person, its weight would have been unbearable, but to Daeryn, already weighed by the grievance in his heart, the shield was a feather.

Daeryn returned to the Dragon Queen, who offered his staff.

“Will you not place the shield in your bag?” Alexstrasza inquired.

“Neigh, your Majesty. At this moment, this is all I have left of him.”

“Do not stand mistaken, priest. For you above others should know that you have all of him, in here,” the Dragon Queen placed her hand in the center of Daeryn’s chest. “His memory will always be with you.”

“And so it is said in my mind, my lady.” Daeryn turned away. “Though I wish my heart were in agreement. I feel he is at the mercy of the Lich King doomed to eternal torment and I cannot follow him.”

“Do not think of such things, priest,” she urged. “All is not lost. From the ashes of the fallen will rise a force that will unite nations and purge the evil from this world. Believe these words and bring them to his king when you kneel before him.”

Daeryn nodded as he pulled away from Alexstrasza. He turned and looked into the distance. He pursed his lips and released a melodic whistle into the air. From the distance a magnificent feathered beast approached. A hawkstrider. Its smooth, dark feathers danced with each stride. When it reached Daeryn, it stopped and bowed its head forward as Daeryn rubbed his hand across its beak. “Ronae belore,” he whispered, resulting in the hawkstrider lovingly nipping at Daeryn’s hair. Daeryn mounted the hawkstrider, gripping its reigns.

“Shorel’aran, Dragon Queen,” he said to her with a bow.

“And to you, priest. May your journey find you happiness even if these times keep it from you.”

Daeryn could say nothing. He didn’t need to. As the hawkstrider picked up speed, he let the wind glide across his face and carry his tears to their new home on the cursed land. The shield on his back comforted him. It belonged to a powerful man. A man with a strength that led a kingdom in the absence of its king. A man that showed him a care where others in lesser positions had shown nothing but disdain to his kind. The man who swept away turmoil and replaced it with as much love and compassion as he did courage and wisdom.

“Shorel’aran, Bolvar,” Daeryn painfully whispered into the air.

*****

“We’re seven days journey off course!” Daeryn yelled to Lael’mar, his travel companion. “If the great Warchief had placed in you the trust to lead the forces of the Horde into battle on the steps of Stormwind, you would have led them into the ruins of Alterac thinking we had already won!”

“I insist that this map is not meant for the untrained eye,” Lael’mar said still trying to figure out which way was north on the map.

The two blood elves rode side by side on a dirt road upon armored Hawkstriders. The road bisected a dense green forest with trees as large as they were old. The density of the forest created a lit, but shadowed area that cooled the breeze as they rode.
“Untrained? You mean you couldn’t see that NORTHrend wasn’t at the top of the page?” Daeryn rolled his eyes in frustration. “You’re lucky this trip was only one of leisure!”

“Lest I point out Daeryn, that you followed in my ignorance, which makes you just as responsible for our current disposition.”

“Well, we need to figure out where we are. Too far south in these Eastern Kingdoms will lead us into unfriendly territories, and I don’t feel like journeying back to Silvermoon to tell the mages – pompous asses – that they need to rescue you for the Blood Knights certainly won’t.”

“What makes you think YOU would get away?”

Daeryn showed Lael’mar the map.

“Because I wouldn’t just run around in a circle trying to figure out which way I would run.”

At that moment, Daeryn caught sight of small contingent of soldiers approaching in the distance. He immediately outstretched his hand to signal for pause.

“Hush Lael’mar,” he ordered as he attempted to examine the group. Lael’mar reached into a bag hanging off the side of his Hawkstrider and pulled out a collapsed spyglass, offering it to Daeryn.

“Here.”

Daeryn stretched out the spyglass and brought it to his eye. As it came into focus, he spotted a single rider on the back of a magnificently dressed steed surrounded by four plate-armored foot patrolmen. The tabards they bore were blue and embroidered with a large golden lion’s head.

“Human….Alliance soldiers,” Daeryn relayed to Lael’mar. “The rider is a man of some importance.”

As Daeryn looked through the spyglass he caught sight of something moving a few yards before the soldiers: a man hiding in the darkest shadow of a tree alongside the road who peered over to evaluate his target.

“It looks as though they are about to receive some unexpected company,” Daeryn said continuing to look at the man who was dressed in all black and whose face was half-covered with a red mask. “Peculiar.”

“Lets us get off this road,” Lael’mar warned, reining his Hawkstrider into the forest.
Just then, the sound of clashing metal could be heard as a fight ensued. Daeryn once again peered through the spyglass.

“More of the masked men,” Daeryn informed as he watched the fight. One of the Alliance soldiers lay on the ground, motionless.

An indescribable urge overcame Daeryn. “I go to aid them, Lael’mar. Quickly, if we are this far south, go east to the coast and then north a few days to the troll village in the Hinterlands. They are friendly and will aid you.”

“What are you to do?” Lael’mar asked “Help them? You’re mad! They’re Alliance! They view our kind lesser on the plane of existence than the excrement of their farm animals! Why help them when they forsake any who ally with the Warchief?”
“There’s no time, Lael’mar!” Daeryn urged. “Al diel shala.”

Lael’mar sighed in frustration but conceded after a moment knowing he was in no condition to fight. “Al diel shala,” he said pulling his Hawkstrider away and disappearing into the forest.

Daeryn rode off until he was close enough that he could drop off the road without being noticed. He immediately dismounted and tethered his hawkstrider to the trunk of a tree. Grabbing his staff he crept towards the road where the fight continued. He saw that the rider and one other patrolman remained against three veiled attackers.

As Daeryn approached, the foot patrolman who remained sustained a mortal wound to the left side of his rib cage, yelling in agony.

The rider was all that remained. Daeryn closed his eyes in concentration and whispered a spell under his breath.

As the attackers began to focus their efforts on the rider, they noticed their strikes were unable to penetrate his armor or anything else for that matter.

“What is this sorcery!?” demanded one of the attackers.

Not wasting the opportunity, the rider fought inflicting mortal wounds in two of the men, pushing them back as they fell to the ground writhing. The third ambusher continued to counter his attacks until at last he saw that his sword had managed to tear into the rider’s tabard. Realizing that whatever barrier had existed before had now dissipated, the attacker feverishly glared at the rider, readying an even harder offensive.

When the two men’s swords met with a clash, the ambusher immediately swirled around enabling him to injure the rider’s leg causing him to fall to one knee. Their swords met again, but this time, while holding the rider’s attention, the ambusher reached behind his back to pull out a dagger. But in the moment he intended to strike, Daeryn had crept behind him and swiftly swung his staff, impacting the side of the ambusher’s head.

The attacker, holding the side of his head stumbled a few steps before turning around. After seeing who had dealt the blow, he began to charge Daeryn.

“Anar’alah belore!” Daeryn exclaimed just before the attacker reached him about to swing. Daeryn lifted his staff high into the air and slammed one end into the ground causing a flash of light so bright, so powerful that both the rider and the would-be assassin flew backward. The rider landed on his back still on the road, while the masked man slammed into a tree.

The confused rider rolled onto his side and watched as Daeryn conjured a spell that rained down a bolt of light from the sky, searing the ambusher and causing his clothes to catch fire. The ambusher ran screaming into the forest before falling to the ground. Once motionless, the fire disappeared leaving behind a charred carcass emanating a reeking smoke.

Daeryn turned around and ran to the injured rider as he lay on his side in the middle of the road. He knelt down to spot the large gaping wound on his right leg.

“This needs mending quickly,” Daeryn said. “Relax for a moment while I work.”

Daeryn’s hand hovered over the wound as he whispered under his breath. The rider’s eyes widened when a soft yellow glow emanated from Daeryn’s hands. His wound slowly regenerated flesh as it closed and the blood on the surrounding skin had all but disappeared.

“It will pang you in the coming days, but alas there will be no scarring,” Daeryn returned the rider’s leg to the ground.

“You speak our tongue well, blood elf,” the rider said.

“The priesthood implores us to communicate with all the light’s creatures,” Daeryn replied meeting his eyes with the rider’s.

“Priest? I should have guessed.”

Daeryn stood and offered his hand to the rider, who gripped firmly as he painfully rose to his feet. He grabbed his formerly wounded leg and nearly stumbled back to the ground. Daeryn grabbed the rider’s arm and placed it over his shoulder, bearing an uneasy portion of the rider’s weight.

“The wound is gone, but the pain will prevent you from standing on it for too long,” Daeryn explained.

“Aye,” the rider nodded. “So…what do they call you, priest?”

“I am Daeryn Fallstrider of Silvermoon.”

“I am Highlord Bolvar Fordragon of Stormwind,” Bolvar returned. “Tell me, Daeryn, how is it you came to be in these parts.”

The two walked towards Bolvar’s horse that had reappeared from the forest.

“My Lord, I was traveling with a brother to Stonard to visit with an acquaintance and made a slight navigational error.”

“Slight, indeed, for you have found yourself on the edge of the Redridge Mountains. This road leads into Elwynn Forest and the very heart of the Alliance. You certainly would have been met with great resistance.”

“I realized this when I spotted your patrol in the distance. My heart is saddened that I could not make it sooner to aid your men.”

“Aye, I shall send word to Stormwind for their bodies to be collected. As it were, your navigational error favored me today. For that I am grateful.”

Daeryn and Bolvar had reached the horse who nudged Bolvar.

“Stay Naralee, stay.” Before Bolvar attempted to mount his horse he stood for a moment and then turned to look at Daeryn. A gleam of light that filtered through the leaves of the forest’s trees shined down on him, highlighting his black hair and smooth peach skin.

“There is a cottage not far from here. It belongs to great friend who is currently on a diplomatic errand in the Night Elf capital. It’s but a few hours’ journey up the road in the direction I was heading. Will you accompany me there while I recuperate? I shall only require a day or so.”

Daeryn stood for a moment, curious. He didn’t feel as though any harm would come to him, so he looked around before coming to his answer.

“Well, you’ll need more than a day for that leg, but I will accompany you, Lord Fordragon. Long has it been since I’ve held the company of a human. I find your kind quite humorous under the influence of our tastiest spirits, some of which I happen to have on my strider.”

“Excellent. I shall lead the way.”

Daeryn left Bolvar to retrieve his Hawkstrider. He stared down the long narrow road laughing at the idea of spending time with a human. None but the Warchief Thrall would have approved given the current tensions between the Horde and the Alliance.

*****

The time that had passed since Daeryn last visited this little cottage was not apparent. It was as if Nozdormu, the great bronze dragon and guardian of the mysterious fabric of time itself, had created a void where all time ceased to exist. Daeryn had half-expected the man who owned the cottage to appear and reject his presence. But instead was met with silence as he knocked on the door that opened slightly with each contact. Cautious, he walked in and looked around. He took a deep breath as he stood in the doorway remembering the last time he had been here. As he looked around the cottage for some semblance of life, he found himself in a library of sorts. Books stood on dustless shelves. A desk near the window was kept and tidy.

Daeryn grew uneasy with the feeling that the cottage had been prepared for his unexpected visit. He left the library and made his way to the kitchen. It too was orderly with clean counters and a cooking stove that looked as if it had just been delivered from a blacksmith. Opening the front he discovered the stove was stocked with dry kindle-ready wood.

Behind him stood a bucket on an otherwise empty counter and upon reaching it he noticed it had already been filled with clean-looking water. Searching the room for answers, Daeryn spotted on the table an envelope standing upright against a small flower vase filled with fresh-cut and slightly fragrant peacebloom flowers.

Walking over to the table, Daeryn saw the envelope had been addressed to him with his name beautifully scripted on the front. The back had been sealed with a wax stamp baring a familiar mark resembling an eye.

Curious, Daeryn immediately cracked the seal and opened the flap. He pulled out the folded parchment and sat in the chair next to the table.

Daeryn,
A mutual friend has informed me of your journey to see his majesty, King Varian, with grim tidings of our dearest friend. I was saddened to hear of his death at the hands of the treacherous rogue Horde, but even more so to learn of your mourning. Not all would understand how he came to be involved with you, but those of greater learning such as the magi of Dalaran pride themselves to be, have been witness to such miraculous creations as the love you two had for each other. I had learned of you in previous conversations with his Lordship and was proud to finally see that he had given his heart, however unconventional, to one who truly deserved it. He was a true friend not just to us, but to the Alliance and all mortal races currently fighting to preserve peace free from the Scourge. You’ll find the cottage suitable for your visit, be it as long as you need.

Peace friend to you in these troubled times,
Stromgar Nightguard
Order of the Kirin Tor

Daeryn’s eyes had brimmed with tears as he finished the letter and placed it on the table, not knowing what to make of it. After a moment, he picked up the envelope and looked the seal. He smirked, wiping away a rogue tear that escaped his eye.
“A mage,” Daeryn said to himself remembering his disdain for mages.

Daeryn walked to the bedroom and stood at the door, staring at the bed. Blankets flatly laid upon it without wrinkle while several pillows perfectly fluffed stood leaning against each other in a delightful arrangement.

Taking each step slowly to the bed, Daeryn found himself lost in memory. He crawled on to the bed and grabbed a soft pillow, embracing it as he rolled onto his back and stared up. In all the comfort the softness of the bed offered him, all he could do was close his eyes. And remember.

*****

In all honesty, to themselves and to each other, Daeryn and Bolvar knew not how to express physically the unexplainable desire each one had for the other. A kiss seemed simple enough. Long and everlasting.

Bolvar stopped to brush stray locks of hair from Daeryn’s face and stare into his vividly glowing jade eyes before making contact again with his lips. Long had it been since he had expressed himself in such a way. For Daeryn as well. In fact, it was the priesthood that offered solace from the mental confusion he always seemed to have with regards to his physical desires. No one he’d ever heard of in Azeroth’s recorded history appeared to have experienced what Daeryn had, and it secretly shamed him. While there were certainly no rules that enforced celibacy amongst the priests of Silvermoon, Daeryn found it an easy crutch to keep hidden his true self. For Bolvar, his duty to his friend the King of Stormwind, to the prince and the subsequent struggles of keeping a falling nation from destroying itself in the absence of its king kept his mind plenty occupied so as not to confront his inner struggle known only to his mage friend Stromgar.

Lost in his kiss, Bolvar leaned over unintentionally exacting pressure on his wounded leg and winced in pain. Daeryn gently massaged the area through Bolvar’s leggings.

“I’m sorry I cannot ease the pain for you,” Daeryn said.

“Closing the wound was more than enough, though, in the week that we’ve been here, it is lessened each day,” Bolvar replied moving onto his back as Daeryn moved into his arms. The man and blood elf embraced each other on the bed. For Daeryn, the moment allowed him to get lost in the heartbeat of the strong man who held him close. He started to say something but reneged. Bolvar looked down and kissed Daeryn’s head, breaking the easy silence.

“What is it?” he inquired. Daeryn waited a moment but answered quite frankly when the strength to let the words escape his mouth materialized.

“This cannot last,” Daeryn stated grimly.

“I know. Duties alone, for both of us, would prevent us from sharing this anywhere else. But I beg you, dear friend, let us not think of such things while we are here. In this place, hidden from most others in the world, let us just be here. Free from the judgments of others. When the time comes, we will depart and set forth on our paths. Should we see each other again, we will remember fondly our time here. This time and place is ours.”

*****

Once again, Daeryn opened his eyes. The small cottage felt enormous compared to how small he felt as he laid on the bed. Alone.

“This time and place is ours,” he whispered to himself.

*****

“Halt!” A guard shouted.

Daeryn had not noticed as the gates of Stormwind intrigued him. The masonry and hard labor that was put into their construction spoke for itself. What impressed Daeryn the most was the fact that this place was built by the hands of men, not of magic or sorcery upon which his homecity of Silvermoon had been built. The hawkstrider jerked back breaking his concentration when the guards stopped the mount from moving forward.

“Your kind does not belong here, blood elf,” the guard coldy informed. “Those who ally themselves with the Warchief are enemies of the Alliance and of Stormwind.”

Daeryn removed himself from his mount and grabbed his staff. Alert, the guards responded by taking a defensive stance, ready to defend the gates of Stormwind with their lives should the need arise.

“Your remarks are not without merit, guard of this great city,” Daeryn said calmly. “I assure you, I’m here on a matter of great importance. Long have I journeyed from the blighted lands of Northrend with news of the ongoing battle against the Lich King. I seek only an audience with your king for I have grim news to bring him.”

“Northrend? I see no armor on you. A man of the cloth as you appear to be in Northrend? I do not believe it. What business have you? And be warned blood elf, lies or trickery will be met with arrest and you can only pray you survive time in the Stockades.”

“I understand. But what you have to understand is that I really am on an important mission to see the king tasked to me by the Dragon Queen, Alexstrasza, herself.” Daeryn paused for a moment, himself thinking that what he was saying was indeed unbelievable. How could he expect these guards, whose smooth faces conveyed the age of men not old enough to experience battles on the frontline, let alone lacking the wherewithal to know that dragons and the Lich King were both things he had seen with his own glowing eyes.

The pause turned out to be the only justification for the guard to grab Daeryn and remove his staff from his hand.

“I told you, dishonesty was to be met with resistance. To the Stockade with you.”
The guard looked to his partner and beckoned by tossing the priest’s staff at him.
“Bael’gar, grab the bird.”

“Please!” Daeryn compelled. “I promise. I seek only a quick audience with the King. Tragic events have transpired. He must be informed!”

As the guard forcefully pushed Daeryn into the direction of the city, Bael’gar grabbed the reigns of the hawkstrider which did not take kindly to the guard’s pulls, squawking and nipping at him. In the struggle, Bolvar’s shield fell to the ground and met with such a large noise that the guard escorting Daeryn turned around to see what had fallen.
“Balithil, look! ‘Tis the shield of an Alliance officer!”

Balithil walked to Bael’gar holding on to Daeryn’s now bound hands. He looked at the shield and knew it immediately. The last he saw of it was when the great fleet led by Highlord Bolvar Fordragon had ceremoniously left Stormwind’s harbor bound for battle against the Scourge in Northrend.

“It can’t be…” Balithil whispered as he grabbed the shield. The weight was insurmountable as he nearly dropped it. “It is. The shield of Highlord Fordragon! How did you come upon it, blood elf!? Tell us or by the Light you will know true pain when the interrogators get their filthy hands on you!”

“It is as I said, I come bearing grim news and only the King will know first what has transpired, not you.”

Daeryn’s flippant remark sparked a rather knee-jerk reaction in the guard who in turn gave a concussive blow to Daeryn with the hilt of his sword. Daeryn instantly felt the pain as the world around him grew black. All he could see was the face of a man he knew. The pain paled in the calmness that swept over him as he stared into the eyes of a smiling Bolvar.

*****

As Daeryn awoke, the world was still dark. Not for the blow he had been dealt but because he had been placed in some sort of internment cell. The cold, dank stench of improperly washed prisoners met his nose causing him to instantly become aware of his surroundings. The room itself was bare as he sat up against a gray brick wall riddled with cobwebs and rats scurrying along the edge of the cold ground. The bars that stood in front of him were rusted and the locked door clanked as two other men who shared his space shook it violently to stir reaction in the recovering priest.

As the light shown behind the other two men from the front of the room, Daeryn could only make out a silhouette of one that paced back and forth as he spoke to him.

“Impressive, wouldn’t you think?” the mysterious man asked Daeryn.

“What?”

“The construction of this place. Of pretty much anything in this city.”

The man had walked up against the wall and knocked against the bricks.

“My family was placed in charge of it reconstruction after the Orcs invaded during the First War,” the man explained.

“And yet you’re in here with me,” Daeryn observed. “Typical gratitude expressed by the human race.”

“Yes well, much as our kind tends to work against each other, there is nothing more we agree on than our hatred for the races that comprise your Horde.”

“Well, rest assured that even the races of the Horde distrust the other races of the Horde,” Daeryn smarmishly returned.

“It matters little,” the dark figure said. “Men of no allegiance care not for the politics of broken kingdoms, even if we helped rebuild them…priest.”

Daeryn, rubbing the back of his head stopped. Priest? He squinted to try and make out who could be speaking but the backlight proved to be a difficult obstacle.

“Who….who are you?” Daeryn suspiciously asked.

“A number of years ago, my family, robbed of the gratitude and financial recompense owed to us for rebuilding this great city, committed to completing coordinated attacks on key members of the city’s council.”

The stranger turned toward Daeryn and walked slowly to the wall. As he reached Daeryn he stopped, towering over him.

“The regent, while not marked for death, was to be my responsibility, I, Graelith Van Cleef,” the dark figured turned toward the room and sat down next to Daeryn and looked into his jade eyes. “And he would have been, had you not come along.”

As the light revealed the man’s face, their eyes met.  Daeryn knew instantly the stranger who spoke enigmatically; his face and bald head were scarred, the result of being set aflame by Dearyn’s spell years prior.

“I never would have thought our paths would again cross, priest.”

Daeryn looked to the door leading to the prison hall. Graelith noticed, smiling.

“They will not aid you,” he informed. “Nor will your spells. The magi of this city have seen to it that prisoners of this stockade remain as such.”

“And what will killing me offer you?” Daeryn reasoned. “You’ll still be in here. And if you were to get out, who would look at you? Even the Orcs who aren’t particularly known for their outer beauty would be unable to stand the sight of you. All because you failed to use that ‘diplomacy’ upon which your entire race prides itself to get the compensation your family desperately sought. I can only offer apology for the tragic oversight your family suffered, but for your actions all I can offer you is pity.”

Graelith’s anger increased with each of the priest’s words. The vengeance for the wrong he felt the priest inflicted upon him blinded him and all he could see, smell and taste was blood.

“I NEED NOT YOUR PITY!” Graelith yelled as he lunged towards the priest.

Daeryn was not unprepared. He was always amused with the fact that most others often mistook his race for being meek in physical combat outside the use of magic. He noted as much when he overheard a comment by the Warchief’s personal advisor, Garrosh Hellscream of Draenor. It was the young Hellscream’s opinion that blood elves could not compare with the physical might of Orcs. While the Blood Knights of Silvermoon led the charge in disproving such Orcish misnomers, it was all blood elves who quietly sought to remove such thinking from the minds of their allies.

But before a physical fight could ensue, Daeryn heard a distinctive yell coming from the otherside of the room.

“NO!” And with that Graeltih froze in place midair, suspended above Daeryn.
He looked to discover the face of a woman he knew responsible for the spell, Lady Jaina Proudmoore.

“Well…” Daeryn started as he scooted from underneath the frozen Graelith and stood up. “Lady Proudmoore, you would be pleased to know that I could have taken him.”

“I don’t doubt it, Daeryn,” Jaina smiled. “But there isn’t time. Krasus has sent word of your mission to see the king.”

Jaina eyeballed the other man in the cell who Daeryn had completely forgotten was in the room. The man knew of her power and did not attempt anything when she unlocked the door to usher the priest out.

“Indeed, Jaina.”

“I already know of the fate of Highlord Bolvar having just arrived from a meeting with the Warchief in Orgrimmar. That is why I was unable to meet you at the gates. I apologize for this misunderstanding.”

“If one did not know of your great power as a Dalaran-trained mage, one would think you either very brave or very stupid for venturing into the Orc capital alone, my Lady.”

“So I’m told…incessantly,” Jaina retorted.

Before Daeryn could offer a response he felt the air sucked from him. His body slightly tensed with the teleportation spell and as his concentration returned to him, he realized he was standing in the great throne room.

The ceiling was tall with great stain glass windows that lit the entire room. Guards stood at nearly every entrance. In the throne that sat epicenter of the great room, was King Varian. His scarred eyes held little patience for the blood elf standing before him. A small child stood next to Varian, whispering in the king’s ear. Daeryn knew him to be the prince and heir to the kingdom of Stormwind.

“What news have you?”

“My lord. I am Daeryn Fallstrider, a humble priest of Silvermoon.”

“Priest I have little time for the formalities of your race. While I bare no ill towards your kind, I know of its relations with the Orcs and that undead wench and it greatly displeases me.”

“Your majesty, I came not to debate petty politics.”

“Surely. Tell me, how is it you came upon this shield?” Varian asked as he revealed the shield that was standing against the side of his throne.

Daeryn paused. He gripped tightly the staff that had been returned to him trying to find the courage to say what he had to without fail. It was a feat greater than taking on the Lich King himself.

“Your Majesty, the Highlord was a dear friend. For many years I knew him to be a great man, one of the noblest of your race. Our paths crossed again in Dragonblight at the Wrathgate. As you know, both the Alliance and the Horde held station there ready to break down the walls to Icecrown and ready an offensive against the Lich King.”

The king listened intently. Daeryn failed little in recounting the minor details of the situation, but anything to do with Bolvar was met with great vocal hesitation.

“As both factions stood side by side led by Highlord Fordragon and Saurfang the Younger, the Lich King appeared and spared little time in dispensing the Orc general. During the battle that followed an unexpected turn swayed the battle in no one’s direction, thanks to a barrage of plaguebombs fired by a renegade group of Forsaken. They were led by the apothecary Putress. If not for my own protective spells I would have perished, but the blasts knocked me backward and unconscious. When I awoke the Dragon Queen, Alexstrasza, had appeared. The flame of the red dragons burned away the lingering plague.”

Daeryn choked on his words fighting visions of Bolvar looking into his eyes as the plaguebomb landed next to him.

“And what of Bolvar?!” the King demanded.

“Majesty, the Highlord,” Daeryn struggled to find the words. “He fell. His body taken by the Lich King for Light only knows what purpose.”

Varian unleashed a great and angry moan that echoed in the vast room. He kicked the shield sending it flying towards Daeryn who watched it land at his feet. The king would have attacked Daeryn himself had it not been for the simple caress of the young boy that stood next to him. Varian simply turned to him and hugged him.

Daeryn grabbed the shield still unphased by its great weight and carried it to Varian. He kneeled in an attempt to calm the angry king.

“Forgive me your Majesty, for I could not exact the same protective spell on him as I placed on myself. I…..failed….him.”

His words trailed into soft sobs. Varian, who could not understand why a simple blood elf priest would care for a leader of an opposing faction, sat forward as he released his embrace from his son.

Jaina stepped forward.

“While we grieve for this great loss, there remains work to be done, your Majesty. There is an uprising in the Horde. Not long before now, I met with the Warchief and he informed me of a great siege in the Undercity led by the demon Varimathras. He says it’s lost.”

“They have lost the Undercity!?” the King yelled as he stood before Daeryn. “Then the time to strike is now. We will deal with Putress ourselves and retake the Ruins of Lordaeron for the Alliance! Priest, I thank you for personally arriving to inform me of these events. For your sake, I pray you never arrive here again with such tidings. The Horde will be held accountable. And that includes those of your kind who continue to give allegiance to that green-skinned failure of a leader.”

Daeryn stood defiant and looked the King dead in the eye.

“King Varian, Bolvar had as much love for me as I did for him. I assure you we will meet again, not as enemies, but as brothers in arms. For if a great man as Bolvar has fallen, none are safe from the horrors of the Scourge. The Dragon Queen asked I relay to you that through the ashes of the fallen a great power would rise to unite nations. But how can I believe that if you fail to realize we are at war with the Lich King and not each other! The Scourge does not concern itself with the politics of the living races. And if the Lich King can take great men and bend them to his will, then Light help us all.”

Varian, if for only a moment, felt the pain in Daeryn’s words. Somewhere inside him, he knew the source of the priest’s pain, and chose not to respond as Daeryn turned away.

Jaina joined Daeryn as he walked out of the throne room. She turned to look at Varian, as if to scold him for his temper expressed toward the humble messenger, however grim his news.

The two friends silently walked arm-in-arm in the great hall of the Stormwind Keep. Jaina for all her brilliance knew now what pained the priest.

“It’s hard isn’t it?” she probed.

“My lady?”

“To this day, I still don’t know what I could have done differently to sway Arthas from becoming the monster that he is now.”

“Do you still think there is some semblance of the man you knew?”

“I can only hope. But I know that even if I had stayed with him in Stratholme, his path was clearly a road in which I could not follow. Despite my love for him, I had to let him go.”

“My heart tells me I should let Bolvar go, but at the hands of the Lich King, who knows what torment lay in store for such a noble man.”

“Well, the chance to find out may yet present itself. Just hold true to the memory you have of him and allow it to give you strength.”

“Jaina, how is it that you’ve come to be such an open and comforting person, you who know just as much turmoil as most who have suffered at the hands of the scourge.”

“I honestly don’t know. My hopes for a peaceful world free from petty battles and war with monsters keep me going,” Jaina paused and looked off to the entrance of the hall. “It’s all I have at the moment. It’s all any of us have and it is still a great source of power. One even the Lich King will never know.”

“And what source do you speak of?”

Jaina stopped walking and faced Daeryn as the two stood in the entrance of the hall that led to the streets.

“Love.”

Daeryn understood and the two returned to walking now entering the streets of the great human city.

“Well, Jaina. We have time yet before I must return to Northrend and you go off to join the king in the Undercity. How about you give an old friend a tour of this great city as we head out.”

Jaina simply smiled.

“Of course…that is, if you can stand being seen with a mage.”

Daeryn laughed. He couldn’t remember the last time he smiled let alone laughed.
“Well, for you I will make an exception.”

“You are too kind.”

The two friends traversed the cobblestone that comprised the roads of the human city. As they walked along the canal that coursed itself throughout Stormwind, a glimmer of moonlight reflected off the flowing water and caught Daeryn’s eye. Not unlike the blood that flows through the veins of a mortal being, the water that splashed up from the canal as it circulated the different regions of the capital prompted Daeryn to remember the Dragon Queen’s words as he thought of Bolvar, “Love is as uncontrollable as water. It flows where it will and cuts through the thickest of walls.”

He gripped the Lady Proudmoore’s arm tighter as he turned away from the water, closing his eyes and placing his hand to his heart. She understood his grief and placed her hand upon his. The gesture in the stoic silence spoke volumes to Daeryn about the unwavering and giving nature of the human spirit and it comforted him.

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