Bloodwen: Part I
Shadows flitted along the columns, twisting their way around them and across the smooth sheen of the marble floor. They lapped at his booted feet, caressing his soft, leather soles as he strode towards the double doors. The large Naga there stood at rapt attention, their reptilian gazes unflinching as the thin form approached. The darkness stopped just short of the entry, held at bay by the large, sputtering torches, set into their stony sconces along the wall.
The guards did not care to acknowledge him as he grasped the shining rings, pulling the slab of stone ajar. Tridents, christened long ago in the blood of their enemies, moved nary an inch. A year ago he would have found it difficult to suppress his discomfort with the large creatures, the scaled muscles of their arms allowing them the power to tear him asunder. As time wore on, however, he grew accustomed to their toothy jaws, their clawed hands, their eternal dourness.
If the Naga stationed at the door were enormous, the figure in the room was positively gargantuan.
Enormous, demonic wings perched upon his back, like some eternal, ever-present shade of death. They slid along the floor with each hoofed step he took. The shadows fled into those jade recesses, nestling against the unholy flesh. Despite the best efforts of the torches and magical fires of Nazjatar, the light could never purge that darkness.
Links and strips of emerald armor girded the towering frame, jingling and scraping with each step he took. No helm adorned him; only two sharp horns protruded from his skull, piercing the air above. Death and decay, coupled with morbid drops of evil, coated every inch of the room, even worming its way into the stalwart stones.
His eyes, glowing with demonic, fel energy, beheld the shimmering crystal in the palm of his clawed hand. One squeeze, it seemed, and the artifact would shatter into a million fragments.
“What news, Falais?” the demon asked without gracing his visitor with a glance.
The hood dropped from his face, pointed ears almost covered by the long hair. The slanted eyes matched the hue of the dreadlord’s, but not the intensity. Any gracefulness of his blood elven heritage evaporated into the chiseled jaw and thin lips, lips that twisted into a terrible frown or sinister smile.
“Sutera rests within the Caverns. The Talah’dorei keep watch over her.”
“Good.” The demon placed the crystal atop the altar, the magic holding it aloft so he could peer into its depths. “I have finished my examination of the curo. It appears I was successful in removing the entirety of her memories.”
Falais inclined his head. “I never held any doubts, my lord.” He paused. “What of the prisoners, then?”
“Her powers are like nothing I have encountered,” the dreadlord admitted. “We must keep her confined, for there could yet be some trickery that keeps her secrets from my grasp. As for the Tauren…” He shrugged his massive shoulders, leathery wings scraping the ground. “Dispose of him.”
“I have learned all I can from him about his role in the Dream. He offers nothing else of use.”
“Perhaps Warlord Shyv--”
Now the dreadlord’s mouth twisted into a fanged smile. “By all means, let the esteemed warrior have his way with the druid. I suppose his pride still bears the scars of their first encounter.”
Falais bowed, raising the cowl over his head. Only his green eyes glowed from the depths, slanted orbs dancing at the bloody, horrific fate of the Tauren playing in his mind. He turned to depart, but the dreadlord’s hissing voice stopped him.
“Your Cultist companions have only had moderate success in the Nether. It seems their search for Him has slowed of late.”
“The expanse is rather large…”
“It matters little. Whether a decade from now or a thousand years, He will return to the world and claim it. I will see to it.” He eyed the crystal. “How fortunate would it be if we were to give Him Arthas’s head upon His arrival?”
“Very fortunate indeed, my lord. The rewards would be endless.”
The demon ignored him, beginning his search through her memories.
Falais ducked from the room, passing between the Naga guards. The words slithered through his mind, tempting him, teasing him. Darkness followed him through the great halls, the dreadlord’s promises whispering into his pointed ears.
Whether a decade or a thousand years, his patience had long expired. The secrets that might destroy the Lich King were at his fingertips. A more immediate reward awaited him within the cold wastes of Northrend.
He shivered, a twisted smile playing across his lips.
Light from the overhead window played across her fair skin, purples and pinks from the distant storm filtering their way down the length of her body. She stared at the roiling energies with little understanding, expression blank. Her head tilted to one side, luxurious, blonde locks cascading over a pointed ear.
Shivering, she rubbed her arms, glancing around the stark cell. Nary a flicker of recognition graced her visage. Not of their demise, nor of her horned companion.
He watched from his corner, hunkered down upon his haunches, enthralled by her gaze. All facets of her ancestry played upon her lips, over her high cheekbones, and tripped from her mouth when she spoke. Blood elf. Even the least traveled of Azeroth would recognize it.
But the eyes…
They lacked the swirl of fel energies. Nor did they glow with the bright wash of compassion and wisdom of the High Elves. It was as if the Old Gods had touched her, dripping pure, magical drops of gold into those sockets. A warm softness permeated her every expression, radiating from her irises into the cold room.
Teake Thunderhorn knew only a part of Sutera’s story, a slim sliver of knowledge that did little to inform him of her transformation. With the help of his fellow druids in Moonglade, he had stepped into the Dream with her, traversing the lush landscapes while attempting to avoid the scarred clutches of the Nightmare. Talisman upon talisman faded and shattered, drawing them closer to the darkness. Only after they departed the Rimring, the Dream’s most secluded Moonwell, did the Nightmare catch them.
He held up his hands. Each large finger was bent, twisted and broken at odd angles. He could scarcely move them without grimacing in pain. The price of escape, the loss of his magic and lives of those that helped them, had been steep. Nature still flowed through him, whispering, sighing against his fevered skin.
As he watched her move across their cell, her skin prickling from the cold, he felt the urge to tell her his secret, to give her a piece of her identity back. It seemed long ago when they were captured, stripped of all but their ragged undergarments. Shoved in the cramped space, they were forced to endure horrendous torture by the dreadlord and his minions. She never broke, some steely resolve girding her with more strength than he had seen in the most formidable warriors.
But he, Teake Thunderhorn, wisest and bravest of his kind, broke in but a fortnight.
Why they kept him alive now was beyond his grasp. They ripped all they could from his mind, leaving him a sobbing mess upon the floor. Gone was the defiant fighter that gored the great Warlord Shyv in the side. Gone was the optimistic, patient demeanor.
The urge to speak choked him as he watched Sutera lower herself to the ground, pulling her knees to her chest. She rested her head against one of the support columns, scooting closer as if heat might radiate from the structure. Her mind an empty slate, she stared into the nothingness of her memory. A few simple words might prick that consciousness, imbuing it with some sort of recollection, however small.
Yet Arthas--damned, despicable Arthas--had taken care of that. Teake and Sutera managed to avoid him at every turn of their long journey. His minions were left befuddled at their disappearances, left for dead when they chose to attack the pair. Only after the final steps of her trek, only after they were both too weak to move, did Arthas sweep down upon them. Bound, shackled, Teake swore to protect Sutera from his designs. He struggled valiantly, calling upon any remnant of power that Cenarius might lend him.
For his insolence, Arthas cut out his tongue.
Sutera rose as a sudden flash split the room. The storm swirled within the violent seas, a spark of madness from the ancient war crackling towards the Caverns. As she raised her hand to shield her eyes from the onslaught, the fel infused chains jangled, rasping against their ears. Traveling too quickly for her to react, the arc pierced the window with all the ease of a dagger through parchment, burrowing itself into her chest.
Outside their door, two of the Talah’dorei stood guard, ghostly weapons gripped tight in their hands. They knew nothing of what transpired mere feet away, shielded by the jagged walls of Gishan. More of their fellows matched through the winding hall towards them, their leader stopping only long enough to offer a salute before continuing.
The doorway, the entire wall that sealed in their prisoners, seemed to evaporate into dust as the explosion tore the stones asunder.
The fel infused chains lost their power, turning to ash around her delicate wrists. In the shattered hall beyond, the blackened, seared souls of the Talah’dorei fell to the ground, spectral weapons dissipating in the smoky air. Teake watched, stunned, deafened by the explosion, and offered little resistance as she approached. He knew not whether it was fear or elation that riddled his heart.
A gentle touch, and his chains crumbled.
“Come?” she asked.
He rose, any reason for remaining fleeing his mind.
- Bloodwen: Part II: 
- Bloodwen: Part III: 
- Bloodwen: Part IV: 
- Bloodwen: Part V: 
- Bloodwen: Part VI: 
- Bloodwen: Part VII: