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-oMyGosh-  

Malesse (wowstead)
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------------- Chapter 3: Love is a Battlefield It was as if it had been destined to be an arena. An enclosed space, surrounded by long-abandoned buildings with rubble and rusted wrought-iron fence strewn about. It was the dead of night and a downpour of rain had begun in earnest, leaving visibility poor save for the occasional crack of lightning. Weapons were drawn on both sides. Sulnar held his twin ranger blades, one above his head at the ready and the second in a forward guard. The brute's crescent-headed axe had no need for fancy swordwork or stances. It would cleave a soldier in two any way he swung it. Malyssa favored a claymore in her left hand and a bastard sword in her right. Both were heavy steel, nearly as long as she was tall, meant for cutting through armor, the men who wore it, and the horse they rode upon if need be. They were also meant to be swung with two hands each, and that she could even lift two at once was a testament to her strength. Deathguards stared at each other, each ready for the other to strike. "Waaaait!" Bordois begged, grasping at Lerossa's arm. Her wet hair clung to a face twisted with dread. "Don't do this, please!" "I know Mally is going kind of overboard," the priestess cried, fearing anxiously for her friends. She'd seen the Order go to battle far too often. She knew full well what they were capable of, and such bloodshed against each other was an image she prayed never to see. "But, but, but just give me five minutes with her! I'll talk to her, I'll make her understand, you don't have to resort to violen-" "Now!” Sulnar barked, both knights dashing forward in unison. They struck out with sword and axe, their movements precise and their aim deadly. The piercing ring of clashing steel, the outraged shriek from the plaintive priestess, the crack of thunder from the roiling heavens; that single moment froze in time as if the Titans themselves had taken notice. Malyssa watched the lazy descent of each individual drop of rain as it passed by her head to splatter into the mud in which she knelt. And just as suddenly as it had begun, that eternity ended and she was moving again, batting away the elven blades with a flick of her sword while her claymore trembled against the force of the massive waraxe against it. With a monumental heave of sheer strength, she pushed the brute’s blow back, who stumbled in surprise and grunted as he regained his footing in the slick mud. She turned to the elf, nearly a heartbeat too slow, deflecting another high swing from the first of his curved blades, while the second carved an arc through the air where her torso had been just moments before. She struck out at him with a bash from her claymore with all of the grace of a blacksmith at the forge. Sulnar’s blades, held in a cross guard in front of him, absorbed the hit but sent him reeling away just as Taldarg stepped back into the fray. “Why are you siding with him?!” Malyssa shouted, ducking as the axe sliced a hairsbreadth from removing her head. Taldarg took advantage of the brief window of opportunity to deal a savage kick to her midsection, sending his opponent sprawling on the ground. Malyssa tried to roll to her feet, but a wave of runic ice shot out from the forgotten Sulnar’s outstretched arm, pinning her to the ground. She writhed in the mud, struggling against her unnatural bonds, and snarled at the brute in frustration. “He can‘t be trusted... Can‘t be loyal to just the Queen as he is. You know that!” “Hmph. I don‘t care about the Queen,” the hulking mass of muscle muttered as he stood over his trapped prey, raising his axe high for a finishing blow. “I just really want to hurt you.” He swung his battered battleaxe down, its cruel edge seeking steel and flesh and bone. It probably was not expecting the taste of sodden soil, deflected as it was at the last moment by the well-timed swing of a similar weapon that knocked it off target and into the muck. Taldarg’s eyes widened just the slightest bit in surprise as a flaming orange humanoid, larger even than himself, knocked him away with a teeth-jarring shoulder tackle. This new monster wore black armor with the slightest sickly-green sheen up to the torso, bare above the waist save for some matching gauntlets and shoulder armor. Jagged spikes protruded from its back and skull, and it grinned maliciously with a mouthful of fangs like broken glass. Held with ease in its meaty fists was the shaft of a double-headed axe of ridiculous proportions, its felsteel emblazoned with an ominous skull. “Say hello,” called the madness-tinged voice of the warlock who stood in his felguard’s rather large shadow, “to my little friend.” Yelgrun cackled and pointed one clawed finger in the fallen warrior’s direction. A ravenous fel-green fire leapt from his fingers, melting away the binding runic ice and slightly scalding the dead skin below. Malyssa scrambled to her feet, weapons at the ready. “I must say, dear girl, you have me convinced of the Executor’s treason,” the warlock said with a sneer, watching with amusement as his demonic minion lunged after Taldarg with a whirl of its axe. “Wha... wait, no, I ain’t trying to-” Malyssa started to speak up in denial, but Yelgrun ignored her completely. He grabbed her by the shoulders with his scrawny arms, devious eyes peering into her own. “I’ll hold off this mindless grunt. You must flee. Escape, hunt down his elven whore, and end her!” Yelgrun released the warrior just as suddenly as he had grabbed her, turning toward the dueling demon and deathguard. “Only with her death will he be free!” Striding away from Malyssa, it was all the warlock could do to keep from breaking out in laughter. How could things have ever turned out this perfectly? That fool would kill Lerossa’s wife. His love. Stab him in his very heart and twist the blade. Hurt him more than Yelgrun could ever dream of doing himself. A blazing inferno formed between his fingertips at the thought, and he called out the very fires of hell with a shout of pure exulting triumph. Malyssa had only a moment to watch the warlock set to work before her attention was rather abruptly taken by a scimitar and a shout. “I won’t allow it!” Sulnar wove his twin blades in a intricate pattern of swings, slashes, and stabs that cut through the air faster than the warrior’s eye could even follow. It was all she could do to defend, her heavier and slower swords straining to keep up against her agile opponent. What strikes she could not parry, only her footwork let her dodge, nimbly avoiding anything more than a light glancing blow off her armor despite the perilous terrain. “Won’t allow what?!” Malyssa challenged, backpedaling to gain distance and an advantage with her longer blades. “Won’t allow me t’save the Boss? Won’t allow me t’kill the girl? She’s a threat to all of us, ‘n that’s the damn truth!” “The Sin’dorei are our allies, and my former brethren.” The dark ranger said with bitter pride as he took a step back. He hesitated for a moment, the tips of his swords wavering with his will, and his expression grew pained. “...They are my brethren no longer. And your fears, albeit extreme, are not unfounded.” Malyssa’s own guard weakened, mirroring Sulnar’s, and her hopes rose. Perhaps she had more allies here than she’d original thought. Rotting, bony arms encircled her from behind as the dark ranger’s ghoul leapt upon her back, pinning her arms to her sides. Perhaps not. If she’d had the capability, she would have facepalmed for being so stupid. “However,” Sulnar spoke again, his blades pointed at her throat. His icy blue gaze was unyielding. “I still have a duty. You fought well, but it is over. Submit.” Malyssa spat on the ground and snarled one word. “Never.” “You choose death before imprisonment?” Sulnar drew his arm back. “So be it.” To be entirely fair, his thrust at her heart was probably meant to incapacitate rather than kill. After all, organs for a forsaken are practically for show. Regardless, it hardly mattered what his intentions were, as his sword never reached its target. Its tip managed to approach all of an inch away from the warrior’s body before reflecting off of the very air as if impacting with a solid stone wall. A brilliant flare of light accompanied the strike, and Sulnar winced and shielded his eyes. Blinking against the brightness, he looked back with swords held at the ready, only to see his ghoul die its final death. The wretched corpse shuddered violently as light flared from its empty eye sockets, mouth, and various areas along its body where it had been missing flesh down to the bone. There was a sizzle of burning meat as it lost its grip on Malyssa and fell to the ground, writhing as it was consumed by a holy fire from within. In moments, it was nothing more than a pile of ashes, through which trod Bordois’s cloth slippers as she ran forward and tackle-hugged the stunned warrior. “Let me tell you what I won’t allow,” Bordois said with a determined stare toward Sulnar, clinging on Malyssa‘s arm much like the ghoul she had just destroyed. She radiated a holy energy filled with righteous indignation. Her protective aura was growing stronger with each word she spoke and each breath she took, and her very presence seemed to sear the death knight‘s lungs like an acrid smoke. “I won’t allow my friends to be hurt. Not on my watch!” “Don’t interfere, wench!” Sulnar shouted and rushed forward with steel and frost, just as Bordois leapt in front of her friend to block the dark ranger’s path with an incandescent barrier. “Mally, run!” She called as the death knight battered at her, her hands facing forward as if shoving against a physical object to maintain her shield’s strength. Her voice was filled with a mournful sorrow. “I don’t want blood on anyone’s hands! Please, you’ve got to go now!” “You got it, hun.” Malyssa was all too willing to listen to the priestess. She wasn’t here to start a fight, anyway. That’d never been her purpose. She didn’t want this. She’d only wanted to make Lerossa choose. So far, it hadn’t gone quite the way she’d imagined it. But that was okay, there was a backup plan. She just had to get away, get clear, and get that elf. Once the elf was dead, everything would go back to normal. First thing’s first, though. Malyssa turned away from Bordois’s valiant defense and sprinted for the ruins. With both deathguards occupied, the path was clear. Lerossa slammed into the ground in her path, blocking her escape with an inhuman leap. His dreadguard armor gleamed with rainwater. In his right hand, he held a silver longsword in a solid grip. A massive spiked shield, a royal purple bulwark almost as large and as wide as Malyssa herself, was strapped to his left arm. He held it lengthways as if it weighed nothing, and stood as a human wall in her path. What chilled Malyssa the most, however, was not the steel he bore. It was the face he wore. His expression was one that she had never before seen. His unflagging determination in the face of overwhelming odds, his indomitable will against the fates themselves, his utter confidence at death’s door; these were all familiar to her. Comforting, even. But in this moment, he was no longer fighting for survival. He was not defending his lands or people. He was not carrying out the will of his Queen. This fight wasn’t mere duty or responsibility. This fight was personal. Malyssa did not look into the eyes of the Executor of the Order of the Forsaken. She stared at the overpowering intensity of Martin Lerossa, and for the first time truly met the man behind the title. For the first time in her unlife, Malyssa D’Magnus truly felt fear. ----------------------------------------------- To be continued (concluded?) in Chapter Four: Lover's Quarrel

Malesse (wowstead)
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well .. its not quite done, buuuuuut .. hell with it, i'll post what i got so far because i think its pretty decent work

Tiburion (wowstead)
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Lerossa is not...gone. (Dead doesn't seem the appropriate word.) Forsaken retirement can take odd forms...*Cryptic grin*

Jenasis (wowstead)
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O M G I feel like I was there! Thankyou so much for sharing this story. Please continue!!!!

I missed so much in the year I was gone. This helps me a lot! What upsets me the most thus far is:

Lerossa married a live Elf and I was not there to grief him for it :*(  Boy is he lucky he died before I got beck!

Malesse (wowstead)
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actually i probly wont be able to finish this up by the end of monday so go ahead and have my entry be chapters 1 an 2 only

Malesse (wowstead)
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Chapter Two: Hell Hath No Fury “What?!” A shared shout of surprise echoed from every voice save for the accuser and the accused. The Executor whirled back toward the circle with a piercing gaze that tore through Malyssa's resolve, that filled her with the urge to cower and plead for forgiveness. So caught up in her inner struggle, she almost didn't realize that the other members of the Order were talking, raised voices of confusion and fear in an overlapping chorus. "-crimes has he committed? What have you seen-" “-bitch finally snapped. Let's take her head-” “-is just too perfect! I knew he was not to be-” “-crazy, Mally! Leroy would never do that!” “Yer right, priestie. He wouldn’t," Malyssa replied, stamping down her inner conflict with overwhelming defiance. She looked to her left, to the troubled Bordois, speaking loudly enough to be heard over the din, "of his own will. But if his will wasn’t his own, then could you say that?” Lerossa gestured for silence again. To his credit, any emotion he might have been feeling was firmly locked away. Even so, there was a palpable tension in his stance, like a caged beast coiled and waiting to spring. “I’m quickly losing patience, Deathguard. Explain yourself... now.” “This is going to be good,” snorted a disbelieving Taldarg. Malyssa ignored the hulking mass and spoke, her utter conviction evident in her simple words. “It’s simple, Boss. A while back, I was running a little job," she said, seeing a nod from a few heads. Being a former sellsword before joining the Order, Malyssa was known for taking on a few mercenary tasks on the side for the coin. "Simple enough request. Was some big name wedding, Alliance invited, and they wanted someone to keep them bastards honest. I was just s’posed to watch fer a raiding party, not the actual party." "That’s when I saw you," Malyssa's voice dropped suddenly, and she almost growled out the rest, "....and her.” “Not her!" Gasped Bordois, recoiling in horror. A beat later, she frowned in confusion. "Wait, who is she?” “An elf," Malyssa spoke the word as if it were an insult. She put a heavy, angry emphasis on her next words." A... living.... elf. Pink, purty, and precious." The Deathguard glared at her superior out of the corner of her eye, her words accusing. The bastard didn't even so much as wince. "Am I right, Boss? Or were y’all holding hands just to help her across the street?” “No way," Bordois gasped with even more surprise and horror than her last outburst, "Leroy has a girlfriend?!” “She’s my wife," Lerossa said dryly, his gaze on Bordois. He turned back to face Malyssa and spoke with absolute finality, "and she is none of your concern.” “She’s my damn concern when it threatens th’whole friggin’ Family!” Malyssa retorted, gesturing toward the circle. “She is not a threat!” The Executor replied, his voice rising to match Malyssa's, though he still managed to sound calm and detached compared to the Deathguard's fiery outbursts. “She’s ain’t one of us!” Malyssa snapped back. The tension between the two could have been cut with a knife. Physical violence seemed increasingly imminent, and it would only be a moment before hands started gravitating towards weapon handles. "Whooah! No need to fight! Let's, um, let's just talk this over, right?" Ever the peacemaker, Bordois jumped into the shouting match with a calming hand. Fellow elf Sulnar nodded in agreement, taking a place by the priestess's side. “I agree. Though, I do not understand, Deathguard Malice," the Death Knight said thoughtfully, "explain, please, why the Lady Lerossa a danger to our Order.” “It ain’t that she’s dangerous," Malyssa muttered, not taking her eyes from the Executor. She gestured towards him with a slight incline of her head, "it’s that she makes him dangerous.” “Drop this right now, D’Magnus, before you go too far.” Lerossa warned, but his words only seemed to strengthen her resolve. “She’s yer weakness, Boss," Malyssa's expression was almost a sickened sort of pity, looking down at the Executor. "Yer opening.” “Now that’s intriguing. Explain, dear girl.” Yelgrun grinned widely, sharp gaze taking and recording everything for future use. Exploitable weak points were a commodity more valuable than gold, and considerably cheaper. The warlock absently rubbed the demonic horns growing out of his skull, a subconscious movement of glee. “She puts his loyalties into question," Malyssa answered. On a normal day, she would have been eyeing the warlock warily, but today her attention was focused directly on the Executor. "Who would he side with? His lovely elf, or his people?” “The only thing in question here is your sanity.” Taldarg snorted. “Yeah? And what if she asked him to turn traitor? Begged, even, on her knees?" There were a few uncomfortable looks, and a few contemplative ones, in response to Malyssa's cruel words. "What if she were a hostage with a blade to her throat? What then?” “Enough of this nonsense.” Lerossa interrupted to put an end to this before things got out of hand, but Malyssa had already begun and now she planned to see it through to the end. She was the stubborn sort. She would not be stopped. “Nah, I wanna know. If ya had to choose ‘tween th’ life of yer dear elf, ‘n that of the Dark Lady." Malyssa demanded in defiance, emboldened to see this through to the end. "Mmm? Who wouldja choose, Boss?” “Girl’s got a point," the warlock agreed quickly, eager to add an accelerant to an already volatile mix. “I would do my duty.” The Executor's every word rang with unflappable faith. “I ain’t so sure 'bout that. I figure it’d be hard to choose. Wouldn‘t it, Boss? ...or maybe not so hard." There was something in Malyssa's detached voice, something that sounded oddly like the voice of experience. "Maybe you done chose yer girl.” “D’Magnus!” Lerossa's warning snarl again went unheard. “Wasn’t hard fer me to choose, after all." If the Executor's blood hadn't already long coagulated, it would've run cold at the Deathguard's tone. All of the fire of her previous outbursts was gone, replaced with a ruthless, deadened lack of feeling, of emotion, of anything at all. "I knew who I would pick. I knew my weakness.” “What are you talking about, you brat?” The brute grumbled, tired of being left out and bored of the entire exchange in general. Before Malyssa could response, Lerossa answered for her through gritted teeth, his furious hiss sounding as if he'd drained all of the anger from her accusations. “Your sister. You mean your sister.” “My sister," Malyssa acknowledged with a nod. Her shoulders seemed to sag tiredly as she replied. "A poor braindead girl who chased butterflies and ate rocks while arrows were droppin’ on her head. Who couldn’t fight, couldn’t serve, could only hold me back." "That li'l girl was a danger to us all," Malyssa paused for the briefest of moments and added in a near-whisper, "she was my weakness.” “You mean Miss Solace?" Sulnar spoke up, but was immediately overridden by Bordois's worried shout for her lost friend. "Sol?! But she’s been missing for months!” The Executor nodded, rage bare on his face. He seemed as foreboding as the clouds that had begun to darken in the skies above, blotting out the light of the moons. Thunder rumbled with the menace of rain as he spoke his next words. “Because she was ‘dealt’ with. Am I right?” “Dealt with.... you mean Mally killed her?!” The priestess wailed, clinging onto Malyssa's armor with tears in her eyes. “Of course I ain’t killed her, that’s the whole damn problem!" Malyssa shouted, trying to push the priestess off of her. The accusing stares had all turned away from the Executor and onto her. Against her. This wasn't how it was supposed to be. This wasn't supposed to happen. Malyssa stared down each of her forsaken brethren in turn, daring them to speak against her. "I’d do anythin’ to protect her. Anything!" "I would kill fer her." Bordois shriveled beneath her chilling gaze, flinching at the threat of her words. "I’d die fer her." Taldarg stared back, unamused, as if perfectly willing to make that happen. "I’d betray fer her." Her eyes locked with the twin fel-green fires of the warlock. He cackled at her response. "Dark Lady be damned." Sulnar looked back at her with a haughty, arrogant expression that might have been derision but just as easily could've been his own elven nature. "All of y'all be damned." At last, she turned back to the Executor. Surely, he would understand now why she had done as she had done. Surely, he would agree. He wouldn't look at her with those eyes filled with hate. As if she were an enemy, a betrayer in her own right. He had to understand. He had to. "And that weren‘t acceptable. One of us can't be more important than all of us.” A sickened revulsion was all that greeted her. Disgust. Contempt at her words, her careful reasoning. This wasn't supposed to happen. “She was one of us, Malice. One of the Family! What have you done?” This was how it was going to be. This was her reward for her service. Her strength. Her sacrifice. Nothing but scorn. The stark realization hit her like a massive weight from above, threatening to crush her into the ground. Her mind recoiled in shock, attempting to desperately figure out just what had gone so wrong. She'd only acted for the good of the Forsaken. For the Order. She'd done the right thing. She gritted her teeth, and answered as if in pain. “What I had to. She’s buried where nobody’ll find her. Safe an' sound. And where I won’t ever have to choose. Where she won't ever be used against us. I can serve the Lady with all I got now.” “You buried your own flesh and blood... alive?” Sulnar took a single step back. Apparently, even former agents of the Lich King could still be disturbed. “I rid myself of weakness," Malyssa snapped back, still unsettled by her superior's disdain. It was all right, she thought. This could still end as she had imagined. There was still a chance. She pointed again at the Executor, as she had just minutes ago to accuse him. "And now it’s his turn." "Make the right choice, Boss." There was a hint of pleading in her voice, almost desperation. This was it. This was the moment she had been waiting for all this time. She was hinging all of her hopes on this one moment, this one belief she still had that the Executor would hold his Queen above his lady when the cards were laid on the table. Malyssa was forcing him to choose. To do the right thing. To stand with the Order, and with her. "Get rid of the elf. Cut her loose.” His answer was, delicately put, not everything she had hoped for. “...I am disappointed, D’Magnus." As if on cue, a single raindrop fell on her face. The weather had taken a turn for the worse, just as her plan had. The moment passed, and she had failed. "You were a promising soldier. But you're wrong." Wrong? Her heart sank in her chest; the useless, unmoving thing. No. No, this wasn't happening. She'd made all the right decisions. She'd come to all the right conclusions. Hadn't she? Of course, she had! How could she have possibly been wrong? Unless... unless Lerossa was already too far gone. Unless the elf's influence was even more insidious than she could've possibly imagined. Yes, yes, that had to be it. He couldn't see that the elf was an enemy. In his eyes, there wasn't a choice to begin with. It had already been decided. That clever elf bitch. Her reply seemed empty, almost mechanical. “I’m just following orders, Boss.” “You’ve lost your senses," Lerossa continued, but Malyssa was only half listening. She was mired too deeply in her own thoughts to notice the world around her, even as the sprinkling of rain steadily quickened its pace. She could not hear his words or the patter of raindrops against armor. She only heard her inner voice, decrying her failure, but whispering at this new, unseen truth. The elf's fault. The elf. The elf. It was all the elf. He couldn't recognize her as the enemy. "You can’t even tell between friend or foe any longer.” That stirred her from her reverie. He was mirroring the words in her very mind. Perhaps was it... a cry for help? Could he have been speaking of himself? Of course. It all made sense now. He couldn't choose the Order consciously. The elf had seen to that. But he was still himself, somewhere deep inside. Locked away. She was good with locks. They can be smashed. Her answer had much more force this time. “Can tell the difference between the living an’ the dead. She ain't one'a us." "The Dark Lady has allies within the living. We cannot fight the entire world." Useless justifications. Had Lerossa ever talked like that before? Of course not. Now she was putting words in his mouth. The nerve. "Ain't the same, and you damn well know it! She ain't never gonna be one'a us!" Malyssa snarled, and the Executor drew back for a moment at the sheer ferocity. Her entire body tensed, muscles flexing as if preparing for battle, her feet shifting to a stance of wary readiness. She knew what she had to do now, plain as day. "We're dead! She ain't!" She howled before dropping her voice down low. "Maybe it's time that changed.” She'd barely had time to finish her sentence before Lerossa's blade was unsheathed and pointed in her direction. The movement had been fast, too fast even for her eyes to follow. He spoke each word slowly, quietly, but the venom in them made each as loud and terrifying as a feral roar. “You will not harm my wife.” Malyssa would not be swayed. Not now. She leapt lightly backwards, out of striking distance. “If you ain’t gonna choose the Queen over her, I ain’t got a choice." “I see there will be no reasoning with you." A crack of lightning illuminated the Executor, now flanked by the contrasting silhouettes of the two Death Knights. At a wave of his hand, the two dark figures advanced upon the lone warrior. "Deathguards, seize her. With force, if necessary.” "You ain't gonna stop me." Malyssa called to either side. "Good," Taldarg muttered with a satisfied smirk, hidden by his mask. "You just made force necessary." To be concluded in the thrilling finale! Chapter Three: Love is a Battlefield (coming soon!)

Jenasis (wowstead)
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GASP!

Malesse (wowstead)
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Chapter One: With Friends Like These... Tirisfal. A dreary and overcast night, cloudy skies aglow with the light of the twin moons above. A night much like any other. It was a haunting sky that seemed perfectly suited for the dead city beneath its shadow. It was a city of ruins and rubble, long since devoid of any life. Forlorn and forgotten towers stood tall but without pride, their pristine white stone walls now a greasy ashen grey. Once regal, moss-covered statues stared helplessly out into oblivion as they slowly crumbled into dust. As homes went, it wasn't the worst she'd ever had. Malyssa D'Magnus, Deathguard of the Order, knelt atop the northern wall of the city. She came to this spot often. Sometimes, she was on patrol, ever watchful for enemy intruders. Increasingly though, she would find herself here on this quiet bulwark whenever her mind was troubled. From here, she felt as if she could see what was truly important. From here, she could just barely make out the shape of the outer wall of the town of Brill. It was a village of no real importance, though such was not the case for her. For her, it was the end. For her, it was the beginning. It was the city in which she had been recruited. One might say where she had begged acceptance into the Order, if one was an elf and only good for begging. She had not asked, nor had the Order. There were no flowery contracts or letters of acceptance. There was only the need. She was one of the best at what she did, and as such they required her services. They offered a purpose, a reason to keep fighting, to keep living, and that was something she had not even been aware of needing. That was all. She had joined with the Order, with her fellow brethren in cursed undeath. They and their Queen had but one goal, a future that was little more than a pipe dream, and she had sworn to see it come to pass. No matter what had to be done. No matter what. Malyssa hesitated no longer. She closed her eyes, opened her mind, and sent out the call. Gather. ------------------------------- Hours passed. Not long enough for the night to wane, but enough for a break to have formed in the clouds, illuminating the ruins of Capital City in pale moonlight. The harsh, mechanical cacophony of a primitive flying machine shattered the silence and heralded the approach of the first to answer the call. The ungainly bronze craft chugged through the sky, rotors straining as it circled the city. It climbed and fell through the low-hanging clouds, its altitude changing in a writhing motion like a ship caught in the waves of a storm-tossed sea. With a sickening pop and a curl of black smoke, the mobile deathtrap's shuddering engine froze its spasmodic thrashing and the craft hurtled toward the cobblestone below. Just moments before creating a new crater in the already war-torn corpse of a city, the flying machine roared back into life to hover gracefully a mere meter above the ground before landing with a heavy sigh of steam. A lithe, tall figure clambered out of the cockpit and dropped gracefully to the ground. The pilot wore an elegant, moon shaped necklace over a plain hooded gown that was bleached white, but glowed with a faint aura of a calming blue. The simple cowl fell back, revealing long, silky hair, pointed ears, an unblemished complexion, a delicate nose and arching eyebrows; the unnatural perfection of an elf, though her skin was as drained of color as any other of the undead. Bordois Silverstream gazed up at the brief glimpse of the White Lady through the clouds. She closed her eyes, a serene and peaceful expression on her face that would have seemed out of place on any other of her forsaken kin. From a dilapidated building behind her, another of the Order shambled into the clearing with a much less peaceful grin splitting his face. "So free you are with your guard, priestess. Our enemies would not hesitate to take advantage," called the hideous visage with another toothy sneer. There was nothing lighthearted about this undead, clad in sickly green robes that still smoldered with the stench of brimstone from his preferred choice of magical transportation, one far more dangerous than even the rickety gyrocopter. If his attire was not enough to hint at his dabbling in the darker arts, surely the demonic horns jutting from his skull would suffice to warn all to keep their distance. Bordois opened her eyes with a welcoming smile, turning toward the warlock without even recoiling. "But Yelgrun... How could I not be safe here, with so many of my dear family watching over me?" Yelgrun cackled despite, or perhaps because of, the elf's words lacking even a tinge of sarcasm. "Of course, of course. You are completely safe with me... sister." He seemed almost to spit the word out with a cruel hiss. If the priestess noticed the venom in that tone, which was doubtful, she did not have a chance to respond. Her next words were cut short by a low pitched howling, as if many voices were whispering at once. A trail of embers burned its way in a straight path across the ground, charring the cobblestone as it passed. From a mere spark, the flames burst into a violet inferno in the shape of a wall that towered over even the elven priestess's height. The lapping flames contrarily sapped heat from the very air, bringing a chill to the night that forced even undead skin to shiver. An acrid, black smoke rose from the blazing surface, gathering into a cloud at its peak that solidified into a morbid skull. From the depths of this Death Gate, two figures strode out into the Lordaeron night; One, a hulking mass of muscle, with arms the width of tree trunks and shoulders more suited for a beast of burden. The other, a male elf with a slender build that concealed a steely strength. Both were armored in oily black steel plate, reinforced with inscribed runes and skeletal patterns that held the telling turquoise aura of mind-altering saronite, the favored defense of the Death Knights of the Ebon Hold. Neither wore a helm; the brute wore only a midnight-colored mask and cowl that revealed only his cold blue eyes, whereas the elf eschewed any covering of his proud features other than his own auburn tresses worn long in a loose ponytail. The warlock’s rotted lips pulled back in another cruel imitation of a smile. “Ah... The entertainment has arrived. I never tire of the Lich King‘s chosen clowns.” “I never learned to juggle, but I’ll give it a shot once I remove all your limbs,” muttered the elf, his words oddly echoing. His hand rested on the hilts of two elegantly curved blades at his side. “His head would make a fine puppet,” the brute agreed with a gravely voiced snarl like stones grating together, hefting a massive double-edged battleaxe against his shoulder. Bordois faced down both death knights and the warlock with a reproving frown, as fearless as if she were addressing a group of rowdy youngsters rather than war-hardened bringers of death. “Don’t you start! Sulnar, I never expected you to be so crude. And Taldarg, I told you no more decapitations!” Neither soldier seemed to pay the slightest bit of attention, but Bordois continued on, staring down the warlock with her arms crossed. “And Yelgrun, what would Lerossa say if he saw you acting like this?” “Say... what would he sssay....” Yelgrun repeated with a contemplative look of disgust, as if tasting the words and finding them foul. “How fitting, that so simple a truth comes from so simple a source.” “Wait, what?” The priestess said with wide-eyed befuddlement, but Yelgrun cut her off. “Your choice of words. ‘What would... Lerossa say’. Not ‘what would Lerossa do’, but what would he ssssay,” the warlock drew out the hated word with a grimace. Bordois looked increasingly lost, while Taldarg grunted in frustration. “This is important, why?” Yelgrun grinned in response to the brute’s impatience. He shrugged his shoulders with exaggerated resignation. “Of course, a mere pawn would not see the significance.” “I’m nobody’s pawn, you-” Taldarg snarled as he tightened his grip on his heavy axe and took a single menacing step forward before being silenced by a single word which halted him mid-stride. “Explain.” There, just outside the circle of gathered forsaken, stood yet another of the undead. He was similarly armored for combat in the steel plate of the Dark Lady’s personal soldiers, wearing a tattered cape emblazoned with Her symbol draped about his shoulders. He merely stood in place, his golden eyes taking in every little detail and letting nothing escape. Other than once-serviceable features that had been withered by decay, there was nothing overtly menacing about him. He shared none of the crackling, demonic force of the warlock, nor the cold, restrained ferocity of the death knights. He was a man and nothing more. And yet... something about the way he held himself made it abundantly clear to those with even a hint of martial prowess that this was a man who could hold his own, a man who had mastered himself and his art. A man not to be trifled with. That, combined with the fact that he had somehow appeared within striking distance without being seen, gave Taldarg pause. Not noticing his presence was a fact that unsettled to the brute, though the only evidence as such was the slightest narrowing of his eyes. Perhaps it was because this newcomer felt as if he somehow belonged, that he was simply supposed to be here, as if he was as much a part of the city as the stone that it was built of. Their Executor stepped forward at last to join the circle, locking eyes with Taldarg, who returned the stare for a long moment before snorting and offering a half-hearted salute. The elves quickly followed suit with a fist to their own lifeless hearts as his gaze passed over each of them in turn before falling onto the warlock. “Executor Lerossa,” Yelgrun bowed with a mocking flourish. “Demonologist Yelgrun.” Lerossa’s unyielding gaze never wavered, nor did his expression betray even the slightest hint of his thoughts. “What is your command, Executor?“ The warlock’s ever-present chaotic grin seemed a little forced under that soul-searing stare, and its madness was tinged with a trace of nervousness. “Enlighten the pawns,” the Executor continued, ignoring a growl from Taldarg. “Show them what you see.” Yelgrun’s eyes darted from Lerossa to the other Order members, realizing the Executor’s intent. He’d been challenging and questioning and mocking the Order’s command behind its back, sowing the seeds of discontent from the shadows. It was easy to badmouth one’s superiors in a crowded tavern at night, but much more importantly it was easy for others to lean in support of such words. Now, he was being called out, dragged into the light and put on display, an isolated position which was far more difficult to influence minds. “As you wish,” the warlock said in acceptance of the challenge, bowing again. “It’s quite obvious, really. The difference between words and action.” “We are at war, no?“ Yelgrun paced a few yards away from the circle, gesturing to the southwest. “Wretched humans and their leashed pets, the gnomes and dwarves. And now we face the disgusting dogs, as well.” “So many targets, so little time...” His hands sizzled with an overflowing fel heat. He whirled toward the Order with an accusing glare. “And yet, here we stand. Our people’s finest weapons, gathering dust behind walls when we could be leading the forsaken to victory!” Yelgrun paused for a moment to measure his audience. Lerossa‘s poker face had yet to change. Bordois looked upset by the thought of violence. Taldarg merely looked bored. Sulnar shifted his weight uncomfortably, a slight motion that caught the warlock’s eye like a predator singling out his prey from the herd. “Is the Order not a blade to be used against our enemies?” Yelgrun made a fist as he spoke. “Are we not meant to strike, to reap those petty Alliance fleshbags like the mewling children they are?” “The Queen’s blade,” Lerossa spoke at last. “A hidden blade that strikes where others cannot. On Her command, and only Her command.” “Hiding behind mother’s skirts,” the warlock retorted, “our strength left unused as opportunities to strike pass by.” “A trump card used too soon is meaningless.” Yelgrun shook his head at the Executor’s words. “No... words are meaningless. Talking is meaningless. Yet... that is all you are capable of.” For the first time, Lerossa’s no-nonsense facade let slip a trace of irritation. Yelgrun kept pushing. “Isn’t it, Executor?” “Watch your tongue, Demonologist.” “Or what? You’ll lecture me? Perhaps call another gathering to discuss the error of my ways?” “I might!” Bordois shouted, planting herself between warrior and warlock. “There’s no need for us to be fighting amongst ourselves. It’s not even Lerossa’s gathering anyways.” Yelgrun did a double-take. “It’s not?” “It’s not?” Echoed the death knights, forgotten during the tirade. The Executor shook his head. “Then, who called the gathering?” Sulnar asked in confusion. “Well, um, the call felt plain and angry.” Bordois replied, looking thoughtful. “Actually, it kind of felt like Mally.” “You got good hearing even when you ain’t using them pointy ears of yours, priestie.” Malyssa's voice called, drifting down from somewhere out of sight. “Not quite good enough to catch me, but good.” “Mally!” Exclaimed the priestess with a smile as Malyssa dropped from her hidden perch and landed heavily on the cobblestone path below. The weight of her armor left a spiderweb of cracks running through the stone. She made her way to the circle and dropped to a knee in front of the Executor. “Deathguard,” Lerossa motioned for her to rise. She joined the circle and stood at attention directly opposite of him. “Explain yourself. Why have you called the Order together?” “Well, Boss, as you ordered, I been keeping an eye on things," she replied with a slight jerk of her head toward the arching spires she'd been watching from. "Outside and in. And, well, I found somethin’.” Lerossa's eyes narrowed sharply, taking note of a slight emphasis she'd placed on the word 'in'. “Signs of another traitor within our midst?” Malyssa only nodded, a movement which invoked a collection of expressions ranging from startled gasps and suspicious stares to coldly calculated calm from the gathered undead.. “Figured I might need more bodies around this time. Might need the arms.” “Good,” Taldarg snorted with a meaningful glance in Yelgrun’s direction. “I’ve wanted to kill someone since I got here.” "This is ridiculous. Misguided suspicion jumping at shadows," the warlock muttered with a wary sneer. "I demand evidence, solid proof." “Somebody betrayed us?" Bordois was nearly in tears, casting a hurt look towards the stoic Executor. "Who would do such a thing?!” Lerossa turned away from the circle, raising a hand for silence. “You understand the weight of this accusation, Deathguard?" Malyssa said nothing, staring solemnly at the Executor's back. He continued on without so much as a glance over his shoulder. "This is no light matter." "You mean to claim one of our brethren, one who has been sworn into service, who shares our very thoughts, is an enemy." Lerossa's voice was low, dangerously so, angered by the mere suggestion. "If there is a single doubt within you, even the slightest hesitatio-" "Boss," she interrupted with a hollow, defeated sigh of unwilling acceptance. "I'm sure." "Very well, then." Lerossa spoke with the unflinching power of a command behind his words. "Name the traitor, Deathguard.” “As you command..." Malyssa raised her hand to salute, an unconscious action driven by the authority of the Executor's order. As her fist reached the steel of her breastplate, it began to waver. She clenched her fist tightly to control its tremble, drawing upon some unseen resolve to steady her arm, and pointed straight at the broad back of the leader of the Order of the Forsaken. "...It’s you, Boss. You're the traitor.” Chapter Two: Hell Hath No Fury (Coming Soon!)

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