There was a time in my life where I was truly happy. That time ended when I was fourteen. You may have heard of the destruction of Dalaran. I was there when it happened. I witnessed the great mage towers collapsing from the assault by Archimonde. We were doomed by the decisions of King Terenas, though he got his reward in the end, slaughtered by his own son.
Arthas, now that’s a name that I will curse for all my days. I often find myself imagining what it would be like to stab him through the heart with a rusty blade. Then I remind myself that I must maintain calm and focus, in order to retain control of my abilities.
Other times, I wonder about my sisters. Sindara and Alexandrine, what place have you made for yourselves in this world? I do see them at times, our paths criss-crossing in our journeys through Azeroth and Kalimdor. I hear whispers of them occasionally as well.
The whispers tell of Sindara, a warlock of great power. I fear that she is delving into magic too dangerous to control. However, if anyone can control it, my sister will be the one to do so. Few can match the zeal at which she applies herself to her studies. From what I understand, she not only uses the power of her demons to fight the enemies of the Alliance, but has made a substantial amount of gold by turning her minions into gatherers of precious ore and herbs. I chuckle every time I think of little Gelpad lifting a heavy mining pick, though I know it is more likely that he uses demonic magic or his bare hands to do the work.
The whispers also speak of young Alexandrine, the younger of my sisters, if only by a few minutes. She is known for her work in fighting the Defias Brotherhood’s plans in Westfall. Who could have foreseen that she would be so good with the machines built by the Gnomes? Certainly not I. She is also known for her efforts in aiding the Silverwing Sentinels in their fight against the Horde in Warsong Gulch. Many a member of the Horde has felt the wrath of her fiery, snake-shaped mace, a silly weapon that nonetheless has proven effective in bringing down countless foes.
The Horde…I at once am angered and weep at our renewed hostilities with this noble faction. Growing up on my family’s estate, I learned quite a bit about the Orcs. My father had taken a group of them from an Orc detainment camp for use as servants, like many nobles had done. Unlike other nobles, however, my father paid them and treated them with kindness, even procuring information about ancient Orc ways for them, thus allowing them to return to their old ways before the new Warchief had fought to bring them back. They learned a great deal from my father, and we learned a great deal from them as well.
When they first came to live with us, I was filled with anger at them. How could those foul brutes have dared to attack the might of the Alliance? I hated them with every fiber of my being. I was angry at my father for bringing them into our home. I remember the day that changed. The day of the fire. The day that almost cost me my younger sister.
It was a typically boring day on the Wintermoon Estate that summer. Silas Wintermoon, a distinguished wizard in his mid-forties, sat in his study, teaching his oldest daughter about the events of the last decade. He could sense the power in this child, the raw magical ability in need of training. But he was reluctant to send her off to Dalaran for her training. While he knew that he could teach her much of what she would need, he felt that she would learn better if she learned from more versed instructors in the city itself. It would not be that far from him – indeed, he could see the glorious mage towers off in the distance- but he loved his child and did not want to see her go.
His daughter looked up at him. Her hazel eyes were curious as she asked, “Father, if the Orcs did so much damage to our people, why did we round them up? Why not just slaughter them all and be done with it?”
He looked at her reprovingly. “What you fail to understand, is that the Orcs that invaded us were not what Orcs had once been. They were under the corruption of demons, and had been forced to do evil deeds by those very same. You see, Orcs may be very different than humans, but they share many things with us. They are sentient beings with hopes, dreams, fears – beings who love, hate, protect those they care about. They are so like us in so many ways that the only real difference is in form. I truly hope that you can understand this one day.”
The door burst open. A large Orc stood before them. His skin was dark green and battle scarred. His voice was gruff and strained. Poldaran could hear the panic in his voice as he spoke. “Lord Silas, the barn is on fire! Little Sindara is inside!”
Poldaran could hear the concern in Grak’thar’s voice. Then it hit her. Sindara was in danger. Silas jumped to his feet and rushed outside. Poldaran followed as quickly as she could. What she saw horrified her. The barn was ravaged by flames. The old wood was so damaged by the fire it looked as if it would collapse at any moment.
Her father had summoned several water elementals and the Orcs had begun carrying buckets of water from the well to the blaze. Despite their best efforts, the fire continued to burn just as bright. She heard a voice in her head.
You know they can’t stop it, right?
“Yes, I know.”
You have to do something.
“What can I possibly do? I’m just a child.”
I know. But if you don’t, your sister will die.
“What do I do?”
Just relax and allow your gift to help you. If you listen, it will tell you what to do.
Poldaran cleared her mind and exhaled deeply. Then it came to her. She had to pull Sindara from the burning building, and she knew how to do it. She ran inside and grabbed a blanket from her room, nearly bowling over Alexandrine while doing so. Alexandrine could see the look of determination on her face and knew that something was going on outside. She got outside in time to see Poldaran, her mouth and body covered in the blanket, run straight through a water elemental and at the large door of the burning building. Her hands began to glow a silvery blue and she waved her right hand at the door, blowing it open with a bolt of ice.
Again, Poldaran’s hands began to glow. She waved her hand again and the water in the blanket froze, protecting her in ice. She disappeared into the building. Silas’ heart quailed, for he feared losing both daughters, but he could do nothing.
Just inside, Poldaran could barely make out the outline of her sister’s limp body on the floor of the barn. She rushed over and bent to scoop her up. As she did so, she heard a great cracking of wood as the roof began to collapse. She looked above just in time to see the collapsing structure rushing towards her. She dove on top of her sister, and all was black.
When she awoke, she was aware of the cold. It was so very cold. Strangely, the cold didn’t bother her. She heard a voice in her head again. This time, it was different.
Poldaran, can you hear me?
She knew that voice. Father?, she asked, reaching out with her mind.
Yes, dear one.
Where am I?
You’re in what remains of the barn.
So I’m not dead?
No, you made it out.
I’m not sure how you did it, but you and Sindara are encased in a large block of ice.
Can you get us out?
No. I have tried to dispel it. We have even tried cutting into it and melting it. It is impervious to damage.
A hint of panic entered into her mind’s voice, How do I get out?!
Instructions entered her mind. Do it just like that. That should dispel the ice. Do you understand?
Yes. She began to chant in her mind as he had told her and released the word of power. It worked perfectly and the ice sublimated directly into a mist, dispersing out into the wind.
She stood to see both her father and Vi’Krosh, the elder Orc among those who lived on the estate. For the second time that day she saw concern on the face of an Orc.
Then she collapsed, fainting for the second time in her life.
I learned later that the fire in the barn had been caused by a momentous occasion. Little Sindara had somehow procured a book of demonic magic and had summoned an imp. His coming into the world was not properly warded, however, and the flames that always followed him caught the dry wood in the barn on fire. Father could sense the magic and knew at once what had happened. On that day, he did something that I found peculiar.
Not only was Sindara not punished for putting herself in danger, but she was given a tutor. Her father was ever concerned with making sure that his children learned more about their gifts, even when they manifested in children barely old enough to have learned to read.
It turns out that during the war Vi’Krosh had been a powerful warlock. While he still held the power, he would not yield it in combat. What he would do, however, was train Sindara in the beginnings of her new found gift. It was said that she learned more quickly than any student he’d ever had.
Alexandrine’s gift was a gift of sheer stubborn determination. While I was in Dalaran, my family had housed an injured Knight of the Silver Hand. My curious sister pestered him for hours and he taught her much about the Light. On the day he left, she had sworn herself to the Light and would not be swayed. Quite a bit for a child of six to accomplish.
It was on the day Sindara almost died when I learned the most about the Orcs. No longer were they enemies to be feared or hated. They were friends. They lived with my family by choice, I would learn, rather than stay in the camps held by some of my people’s most horrible zealots. It was true that they tended to the grounds, aided with the gathering of wood and the construction of buildings, but they told me that during those years it gave them a renewed sense of dignity and honor. Most importantly, they said, the way my father accepted them into his home gave them a sense of family.
As I came to know them, they became more than just servants. They became my extended family, the uncles, aunts and cousins I would never have. They taught us and we taught them. It was as though the differences in our races did not matter. Life was good.
Things all changed the day the Legion came to consume our world.
Rumor spread quickly of the coming of a great enemy force. It was said that the dead walked and were commanded by great hosts of demons. It was also said that Arthas, son of the slain king Terenas, led the legions of dead to victory against great enemies. Silvermoon itself was said to have been sacked.
Many had fled from Dalaran. Poldaran’s master, an Archmage of the Kirin Tor, had sent her home to her father. Before her dismissal, he had given her a gift.
“What is it, Master?” the fourteen year old mage had asked, indicating the parcel she had been given.
His mouth turned in a glad smile. “Open it, apprentice.”
She did as she was told. Beautiful purple and blue robes, the colors worn by her Master, unfolded themselves and hovered before her. Poldaran could see that they were marked with both her master’s symbol and the mark of a Journeyman. Her eyes grew wide. “Master, you don’t mean…”
“Indeed child, I do. I had hoped that your ascension could be marked before the gathered Kirin Tor, but current matters make this unlikely to occur for some time.” His eyes beamed. “Never have I had such a student as you. It is as though you had a natural affinity for magic. You soak up knowledge like a sponge. There are master mages who do not show your instinctual understanding of even the most difficult of tasks I put to you. It’s quite possible that you may one day hold a seat on the Kirin Tor, if we can keep you out of taverns.” He smiled knowingly.
She flushed, embarrassed that he knew. She began to explain, but he held up his hand for silence and chuckled. “There is no need, child. I never said you couldn’t, so do not worry. Besides, I’m sure that what the next day held was punishment enough.” He cleared his throat and looked at her seriously. “But enough of that. It saddens me that I must tell you of grave tidings. No doubt you have heard the rumors of the great host that rides towards Dalaran. I must unfortunately confirm these rumors.” His face grew grim. “The Burning Legion comes to consume us all.”
She shuddered in fear. She had learned a great deal about the Legion in her studies and knew that it would not be a force to be taken lightly. “What must I do to help prepare the city?”
Her offer gladdened his heart. “Unfortunately, all the preparations that may be made have been. However, your father has sent for you and asked that you be returned home so that you might help them prepare the village to flee into the safety of the city. My carriage awaits downstairs. I want you to go to them and do what you can, then return to me. You may be needed to help defend against the might of the Legion.”
She bowed before her master and he nodded his permission for her to leave.
She arrived home about an hour later. Dusk had fallen and the estate seemed deserted. She found her father in the dining room eating a small meal of cheese and bread with her sisters. Her mother was out in the village continuing to help the people prepare for the march to the city. Silas Wintermoon’s brown hair was streaked with grey and her sisters seemed to have shot up like weeds while she had been gone. Black haired Sindara was pale from her studies while blonde Alexandrine was well tanned from hours she had spent learning swordplay from the instructor her father had hired.
Her father took note of the new robes his daughter was wearing. “A journeyman, eh? Congratulations.” He smiled and she walked around the table to give him a great hug. “You should come visit more often. Your sisters have been nothing but a handful since you left,” he jested. Alexandrine stuck out her tongue at him. Sindara just shook her head and went back to the book she was reading. “See what I mean?”
Poldaran sat down to eat with them. They discussed her studies for a time, but she soon realized what was wrong. “Where is everyone?”
Her father had a stern look. “The new Warchief, Thrall, sent out a call to all of his people. Vi’Krosh and the others asked if they might go do their duty and answer the summons, and I told them they may. They have never been my captives, but my guests, as you know.”
“How long ago was this?”
“A few months time.”
A cry rang out in the village. It was joined by many more. The sounds of battle began to fill the air. Her father ran to the window. “Quickly children. To the cellar. You must hide!” They ran through the kitchen to the dark cellar. He lit a lantern with his will. “Poldaran, seal the entrance and do not leave this place until morning. Do you understand?”
“Good. Protect your sisters. I hope to be back soon.” With that, he was gone. Poldaran sealed the door with a wall of ice.
They heard cries and wails, explosions, the sounds of glass shattering. The battle raged for what seemed like hours, but was likely only minutes. Then the silence came, though thundering could be heard in the distance.
She did not know how long they stayed in the cellar, but she knew that they had to leave soon. They would be discovered if they did not. She dispelled the frost along the door and opened it slowly. Nothing appeared to be in the house.
She moved to step out, but Sindara motioned for her to stop. Then the young girl began chanting a spell. No sooner than she had finished, but a small, translucent eye appeared and began darting through the house. Sindara channeled the spell and scouted throughout, until she was certain that the house was indeed empty. She spoke another word, and the eye was gone.
Dawn was soon approaching, Poldaran understood from a glance through the window. But something was wrong. The very air outside looked sickly and green. Fires burned all around. The village had been put to the torch. “Let us go gather a few supplies. Go upstairs and pack a small sack with a few essentials. We have to travel light, and leave some room in each of your sacks for a bit of food. And, whatever you do, stay away from the windows.” The younger girls nodded.
Poldaran went to her father’s study and opened a small chest kept within. Inside were a couple of wands. While not the most powerful of weapons, she knew that these might serve them well. From there she went to the kitchen and began filling a sack with bread, cheese, a bit of bacon and cured ham, some fruit and a couple sausages. She left the sack on a table and went up to see if her sisters were prepared.
As she approached the room, she heard a muffled scream. She ran inside to see what had happened, finding Alexandrine on the ground sobbing while Sindara held a hand over her mouth. “What’s wrong?”
Sindara answered, her voice thick. “Have a look outside. Careful, though, or they might see you.” Poldaran edged over to the window. And had to muffle a scream of her own.
Something was eating her parents.
Or, more precisely, their corpses, which laid near the gate of the estate.
The creatures were horrific. Giant abominations made of the combined body parts of multiple victims. Each held a giant sickle and a cleaver, leaving a third hand free to tear chunks off of her parents’ bodies and shovel them into their hideous maws.
Poldaran vomited into a corner. When she had nothing left to heave, she spoke. “That’s it. We’re leaving now. We’ll take whatever you’ve packed, but we cannot wait any longer.” The girls nodded, Alexandrine stifling sobs. Poldaran threw her arms around them both and embraced them. “We’ll make it out of here. We have to.” They quickly headed down the stairs and grabbed the sack of food Poldaran had packed. They stopped at the door. “Sindara, can you summon another of those eyes?”
The child nodded. “Good. I’m going to carefully open the door just an inch or so. Then I need you to use it to see if there’s a safe path out of here for us.”
No more than a second later, Sindara bounded out the door, a relieved smile upon her face. She ran straight into the open arms of a large orc.
“Grak’thar?” Poldaran whispered incredulously. The orc nodded, putting a finger to his lips. He motioned for them to follow. Behind the house was a small band of orcs. They motioned toward the relative safety of the barn. Vi’Krosh waited within. Time had lengthened his already long white beard. The girls hugged him and the others. “I thought you all left.”
“We did,” the wise one said. “But we heard of the army coming towards Dalaran and thought we might come aid you and your parents to safety. We’re sorry we didn’t get here in time to save them.”
“Let’s not focus on what we cannot fix,” Poldaran said. “How do we get out of here with those creatures out there?”
“We should be able to scale the back wall. That’s how we got in here in the first place. It should be no trouble to –” At that moment, with a look of horror on her face, Sindara screamed. She pointed at something, and they all understood why.
A small floating eyeball was inside the barn, looking at them. Grak’thar sliced it in half with his great axe, but it was too late. The enemy knew they were there.
“We cannot hope to outrun them. They do not tire. We must stand and fight or ensure our deaths,” Grak’thar said.
“Let us see if we can push them to the gate,” Poldaran said. “If we can close the gates, I can rain destruction upon them from up on the walls. It might take longer to defeat them, but it seems like the way to avoid the most casualties.”
“Well planned, young one,” Vi’Krosh said. “So that shall be our goal. Push them to the gate.”
The orcs charged out of the barn and into a waiting pack of ghouls. They hacked and slashed their way through the snarling horde, pushing back their foes inch by inch.
That’s when Poldaran had an idea. Conjuring forth one of the most powerful spells she knew, she cast a massive Blizzard just behind the foes. The large shards of ice spelled certain death for any enemies that attempted to reinforce her foes.
Cut off from relief, the ghouls were easy foes for the powerful orcish warriors. The abominations that tore through the wall afterwards, however, were not so simple to fight. They were immense, with more than two arms carrying massive weapons.
The abominations tore through the orcs like so many rag dolls. Vi’krosh, however, had an ace up his sleeve. He cast runes of summoning and called forth a great demon, a Voidwalker, as it were called. The giant blue demon rushed forth and used its powers to anger the mindless undead, who turned their attention upon the demon. The orcish warriors took the opportunity and struck their foes in the backs with massive, cleaving strikes. Cheers erupted from the orcs.
And then the sky rained fire. The largest of the flames struck the ground nearby, knocking everyone to their knees. From the great crater arose a being of rock and flames. Its scream was deafening. The orcs fought hard, but the beast was too strong. It was left to Poldaran and Vi’Krosh to destroy the beast.
Poldaran cast a great wave of cold upon the ground, creating a large patch of ice under the feet of the beast. Vi’Krosh sent his summoned minion straight at the foe. The force of the impact caused the burning creature to slip upon the ice. As it landed, a great blast of cold air struck it, chilling its flames and ending its existence.
Then all was silent, save for the sound of clapping. A horrifying laugh came from the gateway, where an incredible being stood. Its head had two massive horns, its hands were more claws than fingers, it had immense black wings and razor sharp fangs.
“Nathrezim!” Poldaran heard Vi’Krosh breathe.
“Well done,” it said with a chuckle. “You shall make excellent additions to the Scourge. But first, you must DIE!!”
The horrifying being charged forth and slew the voidwalker. The orcish warriors attempted to surround it, but only ten remained, and attempting to attack it was proving futile.
Poldaran’s world grew quiet as a ghostly form shimmered into view in front of her. It appeared to be a woman robed in crimson, brown and gold. The woman spoke, her voice carrying the authority of a woman of experience. “Poldaran, you do realize that they cannot defeat this foe?” The voice was familiar to Poldaran.
“I know. But they have to try! We will die if they can’t win!”
“Indeed. However, only one person can defeat this enemy.”
“Who?” The woman pointed at her. “Me!?” Poldaran shouted incredulously. “How might I hope to stop him?”
“You have the power. You need only unleash it. Remember the time you saved Sindara?” Poldaran nodded. “Now you must once again protect her, and your other sister. You have the strength. Unleash it!”
“I’ll do my best.”
Poldaran unleashed a barrage of frost bolts. The demon, angered, charged at her. She cast a nova of ice about herself, freezing the demon’s feet to the floor. The demon broke free and charged again, knocking her from her feet.
Then the strangest thing happened. Little Sindara, a serious look on her face, stepped between her sister and certain doom. The demon, confused, paused. Sindara drew a circle upon the ground and began to chant. “Kneel before me!” she commanded the great demon.
He laughed at her impudence, but felt his knees begin to bend. Alarmed, he struggled against her dominating will. He broke free only for a second, but it was enough. He slammed her with the back of his clawed hand, sending her flying at the house. Thankfully, Grak’thar was there and caught her, shielding her tiny body from the impact of the hard wall. Immediately, little Alexandrine began to cast spells of healing upon her wounds.
For Poldaran, immobilized by fear, time froze. The ghostly form approached her. “That didn’t go so well, did it?” the woman asked. Poldaran shook her head. “The demon appears to be immune to your frost magic. Only fire can save you now.”
“I can’t!” Poldaran whimpered. “I’m too afraid… and I cannot control flame.”
“I’m sure you can. It’s just as controlling frost. They are two sides of the same coin. You must unleash the magic within if you are to survive.”
“I do not know how!”
“Wait, do you remember that time you snuck out to that tavern with your friends to see that minstrel play?” Poldaran thought of the handsome singer and blushed in spite of herself. “I thought you might. More importantly, do you remember the song he sang?”
“I-I think so…” Poldaran said.
“You must have confidence. Sing with me.”
“I’ve been kicking *** since the dawn of time…” they sang.
“Good, get up and keep singing!”
“I’m just a killing man that’s reached my killing prime!” Poldaran sang as she stood. She called forth all of her courage. “I burn and I plunder as it suits my desire!” she sang, her voice growing louder. “Weapon of my choice… is great balls of fire!” her hands began to glow with gathering flames. “So ‘Why?’ I ask, ‘it just doesn’t make much sense that a man of my stature should have to wear a dress’,” she sang as she unleashed fireball after fireball upon her enemy. The demon howled in rage. “I mean what, may I inquire, were you thinking on that day, when you conjured up for a man like me a robe that looked so ***?”
“Strike him harder! He must feel the full force of your blows. Not just the fire, but the impact must hit him and push him back!”
“I was taught my craft at the dawn of pain!” she sang as she threw another fireball, a bit more forcefully this time.
“He killed your father!”
Rage grew in Poldaran. “You may not like my methods but you’ll surely know my name!” she sang as she threw another ball of flame, more forcefully than before.
“He killed your mother!”
“I just think incendiary thoughts and my hands burst into flames!” she sang, nearly shouting, as another ball of flame struck the demon, staggering him.
“He seeks to kill you!”
“A few moments later and you’ll never be the same!” Poldaran’s rage had built to momentous levels. The next fireball completely stunned her foe.
“And he seeks to kill your sisters!”
The rage had built so much in Poldaran that, instead of a fireball, she hurled a huge molten boulder at her foe. The blow knocked him to his knees.
“Mercy!” he cried.
“You have brought war and death to my home, demon!” Poldaran growled. “You shall receive no mercy here. You sought to bring undeath to my friends and family, so here you shall be judged by rebirth!” Her whole body erupted in flames, but they did not harm her. They swirled around her, coming to rest as a giant ball in her hand. But instead of throwing it at him, she hurled it into the ground at her feet. The demon laughed at her apparent missed aim. But he stopped as the ground began to quake. “Born and reborn of flame, I call to you! Come to me, mighty phoenix!”
The ground erupted into a well of flames and a great flaming bird burned into view. It let out a great cry. It hovered over the Nathrezim.
“He has wronged the magical balance of the universe!” Poldaran shouted. “Punish him!”
The great bird dove straight into the demon’s chest and disappeared. The demon began to shudder and then exploded. Everything around them was flattened by the blast. The last thing Poldaran saw was the great bird flying off into the night.
Then all was black.
Poldaran awoke to find herself being gently picked up by one of the few surviving orcs. Day had dawned, and she could see that nothing remained of her family’s home or the village but smoldering rubble. The band had prepared for a march to safety away from the danger around them. She felt a shudder of fel magic and looked off towards Dalaran.
She could just make out the view of the great towers collapsing.
Exhausted, she fell asleep once more.
Edited, Feb 25th 2009 4:17am by Poldaran