Necromancy is the study of magic involving the dead. It is highly illegal and should be avoided at all costs. I discuss necromancy here only because it is our obligation to have a basic understanding of the magic employed by our enemies - and make no mistake, any practitioner of necromancy is your enemy. Necromancers and their followers are the enemies of all living things. Their influence must be avoided at all costs.
Necromantic magic has many functions beyond simply raising the dead. Masters of this tainted field of magic can conjure festering diseases, harness the shadows into bolts of incendiary energy, and chill the living with the power of death. Necromancy can also be used to reconstruct the flesh of undead creatures, allowing them to function again even after the foul monsters have been destroyed.
The former archmage Kel'Thuzad is perhaps the most notable example of a modern necromancer. He greatly contributed to the initial spread of the Scourge and the fall of Lordaeron. Now, Kel'Thuzad reigns as a lich from the floating citadel of Naxxramas. His ongoing existence poses an imminent threat to us all.
-Archmage Ansirem Runeweaver
"The Schools of Arcane Magic: Necromancy"
The great blue dragon had lived over a hundred years, yet he had never seen war such as this, nor atrocities like the one that had unfolded today. The Azure Dragonshrine was littered with the bodies of the human converts that had served Malygos. And what was worse was that over a dozen dragons had lost their lives that day, some of them friends he had known for decades. The Kirin Tor had gone too far this day.
He roared in frustration. Lesser drakes wisely cowered from him. Not only had the attack slaughtered so many, but it had disrupted the flow of the magical ley line through the Dragonshrine, weakening those who had been attacking the Wyrmrest Temple. The defenders had rallied and driven back his forces. He had been forced to call a retreat or he would have lost dozens more of his brethren.
A lone human in a white hooded robe had been responsible. She had brazenly flown past the defenders of the Azure Dragonshrine astride the back of a curious white drake. They had tried to stop her, but she had surrounded herself with a shield of immense power, protecting her and the drake from harm. Upon reaching the base of the ley line, she had opened a portal of summoning. What had come through had been the stuff of nightmares.
It was a round, metallic object roughly three times the size of a large melon, or so the survivors reported. It had some type of controls on it that she had activated before flying off, leaving the device surrounded by another temporary shield. A few pursued her, but most tried to destroy the device. Whatever it was, they had known that it wasn't good and needed to be destroyed.
This had proved to be their undoing. The shield quickly faded, but the device responded by detonating. The explosion itself had been small, no more than that of a simple grenade used by engineers in combat. However, the explosion had not been the dangerous part.
A rippling wave of energy had been unleashed. It interacted with magical energy, increasing it and causing it to become unstable. The backlash from the destabilization had killed everyone within its range. With the ley line so close, it had been able to strike across the entire Azure Dragonshrine. Only the high walls and underground cobalt deposits had prevented it from going any further.
The chaotic state of magical energies within the blast radius also left anyone within feeling quite ill. It was going to take weeks of intensive work for the Azure Dragonshrine to once again be stabilized.
Damned be that woman! he thought to himself. He had learned from a former member of the Kirin Tor that Malygos had turned that the device she had likely used was known as a Mana Bomb. By the law of the Kirin Tor, the creation of such devices was highly illegal. And surely the Wyrmrest Accord would not have authorized the use of such a weapon. The only likely governments to authorize its usage were those of Silvermoon and Stormwind.
It fit, as they had fought a human woman recently. During a particularly brutal assault upon the Wyrmrest Temple, victory had been all but assured when a woman in white robes on the back of a white drake and an elven man wearing black, riding a black drake had rallied the defenders by flying through the waves of attackers and leaping from their mounts to the backs of two of the assaults leaders and slaughtering them, him with a wicked looking blade and her with deadly magic. The brazen attack had shaken the blue drakes and the following attack by the red flight had demoralized them completely, causing them to scatter.
No one within the ranks of the blue flight knew who they were, but his black tunic was marked with a red phoenix, the mark of Kael'thas Sunstrider, and the woman's robe had a similar adornment upon the hood. A few of the turned Kirin Tor had suggested that it might be a certain former member of Kael'thas' royal guard and the daughter of the Archlich Kel'thuzad since both had loved the dead prince, but others dismissed such a notion because the latter had recently died. It would, however, certainly explain how she had come into possession of a Mana Bomb, since Kael'thas had been rumored to have several stockpiled in caches around Outland.
The great blue dragon scanned the skies and noticed one of his scouts returning. He took to the sky to meet him. "What news, young one?" he called out.
"Our pursuers have cornered the white rider, great Arcalanos. They have begun attempting to subdue her."
"In the mountains northwest of the Wyrmrest Temple, great one."
They flew for several minutes, but soon arrived to find a great battle being waged. The woman stood upon the ground while seven dragons did swarmed through the air around her, firing blasts of their icy breath. She deflected the attacks deftly. The bodies of four dragons lay around her.
"You are surrounded, human!" Arcalanos called out. "Surrender and we will be merciful!"
She pulled back her hood, revealing a smirk upon her face. "That is not a choice you can make," she called back. "Your mad leader will simply ignore promises you offered in order to gain what he wants." Her red hair fluttered in the breeze.
"You shall learn to show respect to your betters!" he responded. "You are not fit to tread upon the ground Malygos has walked upon." But he hesitated. There was something familiar about this woman. He felt as if he had met her before. He stared at her for a moment.
She smiled at him. "I almost didn't recognize you, Blue Horn," she said. "You've certainly grown."
He was in shock. No one had called him by that name since he was a whelp. Surely she could not know him from that long ago. But he found that he did recognize her from that time. She looked just like the woman who had visited his mother's den nearly a hundred years ago! Surely there was no way she could be the same woman. No, that just could not be. "Take her alive. I'm sure Malygos will wish to speak with her," he commanded.
"So be it," she said. "I gave you a chance to flee with your lives. Now I must slay you."
The great dragon laughed. "You're outnumbered, human. There's no way you'll be able to best us. You wouldn't even survive one attack."
"Watch me," she said with determination as she began casting a spell. She unleashed it quickly, surrounding herself in a giant domed shield.
"Quickly!" Arcalanos called out. "She's going to attempt to teleport from here! Tangle the ley lines around her so she can't escape!" The others responded by using their considerable power to begin weaving a knot in the lines of magic around the dome, creating a kind of net around her.
He watched as the magic within the lines began to shudder and was absorbed. The dome faded. "I must thank you for concentrating the magic around me. It made it much easier to absorb," she said. Her eyes were glowing blue with the arcane energy she had drawn in. She drew her sword, a slender double bladed elven weapon, and thrust it into the ground. With a single word, she unleashed the magic within through it. The ground rumbled and lines of the magic sped towards the four blue dragon corpses around her.
The impact of the magic with the bodies caused the very air to shudder. Arcalanos felt a great sense of dread as the bodies began to change. The scales and flesh began to melt away, leaving only great skeletons. The skeletons began to writhe and then rose to their feet and roared.
The woman had summoned forth not one, but four massive Frost Wyrms to defend her. The great monsters took flight and began attacking the dragons surrounding her. One after one, the dragons fell, slain by the icy talons and teeth of their new foes. Two of them struck Arcalanos, one from either side and dragged him to the ground below. They held him down as she approached.
"I told you to flee," she said to him. "The others would have survived. Their deaths are upon your head, Blue Horn."
"What is to be my fate?"
"You are free to go if you'll give your word to leave this place when I release you."
"I don't understand."
"I did not save your life a century ago just to kill you today." She ordered the frost wyrms to release him. "Flee this place. I must destroy these creations and the corpses of your brethren so that the Lich King can't get ahold of another eleven wyrms to serve him."
"Why did you save me those years ago? And more pressingly, how? I'm very confused."
She smiled. "I saved you because the Infinite Dragonflight ordered your death. I'm not sure why they wanted you dead, but I've never found their meddling with the past to be a good thing, so I came back to save you and your family. I have a feeling you have an important role in the flow of time."
"Who are you?"
"I am known to the men and women of Azeroth as the Lichborn. That is all you need know. Now leave this place. I wish to return home before dark."
** * **
The blonde paladin woman looked down from her flying machine, surveying the city below. Wintergarde was certainly the worse for wear. And what was truly scary was that the floating citadel of Naxxramas had taken residence over the city. She called over to her companions, both riding upon the backs of red drakes. "Envi, Yox, this doesn't look good!" she shouted. The two nodded their agreement. She spotted what appeared to be a fortified section up at the top of the city and motioned over towards it. The three landed within the city.
They were greeted by a military guard. The city had indeed been fortified, but it seemed like all they could do was hold the single part of the city. They were barely managing to keep out the hordes of rampaging undead from the city below. The dwarf, Envinyata, looked at her companions grimly. "Let's split up and see if we can get some information. Find out what's going on here." Her companions nodded.
Alexandrine walked determinedly to a clerk filing battle reports at a nearby covered tent. "Sergeant, report. What's going on here?" she commanded.
The dwarf looked at her. "Now listen here, lass. I am a member of the 7th Legion. I don't have to take orders from some adventurer. Now go bother someone else." With that, he returned to his paperwork. Alexandrine took off her helmet and gave the man a look of command. She waited patiently a moment as he became irritated by her presence and looked back up at her. "Are ye deaf, lass? I said..." Suddenly he stopped talking and stood up abruptly, saluting her. "I'm sorry, Master Sergeant. I didna recognize you."
She smiled and returned the salute. "At ease," she said automatically. "Actually, they promoted me to Lieutenant after the fighting in Silithus was over. But that's of no importance right now. Come, tell me what has happened here."
He relaxed visibly. "Well, lieutenant, the Scourge began attacking in earnest about two weeks ago. The waves became heavier, softening our defenses. We sent out a runner asking for aid, but we aren't sure if he made it. About a week ago, that appeared in the sky," he said, gesturing towards Naxxramas. "A lich by the name of Thel'zan descended from it and led an immense force upon the town. They crushed our defenses and scattered our men." He was shaking visibly. "A lot of good men died that day." He took a drink from a steaming mug. "High Commander Wyrmbane led us in a retreat to the most defensible spot, which is where we are today. But we were forced to leave behind a number of townsfolk. I was sure that they would get eaten. And they would have, if it hadna been for the timely arrival of the Lichborn and the Sunfury."
"You haven't heard of them?" he asked, incredulous.
"I'm sorry, Sergeant, but I've been on a boat for the last ten days. We only just arrived in Northrend this morning. So, who are these people you speak of?"
"A human woman in white robes and a Blood Elf in black leather armor. They both wear the mark of Kael'thas Sunstrider, his upon his tabard and hers upon the back of her hood."
"What did they do when they arrived?" Alexandrine asked, her brow creased with thought.
"She landed that white drake of hers upon the field and placed herself between those of us trying to rescue the remaining citizens and the oncoming swarm of dead. With a single motion of her hand, sheets of ice fell from the sky, cutting off the approaching dead. Meanwhile, he began swooping down on his black drake and carrying trapped citizens to the safety of the upper tier of the city. After their arrival, the death toll dropped significantly."
"What happened then?"
"After the last citizen was brought to safety, she released her spell and the ice stopped falling. She then faced Thel'zan and taunted him."
"Taunted him? That sounds dangerous. What did she say?"
"It probably was," he agreed. "I remember her words clear as day. 'Come, Inigo!' she shouted. 'If you wish this to be the day of our meeting, then let us destroy eachother! Let us see if you can hold onto the control of your dead while testing your will against mine!' Thel'zan looked at her for a moment and retreated to the back of his ranks. Then he released his minions at her. The Sunfury was at her side within seconds, his blades at the ready and the two began destroying the dead by the dozens. Thel'zan was forced to pull back his forces after they had slain several hundred."
"These are some dangerous people," Alexandrine noted. "What did they do after that?"
"Yes, but thankfully they seem to be on our side." He shuffled some papers. "They stayed with us a few days, helping us finish up our fortifications. Before leaving, they managed to recover Thel'zan's phylactery and destroy him, with the aid of Highlord Fordragon."
"Bolvar Fordragon's here?!" she asked.
"Not anymore. After destroying Thel'zan, he left towards Fordragon Hold to the northwest, and they flew off towards Wyrmrest. I hear that Highlord Bolvar is preparing to assault the Wrath Gate, and some of our scouts have reported that there have been increasing numbers of skirmishes in the skies to the south between the Red and Blue Dragonflights."
"How are things here?"
"We still have to contend with large numbers of the dead, but they've been disorganized by the destruction of Thel'zan, so it hasn't been impossible. Just very difficult."
"Thank you, Sergeant. I should probably allow you to return to your reports." He stood and saluted her. She saluted back and left to find her friends.
She found them standing next to the keep's armory. "So," Yoxutre asked. "Find anything?"
Alexandrine nodded. "The city fell about a week ago. A man and woman matching the description of Nihlus and Poldaran arrived and protected the retreat into the keep. With the help of Bolvar Fordragon they slew Thelzan, the Lich leading the undead. Then they left towards Wyrmrest. Bolvar headed to Fordragon Hold, where he's preparing an assault on the Wrath Gate."
"How did you find all that out?"
"I used my rank like a bludgeon."
Envinyata looked at her for a moment. "Rank, lass? We're all retired."
"Once 7th Legion, always 7th Legion," she said. "Surely a couple Majors like yourselves remember that."
** * **
The two druids landed upon the lower steps of the great tower known as the Wyrmrest Temple and changed into their normal, Night Elven forms. "Let's try to find the Alliance Ambassador. He or she may have the information we seek, and if not, might be able to direct us to someone who does," Sharlot said. Xelsia nodded in agreement.
Sharlot asked around and quickly found the woman she sought. She approached her fellow Night Elf cordially. "Greetings, Ambassador Trueblade," she said. "I was wondering if I might have a few moments of your time."
"Greetings," Lauriel Trueblade responded. "How may I help you this morning, druid of the glade?"
"I seek information about a friend who we believe to be here in Northrend. We aren't sure where exactly she is, but with the heavy fighting here in the Dragonblight, we felt that this was as good a place as any to start."
"Describe her to me."
"She's a human mage with red hair, a flair for the dramatic and places an overemphasis on what she's wearing. She's been known to travel in the company of a dark haired Blood Elven man."
"That sounds familiar. Anything else you can tell me?"
"She cares for a small phoenix hatchling and has long been allied with the Bronze flight."
The ambassador looked at her for a few moments, her face filled with suspicion. "It sounds like you're talking about the White Rider. The woman who calls herself 'Lichborn'."
"Yes. A woman garbed in robes of pure white who rides upon the back of a white drake. She is teamed with a Blood Elf who wears black armor and a black cloak and rides a black drake."
"That certainly sounds like them, though it's likely that he would be wearing a phoenix crest as well."
"He does in fact wear such. How is it that you know them?"
"She's a close friend whom I've joined in combat in numerous battles. We thought that she had died recently, but had heard rumors that she might be alive. I'm aiding her younger sisters in their search for her."
"If she is the one you seek, her sisters should be very proud of her. We're not sure what happened, but she and her drake managed to save the Wyrmrest Temple from falling to the Blue Flight yesterday afternoon. Some have begun to worry, however. Her drake returned without her yesterday evening and none of the Red Flight will comment on her absence."
Sharlot felt a pang of worry for her friend. "I'm sure she'll be alright," she said, not sure if she herself believed it.
"I hope so, for all our sakes," the Ambassador said grimly. "It's only by her efforts that our forces haven't fallen to the Scourge or the Blue Flight in the last week." She paused for a moment. "I really must get back to my work here," she declared.
"Thank you for your time, Ambassador Trueblade. Please tell me if you hear anything." The other woman nodded. Sharlot approached Xelsia, who had just finished speaking to a member of the Green Flight. "What have you heard?" she asked the other druid.
"Poldaran's certainly been busy the last week," Xelsia replied.
"So it would seem. Any idea where she went yesterday?"
"During a particularly brutal assault by the blue dragons yesterday, Poldaran announced to the defenders that she had a way to stop the assault. She took flight on her drake and flew towards the Azure Dragonshrine. Shortly after, there was an explosion of some kind. The aftermath left the attackers unable to unleash any but the simplest of spells. The defenders rallied and drove them off, but was unable to muster a large enough force to mount a retaliatory strike."
"Any word on what caused the explosion?"
"Lord Itharius says that the Black Dragonflight believes that Poldaran set off a Mana Bomb."
"Like the one used on the Cenarion Thicket?" Sharlot asked, shocked.
"Poldaran must have been desperate to unleash something like that." Xelsia nodded in agreement. The two noticed several of the Drakonid guards running towards the western end of the temple. "I wonder what's going on," Sharlot said. The two followed the guards and saw that they were looking off towards the fields of snow to the west.
A lone figure was riding towards the temple upon the back of a skeletal warhorse. A half dozen blue drakes were chasing her, but the horse seemed to be able to run as fast as they could fly. One of the dragons breathed a blast of arcane energy at the woman. The horse leapt to the side and the woman retaliated by launching a blue fireball over her shoulder, charring the scales of the dragon's right shoulder.
Three of the other dragons unleashed their breath attacks at her, two cutting off her means of escape and the third hitting the horse under her. She tumbled from her mount and was quickly surrounded by the dragons. "We have to help her!" Sharlot said, looking at Xelsia. The younger druid nodded and took the form of a moonkin. "I'll take the one to the right, you take the one just next to it. Perhaps if we open a path, she can escape."
Xelsia concentrated upon her target and began channeling the wrath of nature. One of the stars within the sky answered her call and a great pillar of starlight struck the blue dragon, slamming it to the ground.
Meanwhile, Sharlot began communing with the power of nature as well, but instead sought a different method of attack. She touched her hand to the ground and asked the world for its aid. It responded as enormous roots shot from the ground below one of the dragons and ensnared it, pulling it not just to the ground, but down into the world's surface to be absorbed by the soil and provide nutrients for life to come.
The woman didn't seize the opportunity to escape, however. She stood her ground. "You of the blue flight seek to learn more of the power of arcane magic," she said, not shouting but strangely heard by all despite her great distance from them. "I've been studying Medivh's journals. Let me show you what I've learned!" She calmly raised her palm towards one of the remaining drakes and unleashed the magic she had been gathering around her. It stared at her for a minute as though nothing had happened, but then began flailing in distress as a fire ignited within it. Within moments, it collapsed to the ground and its motion ceased. The other drakes took that as their cue to flee.
The skeletal horse limped to her. Sharlot felt a dark sense of foreboding as the woman used some kind of magic to repair the damage to her steed, but it could not dampen her spirits as the woman approached the part of the temple where Xelsia and she were waiting. She dismounted and approached her friends. "Sharlot, Xelsia, it's so good to see you again!" Poldaran said excitedly. "Though I was hoping to..."
She was cut off as three men wearing the armor of the Violet Guard stepped between them. The leader spoke. "Poldaran, daughter of Kel'thzad, by order of the Kirin Tor, I hereby place you under arrest. You will surrender your weapons and be brought before the Six to be tried." Poldaran didn't look very surprised by this. She gave her sword to the man she had known for years.
"As you wish, captain." She looked at her friends. "Go to the moonglade and tell the leaders of the Cenarion Circle what's happening. They'll know what to do." She allowed herself to be shackled and the guards led her towards the hippogryphs they had flown in on.
"Wait!" Sharlot shouted. "What are the charges?"
One of the guards looked at her with a sneer. "High Treason."
** * **