Proof of Demise: Cyanigosa and the Violet Hold
Part 2 of 2
The inn didn't have a name as such, but the dank, musty air suited Boneblade just fine. Combined with the humid atmosphere and ambience of the Underbelly, this inn was a place he spent much of his down time, seated back in a corner watching the scum of Dalaran belly up for cheap drinks and tidbits of information about the comings and goings of the underground.
"We could have had a fine meal at the Legerdemain Lounge, you know," said Saphryagrim with a huff. "Or even roast meat and wine at that Filthy Animal place. Why did we have to come here?"
"Oh, I think the answer to that is obvious," said Levious Chillbane. "It's not like we can have him out in the open right now, can we?" He pointed over to the tauren druid, placid now. Earlier he had been raving about strange beings swathed in blue garments, soaring above the crowd. The tauren became panicked, yelling "They're gonna make me change my name! They're gonna make me change my name!" before the blood elf and her undead travelling companions were able to subdue him and drag him down into the Underbelly. "He starts acting up up there," continued Levious, pointing upward toward the sky-side of Dalaran, "we're all going to get tossed out of this city pretty damned quick...and I don't know about you, but last I looked, out only offers a pretty significant drop down."
"That's just great," muttered Saphryagrim. "We came here to kill a dragon, and instead our steak on two legs there gets hopped up on some mix of herbs and potions from the alchemy trainer, and we're stuck paying for stew that we had to bring to the innkeeper ourselves! How idiotic is that?"
Boneblade shrugged, metal rubbing against the bare bones of his shoulders. "Doesn't matter. We'll wait till the potions take effect, and he'll calm down. That gives us time for our friend over there to finish his monologue of woe and despair before we finish the task at hand." He pointed across the inn to the fifth member of their party. While his features were easily recognisable as one of the sin'dorei, his eyes had the cold blue glow of the scourge. Now redeemed, the death knight fought among his fellow horde once again, while still being held at arms' reach most of the time. This was due less to fear of betrayal and more to the fact that he had a somewhat morose outlook on life...or unlife...or whatever type of existence he now held.
"Oh, to feel the warmth of the air on my face again. A shame, then, that my life is filled with such woe. I know far too keenly the sting of death's kiss, yet I continue on, cleaving my way through whatever evil stands before me. Yet, might they too feel as I do? Oh, the oppressive darkness of it all! I..."
"I just wish he'd shut up," Boneblade muttered. "You don't hear me complaining about ‘the tortures of the damned!' or whatever he's on about this week. Someone shoves a sword through me, I laugh and hit him with my shield. He gets a paper cut and it's a 25-minute monologue about the pain of life. Why did we have to bring him anyway?"
It was Levious' turn to shrug. "Didn't have much choice. Most of our regulars are still lost in Wintergrasp somewhere...or up near Hrothgar's Landing, helping the Crusade clear out those stinking sea vrykul that are invading."
"Don't remind me," said Boneblade with a hint of frustration in his voice. "I could be there too, you know. Instead I'm babysitting a tripping tauren and almost ready to shove those wine corks in what remains of my ears."
"Wha...where am I?" A deep voice, clouded with confusion and more than a touch of medicated haze, quietly rumbled froth from the slumped tauren. "What happened up there?"
"Nothing, friend!" said Levious with forced cheer in his voice as he slapped the druid across one huge shoulder. "Nothing at all! ‘Twas fatigue that felled you! We brought you here to rest and recover your strength before we faced our greatest challenge...slaying the evil dragon queen Cyanigosa and returning her head to the archmage Lan'dalock."
"Oh, all right," said the druid, standing and stretching carefully lest his horns became lodged in the low wooden ceiling above. "I had the strangest dreams then," he said. "I dreamt..."
"No need to worry about that!" interjected Saphryagrim far too quickly. "I'm just glad you're...feeling better?"
"Yes, much better, thank you."
Boneblade stood as well, bending over creakily to grab the shield he had balanced against the back of his chair. "Then we're prepared. I've been listening to the rumblings about this place we are going to...this Violet Hold. When those two haven't overpowered the regulars..."
He pointed to two roughly garbed individuals, one elven, the other draenei, arguing with each other.
"Look at us, elf," bemoaned the draenei. "Look at us. Unemployed, destitute, and drinking swill from an establishment in the sewers named after a carrion bird!"
"Disgusting, I agree," replied the male elf.
"...Anyway, when those two and their bickering hasn't overpowered the regulars, this is what I have been able to glean. Cyanigosa and her associates have teleported into the Hold, which is some kind of magical prison for the most wretched of scum and evil. They're releasing these captives, trying to overwhelm the gaolers within. We're going to go in there and hold them back as long as possible in the hopes that the leader herself will finally face us to ensure her mission is successful. We then turn all our efforts to her, and then..."
"Between my icebolts, her rain of fire, and his...erm...soliloquy of despair, we'll be successful, and fortune will be ours!"
The black armoured elf took notice of his companions' actions, and stood with a sigh. Slowly lifting his helm from the table, he slouched over to the group. "I suppose we're ready now," he said, his voice a miasma of sorrow and despair. "It's just as well. I was feeling particularly depressed over there, and some action will stave off the impending crush as the weight of the world bears down upon my tortured existence."
"Wow, Bone," said Saphryagrim, with more than a touch of surprise in her voice. "He sounds more morose than you."
He paused, his words trailing off to silence. "Are we going to get this done or not?" He strapped his shield to his left arm as the others nodded. The inn's patrons watched nervously as the blood elf summoned forth a daemon from the nether to stand at her side, while the mage conjured icy armour to protect his otherwise fragile frame. The five travelers slowly made their way through the rest of the inn, following a pipe that led gradually upward into the city proper. The two elves and the tauren shielded their eyes against the sudden brightness, while Boneblade and Levious just stood there, unblinking. Taking stock one last time to ensure they were prepared for their mission, they strode with purpose through the crowds, noting that shouts and screams of panic became more audible as they stepped close to the Violet Hold.
A winded battle mage stood gasping for breath as he rested against the massive stone archway that held the door to the Hold. His robes and armour were ripped asunder in several places, with blood still seeping from gashes and cuts inflicted by the creatures within. He looked up at the party, shaking his head wildly.
"Do not worry about me...I will be fine. But please...hasten yourselves and get inside! Lieutenant Sinclari awaits you inside...I do not know how much longer she'll be able to hold out! Please...for her sake, and for the city of Dalaran...help us!"
The tauren druid knelt before the mage, concern in his eyes. He muttered something, and as he did so, a brief wave of greenish energy arose from his hands. He guided them over the battle mage's body, and his wounds began to knit themselves together. "It is not much, but it is enough. Get yourself to your barracks, and make haste. We'll make sure that your fight was not in vain." Standing again, he looked down upon his companions. "He needed my help...he'd not survive long enough for the nurses to find him. Now he has a chance to survive and fight another day. Let's make sure that his efforts weren't for naught."
Boneblade nodded, placing his helm upon his head. He unsheathed his trusted sword and gazed at it for a moment, remembering how he wrenched it from the cold, dead hands of the vrykul king in the Fjord...how it had been his most faithful companion as he traveled the wilderness alone for so long. Now he had these others at his side, others he trusted nearly as much as his sword. He reached for the door handle, paused, and turned to his companions.
"And I beheld, and lo a pale horse; and he that sat on him was called Death, and Hell followed with him," he said quietly.
"Boneblade...none of us are riding horses," said Saphryagrim, her eyes narrowed in confusion.
"No, we're not," replied Boneblade, his voice unusually bright. "But we're going to be death to those in there. Let's send them to hell."
Upon opening the door, the party of five's senses was immediately assaulted. There was the dank stench they had smelt in so many dungeons and prisons before. Flickering lights illuminated the walls slightly, but what struck them most were the screams. Those of the gaolers were most easily recognisable; they'd heard the same so many times before, either on the fields of battle or in small towns as they were overrun by creatures from the hills, or more rarely the forces of humans and dwarves trying to assert dominion where none was desired. Above those screams, however, were ones far more disturbing. Some came from lizard like throats, hissing and sibilant. Others seemed to come from throats as far from natural as possible. Boneblade watched as Saphryagrim and the tauren both shuddered perceptibly.
"Too late to turn back now," Boneblade said quietly. "One the sword has been unsheathed, it cannot be returned until it tastes blood. It is the way of the warrior." He nodded toward a woman standing several yards before them, barking out orders in brief respites between waves of dragonkin. "One of you talk to her...have her get her forces out of here. They're no match for what is about to come. I'm not even sure we can handle it...but if they can retreat, perhaps they can find a stronger point to defend."
The other four moved as one to Lieutenant Sinclari's side. Levious Chillbane and Saphryagrim both offered up words of comfort and assurance to her, while the druid quietly went to work trying to bring succor and comfort to the wounded. Moments later the injured were evacuated out, and the remaining forces began a gradual retreat toward the doors.
"We beat back one wave and another comes, just as strong as the last. We've got enough magic to seal off the doors for a bit...but I don't know how long you've got. If you make it out of there alive, I'll see you in the city! If not, well..."
She paused, a look of quiet acceptance on her face.
"If not, well, I'll see you anyway...it just won't be there," she continued, pointing out the door to the city the five had offered to protect. She bolted through the door, and it closed heavily, shaking the floors as its weight crashed against the stone walls. The screams suddenly fell silent and the group looked about nervously. Light filtered down from the glass dome far above, bathing the room in washes of dark azure and crimson. Boneblade strode forth in front of his companions, his sword lightly held on his right hand.
"I don't like this silence. Something is about to happen...I just don't know wha..."
"THERE!" yelled the undead mage. "A PORTAL! TO THE RIGHT!"
Boneblade charged forward toward the magickal portal which had appeared to their right, arriving in time to intercept a massive blue dragonkin. His sword struck true, attracting the beast's attention as it opened a slight hole in the beast's scaly defenses. Immediately his friends joined the attack, as a rain of fire joined with bolts of ice from the fingers of his mage and warlock companions. Searing pain alternated with waves of energy healing his wounds almost as quickly as he took them. To his left the black armoured knight was a whirlwind of death, his massive two-handed sword rending the beast mortally. In moments the battle was over, and...
"ANOTHER ONE, TO THE LEFT!"
This time it was the warlock's eyes that caught the flickering of magic, as another portal opened. It was atop a broken causeway, and as Boneblade ran toward it, a group of dragonkin stepped forth from a place beyond the portal. Two immediately charged toward him, while two more tried to follow a second path toward the sealed portal to the city. Without thinking Boneblade tossed his sword toward one of the sneaking ones, yelling to attract their attention. They converged at the base of the causeway, whereupon the warrior wrenched his sword from the side of one incensed beast.
Calling upon his training he slammed sword and shield upon the floor, creating a burst of energy that momentarily overwhelmed the warriors of the blue dragonflight. It was enough time for the others to get within range so their spells could aid in dropping the creatures. So it went for what seemed like hours as the five ran from one side of the prison to the other, chasing opening portals and defeating wave after wave of blue dragonkin. The stench of blood was thick in the air, and he knew that it was strong enough for the elves and tauren to taste it in their mouths.
As the final beast from one portal fell, a hush fell over the group, broken only by their rasping breaths.
"Something's coming, isn't it?"
The warlock looked over at Boneblade, nodding slightly. "Yes...but it's not the dragon. She won't let us off that easily. She'll want us weaker...more fatigued. She's not going to want to risk facing us until we're struggling."
Levious nodded in agreement. "She's right. When the beast finally comes, she'll want to make sure she can finish us off quickly. This battle is far from over."
At that moment the faint projection of a dragonkin flickered among them. Without thought Boneblade swung, but his sword sliced through the thing's astral form without leaving a mark. It made its way over toward a gate, opaque swirls of magic obscuring whatever prisoner was held within. Boneblade steeled himself as the portal fell, but was caught off guard as a familiar voice was heard.
"Back in business! Now to execute an exit strategy."
Boneblade looked on in shock as Trade-Prince Xevozz strode purposefully from his cell. The ethereal stretched his arms before noticing that he was not alone.
"Ahh, dear friends...such a pity that we must meet in such a manner. The balance sheet, however, shows this meeting to be strongly in my favour. Now, if you'll excuse me, I do believe it's time for me to purchase my freedom...with your blood, of course..."
Without warning he bolted toward Boneblade, who only had enough time to bring up his shield before blasts of arcane energy buffeted his frame, causing his muscles to twitch uncontrollably. It was instinct alone that allowed him to bring his shield up and slam it against the creature, momentarily stopping the thing from casing its magics. As his companions gathered behind him, Boneblade began to swing his sword, looking for weaknesses to exploit.
"Boneblade, look out! He's summoning something!"
The warrior took a quick look to the left, where several speheres of energy rose from the ground.
"Plentiful, exploitable resources... primed for acquisition!" The ethereal yelled, his hands guiding the spheres toward him.
"Bone! Keep him away from them!"
"Already on it, Lev," replied Boneblade under his breath. "I don't have anywhere to go but back, so you'd all better be ready to move!" He started to back up the causeway, trying to carefully avoid the broken sections that would drop him precipitously to the floor below. He felt a twinge of fatigue seeping into the cold flesh of his muscles, yet he fought on, swinging his blade with precision, blocking and parrying the ethereal's blows as often as possible. Suddenly he watched at the thing fell to his knees before him. Wary of a ruse, Boneblade stepped forward, watching as the trade-prince raised its wrapped face toward his.
"This is an...unrecoverable... loss..."
"Yes," replied Boneblade coldly. "It is." With that he thrust his sword forward, catching the thing, he assumed between two of its ribs. It fell backward, cold and still on the floor. Boneblade joined him, resting heavily on his knees."
"So tired," he said, his movements slow and labourious.
"Here, drink this," said the druid, handing him a flask filled with some bubbling fluid. "It'll help ease some of that fatigue." Boneblade opened the flask and upended it without thought, the liquid burning its way down his throat."
"Gods! What is that stuff?" he said with a gasp.
"Oh, sorry...that was for one of those two," he said, pointing toward Levious and Saphryagrim. "Here, try this one instead."
The warrior looked at this flask warily. Had he eyelids he'd have narrowed his eyes at the druid; instead he slowly opened the second flask and drank the contents warily. The liquid was cold and crisp, and he felt rejuvenated and refreshed by it.
"How much more do you think we'll have to face?"
"I'm not sure," replied Levious, his fingers tapping against each other.
As the final dragonkin fell, the party stood gasping for breath. Boneblade looked amongst them, and he knew that if Cyanigosa was going to show herself, now was the time. He felt cold drafts of air through several breaks in his plate armour, and he knew his companions were in much the same shape. The mage, warlock and druid desperately tried to recover their mystical forces while the black armoured knight struggled to summon forth yet another ghoul from the cold ground beneath them. Yes, this was the perfect time for her to finish them all.
"A valiant defense!" he heard a voice shout. The timbre was female and elven, yet the intonation was far greater. A dark robed elf appeared among them, her smile colder than the ice that his mage companion summoned yet again to protect him. "Unfortunately for all of you, this city MUST be razed! My lord, Malygos, demands it, and his will is my command. I shall enforce that will myself!"
Boneblade shuddered as the chamber was suffused with energy, and he watched as the elf's features shifted, growing to immense size. Suddenly Cyanigosa stood before them in all her might, her draconian shape nearly dwarfing the chamber itself. "We finish this now, champions of Kirin Tor!"
As she lunged toward them Boneblade leapt forward, his sword drawn back in preparation for a mighty blow.
As his sword struck true, he heard Saphryagrim's voice quietly behind him.
"For Pony? What the..."
"Never mind that," Boneblade yelled. "ATTACK!"
As his sword struck again he noticed the knight's ghoul leap forward, teeth bared and dirty claws swiping at the beast's side. The mage began to cast his magics toward the dragon, who laughed as the icy blasts bounced off her thick scaled hide.
"You have forgotten what true magic is! Let me offer this to you as a reminder!"
Boneblade heard Levious hiss as his body shook from an overload of magic. He began to drop to his knees, almost in supplication to this master of magic, yet Boneblade knew it was far more than that.
"Quick! Heal him! Before he drops!"
The druid turned his attention briefly toward the mage. "But, if she weakens you too much..."
"If we lose him we are weakened far more! Do it!"
He didn't have time to watch; all his attention had to be held on making sure the dragon's attacks were on him. He felt the heat from the warlock's rain of fire, and watched as the dragon shuddered in pain as she inflicted curses of agony and pain on him. Out of his left eye he watched the knight's rune-etched blade draw energy from the beast itself, feeding vampirically from the creature's own life forces to inflict even greater wounds on her. The dragon swept her head down, jaws open wide. A second too slow and Boneblade knew that he'd likely have been bitten in tow; only reflexes allowed him to dodge the potential mortal blow.
Without warning the beast reared up, exposing her underbelly to the group. A massive cold wind swept down on them, chilling them to the bone. "Shiver and die!" she screamed in triumph, but Boneblade detected desperation in her voice as well. He knew the dragon was as weak as they were...if only they could hold her off just a moment longer, they might have a chance at victory.
"Boneblade! I don't have the energy to heal you anymore! Do something!"
The warrior steeled himself. He drew upon an inner reservoir of strength he rarely had to touch. If this wasn't enough to buy time for his party, they were all doomed. Redoubling his attacks, the warrior rejoined the knight as they sliced and thrust at the dragon. He heard Saphryagrim summon forth one last spell from her depleted energies, a bolt of shadowy energy flying from her exhausted hands. It struck simultaneously with a devastating blow from his sword. Levious launched one last arcane blast as Cyanigosa fell, her body's fall shaking the prison to its foundations.
"Perhaps... we have... underestimated... you..."
Without so much as a thought the knight raised his massive runeblade over his head and with a single blow cleaved the beast's head from her neck. Holding it in one hand he ripped his helm off, his face a wash of pain and fatigue.
"Was all this death...truly necessary?"
Levious ripped the dragon's head from the knight's grasp. "Oh, quit your whining, fool," he said, trudging toward the prison's exit. "We got what we came for...let's get out of here."