Proof of Demise: Cyanigosa and the Violet Hold
Part 1 of 2
He moved slowly out of Sindragosa's Fall, through the lonely graveyard where once, he thinks, he might have helped a fallen Crusader touched with the curse of the scourge. Those memories are distant now, yet he was sure with some effort he could pull them forth. He moved onward, each step deliberate and heavy. Ahead was his goal; the newly established tournament grounds for the Argent Crusade, built to spite the former future king of Lordaeron, Arthas Menethil, now known to most simply as the Lich King.
As he came upon the tournament field he looked about, scanning the throngs for familiar faces. The gathered revelers part nervously as he walked through their midst. From a distance, he seemed encased in blackened saronite and titansteel, but a closer look showed that his armour, battered and bent but not broken, was not blackened with the patina of time, but rather the drying blood of the fallen. Strapped across his back are two massive weapons, sword and mace. Either would require two hands for most to wield, and for some, the thought of a man built such as this one bearing both weapons to bear in combat is enough to cause a shudder. The dead glow in his eyes was yet another reason to turn away in fear; it was not the glow of the magic addicted, nor the bluish glow of those recently released from the Lich King's embrace, but the cold glow of the long dead.
"What took you so long, fool?"
He turned to see his companion Levious Chillbane leaning against a tent post. With a single finger he idly crafted balls of frozen ice and snow and flicked them toward the unsuspecting and unaware denizens of Ironforge and Stormwind, haughtily chatting amongst themselves about...something. He thought if he tried hard enough he could remember what those words mean, but like so much else, that knowledge was lost in a haze that seems impenetrable.
"I was...distracted," he replied. "A most interesting distraction. In Wintergrasp..."
Levious' eyes glow brighter for a moment.
"Oh?" he replied, his question as cold as the air that surrounded them. "Do tell..."
"We hold the fortress...for now," the armor clad man said in reply, his simple words steeped in meaning. "It was a glorious battle...a shame you were not among us. I must have had a hand in the deaths of nearly 200 of their number. The final push, as our siege engines pressed through to the central keep...such blood and thunder. We were outnumbered, yet we pressed on, tanking no quarter. There at the end, I felt as if I had the strength of 3 or four in me, barely held back. I strode among those pitiful ones, my sword and mace hewing limb and crushing bone. I..."
A cold chuckle broke his monologue. "That does not explain the rather...desperate...condition of your armor, friend."
"I did say we were outnumbered," he replied coldly, with obvious strain in his voice. "Very near the end, I found myself facing a half dozen or more of their number. It is the only way they seem to be able to fight, as certainly one on one a fight would be far from fair. They thought they felled me...I simply laid there as they patted each other on the back in celebration of the greatness of their feat."
He laughed. "Someone wearing the robes of a spell user came along and coaxed forth some incantation. He blinked about several times as spheres of arcane power exploded amongst them. When I stood up all I saw were the blackened bodies of my opponents, with that spell user grinning over their corpses."
"You are right...it is a shame I missed the festivities. Still," Levious continued, "there will be other battles, and other opportunities to prove my mettle on the fields of battle. This is not that time however...and that is why I called for you."
The mage handed the armored warrior a rolled up piece of parchment. "Now, I know the words on there may be a bit big for you, so I could explain it to you if you..."
A steely glare cut his jab short. "Do not mock me, friend. I have forgotten more than you could possibly remember in that worm eaten brain of yours." The people within earshot stopped for a moment, looking over at the two men, fearing for what might happen if they decided to square off in order to correct some insult, real or imagined. A harsh chuckle from the armoured man cuts the tension, if only slightly, as the mage smiles. The smile was not a comforting one.
He looks down at the floridly written scroll:
"We're being invaded! The blue dragonflight has teleported into the Violet Hold and they're planning on breaking out from there into the rest of Dalaran!
There have already been reports of prisoners inadvertently being freed by their actions. It wouldn't surprise me if they're purposefully letting some of them free.
Levious Chillbane, can you assemble your team quickly and get in there? Cyanigosa is the leader of their invasion force. Bring me her head!"
As he read the scroll, he saw the script shift slightly as Levious' name quickly changed to his own.
"Is this the task you have summoned me here for? Curse you, man! What need have I for such a piffling task?"
"Oh? And what else would you be doing? Gathering sticks and stones for those two idiot goblins standing outside this excuse of a coliseum? Traipsing down to the steps of the Citadel itself, only to jump on some...horse?...to run down some gargoyles and death knight recruits? What purpose does any of that have?"
The armoured man opened his mouth to speak. "I..."
"Ahh! Crusader Boneblade! How good it is of you to come back here this day. We have a new batch of aspirants here that could certainly benefit from a lesson from one as exalted as thee! Could you spare a moment to come over? I am sure your demonstration would be inspiring for the young ones. I know the champions have been itching for a bit of sport...perhaps you could challenge a few of them. For the benefit of the aspirants, of course..."
"Perhaps later, Eiden. My friend here has asked a great service of me, which I must attend to immediately lest the weight of ages crush his fragile frame. I will be happy to aid you as soon as I am finished with this labour, however."
"Splendid! Come find me once you are finished. I am certain I could make it worth your while, Crusader!"
The magister reached out and grasped Boneblade's hand, wincing slightly at the chill he felt...a chill that came as much from the cold of undeath as it did from the icy rime that encased the blackened plate gauntlets that shielded his cracked hands. He watched as the elf quickly turned and ran back to Sunreaver Pavilion to pass along the news that a teacher had been found for the newly recruited aspirants. Boneblade then turned to smile at his friend, the mage.
"That is why I do it."
"DAMNABLE VRYKUL SCUM! DAMNABLE JEWELCRAFTER'S GUILD!"
Both men turned to watch as a black haired elf came storming up the hill into the tournament grounds. An imp, smaller than any gnome or goblin, struggled to keep up as she pushed her way through the crowd roughly, eliciting the occasional grunt or muttered "Excuse me!" from those unlucky enough to be in her way. She pressed past the two men, muttering under her breath, before noticing their presence. Angrily she turned to face them, her eyes green with rage and barely suppressed magicks.
"It's simple, they tell me. They have contracts with some wealthy Undermine jewelry cartel, and they want a shipment of Blood Jade amulets. Simple, I say. I have loads of jade and bloodstone, I can make a mint off this. But no, they only want one from me. Wouldn't be fair to the other jewelcrafters if I made all of them. Where's their sense of open, free markets, hmm? OK, fine. I'll make them one damned blood jade amulet. I get the bloodstone, I get the jade, isn't that enough. NO!"
She grabbed her dagger and tossed it angrily into the ice-covered ground at their feet. Arcs of magic jumped from the dagger to the ground.
"No, it's not enough. It's never enough for those bastards in Dalaran. No, the stones have to be fitted over some poorly crafted excuse of a fitting from those giants down there." She pointed roughly southwest, toward Ymirheim. "Old's the new new, they say. Everyone loves the rustic look of those vrykul fittings. Had I made anything so horrific...so juvenile...when I was just starting out, I'd have been laughed out of my apprenticeship, but who am I to argue? It's gold, after all, and you can never have enough of that. Am I right, Levious?"
He looked at the ground, his dried lips moving as he muttered.
"They could have told me that maybe one out of every 50 of those damned grunting behemoths down there had one!"
Boneblade chuckled roughly, but his mirth was cut short as the elf came over and roughly ripped the helm from his head. "Careful, Elf!" he spoke in a quiet, but forceful, monotone.
"Careful nothing!" she spat. "And where were you through all of this, hmm? You said you'd help me with stuff like this. Imagine how much easier this would have been if you were there...I could have just picked through the corpses until I found what I needed. Instead I had to stop to recharge my energies."
She paused as Boneblade turned to Levious and shrugged his shoulders.
Boneblade turned to face the elf and slowly dropped to one knee before her. "Milady Saphryagrim, I fear I have done you a grave disservice, and I wish to atone for my grievous shortcomings. Come, I shall escort you back to Ymirheim, where I will lay before you a pile of corpses from which you might find your trinket."
She practically spat as she thrust some ill-designed piece of metal at him.
"I GOT THE DAMNED THING ALREADY!"
He sighed as Saphryagrim roughly pushed the thing back into one of the packs strapped across the black flanks of her demon steed. "Did you tell her about this task you wish us to partake in?"
"Oh, yeah," Levious replied. "She accepted it. Sometimes I think all you have to do is wave a pouch of gold in her direction and she'd be all over it like..."
He paused as he heard Saphryagrim clear her throat.
"So yeah, she accepted it. Now, what about you? We could use your...ahem...specialities..."
"You want me to stand there and get beat on."
"That's not what I meant."
"Oh?" Boneblade replied coldly.
"No. It's just, well..."
Saphryagrim interrupted. "It's just, you have this ability to make the beasts so angry at you..."
"And, well...You have all this big, heavy metal armour..."
Boneblade nodded silently.
"And you must be ever so strong to wear it all the time. Such big muscles...I..." She reached out and began to trace the lines and curves of his armour, a slight flush rising in her alabaster cheeks.
Boneblade turned his head to face Levious, who was looking at the other two with thinly veiled disgust. "So's shagging sheep, but no one says anything when the dwarves tumble out of their pavilion, blind roaring drunk on ale, for a little fun time with their mounts..."
"Good point," Levious replied. "That reminds me...want to know what I slipped into their kegs this week?"
The mage snorted. "You never want to join in my fun."
Boneblade sighed. "So, you want me to stand there and get beat on. What's in it for me?"
"The satisfaction of a job well done?"
"Nope," replied the warrior. "Not good enough."
"The acclaim that comes with saving the wonderful mage-city of Dalaran from the evil clutches of the blue dragon Cyanigosa?"
"Did that already."
Levious' mouth opened. "You what?"
"Oh yeah, it was fun. Me and my Future Self, and my Past Self...good times..."
The mage tried to scowl, but poor muscle memory caused him to fail in the attempt. "OK, how about fame and fortune?"
"What kind of fortune are we talking about?"
"A bag of gold, and some writs you can turn in to the quartermasters in the city celebrating your heroism. If we succeed."
The warrior paused in thought. "Who else we got?"
Levious smiled. "Well, we have the druid healing us."
Saphryagrim laughed. "We can't say his name here. The ninnies from the Crusade get upset when we utter his name. Something about how it refers to a body part best left private. Must offend their poor, sanctimonious ears."
"I think you mean sanctified."
The elf waved a hand, dismissing his retort. "Same thing."
"Not sure," Levious said. "We'll just get one of them to help out." He pointed over toward a group of nearly identical armoured fighters, eyes glowing blue. Their weapons gleamed black with faintly etched runes inscribed down their length. Straining, Boneblade could hear them bemoaning their fate…once free men and women, killed by the plague, raised to live in undeath, then killed mercilessly in one of the battles against the scourge. They were then raised yet again by the power of Arthas Menethil and his associates to fight at his side, only to be released again into a sort of half life that found them hated and feared by their former brothers and sisters, and hunted by their former taskmasters.
"Doesn't matter," Levious said dismissively as he pushed himself off the tent pole he had been leaning on. "One's the same as another. Besides, with the four of us, we could probably bring your baby brother in there with us and still succeed."
"I…don't have a baby brother," Boneblade replied, a bit of confusion in his voice.
"Exactly," said Saphryagrim, patting him on his shoulder. "What do you say we get you out of his icky, nasty armour and into something more…appropriate?"
"What? Right here?"
"Yes, silly." Saphryagrim smiled. "Unless you are suggesting you want to get beaten on without a shield."
Boneblade paused for a moment before replying. "Oh. Yes. Of course. I'll just…"
He pointed over toward a small clustering of buildings.
"I'll be over there. Changing. Yes, I'll just go and…"
"Here." Saphryagrim offered up the reins of his skeletal steed, which he took with grateful silence. "Go change out your gear. We'll wait here. And when you get back…"
She whistled, and a red drake came soaring from one of the mountains overlooking the tournament grounds. It landed right behind her, and she strode over, leaping up astride the beast's neck.
"And when you get back, we'll show those mages in Dalaran how it's done!"