The sun was setting in Westfall, glorious shades of orange and crimson painting the western half of the sky. 11-year-old Velox had just finished his drills for the day when his father came out of the house, smiling his approval of the young man's swordmanship. He was strong and smart, and he would one day become a better duelist than even Magnus himself had been. They began the evening's final tasks of rounding up the herd, storing grain, and getting the farm locked down for the evening.
A soft rustle whispered on the wind, and both Velox and Magnus turned towards it. Far and wide, only farmland could be seen. Magnus drew the blade that was always by his side. He raised an eyebrow, and suddenly spun to strike the air.
The blade parried with another, and from the ether a man appeared before him. Clad in blackened leather and wearing a red bandana, the man backed away and a look of amusement appeared in his eyes.
Magnus frowned. "Edwin," he breathed.
The man offered a slight bow. "Magnus. Good to see you after so many years. Your farm is looking a little worse for the wear. No doubt thanks to the heavy hands of Stormwind stealing all that you have."
Velox looked from his father to the stranger. His father seemed to know this man, but Velox had never seen him before.
"Come to the point, Edwin," Magnus demanded. "Or leave me in peace."
"Very well," the stranger said. "I'm working on a little something for Stormwind. Payback. For all that they have taken from us. From you, and every man who lost his wife when Stormwind turned their backs on us and our families."
The man continued. "We could use you. You're still the best I've seen with a blade. I know you have a nice little cache of weapons here. Join us, and we can show Stormwind not to turn its back on its people."
"I don't know what you're up to, Edwin," said Magnus. "But I'm no traitor. My loyalties are still to Stormwind. You can do whatever you want, but I'll have no part of it."
The man frowned. "You're making a mistake, Magnus," he said. His eyes were a mix of sadness and anger.
"There can be no mistake when I hold fast to my beliefs," Magnus said defiantly. "Please, leave in peace. I will not turn my back on Stormwind."
"No," said the man sadly. "I didn't think you would."
Velox found himself thrown to the ground, and suddenly the world was full of blazing metal. When his vision cleared, he saw his father battling no less than 10 men, all armed with daggers and wearing the same black armor as the intruder. Thorium struck mithril, and his father fought with grim determination. Already half the intruders lay bleeding on the ground, but his father was starting to show his 60 years. Three of the men slashed at his midsection, and his father parried, whirled, and struck two with a single swing - leaving his chest exposed just a fraction of a second.
Velox shouted a warning to his father, but it was too late. Suddenly his father froze, a startled cry escaping his lips as his sword dropped. Only then did Velox notice the large pearl-handled dagger buried in his father's chest. The leader of the men walked over to him and pulled the dagger he had thrown from Magnus's chest. Magnus dropped to his knees, looked at his son once more, and fell to the ground.
Velox leapt in a fury towards his father's assassin, but he was not match for him. The stranger struck him with the blunt end of his dagger, and Velox fell. Even as darkness began to claim him, he heard the murderer's voice clearly.
"I'm sorry kid, but this is business. Maybe someday you will understand."
Velox struggled to remember the man's voice. It burned into his mind, merging with the cry of his dying father into the sound of rage. Of death. Of vengeance. And then the world went black.
(20 years later)
Gryan Stoutmantle eyed the curious man with unease. He was strong, lean, and had scars on his arms and face, built like the seasoned fighters who returned to Stormwind from battles in Icecrown. Yet he was dressed in common leather gear and carried a crude sword and a dull mace. Despite his modest gear and quiet demeanor, the man had successfully traced the Defias hideout to a barn in Moonbrook. Stoutmantle was wary of assigning such a lowly adventurer his final task, but there was no one else to perform it.
"There is but one task left for you to complete," Stoutmantle told the stranger. "Edwin VanCleef must be assassinated. While it saddens me to condemn any man to a death sentence, it is for the greater good of the people of Westfall that VanCleef is laid to rest once and for all. Bring me the villain's head once the deed is done."
The stranger bowed slightly and ran off to complete the task. Stoutmantle wasn't sure if he'd ever see him again.
At the entrance to the Defias hideout, Velox discarded the lowly vestments he had procured throughout Westfall and donned the armor he had crafted from Northrend's titanium and saronite mines. His Titanium Destroyer glistened in the afternoon sun. After 20 years of training, fighting, and learning how to kill with honor, he was ready to avenge the death of his father. It would not be enough to gather a group and hunt the man. This he would do alone, with brutal malice, terrorizing Van Cleef's men before butchering the assassin himself.
"Lapdogs, all of you," barked Edwin VanCleef, fear eating into his soul.
The rogues appeared from thin air, and had a brief look at the imposing interloper before a whirlwind of steel slashed through all of them at once.
VanCleef stood in terror before the man in the dark armor. "Our cause is righteous! Can't you see that? Stormwind MUST pay for its treachery!"
The strange man said nothing, but removed his helm revealing a face from VanCleef's past. At that moment, VanCleef understood. And he knew that regardless of the cause, of the fortune he was prepared to offer the man, that his death was imminent.
"I knew this day would come," VanCleef said with a strange smile. "I should have killed you when I killed your father."
"You did," Velox said. "I ceased to be that boy that day. Now I am a machination of death. Of vengeance."
VanCleef's face twisted into an odd look of approval. He started to say something until a blade ran clean through his liver. Half a second later there was a jolt, and he was now looking sideways at his body. The last thing he saw was a blood-tinged blur of shining titanium, and then the world went dark.
Stoutmantle did not recognize the man who rode up to him. The man's undead mount made Stoutmantle reach for his weapon until he noticed the Alliance colors on the man's well-made armor. The man tossed him a blood-soaked bag.
"Here's your head," the man growled. "The Defias here are finished."
Suddenly it made sense to Stoutmantle. He reached for the shining mail armor and some coins to hand the man for his reward, but when he turned back to the stranger he was already halfway to the gryphon master.
Velox had all the reward he needed. At last his father could rest in peace.