The Naga waited at the gates with their tridents and spears. Warlord Shyv, chief among them, pounded his fist against the barred entry, snarling at the Talah’dorei beyond. The ghostly soldiers did not answer, jaws set in grim lines of determination. Each second that passed allowed Falais and his companions to flee farther away, and both the deceased High Elves and their draconic siblings knew this.
Shyv’s remaining eye narrowed. He knew not why the Talah’dorei remained unresponsive. He had no ability to see into the sealed off hall beyond, to discern the gathering forces of the dead. His troops whispered amongst themselves, fearing that some monstrosity within Gishan Caverns had risen, slaying all within. The rumors had long circulated that a powerful, dreadful presence lurked within those tunnels. This was one reason why no Naga would accept an order to guard the prisoners, despite the fear instilled by Shyv or the dreadlord.
He snapped off a guttural series of orders, a small detachment splitting from his warriors. Their writhing bodies flitted through the darkness, swimming up and over the hills and around the peaks of Gishan. If Sutera was free, the docks were her only source of escape.
Shadows swirled, hungry little children of chaos flapping against their bodies. Shyv turned, watching the demonic energies snap and howl, even as his bravest warriors paled. The dreadlord, one of the horrible Nathrezim, sank into the sands as its form materialized, carrying with it a deep scowl. The unknown terrors of the Caverns was one thing, but those fears and rumors were dwarfed by the emerald armored, fel-imbued power of the dreadlord. Some of the Naga scooted closer to Gishan’s gates, favoring a ghastly, unknown demise to this demon’s rage.
“Why have you not breached the gates, Shyv?”
“The Talah’dorei do not respond to my commands, great lord,” Warlord Shyv bowed. As he did so, a wince flashed across his features, pain lancing along the wound given to him by Teake.
The dreadlord stepped through the shield that kept the water at bay, placing both hands upon the doors. The Naga followed. Narrowing its eyes, its mind seared through the ghostly brains of those beyond, drawing screams from them that filtered even through the thick metal.
“They stand against us,” it hissed. It glanced to Shyv. “Ready your troops.”
The doors groaned, as if knowing of the forthcoming assault. Darkness gathered, pulsing from the dreadlord’s skin like rivulets of blood. This seeped into the structure, flakes of metal crumbling and collapsing to the sands. Muscles bulging beneath the fel flames imbuing its armor, it pushed.
The door exploded.
Lenora Del’nath, standing well away from the entry, watched as the dreadlord pushed its way inside. The Naga swarmed on all sides of the demon, tridents and pikes put to immediate use. The two Talah’dorei standing guard stood no chance, the dreadlord’s hands snapping out to grasp one by the throat. The man screamed as the inferno tore into him, then the demon gripped either side of him, tearing him in two.
A ball of shadowy energy coursed along its arms and to its fist. The other guard attempted to flee, but the Nathrezim growled, thrusting its arm towards him. The bolt of shadows slammed the guardsman against the wall, delving into the glowing black of his soul. The Talah’dorei had enough time to look down, behold his beating, swirling essence, then disintegrated into nothingness.
Lenora parried Shyv’s strike as the Warlord charged. No longer was her attention on the dreadlord. She swept her blade in a dangerous arc, but Shyv slapped it away. He lashed out with the blunt end of his weapon, cracking it against her jaw.
She danced away, ghostly eyes flashing. The Naga enchantments were powerful, allowing them to ignore the incorporeal nature of their brethren as they attacked. The dead ranger leapt back into the fray, surprising the commander and leaving a thin river of blood trickling down his scaled arm.
The dreadlord moved through the throng, fixated on its prize. Sutera and Teake were almost to the docks, the demon's mind twisting through the caverns to discern their location. The presence of Falais caused its lips to draw back against its fangs as it snarled, the betrayal stinging as no blade could.
Death oozed from each step the Nathrezim took, slithering along the floor, against the walls, and curling upwards to the roof. Though the Talah’dorei were dead, they watched with horror as this creeping abomination of magic touched them, causing their ghostly skin to flare and dissolve. Screams littered the field of battle, soon followed by a swarm of small, shadowy forms. These skittered through the carnage, devouring the dead and living Talah’dorei alike.
Falais came to a halt.
Neither Teake nor Sutera noticed for a second, the beckoning waters of the docks prompting them forward. What greeted their eyes was a strange creature, shimmering and white, not unlike one of the manta rays. Larger, though, by all means, a translucent dome rested upon its back.
The blood elf’s hand dropped to his dagger. An overwhelming desire bubbled from within, one that commanded him to draw the blade and plunge it into Teake’s chest. He tried to resist, knowing this was neither the time nor place to dispatch the Tauren.
You betrayed me.
Falais trembled, knowing that unmistakable bass, that hissing tone. The dreadlord, with all its power of the mind, had breached his frail exterior and now played havoc with his brain. He watched as the dagger glinted, horrified he no longer held sway over his own body. Linked with the Nathrezim in this ghastly embrace, he heard each step as the demon charged closer, feeling the hatred coursing through its veins like the fires of Outland.
Sutera noticed. More than that, and more than her angered druidic companion, she understood. She had no way of knowing how she knew, for no memories prompted her into action.
The golden eyed elf crossed the distance between them, planting the palm of her hand against Falais’s forehead. Gazing into his eyes, she met the force of the dreadlord with her will, the two forces colliding with such power that Falais jerked from her grasp.
Somewhere, deep within Gishan, the dreadlord howled in pain and anger.
“We must hurry,” Falais trembled, nausea threatening to overtake him. The blood elf led them to the strange creature, helping them up the steep ladder and into the protective dome. Taking a final look down the corridor, he joined them, grasping hold of the reins.
Within seconds, the rift ray plunged into the depths of the sea, gliding towards the far away coast of Kalimdor.
Lenora sank to her knees just outside the black doors. Weary, she sheathed her blade, listening to the roar of the water far away. The dreadlord, in all his anger and rage, used his power to collapse the protective dome around Gishan, sending the seas rushing inside. The screaming prisoners stood little chance, hands flailing outside their bars as they pleaded for help from any that might hear. Those flailing hands soon ceased to move, drifting with the currents as the waters rose.
Why he decided to do away with the prison was beyond her understanding. Perhaps, with the betrayal of the Talah’dorei, he had no others to guard the Caverns. The Naga, despite their power and magics, were afraid to enter, refusing orders from their Warlords and the Nathrezim.
Her eyes caught sight of the greenish fel energy curling from beneath the door.
Arching a brow, she hesitated as she gripped the handles. Perhaps the dreadlord was hiding something, something he wanted no others to see. No Talah’dorei were permitted in this section of the Caverns, which is one reason why she fled here. What secrets did he hide, she wondered, that he would keep them even from his supposed allies, the Naga? Was it something that Queen Azshara knew about?
She did not sense the Nathrezim's presence until it was too late.
Lenora whirled, hand able to just touch the hilt of her blade before its clawed hand closed around her throat. Its green eyes lit up as she struggled, lifting her into the air.
“No. Nonono…,” she gurgled, feet flailing as she attempted to wrest herself from the demonic grip.
It slammed her against the wall.
“Lenora Del’nath. Ranger of the Elves. It is you that ordered the Talah’dorei to stand against me.”
She had no argument. Despite her ghost form, she found that this demon had the ability to cut off her air supply, something she had not relied upon for centuries. Perhaps it was a mere illusion brought upon by its tremendous psychic abilities, but she found herself choking, the strength sapped from her body.
“It is too bad that all of your Rangers tend to share the same fate.”
Now she could see them; tiny, almost invisible scars that dotted the entirety of its body. It looked as if the demon had been ripped apart, some foul magic piecing it back together. Before she could formulate any further hypothesis, it leaned into her, eyes flaring into a searing emerald. She opened her mouth to scream, cries careening from the walls, feet kicking against the stone. The fires burned brighter and deeper, lancing outward from its twisted, demonic visage into her eyes.
The demon let loose his grip as the energies poured into her, the magic leaving her aloft. Her wailing increased in volume, threatening to wake the dead prisoners in their waterlogged cells. Chest lifting away from the wall, her hands curled into fists in an attempt to drive away the pain as the fel fires consumed her.
Lenora fell to the ground.
The dreadlord waited, view obscured by rancid, putrid smoke. As it watched, the former Talah’dorei rose, blue eyes a overrun by a mass of greenish, blackish energy. Gone was her regal ranger garb, replaced by twisted rings of hard, black magic. Fel fire hissed from this, down her pale skin and to her long, curved blade. A series of bloody runes danced along the flat of the weapon, seeming to bleed with every motion she made. The smoke remained, exuding from her armor, joining together to form a long, black cape of death behind her.
No emotion played across her formerly beautiful features. She turned away from the Nathrezim to take her place in front of the doors, fel energy coursing around her as it flowed from beneath the black gates. Eyes fixated ahead, her blade remained at the ready, the former ranger frozen in place as she awaited any who might interfere with her master’s plans.
Lenora Del’nath, the first of the Nathrezim's dreadwardens, did not so much as turn her head as the demon departed.
- Bloodwen: Part IV: Frejya/Bloodwen_PartIV
- Bloodwen: Part V: Frejya/Bloodwen_PartV
- Bloodwen: Part VI: Frejya/Bloodwen_PartVI
- Bloodwen: Part VII: Frejya/Bloodwen_PartVII
- Bloodwen: Part VIII: Frejya/Bloodwen_PartVIII
- Bloodwen: Part IX: Frejya/Bloodwen_PartIX
- Bloodwen: Part X: Frejya/Bloodwen_PartX
- Bloodwen: Part XI: Frejya/Bloodwen_PartXI
- Bloodwen: Part XII: Frejya/Bloodwen_PartXII
- Bloodwen: Part XIII: Frejya/Bloodwen_PartXIII
- Bloodwen: Part XIV: Frejya/Bloodwen_PartXIV
- Bloodwen: Part XV: Frejya/Bloodwen_PartXV
- Bloodwen: Part XVI: Frejya/Bloodwen_PartXVI
- Bloodwen: Part XVII: Frejya/Bloodwen_PartXVII
- Bloodwen: Part XVIII - Finale: Frejya/Bloodwen_PartXVIII