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Dread Commander: Blackheart
#1
It had been nearly two weeks since Itheros arrived at the northern outpost of camp Gravesmen, one of the few large remaining Ebon Blade bastions in Ice Crown. He had been called away from his command and in turn left Jidaeo Novalight and Lucian in charge of overseeing the battle company he had ushered to war over the years. It was not an easy decision for him to leave his Knights but he knew that his expertise was needed in the north. Dread Commander Relius Stonefist had suspiciously fallen in battle and his company was in shambles. Itheros was given the orders to train the Knights back into working order and pick a captain to lead their force after gaining back the ground that was lost to the enemy. This was to be no easy task… While Itheros worked with Relius’s war band a new issue arose. The Alliance and Horde forces were also losing ground at an alarming rate, this set Itheros on edge. Something was steering the Scourge towards a purpose and he needed to figure out what that purpose was before this became a full blown war inciting incident. Tempers flared on both sides of the fight for the Alliance and Horde and Itheros was stuck in the middle along with a second company under the command of his dear friend Revus who held the northern watch since they stormed the Citadel. With mounting distrust from both the Alliance and Horde leaders Itheros set out to unravel the mystery of this new scourge foe…

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y4u_wb0OEo8[/youtube]

Chapter One: Education

Itheros strode with purpose. His dark plate metal hammered down on the wooden planks that created a make shift walkway for those who entered the Alliance battle tent at fort Gravesmen. This camp was rare in the sense that it housed three factions. First was the Alliance, Second the Horde, and lastly the Ebon Blade who assisted both in defending the deep north. Today was the day Itheros was to take command over the IV-th company. The duty he was originally sent here for. However he had been delayed due to planning and strategy meetings with both the Horde and Alliance commanders. But finally the time had come to begin working with his Knights. Itheros nodded in passing at an Alliance Paladin and a Dwarven engineer. In the distance he could see the Ebon Blade’s camp sector. It had been nearly walled off from the rest of the camp by four cobblestone walls; they look as though they were constructed after the camp was created. He shook his head, “They’ll never trust us.” He thought to himself as he entered. His footsteps carried him to the main battle tent where he was to meet with Revus and a few of the veterans from the IV-th company.

Upon entering the large tent Itheros was greeted by scowling faces and narrowed brows. Revus stood near a large oaken table with a hide map of Ice Crown stretched out over it. He waved Itheros over with his right hand, “Welcome Brother.” Itheros started to move towards the table even before the reception was given, “What’ve we got Revus?” He said placing both steel plated gauntlets on the table after removing them from his lifeless hands. Revus was a human and was working as an Alliance ambassador for the camp. Even though they would speak with Itheros they still viewed him as a potential Horde threat, Revus responded “Well I won’t lie… It’s not good. The enemy outnumber us three too one, possess plague bomb tech which was no doubt recovered from the war, and their bug friends continue to cause problems for our advancing siege tanks. We only have three left out of eight.” Itheros sighed heavily as his index finger tapped the table. He glanced back at the surrounding Knights that wore looks of distaste laced with venom. As he did several whispered among themselves, he spoke in a hushed tone to Revus who leaned in to listen “I see moral has taken a dark turn…” The two stared at each other for a long moment before Revus responded “I fear the Knights have grown bitter… More so than your normal angst ridden recruit. Maybe if you earn their respect they’ll be more inclined to find their honor again.” Itheros curled his black lips in irritation, “I don’t have time to babysit a sack of cry babies who want to complain because they’ve had to deal with snow and dead things for the last few years… I’ve a job to do and I’ll see it done.” With the last words spoken three of the surrounding Death Knights stepped forward an Orc, Night Elf, and Gnome.


It was more a reaction than anything. The Orc spoke first “Babysit? I suggest you excuse yourself Commander before you find yourself slumped with a dagger in your back… This isn’t the Hold out here and your rank shows us little accept that you maybe were in the right place at the right time.” A chuckle came from the Gnome, “Tell’em Vor, run back to the Hold and tell’em we don’t need their charity. We got along fine this long.” Revus rubbed his brow, “Here we go…” Itheros slowly turned to face them, “Oh? So the three of you have something to say… I see now. If you’re getting along fine then tell me why your numbers have been cut in half and your Commanding officer is dead… Well?” Deep grumbles left the Orc’s throat as he took a step towards Itheros who quickly stepped to meet the Orcs stride “Careful Brother… Your words are offensive but they do not warrant what might happen should you step further and attempt something foolish.” The Orc glanced down at Itheros’s hands which were now resting atop his blades. A perked brow was adorned on the face of the Night Elf as the Orc spoke his last words, “Maybe our former Commander was an arrogant prick like you…” His left hand extended to shove Itheros. Before it closed half the distance between the two of them it fell severed to the floor and the Orc stopped slumping against Itheros who stood glaring at the Night Elf. A large blade was jutting from the Orc’s back. It bore the etching –Butcher’s Blade- near the blood channel. The Gnome scurried forward drawing two hand axes but was met by a sudden frigid wind that froze him solid. Itheros jerked his blade from the Orc’s stomach toppling him over the Gnome who shattered under the weight of the green skins lifeless body. His gaze remained on the Night Elf as he calmly moved forward, “Tell me Knight… Do you think I was in the –right place… and the right time-…” The tone was mocking but the Night Elf got the message, “No sir.” He quickly bowed and stepped back among the nearby ranks who straightened up to a rigid posture. Itheros eyed to the room through flaring irises “I’ll tell you this much… I am NOT your former Commander, now you will serve on the line or I will kill you myself… Am I understood?” In loud unison the company veterans responded, “Yes Commander.”

Itheros turned back towards the table, as he moved back to speak to Revus he shoved his blade into the Orc’s back leaving it there as he spoke “Our first order of business…. Kill the insects...”
[Image: 15.jpg]
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#2
Chapter Two: First Strike

Grey clouds hung low in the evening sky as the sun set behind the western mountains. Itheros moved through the camp accompanied by Revus and two honor guards, otherwise recognized as veterans from Revus’s main company. The decision was made between Revus and Itheros. With a solid strategy in mind they would strike to kill the Insect allies of the Scourge who were creating gaping chasm traps that swallowed up siege engines and platoons of men alike. All that remained was to bring the idea to the war council of the camp so that the Alliance and Horde forces could assist. The trick would be convincing them both to agree to equal terms. Both sides sought glory in the conflict and neither would back down to the other in a possible show of force. This time would be no different.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aVxiUNnDPJ4[/youtube]


As Revus and Itheros approached the main battle tent at the heart of camp dubbed Five Points they spotted two other sets of honor guard. Both of which were Horde and Alliance who remained locked in a heated glare each retinue numbered five veteran soldiers, Horde on one side of the tent entrance and Alliance on the other. Revus held a hand up in passing both as a greeting and as a means to signal the Ebon Blade guard to wait outside with the rest. Itheros took note of the animosity between the Horde and Alliance soldiers as he entered the tent. However neither Revus nor Itheros were prepared for the shouting match they walked into, “Listen you Alliance dog! Your men have no business on the fore front of this fight! They’re weak and I don’t want my outriders tripping over Alliance corpses during their charge!” A heavy green hand slammed down onto the makeshift table that looked more like a log cut in half with both flat sides facing up only to be covered by a stained cloth, “You Greenskin son of a b***h! You dare insult those men who have fought feverishly over these last few years to see that your moronic drones didn’t lose us this camp?!” The two screaming figures were poised at the long ends of the large map table. On one side stood slightly hunched a massive Orc clad in red painted iron and hide armor wearing an eye patch that went by the name Korg the Shield Smasher. The opposite side sported an aged man by his grey beard and bald head nearing his forties, who stood six foot three easily and wore the traditional Alliance Captain gold and blue armor. His name was Brant Sullivan.

The two of them were nearly foaming at the mouths when Revus spoke up, “Captain Sullivan.” It was an informal greeting but the two had become acquainted in a way that it really didn’t matter. Itheros simply nodded to the Orc as they approached the table. Much like the Ebon Blade tent this table too wore a tightly drawn leather map of Ice Crown with a few figurines here and there to show army troop movements on the field. Korg spoke first after a long silence, “So what’s the fucking plan…” Brant nodded, “We’ll need it laid down air tight before I put my men in harm’s way Death Knights.” Itheros extended a finger, “Your men are already in harm’s way Sullivan. The key now is making sure if they die they do so well. We’ve been tracking bug activity and it appears they seem to branch from here at this point.” His plated finger stretched out to tap a series of tunnels and caves to the east. Revus responded, “I believe that the sons of bitches have a nesting ground inside. Without it they’ll be less likely to risk hive numbers digging these chasms and will most likely retreat to rebuild their birthing grounds, giving us enough time to mount a full-fledged frontal assault on the southern wall of Ice Crown.” Korg croaked up, “And how the hell do you expect to destroy a whole hive of bugs Revus…?” His green hands pressed on the table hard making it groan in protest.

Outside the wind had picked up and the bitter cold of the night was setting in. The once glaring honor guards of the Horde and Alliance now huddled near an open flame; though the glares continued but from the depths of their furs and winter skins. Inside the planning continued, “Well Korg there is several ways we can draw the bugs out fire being the biggest one. Itheros and I both agree that if we can get the Gnomes to tweak a few of the empty plague canisters perhaps even steal their dispersing mechanisms we can use them to create a napalm agent capable of producing intense rolling flames that stick.” Brant chimed in, “That could take several days for the Gnomes to complete.” Itheros sighed, “We don’t have several days Commander Sullivan, if your men need a kick in the ass I suggest you give it to them.” Korg snorted loudly with laughter, “I like this new Commander for you deaders. Fuckers got balls.” Revus shook his head and Brant was clearly not amused “Listen here green horn. I’ve been here for more than a few winters… So to put it kindly on behalf of Revus here… Don’t tell me how to lead my men you asshole.” Itheros grunted stepping around the table towards Brant who did the same both men came chest to chest. Revus managed to get between the two with parting hands “Enough! This doesn’t solve a damn thing… Itheros…” His eyes fell to his longtime friend who sighed and returned to the Horde side of the map. Brant scoffed and spit onto the plank floor below “Deaders…” he said moving back to the Alliance side “I’ll have my Gnomes work through the night… How many of these so called bombs do we need?” Revus shrugged, “That we cannot know. I would suggest getting the Dwarves in here to help us find the weak points in the mountain structure. The trick however isn’t getting the bombs down… It’s getting our men out before they explode. We’ll need a timer.” Korg rolled his shoulders as Revus spoke, “Well whatever time we need my outriders would be the fastest bet in any case to get in and out…” Brant nodded, “Commander Korg is right… His mounted soldiers are fast and powerful.” Itheros nodded in agreement as did Revus.

The four took their gaze to the tunnel briefly as each pondered on the task before them. Brant spoke up, “What if instead of caving in the whole tunnel we cave the entrance before the bombs go off. That would allow all the back draft to flow down into the tunnels as it chases the air caused by the chasms further down.” Korg scratched his head appearing puzzled for a moment, “Like a corked jug with a hole in it.” He said more to himself. Itheros nodded to the large Orc, “Exactly.” He glanced at Revus who looked at Brant, “So Commander Sullivan you’ll gather your tech Gnomes and put them to work on the bombs?” The Alliance Commander inclined his head, “I will send for the Gnomes immediately, as well as the Dwarves. They are best fit to guestimate the tunnels for you. I will also muster a squad of mounted cavalry to help punch the Outriders through the bug’s entrance.” Itheros spoke up, “I’ll also gather some mounted troops to assist your cavalry. No sense in riding alone.” Korg snorted again, “Very well then. I’ll get the Outriders and prepare them.” All four men nodded, Revus spoke last “We’ll all tend our companies and duties then meet back here in two hours to finish planning. We should attack a little after dawn when the camp is risen enough to defend itself from a counter attack.” All agreed with a single grunt. The plan was in motion and each of the Commanders set out to perform their tasks….
[Image: 15.jpg]
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#3
Chapter Three: Exterminatus

The sun broke over the mountain peaks in the east casting vibrant rays of promise down upon the camp as it stirred with life. Orcs rallied their Worg hounds, Gnomes outfitted them with several canisters of the new weapon, Knights were assisted atop their horses and outfitted for mounted combat, and The Ebon Blade rallied their forces with last minute prep of their rune weapons. It was time. The plan was in order and all the men were prepared for battle. Orcs numbered fifteen, Humans rode with twenty as did the Ebon Blade. With the bombs strapped tight and spring loaded for launching from saddle mounted side guns Orcs took to the center of formation, surrounding them were the Humans clad in full plate and adorned with the mighty Lion of Stormwind. On the outer ring of the front head rode twenty heavily armored Death Knights and at formation peak sat Korg, Brant, Itheros, and Revus. A soft snow began to fall as the wind died down for the day, the skies set to their usual grey and the cold was back with nipping teeth now that the sun had retreated. The numbers were mustered and the soldiers prepared. It was time for action and the bugs would pay…

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w5MhafP5kFo[/youtube]

Itheros gave a side long glace at Korg and Brant who remained stone faced in their professional tones. Both warriors had seen more than their fair share of combat, Itheros was pleased to see they left the bickering back at camp. Revus motioned ahead, “I see the cave, about one hundred and fifty yards ahead.” Brant nodded holding up his sword hilt down. This signaled his Knights to draw their blades which they did as one. Korg held out both of his arm wide with open hands. His Outriders rose up in their riding bundles, poised. Revus nodded to Itheros who drew a single blade which in turn called for the Death Knights to all follow suit. Each of the Commanders held their readied motion as they neared the mouth of the cave…

One hundred yards… A slight rumble shook the ground. Itheros’s eyes frantically scanned the mouth of the cave for activity, “Something’s wrong… They should’ve been on us by now…” His tone was low so that only the snowflakes around him might hear. Korg narrowed his gaze as his nose perked up and his left ear twitched. Brant kept his aged eyes on the ground at the foot of the tunnel while Revus looked to Itheros and followed his frantic scanning eyes…..

Fifty yards… The rumble increased heavily as they neared closer…


[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q6uHK5l-tKw[/youtube]


Twenty yards… An explosion of earth erupted on both sides ahead as four large spider legged creature standing slightly taller than horses burst from the ground and a fifth creature resembling a beetle roughly the size of a single floor human house. Korg shouted, “Waaaaaaaaaargh!” Both his outstretched fists closed and he jerked on his Worg’s mane sending it darting forward roaring through a salivating maw. Brant flipped his sword up and lowered it forward signaling the Knights to charge with him and Korg. The charging Commanders and the Stormwind Knights broke into two factions. One followed Brant to the left towards the two spider minions, the second group followed Korg and their Captain to the right towards the other twin minions. Itheros pointed his blade at the large beetle fiend and as a single unit all the Death Knights death gripped the creature staggering it far to the right drawing it away from the mouth of the cave as Revus and the Outriders rushed the tunnels black entrance…

Outside the cave Brant and his Knights fought feverishly on the left side. The spider legged creatures were fast and agile to boot. They began snatching Knights off their horses with webbing and spiked legs alike. Brant shouted, “Rally men! I haven’t served this long to be brought low by minions dammit! Not this day!” Each of his men felt a rush of adrenaline at their Commanders battle shout. Their blood surged driving them onwards as they circled the twin insects. Blades lashed out drawing green ichor from the thing but it struck back hard with jutting limbs in all directions. It was hard to time the strikes and Brant knew his men couldn’t keep this up on horseback. The bugs were simply too fast for open mounted combat. He had seen many battle fields in his near forty years and knew when the time for tactics called for gut checking blocking a glancing blow from one of the outstretched legs he shouted to his unit “Stagger formation! Push them into the rocks!” Moving at their Commanders call the remaining Knights jerked around and slowly inched forward driving the creatures back with hacking and slashing strikes towards the foot of the mountain….

Korg and his Knights struggled greatly in their conflict. The massive Orc was built for ground combat not mounted assault and it showed as he wildly thrashed with his two handed axe at the spiders legs. The Worg found purchase however by latching onto one of the thorny limbs though it paid with its life so too did the spider as Korg hammered an upward swing of his axe into the creatures belly. Meanwhile the Knights were being picked apart by the remaining horrid legged enemy. It darted among them tearing heads off. The sharps limbs burst through torsos and their armor with ease as it knocked horses around. Korg rolled from his Worg’s lifeless corpse and took to charging the last bug on his side. He was met with a forceful back kick from the creature that sent him flying into the nearby rock face. The sound of shattered bone echoed through his body as his vision clapped white. His shoulder was broken. One of the last sounds he heard was the dying of Alliance Knights, something that perhaps in a different situation would have made him smile…

Itheros and the Death Knights surrounded the beetle with plagued blades and loosed blasts of ice and disease. They moved as one well-oiled machine bred for the single purpose of killing. With each swipe of the blade they would rend another limb useless as disease rotted flesh and ice cracked chitin. Itheros noticed that Korg’s unit had suffered heavy casualties and was near extinction, “Five back Korg!” At his words five Knights broke form formation and charged the last of the spiders on the Orc’s side of the tunnel. The large beetle staggered and stomped crushing three, four, five Death Knights. Itheros saw his numbers quickly running low he thought to himself “How… How did this happen… I expected resistance but an organized defense, this made no sense.” CRACK! He was thrown from his horse and sent asunder into a nearby rock. His breast plate was cracked, a few ribs too he was sure. In a moment of thought he let his guard down allowing the beetle to kick his dread steed. Itheros pushed himself up just in time to see the beetle smash the last few Knights before charging towards the mouth of the cave….

Revus burst from the tunnel heading right for the beetle. As heroic as the scene might have been to Brant and Itheros who saw it… It’s what followed that drew their fear… Three Outriders and two flaming Worg’s one nearly burnt to a crisp. Brant’s eyes went wide as he jerked on his horses reigns so hard the beast toppled out of fear. Revus wore the look of shocked fury as he was nearly trampled to death by the huge beetle… “GET BAC-!” Before Revus could finish the dark hole erupted in a violent explosion of death and fire. Flames rolled freely across the snow and up the mountain as the forceful blast hurled large slabs of bedrock in every direction… Itheros had enough time to think a final thought. It was a simple thought, he saw the flames racing towards him and a huge rock sailing through the air, his brow lowered in anger… “Shit…”

A thunderous drum filled the valley with black smoke masking the horrid scene of failure….
[Image: 15.jpg]
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#4
Chapter Four: Counting the Dead

It had been two days since the attack went awry with all four Commanders barely escaping with their lives due to the premature blast near the mouth of the cave. One heavy blow that had been felt throughout the camp was that the blast had claimed all but a few of the Outriders. This left Korg in a rage filled recovery from his battle wounds; although he was injured it appeared that the Orc leader was more volatile than ever. He refused to converse with both the Alliance and Ebon Blade camps. He also sent word back to Orgrimmar carried by one of the last Outriders. Brant also took the loss of life hard. His men had been slaughtered in grotesque fashion and with nothing to show for it he held bitterness in his heart for the Outriders failure to hold up their end of the attack. Meanwhile back in the Death Knight Camp Itheros and Revus reported back to the Ebon Hold by way of an undead courier raven. The two Knights each tended to their own duties with Revus reporting to High Command and Itheros assisting in repairing armors and weapons with his knowledge of rune forges. Brant sent word to the Ebon Blade Camp requesting their assistance in disposing of the deceased. The time had finally come to count the dead…


[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ve_R1HdXBbs[/youtube]


Brant stood alone in a dark tent lit in a dim amber light by way of several flickering candles scattered about the floor near the blood stained, sheet covered bodies of the dead. The Alliance Commander had graced many fields in his time but he still never dealt with the loss of life well. Since he joined the Clergy at a young age he had been taught to value all life and to see the dismembered corpses of his fallen brothers strewn across the dirt covered floor of the tent brought an all too familiar pain to his chest. The sound of the tents main flap being drawn open interrupted Brant’s final prayer to his men, “Forgive me Commander Brant. I did not mean to interrupt your rituals.” said Itheros as he stepped inside, Brant shook his head before turning around “Do you even feel the loss of life here Death Knight? Or is this just another mission for you?” Itheros stared at the man for a long moment from beneath his dark hood before answering. His black lips parted, “Yes. I feel the loss of life Brant… Do not be so quick to assume you understand us simply because most of us appear to be your typical emotionless death machines. I am sorry for you loss, and I understand that you must grieve for the dead. However… I was sent here to do a job and I’ll see that job done. My mourning for the dead shall come later when my un-death is no longer required.” Brant perked a grey brow, “What the hell do you mean by that?” Itheros took a few steps closer inside. His boots passed several bodies on the way, “After I have served my duty as Dread Commander and ensured that the scourge and other dark threats have been extinguished from harming the innocent lives of Azeroth I shall lay down beside my brothers never to be raised again. When my work is finished Commander Brant I will mourn with those who have fallen… in death.” Brant eyed the Dread Commander up and down twice before nodding a few times as if to give his final comment on the subject. The Alliance vet turned saluting the vast rows of the slain before taking his leave. Itheros stood alone. He thought solemnly to himself; in death each soldier must face the black alone, what better way to pay his respects to those fallen than too stand alone among them in silence…


Korg sat up, his one arm wrapped in a sling, and his face wearing several gaping wounds that oozed with a strange healing salve used by the Tauren. The Horde Commanders tent was a hunters dream. Various game heads hung freely about the place and furs covered both his bed and the ground on which he now stood. A large fire pit was dug in the center of the tent and currently roared with dancing life as smoke escaped through the center opening high above. Korg took a few steps over to the fire where he sat with a huff, “Cursed Alliance Knights… If they’d been worth half their steel in battle then we’d be singing a much different tune right now…” The large Orc spoke to the flames through gritted tusks. A tap came at the entrance to the tent, on one of the supporting posts “Commander, the Camp Council is requesting your presence to decide funeral rites for the slain.” Korg snapped back, “You mean those Alliance dogs! They only managed to recover three of our Outriders… And they expect me to come pay respects to THEIR dead?!” A Blood Elf stepped inside, “I agree Commander. Shall I inform them you will not attend?” Korg snorted in reply, “No… I’ll attend this meeting. We don’t need the camp turning on us…” He pushed himself up with a deep sigh, “Tell them I will be there in within the hour.” A curtly nod and bow came from the Blood Elf before he sank away out into the night through the tents main flap. Korg sat alone glaring angrily at the fire, “Respect their dead… Bah!...”

Chapter Five: Fires of the Dead

As the hour dwindled down the four Commanders gathered. On the docket for the evening was how to dispose of the remaining bodies for funeral rites. Everyone knew they couldn’t risk the bodies being raised by the undead forces but yet the Alliance was not keen on funeral pyres and the Horde viewed the journey by fire as a sacred rite. Both were touchy subjects but it was something that needed to be addressed. Meanwhile Commander Brant had received word that another convoy was headed to the camp with fresh supplies and new battle Gryphons to aide in the fight. Also within the letter came good news for the elderly Alliance veteran, his son was accompanying the supplies personally and he brought more Knights with him. This news warmed Brant’s heart but he knew his son was also in danger; for the last two caravans had been brutally attacked by renegade Death Knights baring the Ebon Blade crest… This too needed to be addressed…

Itheros and Revus stood side by side near the center of the table; with Itheros on the Horde side and Revus on the Alliance side. Korg and Brant stared at each other from across the table with hate in their eyes. The venomous looks were enough to burn a hole even the toughest of hides. Finally Korg broke the silence, “Are we just going to make kissy eyes for solve the fucking problem at hand?” Brant took a breath through flared nostrils “I’d like to burn our dead.” He stated flatly. Korg croaked back, “Hell no… I’ll not have some Alliance dog given pyre rites while my brothers take their journey as well.” Revus looked to the Orc, “Would you rather have them raised to slaughter more?” In turn he received a pounding fist on the table, “Shut your fucking mouth Death Knight scum! It’s your fault they failed! You were leading them!” Itheros held up a defensive palm at Korg, “Slow down… Revus had nothing to do with your Outriders failing to deliver their goods.” Brant chimed in at the tables end, “Agreed. Your Outriders failed in their mission and cost us countless lives in the process.” Korg had enough, his good hand went for his axe “Come say that to my face you Alliance coward!” His steps carried him around the table towards Brant who also wasted no time in drawing his blade, “Gladly you Greenskin bastard!” Revus and Itheros both drew their blades as well but it was Revus who spoke, “STOP!... Take another step towards each other and we can turn this into something it has not yet become and I assure you neither of you will like the outcome.” Itheros followed it up, “We came here to talk… I suggest we stick to that plan unless more lives need be wasted?” The two Commanders bore holes through one another with their punching glares. Brant suddenly sheathed his blade, “I will be burning my dead Orc… You are welcome to perform whatever rites you want over your dead…” Revus glanced over to the Orc who replied, “Have it your way whelp… I’ll take my dead to my camp. Your people are not to enter while we perform our sacred rites of passage. If they do… I’ll rest their heads at your feet old man.” Korg pointed a warning finger to all three of them before storming out of the Command Tent. Brant sighed heavily, “That could’ve gone better I think…” Revus sheathed his weapon, “I agree.” Itheros simply shrugged, “At least no blood was spilled.” He glanced back at Revus and Brant as he made for the exit, “This time…” Brant held up a hand, “A moment please Commanders, if you will?” Revus nodded a response, “Certainly, what is it Commander Brant?” Itheros halted at the entrance his right hand holding up the flap of material as his head turned to show his attention had been captured. Brant spoke quickly, “This new convoy of supplies coming for the Alliance is carrying valuable material. On former runs we’ve been attacked by Death Knights wearing your Ebon Blade symbols no doubt to sow the seeds of mistrust amongst us. But my King is no fool. He knows our treaties hold strong. However I cannot risk my men against a battalion of trained Death Knights, we both know that the light rarely heals the diseases and wounds your kind inflicts.” Revus inclined his head, “We will dispatch a retinue of Knights to escort the caravan after the funerals. Your people’s supplies will remain intact.” He looked to Itheros who tilted his head, “I will gather the men and depart at day break.” Brant took a sudden out of character step forward; it showed haste and worry “Also… I... Well, my son is with them… Can you ensure he makes it to camp Commander Blackheart?” Itheros stared at the man, “I shall.” With that he left the tent abruptly to prepare for the fires…

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U30T06qfG3s[/youtube]

That night all three camps gathered to prepare the dead for departure. The Alliance built their version of a funeral pyre in the form of a massive wooden mausoleum within which they placed each soldier in his own coffin box that consisted of a basic square shape. It was rather large encompassing two sites both of which could each fit a medium sized tent. Meanwhile the Horde built individual pyres in their own part of the camp. Each was constructed for the warriors they represented and were adorned with honor rites. Throughout both the Horde and Alliance camps soldiers, cooks, smiths, and tailors gathered to pay respects to the warriors who had fought and died for each respective faction. The Ebon Blade Death Knights watched from the entrance to their enclosed area of the camp. Revus and Itheros both stood at the head of their gathering. All the Knights were wearing black robes to honor in their own way. It had been decided that the Ebon Blade would dispose of their dead privately and away from the prying eyes of all others. They would be put to the torch in shadow and their ashes returned to the Ebon Hold for the milling of bone dust. As the night grew colder the moon pierced through the clouds of the star dotted sky as though the heaven parted briefly to allow the wandering souls of honorable Men and Orcs alike to enter the halls of their ancestors. Songs were sang, mead and drinks were sloshed down over wet tears and roaring tales of better times. The four Commanders watched their own respective men and women offer up their own show of gratitude to those who gave their lives and each Commander acknowledged that these were far from the last of the funerals too come.

Itheros stepped from the pack of Death Knights who stood sentient watching the distant fires blaze. Revus spoke in a hushed tone, “Where are you off too?” Itheros did not look back as he responded, “To offer my condolences to the Commanders.” Several of the Death Knights in company whispered in quiet tones among themselves. Revus jogged after him, “Blackheart… Don’t you think it’s rather pointless brother?” He slowed his pace and finally stopped, “I mean… We both already know there’s nothing after this. No great hall for us, no paradise. I know you don’t believe Butcher.” Itheros also stopped at the last sentence, “You’re right… But they do…” He turned and continued onwards towards both the Alliance and Horde encampments.
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#5
Chapter Six: Haunted Faces


The sun broke over the northern mountains of the Stormpeaks, a rare occurrence for the mountains were aptly named such for good reason. Brant had requested the night before at the council meeting that the Ebon Blade assist in retrieving the caravan of supplies both for the camp and to help ensure his son arrived unharmed. A few of the last shipments had been ambushed by rogue Death Knights so Itheros gladly accepted the task with hopes of ending the miserable traitors lives. Accompanying the Dread Commander was a retinue of four Death Knights; since each was equal to that of three or four infantry soldiers he figured four would be more than enough to handle this band of betrayers. Also with the caravan would be an armed escort so their numbers would greatly out weight that of their foes. Itheros gathered his battle gear and mounted his death steed. Ordering the signal the Knights rode out to meet the Caravan nearly twenty miles away to the southern pass near the Dragon Blight. As they met the caravan Itheros was pleased to find they had remained untouched save a few wolf bites and one bear attack that proved nothing more than a territorial threat display which ended in no loss of life. Brant’s son was there and remained in good health, he was a young man Itheros thought around the age of eighteen and he had not yet seen a true battle field for he wore the green horns of an un-blooded soldier. Even though he tried to hide the fact with tough actions the Dread Commander had seen enough warriors to know a fresh recruit when he saw one. Itheros thought to himself as they rode casually along… Here in the north nothing remains un-blooded for long…



As they trotted along the snow hardened pass leading down into the Crystal Song Forest Itheros looked over at the boy, “So what’s your name kid?” The young man who wore a bare face with dirty blonde hair that looked as though he had just awoken from bed, “Lance, and yours?” A smirk formed on the Dread Commanders face, he had expected a formal introduction “Itheros Blackheart.” One of the soldiers chimed in, “Holy shit… Itheros –The Butcher- Blackheart? From Booty Bay?” Itheros sighed deeply beneath his plated helm, “Yes.” The soldier rode up next to Lance and nudged him in the shoulder, “This Death Knight is the one I was telling you about. I heard he was here. He’s the one who killed all those people down in the bay, even his own kind.” Lance’s eyes drifted to Itheros sizing him up, though he thought the Dread Commander wouldn’t notice, “You’re a bit too young for my taste runt… So don’t worry…” It was a mocking jest from Itheros one that Lance received well, “Sorry about that… Fall back in line soldier.” Without question the soldier drifted back into the ranks. Itheros pointed to the mace on Lance’s belt line, “Your weapon of choice?” Lance nodded proudly, “I’m pretty good with it too.” Itheros shook his head, “It’s a slow weapon. In battle speed kills.” Lance glanced down giving the hunk of steel a worried look, “So.. uhm, why’d you kill all those people in Booty Bay?” The topic was a sore one for Itheros and he often strayed from the conversation but this was not one of those times, “They were mostly rapists, mercenaries, and thieves hired to harm others that I knew. I slaughtered my brothers for betraying our orders new leader and forsaking the beliefs we fought for.” Lance blinked twice, “I see. Well… I’ve never killed anyone.” Itheros snapped back, “You will learn quickly here, so don’t worry.” They boy inhaled and exhaled a nervous breath as he looked ahead to see the high walls of Ice Crown in the distance…


It happened without warning… And it happened fast…


[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LN4gtvH7_fk[/youtube]


A saronite arrow sank deep into the throat of a Death Knight at the left of the column. The caravan had entered the final stretch of the canyon before entering the crystal forest ahead. With a heavy thud the Death Knight fell from his saddle ceasing to exist. Itheros reached for his war horn which he gave a deep bellowing blow to signal the remaining Knights to form up. One of the Knight Captains shouted out, “Form up of the Death Knights! Protect the Gryphons!” Lance looked around sharply from side to side in darting fashion; his hand panicked slapping his left side reaching for his mace. The horse he was one took three arrows in the throat before it bucked the young boy off and fell dead nearly crushing him. Itheros quickly dismounted and rushed over to the boy, “You alive?” He asked snatching the boy up by his plated collar. Lance’s eyes were glassed over in white fear. A charged roar echoed behind Lance, Itheros jerked the boy closer to him and whirled him around as he drew one of his blades to severe the head of a charging Rogue Death Knight that had sprung up from a nearby snow bank. The Dread Commander shoved Lance back, “Stay with the Gryphons!” He shouted before storming off into the fray of battle. There were ten Rogue Knights on the ground and two Skeletal Minions with bow and arrows atop the canyon walls. The Minions were quickly dealt with, one of the Knights crushed one beneath a holy judgment while the other was brought low by an Ebon Knight death gripping it into oblivion. Itheros drew his second blade and readied himself for the first wave…

His predictions had been wrong. Itheros quickly assessed that these were no basic Rogue Knights… They fought in well time and they fought with trained archers at their backs. The ambush was well planned and he knew they would be hard pressed to survive it. Lance huddled near the Gryphons wagon cages for a quick moment as he gathered his thoughts. This was to be short lived pulling his head to the right at the last minute as a Rogue Knight slammed an axe head into the wagon’s side. Lance pulled his mace and loosed a battle cry before swinging with both clutching hands at the fiends face. It was a sloppy attempt one that nearly cost him his life. A stiff plate covered elbow prevented Lance’s advance and shattered his nose in the process. The Rogue Knight loomed over him raising his axe high above his head seeking to claim Lance’s soul for his collection. Suddenly seconds before impact the Knight’s chest exploded soaking Lance in black ichor. Behind the Knight Lance could see through the hole in the torso that the Captain had saved his life with a second holy judgment.

Itheros waded into the two advancing Knights quickly becoming a whirlwind of steel. His blades sang with blocking steel on steel and resounded with vibrations from neither metal giving ground. Both blades picked their targets and Itheros took both Knights head on. However he knew the cost of open combat against two opponents. The Dread Commander maneuvered to the right with a glancing shot followed by a feint that staggered the Rogue Knight on his left. This afforded him the chance to place the Knight on the right between him and the second opponent. With only a fraction of a second to spare Itheros turned both deadly blades on the single Rogue Knight cutting him down first at the knee and second at the waist. A left roundhouse kick shattered the Knight’s skull as he was brought low leaving only the one standing before Itheros. Icy chains shot up from the ground around the Rogue Knight trapping him as Itheros darted over severing his head in one smooth motion. With his two issues resolved Itheros moved on towards new targets…

The Ebon Knights and Alliance Guard led by their Holy Captain fought feverishly over the next few minutes. Ebon Knights killed former brothers, and former brothers killed Ebon Knights. The same was to be said for the Alliance as their numbers began to fall. Lance had finally risen and joined his company leader near the front line. However he rarely lashed out at the foe and no lives were ended by his horridly slow mace. Instead he was quickly pushed to the middle of the column by the Captain who had decided it a safer place for him. Itheros moved at the head of his brothers cutting down traitors with a skilled sword arm and expert displays of tactics. Until something stopped him cold in his tracks, a voice rang out over the canyon bellow “BLACKHEAAAART!!!” It was a deep voice and one that bit deep into what remained of Itheros’s soul. His very foundation quaked with anger yet his legs were frozen in hesitation as his vision shot upwards. The words left his black lips behind bared hate filled fangs “Master….”

Chapter Seven: Master

A tension filled silence graced the field as the Rogue Knights halted their advance at the voice of their Commanding officer. Itheros knew the voice well. It was his former Master who helped to raise him from the grave to teach him the art of death and slaughter. Master Borg was a towering figure that demanded fear from all who gazed upon him. Borg was an Orc Blade Master in life and was second to none with his rune blade. He taught Itheros the art of swordsmanship and helped him to develop his own two bladed styles. Itheros was off fighting the scourge when Borg turned on the Ebon Hold. He slaughtered countless Knights with his traitorous band of “Death Hounds” as he called them. This was something that Itheros has never forgotten and it yet remained the only thing that ate at Itheros’s mind day and night. He had quested endlessly to find Borg and bring him in under his own blades to answer for his crimes against the Blade. Itheros knew it was fate that brought them to this moment… And here in the north is where the final line would be drawn…

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2sgRIFREAvg[/youtube]

Borg leapt form the canyon wall landing with a ground shattering crunch. His massive saronite plate covered mass rose from the calf deep crater he created. Rot and disease pulsed in a seething aura all around him as he unsheathed his rune blade from his back. The blade easily stood five feet high before the hilt came into fruition; it was an impressive weapon that bore countless etchings on the blades face surrounding the vibrant runes. Itheros knew what each on meant. They were the sea of innocent lives that Borg had claimed… And Itheros’s would make a fine addition…

Borg rolled his shoulders standing his full height of nearly eight feet, “I see you knock at my former King’s door runt. So kind of you to join us here…” The words shot through Itheros like a hot fire stoker, “Your King is dead Borg… The time has come for you to answer for your crimes.” Borg tilted his head back roaring with laughter that cracked the wind, “We shall see runt… Come get your throat cut.” Itheros bared his fangs as he pushed passed the gathered Alliance Knights. One of the Ebon Knights shouted out, “Commander!” The three remaining Ebon Knights pushed up to the front line. Borg loosed his green tongue licking his lips and tusks as his eyes remained trained on Itheros. The Alliance Captain strode up next to Itheros, “I’m with you Ebon Knight.” Words fell on deaf ears. Borg had captured Itheros’s attention his eyes flaring hot in rage, his black lips parted slightly in a snarl. The massive Orc held his arms out wide in a mocking boast, “Come meet your maker!” Itheros snapped at the words with the last straw drawn. His plated boots dug hard into the rock and snow chunking up earth as he surged forward. The Alliance Knights and Ebon Knights charged with him. Lance fell back hiding near the Gryphons, he had never faced a foe like Borg before and just his presence was enough to defeat the novice soldier. Borg charged forward as well after he loosed a war cry that shook the very essence of all living things around him. The Rogue Knights followed their Masters call to arms and rushed the Alliance Knights…

Both small battalions collided with crushing results. Steel and bone shattered alike. Borg made quick work of the Alliance Captain wasting no time in cleaving him from shoulder to pelvic bone. His bloody heap of a corpse opened up spilling red life fluid like a popped grape under foot. Itheros slashed and bashed his way through the enemy until he saw Borg, who also saw him. Borg roared back handing his current opponent snapping his neck nearly off his shoulders as he leapt towards Itheros. The Dread Commander shouted in defiance at his former Masters superior battle skills and he too rushed for their long awaited conflict.

Itheros whirled to the left raising both blades to block a sweeping advance form Borg. When the rune blades collided a small explosion of energy burst forth leaping out in vibrant purples and blues. Itheros was hurled backwards against the canyon wall hard cracking his helmet which he quickly peeled off in a fit of anger, “BORG!” Itheros sprang up his ichor up and ready for a dog fight. Borg was already on him slamming down his massive rune sword in crushing success. It was all Itheros could do to stay alive as he raised his blades time and time again to stave off the onslaught that would mean his certain end. Whirling low under one of the arching swings Itheros found purchase sinking his left blade deep into the thigh armor of Borg. His presence did not go unnoticed as Borg with a free hand snatched him by the skull and threw him into one of the wagons at the end of the caravan. It splintered and shattered under the weight of the Dread Commanders armor and velocity. Borg stood firm with the large blade still stuck in his thigh. The massive Orc jerked it free and hurled it at Itheros who was struggling to get up in the debris of the wagon. Itheros rolled out to his left as the blade struck rock behind him. Borg rushed again slamming a stiff knee into the belly of his former student, Itheros coughed out black ichor as his body folded limply over the huge blow. Wasting no time the Orc slammed the pommel of his sword down onto the spine of Itheros who crumbled to the snow afterwards. Borg spit on the Dread Commander as he stuck his sword into the ground and picked up the limp body with both hands. Spinning around twice he sent Itheros soaring into the side of the canyon break rocks, armor, and a few bones. Borg launched several hard kicks into the ribs and back of his former pupil before finally ending his assault with a stomp to his lower back. Itheros did not move after that.

Lance watched with horror as Borg quickly decimated Itheros in a matter of seconds then after picking up his sword moved towards the remaining Knights, both Ebon and Alliance alike. He thought it was all over. Until he heard the sound of a War Horn, not just any War Horn but the War Horn of an Alliance battalion. In the distance he could see thirty or forty heavily armored Knights charging up the path towards them. He watched as Borg ordered his men to retreat back into the mountains of Dragon Blight. The huge Orc risked himself for one last word to Itheros, jerking on the Dread Commanders hair he brought his students eyes to meet his own “Pathetic…” He said before slamming his face back into the bedrock and vanishing into the snow drift high above. By the time the Alliance Knights arrived there were only the three Ebon Knights and a handful of Alliance Guard standing. Lance was shaken but among them. After gathering up the dead they headed back for camp with one shattered wagon… and one shattered Dread Commander…
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#6
Chapter Eight: Ferryman

Blackness flooded his vision. Though he fought to open his eyes he saw only the night. It was bleak and unforgiving, yet offered a sense of homecoming for Itheros. He struggled to move but his body felt compressed as though it were wrapped in tight silken cloth. When his mind thought of cloth the smooth textured thing quickly became hard and crushing as it snaked from ankle to shoulder very much alive like a serpent, not one of the desert rattlers from the badlands but one of larger origin like that of a Naga. Itheros struggled further and again fought to open his eyes, he felt as though he was being reborn again into unlife… Like when Arthas had raised him… This only fueled his anger and drove his body onward in his fight for freedom… And suddenly there came several loud hammering thuds as stone met stone, “SILENCE!... I will have order in my courtroom…” It’s voice was realm shattering as it began yet as it continued it became soft much like a whisper drowned out by the wind surrounding it “Itheros Blackheart… Welcome…”

Itheros continued to thrash against his restraints, “Where am I?!... Who the hell are you?!... Where is Borg?!” The voice did not answer for a long moment while Itheros continued to heave and thrust his muscles outward in an attempt to break his shackles… He had little success. Finally after what felt like an eternity of struggle the bindings shattered and a loud thunderous crack echoed through the world around Itheros. Blinding lights of all origin shot through his eyes he instinctively brought his hands up to shield his face discovering quickly that he was now free, “Show yourself!” Itheros shouted into the blinding light…

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=liTccLRNeOM[/youtube]

That’s when his vision began to clear and the voice answered, “I have… For your kind was not meant to see me thus you struggle at first.” As Itheros tried to focus his mind and adjust his eyes he was shocked by what lay before him… A figure that stretched upwards towards dark storm wrought clouds, it was truly massive dwarfing even the tallest of Azeroth’s mountain peaks. Large black wings of shadow shuddered with life as they sat poised to blow down the world around them. He let his mouth gape slightly in reverence of such a being. Near the creatures head a large swirling vortex screamed and howled in agony. Thousands upon thousands of tiny hands reached from within along with a million crying faces that all called to Itheros. For the first time in Itheros Blackheart’s life he knew what the term fear was surely created to define…

[Image: space224-saturn-storm_61803_600x450_zpsbe11bf5b.jpg]

Itheros stammered for a moment as he suddenly noticed he bore no clothing, only a loin cloth. His feet stung with what seemed like actual living pain as the dry hard rocks bit against the soles of his footpads. The wind licked his flesh sending a writhing surge of cold up his spinal column, “Wh-what is happening?...” He asked in a slightly frightened voice.

A large flapping gust from the black wings sent a structure nearby crumbling to the ground while the gargantuan being spoke again, “Itheros –The Butcher- Blackheart… Dread Commander of the Ebon Blade and Death Knight to Arthas…” The being stretched out its huge finger to point accusingly at Itheros, “You have fallen in battle and thus your time is at an end… I am the harbinger of that end… And it is here that you will face judgment for your crimes against those you have slain in the service to evil.”

Itheros staggered backwards as suddenly the weight of what felt like ten thousand bodies crashed with unseen force upon his shoulders. It sent him to a knee cracking the stone beneath it, “Aaargh!... Wait!..” The being tilted its head slightly, “Do not prolong this Itheros, all must pay for their sins and face their end according to the celestial scale of penance.” Itheros held up a defensive hand, “But… Wait… I-I,… I am working to protect the innocent lives of Azeroth now with my Ebon brothers…” Laughter roared from the swirling vortex of screaming faces mocking the Dread Commander’s words, “Defiler!” They shouted in a rage as the weight heaved down upon Itheros yet again, “AAAAAARGH!” This time he was brought low to all fours.

A small shimmer of light shown in the distance, the voice spoke as Itheros screamed in pain “A light… Hmmm… Someone calls for you to return to the land of the living. Yet I am the deciding factor here Death Knight… Why should you be allowed to leave and yet these thousands you put here be forced to suffer an eternity of horror?” The being slammed both hands down around Itheros shattering the ground leaving only a small pillar with the tiny Elf remaining. It sank its face low beneath the rocks edge as it lowered itself to eye level… Still… Its massive face blocked out the horizon line and Itheros could only focus on one of its huge glowing black eyes, “Why Itheros Blackheart of the Ebon Blade should I let you live?...”

Suddenly as quickly as the pain came on so too did it cease as Itheros was able to collapse onto his left side unabated, “I-…” He struggled to breathe as air filled his lungs with new life for the first time since being burned alive all those years ago, “My work… My calling…” The beings eyebrow perked with a shuddering heave that shook the air around it, “Your… Work?.. Most in your situation would plead for life… or a second chance to prove they were worthy to be excused from damnation.” It narrowed its brow inquisitively at Itheros, “Why have you not yet pleaded for your life or a second chance Itheros Blackheart of the Ebon Blade?”

Itheros glared up at the colossal sized monument that was this mysterious being, “Because…” His words were shaken yet delivered with clarity, “Because I lost that privilege a long time ago…” Itheros balled both of his fists grunting through the agony of standing, his feet nearly failing him. The being leveled out its brow, “Oh?..” It asked interested. Itheros staggered forward a bit struggling to stand, “I was not created for this world… I was created for battle, I am a Death Knight and Death is what I deliver to the field of my foes… I can offer the world of the living nothing for neither its beauty nor their kind hearts… I can only offer them this machine of war.” His hands gestured over his scared and war torn body, “I serve as their last shield against foes who would otherwise decimate their living bodies… I would face the things that they could not…”

A second shuddering flap of the wings brought another structure asunder, “You think yourself a Hero then?..” Itheros shook his head with the look of defeat weighting heavy on his soul, “No… I am no Hero.” More mocking laughter rose from the swirling vortex of souls high above, “BUTCHER!” They screamed in horror flashing back to memories of Itheros in his years of service to Arthas, “Yes…” He answered as though the voices spoke directly to him, “That is what I am… I was not created for your world being nor was I created to live among the living…”

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The being stood now its full height, with its face nearly miles away its voice thundered across the sky “Tell me Itheros Blackheart of the Ebon Blade… Why do you believe you do not deserve to walk upon Azeroth?” Itheros stumbled again as the beings voice shook the very earth upon which he stood, “Beca-because…” He steadied himself, “It deserves better men than I…” His eyes fixed upwards facing the being, “And I would see their world defended… for my Brothers… for my Sisters… I would fight for them and those they cherished or chose to care for. I will honor my Ebon family in service defending Azeroth against any foe who would dare threaten the peace my Highlord has strove to help uphold.” His fists balled again as he stood rigid and firm glaring upwards now, “I am Itheros Blackheart… Dread Commander of the Ebon Blade and Knight in service to the Highlord… And have yet to complete my task…” His fangs grit hard in anger. Itheros awaited the final blow that was mash him from existence for his arrogance yet… It did not come…

With a violent clap of thunder the being flew upwards into the vortex and a terrible voice shattered the world around him like glass casting him down into a black pit far beneath the pillar upon which he stood, “Very well Itheros Blackheart of the Ebon Blade…. You are granted the chance to pass through the Gateway of Resurgence across the realm of the damned… This is no easy task but it is there that you will reclaim your body and once again be able to take up this fight that you believe in so dark heartedly… Though you are to be warned Death Knight, when next we meet your soul whatever remains shall belong to the Abyss for eternity… There is no salvation for you. Do you understand? Your blood debt must be paid.” Itheros let his jaw tighten as though he was preparing for the impending impact with the surface he could not yet see. Within his mind Itheros agreed to the terms given “I understand.” And the deal was struck… And his fall suddenly ended…

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#7
Chapter Nine: Revelations

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vWjbW-JD23k[/youtube]

Itheros slammed hard down upon black stone, his hands feverishly shot out trying to clamber their way up a nearby rock so they could better help him stand… The booming voice rang out once more, “The portal will not last forever!... Use your time wisely!” Itheros nodded to himself attempting to stand yet his feet felt constricted, his eyes shot back only to see clawing nails biting into his flesh that were attached to hands that leeched up from beneath him as if they’d grown through the dark rocks which broke his fall, “Staaaaaaay….” A voice whispered to his subconscious, “NO!” Itheros shouted jerking both legs free; in the distance he could see the gateway’s dying light… He was running out of time…

Itheros surged forward, “Raaagh! Be gone pests!” He shouted kicking at new hands that began to sprout along his path as he ran at a darting pace. Legs pulsing with fury carrying him ever onward towards the light… That’s when he heard the flapping of wings… The sky itself seemed to breathe as several large black winged hellish creatures burst forth from the clouds high above with the faces of dogs and the legs of squids they dove… Itheros reached for his blades only to find his empty waist line, “Dammit…” He cursed himself. Yet this was no time for nonsense he balled his fists and picked his target carefully with a trained eye…

With bare beating feet Itheros dashed for one of the nearby side ledges. A winged creature dove low attempting to come up beneath the other side of the stone path. Without hesitation Itheros leaped off the ledge in a free fall crashing down onto the creatures back, he snarled and clutched the fiends wing tendons hard in a vice grip. It pitched hard to the left nearly throwing him free! Itheros loosed several head-butts into the hell creature’s spine before he bared his fangs and sank them deep near the base of its neck… Snapping, biting, ripping, tearing… Itheros chewed at the creature’s throat until it fell lifeless in a free fall high above the path he once strode upon…

The Dread Commander landed hard but came out in a forward roll only to continue onwards running for the light. Green blood caked his lower jaw line and clotted in the ridges of his mouth. His face wore a hateful scowl as he watched the others creatures line up in attack formation far ahead. He knew his time was running out as the light continued to fade… He crouched low in his run picking up a fist sized stone, “I’ll bash your fucking skulls in you devilish birds!” Itheros shouted as they approached… The first was sent face first into the ground as Itheros caved its skull in with a single glancing shot as it passed by his right side; the second speared him flush sending him to his back skittering across the stone path. With a defiant hate filled roar the creature mounted Itheros’s torso and began snapping down at him through a salivated canine maw…

There was only one course of action for Itheros and he knew it well… Violence… Pure violence… There was no graceful dance to be had here only death. His hands shot up to catch the fiend’s maw mid snap! Itheros screamed with all the might he could muster as he tore in both directions snapping and cracking the jaw bone as it popped out of socket… now the easy part… With one last heave Itheros tore the creature’s head nearly clean in half. Flesh tore like thick wool hide. Green ichor bathed his face and chest before he had time to push the corpse aside and sit up… though his victory was to be short lived as the third dove… This time he was prepared with a kip up only it was intended to steer the diving enemy over Itheros as his feet found purchase in the chest cavity.

It wasn’t hard to send the thing up and over with its forward momentum and Itheros was well versed in the art of close quarters combat. He followed the movement letting his body roll backwards over his shoulders after kicking the creature. Itheros quickly came to a crouched stance and lunged forward grabbing at the things collar bone. Not giving the monster a chance to steady itself let alone get to a knee Itheros violently hurled seven, eight, nine crushing elbows that decimated the orbital sockets before cracking its forehead in half exposing brain matter which Itheros then drove three hard chopping hands into killing the beast.



There was no time to celebrate the victory he had to make the portal or risk being trapped here forever! Itheros was up and too his feet running before he even had time to think about the action. In the distance the light grew smaller still time was almost up when a tiny figure caught his eyes up ahead… He stopped cold nearly falling forward… “No…” He said in a hushed tone, “No…” Again he said it yet the figure shambled towards him until it was in full view.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZYeYold6Uys[/youtube]

It was the body of a young woman… a familiar young woman that bore a scar… It was a scar Itheros knew well, “You… No…” He shook his head, “You’re not real…” Itheros attempted to go around her yet she found her way into his path a few feet ahead yet again…

Itheros shouted at the little woman, “Stop it!... Go away!” She did not answer her dark hair and piercing eyes sank deep into the Dread Commanders soul, “You… You’re not here… Not you…. Not this place…” This time she nodded once. Itheros swiped a hand at her then balled his left fist in a fit of rage, “NO! NO! NO!... NO!” He snarled pacing back and forth briefly before shooting his fist up at the sky, “Show yourself you wretched being! NOT HER! YOU CAN’T HAVE HER!...” A cold hand touched his newly alive flesh; he shrank away from it in horror, “No…. You’re not real… You can’t be here… I… I watched you die, you don’t deserve to be here…” She took a single step forward, then spoke “And how is it that I am different from any of –your- victims… my sweet Son?”

It was a crushing blow that came from no weapon… no foe… no magical power… but it was the truth that brought Itheros to shuddered halt. His body went limp and he fell to his knees, “Mother…” He whispered then came a sudden wind that whisked her essence from the path and before Itheros laid a large swirling portal of pure light… Then the voice thundered again… “Oh yes Itheros Blackheart of the Ebon Blade… It would seem like Father… Like Son…”

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The black winged being appeared once more behind the portal, “She belongs to us now… And soon so too shall you… Hurry Death Knight your destiny waits and so too does your betrayer.” Mocking laughter hammered through his ears as Itheros stood. His brow narrowed glaring at the being. Itheros pushed himself up, his upper lip quivered in anger “Betrayer?!..” The being slithered its ghastly body around the portals backside, “Come now Itheros… You possess a very great mind… I know you’ve already thought of it yet you push it aside because like your Mother’s death you refuse to face it… You know of whom I speak.” Itheros narrowed his brow, “He wouldn’t. You twist reality fiend…” Laughter loosed itself again from the beings throat, “Very well Itheros Blackheart of the Ebon Blade… Continue to avoid… My caskets are vast and await your hesitant mistakes…” The image of his Mother’s death flashed in his mind’s eye, “Because you just watched…” With the last words echoing in his mind the portal swallowed his body ripping him from the Abyss… The last thought that lingered in the back of his mind… Betrayer… “Because you just watched…”…

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#8
Chapter Ten: Awakenings

Itheros exploded upwards into the realm of the living, his body arching from the shocking force of his essence pouring back into his lifeless body. He screamed aloud like that of a birthing child. Other Knights stood close by watching their Commander awaken among the fur bed in which they had placed his body. Revus stood nearby arms folded in somewhat of a mortified shock as he witnesses Itheros return to his un-life by what appeared to be his own will.

Itheros’s vision blurred frantically looking for anything familiar to let him know that he had left that hellish realm. Finally his hands felt flesh, they wrapped around it squeezing hard attempting to cling to the life that flowed through it. With his eyes clearing Itheros looked to where his hands were gripping. They had found purchase around a young man’s neck. Something… Several something’s tugged and jerked at his arms but his grip was true and full of hate. He bared his fangs in anger at what his eyes could not make out whole heartedly. There came a violent shock to his left temple region and a voice rang through, “ITHEROS! LET GO!”

The Dread Commander’s eyes focused from the sharp blow. At the end of his clutching hands was the young lad Lance. A look of horror strained across his oxygen choked face which looked more like a map than anything else due to the pulsing spider webbed veins bulging outwards from having been choked for nearly a minute. Itheros shoved Lance backwards away from himself, “Wha-… Where… Revus?! REVUS?!” He called out looking around. Revus placed a hand on his friends shoulder, “I’m here Itheros… Glad to have you back with us.” Itheros turned in the bed to face him, he had been the striking force that rang through his daze pulling him back to reality, “Revus… My old friend…” He reached out patting the hand with reassurance, “I am here.” An icy breath rolled free from his black lips, “But barely…”

Revus motioned for one of the nearby Knights to assist Lance to his feet. Too which the boy replied by hurrying himself up in an attempt to maintain a tad bit of decency, “I’m okay thank you… Commander Blackheart forgive me… I merely wanted to ensure you were still with us…” Itheros turned back to Lance shaking his head, “It is I who should apologize… I knew not where I was.”

Lance nodded in return before stepping back, “I will leave you both to your duties then…” The young man bowed taking his leave from the Ebon Blade tent. Revus watched him go before bending low to meet Itheros in a gaze, “What happened out there?...” Itheros turned slowly back to face Rrevus’s gaze, “We… were ambushed by Commander Borg…” Runic power began pooling in his eyes, it seethed with anger as he glared at his friend, “It is strange…” Revus perked a brow, “What’s strange brother?... We knew he did not fall with the Lich King.” Itheros shook his head, “No… That’s not what is strange…”

Itheros pushed himself up and moved beyond Revus out into the room of encircled Knights, “Where is Commander Brant?... I wish to apologize to him for our failed convoy to ensure our supplies safe return along with the safety of his son… Who could have lost his life because of this folly...” Revus nodded once hesitantly, “He’s… In his Command tent with his advisors…” Itheros wasted no time it gathering up his basic studded leather garb and furs before striding out into the howling winter beyond the tent fold.


[youtube] http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KIbIIfQAd...79DEF14A43 [/youtube]


His mind raced going over every detail of the previous events, the ambush, the dark realm, his Mother, his Father. A decision was to be made and his mind was struggling with it… for once the Dread Commander hesitated. Itheros moved like a ghost among the busy hurried bodies of the camp. The blacksmith needed supplies and was arguing with a Dwarven merchant over price, the cattle maid was struggling to carry her full buckets of milk to the cooking tent, an angry group of Alliance soldiers heckled a few Trolls over a game of dice they had used to pass the time but it was on the verge of getting violent and physical so a few more from each side had stepped in to break it up.

Itheros’s aqua hair fell freely about his dark features as the deep bite of the winter’s chill hammered against him with the wind. He cared not for his body did not know the cold anymore but others staggered about in his path as he pushed through and by most of them with purpose in his step. Finally he came to a halted stop outside the Alliance Command tent. Two guards raised their shields in both a defensive posture and a greeting, “Commander Blackheart, Lord Brant is not taking company curren-…” The soldier was cut off by Lance who spoke from nearby, “Commander, over here.” Itheros turned to view Lance who ushered him over with a waving hand. The Dread Commander wished to not waste time with the boy but he thought perhaps he at least owed him that for nearly choking him to death. Itheros inclined his head accepting the offer and headed over, “Yes?” He asked upon his approach. Lance pulled up his fur hood and began walking towards the outer wall of the Compound,“ Itheros sighed before following.

The outer wall was very large and draped with both Alliance and Horde guardians atop it. Itheros followed Lance up and up and up until they reached the highest portion of the wall. Lance strode over to the edge looking out into the vast white beyond finally resting his eyes on the distant mountain range. Itheros stood next to him arms folded inwards among his leathers and fur robes, “What can I do for you boy?...” The young Knight turned looking at the Dread Commander, “Well for starters I wanted to thank you for saving my life at the ambush.”

Itheros shook his head as the wind caught his hair again whipping it about his face, “No…” Lance blinked twice, “No?” The Dread Commander nodded, “No.” A look of bewildered puzzlement danced across Lance’s young face, “I’m confused…” Itheros sighed again, “You do not have to thank me for my duty… I serve and that is all. I am a soldier and a Commander of soldiers not some fable Hero. You do not thank me for my service, I require it not.” Lance shook his head, “But I-.” Itheros raised a halting hand, “Do not think us friend’s boy… I did not save your life so that we may bond over some discussion.” Lance smirked a bit at the harsh retort, “I was going to say… But I do not thank you for being a Hero… I thank you for giving your un-life for mine. It’s a noble deed one that few would offer up.” Itheros tilted his head pondering the young man’s words; he shrugged in silence saying nothing. The young Stormwind native smiled slightly looking back out over the horizon line, “I’ve never really been in a battle before… I won’t lie… I felt weak.” Itheros spoke through black lips, “Most do their first time… and when you shed real blood you will give away a piece of yourself that you will never get back… Know that not everyone you will fight in this realm will be a Monster… or Demon… or Undead Scourge.” His dead fingers drummed atop the wall in rhythm, “They will be men… women… and in some cases you may even have to kill a youngling… All are decisions that will weight on your soul. You say you felt weak in your previous battle?... I would say this… You have felt nothing yet.”

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Itheros turned heading back for the stairs, Lance spoke up after hanging his head for a moment in deep thought “Wait… Leaving so soon?” The Dread Commander ceased his stride, “There’s a storm coming.” Lance looked skyward at the rolling storm clouds in the distance, “I guess you’re right… Will you be addressing my Father then?” Itheros shook his head slowly… He had a hard decision to make…. And he had made it… “No…” Lance turned to fully face him and watch him begin his decent of the stone stairs, as Itheros neared the bottom he spoke up to the boy “I’m going to kill the best man I’ve ever known…” Lance watched as Itheros slowly pulled up his hood before walking off towards the Ebon Blade portion of the camp…
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#9
Chapter Eleven: Dark Confessions

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5mnX03n0mNw[/youtube]

A bitter wind howled through fort Gravesmen as the coming storm knocked upon the mountain peaks doorsteps. Revus sat alone in his command tent that was lit by a dim candle light. His eyes moved from the parchment upon which he wrote to the flickering flame that teased the shadows on the inner sanctum of the tent walls. With a sigh he folded the paper and slipped it into an envelope just as his wax seal pressed down onto the paper the opening sash to his tent was thrown back and a tall cloaked figure entered saying nothing. Revus pressed his palms onto the desktop as he rose slowly, “I knew you would figure it out sooner or later…” He said in a defeated tone. A voice came from the figure as it stepped into the candle light revealing Itheros to be the man, “I knew it was someone within the camp Revus… But… I never figured you to be the one.” Revus glanced back slightly his pale runic eyes flaring though they wore a look of sorrow, “I had no choice Brother…” Itheros took a slight step forward baring his fangs, “We always have a choice!” He shouted in a rage, “You betrayed the Blade… our oath… and me…” His fists balled in anger. There came a harsh whipping howl against the outer layer of the command tent as the storm picked up pace nearing its peak. Snow melted freely over Itheros’s armor where there was no fur cloak to cover it, “I trusted you Revus… You and Jidaeo are my oldest comrades. I demand to know what Borg offered you!” Revus threw the chair aside in which he had previously sat revealing his own frustrations, “I didn’t have a choice Itheros!... Borg would have slaughtered the rest of my family, my –living- family… I had daughters and a Wife before I tasted death my friend… I had them to think about.”

Itheros stood for a moment rage filled eyes locked on Revus, “You should have told me… I could have helped.” Revus shook his head, “No… You couldn’t. You’re not the reason he’s here… He wants the code. I had to give him you. If he would have figured out that it was I alone who possessed the final piece of the puzzle then our fears would be realized.” Itheros paused for a moment, he nodded his head understanding “But if he was distracted with killing me then he would only have my piece and he would never know it was you who had the key… I see. You played that a bit close to the chest Revus… We stood a better chance together instead you acted alone. I still cannot let this pass.” Revus inclined his head, “I know… I.. I only ask that you give this letter to my former Wife. You will find her in Stormwind Brother.” The two exchanged a painful look, “I’m sorry I let you down Itheros.” Revus extended a hand, “It’s been an honor.” Itheros stepped forward, “There will be a trial Revus… If you make it out then together we can bring him down.” He took Revus’s hand in a firm shake, “Take the trial… Be held accountable for this traitorous act and atone for it by killing Borg with me.”

Revus smiled to his old friend, “We both know that won’t happen. It is too late…” Itheros perked a brow, “Too late?... What… What’ve you done Revus?” He no sooner finished his statement as loud footsteps gathered outside, “Commander Revus, we have come.” A blank look fell over Itheros’s face, “Why Revus?... We could have handled this among our people…” Revus placed a hand on the shoulder of Itheros, “No Ith I cannot in good conscious sweep this under the rug… Alliance lives were lost and it is too them that I must tally my debts.” A hand pulled back the outer door flap, “Commander?” A questionable tone came from the Alliance Captain, “Your confession was received, and we are here to escort you to holding.” Itheros cast a venomous look at the Captain, “Hold your tongue breather… This is an Ebon Blade matter. I am in charge here.” His hand moved towards a hilt on his hip but Revus grabbed it firm, “No!...” He said in a hushed tone “If you break this oath now then there’s no going back… For you or the Blade… You are a Dread Commander, I would expect you to act like it… Consider it a last request.” Itheros shook his head looking Revus in the eyes, “They will kill you. There is no trial in their eyes. The reasons matter not.” Again the wind howled against the outer tent frame, it swept in through the open flap whisking out the dancing candles. Revus released his grasp on Itheros, “I know.” The Captain cleared his throat to announce his presence still remained, “I’m coming.” Revus said stepping around Itheros. Two heavily clad armored guards moved in to shackle Revus at the wrist. After a moment the Alliance envoy left with Revus in tow within seconds they disappeared out into the white blizzard as they headed for the Alliance Command tent. Itheros stood alone… He knew they wouldn’t kill Revus until the storm had passed which afforded him time to prepare….

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#10
Chapter Twelve: The Mistress Cometh


[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bbS-Zhz31CA[/youtube]

From the Deep South two riders approached Fort Gravesmen in the howling storm that hammered through the mountain peaks. One of a slender build though clad in dark armor adorned with thick furs of white wolves and the second a mammoth Tauren wearing Saronite Plate Mail runic armor. They approached on foot through the thick white…

As they neared the main gate the smaller slender one motioned for them to stop, the large Tauren bent low as the tiny figure whispered to it. A firm nod and a grunt came from the Tauren as it alone neared the heavily barred gate slamming a stiff fist against it twice. There came a voice over the wall, “Hail, state your business!” The Tauren did not answer though the smaller figure removed its hood revealing an Elven lady with white hair, “We are here on Ebon Blade business open the gates!” Her tone was harsh. A wicked grin passed between both her and the Tauren as the gates thundered open and a slim man wearing chain-mail jogged forward, “Sorry! Can’t be too careful these days… Continue on up the path the Fort is just half a mile up the mountain.”….

With a clenched fist the Tauren took two steps towards the man before hurling an overhead hammer fist that literally shattered his skull and clavicle bones in one shot leaving his head a sopping wet heap of brain and flesh that oozed freely over his Alliance tabard. Six shots rang out from sharpshooters high on the mountain pass wall; they found purchase in the Tauren’s chest though it bothered him little as he strode forward through the gates grabbing the first Elf he saw that was wearing a Horde tabard. With a snatching hand he lifted the Elf high snapping his neck and pitching his body aside. Several Guardsmen rushed forward all wearing both Alliance and Horde tabards. A deafening roar left the Tauren’s throat as it reached back loosing it’s Rune Weapon from its back. The Blade vibrated to life with rune power as the massive creature began wading into the Guards with ease severing heads and cleaving torsos in two. There came a shout from the female Elf in armor, “Leave some whole my pet!” A simple, “Yes Mistress.” Came from the Tauren as it continued the slaughter. Laughter rose from the armor clad woman at the sight of the Tauren hurling a Dwarf into a nearby powder keg which caused it to explode.

[Image: reuf04iy9_zpsfad6eaa5.jpg]


It took only moments for the two to take the main gate down slaughtering the Guards… The Tauren stepped aside allowing the female Elf to pass among the bodies and as she did… Ghastly rune energy passed from her fingertips to the dead corpses of the fallen Guardsmen and they began to rise….

[Image: blood-elf-death-knight-art-d-321684_zps53f646cf.jpg]


A voice echoed in the female Elf’s mind, “Remember my dear… You must seek out Blackheart. It is he who will lead us to the Blade’s location. Remember what we discussed.” There came a single nod from the armor wearing Elf, “Yes Lady.” She said into the air. The Tauren looked at the tiny Elf, “I will retrieve Revus.” With the shambling corpses of the dead Guardsmen at her command the tiny Elf motioned up towards the camp, “Go… Feast!” Her arms opened wide as if releasing children to play…

The storm raged on as the Ghouls charged up the mountain pass entering Fort Gravesmen, they began bursting into tents and shacks alike falling on sleeping victims tearing them open and ripping insides out to feed on. Chaos quickly claimed the camp as the people began running for their lives and those who were able started to muster and pick up arms. Guards from both the Horde and Alliance camps rushed to aid the dying but they too were met with an opposing force of undead as those who were bitten quickly rose from the dead to fight the living… Within minutes the number of undead has risen twice what had first lay waste to those unsuspecting sleepers.

Laughter continued to leave the tiny Elf as she passed freely among the chaos of battle; her small hands slipped an Ebon Blade tabard over her armor allowing her camouflage from the warring eyes of the Alliance and Horde members. She occasionally killed a Ghoul or two so as not to draw attention to herself. It wasn’t long before she reached the Ebon Blade portion of the camp where the Knights were mustering to help finish off the undead in the main hub of the camp. She took to the shadows of a nearby forge allowing them to rush passed… Itheros was not among them she noted before proceeding.

Her stride was halted as she spotted the Ebon Command tent where Itheros would likely be. She knew of his reputation as a devastating combatant and knew that she stood very little chance in a show of physical combat. Summoning a Ghoul she motioned for it to charge to the tent… Which it did with an eager pace. Upon the corpse entering she dashed around the back of the tent where she slipped beneath the outer frame, as she entered into the shadows within the massive tent she saw Itheros cut the Ghoul down with ease. A smirk rose on her face but she knew there was only one chance for it… With an explosion of force she charged from the shadows with an outstretched hand. Itheros whirled at the sound quickly spotting the Elf just as her palm pressed against his forehead… A black rune passed from her palm to his flesh and suddenly his vision went black…he felt his body collapse just as the alien presence entered his mind…. “Well done my dear… Now allow your Mistress to work in peace… Stand back.” Came the voice again, “Yes Lady, I await your summons.” She said before disappearing in a plume of violet smoke.

Outside the battle raged through the storm that continued to batter against the Fort. The Undead were quickly outnumbered and falling easily once the Paladins got involved. In a distant part of the camp near the Alliance holding structure there lay the corpses of fallen Stormwind Knights… Next to their bodies… Lay the hoof prints of a Tauren…

Revus say alone with his hands bound behind his back. His cell was not very impressive… It was simple iron bars that had been bolted to the make shift wooden structure of the “Jailhouse” as some came to call it. This had been constructed before the Dwarves arrived and the manmade craftsmanship showed in the form of rotting wood and holes in the ceiling. One could easily escape… But Revus did not seek freedom for his crimes…. He could hear the combat outside and wondered what it could be… He soon received an answer as the Tauren exploded through the entrance way to the shack, “Revus…” It said once in a growling tone, “Juggernaut…” The Commander replied, “Come to finish me off?... Borg can’t have any loose ends I wager…” A nod came from the Tauren, “He knows you have a piece of the map… Tell me where it is and your death will come swiftly.” Revus laughed, “Go to hell!” He frosted his shackles shattering them with ease before hurling a Howling Blast at the Tauren!... It met with force that staggered the massive creature though much to Revus’s surprise it seemed to only irritate it further. With a growling grunt the Tauren charged through the bars snapping the iron and smashing aside the wooden pillar that held up the center roof of the building. It’s hands wrapped around Revus’s throat, “Tell me… Now.” Revus squirmed, “NO!” The Tauren roared as it tore Revus’s head from his body tossing it aside… It spoke, “Mistress… He would not divulge the maps location…” A voice entered the Tauren’s mind, “As I assumed he wouldn’t… No matter precious. Blackheart’s mind will soon be my own and he will lead us to the Blade’s resting place.” A grunt left the Tauren’s throat, “What if he does not know where the Blade was laid to rest?” Chuckling laughter rose surrounding the creature, “He at least knows a piece of the puzzle… We will follow him as long as we have too.” There came a second grunt from the Tauren, “Very well Mistress.” The voice snapped back, “Now… hold still… Borg would have you home; we are to be expecting guests soon. The Twilights have answered his summons.” Suddenly blue flames surrounded the Tauren and it vanished in a plume of violet smoke…

As Itheros awoke he could feel a presence not his own… And somewhere deep in the heart of Ice Crown someone riffled through his mind’s eye seeking answers….

[Image: pray_for_mercy_by_icecrown88-d2z4sjo_zps01e2a1c0.jpg]


Where was the last piece to the Blades puzzle….

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#11
Chapter Thirteen: Heavy Weight

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U62YkXZNs8M[/youtube]

The storm had passed… Leaving in its wake devastation… Fort Gravesmen had been attacked in a most vicious manner, its own defenses turned against it. But it was not conquest that was being sought by the enemy on that day… No… There was a much darker plot unfolding behind the scenes in the North. The enemy had revealed that it is seeking a Blade too which Itheros Blackheart has some insight… Freshly powdered snow coated the Fort in a white that would have seemed almost dreamlike had it not been for the corpses of those fallen to the Undead… Blood painted the snow leaving behind a bright red that stained the day with defeat and anguish as family and friends mourned the dead, some roared with new hate while others simply cried or said nothing… Bodies lay not on some distant battlefield but here, among the people. Mother, Father, and Child alike had fallen to the enemy and now their bodies would be burned so that they did not rise again. This was a charge that the Paladins would see too for both Factions. Itheros had just gathered himself from waking in a strange manner… He knew there was something not right, an entity had entered his mind briefly searching for answers. Though it had disappeared as quickly as it came… But what was it seeking… Only time would tell…

Lance passed among the bodies of the dead with his Father Commander Brant, his Father’s hand rested on Lance’s shoulder “They rest in a far better place Son.” The young man’s face bore sadness and confusion, “How did this happen Father?... How?!” He shouted as his eyes caught the sight of a small corpse that was likely that of a half-eaten Child. Brant tightened his grip turning his Son with force to meet his steely gaze, “Listen boy!... You had better get ahold of yourself… This is a tragedy that will never be forgotten or forgiven but we have a duty to maintain. We have to honor their memories and we must not lose ourselves in the face of our enemies… Lest we fail those who have fallen.” Lance nodded slowly wiping the tears away, “Yes Father…” He said gritting his teeth in anger. Brant patted his hand on his Son’s shoulder once before turning, his eyes catching sight of Commander Korg, “Commander Korg… Do you have your dead accounted for?” The large Orc snorted with a growl, “Of course… And what of yours Brant?” The two stared a moment before Brant answered, “Aye… Our dead are counted. We should speak with Blackheart about our options here. I believe we should press the enemy but without support the Alliance soldiers we possess are too few.” Another snort left the Orc’s throat, “We agree, I await to hear from the Warchief as too what his new orders are. Hellscream has taken command of the Horde and he could have new attack plans… Where is the Deader?” Lance turned leaving the two to discuss battle plans for retaliation.


Itheros stood in the wreckage of the “Jailhouse” where the corpse of Dread Commander Revus was found headless… He knelt low in the rubble, his frosty hands reached for something in the shattered wood. Lance approached attempting to be silent, “Your stealth skills need work Human…” Itheros said remained crouched in the debris. Lance cursed beneath his breath, “Forgive me Commander Blackheart, I did not mean to startle you.” Itheros shook his head, “You startled no one Lance… What is it?” The young man stepped over a few of the larger pieces of cracked wood as he got closer to Itheros, “My Father and Korg want to press the conflict in an attempt to end the fight. I came to see what you thought?” There came a sigh from the Death Knight, “I believe that is a bad idea… Though at this point I see no other option. Borg proved he could take this Fort at any time; he is seeking something else here… I don’t think he’s looking to –beat- the Alliance and Horde in the North.” Lance wore a puzzled look, “Then too what end does he fight with us?... This new Scourge force is being mustered for something surely.” Itheros rose clutching something in his grasp “Yes I believe they are here for a specific reason no doubt.” Lance leaned over trying to see what was in Itheros’s hands but to no avail. He slammed a fist into an open palm, “Damn him… I would have his head on a pike pole for all he has done!” Lance cursed again. Without warning Itheros tossed what was in his hands at Lance who’s instincts told him to catch it, he gasped for a moment as he quickly realized he had caught Revus’s severed head. The dead face looked up at him with twisted horror upon its brow, “Aagh!” Lance said dropping it, “Hey!” Itheros whirled on the boy “Heavier than they appear no?...” Lance’s look of anger left his face replaced by one of realization, “Do not be so hasty to seek out killing… For like a drunk to the bottle you may find yourself drawn Son of the Alliance…” Itheros shoved Lance to the ground in passing, he stopped briefly looking down at the Boy, “You think yourself ready for war… Yet you have not wetted your blade. My advice to you young Lance… is to return home.” The Knight passed moving down towards the heart of the camp where Brant and Korg were speaking. Lance sat among the rubble for a moment before his eyes fell upon Revus’s head once again… He shuddered at the thought of it being his own. Soon after he rose and made his way back to the Paladins tent in the Alliance portion of the camp.

Brant and Korg had been speaking alone for a long while; there were no guards or lavish envoys for either men. Only corpses surrounded them and those of the living who sought to wrap up the dead and tend to their final rites. Itheros approached the two speaking in a low tone, “I hear you wish to press the conflict. Is this true?” Brant was the first to answer, “Yes… We cannot keep taking shots on the chin. We won’t last.” Korg growled low, “The Human’s right… We need to exterminate the Scourge force before we lose more numbers.” The three stood looking among one another for a great long moment of silence, “If we press Borg we will surely lose more men… And if we do you should consider it a suicide run. I have warred with Borg before and I know he will have a plan if we were to take the fight to him. Plus… I do not know where he is...” Korg slammed a firm fist against his chest, “My scouts have found a frozen Keep in the mountainside near the Northern Bay in Ice Crown. They noted much Scourge activity plus they have seen a large Orcish Death Knight among them… Sound like your Borg?” Itheros sighed, “If it is him then your scouts are likely what brought this attack on you fool… You should have informed the Ebon Blade of your findings as soon as you received word.” Korg roared with rage, “You dare put this on me?!” Brant held up a warning hand to both men, “This is not helping… Stop it…”

Korg growled balling his fists, “I am sending for more Horde foot troops… I suggest you do the same Alliance dog.” With that he turned storming off towards the Horde encampment. Brant sighed looking at Itheros, “That did nothing to help us… I need you focused Blackheart. Your Ebon Knights will be key in taking the victory if we are to face this foe in their own lands.” Itheros nodded, “My Knights and I will aid you and the Horde anyway we can… I suggest sending for more troops as Korg said. I will prepare my Knights, if we are to move we should do it within the week Brant.” The old man nodded, “Aye I agree… I don’t want to give this Borg time to rally. I will send for more men at once… In the mean time I ask this of you, when the final battle comes I wish the Paladins to accompany the Ebon Knights into the forefront of the battle their power of the Light will prove our greatest weapon.” Itheros inclined his head, “I will make ready with the Paladin Captains then.” Both men exchanged a firm handshake before turning towards their separate portions of the camp. As they strode off Brant stopped, “Itheros.” He called back, the Knight turned to glance at the Human “I am sorry about your friend… Revus explained in his confession.” Itheros inclined his head to the old man giving what thanks the Death Knights could manage…. As the winters chill set in among the silent camp a howling wind took hold…


[Image: 18636-warcraft-blood-elf-death-knightcc9...fb9cd3.jpg]


War was coming…
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