As an agent of the Death Knight Operations Group, Jill Valdaar had grown used to unusual situations and circumstances. Being a part of a covert organisation meant that most meetings and briefings were held in either out of the way locations or ones that nobody would expect to be used for such. So, as a result, her and Sellek Lerenze meeting their commander in a cabin onboard a flying ship seemed relatively normal and sensible.
"I will be succinct and to the point." Hans Stroermer, the leader of the DKOG, began as he unfurled a map of Icecrown. "The Scourge and the Horde are not the only threats to our progress towards Icecrown citadel. As you are probably aware, the Scarlet Onslaught have a base of operations off the coast here." He indicated to a pair of small islands. "While their forces are minor compared to ours, they are still a threat. Any sudden or unexpected moves by them could throw off our entire operation."
"Furthermore, we have heard a number of... disturbing reports about the Onslaught, both from you and others." He glanced over at the pair of them. "Reports of Shadow priests amongst their ranks, something that would be unthinkable for the Crusade. Likewise, they have been taking prisoners specifically from the Ebon Blade, instead of simply destroying them on sight as they normally would."
"We know that Mograine's Ebon Blade have set up a base of operations near the Onslaught to deal with them. However, the Alliance's leadership and I have some concerns about their handling of matters."
"Because they are not a part of the Alliance, correct?" Sellek spoke up.
"Very true." He finished. "I want the pair of you to investigate the island and their forces there, and report what you find. Especially look for any other... unusual soldiers they may employ, or possibly the source of these changes to their methods. Do not report your findings to anyone other then myself, understand."
"Yes sir" They both replied in unison.
"I chose you two because of your past experiences with the Onsalught; specially Valdaar, who was once a part of the Crusade. As such, I expect you to be very concise in your details of what you find. Anything, regardless of how irrelevant it may seem, is important. Are there any questions?"
"What do we do if we are discovered?" Jill finally spoke up.
"Retreat. Hopefully, the Onslaught will more likely think you Ebon Blade or Scourge, which should throw them off." he glanced at the pair of them. "Very well. Dismissed."
The pair of them came in low over the water on their skeletal griffons, avoiding the Scarlet patrols that flew around the islands. Puting down on a remote corner of the largest island, they cautiously advanced towards the center, keeping an eye open to their surroundings.
"Again, they've been busy." Jill observed, looking over the island. "A harbor, extensive fortifications... and another Cathedral." She smirked to herself. "Maybe that's their new plan; they put one up wherever they go. Seems to be all the fashion for them."
"There's more." Sellek added. "Look up."
Jill did, glancing at the sky. The air was filled with ominous, blood red clouds, punctuated by the distant rumble of thunder. "Freaky."
"And the same as we saw over New Hearthglen." Sellek added. "Although it seems even darker and more intense then before."
"What do you think?" Jill asked. "You used to be a mage..."
"Hm. There's a definite feel here, something unusual. It reminds me of..." He trailed off for a moment.
"Sorry." He shook his head. "Miles away for a moment. But no, this reminds me of the Altar of Storms in the Burning Steppes." He glanced around. "While that Altar hadn't been used for years, it still had a strong taint, simply because of how much had been done there."
"Could it be the same?"
"I doubt it, after all, I was looking at Gul'dan's work." He shook his head, looking around. "But there's definitely something here, a powerful demonic taint. If I were still a mage, I could tell you more but..."
"Huh." Jill commented. "Demonic? I mean, well, that makes no sense at all for the Crusade. Any sort of alliance with demons would be going against everything they stand for."
Sellek rubbed his chin. "I know. That's what bothers me. I'd like to get closer to the cathedral proper. As strange as it sounds, it seems like that's the source of what's going on here."
"Sure." Jill nodded. "Trust me, as a former member of the Crusade, I want to know whats going on just as much as you do."
They cautiously advanced along the coast, moving slowly and keeping low as to avoid detection while skirting around the fortifications. Keeping quiet, they managed to slip past a Scarlet patrol, despite Jill's quiet insistence on taking them out "just to be sure". Instead, the pair of them managed to steal into one of the outer courts of the fortified harbor after what seemed like only a short eternity of crawling and shuffling over rocks while having a very quiet, yet very harsh, argument.
Pressed against a wall, they considered their situation. "What we really need to to is find a way into the Cathedral proper." Sellek began. "Preferably a quiet one that does not involve killing everyone around."
"-how did you know what I was going to say?" Jill asked, looking noticeably surprised.
"I just did." He replied, shaking his head. "Anyway, I figure that-"
"Intruders!" A voice cried out.
"Oh never mind" Sellek sighed, noting that Jill was already unsheathing her sword. Looking over, he could see a pair of Onslaught guards, crossbows in hand, with a an armoured rider galloping to join them.
"Well, maybe we'll get to the cathedral after all." Jill replied, enthusiastically, unleashing a ball of necrotic energy at one of the guards. It struck him, slamming him back against a wall.
"They're Death Knights!" The other called out. "Try to take them alive!"
"Interesting." Sellek observed as he readied his own blade. "I have to wonder why they want us alive."
"I'll try to leave one alive so we can ask them." She replied with a degree of enthusiasm that suggested that such was not likely. "I've been waiting for -"
Something grabbed Jill, crushing her throat. She tried to cry out, but was barely able to breathe, let alone speak. She was pulled through the air, before being slammed roughly to the ground. Behind her, Sellek cried out, but had to return his attention to the Scarlet soldiers he now faced.
Gasping for breath, she looked up, trying to find the source of the attack, realising what had happened to her. She didn't have to look far. Standing over her was an armoured figure; their armour was similar in design to the suit she wore, but was the colour of dried blood. The paired swords they carried were decorated with runes that shone brilliant red. Their single eye had an unearthly blue glow to it, the other being covered with a patch, while a scar twisted the right side of their face. Most disturbing was the Scarlet Tabard that adorned their chest, its presence was unerringly incongruous with everything else.
It was a Scarlet Death Knight. There was no other explanation; it made no sense, but she couldn't think of anything else it could be.
And what was worse, she knew who this particular Death Knight was, and what it meant. "Jordie!" She called out as she rolled back, managing to barely avoid a pair of blows from her blades. "What in the twisting nether have you done?" She added, coming to a crouch.
"Done?" Jordie replied, an excited tone in her voice. "I have done nothing! What I will do, however, is destroy you, Scourge filth!" She swung again, Jill only barely managing to get to her feet and avoid the attacks. Even then, one of the blades cut into her armour, nicking the skin underneath. Even though it was but the lightest of hits, Jill felt not only the pain, but a growing chill from the wound - the icy touch that she had known from the Scourge.
"Destroy the Scourge?" Jill yelled, trying to avoid the pain and instead going on the offensive. She swung forwards, her blade lashing out at the smaller woman. In reply, Jordie bought up her two swords, deflecting her blow. "Jordie, you've become one of them. I know what you are, Death Knight!"
Jordie's reply was a loud laugh, one fileld with derision. "Don't you see?" She added. "This is not the power of the Scourge. No, this power is a blessing from the Light!" She again lashed out, driving Jill back with her blows. "This power that I command is a gift, a reward for my dedication and unwavering loyalty to the Light and the Crusade!"
"You're insane!" Jill replied, ducking and weaving through her opponent's blows. "This power doesn't come from the light; it is the enemy of everything you stand for! You're using the very power you fought to destroy, Jordie! Can't you see that?"
"I was blessed by Admiral Westwind himself!" She countered with a triumphant yell, thrusting at Jill with both blades. "I am one of his chosen, those that will destroy the Lich King!"
Jill batted aside her blades, stabbing at the smaller woman. "That's impossible!" She called out as she drove at Jordie's heart with her massive blade. "Admiral Westwind is dead. I was a part of his fleet, Jordie. I was there when they were destroyed. I saw him die!"
She managed to just avoid the hit, Jill's blade instead crushing one of her shoulder plates. "You lie!" She screamed, lashing out, her blades passing perilously close to Jill's face. "He is our savior, the one who has granted us these divine gifts! He is the one who will lead us to victory!"
"He's just a mortal man, he can't have done... this to you!"
"He is our savior! He is beyond life or death! He is the one who will cleanse Azeroth of the Scourge's taint forever!"
She's completely insane! Jill thought to herself as she ducked, sweeping low with her runeblade. Admiral Westwind was killed... so who is leading the Onslaught? And how did she become a Death Knight? Jodie again blocked her, lashing out with her other blade. Something is going on here, something very, very wrong.
Jordie struck out again, her blades sweeping close to Jill as she desperately tried to avoid the attack. One narrowly missed her throat, but the other bit into her arm, slicing into the same wound that she had made before. Jill tried not to cry out as Jordie pulled her blade free, instead watching in horror as the blood on the blade soaked into it, the runes on its body glowing an angry red.
"You see, Jill?" Jordie grinned, her features twisting around her scar. "These are the powers I possess; all that you tried to do to me, I will repay thousand fold. For what you have done, you will die." She lashed out, her strength renewed by her enemy's blood.
Grunting in pain, Jill managed to stand her ground, parrying Jordie's blade, and then lashing out with her own. This time, she struck home, tearing a chink out of Jordie's shoulder. Her enemy cried out, but still stood their ground, instead advancing.
Jordie lashed out, her blades a blur of steel as she drove at her opponent. A blow struck Jill's arm, further digging into the wound that she had started, drawing more blood. Snarling in spite of the pain, she bought her blade up, blocking a second blow, the smaller sword skipping off her larger one. This only seemed to drive Jordie forward, making her more and more determined. A blow from her dug into Jill's thigh, causing her to stumble while Jordie seemed only further invigorated.
"This power..." She began as she pressed forward. "This is greater then I could have imagined."
"Is that what it was, Jordie?" Jill replied as she tried to ward off her attacks. "The promise of power? Is that what you sold your soul for?" She grunted as she managed to barely deflect a blow away from her face. "That was what turned me; the Lich King offered me the power to enact my revenge, and I gladly accepted."
"Blasphemer!" Jordie shouted as she pressed on. "I have not sold my soul, I have saved it! By accepting the admirals blessing, I have become far more then I ever was before. Do not compare his gifts to the darkness that you have so gladly embraced, filth!"
"There is no difference between us!" Jill yelled back as she pushed the smaller warrior away. "Save for the fact that I realised that what I was doing is wrong. I chose to become a Death Knight, but I know now that I made the wrong decision. Do not let it control you, Jordie."
"Wrong? There is nothing wrong about this." She continued her attack, her grin twisting with malicious joy, the excitement of fighting and killing. "I am doing the Light's work, using the powers the Light has given me!"
She drove home, bringing down both of her blades. Jill managed to reach up, batting one aside, however, the other dug into her shoulder. There was a sharp sting of pain that started there, but spread out across her body. Struggling to stay om her feet, she knew what she was feeling; she has used similar unholy powers against her foes in past.
"There!" Jordie called out in triumph. "Taste the power of the Onslaught, the power of the light!"
Jill screamed out, then pushed forwards, desperate to regain momentum. A blow struck into Jordie's shoulder, slicing through armour and skin. In its wake, it left a dark trail of festering corruption. The Scarlet warrior grunted, but seemed not to notice, instead pushing on, intent on bringing down her foe.
She swung out, again striking at Jill with both blades. Parrying her blow, Jill was none the less forced back, keeping her guard up as Jordie continued to hammer her with blows. Jordie seemed ready for this. Rearing back, instead of striking again, she instead unleashed a ball of dark energy that short towards Jill, trailing green clouds behind it. Before she could react, it struck her dead center, doubling her over in agony.
"Die, damn you, die!" Jordie shouted as she rushed forwards, slamming into Jill, driving her blade into the taller woman's gut. There was a sickening sound as Jill let out a sudden gasp, coughing up blood before staggering back and collapsing.
"Well, Jill?" Jordie grinned in triumph as she loomed over her wounded foe. "Anything to say, traitor?"
Jill looked up at her opponent, glancing at her infected shoulder wound, then grinned broadly. "Splode"
"Wha- aaah!" Jordie was cut off as her body seemed to erupt into pain. She doubled back, blood streaming form her nose, mouth, ears and her empty eyesocket, as well as the wound on her shoulder. She staggered back, barely able to keep her footing. "Wha... what do you do to me?"
Digging her runeblade int the ground, Jill stood up, grinning in spite of the pain. "What did I do?" She replied. "This. Splode!"
Again Jordie staggered back, gasping in pain as her blood seemed to erupt and boil. "What... How..." She wiped her face on the back of her gauntlet, leaving a bloody trail behind. "What-"
"If you were really a Death Knight, you would know what I did." Jill stated. "You claim to command these powers, but what you are is little more then a weak impersonation. I've killed Death Knights who were far more dangerous then you could ever hope to be." It was a lie, but it was enough to throw her.
"N-no..." She shook her head. "I have Westwind's blessing... I... I'm one of his chosen"
"Westwind didn't bless you, he cursed you. You can never go back, Jordie." She shook her head. "You gave away your life when you took up those blades, jsut as I did. You and I are the same, now."
"Never!" Jordie screamed. "I am nothing like you, Scourge filth!" She lunged forwards, lashing out in spite of her weakened state. "I am a follower of the Light! I will exterminate your kind from this world!"
Jill blocked her blows, striking back. Her blade battered Jordie's aside, cutting into her flank. Her opponents blood flowed across its surface, the runes burning brilliant red as they soaked it up. Jill's grin broadened as she drank in the energy flowing from the blade, reinvigorating her. "Accept it, Jordie. You are just as damned as I am!" She thrust forward again, tearing into Jordie's shoulder, again drinking form her opponent's blood.
Jordie staggered, trying to keep her feet. It was clear that she was weakening, and couldn't last long. However, she remained determined to fight. Fanaticism or just refusal to accept the obvious, Jill considered as Jordie lashed out again, trying to bring her opponent down. However, she was slowing, her attacks weak and sloppy.
On the other hand, Jill was invigorated, fuled by her opponent's blood. She struck out, throwing caution to the wind, knowing full well that Jordie could do little to stop her. One blow tore across her chest, tearing through both armour and skin. As Jordie screamed out, recoiling back, Jill landed a second, slamming into her right arm, crushing the bones with a sickening snap.
Jordie staggered, dropping her blades, then collapsing to her knees. Gapsing, she looked up at her former friend, standing over her. "I will never yield to you, Scourge filth."
Jill sneered back. "I spared you twice; the first time was because I did not know who you were, the second was because I did not want to become like you." She raised her blade. "However, you chose the path you took; you damned yourself. And, for that, there can be no forgiveness."
She raised her blade, trying not to think about what she was doing. Instead, a flood of memories came back - training together in Tyr's hand, fighting together alongside the Scourge, celebrating a victory, jovial taunting on the eve of the fleet's departure. She shoved them to the back of her mind, closing her eyes as she swung her blade. There was a wet crunch, a clatter as Jordie's body collapsed, and then silence. Exhausted and wounded, she staggered back, collapsing against a wall, sighing deeply.
She opened her eyes, seeing Sellek next to her. His armour was bettered and he looked more then a little worse for wear himself, however, at the same time, he looked a lot better then she did. "Hey." She replied, weakly.
"What happened here?" He asked, looking past her.
She turned to look at him, making sure to keep the body behind her out of sight. "Scarlet Death Knight, if you can believe it." She began. "Not just a warrior with delusions, but the genuine thing. Spread plague, drank blood, hurt like hell too."
"You look it."
"Yeah." She muttered. "How'd you go?"
He glanced around. "There were a couple of soldiers and a Paladin. Took down the soldiers and wounded the Paladin. He limped of,f so I suspect there will be more coming soon."
"Let's go. I think we've found enough. I mean, you known if there's Scarlet Death Knights that's a major find." She sighed, then stood.
"Jill?" He asked, genuine concern in his voice. "Are you all right? I mean, beyond physically and-"
"I am." She cut him off. "Let's just get as far away from here as possible."