Death Comes. Again.
A lone figure walked along the trail that weaved its way through the dark and dismal forests of Tirisfal. All around was a haunting emptiness, a land of death and despair. Sickly, blighted trees reached up into the perpetual eerie green twilight of the skies, the only sighs that there was anything alive in the dank land. The night was silent, save for an occasional metallic whine from the decaying mills, carried on the wind. However, this was Tirisfal; while there was very little that lived, there was plenty that moved. Strange, twisted forms moved through the darkness, occasionally glancing around for any signs of prey.
Compared to the dismal world around her, however, the lone figure seemed to be positively radiant, almost a symbol of the perfect purity that could be found in death's cold embrace. Her pallid white skin and luminous yellow orbs clearly marked her as one of the Forsaken, those who had been cruelly slain by plague only to rise again as one of the armies of the eternally cursed, those living dead who would find no rest. Despite this, however, the figure was one who possessed a certain ephemeral beauty, one that went beyond life or death.
Unlike many of her kind, her skin was almost whole; it bore no sighs of decay or the ravages of death and unlife, instead being a near-flawless milky-white. Only a singe scar across her right eye was visible to betray her state, instead of the protruding bones and twisted features possessed by so many of her kind. Her features had maintained the beauty that they had possessed in life, but made all the more stark and wonderful by the death and decay around her. Her long, raven-black hair fell down to her waist, its perfect, silky smoothness serving to further accentuate her host-like form. If darkness was an art, then this being would be an exquisite masterpiece, one that would be sought after worldwide.
Her garments concealed her true nature further, covering her almost entirely from neck to toe; a simple black blouse and pants that seemed to be weaved from the stuff of darkness itself, only serving to further define her features. it fit her snugly, accentuating her slender yet full-bodied form, one that would have in life stirred feelings of desire and jealousy in those around her. A silver chain hung around her neck, decorated with a small silver charm, one of the few reminders of the life that was so cruelly taken from her.
She walked with a grace and poise that made her seem unearthly, as if she had no connection to the world around her. To the casual observer, she would have seemed to be some delicate flower, a harmless yet beautiful thing. However, her midnight black cloak concealed this flower's thorn, an exquisite katana, an artifact of her family’s that had survived war and plague and all that had come with it; the one that was her greatest weapon against the terrible darkness.
There was a sound in the woods, something moving in the darkness. Reaching for her blade, she glanced around, alert for any possible danger. Instead, there was silence. Despite that, she continued to watch the forest, knowing fill well that fel creatures dwelt within it. However, instead there was only the eerie, haunting silence so common to the Glades. Finally, confident that there was nothing awaiting her in the darkness, she sheathed her sword and moved on.
And then her attacker struck. Before she knew it, there was a blade protruding from her chest, covered in the sickly green ichor that was her life's blood. A moment later, it was joined by a second, running straight through her. Then, just as quickly, the two blades were withdrawn. She slumped forwards, then collapsed to the ground.
The rogue laughed as he sheathed his two swords. "Silly steenky Zombie!" He cackled. "You no mess with me!" Like his victim, he was also a Forsaken, albeit in far, far worse condition, with rotted skin, protruding bones and a mouth full of hideously misshapen teeth. His leather amour was ragged, and his two blades were rusted and pitted. His look was far more typical of the Forsaken then the waif-like thing that was now lying in a puddle of her own gore.
He pulled out a batted piece of parchment form a pouch on his hip and read over it. "Hmm... looks like her... moves like her... smells like her..." He cocked his head at the corpse of them well, corpse. "Yeah, dat's her all right!" he read over the orders he'd received again, just to verify his next step.
Terminate the target by whatever means necessary. Then dispose of any evidence and return to me in the Undercity.
"Well hokay den!" He grinned, baring his arry of wickedly malformed teeth. "Yummy!"
Some hours later, the rogue sauntered into the Deathstalker lair in the Rogues quarter of Undercity. Making sure that he had not been followed, he discretely approached his controller, the man who had sent him on his mission.
"Hola Senior Deathstalker Boss!" he called out.
Without flinching, his controller nodded. "And the target?"
"Hs lunch." He grinned a malformed grin.
"...excellent." The controller finished. "Once again, you have proven yourself to be a most... capable agent, one possessing many... unique talents."
"I found something between my toes." The rogue replied. "I have no idea what it is though."
"That's very interesting." He sighed, then shook his head. "Now, Deathstalker..."
"You have proven to be an agent with... Special Qualities." He continued, emphasising each word.
"I have Special Qualities?" The Rouge asked. "Well that rocks. Yeah!" He shouted out. "I have special qualities! Oh what a happy day this is!"
"Special Qualities!" He continued, breaking into a spasmodic dance. "Yeaaaah!"
They're so special!
So very special!
So incredibly special!
That make me special!
And I am so very spciaaaaaaaaaaaal!
"Yes, yes you are." His hander agreed as a second figure entered. A little taller and even more ragged then the rogue, he was clad in the tattered remnants of what had previously been a fine arcane robe. "In fact, its your Special Qualities that make you ideal for this next mission."
"Ohs?" he stopped dancing, turning to look at the Deathstalker and the freshly arrived mage.
"Do you know what this is?" The mage began, handing him a small, skull-shaped stone.
"Um..." The rogue replied. "Taco?"
"No, it's a-"
"No, don't tell me." The Rogue continued. "Its a new type of pumpkin!"
"No, it's a-"
"Plague ingredient?" He continued. "Mushroom? Fish head? Potato? Copper modulator? Roll-top desk?"
"No!" The mage snapped. "This is a Scourgestone. It is what the Scourge use to control their minions."
"Oh, I knew that." The rogue continued. "I was just testing you." He then bit it, just to be sure.
The mage continued, regardless. "This stone is no longer active, the Scourge it belonged to being long destroyed. However, I have cast an incantation upon this stone that will make it appear to be active. In effect, it will fool the Scourge's minions into believing that its bearer is one of them, rather then a free-willed Forsaken."
"Ooohs." The rogue continued. "So... where does I come in, eh?"
His controller shook his head. "We have been hearing disturbing reports of... unusual movements within the Scourge. We feel that there may be something afoot, some plan for a new invasion or a renewed offensive. Certainly it is something we need to know about."
"Afoot?" The rogue asked. "Yeah, I got two of them. One has something between the toes... and it smells."
"Your task." He loudly stated, as if to try to compete with the rogue, "will be to infiltrate their ranks and discover what it is that they have planned. Then, when you know what exactly it is, report back to us. This will not be an easy task; the eyes of the Scourge and its agents will be on you at all times."
"Hokay!" He excitedly replied. "I shall go and find the truth to the stinky Scourge and their stinky plans!"
"Of course you will." He finished. "Victory for Sylvanis."
"I like guns and cheese!" The Rogue replied, cheerfully.
"Go then, and do your duty." The controller nodded.
"Ya!" he finished, then dashed off, vanishing into the depths of the shadowy city.
It was a minute before either spoke, the mage waiting until he was confident that the rogue was gone. "Your man, to put it bluntly, appears to be a blithering idiot." He stated.
"I am aware of this." The Deathstalker replied. "However, he is a loyal and brave blithering idiot, one who has a reputation for unquestionably following orders, no matter what they may be. In past, he's been successful in removing some, shall we say, undesirable elements of our society."
"And if the enchantment on the Scourgestone fails, there won't me much in his mind for the Scourge to take." The mage finished. "Very well played."
They are full of plague!
Rotten horrible plague!
Deadly killing plague!
Which kills all the peoples!
And makes them into Scourge!
Horrible stinky Scourge!
Who rule the plaugelaaaaands!
The journey from Undercity had been a long one; as he was masquerading as a servant of the Scourge, the Rogue couldn't afford to travel by bat, in case he was seen at one of the handful of outposts that the Horde and Alliance forces maintained. Instead, he sauntered his way along the byways of the tortured, twisted landscapes that had once been the greatest nation of Azeroth.
His disguise seemed to have initially worked; the Scourge minions projecting the frontiers of their empire seemed to have ignored his presence. Certainly he'd remained unchallenged as he worked his way towards his final goal; the Scourge city of Stratholme. While the diseased forest that surrounded it with its twisted temples and massive mushroom-like growths gave him pause for thought, what really struck him was the sky above it.
The presence of the Necropolis of Narmaxis over the city was a known. What was less expected was the dozen or so smaller Necropolises hovering around it. "They're like a shcool of fish." He mused for a moment. "Well, if fish flew, were made out of stone and shaped like pyramids."
He considered this. “Someone in there has to be flyin’ that thing.” He rubbed his chin in contemplation. “Maybe a stone temple pilot…”
He was jolted forwards, stumbling as something repeatedly prodded him in the back. "Hey you!" A voice challenged. "Get your rotting carcass out of my way!"
He turned and snarled, his teeth barred. "Nobody makes the pokey of me!"
The figure stepped back for a moment, letting him actually see who he was addressing. To his surprise, it was a living human; bearded, pale skinned and dressed in sinister purple robes. He seemed to vaguely recall something about there being a cult that worked for the Scourge, silly stinky humans who tried to control Zombies or something silly like that. "What was that?" He asked, casting a critical eye over the rouge.
"Um..." He glanced around, realisng that he had said too much. "Er... RAR! I EAT TEH BRANE!"
"I thought so." The man replied, warily. "Right you, get on in there!"
"No, in!" He prodded the rogue again with his staff, steering him vaguely towards the entrance to Stratholme proper. "Go on, git! Now!" Several more proddings resulted.
"BRANE!" He snapped back, trying to stay 'in character'. "BRANE! BRANE!"
"Git in there!"
"Brains later! You go now!"
The process continued for a few minutes, the cultist steering him into the city with the occasional poke or whack across the knees to prod him in the right direction. As he shambled, the rogue noticed something odd going on; form what he had gathered, the Scourge routinely traveled the streets of the city in packs. Now they were being herded by other cultists, all towards one direction. He was lead into a square along with other Scourge, surrounded entirely by the ever-burning buildings of the city. In the center of it, however, was a large, black crystal that hovered over an arcane circle.
"What in the twisting nether is that, Bob?" One cultist asked, indicating to the rogue. "Looks like you got a real stinker there."
"Yeah, I found it wandering around outside." He commented. "Looks like its about to fall apart."
"At least it’s got both arms." The other guy added. "Most zombies seem to loose the left one pretty quick."
"Yeah, well..." The cultist shook his head. "The Master wants more bodies for his invasion. This fetid heap will make a great addition."
"Invasions? What invasions?" The rogue looked around. What is this? The steeenky Scourge are planning an invasion!
"What was that?" The two cultists turned to look at him.
"RAR! I EAT TEH BRANE!" he quickly replied, arms outstretched. "BRANE!"
"Whatever." Was the reply. "Just go" They shoved him forwards, sending him stumbling towards the crystal. Before he crashed into it, however, the circle glowed with life, lighting up the area around him. The word vanished -
- only to be replaced an instant later with a stone room. "Braaaaaane!" he called out as he tripped forwards, crashing to the floor. "I meant to do that." Glancing around, he immediately noticed something; the room was full of other scourge. Skeletons, Zombies, Ghouls, Bone Golems... all packed into this one room. Around the walls were embossed skull and bone motifs worked into the stone - designs that were common on Scourge and Forsaken buildings.
"I wonder where I am?" He asked himself. "Lets see... boney walls, steeenky scourge... Big crystal thingie hanging form the roof..." he paused in thought. "There were lots of little Necropolis buzzing around... lots of steenky cultists... talk of an invasion..." He picked himself up and tried to pace the room. Of course, the fact that it was packed with other Scourge meant that he could barely move, let alone get from one side of the room to the other. So instead, he tried another option - jumping up and down on the spot repeatedly.
After bashing his head against the crystal a few times the rogue realised two things. The first was that there was apparently no way out of the room. The second was that hitting his head against the crystal hurt a lot.
The room suddenly lurched, the rogue and several of the Scourge in it stumbling or falling with the momentum. Muttering darkly to himself, the rogue picked himself up and looked around. "What's all this?" He asked a random Ghoul, as if expecting an intelligent reply. "Why for room lurch around so muuuu-" Another shudder sent him flying again, crashing into the pile of Scourge.
The stone Necropolis left the formation around the citadel, heading off across the ocean. It flew with an eerie silence, hovering in the air in a way that its shape suggested should be impossible. Peeling away from Stratholme, it swept over the haunted forests of the Ghostlands, and then skirted the northern cost of Tirisfal. Heading south, it vanished out over the ocean, its destination a mystery to anyone who would have seen it pass...
"I spy, with my little eye..." The rogue looked around the room. "Something beginning with 'Z'!" He stared at the clump of ghouls expectantly. "Come on... it's obvious, you steenky carcasses. Go on, guess."
One of them shook its head, while another one simply snarled. In the background, a Skeletal Warrior juggled its head.
"Zombie!" The rogue shouted. "Damn it, the word is Zombie! You lot are hopeless!" Which was the truth. He'd been playing 'I spy' with them for hours now and not a single one had managed a correct answer. "For a bunch of mindless minions, you guys are dumb." He shook his head. "I spy, with my little eye, something beginning with-"
And then the crystal lit up an eerie purple colour that filled the room ,casting everything into stark relief. "E?" he began. "What the crackers-"
A brilliant flash of light cut him off, momentarily dazzling the rogue. When his vision cleared, he and a bunch of Skeletons, Ghouls and Zombies were standing in the middle of a city square. More to the point, it was a square in a city who's population was still alive; not the haunted ruins of the Plaugelands ort the supernatural inferno of Stratholme. "-is going on?" He finished, before being cut off by a scream.
"Scourge!" Somebody shouted.
"Scourge?" He asked, looking around. "Where Scourge?"
"The Scourge are invading!" Another voice called out. "Run for your lives!"
Glancing around, the rogue could see humans fleeing for shelter. At the same time, the other Scourge launched themselves into action, chasing after anything living they could see. "Oh!" He began as realisation suddenly hit him. "This is a steeenky human city! That is the Scourge's steenky master pla-"
He was cut off as an arrow imbedded itself in his chest. Glancing around, he could see a female Night Elf, bow drawn. She shouted something that he couldn't understand, then loosed another arrow, this one slamming into his shoulder. "No shooty!" He yelled out. "Me No Scourge!" A third arrow that narrowly missed his head seemed to suggest that the stupid stinky Elf hadn't gotten the message.
So he ran. No, that wasn't true; he sprinted as fast as he damn well could, trying to get as far away form the crazy Elf lady as she could. Leaving the main square, he simply ran in whatever direction he could, trying to escape from those who seemed to b e ut to get him. "Can't you see the difference?" He yelled out. "I'm no stinky Scourge!"
His protests didn't seem to have much effect. People ran and screamed as he approached and tried to barrel his way through the crowds. "What's wrong?" He snapped at a passing screaming citizen. "Haven't you ever seen the living dead before? Look at me! I wake up every day and see one right outside my door! I go down to the inn and see one behind the bar? What is wrong with you steenky silly peoples?"
Having surged his way through the crowds, he found himself in another wide open area of the city. This one, however, wasn't a marketplace or a square. This time, it was an open area in front of a Cathedral; the biggest one the rogue had ever seen. "Sanctuary!" He called out. "Safety form all the badness and the screaming and the steenky scourge and the crazy humans and the-"
"Get away form that church, you slavering monstrosity!" A woman behind him shouted. Grunting to himself, the rogue turned around to see a female human, clad in plate armour and carrying a distressingly big hammer.
"Hey lady, I'm no steenky-" he began, but was cut off as she ran at him, swinging the massive weapon. There was a crunch of splintering bones as the hammer crushed his ribcage, sending him sprawling back across the square. He crashed against a tree, then collapsed to the ground in a tangled heap.
"Ouch..." he began as the world around him wobbled and wavered. "That... hurt many lots..." He blinked, but the square was going dark, like a dim room. "I not feel this sort of pain since... since..."
And then he remembered it all. He knew who he was. He remembered all he had been, the life and family he had lost. He remembered the good, the bad, the love and the loss. His life before the scourge, his life after it...
And that he was home.
His decayed mouth formed into a smile; not his usual twisted grin, but a quiet, happy one as a single word escaped it. "Adios."