Founder of Ebon Flame
Joined: 15 Dec 2005
|Posted: Sun Nov 28, 2010 8:36 pm Post subject: [The Ebon Redemption] Chapter Six: Fall of the Lich King
Twenty five figures stood in a small semi circle around the approaching figure, which marched with a series of dull clanks down the steps toward them. It walked slowly, stiffly, as if long dead, but they knew the evil held within the helm was very much alive.
The afternoon mists swirled and gathered around the platform, and the wind struck biting cold. Thalos stepped forward from the pack of companions, his gauntleted hands flexing and throat dry with tension. Yet as ever his voice was clear, ringing out in the chamber.
"I have returned, Arthas. Long did you tell me I was wrong to trust and lead these people. Yet they have beaten you. They have rescued me, and now with their help, I will end you."
"IS THAT SO, LORD OF THE FLAME?". Even his most gently worded comment was like searing death in the ears of the assembled host, and they winced in pain. Yet no one cried out.
"YOU WILL LEARN THAT ONLY EVENTS WHICH I ALLOW TAKE PLACE. YOU WERE TOO WEAK TO TRULY SERVE ME, TOO BOUND BY YOUR LOVE OF THE PAST. YOU ARE ALSO TOO LATE. MY ARMIES MASS AROUND THE LICH GATE. NO FORCE ON YOUR MISERABLE ALLIANCE CAN STOP THEM. YOUR OWN TROOPS, TURNED AGAINST YOU. OH YES, SOME OF THEM ARE YOURS. YOU KNOW THIS. YOU LED THE WARRIORS WHICH KILLED THEM".
"That is a LIE!" roared Thalos, drawing the curved, two-handed axe and raising it, the low afternoon light catching on his neckguard and visor. "You corrupted me, and severed me from all that I held dear. The only fault for their deaths is yours, and now you will pay…. with endless oblivion!"
Arthas watched as the elf strode forward, others only a step behind, and with a hollow laugh, pointed Frostmourne at the chest of the advancing warrior. A shaft of icy magic shot out, but as it sped across the clearing several shields appeared in front of the elf and it deflected to the earth, leaving him unscathed. Hurrying forward, Ortias and his team ceased chanting, running to join their comrades.
Cursing, the Lich King raised his blade in the conventional way and waited, then brought it down sharply. With a clash of steel, Frostmourne slammed against the raised axe of the Lord of the Flame, driving him to his knees for a moment. Quickly, it began. Faela took Thalos’ place, aided by Tiaana, her Draenei eyes wide as she surveyed for the allies Arthas would inevitably bring to his aid. Others joined in the assault, a cry of voices coming from behind the already blood drenched melee as the mages and warlocks raised their incantations.
The battle raged.
Night was falling, and the small force of Ebon Flame held fast as it assaulted the powerful plate clad figure at the center of the platform, a figure which taunted their weakness, made the very ground fall away and summoned endless spirit servants to do his bidding.
Thalos towered above those near him, able to swing his axe in murderous arcs freely, the broken fragments of his foes dropping like rain around his companions who fought with equal vigor on either side. Occasionally his arm shot forward and wreathed in green flame, drained energy from the Valkyr opposing him, weakening them as he drew strength from their bodies. The new power, channeled through the bone carved axe he wielded, was a small remnant of his involvement with unholy magic when he served with the Lich King he now opposed.
Turning from the immediately fallen foe, he looked across to where Faela and a small group of priests battled with the Lich King, the other forces of the Flame spread out as they struggled to deal with the waves of Valkyr and spirits dragging their comrades away, toward the precipices of the chamber, their aim to separate and split up the attacking forces.
Suddenly his attention was drawn to a figure silently stepping among the corpses and fallen, a bright silver axe held loosely in her slender but powerful grip. Seja. She cut her way through two spirits before her and then attached Arthas from the side. Thalos watched the swing of the axe, the velocity of the axe head, the hungry glow as it reached its target and sparked. He blinked. The Lich King rocked forward a few inches, otherwise unhurt, a small scar on the armour the only sign of impact. Then he turned and gripped the weapon, ignoring Faela for a moment, his plate bound shoulders lifting as he tore it out of Seja’s grasp and hurled it some yards away. Storming quickly forward, his motion surprisingly swift, he drew back his sword arm and back handed her across the chest. A loud snap pierced the platform as a bone, presumably a rib, broke through the armour. She showed no pain, but was thrown back some yards, coming to lie near her axe. Her vision faded.
Thalos ran toward her, grunting as a set of Valkyr claws raked across his shoulder, pulling him into the air. He hacked wildly and it disappeared. Ducking under another, he tripped, as a bloodied hand clutched his leg. Looking down, his heart lurched as he saw the druid, Ayalin, bleeding from a cut to the forehead. “Tree… no trees…”. Her head rolled back, and he cursed in frustration, shielding her with his body while he gestured to another healer, cursing the wasted time in reaching Seja but unable to protect both his comrades at once. Fire flew over his head and he ducked, cursing, as a dancing and somewhat mad looking Fenmapus joined him at the druid’s side, never taking his cold calculating eyes of the Lich King. Thalos turned away, leaving her with the gnome, but was soon caught up in another melee as Gandogar barreled into him, stuck in the grip of a Valkyr, her wings beating furiously as she struggled to keep the heavy dwarf off the ground. Cusing and swearing, he was hacking at her underbelly, unable to do much damage with the long blades at such short range. Gripping her claws, Thalos pulled her down, adding his great weight to the dwarf, and together they gripped her and slit the feathered throat.
Several moments later, noise and light returned to Seja’s mind. She turned, watching her friends battle, her blood pounding in slightly numb ears. As her hand reached out, she heard a sibilant whisper in her ears, that of a hundred voices speaking at once.
“We will give you the power you need, one last time. Strike, and end it, before your champion falls.”
Gripping the handle of the cursed axe in her gauntlet, she rose to her feet and walked heavily toward the on-going melee. Faela was still distracting the lone, towering figure of Arthas, but her shield arm dropped lower with each blow, and swear poured from her tangled hair. Seja walked on, steadily, gaining in strength. Valkyr claws reached out for her but at the last minute were diverted; it was as if she was on a path through a dense forest, and all other beings existed only in the undergrowth to either side. Shadowmourne glowed whitely in her tense fingers as she advanced on the back of the unknowing Lich Lord, his sword directed at once of her companions, she was not sure which. Approaching his back, the silver inlaid plate rising like a wall in front of her, she hesitated barely a moment before reaching back to strike. Eldritch runes sparking along the leading edge of her blade, she swung it down for the last time, feeling the flow of runic power from her own armour joining that in the blade. With a piercing shriek, the axe split deep into the ice encrusted armour, and with it Arthas buckled forward, struck to his knees. Faela stepped forward on instinct alone, and slammed her shield into the dark helm now before her, revealing a terrifying pale face frozen in death, only the eyes a fierce blue light in the dull visage. With a sharp cry, struck mortally from two directions, the Lich King fell backward and to the side, and for a moment, all was still.
With his fall, theValkyr fled, and Verannion and Ortias hit the ground, scrabbling for grip as they were dropped perilously close to the edge of the platform. Running forward, Fenmapus swiftly reached inside his robes, his small slippered feet hopping over the debris of battle as his shaking hand emerged with a small jar filled with indistinct, swirling shapes. Beside him, Ortias raised his arm and chanting a brief word to the light, flung his finger at Seja Victrix, who was lying slumped, barely breathing, near the downed figure. Her body armour glowed brightly and absorbed energy, and with a gasp, she raised her head, looking up. Far off, a distant figure, perhaps a mage, screamed a shout of joy at the sight of the enemy downed. Beside Seja’s kneeling form, a plated boot crunched into the ice, and she recognised the gilded armour and towering bulk of her leader, Thalos. He was staring at the face of the fallen enemy, now tipped down, over the fallen body of one of her comrades. With a grunt, he raised his own axe to add his blow to hers, but even as he swung down a scarred forearm shot out from the fallen figure and gripped his axe around the haft. For a moment they battled, ice forming on the weapon, before with a snarl the Lich King thrust his sword high. Thalos broke away, expecting a blow, but the movement was not aimed at him but at the sky.
"ENOUGH" shrieked Arthas, his powerful figure rising to his feet once more. Black smoke pouring from the rent gaps in his armour, he uttered a few, dark words. Pale blue light gathered swiftly in response to his call and before the surprised warriors closest to him could bring down their weapons down once more to silence him, a stunning nova of freezing cold exploded out from Frostmourne, tombing them all in moments. Again, silence wreathed the chamber, only this time, there was no interruption. His victory was total. His foes were dying… possibly dead already, the light fading from their fallen figures.
“THERE IS NO LONGER ANY DOUBT. YOU ARE TRULY AZEROTH’S GREATEST CHAMPIONS. YOU OVERCAME EVERY CHALLENGE I LAID BEFORE YOU, MY MIGHTIEST SERVANTS. IS IT TRULY RIGHTEOUSNESS THAT DRIVES YOU? I WONDER…..
YOU TRAINED THEM WELL, FORDRING. YOU DELIVERED THE GREATEST FIGHTING FORCE THIS WORLD HAS EVER KNOWN…. RIGHT INTO MY HANDS. YOU SHALL BE REWARDED FOR YOUR UNWITTING SACRIFICE….
WATCH NOW AS I RAISE THEM FROM THE DEAD TO BECOME MASTERS OF THE SCOURGE!
His voice echoed around the chamber, taunting the chilled warriors who were powerless to act against him. Yet one voice spoke.
"Light, grant me one final blessing" called Tirion, his body still completely encased in frozen pain. “Give me the strength… to shatter… these bonds!”.
For a moment, there was no response, but as the Lich King advanced on the frozen bodies of his nearest enemies, Thalos and Seja Victrix, a small pale golden light encircled a cloud, like a trapdoor in the sky. From it, a bolder, golden glow shot down, encasing the imprisoned Fordring in a circle of light. With a jerk of his powerful shoulders, he brought forth his sword, Ashbringer, ice grinding and cracking, and cast asunder the prison, swiftly striding forward and shouting:
"FOR THE LIGHT". His sword arm swung back once more, and with a nimbus of flame surrounding it struck Frostmourne, just as the cold blade was poised to devour the soul of one of the Flames lying helpless and dying around him. With the light wreathing him, he howled in defiance, but it was far too late, as he was lifted bodily into the air by the powerful holy magic, temporarily but critically defenseless. With his incapacity, the pain and ice surrounding the Ebon Flame lifted, and blood again flowed in their hearts. Battle cries once more tore from their ragged throats as they flung their last spells, arrows and weapons at the temporarily stunned figure.
Thalos watched, seeing the blows strike home fully at last, some quality of Tirion's holy magic giving them the ability to penetrate the frozen figure in the same way that Seja's weapon had done. Swinging up his weapon in a deadly arc, he spun foot after foot on the ground, the blade shrieking as the velocity of the tip caused the bone fragments attached to it to carve music in the air, and with several savage whirlwind blows, he felt his muscles jerk and tense as the blade dug deep into the kings shoulder armour, carving off several chunks of destroyed metal and biting deep into his chest cavity. With a distant, almost anticlimactic sound, pierced by blades from all sides, the tortured body fell, and a natural, unthreatening silence suddenly spun around the stunned combatants.
Stepping forward, they gathered around, restrained only by the hand of their leader as he stood over the corpse, looking down into the now lifeless gaze. Heavy footsteps from behind split the group, shuffling backward respectfully as the noble brow of Tirion approached Thalos and his captains, looking down at the figure thoughtfully.
"Is it over?" asked Seja Victrix in a numb tone, rubbing her lifeless hand almost as if the cold evil had penetrated even her. Thalos turned to Tirion, his dark green eyes questioning, the lines of worry etched in his face, lines that marked the experience of one who has seen many victories turned to dust by the evil within the world these last few years.
Tirion nodded, slowly, his face a mask of courage through tiredness and pain. "It is over, Thalos, Lord of the Ebon Flame. On behalf of all peoples, I thank you and your captains, particularly Seja Victrix. There were many in my order who did not trust one so.. close.. to Arthas in her nature, but we are glad to have proved them wrong."
He coughed, placing a large hand on Thalos's shoulder, the man larger than even the Lord of the Flame, years of power coursing through him having altered his basic nature. "Go. I will deal with the remains of this... creature. May your enjoy a well earned rest."
Turning away, they watched him, kneeling over the body of the fallen paladin, speaking, as if to some spirit. As the air grew chill and the battle lust faded, they silently gathered cloaks and fallen weapons, and quietly walked away, down the winding stair that had led them to the place. Some hand in hand, some looking fierce, all with tears running down their cheeks. The tradgedy of power corrupted was fresh in their mind, their lord himself nearly forced to the same fate as the now slain Arthas. It had taken the sacrifice of one of their best to save him. Was it fair that they kept giving so much? The victory felt sweet, yet hollow. A necessary thing done, but the expected reward had not come.
For several of them, particularly the priests and the gnome Fenmapus, had looked on Thalos with curious eyes as the Lich lord fell. Looked for any hint of a change, in him, in all of them. They had spoken wordlessly, yet no one had heard. And from his grim face, looking back at them, they knew he had tried the same.
Where were the spirits of the flame? They had assumed the fall of the Lich King would release the spirit connection he had taken… ripped… from their Lord Thalos. Yet they felt the same. Thalos looked the same - mighty, yes, perhaps stronger than ever given his experiences under Arthas' command, but still mortal, fallible, not the spiritual figure that had stood among them, outlined in the flare of fires in Ragnaros's chamber, shielded by the collective will of the Flame. Where were those spirits? Had they been lost forever? Would they never be reunited with the living host?
The ground trembled as if in answer to their inner fears. Trembled... and then lay still once more.