Part 2: Screaming for Blood
I was deeply unsettled by the conflict within myself. I was a weapon of vengeance, serving my Master and striking down those who had betrayed me. Why was executing one who had joined the Argent Dawn, our sworn enemies, so hard? Why could I not sleep at night? What was wrong with me?
But the war continued, and there was no time for self-doubts. We had broken the defenses of New Avalon, pushing the Crusaders down to the coast. I was personally chosen to infiltrate their base at King's Harbor, disguised as a courier we had intercepted. There High General Abbendis, completely duped, revealed her plans to me. She was abandoning Lordaeron, and embarking for Northrend. She instructed me to instruct the Scarlet forces marching from the western outposts to turn back and rendezvous in the North instead. Instead of passing these instructions to them, of course, we instead prepared a trap for the newcomers.
Arthas himself came to supervise the apocalypse we were preparing to unleash on these unsuspecting fools as the marched into Havenshire. Highlord Darion Mograine came to me before the battle. “Vyprania, our Lord has asked me to send him my best knight for a special assignment. I can think of no one better suited than you.”
My heart filled with pride, I traveled to Death's Breach, where this campaign had begun so long ago. There was my Master, tall and indomitable, inspiring our forces while filling the hearts of the Crusaders with doubts. Just being in His presence again, I felt cleansed. No more doubts, no confusion. I knew what I was, and what role I was to play. It was comforting to know that my will was not my own, but His. Arthas gave me a horn to summon a Frostbrood Vanquisher, and sent me to unleash hell. From its back, I blasted the Crusader's ballistae with deathbolts, ripping apart the core of their army and allowing our ground forces to chew up their troops. Those betraying bastards never knew what hit them. It was glorious, seeing their twisted and bleeding bodies scattered on the ground. And when they began to run, throwing down their weapons and shields in a desperate attempt to save their own pathetic skins, I could not help myself. I laughed and laughed and laughed, swooping in again and again to add to the slaughter. The Scarlet Crusade was finished – their evil reign of terror over the Plaguelands was finished!
But within a year we had new enemies to vanquish. We received word that Tirion Fordring, failed leader of the Silver Hand, had allied himself with Argent Dawn. They were marshaling their forces – we had to act quickly to crush them before the became too entrenched. Highlord Mograine led the assault on Light's Hope Chapel, and we had them! We drove them back to the grounds of the chapel itself, and the Highlord was about to strike down Tirion Fordring himelf when-
… something …
… happened …
There was a bright light, and our weapons … grew heavy in our hands. It just was … too hard … and I didn't understand what was happening. The voices in my head, they were yelling at me, screaming, all at once, and I Could. Not. Understand. Them. Then Mograine was calling on us to surrender, even though we had won, and nothing made any sense, it was all wrong, spiraling down, down...
Arthas! He was there! He would make it better, make the voices go away. But, he was all wrong too. He was foul, and stank of death, and he hated us. Despised us. All of us. And Mograine was down, and Fordring was holding Ashbringer, and Arthas was fleeing, and the screaming in my head was getting louder and Louder and LOUDER!
Then, it was over. Quiet. The realization that we Death Knights had been Arthas' tools, his pawns, his dupes, was slowly seeping into our minds. And we had done evil. But Tirion Fordring – he did not hate us. He could have destroyed us, but instead I could sense his sadness for what we had become, and his hope that we would ally ourselves with him against the Scourge.
It did not happen immediately. Mograine and Fordring and the Argent Dawn leaders spent several days negotiating an amnesty, while we Death Knights sat in the field, disarmed, watched by suspicious guards. Several of us went mad as the realizations and memories of our deeds came to us. One orc lay on the ground screaming until they took her away. I saw a gnome tear out his own eyes and hurl them in the direction Arthas had fled in. Myself, I sat quietly, trying to remember the cheerful, happy young woman I had once been. It all seemed so very long ago.
And then, they were done talking. We had a mission – to take the citadel of Acherus back from the Scourge and establish it as a base for ourselves – the Knights of the Ebon Blade. We fell upon the abominations in a frenzy – none of us caring if we lived or died. When the monstrosity Patchwerk came upon us, we swarmed him from all directions, forcing him off balance, unable to choose a target with that simple mind of his, until we got him down. The I climbed upon his chest, and thrust my sword into his heart with both hands.
After, Highlord Mograine came to me. “If we are to survive, we must gain the acceptance of Stormwind and Orgrimmar. They will never love us, but I hope they will at least tolerate our presence. Please, Vyprania, will you go to King Varian for me? I need an ambassador, to present these papers from Fordring on our behalf. You were once a hero of the Alliance, selected by Whisperwind herself – surely he will listen to you. Will you go?”
I looked at my commander. Like me, he had suffered betrayal upon betrayal, good intentions and honest desires dashed upon the harsh rocks of reality. And I could see the strain he was under, trying to lead and protect us, to find a way in a world where we were hated by all, and always would be. The thought of returning to Alliance territory filled me with dread, but I nodded, and accepted the package of documents. I would not let him down, as I had let down so many others.
A portal took me to the gates of Stormwind. The guards had been told to expect me, and so they did not strike me down. But they and the citizens let me know I was not welcome. They spat on me. I was pelted with rotten fruit, and horse dung, and a few stones. One hit me just above the left eye, and I had trouble seeing through the blood. But I barely noticed these attacks. It was the cries of “monster!” and “murderer!” and “Arthas' whore!” that hurt me, for they were all true. Shame for my actions, for my selfish desire to pursue vengeance, for murdering my friends, swelled within me. My breath grew ragged, and I could feel tears welling in my eyes. But I did not weep, for I was still a Death Knight, and my brethren were depending on me to represent them before the king with dignity and strength. So I did not cower before the assaults from the crowd, and I did not break and run, but instead walked with a slow, steady determination.
When I reached King Varian and presented my papers to him, he read them, then glared at me and drew his swords. I thought perhaps he would strike me down, in spite of my ambassadorial status, but when I made no move to defend myself he took a deep breath lowered his blades. “Were it not for this letter from Tirion, you would be a stain upon my floor. Only an endorsement from one of the greatest paladins to ever live could have ensured your survival. We... We will work together against the Scourge. Against the Lich King! “
Against the Lich King. Yes. Someday, Arthas, I swear to you that we will meet again. And I will strike you down for all that you have done, and bring an end to your evil.
Or you will strike me down.
Either way, Justice will be served.