I'm cold .... so cold .... that's not right .... I never feel cold ....
Pain .... hurts .... not good .... like being on fire .... but cold .... can fire be cold? .... don't want to move ... need to .... need ....
I'm supposed to be doing something .... what is it? .... is it important? .... Arthas .... must .... kill .... Arthas .... soon .... get up soon .... just need to rest a minute first ....
Where are the voices? .... They .... they tell me what to do .... whom to kill .... how to serve justice .... I can hear them, but .... quiet .... mumbling .... far away .... muffled .... can't understand what they want me to do .... maybe I'll rest a minute .... and then they will come back .... yes .... rest ....
I hear footsteps .... coming towards me .... quick, light, soft steps .... like a child ....
"Jessika! Keredria!" It's Buns. Cute little, wisecracking, soul-devouring Buns. Hi Buns. "Get over here! Now! I think she's still alive!"
I hear more footsteps now, running. All around me .... and voices ....
"How did she-?"
"Stay back - give her air!"
"Her eyes! Sweet Elune, what happened to-?"
"Vyp! Vyp, can you hear-?"
"By the Light, that's bad, very bad."
Someone knelt down beside me and took my hand in hers. Even through my armored gauntlets the contact was comforting - I felt less alone, less isolated. Why couldn't I see anything?
"Vyprania, it's Jessika. Can you you hear me? Hang in there, kid. Nicolause and K are here, and they're gonna fix you up good as new."
Everyone was here, standing around me .... did that mean ....? "jess..." I whispered. I did not recognize my voice - it was weak and dry and raspy and dead, so very dead. The voice of an ancient mummy. And it hurt so much to talk. But, I had to know. ".... did .... we ...."
"We did, Vyp. Arthas is dead. It was damn close, and I thought it was over when I tripped and fell. But you saved my ass, charging in like you did and getting his attention off of me. You bought us time. That made all the difference, those few seconds. Bravest thing I ever saw."
".... fool .... didn't .... care .... you .... only .... wanted .... kill .... "
She gripped my hand tighter. "Still counts, kid. Still counts. Now keep quiet, and let our healers do their job."
I could hear Keredria's leaves and branches rustling furiously, as if blown by a strong wind. I could hear Nicolause chanting, beseeching his formless god. But I felt nothing. No warm glow, no renewed vigor, no easing of the pain. It wasn't working, I could tell.
"I am afraid there is nothing you can do for her", a new voice spoke up. "She has been deep in the Shadow for a long time, for years, and the Defile has thoroughly penetrated every cell of her body. The Light cannot reach her, brother, nor can Elune, sister druid. Even if A'dal himself were to come here, I fear it would beyond him to save her."
Tirion? Tirion had always believed in us death knights, ever since the day he saved us at Light's Hope. He had spoken for us to his own paladins, to the Alliance, to the Horde. He had treated the Ebon Blade as equals, when no one else would. And now he was abandoning me.
The Light does not abandon its champions.
A'dal had said this, when he took up the soul of Crusader Brindenbrad, out on the glaciers of Icecrown. The Naaru could not save his dying body, but it could end his suffering, and grant him eternal bliss. But Death Knight Vyprania is not Crusader Brindenbrad, is she? I brought the Scourge to the last living city of Lordaeron, with fire and terror and rape and slaughter. I embraced evil, and revelled in it. I murdered my own friends! No, Tirion was right. I was too far gone. It was time to end it.
Only one task remained. ".... jessika ...." My whisper was even fainter than before.
"I'm here, Vyp. What is it?"
".... tell .... Tryande .... tell .... Sentinels .... mission .... com .... plete .... ed ....."
She was silent for a moment. Debating how to respond, maybe. "All right, Sentinel Vyprania," she said at last. "I will tell them."
I could hear them talking for a while longer, but I could not understand anymore. It was becoming too soft, too far away. Eventually, the voices of my companions faded away completely. The voices in my head faded away too, and then I was alone in the darkness.
Except for the boy.
Matthias Lehner was different somehow. The calm dispassionate child who had led me across Icecrown, revealing vague hints and maddening clues about Arthas' past was now nervous, wide-eyed, weak. Vulnerable.
"I know who you are now, don't I?" I asked him.
"Yes, you do, Vyprania," he replied, looking up at me.
"It's all right," I said at last. "I think I understand."
I wondered why I could see again. I wondered why I wasn't dying anymore, even though I was still in pain. I wondered where I was.
After a while, he spoke. "Vyprania. I want to go home. But I don't know the way."
"So would I, Matthias. So would I."
Could I go home? Would Elune allow me to return? I had sinned against her, against the world, most horribly. If there was a way home - for either of us - it would be long and hard. But I remembered the story Priestess Celyse had told me when I was a little girl. The story of the prodigal daughter, who had destroyed all her family had done for her, but when she came home again, poor and broken, they had accepted her and loved her, and Elune blessed them for it. Maybe Elune would accept me and love me too, if only I could find my way home.
I peered into the darkness. Shadows flitted across shadows. Silent whispers taunted me. Blind eyes watched my movements. But there, over there, something, maybe, ....
"Matthias, I think I see a path, over this way. Maybe it will take us home."
"It looks scary over there." The shadows flitted faster, looming, reaching.
"Yes, it does. I think it looks very scary. But maybe, if we stick together, we can get through it."
I stood up, and reached out with my hand. He took it, and together we started down the path.
Vyprania's Story :