(Short Story) To Be Free

This is a story I wrote after seeing some of the entries for the 2011 Writing Contest. I'm not sure how many posts this will take due to character limits so if it doesn't look like it's ended I may be posting the rest, and please reserve judgment until I say it's finished! All constructive criticism welcome since I am quite a novice writer. Anyway, on with the show!

To Be Free

'The rest is up to me. She placed a hand on the torn remnants of rotted skin hanging from his arm. “Thank you,” she whispered. The blankness she had felt moments earlier was suddenly no longer a terrifying hole, but a canvas. She would run. She would fight.

She would live.'
- Marika Kermode, Daughter of Lordaeron.

~~~

Part One: Running

~~~

Keep running. The words thundered over and over in my head to match the storm above, the message I had followed for twelve years my only companion - again. I must have cleared half of Tirisfal tonight alone, but with every step I knew I was too slow to avoid them. Despite knowing these forests from the many days spent exploring in my childhood, I couldn't outrun them here, on their own territory. Their territory. I felt my feet slow to a jog and then to a walk, slipping in mud as I halted.

There would be no running. Not this time.

~~~

I raced down the secret passage from my quarters, the heavy plate armour clattering loudly as I skidded round corners. Even the adrenaline pushing me on paled in comparison to the hot, stinging tears I felt falling down my face freely. Dead. They were -all- dead. The stolen armour stopped me hearing the massacre above, but I knew what was happening to my friends, my people, my family.

Mother. Father. Arthas.

Arthas.

My gut wrenched as the name flashed into my head, everything in my head scattering at the thought of him.

My own brother. My sweet, innocent, handsome little brother. Gone. Lost to the Scourge. The beast that had killed my father and doomed all of Lordaeron to ruin was not my brother. Not my brother. Not my brother. My heart steeled and I regained my earlier pace, forcing my mind onto other matters.

The Scourge undoubtedly covered all the ground in Tirisfal by now - even if not, exiting the City through the front was foolish. The Sewers were probably taken too, but Arthas knew most of the secret passages out from our chambers - the same ones I was sprinting through now in a stolen set of Silver Hand plate mail.

A low, guttural moan came out of nowhere, echoing all over the tunnel. I was gripped by fear and span on the spot, looking for a telltale sign that I was in the presence of the undead. I was no good in combat. I'd been training to be a priestess. I was to be married. Everything I had known to be secure in my life sounded hollow and empty as I thought it.

The moan sounded again, closer, and I ripped from the spot and jumped at a nearby vent, pushing it aside and crawling into the sewer - finding myself face to face with a ghoul. It shuffled across the vent on torn limbs, letting out the same moan I had heard twice before.

Damnit.

~~~
Edited by Keliera on 04/01/2012 19:06 GMT
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Keep running.

I managed a few staggered steps in the heavy rain before falling again. I couldn't run now. They knew I was here. I wouldn't make it anywhere without running into them. I took a few short, panicked breaths, trying to calm myself. I would be useless if I was fighting scared. I muttered a swift prayer into the night:
"Grant me hope, that you did in years and ages past to my ancestors, O Light."
Warmth spread out from my palms, and my fingertips glowed brightly, illuminating everything five feet around me. If I was to be found, they may as well see me.

~~~

I could hold out for a few minutes at best. This armour was not working to my advantage - unfitted and too large, it bore down upon me, making me heavy and slow. The blade worked much the same, but at least it was large enough to hold off the Scourge's claws.

I attempted a heavy swing at the ghoul, slicing off a rotten, greyed arm. This only seemed to enrage it, and it moved closer still, moaning loudly. I attempted another swing but was bowled over by the sword's weight. The ghoul moved closer and leaned over me, ichor pooling in its limp jaw like saliva.

As it reached for my face with its one remaining claw, chittering furiously, I screamed and let out a call for help in a language I did not know, a prayer taught to me not by priests and clerics, but by myths and legends.

"Ljos verndar!" I felt hot ice surge through me and the Light burst forth from my recoiled hands, slamming into the ghoul. It let out an inhumane shriek, flung into the sewer wall by the power coursing through me, and collapsed in a heap, dead.

I would have sat there for hours paralysed by such a close call had I not felt the warmth in my hands flow through me, distilling my fear and granting me confidence. I got to my feet, still shuddering, and hurried back down the vent, locking it securely behind me.

The Sewers weren't safe. But I knew these passages from endless exploration whilst Arthas had been busy training with the Order and I had been bored witless. Only I had been this far deep in the caverns in at least a century. I began racing further underneath the city, the armour bonded to me by a new warmth.

~~~
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A horn sounded to my immediate southwest, a mile away at most. They were closing in. I retracted the Light, feeling the warmness surge through my spirit. I was plunged into darkness, save for the moon above. The White Lady seemed ill from this point in Azeroth - pallid and out of focus. Soon she was covered in dark cloud as the storm moved east.

Another horn sounded, this one more northerly - Brill, perhaps? Perhaps it was to my benefit that I hadn't kept running, in that case.

I unsheathed my sword, Belore'melorn, the silver glinting wildly in the darkness. The rain was clinging to my face, and I pulled my visor up, limiting my vision further.

Howls sounded from my east, now. I was definitely surrounded. And those howls - bloodhounds. Gilnean bloodhounds? Had they taken Gilneas already? Or could I hope that I had some support in this fight?

I chuckled grimly. Of course not. They'd had taken what Gilneans they could as Undead before all of Lordaeron's humans accepted lycanthropy to spite the Forsaken.

A sigh shuddered out of me as another baying sounded from the southeast - from Capital City itself. They were pulling out all the stops to catch me, it seemed.

~~~

I had made it several miles below the City by nightfall. The tunnel began to widen up as my armour continued to clang, the sound echoing louder and louder until it stopped altogether my feet were no longer hitting stone or wood, but grass, and then marshy ground, as I stopped at the shore of Lake Lordamere.

Far from safe. But for now, it would do.

The moon bore into my skull as I let everything finally wash over me.

Arthas was gone, and in his place was a monster. My mother and father had been murdered. Their people - my people - were being murdered in the streets by the Scourge, and I was the last of the Menethil Dynasty alive.

I spent almost an hour waiting at the entrance to the tunnel for an ambush, but as night passed and the screams died down I realised that no one was coming after me. They all must have thought I was dead.

I was unsure whether to be relieved or disconcerted. I sunk to my knees, and shakily opened the bag of supplies I had managed to obtain before I had to flee:

• Food, enough to last me well for three nights, five if I was to wander around half-starved.
• The Menethil Ring I had snatched from my mother's bedside table several years ago.
• The prayer book I had been studying from, appraised at six-hundred years old.
• My brother's first training sword, not that it would be of much use.
• My allowance of seventeen gold pieces, still unspent.
• A map of the northern reaches of the continent.

This would barely last me to the Silverpine Crematory Grounds - what was I thinking, I could hardly go there.

I pulled out my map, and set about planning a route to safety.

~~~
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I could hear them drawing closer from all sides. I remembered my training, evoking every good memory I could find and holding them close. They would not have me ... Not again.

My mother and father were almost as ghosts in my mind now, but I drew them close, hearing comforting words from friends, teachers, family, none of which had been meant for this situation, but all of which were useful to me.

"The Legacies of Lordaeron always were fair and just. Value your people above yourself, and there you find your greatest power."

"If good did not always prevail then we would not be here. Hold true to justice and hope, my daughter, and the Light will always shine a path for you."

"Never forget what we're meant to do, sister. We are the future of this world - and we must lead them by good example."

"Hold respect for your enemy and ally, be tenacious in all battles, and most importantly - show compassion to all, even those that cannot ask for it."

My breath stopped shuddering, and I stopped shaking. I could hear their footsteps now, but I would succeed, as I always managed to - for I had a destiny to fulfil.

~~~

Around the shore of the Lake, down past Dalaran (or what was left of it) and into Hillsbrad, to Southshore, if it was still safe...

I stopped, wondering where best to go next. Menethil would be safer than anywhere in Lordaeron, but the bandits that continued Alterac's traitorous legacy infested Hillsbrad, Alterac and the Arathi Highlands. It would do me no good to travel on the main roads. If I could reach the Hinterlands via Tarren Mill (which was contested enough for the bandits to stay well away) then I could pass through into Arathi safely and head south - and stop at what was left of Stromgarde if I needed supplies.

It was the safest route possible, and yet so much could go wrong. But I had to get away. Stormwind would be safe for a while, but there was no telling how powerful the Scourge could become. Lordaeron, homeland of the Just and Holy, the most generous nation in the world, the Land of the Peaceful People. My home. Gone. If Lordaeron could fall, any other nation could - and several had. It was settled, then. I would run until I could be safe. I packed up my supplies, feeling my eyes ache - I had run out of tears long ago.

I cast one look at the home I had had for twenty years, feeling memories wash over me. The Capital City was dark and ruinous in the pitch of the night - smoke rising up from rubble. It was gone now, but maybe one day...

As I started making my way around the lake I heard a noise from behind and drew my sword quickly. But as I turned round, no Scourge met me. I headed back to the tunnel, hearing a battered clinking approaching.

The crown of my forefathers rolled down the passage ominously. Of course - the passages they'd had installed in the Throne Room after the first assassination of a Lordaeronian King. But the Scourge couldn't know - they would have beaten the crown down here by several hours. I approached slowly and picked up the crown, fingering it softly. My father's dried blood had turned the ancient silver a haunting orange. I shoved the crown in my bag as the tears burst forth again, making my way south.

~~~
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They were mere seconds away now, but I remained steadfast, every teaching I had ever had already evoked and used to bolster myself. I was as ready as I could be, but they could be more ready still - they had been waiting for me for nearly six years.

I remembered the first time they'd caught me the Dark Lady herself came to confirm it. I had no idea what they planned to do with me then - I don't think they did either - but after hearing of the atrocities of the last few years, I was in no doubt.

They wished to use me to cement their power in Lordaeron. To prove that no human could stand before them, that they were the greatest nation in Azeroth. To let the Menethils be truly succeeded by the Forsaken.

I would not let that happen. And I was not alone, as had been proven when Trevor and Andarin had rescued me from the dungeons and sent me running again. I know now how foolish it was to go back to Lordaeron then, but I had to see -what they had done, what was left - and they had captured me, for they were waiting.

But now I was ready as well. Let them come, and let them see what they would destroy.
The footsteps were mere feet away. They approached, walking now that they knew I was not running, from all sides.

~~~

I had made it past Dalaran without interruption. I had been fearing Scourge there, even demons - but it was empty. There were countless ruined, deserted villages - but no looters, no life whatsoever. The armies had moved west, to Kalimdor. Dalaran was a feat of architecture in life, but in death, it was terrifying. The spires jabbed outwards, the Citadel itself ruined over a mile in diameter. I had been here, once, to hear my fate at the Alterac Council. It seemed so long ago.

I dwelt in the ruined villages for a few days, able to salvage stale food from the abandoned shops and houses. I was lucky the mages were so skilled at food preparation and storage. On my fifth night, I heard an immense noise from the north, and burst out of the house I was squatting in to see the city - there is no other word - glowing with power. The whole of the ruins seemed to be vibrating in a massive spell, and the ground trembled under my feet. I watched, gripped to the spot in awe, as a gigantic purple wall rose up, obscuring the ruined city. And then I realised - it wasn't a wall.

The purple mass spread round, circling the main body of the city, and then further and further it rose, until it flowed into the rest of itself - it was a dome.

The magi had protected themselves from the Scourge, and instantly I wished I'd been brave enough to venture into the city. But I had to keep running.

One night later, I left, hiding in the little cover that the trampled Foothills gave as I made my way towards Southshore.
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I did a double take when I saw the High Elf step out from behind a tree, a gargantuan spider covered in webbing and dew clicking its teeth behind her. Then I realised, of course, that Arthas had decimated Quel'Thalas after Lordaeron and Dalaran. The presence of former High Elves in the Forsaken's army was a given - Sylvanas was one herself.

Feet shifted in all directions as more Forsaken moved into the clearing, some wearing the armour of the Deathstalkers, others in robes of the Apothecarium. They'd unleashed a small army to find me - I counted several abominations among the throng closing in on me. The High Elf, presumably the commander, spoke to me.

"Calia Lianne Moira Menethil. The Dark Lady has ordered you be brought to receive punishment for avoiding sentencing by the righteous nation of the Forsaken. You are to be brought immediately to the High Kingdom of Lordaeron under the Free-Willed Undead. Will you come willingly, or must we force you?" Her lips tightened in what I imagine to be a cruel smile - it was too dark to see anything but the glow of the eyes focused upon me.

"You seem to have omitted the option I am taking. I will not go to your 'city' as a prisoner, nor would I ever go there whilst your so-called Banshee Queen squats in the halls of my ancestors, defiling four-thousand years' worth of service to the Light."

"So be it. On my mark, subdue the girl."

"Girl?"

I raised my sword in a defensive position, ready for what may come, feeling both it and the armour move with me effortlessly.

~~~

I had stayed at Southshore for barely one night - there were so many refugees that all I could do was buy food and move northwards. Luckily, no one was yet to recognise me, unusual as it was to see a female paladin. I had reached the passage to the Hinterlands after just several days' travel.

As I began to descend the beautiful sight of Aerie Peak in the morning sun hit me, and for a few short minutes I stopped, watching the early morning, seeing the mist drifting below the grand alabaster eagle that loomed across the mountains. For a moment, I felt as though nothing was wrong with the world.

Reality brought me to my senses soon enough, and I trekked down the mountain range, reaching Aerie Peak as the noontime sun blazed on my back. For the first time in nearly three weeks I ate well that night, as the Wildhammer Dwarves were eager to hear of news regarding the continent, and kind enough to host a visitor from Capital City.

A grim hush fell as I told the feasting clan of how my father - King of Lordaeron - had been murdered by his own son, how the Scourge had ravaged the forests, towns and cities, how Quel'Thalas, Dalaran, Alterac, Gilneas, and maybe even Kul Tiras and Stromgarde were lost. By the time I had finished, the whole room was silent, everyone there bowed in prayer for the souls of the dead. From outside came the mournful songs of the local shamans.

The feast finished silently, the mirth and merriment long since lost. As I began collecting my things to sleep in the inn, I heard Falstad, the chieftain, murmuring words to a messenger. As I tracked the path to the inn, a lone gryphon flew southward, in the direction of Ironforge.

As I reached the door of the inn I paused to look back for a moment, and saw the frantic waving of Falstad as he raced towards me.

"Fergive me, lassie, I never caught yer name."

I paused to consider the best option, and knowing that the Wildhammer posed no threat (having lived in peace with us for 300 years and holding back the southern trolls), turned to him, motioning him to shush. I pulled off my helmet, and as my matted blonde hair fell around my face his mouth opened.

"Ye-yer Highness!" He spluttered in surprise, and as he bowed I motioned him to shush again.

"No one can know where I am, Chieftain. I do not doubt that I would be a powerful weapon to the Scourge, like my brother, if they caught me. If I survive, then all of Lordaeron may rise again one day."

He nodded wordlessly. "I am so sorry - about everythin'. Isn' there anythin' I can do fer yeh?"

I smiled weakly. "Thank you, but no. I will leave for Arathi tomorrow. I do not wish to be a burden on your people - I am sure you have much to prepare for in the dark future we face."

"The future's not so dark as yeh might think. Our shaman have seen nothin' too dark yet. But, if yeh insist on goin', I'll get yeh what supplies I can."

"That won't be-"

"If I can't aid yeh in any other way then let me make yer journey a bit easier. It's the least I could do, yer help has given' us time to alert the rest o' the Alliance before it's too late."

I couldn't argue him down, so the next morning I was on my way out of the Hinterlands on a gryphon to Menethil Harbour, joined in company by gryphon riders bearing messengers to every city in the Continent that still stood.

~~~
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The assembled soldiers froze like time itself had stopped, watching hungrily as she sent the first abomination forward - I doubt that they thought I would pose any threat at all without the ability to run away. But I was not a little girl running from everything she had ever known to be sanctimonious and safe. Not anymore.

"You come wiv us, girlie!" The abomination bellowed at me as it lumbered into view in the dim night, dirtied runic thread and miscellaneous body parts hanging weakly off its sallow, egg-like skin. I took a deep breath one last time, and regretted it as the putrid odour of rot and decay surrounded me almost instantly. The abomination lifted its left arm, which was the larger of the two, ogre-like and bearing a meat cleaver twice the size of my own head.

"I... think not." I leapt forward, sword in hand, and jumped onto the abomination's partially-unsealed midriff. I swung the sword high, light glinting off it as it smashed into the arm, tearing through bone and muscle. The Abomination shrieked in fury, a sound so high I didn't think it came from the beast. It spun precariously, and I swayed with it as it attempted to grab hold of me with its remaining arm - slightly smaller, an orc perhaps? - and I rolled backwards across the ground, barely avoiding it.

The Dark Ranger didn't look best pleased that I was doing so well, so she whistled and sent forth the large, Forsaken-reared spider at her side. Knowing I couldn't last long against two opponents, much less if one was an abomination, I murmured a prayer to the Light, and my sword lit up with holy power. As the abomination lumbered closer I leapt straight into it, shoving the sword through its chest and ripping right through into the head. It screamed.

"I am sorry - but now you will find peace!" I yelled mid-jump, then span and kicked it in the head, my armour virtually weightless on me. It careened violently and collapsed, screaming until it hit the ground with a dull thud. I could not pause for breath, for then the spider was upon me, its claws and fangs ten sharp blades to my single one. It moved sharply, duelling me as fast as any accomplished armsman would. After several minutes, neither of us giving an inch, at last I got a lucky blow, and decapitated it cleanly. I whispered a quick prayer for the souls contained in the abomination, and the spider (for I had seen the spider farms in southern Hillsbrad).

The Dark Ranger looked fiercely angry by this point, her red eyes narrowed and looking over me like a spider about to eat a trapped fly.

"Well, that was some entertaining fun and games. Now, finish her. The Dark Lady wants her alive in one piece. But feel free to scar her. Fail, and true death will meet you all, so I swear by the Banshee Queen!"

~~~
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I passed through the Arathi Highlands shortly before lunch. Two of our number had already left towards Kul Tiras and Gilneas, and one more now peeled away in the direction of Stromgarde, and it was now that I got a chance to look at the successor to Strom.

Once the greatest fortress-city in the land, Stromgarde was now decrepit. Its walls and outer holdings were crumbled and run-down from the war, and even from high above, fighting could be seen in the ruined districts. The Alteracian Nobles who had founded the Syndicate ten years ago had not taken kindly to the actions of any of the nations responsible for its destruction, and believed their 'grand' history (and I say 'grand' for Alterac was a nation of uncouth pickpockets and backward rulers who feared the eventual gain of power by the common people that such things like magic and technology promised) could only be regained by conquering the continent.

It was this behaviour that exposed just how corrupt and backward the nation had become, and many believed their eventual destruction at the hands of Deathwing's maddened brood and the Ravenholdt rogues justified. Although I did not know it, eventually I too would come to hold that viewpoint (But we'll get to that later).

By the time we reached the border with Menethil we were all feeling the strain. As I looked down below to the Thandol Span, grandiose achievement of Dwarven architecture it was, I was at least a little reassured that the flow of Scourge could be limited to Lordaeron if it had to be eventually destroyed. Hopefully, the early warning to the Alliance meant it wouldn't come to that... yet.

By mid-afternoon we had reached the sprawling low roofing of the Harbour, and we all stopped to have a rest. The arrival of a procession of Wildhammer Dwarves (tattoos and all) as well as a paladin was muted somewhat by the massive flow of refugees from the North attempting to find safety or passage south. The inn's erroneously jovial atmosphere did little to raise our spirits. There was too much at stake to be merry, Harvest Solstice or not. As we rested in the inn, the frantic noise outside was interrupted by a call of "Tirasi this way, please! All Tirasi to me!" I walked to the door and glanced outside.

It was Jaina. Jaina, who had once been in line to be the next Queen of Lordaeron. She shone out of the crowd so obviously, the memory in my head from when I had last seen her compared to how she looked now. She looked haggard and unkempt, but it was her, the curious hunger in her eyes not dampened at all - if anything, spurred on. I was overwhelmed with the urge to tell her everything for a split second, but advised myself against it. She probably already knew what had happened to Lordaeron if she was here with evacuees from Kul Tiras.

Was it possible? Had the Scourge reached Kul Tiras? If they had, perhaps we were not as safe as we had hoped. But I did not have time to find out, much less to talk to Jaina. I had soon booked passage to Stormwind City, the Shining Jewel of the South, on a travelling vessel, along with several hundred other refugees who had managed to fit onboard.

No one was in the mood for talking that evening either. Like me, everyone just felt lucky to be alive. As we left, the moon slowly rising out of the ocean, I saw the Wildhammer messengers leaving, with several of their gryphons accompanying them rider-less as they set off for Khaz Modan and the southern end of the continent.

~~~
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Part Two: Returning

~~~

My attacks sped up now as I duelled several combatants from the Deathguard, the noise of metal upon metal filling the suffocating silence that characterises modern-day Tirisfal. As I disarmed or incapacitated one after the other, the Dark Ranger let out a low hiss in my direction.

"Commander Marris will have your heads if you do not succeed, wretches. Send forth the Flesh Giant!" Her voice echoed loudly as our combat stopped instantly and the Forsaken skulked back into their ranks. From the middle of the circle a shambolic pile of flesh moved forward, coated in slime and with plague containers attached to its limbs, a syringe or other sharp implement where each finger should have been. It roared, and as it did so a loud gurgle of fluid went flying, several ravens consequently shocked out of the nearby trees. I flipped my prayer book open from my sleeve, desperately trying to find something to help me now. The Giant loomed over me as it swung forward. It had to be almost fifteen feet tall, and six feet wide at the stomach. It roared again and I felt liquid plague splash my helm and hiss as it tried to eat at the light-blessed metal, finding a foe equally as damaging to it. I lifted my sword and the thin pages of the book span of their own accord.

"The Light is within us all. And some day, when you are not looking, it will find you. And it will forgive you. And I forgive you, too. You know not what you do."

~~~

I made it to Stormwind within days, and from there to the west, to Theramore on the newly-rediscovered Kalimdor. I stayed on the move for several years, letting no one know of my true identity after Chieftain Falstad. For the years of the Third War and the overturning of the order of the world that followed, I remained hidden, even considered dead. But tensions began to break in central Kalimdor and squabbles broke out. I moved back east, and headed towards my home - my kingdom - to see if the stories of the Forsaken were true.

I was captured, as I have already told you, and then released by a paladin and a priest loyal to the Dawn. After this, I made my way south, contemplating whether I would ever be able to bring Lordaeron back to even half of what it was. And, unthinking of my safety in my daze, I was captured again - by the Syndicate, by then in league with the agents of Deathwing.

I was kept in the Alterac Mountains, ironically, by Aliden Perenolde (son of the last King of the Alterac nation and one of the primary founders of the Syndicate). This was a punishment he dearly enjoyed, owing to my father's eventual destruction of his nation. But I was kept there as their greatest secret, under a false name, Elysa.

The gloating by Aliden was nothing to bear compared to my own worry - worry over the plots hatched between my new 'master' and my old one - Lord Daval Prestor, who despite the Kirin Tor's efforts to keep his true identity secret, was revealed to me as Deathwing soon enough. Agents would come and go, and I witnessed occasional combat across the wastes, skirmishes with the Syndicate.

I soon grew to know quite a lot. Thinking I was under his power, Aliden began to share secrets with me - though my father did always say the Perenolde line was cowardly and too trusting for their own good. Within a year I knew as much about the Syndicate as many of its commanders, and I did not let a soul know that. And in the winter of the Lich King's defeat, the Syndicate began rallying for a final stand. And fate struck.

~~~
Edited by Keliera on 04/01/2012 19:07 GMT
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"DIE!"

The creature brought its fist down upon the ground, knocking several Forsaken off their feet with the force of the impact. I had already leapt into the air, the words of the Light on my lips, and I screamed them out as I charged forward. The voice that left my mouth was my own, and not, a deeper undertone coming from all around me:

"O hofundum, gefa okkur sma fylgjendur ljos ao styrkja okkur!"

Light burst out of every seam in my armour and I swung my sword just before I was blinded, striking the Undead creation directly upon the chest with the flat of the blade - sending rivets of the Light coursing into it. It screamed and reared up like a horse, swinging wildly and blinded. I sliced again, my sword gaining a direct hit - and the diablerie of corpses lit up like a bonfire. The Forsaken were in shock. And then I knew what was going to happen.

And I was running past the Giant, out of the circle with no objection, further north and further east. Further up and further in. I had barely made it fifteen feet when the Giant rose up off the ground, illuminating the forest like the sun itself, and exploded, knocking me off my feet and clearing the area twenty feet around it.

I murmured a prayer for the unfortunate dead, and set off, not looking behind me. There was too much at stake to turn around and look.

Further up and further in. Keep running.

~~~

During the time of the War in Northrend, the Ravenholdt carried out a series of devastating aerial attacks upon the Syndicate, who were defenseless, stuck as they were in the ruins of old territories and relying on knives and shadows. Aliden and his second-in-command, an orcish cultist by the name of Nagaz, were struck dead. I was freed, but as Lord Aliden's 'mistress' I was taken back to Ravenholdt Manor as a prisoner until I convinced them of my identity.

They would not let me go until I had told them every detail about the Syndicate's inner-working I knew - something I was glad to give in repayment for their actions in Lordaeron. But an eye for an eye makes the whole world blind, and I would not aid them in their coup de grace. They made the continent safe, and that was enough. In return for my aid, as well as my freedom, I was soon re-equipped with fitting armour for a paladin and an elven-crafted sword: Belore'melorn, or 'Striking Light' in Common.

I spent several months honing my skills (although years on the move had given me a lot of training, the imprisonment had blunted them) and renewing my connections to the Light in the safety of the Manor, whilst the Ravenholdt recouped and recoiled from the Elemental Invasions. Soon, I was ready. To go where I knew I had to go. And one cool, dark night, in which the sky was starless, lit only by the White Lady and the Blue Child, I set off, making my way back through Alterac, around Lake Lordamere, and into Tirisfal.

~~~
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I passed by the Bulwark without interruption, although I'm sure they knew of me and set off after. I raced through Northvale (for after the Western Plaguelands were healed people had begun to refer to the valley by its old name) feeling the Light surge through me as I saw the forests of my youth healed, and my sprint sped up as I passed by fields tended by farmers that had lived here twenty years ago. Lordaeron was already rebelling against the plague, coming back to what it had been. I had hope that I had thought lost long before, and I felt it surge through me, mingling with victory and words of valuable knowledge, pushing me on.

I took a left at the bridge into Andorhal, heading straight north past new housing and hearty villages, hearing a Forsaken hunting party on my trail becoming increasingly distant. I pulled off my helmet and my untamed pale golden hair flew back into the wind as I went streaking straight through the gates of Hearthglen. Right into the heart of joint Argent-Cenarion territory, to the ancestral home of the Fordring lineage and to the place where my destiny did not lay. But I know that this place is where my destiny will truly begin.

Hope on my lips. Hope on my mind. Hope in my heart. I will stand for Lordaeron. And I will stand for the Light, and justice and peace and equality and hope and the Forsaken who cannot speak for themselves. True Lordaeronians.

I am Calia. Calia Lianne Moira Menethil, daughter of Terenas and Lianne, sister of Arthas. Rightful Queen of Lordaeron, of the port and islands of Hasic and the Eastern Seaboard, rightful co-sovereign of the bountiful lands of Quel'holme, border to the kingdom of Quel'thalas. I am humble and generous Empress of the Continent of Lordaeron, and Friend-in-Arms to the sister kingdoms: To Dalaran, to Kul Tiras, to Gilneas, to Stromgarde, to Aerie Peak, to Ironforge and Gnomeregan and the Exodar and Stormwind and Darnassus and yes, also, the friend of Orgrimmar, Thunder Bluff, the Echo Isles, Quel'thalas, Shattrath and all others who would befriend me.

I am Calia. Lordaeron will rise to be the great, peaceful nation, friendly to all, that it was in ages past. And neither Sylvanas nor the combined mass of the Forsaken that seek to claim my nation will stand against me. They shall stand with me, or they shall never stand again.

This, I vow.

I am Calia Menethil.

~~~

End. If you've made it this far, thanks for reading :) As said earlier constructive criticism is welcome (that is to say, not TL;DR) and thanks go to Catulla of Flavor Text Lore for the quotation and some inspiration with her own story, and Rades of Orcish Army Knife for some helpful conspiracy theories that I used for the story!
Edited by Keliera on 04/01/2012 19:24 GMT
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