Expanded Universe

Sylvanas Windrunner:Edge of Night

by Dave Kosak

ICECROWN

Sylvanas Windrunner drifts in a sea of comfort, physical sensations replaced by the purity of emotion. She can grasp bliss, see joy, hear peace. This is the afterlife, her destiny. The eternal sea in which she found herself after she fell defending Silvermoon. She belongs here. With each recollection, her memory of this place palls. The sound grows distant; the warmth, cooler. The vision takes on the pallor of a half-remembered dream. But with horrific clarity, the memory always ends the same: Sylvanas's spirit is wrenched away. The pain is so intense it leaves her soul forever torn. The grinning face of Arthas Menethil, with his lopsided smile and dead eyes, leers at her as he pulls her back into the world. Violates her. His laughter—that hollow laugh—the memory of it makes her skin crawl!

* * * * *

"You son of a bitch!" Sylvanas hollered, kicking aside a shattered piece of the Lich King's frozen armor. Her voice, empty and terrifying, cracked under the strain of her hatred. The sound echoed across the peaks of Icecrown, rolling through the valleys like the cloying mists that forever haunted this horrible place.

She had ventured here, alone, to his former seat of power. To the very top of Icecrown Citadel, where a frozen throne loomed on a plateau of white ice. Of course that egotistical little boy she knew would place himself here, sitting atop the world. But where was he now? Shattered. She could no longer feel his malevolence tugging at the edges of her consciousness. His broken armor lay in pieces on the white peak before his throne, surrounded with blackened cakes of frozen gore, the remains of those who had finally brought him to his knees.

Sylvanas regretted not being there to see him broken. She picked up a shattered gauntlet, from the very hand that had once gripped Frostmourne. He is finally dead. But why did she feel so hollow inside? Why did she still throb with rage? She hurled the armor from the peak, watching it disappear into the roiling mists.

Download high-resolution She was not alone. Nine glimmering spirits encircled the pinnacle, their masked faces turned toward her, their ephemeral forms held aloft on graceful, insubstantial wings. They were the Val'kyr, warrior maidens of old, once enslaved to the will of Arthas. Why did they remain in this place? Sylvanas neither knew nor cared. They stayed out of her way, absolutely mute, immobile even as Sylvanas hollered and raged. Were they watching her? Judging? She ignored them and crunched through the snow to the very seat of Arthas's power.

Someone else sat atop the throne.

Sylvanas at first thought it was Arthas's corpse, planted mockingly in this place of honor and sealed in a block of ice, but the silhouette was all wrong. She approached the throne and wiped her hand across the surface of the ice, peering at the distorted figure within. Human, yes. She recognized the profile of an Alliance shoulderplate. But the body was very badly burned, the flesh split open like roasted meat. He wore Arthas's crown—and his eyes—that flicker of consciousness…

They have replaced him. A new Lich King sat on the throne!

Again Sylvanas cried out, shock growing into explosive rage. She smashed the flat of her hand against the ice, then her fist. The ice cracked. The immobile face within split open behind a web of fractures. Her howls faded, disappearing hollowly into the mists that enveloped the peak. They replaced him. Does this mean there will always be a Lich King? Idiots. Naively presuming that their puppet king wouldn't someday begin twisting the world to his own ends. Or worse: become a blunt weapon for something even more terrible.

It was a bitter blow. She had expected to venture here in triumph, not to discover another defeat. The victory was hollow. But she backed away from the throne, straightened up, and accepted that the cycle would go on. Arthas was dead. What did it matter if another corpse filled his vacant throne? Sylvanas Windrunner had her vengeance. The vision that had driven her and her people for years had finally been realized. And not a single fiber of her desiccated, animate corpse cared where the world went from here.

It was over now. A part of her was surprised she was even still around, without his lingering presence always tugging at the back of her mind. She backed away from the throne and slowly turned to survey the cold gray world all around her. Her thoughts returned to that place of bliss, her half-remembered glimpse of what lay beyond. Home. It was time.

Slowly, she crunched her way to the ragged edge of the icy platform. A thousand feet below, shrouded by the clouds, lay a forest of shattered saronite spikes she had scouted out earlier. The fall alone couldn't kill her: her animate flesh was nigh indestructible. But the spikes, the hardened blood of an Old God, they not only would tear the body apart but would obliterate the soul as well. She longed for it. A return to peace. The work she had begun in the forests of Silvermoon was finally complete with the death of Arthas.

She lifted her bow from her shoulder and cast it aside. It clattered against the uneven ice. Then she removed her quiver. Arrows spilled from it, cascading down the side of Icecrown Citadel, disappearing one by one into the fog. The empty quiver dropped quietly to the ground at her feet.

Her ragged, dark cloak, freed from her discarded armaments, began to whip around her neck in the bitter wind. She could feel no cold, only a dull ache. She would feel nothing soon. She already felt her spirit reaching a place of calm for the first time in almost a decade. Her weight shifted toward the edge of the drop. She closed her eyes.

As one, the Val'kyr silently turned to face her.

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