The first instinct is to breathe.
You breathe, you gasp, your chest lifts and falls as quickly as you can inhale; but no matter how hard you try, you cannot feel the air in your lungs. You cannot feel the satisfaction of having a gulp of air in your chest, and you panic. You are seized by a fear of being dead. You try to wake up, to get the hell out of this hog-spit of a dream, but then the horrifying reality hits you like a rock to the face.
You are dead, and this is not a dream.
I remember the first time this happened, when I was first raised from my eternal rest. I was out of my mind with fear to a point when the apothecaries almost discarded my crazed corpse. I learned, like all Forsaken, how to cope with the phantom pains and the useless procedures of life. I learned that breathing was no longer necessary, that our hearts no longer had a beat, that we had no need for food. If our flesh was destroyed, it could regenerate quickly by cannibalizing the flesh of another. If our limb was hacked off, we could simply reattach it. That our bodies no longer were anything more than a vessel for our minds, for our will power, and for our resolve. Only the resolute could stand as one of the Forsaken for long.
If you could stand as Forsaken, then you never truly die.
I remembered my past life, and I remembered why I was dead. Who it was that killed me. As soon as I could, I ventured out from Brill and made my way to Andorhal to exact revenge on this murderer of mine. I was easily overpowered by the undead minions there, and I died without making much of a dent. I never even saw my murderer’s face.
Fate, it seems, wasn’t finished with me yet though. No, not yet.
“Ah, there you are. You’re late, you know that?”
Klinderas sauntered into the bar, and sat himself down on a stool. He quickly scanned the area with his green-gold eyes, examining and evaluating every patron of the Moonlight Bar. The bar itself was of elven craft, and had satin midnight blue walls framed by intricate gold designs. The floor was a deep, blood red, hardwood floor with no flaws in the planks. But then again, Silvermoon itself had no visible flaws to speak of, and even a bar wasn’t going to be the exception.
When he was satisfied that he was safe, his eyes finally settled on the man next to him.
“Yes, it’s me. But I’m hardly late, you stuck-up priss. How are you doing, Eldadres? You seem a little exhausted.”
Eldadres pulled back the hood from his face, and looked Klinderas in the eye. His blonde hair was pulled back into a tail to keep it out his face, which was covered in grime, sweat, and blood. His eyes, though normally a bright and vivid emerald colour, were a pale yellow-green.
“Exhausted? You’re hardly the one to be talking, Klin. You’re the one that looks like he’s been pushed through a sewage pipe.”
“Hmmph.” Sewage pipe was more accurate than Eldadres thought. The Dalaran sewers were messy, to say the least. His beautiful mail armor, forged from some of the best forgers in Northrend, was covered in green slime and grime, and his face was covered in cuts and bruises as well. Even his normally perfectly straight hair was a little unruly at the moment. He needed to bathe.
“In any case, Klin, it’s good to see you. It’s been way too long.”
“Yes, it has been. I mean, no one else can do my laundry like you can Eld.”
“I’m not even going to touch your armor with a ten foot brush. Do it yourself you slimy bastard.” Eldadres let loose a big, warm smile, and the two extremely dirty and exhausted elves clasped arms and embraced one another.
“Eld, although I find this banter highly amusing, would there happen to be a reason why we’re here?” Klinderas asked, his head cocked to the side.
“I knew we would have to talk business,” said Eldadres, his smile fading,”but need it be so soon?”
“Yes,” replied Klinderas, his eyes glinting gold, “it needs to be now. We do not have much time left if I was recalled from the front in Northrend to come back here. The reallocation of forces from Northrend is a big risk, and warrants a pressing reason.”
Eldadres grinned. “Since you’re obviously such an important person to pull off of the front.”
“Damn straight I am!” Klinderas’ wolfish grin grew a mile. “If I wasn’t so important, I would likely have been dealt with by a certain Baby Hellscream and his nanny, High Overlord Sourpuss.”
Eldadres pondered this for a moment. “You’ve got a point.”
Klinderas’ smile faded. “Honestly though, why am I here? It must be of some importance.”
Eldadres’ grin also disappeared, his face suddenly turned stony. “Do you remember your little visit to Andorhal about 2 years back?”
Klinderas’ face instantly turned pale at the mention of that mission. Oh yes, he remembered Andorhal. The legions of undead, the hundreds of still rotting corpses, the stench of abominations, the screams of half living, half dead humans filled his mind. He remembered Andorhal quite well.
“What does Andorhal have to do with anything? The undead there have long been extinguished by the Argent Dawn, and the lich stationed there was destroyed by my hand. That charnel house of death has nothing left in it.”
“That’s… not entirely true.” Eldadres continued. “Basically, although the large insurrection of undead there has been quelled for some time, it seems there is some activity there again. It is likely that a powerful necromancer is behind this, as there are large numbers of abominations and other constructs there.”
“Then send in a group of mercenaries. This necromancer hardly seems more pressing than my up-and-coming bath.” Klinderas dismissed with a wave of his hand.
“Unfortunately, that won’t work Klin.” Eldadres explained further. “You see, there is one big difference between that lich from before, and this necromancer; the lich couldn’t command Death Knights.”
Klinderas sat for a moment, taking this in: Death Knights. Warriors of death and destruction, hellbent on serving their unholy master in the ways of Blood, Frost, and Death. Legendary for their prowess with blades and necromancy, a Death Knight was a formidable opponent to even the most experienced heroes. This was all Klinderas needed to make his day.
Eldadres gave Klinderas a moment to let that sink in, and then started again. “This necromancer seems to have the authority to ‘borrow’ death knights from the new ziggurat in the plaguelands, Acheron. We think Arthas himself is present there, as the number of death knights that have been fighting over there is well above the hundreds already. He could easily spare a few experienced knights and send them to the plaguelands, and we think that that is exactly what has happened here. Even with a small few of those wretches, Arthas could retake the plaguelands and be in the position to attack our allies, the Forsaken.”
“So that’s why you need me here. You want to send me to the western plaguelands to stop some two-bit necromancer from gaining an upper hand, while the rest of the Horde is in Northrend.”
“That sounds about right, Klin. What do you say?”
“I’d rather go jump off the Aldor Rise; but if the Sourpuss commands it, then I don’t have much option, do I?”
Eldadres chuckled. “No, not really. Unless you think execution is a good idea, I’d hunt down that necromancer and bring his head to the good Overlord.”
Klinderas thought for a moment. “So why ask me to do this?”
Eldadres sighed. “You know the lay of the land, the creatures, the hiding spots, and you’re one of the best trackers in his employ. If anyone can do this job, it would be you and your pack.”
Klinderas got up from his stool, and whistled sharply. A large black wolf appeared from the doorway, startling several patrons, and then walked across the bar to Klinderas’ side.
“Well, I better get going, then;” Klinderas wrapped himself up in his cloak, then turned for the door. His massive wolf, Link, followed him like a bestial shadow.
“Death waits for no man, after all.”
“Rise, my champion.”
I did as that horrible voice bade me to do. My eyes jerked open, and I took a deep breath. Horror. Fear. No air. Wait, no air?
I remember my first time had no air, and that didn’t seem to kill me then… oh for the love of Sylvanas, again? Again!? If I find out whoever it was that raised me this time, I’m going to break his legs.
“All that I am; anger, cruelty, vengeance… these I bestow upon you, my chosen Death Knight.”
Death knight? Unpleasant attributes? Why must I inherit crap like that? More importantly, it’s time I gave this little pustule a piece of my mi-
Oh. That explains everything. Had to be the one jerk-spit whose legs I couldn’t break. Arthas Menethil, traitor king of the Scourge. Just my luck.
“Now wait here, you overgrown windsack, I’ve got someth-”
I could no longer speak. Whatever air I had left me, and I could no longer speak. But I wasn’t afraid: I had no need of air. I was Forsaken.
“You still have memories, Death Knight? That can be rectified.”
He took his damned sword, Frostmourne, and thrust the blade into the pit of my stomach. For some reason, it didn’t hurt. There was no pain… it was simply very cold. The blade was planted to the hilt, and it glowed a bright, icy blue.
“Sylvanas may have taught you how to live without air, water, food, or compassion. These are admirable; however, she failed to teach you how to live without your mind.”
No. No! NO! Not my mind. The one thing I know was from before. No please, please don’t take that away from me.
I don’t want to die.