A Flame In The Dark
The orc sniffed the air.
“Hmm?” another one joined him. “What’s wrong, Rakro?”
Rakro sniffed the air a second time. “There’s a stench in the air.”
“This place has always smelt foul.” The other orc huffed and leaned against the barracks’ wall.
Both looked at the guards pacing to and fro and at those observing the land from the intimidating watchtowers. The wind blew again and a bitter chill enveloped them. It was followed by the squeaking and creaking of a loose wooden signboard.
“Rakro and Dest,” a tauren said as he walked out of the barracks, “keep an eye on that troll again. He’s drunk a bit too much.”
They both nodded. “I should’ve hit him harder the last time he got drunk,” Rakro said.
Dest laughed. “That’s what my son and wife always say when I drink too much.” He scratched his chin and stared at the grey clouds above them. “Hmm?” A bird flew past the watchtowers and into the keep.
Rakro had seen it too. “Was it carrying a message?”
“I’m not sure.” Dest shrugged. “Maybe.”
“Looked like one of those the tuskarr send.”
Another bird came, though it only soared away. Then two more, three, four, until hundreds of them swarmed the skies and disappeared into the distance.
Dest stepped away from the wall, startled. “That’s odd.”
“I told you there was a stench,” Rakro said. “Are they all coming from the coast?”
A chilling wind sent a shiver up and down their spines and just as a captain stepped out of the keep the clouds began to whirl. A green hue took its place in the massive spiral of grey and a moment later it became as bright as fire.
And the sky roared.
The ground shook as a fiery boulder crashed into barracks, showering them with debris, the blast so powerful that it sent all of them flying away. The captain was the first to rise after shoving away a piece of masonry covered in green flames that had landed on his chest.
“Come on!” He shouted at Rakro and Dest. “Get up!”
Green embers surrounded the crater at the centre of the barracks, bodies sprawled around it. The smoke and dust settled and all the orcs that had survived the blast clasped their weapons as a being made of stone and demonic fire towered above them.
“An infernal!” an orc shouted.
Rakro kept his wits about him. This was no time to stand still and gape. Dest waddled to his side and removed a splinter embedded in his arm. Both of their axes gleamed in the light of the eerie fire.
Shouts came from the watchtowers. “They’re already here!” A mage burst out of the keep, followed by two other magi. The sight of the colossus stirred something in them. Blood elves remembered far too well the havoc wreaked by the Burning Legion to claim the Sunwell. Two of the magi rushed back inside the keep while one approached the orcs and nodded at the captain.
The captain rallied his troops and raised his axe. “Lok’tar ogar!” he boomed.
Dozens of orcs rushed to meet the infernal, followed by the elven mage who soon after joined the front line.
“I will try to slow him down!” His hands began to glow softly. “Finish this quickly!” And with that said he vanished in the blink of an eye, only to reappear at the infernal’s left flank.
Much to their own surprise the drunken troll emerged from the rubble grasping his head. He took a step back as he realised he was right next to the demonic creature.
“What on Azeroth is he doing?” Rakro said, the smell of charred flesh far from arousing his appetite.
“Da voodoo!” The troll threw tankards, stools, pottery and anything else he could lay his hands on whilst repeating the same thing over and over again. “Da voodoo! Da voodoo!”
The infernal brought down his fist upon the troll but failed to as most of his body became encased in ice. The troll, though momentarily out of harm’s way, tripped and fell anyway.
A steady gust of frigid wind flowed out of the blood elf’s hands. His green eyes shifted to the orcs. “Now!”
A wave of warriors crashed against the infernal. Their axes always found their mark yet it was not flesh they were hitting, but stone.
The ice cracked.
“We don’t have time,” Rakro said, Dest chipping away at one of the infernal’s legs. “Call the goblin!”
Another crack and water began dripping on their faces.
“Where is that damn goblin?”
Seconds seemed like minutes, minutes seemed like hours. Rakro saw the elven mage struggling to keep the creature still and then he saw Dest backing away from the infernal.
More sleet and icy slivers showered over them. “He’s going to free himself!”
One of the other elven mages teleported out and back into the keep, leaving a goblin behind, an explosive charge in his hands.
“I don’t get paid enough for this,” he muttered as he approached them.
Rakro cursed and made his way to the goblin.
“Quick!” Sweat trickled down the mage’s cheeks.
The goblin tossed the charge. “Catch!”
“I can’t hold on much longer!” the elf said as Rakro grabbed the explosive.
“Out!” Rakro waved. “Get out! Now!” He stopped beside the mage. “How the hell do I put this on him? It will explode immediately!”
The mage looked back and forth. “Throw it when I say so.” He took a deep breath. “Understood?”
The ice encasing the infernal burst into millions of tiny fragments and the demonic creature roared in anger. But Rakro and the elf were already gone.
Kaboom. Cinders and stones covered in green flames flew all over the place and the curses of those who got hit by the debris filled the air.
“I told you there was a stench,” Rakro said as Dest walked to his side. He dusted himself off and jerked his head to the west at the sound of a horn.
“The undead are coming!” a lookout shouted.
The captain gathered all the able-bodied orcs and prepared for the inevitable assault. “Give them no quarter!”
Dest nudged Rakro and bobbed his head at the sky. He broke into a sprint. “The keep!” The sky thundered. “The keep!”
A green meteorite pierced the roof of the keep and soon after the whole ground shook. Chunks of masonry bombarded the entirety of Warsong Hold.
Rakro took cover a moment after seeing Dest tumbling to the ground. He grunted and peeked at the keep. His eyes widened in dismay.
Time waits for no one, Fordragon. Watching the events unfold won't change the outcome.
Chaos ensued while the shade observed. A deafening roar came from within the keep, another from the main gate where another infernal had crashed, then a horn was blown, the sound of maddened beasts, the clang of steel and the sizzling of fire.
The defenders of Warsong Hold fought hard but still the infernals managed to lay waste, the damage unimaginable. As the demonic creature that had destroyed the gate crumbled to pieces and as Dest flew out of the keep after being pummelled by a stony fist silence fell. The dead had come.
A wave of undead beasts flooded the Horde’s headquarters in Northrend, any living creature in their path either trampled on, impaled or mauled.
Rakro fought alongside his companions, his axe chopping off limbs and heads, dripping a blood that was both foul in look and scent.
“Stop them!” a voice shouted. “Stop them at once!”
Huge mammoths swung their tusks left and right and soon their bony white colour turned red. More great beasts came.
A magnataur charged forth at unbelievable speed, the death toll rising each time it attacked. Shouts, screams, shrieks echoed throughout the hold.
The shade kept doing its work, not budging an inch even before such a massacre. Another wave of undead crashed against the warriors of the Horde, this time made up of skeletons, ghouls and the like.
An arm whizzed above Rakro’s head that twitched even after falling to the ground. “There’s just too many.” He panted and turned.
Dest dragged himself to the western entrance, a ghoul on his tracks. The fiend reached out to him and got two steel boots in its face. Then its head parted from its body.
A hand erupted out of the ground and gripped Rakro’s ankle. He freed himself, brought down his axe and raised dust aloft, fingers flying left and right. Another chilling guttural sound, another ghoul eager to tear him to shreds. Rakro dashed forth, only to be shoved away. A magnataur, half skeleton and half frozen flesh, speared the captain with his tusks instead of him.
“Retreat!” A horn was blown twice. “Retrea—”
His voice was cut off, and Rakro knew exactly what that meant. He saw the elven mage that had aided them earlier struggle to both defend himself and another blood elf, her arm wrapped around his shoulder. Then he waved his hand. Myriads of icy spears erupted out of the ground, granting anyone still alive a chance to breathe deeply and flee. The elf, exhausted, took hold of the reins of a panicked horse and made for the western gate.
Rakro tossed his axe and sliced in half an undead that had wriggled itself past the ice. He ran as fast as he could and whistled three times. A large armoured wolf appeared out of the stables and padded towards him. “Come on.” He motioned the troll to mount.
The troll grasped his head with both of his three-fingered hands, staggering. “Da voodoo…”
“What?” Rakro glanced back. “Enough of this nonsense! Get on!”
“Da voodoo, mon.” He waved his hand. “Da voodoo!”
Rakro knocked him senseless. “You and your blasted voodoo.” He hoisted him on his shoulder.
Explosions sent shockwaves in all directions, one so powerful that made the whole place shake. Then he heard a voice, hoarser than usual but still recognisable. “Ra…Rakro!” Dest crawled closer to him, one of his shoulder pads missing. “Take care of my family,” he said as his friend approached him.
“To hell with you and your family!” The wolf came and inclined its head. “Get on!”
Dest forced himself to sit on the wolf. Then Rakro flung the troll on the beast.
“Out of here! Go, go!” He prodded the wolf and the beast bolted away.
Rakro heard the ice shatter and fixed his gaze on the oncoming undead. Before he too vanished in the distance he caught glimpse of a horned figure standing above the keep, seconds before it completely collapsed. “Damn it!” he said, his legs aching. “Damn me, damn those tuskarr and damn those humans.” He grunted and ran straight through the shade, his mind ignoring the chill that mortals usually felt in doing such a thing. “I’m no damn runner!”
The land shimmered, buildings melted away and everything took on new shapes and colours. A salty breeze brushed the grass and stone around Valgarde.
“How much pork would an orc fork, if an orc could use forks?”
“An orc would fork as much pork as an orc could fork, if an or—”
A woman in her thirties grabbed both children by their ears. “This is no time to play!” She dragged them to the ship docked at one of the piers.
Gryphon riders circled above the town while lines of people waited to board the ship, soldiers of Valgarde and paladins of the Argent Crusade overseeing the whole operation.
“Slowly and steady,” a paladin said, a tome hanging from a chain around his waist. “Stay in line.” It jingled.
Tirion’s messenger was also there. He stood next to the vice admiral who cursed in all possible ways whenever the guards dropped his belongings.
“Will you be more careful?” He spat. “I bought that bloody table yesterday.”
The messenger cleared his voice. “It would be best to leave these things behind.” The table was dropped again and Keller bit his fist.
“Bah!” Keller shook his head. “I spent a fortune for that. Won’t leave it here.” He glanced at him. “What was your name again?”
“Jameas, Vice Admiral. Jameas Eris.”
Keller sighed. “Well, Jameas, I truly hope you people of the Argent Crusade know what you’re doing.” A goat ran past them. “But how can such a force have appeared out of nowhere? And who the hell is behind this?”
“That I do not know.” He said and another ship left Valgarde’s port. “Lord Tirion will inform us immediately if there are any further developments.”
“Yeah…yeah, I heard. Are those mages, magi, whatever they’re called, still messing with that fancy orb?”
The call of a gryphon caught their attention. The rider commanded it to land close to the admiral and then dismounted. “Vice Admiral Keller.” The dwarf removed his helmet, hair glued to his face.
The admiral crossed his arms. “Any news?”
“Aye.” The dwarf replied grimly. “The western coast is overrun with undead. They’ve already assaulted the horde outpost and our camps in the south-west.” He took a deep breath. “We helped a few, but the others…”
Jameas turned and saw Keller shaking his head. He wanted to reassure the gryphon rider, as any other member of the Argent Crusade would, but the vice admiral’s tongue was quicker than his.
“Unbelievable.” Keller kept shaking his head. “Unbelievable. How the hell did we not see this coming? Heck, are their numbers truly that great?”
The dwarf nodded, flinging a drop of sweat onto the ground. “We scour the land every day yet none of us have ever seen anything like this. Not since the Lich King fell.”
That sent a chill up their spines. Keller cupped his hand and shouted. A man clad in mail approached him. “Double the guards, speed up the evacuation and check our food provisions. I won’t have bloody plagued grain in my town.”
“As you command, Vice Admiral.” The man took his leave.
The shade hovered close to them but with a paladin among them Bolvar made sure it observed from a safe distance.
“Brrr.” Keller spat. “Heck is this chill I feel?”
Jameas gazed at the cliffs around them, flocks of birds flying in the same direction. “Death,” he said. “Cold grips the living when death knocks at their door.”
Both the dwarf and the vice admiral raised their eyebrows, the gryphon rider even scratched his head. “Orders?”
Keller rubbed his chin as the dwarf donned his helm. “Keep us updated on their whereabouts, and see if you gain more information. I bet that dead elf has a hand in this.”
“Let’s not just jump to conclusions now,” Jameas said, his voice sterner than he had wished. “Lord Tirion Fordring has explicitly stated that Sylvanas and her people are not behind this.”
“Hmm.” Keller sighed after the dwarf left. “I hope that is true.”
Jameas’ fingers reached for his mace, though he wasn’t sure why. A splendid weapon given to him by the Argent Crusade. The shield on his back had been with him much longer and while its steel glittered in the light and made it look like a new piece of equipment a pair of keen eyes would’ve sure noticed the scratches and dents it bore.
The weapon itself did not glow yet he felt uneasy.
“Vice Admiral.” A guard saluted him. “Another ship is almost ready to set sail.”
“Very well. Continue.”
An hour went by and Valgarde was a bit emptier than before. People still roamed around the town but not a single seagull or other bird flew above their heads. Only the gryphons and their riders made the skies look pleasant and less ominous.
The earth groaned.
Jameas’ eyes darted about the place, then they shifted to the vice admiral.
“Don’t look at me,” Keller said. “I haven’t had lunch yet.”
“This can’t b—”
The weapon glowed and shrieks came from the port. Jameas burst into a sprint, followed by Keller after he had ordered his guards to stay alert, and by the shade. A blend of screams, splashes, grunts and gasps rung in their ears. Jameas readied his shield as he entered the port.
People streamed towards the ship, cursing and yelling, shoving those who stood in their path, while others stayed as far away from the water as possible, even though they knew that evil was bound to besiege the town.
“What?” Keller said. “What the hell is going on? You!”
“Vice Admiral.” A guard stopped and spoke with a dry throat. “The waters are not safe, beasts have begun attacking people.”
“What sort of beasts?” Jameas joined in.
They all turned as another scream came from the sea. “Dead beasts,” the guard said as he faced them again. “They suddenly appeared in the fjord and took us by surprise.”
“Don’t just stand there then! Alert the captains and come back here!”
“As you command, Vice Admiral.” The guard left in a rush.
Before Keller could speak any further, Jameas made for the pier. The endless throng obstructed his view, but he caught glimpse of a shark leaping out of the water to snatch a person. He saw more people getting dragged below the surface and as he dashed forward he set his eyes upon a sea of red.
Jameas looked to the left and raised his shield as a decomposed shark flew towards him. He pushed and sent the undead beast back into the water. Guards and paladins of the Argent Crusade formed two walls all along the pier while a high elven priest guided Valgarde’s citizens to the ship, all of them protected by the archers and riflemen on the decks.
“Oi! Paladin!” A captain popped out of nowhere. “We need your help on land! Keller’s orders.”
Jameas followed the captain’s lead, both of them running as fast as possible. “What’s the problem?”
“Undeads have been spotted near the graveyard.”
And as he said that the paladin’s weapon glowed brightly. “Quick, captain, quick!”
Smoke wisped upwards from the eastern part of the town, shutters and doors squeaked, rats ran left and right and those that were ill bit their own kind or any other living creature they came across.
Jameas and the captain followed the voice and found a woman on her knees, tears running down her cheeks. Opposite her two skeletons, one of a grown man and one of a child, shambled forward.
“Light give you peace!”
A flash of light and the undead collapsed, though the woman was far from relieved. Jameas helped her up and nodded at the captain. “Take her to the ship, I’ll go to the graveyard.”
“Aye,” the captain replied. “Report to Keller once the undead have been put back to rest.”
Shrieks and roars came from the sky, but the paladin saw nothing. Then a gryphon cried in pain and as he crossed a street he stopped and stared at a barrel in the sky.
“What in the world?”
The barrel fell in another street not too far from him. Then another flew above his head and crashed into a building. A sickly green cloud wrapped itself around it.
“Over here!” A young man waved. “H—”
Jameas ran, faster than before, and struck down the ghoul that had leapt through a window and attacked the inexperienced guard.
“Thank you.” He covered his neck. “Truly, thank you.”
The paladin muttered a spell. “You should be fine. Keep an eye out or you won’t be so lucky next time.”
“Yes, sir. This way, please.”
The graveyard opened up before him. Guards stood in a line, waiting for the dead that they had once buried.
“Paladin! Help us out!”
“What’s the situation?” he asked as he approached them. “Have you lost anyone?”
Gryphon riders appeared overhead, only to vanish beyond the cliffs.
“No,” a guard with a moustache replied, “but some of our people were mourning their loved ones when the dead rose. Not everyone made it.”
Jameas sighed and muttered a silent prayer. He raised his weapon and pointed at the undead. “Do not let fear take hold of you. Let us give the dead peace!”
The guards cheered.
“Charge!” Another man said.
A barrel flew towards them. “Wait!” Jameas shouted.
It exploded upon impact, right between them and their enemy. The green gas annihilated the undead within the cloud.
“Back! Stay away from that damn thing!”
One guard fell, the gas already in his system. He grasped his throat, almost strangling himself. Then blood came out of his mouth, eyes and ears.
“Jellen, damn it. Away! Away now!”
More barrels rained upon the town. By the time they reached the port Valgarde was turning into a green ghost town.
“Madness!” Keller shouted. “Madness!” He spat. “You, Jin-Je-Jameas! Care to explain this?”
“Vice Admiral,” the paladin said, death all around him. “We have t—”
“Can’t you see? This is the work of that blasted dead elf! Only the Forsaken have this kind of weapon!”
A building collapsed and gas poured out of it. The two rushed to safety with whoever was still alive.
“To the ship,” Keller said as they ran. “Valgarde is lost.”
The shade hovered by the water, a dead man to its right. The head jerked and looked straight into the shade’s eyes.
“This is only the beginning.”
“Highlord Fordragon.” Arno strode towards Bolvar. “Icecrown’s defences are being repaired, as you ordered.”
Bolvar observed the distant Crystalsong Forest, his hands resting on the dam’s balustrade. “Very well.”
“What’s the enemy’s status?”
“Valgarde and Warsong Hold have fallen.”
Arno cursed. “How long do we have?”
You’re being far too optimistic, Fordragon. The dead do not eat, they do not sleep, they do not tire, they do not drink. They’ll be here sooner than you expect.
“What’s the plan? We cannot bring the fight to them, our forces can barely protect Icecrown. We cannot rely on anyone that is…alive. How are”—he scattered flames as he swung a hand—“What the? How did I?”
Bolvar stood straight while Arno studied his hand. “There are…others that might help us, or at least, protect Northrend.”
Arno turned his hand once more in disbelief. “Who are you talking about?”
“Nerubians? I thought they were all dead, and even if they aren’t, they were not in good terms with Lich King.”
“Which is why I need to have an audience with whoever is leading them.”
“Hmm.” Arno stroked his chin. “Shall I call that nerubian? Anarak?”
“He already knows.”
And indeed soon Anarak came scuttling towards them. “What does the Lich King desire?”
“I need to get into Azjol-Nerub,” Bolvar replied, eight eyes looking at him.
Anarak clicked his mandibles. “Yes, yes. There’s an entrance in the Dragonblight far to the west, but it may have been ravaged by the living, or by the Great Earthquake. There are, of course, other ways in, yes, many more. The nerubian kingdom is endless.”
The nerubian tilted his head. “Not too far from the Wrathgate, but not too close, lies another entrance. It may still be intact.”
Bolvar marched forward. “I’ll be going there now.”
“Shall I accompany you, sire?”
He shook his head. “Guard Icecrown while I’m gone.”
Anarak bowed. “As the Lich King commands.” He skittered away.
Arno neared Bolvar before he too left. “Are you sure? He probably knows the place better than anyone else here.”
The wind blowing from the south carried the sweet scents of the Crystalsong Forest. “I must earn their trust,” Bolvar said after breathing deeply. “An undead nerubian standing right next to me would not help.”
“I understand.” Arno let him go. “Luck be with you then, Highlord Fordragon. I shall oversee the repairs while you’re gone.”
Bolvar strode across the dam and across the land of Icecrown. Once again he strode into the citadel, and once again he stood before the Wrathgate, its jagged metal the only thing that separated him from the outside, from the place where he died.
The memories came back, no matter how hard he tried to forget them. The rattle of bones and chains, the biting cold, the unending corridors of the citadel, the eyes of the Lich King.
A grating sound and the gate began to rise. Snowflakes swirled inside and brushed his skin, the cool air filling his lungs.
“Father! Father!” A young Bolvar had once told his father. “I want to be a king!”
His father laughed and put both hands on his son's shoulders as he squatted. “One day, maybe. One day you'll be a king, my son, I promise you.” The voice echoed.
Bolvar embraced his old man in excitement and his smile widened as he saw his mother leaning against the door's frame.
They were all pictures and sounds that he held dear, so precious that he hoped they would stay with him forever. Yet when his father vanished and his mother and the background changed he once more realised that the days of the young Bolvar had come to an end. A woman stood there, though she was not a human.
He tried remembering what he had just seen but the memory did not pop back in his head, as if it had been taken and sealed away. Thus, he marched on, though before he ventured any further he took a gander at the precise spot where he, Bolvar Fordragon, had died. He could almost see his body lying on the ground before it got warped by the dragons’ flames.
“We meet again, Highlord Fordragon.”
Alexstrasza smiled. “You look well.”
Bolvar strode towards her and grabbed her neck. “Well? Do you call this well?” Steam billowed from his nose. “You cast this curse on me.”
She struggled to speak, but she did not attempt to free herself. “I gave you life.”
“You should’ve let me die.”
“Your time had not come yet.” Her eyes were inches from his. “The world still needs you.”
He exhaled and released his grip. “Why have you come here?”
“There’s a lot of…concern regarding the sudden awakening of the undead.” She began circling around him. “Many wanted to march into Icecrown and slay whoever commands the undead in the north, yet the Argent Crusade dissuaded them from doing so. I believe you’ve spoken with Tirion Fordring.”
“Get to the point.”
“I came here to see you with my own eyes, to see if what I heard was true, to reassure my kin that the Scourge no longer poses a threat. The Aspects are no more. We are but mortals now. We may still be able to help, but our powers have diminished. You are the key to our survival, Highlord Fordragon. Defend Northrend from the evil that has returned. Defend your home. Defend Azeroth.”
“The living are not ready for another Lich King,” he said before she walked away.
“Oh, but they will be.” She turned. “Or they will perish.”
Bolvar huffed, the former Aspect of the red dragonflight disappearing in the distance.
“Until we meet again, Bolvar Fordragon.”
The trek through the valley took a while. He came across hundreds of dragons, their skeletons jutting out of the snow, and at the start of his journey he even caught glimpse of the resting place of dragon of old, the biggest he had ever seen.
The western part of the Dragonblight came into view. Trees and other plants were a sight for sore eyes, though they seemed so out of place in that immense graveyard. An hour went by before he reached the place he had seen in Anarak’s mind. To that day both the elements and the vegetation had played a part in keeping it hidden from unwanted guests, but that was no longer the case.
Bolvar trod carefully into the tunnel, roots hanging above his head and cobwebs all over the place. As the light died down he found himself in a tunnel carved by the nerubians ages ago. The walls were adorned with depictions of all sorts, symbols that meant nothing to him, and here and there luminescent fungi helped him see where he was going.
The first room he set foot in proved how sophisticated the nerubians were. Books, scrolls and tablets were strewn all over the library. There were various stone objects, some fairly outlandish, others familiar like a sundial he happened to see on a stool.
The second room wasn’t any different, the nerubian’s craftsmanship was awe-inspiring. The Scourge had adopted the same architecture, yet it had never looked so perfect in the hands of the undead.
Deeper he went, and more apparent the tragedy that befell this mighty people became. Dust and ice could not conceal the residue of the war against the Lich King. Broken weapons lay on the floor, blood stains could be found where warriors drew their last breath, shattered stonework stood in stark contrast to the magnificence he had seen earlier.
They must already know you're here.
He took a few turns and ended up in a long hallway, its ceiling taller than any other room. At his sides were seating areas, barely visible in the darkness that attempted to swallow him whole but instead quivered before him. Not a single shadowy tendril dared come closer.
There were no fungi here, only braziers. He stopped to listen and then raised his arms that glowed like burning coal. The braziers burst into flames, all at the same time. Hundreds of eyes glared at him.
The ruckus that followed could not be matched even by a band of drunken dwarves. The hall resonated with the continuous chitter-chatter and click-clack, until the nerubian opposite him lifted a limb and the noise faded away.
“Why has the king of the dead come here?” The nerubian spoke.
“To whom do I speak?”
“I am Ixit, king of Azjol-Nerub.”
Bolvar heard mandibles clicking and whispers. The Lich King’s new appearance had mystified the nerubians, though Ixit wasn’t as interested in his looks as them. “I come here in peace.”
Ixit’s mandibles twitched. “Peace? He who annihilated my people and turned them into slaves now comes in peace?”
“As you can see,” Bolvar said as he showed him his hand, “I am not the one who slew your people.”
The clicking became louder. “You are not?” Ixit’s eyes studied him. “Then why do you wear his crown?”
“A sacrifice I had to make.”
Ixit glanced at his people and thought deeply. “What is it that you want?”
There was no reason to delay this any further. “Allies.”
How easily words stir the hearts of sentient beings. Mentioning an alliance made the nerubians a bit too eager to leave their respective spots. Ixit had to calm them down a second time. “The nerubians will never ally with the dead.” He rasped. “Be gone.”
“Do you think that the previous Lich King would have come all the way to Azjol-Nerub just to have an audience with you?” Bolvar boomed. “Do you think that Arthas would’ve just let you rebuild your broken kingdom? That he would’ve spared the eggs that you guard day and night?” The tension was palpable. “I could’ve burned everything and everyone here in your domain, yet I’ve come here to seek your aid.”
A nerubian approached Ixit and muttered something. His other followers instead would’ve attacked Bolvar if their king had not stopped them. “Speak then. Why would we fight for you? Why would we concern ourselves with the petty matters of those who live above?” he asked and shot a look at those who had not yet hushed.
“A dreadlord plans to claim Northrend for himself and the demons he serves. He will succeed if he’s not stopped and the Scourge alone cannot defeat him. His army will not hesitate to slaughter your people and end your reign if the land falls into his hands.” He paused to let his words sink in. “Do not fight for me, fight for yourselves.”
All the nerubians turned to their king. “Hmm.” Ixit pondered. “Hmm.” Then he stood straight and nodded. “You are not the same Lich King, that is true. You gave the Traitor King peace, so I’ve heard. You have not used the dark powers within that helm, that is also true.” He clicked his mandibles. “But what was done cannot be erased, what the Scourge and the Lich King did in the past cannot be forgiven or forgotten.”
Ixit’s face was inscrutable. “Will you not fight?”
“No, we will not fight,” the nerubian said, “but we will help.”