Hope Yet Remains.
Light streamed into the Cathedral of Light on all sides, and as a lone, armoured figure stepped up to the pedestal, the massed audience fell silent.
"In days gone by, there existed many orders of knighthood which recognised the skill and honour of their members. In service to their King, Queen, or Warchief; and in defence of the noble ideals of their people, they fulfilled their duties when needed. The Order of the Silver Hand headed the defence of Lordaeron in the Second War, and its members has included the greatest heroes of the conflict. Though its greatest heroes fell in service to Lordaeron, their shining examples have not been forgotten."
"Is he talking about Uther?" Vereesa whispered, as Tirion Fordring continued his speech.
"I do not think so, as far as the masses are aware, Lord Uther was captured by the enemy." Ysondre said softly. "Now we should be quiet, your sister's moment of glory approaches."
"The Silver Hand now calls Lady Sylvanas Windrunner to step forth," Tirion Fordring, recently appointed leader of the Silver Hand, said loudly.
The Lich looked out across his underground kingdom, and at the thousands of Nerubians skittering across the cave walls. Upon fleeing the Temple with his armour and the remnants of his helmet, the Lich retreated underground into the Kingdom of Azol Nerub, finding the Nerubians eager to serve his will once more.
The dragons had presumed them defeated, and the Scourge extinct; but the dragon's fire had merely driven the Nerubians underground, into the vast fallen kingdom of Azjol Nerub, where their numbers had only regrown during the War of the Dragon Aspects. The recent 'cataclysm' had also brought more volunteers and willing followers to its aid, including the remnants of the Twilight's Hammer, who now formed the base of the new Cult of the Damned.
"My liege," a Nerubian hissed, and the Lich King turned and inspected it with his glowing blue eyes. "We have done as you asked, and everything is prepared per your instructions."
"Are we at sufficient strength?" The Lich asked, its voice echoing off the stone walls.
"Yes my king, the new recruits brought many corpses to appease you," its mandibles clicked excitedly. "They will serve you well."
"Excellent," He said, striding past the large spider and down a twisting tunnel. "What is the status of our forces?"
"Growing with every one of the corpses the recruits bring us, and we await only your command to begin," it replied. "The dragons are away as we speak, should we..."
"Yes, and tell the necromancers to get ready, we will rise as they celebrate," The Lich said coldly, stopping and looking over a large, smooth black slope, adorned with unholy motifs. "This will provide a suitable base from which to watch this world burn."
"But what if the Lightbringer..." the Nerubian began to ask, before the Lich wheeled around and cut off one of its mandibles with Frostmourne.
"The 'Lightbringer' is dead, there is no threat to us now," the King roared. "Without their precious Uther, they will have no one to rally behind, no figurehead to strike out at us. Tell the army to get ready, we rise at sundown."
"Yes my liege," the Nerubian said, ignoring its bleeding stump of a mandible as its soul was now bound within the blade.
The Nerubian scurried away, leaving the Lich King to look up at the vaulted roof of the cavern, and the numerous Nerubians moving across it.
"Master, I will not fail again," he said quietly, before heading toward the catacombs. "My plan cannot fail now."
"Sylvanas Windrunner, have you undertaken to accept a place in the noble order of the Silver Hand?" Tirion said loudly, as she knelt before him, dressed in a gleaming set of plate armour, her shoulder plates glowing as bright as the sun.
"I have," she replied.
"Lady Jaina Proudmoore, King Varian Wyrnn, Queen Alexstrasza of the Wyrmrest Accord, do you now affirm that Sylvanas has grown in gentle virtue an chivalrous grace, and has displayed the traits of a knight of the realm?"
"Lord Fordring, from my own experiences standing at her side I can attest to her chivalry and ever-growing faith in the Light," Jaina smiled.
"I too attest to her chivalry, twice she has saved Stormwind from dragon fire, and has ensured the Eastern Kingdoms are safe from its more pressing domestic threats." The young King Varian stated.
"To attest to her grace and good-nature, Lady Windrunner has not only helped to purge the corruption from the Obsidian dragonflight, but she also healed a child of that noble aspect when they were mortally wounded." Alexstrasza smiled. "She has always shown the characteristics of a kind-hearted individual in our time together, and I believe that she will be an outstanding member of your noble order."
"Gentle peers, we thank you for your wise counsel." Tirion stated. "Lady Sylvanas Windrunner, you have been deemed fit for this high estate by your peers, and have indicated your willingness to accept this honour from our hands. Do you now swear by all that you hold sacred, true, and holy, that you will honour and defend the Alliance and Azeroth from the darkness."
"I will," Sylvanas said proudly.
"That you will honour, defend, and protect all peoples incapable of defending themselves?"
"That you will be chivalrous and honour your peers, of the nobility, and the Wyrmrest Accord?"
"That you will conduct yourself in all matters as befits a Paladin, drawing your weapon only for just cause? That you will enshrine in your heart the teachings of our order, and the belief in the Light, to the benefit of your own good name and the greater glory of the Silver Hand?"
"I will not sully the name of my noble family, or the proud knighthood of the Silver Hand," Sylvanas said, looking up into Tirion's eyes with a steel resolve.
Tirion unsheathed a long ceremonial sword from its scabbard, held it up for all to see, before gently performing the custom of bestowing a knighthood. Once he had tapped the flat of the blade on Sylvanas' shoulders, he sheathed it, while a page stepped forward with a folded tabard on a white pillow.
"Accept this tabard of our order, and go forth wearing it proudly as a member of our ranks," Tirion said, ushering Sylvanas to bow her head as he put the tabard on her.
Two figures stepped forward with sheathed blades, and there were audible gasps from the crowd.
"Your ancestral bow you may keep as a symbol of your noble lineage, but the dagger is a weapon of deceit, unbefitting a Paladin of the Silver Hand." Tirion stated, as Sylvanas shouldered her bow, and handed her daggers to him. "To present a more noble set of weapons to wield, I present Lor'themar Theron, Ranger General of Silvermoon, and Lady Tyrande Whisperwind, Priestess of Darnassus."
"We present Lady Sylvanas Windrunner with two swords of legendary status among our people," Tyrande smiled. "The twin blades; Quel'Delar and Quel'Serrar, united together after centuries apart."
"I see no finer benefactor than a child of Silvermoon who has overcome all odds, and remains steadfast in her dedication to doing what is right." Lor'themar said, as Tyrande handed Quel'Delar to Sylvanas. "May they serve you well."
Sylvanas strapped both blades to her hips, feeling their weight only momentarily, before it felt natural to have them at her sides, with her bow on her back.
"Remember that these weapons represent your prowess in battle, but that the sword is a chivalrous weapon, and should only be drawn in defence of the realm, or those weaker than yourself. Wear them with care, wield them with mercy." Tirion stated.
"This day do I render homage and fealty to the Silver Hand, and the Azeroth Alliance. I will remain true in all ways, serving faithfully – this I do swear, by these noble blades, my ancestral bow, and my honour and the high ideals which I hold as a knight of the Silver Hand." Sylvanas stated proudly before the entire congregation.
"Arise my loyal minions!" The Lich bellowed through the endless caverns, seeing his minions eagerly obeying. "The end of the world is coming, the Legion march toward this miserable rock, and the Old Gods stir in their prisons beneath the world, they only need a spark to light the fires to burn this world. WE ARE THAT SPARK!"
The caverns shook with cheers, and the Lich could only smile at this.
"The 'Alliance' believes us defeated; they believe that the Legion is their only concern... But we will never die!" It continued, before stopping to let the masses roar their approval. "In death we rise again stronger, and more numerous. For every one of us they strike down, their dead will rise to serve us! We know their weaknesses, we know their flaws, and together we shall finally see them beaten, and a new world order rise, an order of chaos!"
"We will bring about the end of the Alliance, the end of the world, the end of all things," the Lich yelled. "WE ARE THE APOCALYPSE!"
The entire cavern shook with the cheers and applause of the masses, who were the new Cult of the Damned. The Lich King watched from its vantage point as the masses swarmed away, sensing the figures waiting patiently behind him.
"You shall serve as my lieutenants in this apocalypse," the Lich said, turning to look at the figures before it. "You are my most loyal supporters, symbols of my unholy power, and you will carry out my decrees at any cost. Go forth and do my will, the eyes of the Lich King are upon you."
"Yes my king," the figures said, bowing before turning and walking away.
"Master, your vision for this world will come to fruition, no can stand against you now." the Lich said to the nothingness that surrounded him, before looking at the cavern roof, seeing Nerubians scurrying away. "It will not be much longer."
"Look at you sis, you look like a fancy city guard in that armour," Alleria laughed, as the heroes gathered after the ceremony. "I will say that I'm jealous that they gave you Quel'Delar AND Quel'Serrar, but you've definitely earned them."
"Thank you Alleria, and you've definitely earned your new threads as well," Sylvanas chuckled, looking down at the gleaming silver, blue and gold armour she was wearing, and the Silver Hand tabard that covered her chest. "Thank you for your kind words my queen."
"They were true words Sylvanas, you have earned this ceremony, you have earned those ancient blades, and you are worthy of your new position in the Alliance." Alexstrasza beamed.
"I do have one confession though," Sylvanas said quickly. "I don't think I can wield both these blades and this bow, Alleria will you take it?"
"How will you kill from a distance?" Alleria asked, holding the Windrunner bow in her hands.
"Throwing knives?" Vereesa suggested.
"They would work," Alleria pondered. "Have them lined up just above the swords on your waist."
"I'll make that request with the blacksmiths," Sylvanas sighed. "I take it from her absence in the crowd, that Onyxia is still missing."
"Correct," Ysondre said regretfully. "We've scoured Kalimdor and the Eastern Kingdoms and found no trace of her. Mother believes that her connection to Uther may have hurt her mentally, and she could be unstable until he is restored."
"Have you searched Northrend for her?" Vereesa asked, and Alexstrasza nodded.
"We have, she is the last fully grown Obsidian dragon, the heir to the mantle of Earth-Warder, and…" Alexstrasza paused, before she smiled slightly. "Of course…"
"My queen?" Sylvanas asked.
"I think she's been under our noses all this time," Alexstrasza said quickly. "Jaina, would you kindly return us to the Wyrmrest temple."
"My pleasure," Jaina bowed, before casting the spell.