AN - Apologies for not having this ready last month, the damn chapter just kept fighting me every step of the way.


Chapter XVIII: A Growing Empire

18 ADP, 25th Day of the Fifth Moon

"FORWARD!" Menma commanded as he atop his Void dragon Hinata flew over Zul'Aman followed closely by Vereesa riding on Frank who was still a Red drake. The scent of fires burning soon came across the wind over the walls.

The massive oaken doors that once held the troll fortress secure had been splintered, shattered and wholly blown apart by Menma's Rasenringu. The elves at his back had hidden themselves behind magical dampening barriers at Magister Umbric's behest lest they be overwhelmed by the backdraft of the magical explosion.

Needless to say, they were all stunned and overawed by the sheer power the Dragonrider so casually commanded. Even Umbric himself, who already knew of Menma's power was momentarily taken aback.

"SELAMA ASHAL'ANORE!" Renthar Hawkspear roared as he and Silvermoon's warriors spearheaded the assault into the accursed troll city. He was a companion of Sylvanas and her recommendation to lead the warriors who signed up for the raid on Zul'Aman.

"Alar'annalas, with me!" Sylvanas commanded sharply as she took her personal company of the most elite archers in all of Quel'thalas to the North end of the city where they would deal with the Eagle Avatar Akil'zon.

Meanwhile at the gates Umbric was setting up their home base as Master Menma had commanded. His mages had quickly set up portals to Silvermoon for resupply, reinforcement or retreat.

The priests likewise had been quick to set up a medical center for the injured, this team being headed by Lady Liadrin who apparently had been acquainted with his Lord and was asked by him to lead the healer division, only a few of the more combat oriented priests having left with the assault teams for on-site healing while those more grievously injured would be returned to the fallback point for urgent care.

At the entrance to the city was Lor'themar Theron, Ranger-Lord of the Farstriders and a company of twenty Ranger-Captains. These Farstriders would be acting as reinforcement, messengers and the last line of defense should the assault teams need to retreat but for now they would hold the line.

All around them were the bodies of trolls who were either caught in the initial explosion by Menma or killed by their forces storming the city. Lor'themar stood stalwart as he gazed into the city, already he could see the dragonfire spreading, a grim smile crossing his lips as he remembered the past war when the Orcs brought their dragons to burn the forests of Quel'Thalas at the troll's behest.

Turnabout was only fair play.

Tis' a shame he and his men were assigned to hold the front, but the Ranger-General Sylvanas and Lord Menma gave their orders and he was meant to follow. His keen eyes spotted a runner coming from the right side, carrying a swordsman on his back.

"My Lord, we need two to the Bear Shrine." The runner reported, not stopping to hear his reply as he quickly headed for the med-bay.

"Boldfire, Sharpwind." He called out, not taking his eyes off the city, always on the lookout for any trolls attempting to escape.

""Sir!"" The two snapped a salute and went off to reinforce.

Another runner approached from the opposite side this time. "Brightbow."

"Sir!"

His eyes caught the injuries on the archer and he doubted she would make it past the night. A shame, her sacrifice will not be forgotten. With a deep breath he continued his vigil.

It would be a long day.

000

Menma dodged to the side as the abnormally large troll swung his staff at him, missing and bashing the weapon against the floor before raising his arm - Menma immediately switched with one of his clones that was engaging a hulking troll and used its massive body as a shield to tank the Spirit Bolts Malacrass shot at him.

The Spirit Bolts blasted the Hulk to bits which gave Menma enough time to lob a spell of his own, "Shadowfury!"

Malacrass was an exceptionally powerful troll and normally would be able to shrug off such spells but when hit by the force of a Void enhanced Shadowfury, the elite troll was brought to his knees instantly. "Gah- grhaghghgghaaa..."

With a flick of the Kubikiribocho, the Menma clone that was waiting in stealth for the right moment to strike took that split second where Malacrass was stunned to cleave most of the way through his neck.

Walking up to the gurgling troll who was still somehow alive even though he mostly decapitated rolling on the floor, panic in his eyes as his hands light up a bright gold. "Oh fucking, no you don't! Silence! Death!"

The Shadow Words muddled the troll's mind into forgetting how to even mentally chant the words needed for his flash heal while the second one sent him directly into the endless embrace of the Void.

"God damn trolls and their stupid levels of regeneration." Menma grumbled, walking further into the room but not before stabbing his blade into the heart of another Hulk who was crawling on the ground. "Fucking roaches, the lot of them."

It had been nearly a month now, after all of this time the damn Silvermoon council had finally reached a decision on whether or not to join the Empire. Their answer was such 'Prove to us, King Menma, the might of the Empire. Help rid us of our ancient enemy.'

And that's how his campaign against the Amani Empire began, not that he was never not down for a fight but it was a bit annoying having to deal with this for them. Still the High elves of Silvermoon were masters of the Arcane and Holy arts, not to mention warriors and archers of great renown.

Quite frankly not having Quel'thalas in his Empire was never an option, which was why he had spent the last several months in the City building a rapport with High King Anasterian... and also subverting a few High elves into his cult. But we don't talk about that.

At first progress had been slow, with only himself Vereesa and Sylvanas slowly taking back lands from the trolls. Then Sylvanas' most loyal Rangers joined them at her behest without a moment's hesitation.

Seeing their continued victories, more and more elves who had lost family or friends to the trolls began volunteering to his cause. One being Renthar Hawkspear the elder brother of Cyndia Hawkspear and a Ranger-Captain well on his way to being a Ranger-Lord.

Next had been the mages who had followed the Call of the Void and saw not only infinite power but also salvation within the Cold Dark. Magister Umbric had been the first High-Elf to truly submit himself to the Will of the Void, though the transformation would be held off until a later and more opportune time.

He had been instrumental in finding like minded mages amongst his people who too would be willing to follow the Call. Sylvanas oddly enough had been intrigued with his Shadow abilities enough to seek him out on her own and soon became another loyal soldier for the Embraced.

She had tried to convince Menma to allow her protege Nathanos to join but he argued that as Marris was not one of his or an elf then it would diminish the whole point of the battle, to prove his and Silvermoon's strength.

The last to join his merry band of troll Slayers had actually been Sylvanas' second-in-command, who also happened to be the asshole who drew his blade on him the first day - Lor'themar Theron.

He didn't seem overly fond of being ordered around by a human but like any good soldier he followed the command of those above him, namely himself and Sylvanas. Being Sylvanas' second, Menma put him in charge of their reserve fighters and their fallback point.

Many more elves were actually stationed outside of the stronghold, those of lower rank who were meant to hold off any troll forces that would arrive in an attempt to aid Zul'Aman.

A piercing cry drew his attention just as a clone popped to tell him the news. Sylvanas and her team had just finished off Akil'zon and were moving to assist Hawkspear with Nalorakk.

With a grunt of effort Menma kicked down the heavy door that barred his entrance into the East section of the city. His Kubikiribocho was already swinging as a horde of trolls swarmed him.

These were noticeably weaker than the ones he had fought before and Menma figured these were just the city's civilians being used as a sacrifice to slow him down somewhat. Hell they didn't even have weapons, they were seriously just trying to take swings at him before he cleaved them in half.

"Everybody always wanna take from us. Now we gonna start takin' back. Anybody who get in our way... gonne drown in dey own blood. Da Amani empire be back now... seekin' vengeance. And we gonna start wit' you." Zul'jin yelled from his pedestal.

Menma snorted in amusement as he decapitated the last troll civilian. "Yeah, ya keep tinkin' dat asshole." He said as he received the memories of Nalorakk's demise.

Before him stood a bridge and several other trolls, these however weren't fighters, he could already tell from they way they shivered in fear and clung to their children.

With a smirk he walked across the bridge, the trolls all fearfully watching his every step as he neared them covered in the dripping blood of their fathers and brothers, his massive cleaver dragged behind him as it noisily dragged across the stone.

As his eyes dragged across the last of the Amani he could only feel a shiver of elation knowing that their deaths would bring him the loyalty of the High elves. As such he didn't waste one more second in letting out a shrill whistle.

None of the trolls knew what was happening until Zul'Jin from his elevated position clearly saw the deep purple visage of Hinata soaring over the wall, a bright blue flame already gathering in her mouth.

Zul'Jin's eyes widened and before he even had the chance warn him people, the dragon's flames washed over them. Only they weren't fire at all, it wasn't heat he felt coming from the blue flames but cold and only a after letting down his remaining arm could he see the rime that coated it and the horror that laid below.

Before him, laid not the worked stone of his people but a frozen wasteland with statues of ice, forever immortalizing the fear in his people's eyes as their iced over forms stood completely still. "No..." Zul'jin breathed out, a slight mist forming in front of his mantle from the cold.

The flapping of wings drew his attention as the drake who was more akin to a small dragon loomed over him primed to attack. Is this was they felt when the orcs and their dragons descended upon the elves? The knowledge that nothing could be done in the face of such might?

It did more to chill his bones that the dragon's fire did.

Ice crunched as the human approached, seemingly unaffected by the sudden drop in temperature even as he shook the frozen pellets of blood off his blade. "I can see it on your face you know?" The human spoke with a mocking arrogance, "Hehe, it's funny you know, before this campaign I didn't much have an opinion on trolls. But now? After you goddamn roaches made me comb these woods day and night for a month to get rid of you all? Well now... I absolutely fucking hate you."

"Dis was our land. troll land. We Amani was here before anyone! Da' elves and dere Alliance came to drive us out. But we never give up. We never forget..." Having said his peace Zul'jin leapt at Menma and swung down with his glaive only for it to harmlessly pass over the face of Kubikiribocho as he parried and shoulder checked the troll away.

"Ooh feisty aren't cha'?" Menma mocked as he locked around, a plan formulating in his head. From the roars he could hear nearby Vereesa and Sylvanas should be engaging Jan'alai while Hawkspear and his warriors ventured into Halazzi's temple.

"Well come on then big boy, come and get me." He said before dashing off to the side and using the flat of his blade to smash the statues of a troll woman and her child to pieces as he went.

Zul'jin saw red and roared out to the heavens as he transformed himself into a bear and started charging at the human. "Oh, this is even better." Menma grinned as he stood in front of a gathering of statues only to dodge out of the way at the last moment, watching as Zul'jin plowed through his own people. "Steeee-rike!"

Zul'jin roared in fury after recognizing what he had done and charged at Menma once again. "What? You didn't like that one? Well how about these ones? Pain! Voidbolt!" Thrusting his palms out one at a time he launched the shadow spells which impanted the bear hard enough to make him stumble and fall.

Zul'jin rolled with the fall as he de-shifted forms however and leapt up as he suddenly took the form of an eagle and summoned tornadoes around him. Their strong winds seemed to actually be pushing him away instead of into him and running only made them follow him even harder. "Alright, this is some bullshit! Void Constructs!" Drawing directly from the Void he summoned five Void-infused clones and had them spread out.

It seemed to confuse Zul'jin greatly as he couldn't tell which Menma was which and had to pick between four of them to chase which unfortunately left him open to attack from the other two. Abandoning that plan came just as quickly to Zul'jin as he backed away before turning into a Lynx and leaping at the nearest clone.

The other five watched the clone get shredded to ribbons and disappear before looking at each other and going into a more defensive formation. Three more clones had died during the fight and Hinata had to swoop in and pull the Zul'jin away when he had jumped on Menma before blasting him full on with her ice breath.

Zul'jin cried in agony as he de-shifted and turned into a dragonhawk to combat the ice by spinning himself breathing out a stream of fire in all directions. Menma had to pull out Samehada to devour the flames and with it's weakening properties Zul'jin soon was forcefully de-shifted, falling back in exhaustion as he tried crawling away from Menma.

"Mebbe me fall... but da Amani empire... never gonna d- UGH! Uhhh..." Zul'jin sighed out his last breath as Kubikiribocho stuck out of his chest, having been thrust straight through his heart.

"Yeah, yeah..." Menma sighed as he pulled out the blade and swiftly decapitated the troll before placing the head in a bag. "Hopefully the assault teams are done, I've had my fill of trolls for one lifetime."

With a casual wave of his hand a Shadow Crash spell demolished the remaining ice statues as he remounted Hinata and flew back into the city proper. A frown on his face as he took off his coat. "Troll bastards got their blood all over my favorite cloak... this better not stain or I swear I'll go to Gurubashi and nuke the fucking place just out of annoyance."

Seeing Vereesa doing strafing runs on Frank he decided to join her. "What's the situation out here?"

"Sylvas and her team just killed the Dragonhawk avatar. I'm not sure about Hawkspear and his crew though." Vereesa yelled out over the wind before shooting off another arrow that impaled a hidden troll through the eye.

"Alright, I'm going to get started on the exit plan then." Yanking on Hinata's reins they flew off towards the city's perimeter where the Void drake began freezing over the river before moving on to the walls to prevent any troll from escaping.

She had just finished covering the walls by the time Hawkspear's team exited Halazzi's temple. Vereesa had spotted the same and started the plan. She and Frank would begin burning the city behind the assault teams as they made their escape.

Seeing their impending fate, the trolls that had gone into hiding had made a last ditch effort to escape only to be mowed down by Ranger arrows as Sylvanas and her team were already waiting by the entrance just for this moment.

After every elf safely made it out of the city Menma had Hinata freeze over the entrance, the pained screams of the surviving trolls ringing out in the night air like horrid windchimes. Hateful of the trolls as the elves are, many became ill as soon as the overpowering scent of burning flesh became apparent but still they kept their vigil, ensuring no troll escaped their fiery prison.

This went on for half an hour, a mostly silent watch as the night sky soon opened up in to a light rain that was slowly putting out the flames. A hastily erected ward by the mages kept their company dry as soon the storm came down in earnest and put out the burning city within the hour.

The ashes city had been silent for almost ten minutes now and yet no one dared say a word as the human King simply watched on with an impassive look. Until he spoke. "Sylvanas."

"Yes?" The woman asked, tilting her head up slightly to look at her lover still astride his draconic mount.

"What are the odds of survivors?"

"Fire has been known to dampen their regenerative abilities and cauterized wounds never heal properly on trolls. So... unlikely."

"But not certain." Menma huffed. "Theron, take your company and comb the ruins. Kill anything that moves - no prisoners. Sylvanas and I will report our victory to High-King Anasterian." He said, offering a hand down for the she-elf to grasp before pulling her up.

"Vereesa with us." Menma called out his last command before taking off towards Silvermoon. The ride over was mostly quiet and people generally got out of the way when Sylvanas was strolling through the city, far too respectful of their Ranger-General to impede her way.

Especially when they looked like they had just left a battlefield.

"Hey Menma..." Vereesa whispered as they made their way through the city. At his grunt of acknowledgement she continued, "You're leaving as soon as they sign the alliance papers right?"

"Yes. Truthfully I could have left months ago when my diplomats arrived but I wanted to be here to handle the matter personally ." Menma whispered back. "I will be moving back down to Alterac however. Travel between there, Ironforge and Gnomeregan will be much simpler."

Granted he had known how to make portals for some time now and while generally it was far too mana and reagent intensive for normal mages to simply portal around at their leisure, teleportation however was much simpler and he had mastered the art recently thanks to Kael'thas' instruction.

And speaking of chakra he still hadn't had a chance to look into that odd chakra barrier far to the south. The sheer size of the damn thing seemed to cover an entire continent and according to most maps there was nothing there.

It was only after looking into some old Kaldorei maps that pre-dated Quel'thalas from the elven journey across the sea did he note that there was in fact a landmass far to the south of the world.

"Will... you visit?" Sylvanas' voice was so low he almost didn't hear it, deep in his own musings as he was. Still if he had to reassure his woman then that's what he'd do.

"Of course. I'll visit when able, now that I've mastered teleportation I should be able to show up every once in a while when not too engrossed in politics." The way he practically spat out the word drew a giggle from Vereesa and a small smile from her elder sister.

As they drew up towards the Sunfury Spire they were met along the way by Kael'thas who congratulated them all on a successful campaign. Apparently the Silvermoon council had been scrying the battle and were satisfied with the results.

They all stood around on ceremony for a while, getting all of the formal crap out of the way before the signing of the treaty that marked the official induction of Silvermoon and the High Elves into the Empire.

The Empire, unlike the Alliance of Lordaeron was not a democracy but very much so an autocracy with the Emperor - namely Menma - holding the final say on all dealings while the other kings simply acted as advisors.

Convincing the elven people that rule under him instead of rule under themselves was the main reason Menma had to prove himself to them and ingratiate himself to the high elves and also why it had taken so long.

They had seen it now however, his power, his resourcefulness and his ability to lead. They knew of his various allies, the greatest of course being the Red Dragonflight under the Life-Binder Alexstrasza.

They had deliberated over all of the presented factors and eventually came to the conclusion that the High Elves would be ready and able to pledge themselves to his banner should their forests become secure through the elimination of the Amani tribe.

As the ceremonies ended Anasterian formally bowed at the waist and intoned "Emperor." Soon followed by every other elf falling to one knee and greeting their new ruler.

Menma allowed a small smile to cross his lips as the elves all around him kept their heads bowed in deference. All that was left was Lordaeron and he would become the sole ruler of the Northern Kingdoms.

No... he then thought, there was one small thorn in his side. He mused as the elves all stood once more.

Gilneas.

He would have to deal with them sooner rather than later but for now he would celebrate his newest acquisition.

000

18 ADP, 7th Day of the Eighth Moon

Menma had been home for a few months now and had spent a good portion of it training his son while sending clones off to help Jaina subvert people to their cabal. Another had been sent to Stratholme to check up on his Salamander and to attempt to enter the Silver Hand where Arthas was training under Uther Lightbringer in the ways of being paladin.

Tis a shame it'll all be for naught after running afoul a bad case of death. He wasn't even worried about them resurrecting the little cuck as they can't exactly bring back a headless corpse.

Casually moving his body to the side let the arcane missle completely miss him, only now bothering to focus back on his first son. "Arcane missiles are meant to be fired in rapid succession to cut back on the chance that your target will dodge Saren."

"Right." Saren replied in a calm, almost bored tone before lifting his hand back up and this time sending out a veritable volley of arcane energy. Menma lifted an eyebrow before smirking and merely batting the projectiles away from him with a localized magic shield on his hand.

"You're improving." Was all Menma said in praise. "Keep this up and I'll teach you Arcane Blast soon enough."

A slightly crooked smile that reminded Menma of his own graced Saren's lips before flitting away as the boy returned to his previous demeanor. Saren had learned quickly enough that his father had certain expectations of him and so he would act a certain way around him that he wouldn't with say his mother or the servants.

Father had told him that it was for the sake of training him to one day take up the mantle of King of Alterac, to remain composed and focused even in the face of insurmountable odds - this one being his Father, one of the most powerful men currently alive.

Gifted with a mind far more advanced than those around him, even at the tender age of five Saren knew that he would likely never be a match for his Father. Yet he promised to surpass him no matter what, he would earn his Father's approval even if he had to pry it from his dying hands.

His deep blue eyes lit up with arcane power and once more he sent his arms forward and instead of chanting 'Arcane Missiles' as he had been before, something deep inside told him to instead roar "ARCANE BARRAGE!"

The instant cast nearly caught Menma off-guard before throwing up a Mana Shield which blocked the extremely powerful twin bolts of crystalized mana. Seeing a small crack in his shield caused Menma to smirk for the barest of moments. "Enough." He called out seeing his son begin his cast once again. "Go get cleaned up it's almost time for dinner."

"Yes Father!" The boy said, bowing respectfully before scampering off.

Menma snorted at the boy's theatrics, as if he couldn't see right through the child. Regardless the boy was attentive during their lessons and he was already becoming a powerful tool soon to be added to his arsenal and from Jaina's letters Derek had the potential to be even more powerful as he had inherited the famed hydrokinesis of the Proudmoore family along with his and Jaina's abnormally large mana pools.

"Report." Menma said as he remained in the training ring where a man suddenly appeared before him, knelt and head bowed reverently.

"My Emperor, we have discovered the whereabout of the orcs." The Syndicate member replied quickly. "They have taken refuge in an old elven ruin now known as Dire Maul in Feralas."

Menma nodded slowly before asking "And the night elves?"

"They have been receptive to our trade caravans. The land known as Azshara is just as Lady Preston said as well and we have been able to build a fort on the coastlands after clearing some of the local wildlife." The agent answered.

"Excellent, captain. Report to Ryson for further orders." Menma said as a clear dismissal as he walked off towards the castle.

"My Emperor." He heard the man say before the man left to fulfil his orders.

000

18 ADP, 20th Day of the Twelfth Moon

A black haired young man smirked as he parried his opponents blade before stepping in with a shoulder check that launched the exhausted young man to ground, blade held to his opponents throat. "Yield."

The other young man on the ground grunted in annoyance before saying , "I yield."

The black haired man chuckled before sheathing his blade and offering his hand to his opponent. "You'll have to be better than that your majesty. Can't have the crown prince eating dirt day in and day out, now can we?"

Arthas pushed away his friend good naturedly "Oh, piss off, Uchiha."

The clone of Menma disguised as his old friend and fellow playboy Sasuke Uchiha grinned widely as he caught up to the prince, walking by his side. "So, excited to get back to your wife and child?"

Arthas smiled as he looked off in the distance towards Lordaeron. "I am, it's been nearly half a year since I last saw Jaina and Derek and I've missed them terribly."

A dark look came across Sasuke's eyes which was easily hidden a moment later by his charming smile. "Well, I personally can't wait either, been a while since I've been with a noble lady and Lordaeron's got the finest."

Arthas scoffed and rolled his eyes. "Must you be so crude, Uchiha?"

Menma laughed, "Must I? No, will I be anyway? Absolutely."

"Insufferable." Arthas murmured with a wry grin on his lips as his friend swung his arm over his shoulders. "Who else will be joining us?"

"Just a few of the lads that asked for leave to see the family for the holidays." Menma replied. "Five, maybe six of us?"

Arthas nodded as Menma stepped away having caught sight of something, turning to match his gave he could only let out a very unprincely snort. "Still trying? You know that she'll never give you the time of day right?"

"Oh, ye of little faith." Menma adjusted his collar as he prepared to head towards his target, "Just watch and learn."

"The only thing I'll learn is whatever new and inventive way she'll shoot you down with this time." Arthas called out his jibe before chuckling and continuing on his way to the barracks to prepare his things for the trip back to Lordaeron.

000

Menma approached the two woman who were having a late breakfast at a cafe. "Well hello there my dears."

Looking up from her food Eris Havenfire rolled her eyes seeing who it was. "Menma."

Sally Paletress on the other hand however beamed in excitement. "Master!"

"Hello my little Salamander, how goes your training?" Menma asked his first apprentice who grumbled something about the Light before telling him that it was going well. "And you Eris? How are you this lovely morning?"

Eris sighed "I'm well my Lord."

"So I was thinking-"

She rubbed the bridge of her nose "Lord Menma, please understand that I have no interest, I prefer women. You know this."

Menma shrugged, "No, I'm aware. Doesn't mean I'll stop trying regardless but I'll let up for now because I have more important news."

"Oh?" Eris asked, now intrigued. "What is it?"

"It's time." Was all Menma said, a moment passing in silence before Eris and Sally looked at each other then back at him.

"You mean that time?" Sally asked for clarification.

"Yes." Menma confirmed as he turned to Eris. "Gather the faithful and set up along the road two days down."

Sally stood immediately followed by Eris and the bowed subtly before taking off towards the church in a brisk but still inconspicuous pace. Laying a gold piece on the table for their meals he also stood up and returned to the barracks.

000

19 ADP, 2nd Day of the First Moon

The old and tired visage of Terenas Menethil remained steady as he watched the stone casket be sealed, the plaque in front denoting 'Arthas Menethil - Son, Prince, Paladin' Arthas having been knighted by his mentor Uther posthumously.

His daughter Calia crying at the foot of her little brother's casket as it stood there in quiet solemnity next to that of their mother Lianne's.

A little over a week ago his head had been found on the throne, nearly giving the old king a heart attack before he ordered a shut down of the city to look for any possible culprits before starting a hunt for the rest of his son's body which was found a few days later along the road to Stratholme.

It was deemed that Arthas and his companions had been assaulted in the dead of night by practitioners of dark magics, this being confirmed by the Kirin Tor agents dispatched to the scene.

Immediately the old king's thoughts turned to the foul magicks of the orcs and for days his ravings about hunting down the orc menace raged within his audience chamber. The nobles all looking upon the king with looks of pity or discontent.

Turning to his side to take his mind off of his dark thoughts he was graced with the view of the young widow dressed in black and veiled as she mourned the death of her husband. Today being the first he had seen of her since she had locked herself in her rooms out of sheer grief at the news of his son's death.

He could neither fault nor blame the lass as he was of a mind to do much the same, were it not his duty to keep the kingdom running. Reaching out he placed a comforting hand on her shoulder as a lone tear slid down her cheek. She was a strong girl, he was glad... the kingdom would need a strong ruler and his grandson a strong mother for he could feel his end nearing.

Jaina had stayed for only a while longer until Derek awoke with a fuss, where she had begged off to care for her son. "Of course dear, please get some rest." Teranas said, seeing the bags under the girl's eyes.

She inclined her head and made way towards her rooms, the stoic look remaining on her in the face of the well-wishers just outside of the mausoleum who all had come out in force to mourn their fallen prince.

She knew that Arthas was well loved by his people but this had simply put it in perspective as she entered the castle proper and made for her chambers, telling the mades to vacate before putting up a silencing spell on the room.

Suddenly she let out a sigh in relief, looking down at her son with a loving smile. "Yes, yes, I know my heart." She said lovingly, already unstrapping her black dress to allow her heavy swollen breasts to pop out which she offered to her son who latched on greedily, taking a moment to move herself to sit on the bed.

"I didn't think you'd be able to cry, that was a nice touch." Menma said from behind her as he rubbed her shoulders and kissed her neck.

"I couldn't." Jaina admitted. "I had to use my hydrokinesis to dry out my eyes and force the tears out that way."

Menma chuckled, "What a heartless woman, couldn't even shed a single tear for your husband?"

Jaina ignored his words as she simply stroked her son's hair. His peaceful face reminding her why she did all of this, at first it had been for a foolish love of the man behind her but with the birth of her son she had been given a new clarity.

Derek was her world now, he was her life and for his sake she would burn this world to the ground if it meant his safety.

A part of her, a large part even, would always love Menma but he was no longer the center of her life and with that she could now focus on what was important to her and securing her son's future kingdom was just one of those things. "When will you execute the next part of the plan?"

"Soon." Menma replied. "The mind-numbing poison is working well in conjunction with the continued nightmares. It won't be long now until the good king falls."

Jaina nodded, her head leaning back against his chest, eyes closed in contentment. "Good."

"Tired?" He asked, slowly massaging her temples and running his hands through her hair in a way that drew a pleased hum from the woman.

She smiled, eyes still closed as she enjoyed his ministrations. "Of course, we just spent the last few days having sex non-stop. We even went further than that first time we had a marathon, quite frankly I'm exhausted."

"We were celebrating." Menma protested, "I also didn't hear you complaining."

"Shush." She pleaded lowly as she relaxed into her lover's chest. "Just hold me for a while."

"Alright."

000

19 ADP, 27th Day of the First Moon

Jaina had to hand it to the old king, she thought as she sat on the throne. He had held on longer than she or Menma guessed he would, lasting nearly a month before taking his own life in the dead of night.

This had been two days ago, his funeral having taken part last night while this morning she was fast-tracked into the position of Queen-Regent by the simpering nobles hoping to curry favour with her.

Granted a few of those nobles, those who craved power and were cleared to know the deeper secrets of the Void were already on her side. The next step of the plan was to have 'meetings' with the now publicly recognized Emperor Menma where they would 'discuss' a treaty between their kingdoms.

A true smile graced her lips as she rose to her feet and greeted her lover cordially. "Emperor, a pleasure to see you again." She said for the sake of her court who all watched on as the leader of the new Empire entered the throne room.

"Queen Jaina, It's good to see you again." He greeted, taking her offered hand and kissing her knuckles briefly before letting go. "I received your letter and came as soon as I was able. Know that I'll do everything in my power to support you during this difficult time for you Jaina."

"Thank you my old friend." She said kindly before looking up at the balconies full of Lordaeron's aristocracy. "For those not yet aware this is my dear friend and confidant Menma Uzumaki, King of Alterac and Emperor of the new Empire."

Menma smiled widely as he addressed the gathered nobility. "Rest assured that the Empire will do our best to assist Lordaeron during these trying times." His eyes crinkled closed, hiding the deviant look in his eyes as he looked around the throne room. "And together we'll reach new heights of wealth and prosperity!"

The nobles who were already in the Embraced stood and clapped excitedly for their Emperor which drew in the rest of their more hesitant fellows. Menma's smile dipped down to that of a smirk as he basked in their adoration.

It was good to be the Emperor.

000

19 ADP, 3rd Day of the Second Moon

The haggard and blood-shot eyes of an old man scanned his surroundings, the invisibility spell doing much to hide his appearance and the feather-fall spell hid his footfalls but still he kept a vigilant eye on his surroundings.

A sudden racket drew his attention and he remained perfectly still against the wall he was up against. Slowly a patrol walked past, the light of the moon shining off of the soldier's armor as he let out a loud yawn.

The old man waited several seconds yet before making his move once again, this next part would like prove the most difficult. A frown confirmed his fears, two guards posted in front of the throne room. The moment he would begin casting his enchantments would fade but hopefully the surprise would catch them off-guard and give him time to dispatch the sentries before they raised the alarm.

With a deep breath he suddenly stepped in front of the two guardsmen, the air shimmering slightly where he stood from his sudden movements as the light reflecting off of him tried to keep up with his sudden movements.

"Wha-" Suddenly two dark green bolts shot at the two guards, blasting them square in the chest and knocking them back into the wall, unmoving.

The man winced at the loud sound they had produced and figured that the time for stealth was over. Quickly rushing over to the throne room door he waved his hand and blasted it down before rushing to the back as he could already hear the clamor outside.

Blasting down another door led him further in to the Tomb of Kings where all of the royal family was buried. Bells rang in alarm and heavy footfalls could be heard but he was not an Archwizard for nothing.

Raising powerful defenses where the doors were would hopefully buy him enough time to complete his Master's task. With a huff of hair he ran along the wall passing by several tombs until he came upon two very recently sealed caskets. "Ah, here you are my boy."

Blasting the top off of Arthas' tomb he levitated the body out of the casket, head and all before laying it down on the floor where he quickly began incanting a complicated spell, eldritch runes forming all around him.

The power it would take to traverse to the roof of the world would drain him dearly but he had no time to dawdle as he could feel the magical barriers begin to crack under the heavy swings of paladin hammers.

Still he kept murmuring, hands glowing a deep blue before calling "Teleport!"

A few minutes later when Uther, having remained in Lordaeron at Teranas' request to look after his grandson, broke down the barrier he could only look down in both horror and rage. The tomb of his protege - defiled and his body stolen.

He could only grip his hammer in anger. "Even in death you cannot be allowed to rest." He said through gritted teeth. "I will find who did this Arthas... and I will have justice brought upon them!"


AN - Short note about something that always bugged me about the Farstrider ranks was that Ranger was somehow the entry level rank with Farstrider being the one above it so instead, I'm changing it to Ranger being above a normal Farstrider captain and below Ranger-Captain. This makes it a little easier for me as well since Sylvanas' personal guard were all Dark Rangers but were somehow her elites? At least this would make them being elites somewhat more believable especially as they would be closer to the Ranger-General than say an entry level grunt.