Warcraft (c) Activision Blizzard


Icebound


Preparations

Darion Mograine, leader of the Four Horsemen and Highlord of the Knights of the Ebon Blade, approached the balcony on Acherus' upper level to answer the Deathlord's summons. The balcony itself affording a view of the saronite spires of Icecrown Citadel, and the Frostbrood dragon Sindragosa coiled atop its summit.

Wing-Commander Thalanor was conspicuously absent, though his faithful bone griffons remained on their perches. Occasional twitches of their talons or clicks of their beaks gave any indication that they were more than just skeletal statues. Standing by the railing, still and cold as marble was the Deathlord, even as her cloak and faded hair were buffeted by the arctic winds of Northrend.

She was a human woman, wearing a suit of armour forged by Alliance smithies. Brown and greys, accented by bright enchanted blues. Whichever smith worked the steel must of had no small measure of talent when it came to imbuing the armour with magical properties as well. Occasionally small ephemeral bone-like wings would flex out from the pauldrons, like a bird ready to take flight. Though in Darion Mograine's observation, those were purely an object of vanity - perhaps a form of maker's brand or signature.

Deathlord Ophelia Rutherford had her hand on the pommel of an familiar extraordinarily powerful runic weapon. One that Darion had last laid eyes upon many years ago. The Deathlord had always kept it locked away once the Lich King was felled. To see it out again reminded Darion of that victory a decade ago. Or was it longer?

Time was all relative when you were dead and so much had happened - the Cataclysm, the Pandaren mists, the Iron Horde, the Burning Legion and now the Banshee Queen's war? It felt like centuries since that fleeting moment of triumph. Darion cast his eyes over the rune-forged axe.

Shadowmourne.

Even now it overflowed with the promise of devastating power, though at this time it seemed to be submitting to the Deathlord's will... for the moment.

"Deathlord, you requested my council on something?" His voice was raspy, and its echoing quality greater thanks to his helm.

Hesitation touched the Ophelia's sunken features, something troubled her. Or perhaps that was just her typical forlorn expression. Hard to tell, there was so much hanging over the Ebon Blade's collective heads these day.

"Yes. I've spent some time considering quite a few things now. The Lich King that was Arthas is dead and rotting in hell. And the Legion - Neh'zul's ancient masters - were defeated. So much has happened since we gained our freedom at the Battle of Light's Hope."

Finally Ophelia turned to face him, she held the mythical axe out in offering to the the Highlord in both hands. "This is something long past overdue, but I believe the time has come to return this axe to you. You are the mastermind behind its creation and I can think of no Death Knight more deserving to wield this weapon."

Highlord Mograine glanced down at the axe, peering at it critically. All those years ago, it was forged from Arthas' own weapon Light's Vengeance. He remembered how he sent Ophelia - a comparative neophyte against to her might now - to taint the sacred hammer with the corruption and shadows that prevailed Icecrown. They collected the shattered fragments of the Frozen Throne to hone its fine edge.

"I can't accept this, Deathlord. You are the one who braved the perils of Icecrown and all of the challenges within to forge that weapon. Your efforts are what allowed us to finally fell that monster."

"Even though it forced a good man to sacrifice himself to take that bastard's throne?" Ophelia countered harshly, her cold rasping voice accented by the necromatic magics used to reanimate her.

"Sacrifice is our lot. And do you think me blind to the burden that damned crown carries? Do you think I spent all those days nights at the Garrison in Draenor twiddling my thumbs, or making paper toys out of the scripts your followers helped gather?"

Ophelia's proffered arms lowered slightly, a pause came before her response. "I wouldn't put it past you."

"Thank you..." The Highlord grumbled at the quip. "While I would enjoy trading barbs with you, Ophelia, perhaps we should simply skip to your point."

"Very well then. We will speak truth here - more than that, let us speak candidly Darion: You and I both know that despite my wielding this weapon, I could never tap into the vast potential contained within. I'm just scratching the surface, flailing at the shadows and too afraid to dip deeper into its well of power. But you..." Ophelia's eyes lifted from the weapon, the blue lich fire burning within with a mix of awe and almost feverish excitement, "But you, my Highlord, you are the mightiest Death Knight on the face of Azeroth, second only to Arthas before he donned the Helm of Domination. And with his death, that leaves you at the top of the metaphorical food chain, as it were."

Darion's lips pressed in a thin line, his sardonic wit coming to the fore, "If you're attempting to flatter me by comparing me to Arthas, than you should know you are singularly failing in your task."

"Fine then. I want to be rid of it, and you're just about the only craggy little bastard I can think of to unload it on without turning into a depraved mad man hell bent on the destruction we all hold dear." The Deathlord's own sarcastic tone was a remarkable return to form and Darion Mograine instantly found himself feeling more relieved, her quip cutting the tension like a knife.

"That sounds more like the Deathlord I know." The Highlord retorted, allowing himself to slip into a more casual mood, if only for a fleeting moment before the severity of the situation pressed upon them once more. "Why do you wish me to wield Shadowmourne in your stead? I do believe I told you once that I was through having magical weapons dictate my fate."

Ophelia let the weapon drop, balancing it on its tip while her hands folded over the pommel. "Let's lay it all out, shall we? I struggle to maintain more than ten ghouls for perhaps half a minute, you can raise an army of ten thousand undead with a simple command - not just Ghouls but giants and abominations too. And that was accomplished against the Paladins fighting upon Holy Ground. Against that measuring stick, I can think of no man better suited to attempt to harness the full destructive might of this weapon. Especially given what the Lich King intends."

Draion rolled his eyes under his helm, despite himself, he smirked in wry amusement. "Well, thank you for your candor. And if you are attempting to boost my ego, I must admit it is working to a degree."

Ophelia glanced over Acherus' railing, her gaze tracing the outline of Icecrown Citadel. "The Lich King will soon leave Northrend. And that his destination will be Orgrimmar. Our agents in Sylvanas' camp, as well as those of Saurfang and Wrynn's factions, confirmed that one last assault will be taking place outside the Gates of Orgrimmar."

"They intend to lay siege to the Capital. Again. Surely they know that they're simply asking for more trouble," Darion would've pinched the bridge of his nose in frustration had he not been donning his helm. "This is why the living can't have nice things. We ensure the Scourge stays contained, and they use that freedom to massacre each other. Am I the only one who feels like a maid?"

Ophelia laughed, a sardonic mirthful little laugh. "Oh, believe me - I am not thrilled about it either. But our target is the Banshee Queen. If things go as we predict, it could be our one and only chance to seize Sylvanas and lock her away in the deepest darkest pits of Icecrown - as we should have done long ago. The Lich King has called upon us to make that happen."

"Yes, I am aware of that. I am one of the Horsemen." Darion declared, "And though you were named his right hand, I am the leader of the Ebon Blade."

"Indeed. Which is why I present this axe to you. I want to make sure we have every advantage we can get when facing down that treacherous banshee." Once more, Ophelia hoisted the legendary axe into her hands and offered it out to him. "You have a greater chance than any of us to unleash its true destructive might. And we will need every advantage we have to subdue the Banshee and her zealots."

Darion raised his hand gingerly, hesitating for only a fraction of a second before seizing the axe in his grip. He lifted it from the Deathlords grip to examine its balance, feel its heft and weight. He spun Shadowmourne's haft between his hands, feeling proud at how effortless the motion was and how weightless the axe felt in his grip.

"It suits you." Ophelia complimented.

Darion readjusted his fingers on its haft and a reply formed in his throat, only to be cut off by a deafening screech that rent the air.

The great frost wyrm, Sindragosa, flexed its bone wings with a triumphant howl. In swift move, she swooped down from the Frozen throne, sweeping across Acherus' balcony as the two Death Knights watched.

"The King finally descends from the throne," Darion mused grimly, returning to a persona more befitting the Highlord of the Ebon Blade. "It appears our time is at hand."

"Agreed. I will summon the Ebonhold's Portal mages. We will need to work with alacrity and focus if we're to succeed in our ambush." Ophelia Rutherford turned sharply on her heel and began marching down the steps.

"By your word, Deathlord." Darion Mograine answered, marching in lockstep.


Author's note:

Nothing too dramatic. Just decided to write my own ending to the whole BFA ending with Saurfang and Sylvanas' duel, make her look a touch more cunning than was presented in the Shadowlands trailer. I only plan to write maybe 3-4 more chapters for this story. Just a bridge between BFA's ending and Shadowland's opening.

Sure, the battle is great and all, but rocking up to Icecrown of her own will? Not so much. Tricking the Lich King off his throne by forcing his hand to smuggle her behind his defenses, so she can be a Trojan prisoner and attack him in his own seat of power? Now THAT is cunning.

Also, excuse to give Darion Shadowmourne - not that I need one. Boi made it, boi gets to own it.

I welcome feedback and criticism,

Aurora313