Warcraft (c) Activision Blizzard


Icebound


Reckoning

Outside the gates of Orgrimmar, the lingering remnants of the Alliance army and those Horde warriors loyal to Saurfang stood across the Dranosh'ar Blockade line. They waited and watched on with baited breath as High Overlord Saurfang and Warchief Sylvanas Windrunner fought in a ritual challenge.

This Mak'Gora had so much more than the fate of the Horde, or even the war, riding on its outcome. The victor here would determine perhaps the very fate and future shape of Azeroth herself.

And at this very moment, that future was looking bleaker by the second. Saurfang was armed with Thrall's axe and Shalamayne that Anduin had loaned him, and Sylvanas took up a pair of daggers from her banner. But she was precisely as nimble and swift as only elves could be. Against the aging orc, the Banshee's swiftness, deft hand and evasiveness placed her in an early advantage in this duel.

"The High Overlord falls..." Sylvanas lorded over Saurfang, bringing him to his knees with long slices and cuts.

She loomed over him, her face was a mask of stoicism, but her voice and the subtle growl it carried showed the truth depths of her rage at this betrayal. "I trusted you. And so did they."

Sylvanas straightened, circling Saurfang like a vulture circling their prey eager for the kill. "Death comes old soldier. And all of their hope dies with you."

The old Orc's fingers curled tighter around the grip of Shalamayne. "Hope... you cannot kill it." He whispered to himself at first. "You will never kill hope..."

"You tried at Teldrassil... and you failed. Hope remained." Saurfang swung the sword at her wildly but it was deflected with little effort. Another wild swing and another clang of metal against metal. "You set us to kill each other and Lorderon. Again, you fail. We stand together, but you just keep failing!"

He brought down Shalamayne in a two-handed grip against her daggers, "The Horde will endure! The Horde is strong!"

The last strike was repelled, and Saurfang capitalized on this golden opportunity, splitting the Late-King Wrynn's sword into its two parts, he struck. The first blow was deflected but the second struck true, slicing Sylvanas' eye.

"The Horde is NOTHING!" She spat, all hatred and rage for that fraction of a second while she tended to her eye.

In that moment, she came to a realisation and it was as if flood gates had burst open. She took a step forward and her next words were accented by the Banshee's howl. "You are all nothing!"

The chill of death swept through the Dranosh'ar Blockade, accenting Sylvanas' nihilistic howl with foreboding and dread. A fierce wind coiled and wound its way through the desert plain of Durotar from Bladefist bay, carrying with it a steadily thickening mist.

Anduin Wrynn knew his focus should be on the duel, but he couldn't help his attention being drawn to the turning weather. And the icy chill that came with it. A chill that cut cleanly to the bone. He glanced at his advisors, all equally perplexed and concerned as he. Even those leaders of the Horde who sided with Saurfang were taken aback by the sudden shift. The skies themselves closed, blanketed by thick greyish-black clouds.

Was this the Banshee Queen's power? How did she come across this?

"For Azeroth!"

In a swift move, dark magic shot from Sylvanas' hands and ended the High Overlord in a single blow. His lifeless corpse feel back, smoking from whatever twisted shadows the Banshee cast to do her bidding.

"If you could see yourselves as I see you..." Sylvanas walked forward. "Toy soldiers in tin plate. Beasts who howl for honour. Standing as one. Savour it. Nothing lasts."

As her body evaporated into mist and assumed its incorporate state, she whisked her way into the sky. As the armies were powerless to halt the Banshee's escape, a massive shadow hiding in the dark clouds collided with the wispy form. A shadow like a whip, smacked the mass of mist back down. Sylvanas' form crashed against Orgrimmar's front gate, denting the iron as her body slumped down.

She gasped for air, an instinctual reaction from a winding blow. "What...?"

"What's going on?" Thelysrra was the first to ask, but her voice was soon drowned out.

The east wind's howl grew to a complete blizzard, blanketing the crimson clay of Durotar white. It was punctuated by the clattering of steel. Confusion rippled like waves through the assembled forces, Horde and Alliance alike, as banners of fidelity fell to the ground. The sound of chain mail, plate and footfalls followed, echoing through the suddenly frozen valley. Men and women of all races pushed forward through their allies to come to the front lines. Others tried to stop them, but found themselves quite literally rooted in place by ice.

Even the mighty dented iron gates of Orgrimmar opened with a rumble of steel, revealing dozens if not hundreds of plate-armoured soldiers. All of them held one trait in common, one trait that unified them. The cold blue Lich Fire burning in their eyes.

"Death Knights-!" Jaina hissed under her breath. "They're all Death Knights! What are they doing?"

Thelyssra and Lor'themar of the Horde were both readying themselves for a battle. But not of the Death Knights chose to acknowledge their respective faction leaders. They instead moved to converge on Sylvanas Windrunner.

"What is going on? Has she taken the will of the Death Knights?" Thelyssra had her arcane magics at the fore, ready to defend herself but uncertain where to direct her spell casts.

"If that is the case, then we're in for a hard fight. But I don't think we are a factor in whatever schemes they are planning this day." Lor'Themar answered.

"Alliance! To arms!" Anduin called as the icy blizzard became too thick to see more than a few feet in front of him.

"There is no need to raise alarm, Great King." The magically twisted voice of a female warrior emerged from the fog beside him, showing no small measure of respect.

Anduin and Jaina both turned to see a female Death Knight, a human woman whose eye burned with Lich fire. They recognized her as Ophelia Rutherford, the Death Knight champion who assisted them through out the campaign against the Legion, and again in this bloody war. "We have no quarrel with you. Please, allow us to take on this mantle and ensure our common peril stays... contained."

A shadow swooped over them all, accompanied by a mighty roar that split the heavens. A dragon's roar. It became clear that this creature circling the skies was the one to cast Sylvanas down from her escape.

"All of you would betray me too?" Sylvanas directed her attention to the Death Knights behind her, ones she recognised as pledging their loyalty to her.

"Did you think we had forgotten what you had done to Koltira Deathweaver?" One of them, a Goblin, grunted.

"Or the massacre at Arathi?" A Forsaken Death Knight continued.

"Or the sacking of Gilneas? The burning of Teldrassil?!" A worgen grunted in a thick Gilnean accent as the human form gave away to the wolf within.

"You have torn with world asunder, and we will abide it no longer." A Tauren Knight declared, and the air rang with the sound of hundreds of runeblades being drawn.

Sylvanas' retort died on her tongue when something shifted behind her. She brought up her daggers to defend from the mighty axe bearing down on her. The power of the blow intercepted and matched... for now.

"I'm running out of patience with all of you. Stand aside boy!" Sylvanas growled, standing fast against the might of Shadowmourne.

"And you have exhausted our patience, Sylvanas Windrunner." Darion Mograine, Highlord of the Ebon Blade growled, readjusting his grip and pushing down with renewed strength. "We have allowed you to go on unimpeded, but your judgement is at hand."

"Spare me your self-righteous sanctimony. You take sides in a war among factions - Does that not spit in the face of your oh-so-vaunted neutrality? I thought you held yourselves above such things." Sylvanas snarled back.

"This is not about factions or race divides!" Another Death Knight, one wielding a staff with a horned skull atop, plunged the pommel into the snowy clay. Defiling magics spread out from the ground under High Inquisitor Whitemane's staff and grasping skeletal hands burst through the ground at Sylvanas' feet. "This is about balance, about life and death itself!"

The Banshee assumed her spectral form to once again escape, but a third Death Knight leaped from his frostbrood dragon mount concealed in the mist and brought down his zweihander down against her. Sylvanas was forced to assume her corporeal form once more to block the blow. King Thoras Trollbane grit his teeth.

"When two foes clash in the air, the lighter one is blasted away. Stay down, Banshee witch!" With a grunt of effort, the Death Knight sliced downward, knocking Sylvanas on her back. Thoras landed with a heavy 'thud', sword still tight in his grip and aimed at the Banshee.

"Varok Saurfang was a good man, a good general - and you killed him. The Horde was honourable and proud, and you defiled its legacy. I will enjoy seeing you beheaded." Nazgrim, the fourth Death Knight emerged from the crowd, his runeaxe balanced across his shoulders.

"I will not be beholden to any of you! You or the rest of your damned toy soldiers." Sylvanas growled, "If I have to slaughter each and every one of you to leave this place, then I shall do so without hesitation."

"I don't believe you fully comprehend your position here, Windrunner." Highlord Darion Mograine declared, Shadowmourne still in his tightening grip.

Under his helm, the Banshee could tell he was smirking, and it infuriated her. Just what did he have to be so damned confident about? As one, he and the other three knights who struck - Inquisitor Whitemane, King Trollbane and General Nazgrim - buried their weapons into the ground. Rime covered chains burst forth and coiled like snakes around the Banshee Queen, binding her completely.

A deep rumbling tone echoed from within and without pierced to the very core of every mortal, living or dead, present. "For too long, your place in my Citadel has remained vacant. No longer. You have squandered the freedoms i have sought fit to grant. Today, I intend to remedy that mistake."

That voice once belonged to the long-thought-dead Lich King. "For your crime of threatening the balance between life and death with your vile schemes - you will remain imprisoned. Forever."

"NO!" Sylvanas struggled against the chains that bound her as energy formed and coiled around them. Runes of sickly green formed under their feet, encompassing all of the Death Knights present. And in an eye blink instant, they had all vanished, leaving the two leading factions on Azeroth behind.


Author's note:

Well now... things seemed a bit too easy there, didn't they? ;)

All according to plan, isn't it Sylvanas?

I welcome feedback and criticism,

Aurora313