Guest: No, people asking me to update doesn't give me incredible stress. You must be mixing me up with someone else. I don't do stress.
All due praise goes to Joe Lawyer for his diligent work as a beta-reader despite being swamped with real life work, unlike some of us slackers.
And Umodin gets praise for lore advisory.
Arko tried to stay focused on her sword forms, but her mind kept drifting. It didn't help that all this exercise was heating her body up and the direction of her thoughts was turning that heat into arousal.
Harry and Luna had gone to 'play' in the sex dungeon. She and Jessir had been invited to join them, of course, but had refused.
Jessir had taken Della for a hunt instead and Arko had gone to the training room. Of the two of them, only Jessir had been telling the truth when they said that they weren't interested in that kind of thing.
Arko was just too embarrassed to admit her interest and had hoped that she could keep her mind off it, especially with the knowing looks Harry and Luna had given her.
After completely failing to call on Elune's power for the tenth time purely because her mind kept plunging into the gutter, Arko conceded defeat and put away the training sword.
Maybe a bath will help? She thought to herself.
… or maybe I could go take a peek. The invasive thought slithered into her mind, serpent-like and tempting.
Her sex tingled and she rubbed her thighs together, squirming in place. Now that the idea had been planted it just wouldn't go away. She knew that neither Harry or Luna would mind having her watch. It had happened plenty of times already while they were in bed, but this would be the first time that she would seek them out for it on her own.
It was embarrassing… but she was just so curious! And there was no Jessir around to tease her…
Arko bit her lip nervously as he legs led her to the door of the sex dungeon, trying to be as quiet as possible despite there not being anyone around to hear.
The door was ajar, which she just knew was deliberate.
Arko crept closer, straining her ears and listening for what was going on. She could hear the clink of chains, the creak of straining leather, the sharp smack of flesh being hit and muffled feminine screams. Heat pooled in her core as her imagination began running wild.
Swallowing thickly, she gently pushed open the door, grateful for the fact that Harry hated creaking doors and had gone to the trouble of enchanting every single hinge in the tower.
Arko had been inside the sex dungeon only once before, when Harry and Luna had first showed her and Jessir around the tower. They had showed them this room as well, shamelessly explaining what it was for.
It was dark, lit only by flickering torches that cast the room into ominous shadow. An entirely deliberate atmosphere that made the various pieces of 'furniture' look far more menacing than they actually were. At a glance, it looked like a typical torture chamber, with only a closer look revealing that all the wood had firm, but soft padding, all the restraints had manacles of soft leather instead of hard metal and none of the 'tools' were really capable of causing any appreciable harm.
Luna was currently laying down on her back on a slightly sloped bench, with her head on the lower end. Well, more like tied down than laying down. Her wrists were shackled to the legs of the bench on chains about a foot long and her legs were held apart chains fastened just above her knees.
That was the source of the clinking she had heard earlier, as Luna squirmed helplessly in her bound position.
And she was squirming because Harry stood over her head occasionally smacking her across the sex with a riding crop. He stood over her head and would push his member deep into her mouth, making her throat bulge around it, then he would hit her, making her squirm and yelp and moan until air became a problem. Only then would he back up enough to let her breathe, but never fully removing himself from her mouth. Once she caught her breath, he would force himself back down her throat and repeat it all over again.
Arko might have thought that he was being cruel and that Luna was suffering, but the sounds the priestess was making didn't sound pained or protesting. The fluid dripping to the ground from between her legs and slowly making a puddle was another good indicator that there was nothing to worry about.
The night elf felt her own body reacting to the sight and bit her lip to keep from panting. Her hand moved down her waist almost of its own volition and undid the laces of her leather britches. The other began groping at her own breast.
It wasn't the first time she had pleasured herself while watching Harry and Luna, or Harry and Jessir, or Luna and Jessir go at it, but it was the first time she was doing it without her lovers being aware of it.
There was just something about the scene that really appealed to Arko and knowing that Luna was a priestess of Elune just made it worse. Seeing someone in such high favor with her goddess getting so dominated… People would be so scandalized if they knew.
"Oh, looks like we have a guest." Harry suddenly said, looking straight at her.
Arko froze in place, Fingers stuck deep in her womanhood and face flushed with lust.
Luna made some noises around the blockage in her throat and Harry obligingly stepped back. The blonde woman took a few deep gulps of air once she could and turned her head to look at Arko with a bright smile.
"Hi!" The priestess chirped, clearly happy to see her. "Did you come to play with us?"
Well, that certainly dispelled any last wisps of worry as to whether Luna was at all uncomfortable with this.
"Umm…" Arko had no idea what to say. What she really wanted to do was run away and hide under the sheets until the embarrassment she was feeling at getting caught went away.
"Come here." Harry ordered and she found herself obeying despite that desire. "I'll show you what to do."
He moved behind her and immediately pulled off the leather vest she favored for training, freeing her aching breasts.
Arko thought about protesting where this was clearly going… but there was nobody here except the three of them and she was terribly aroused. She could always back out later if something went wrong or wasn't to her liking.
Then Harry cast a spell to unlace her boots and another to send them flying off her feet.
"We knew you would come to us eventually." He murmured into her ear, pushing down her britches. "No one can deny themselves forever when the things they want are right in front of them."
Arko shivered as his breath caressed her ear, lips so close that she could feel them ghosting over the flesh there. "Some things we must deny ourselves…"
"Perhaps, but not this." Harry refuted, arms wrapping around her and holding tightly. She could feel his spit-slicked member rubbing between her buttocks. "Look at Luna, see how eager she is."
Indeed, the blonde woman was straining her beck to give Arko and upside down smile, squirming in visible excitement. She would be disappointed if Arko backed out now.
"Alright." The night elf paladin whispered uncertainly, but there was a flutter of excitement in her belly. "What do I do?"
"Go stand over her head."
Alright, that was nothing too weird. She'd had Luna's head between her legs plenty of times before, sometimes in very similar positions. The only difference is that Luna hadn't been tired down before.
But it was very different. Seeing Luna bound and helpless – except not really because such a powerful spellcaster was never helpless just because they couldn't move – before her did strange things to Arko's insides.
Without waiting for any further instructions, she bent her knees and pressed her sex against Luna's mouth. The bound priestess immediately started licking, making Arko shudder in pleasure and reach out to brace herself… against Luna's breasts.
"Here, take this." Harry offered her the riding crop.
Arko swallowed, the sight of the relatively innocuous object somehow making Luna's ministration feel even better. "But… what if I hurt her?"
"You will hurt her." He murmured into her ear. "Just a little bit, just enough to be exciting. Don't worry, I'll guide you."
Luna had – enthusiastically – shared stories about her and Harry's past lovers, much to her embarrassment and hidden arousal. Some of them had been women that enjoyed being tied down and hurt and 'played' with. She knew that Luna wasn't really like that, but would go along with it from time to time because Harry liked that kind of thing. Because she loved him.
Arko had had a lot of trouble understanding how hurting your lovers could be enjoyable on either end, but right now the thought was compelling. She took the riding crop.
"Now remember, she's yours to play with." Harry continued murmuring into her ear, guiding her hand so that the tip of the riding crop slid across Luna's skin. "If she isn't pleasing you properly, give her a little sting!"
He jerked her hand and the riding crop whipped against the inside of Luna's thigh. The bound priestess jerked in her restraints, back arching, chains clinking and leather creaking. She yelped against Arko's sex and started licking with renewed vigor.
Arko gasped, not just at the physical sensations of the tongue lapping at her, but at the sense of power and control she felt.
All too soon, Luna settled back down into a more settled, boring pace and the burst of excitement receded.
Harry had since let go of her hand and Arko now looked at him uncertainly. He merely nodded towards Luna with the clear implication that she should do it herself now.
Hand tightening on the riding crop, Arko did her best to remember how much force had been in the previous hit and repeating it. The smack of leather on flesh felt even louder this time.
Luna squealed into her groin, once again straining against her bonds. The sense of power the reaction gave Arko this time was even greater, because she had done that all by herself.
"You're getting the hang of it." Harry praised, once again reaching out to take hold of her hand. "But remember to stay in control. Always in control. You don't want to break your toys, after all."
He guided the tip of the crop to ghost over Luna's skin, teasing at her moist womanhood. A jerk of his wrist had the riding crop thwapping against it wetly and the bound priestess had a considerable more violent reaction.
Arko shuddered and gasped, nearly buckling forward at the rush of sensation. Being able to control another's reactions like this was an unexpectedly powerful feeling.
She raised herself up on her tip toes to get her sex away from Luna's mouth and just… breathed for a few seconds to get control of herself back.
"Something wrong?" Harry purred into her ear.
Arko turned her head to look at him. To a night elf, humans just looked so odd in both coloring and physical features. But right now, the hard line of Harry's jaw, his bright emerald eyes and pitch black hair were irresistibly attractive.
She let go of Luna's breast with her left hand and reached out to snag his member, using it to pull him close. There was only a moment to register as his smirk turned into surprise, but Arko relished it all the same as she kissed him aggressively.
He returned the kiss just as eagerly, growling low in his throat as she began to stroke him.
Below her, Luna began squirming and Arko lowered herself back down over the priestess' face. Then she made a blind swat with the riding crop, putting very little strength into it just in case she hit anything sensitive.
Luna yelped and jolted beneath her, the reaction sending a corresponding shiver of pleasure up her spine.
Peeking sideways during the kiss to ascertain the positioning, Arko gave another gentle swat to Luna's privates, moaning in pleasure at the reaction she got from it.
Why had she been so hesitant to come play with Harry and Luna down here again?
The hits from the riding crop kept raining down on Luna's soaking sex, each one eliciting muffled moans and screams in addition to the delightful squirming of her body.
Arko could feel herself coming closer and closer to climax. Luna's reaction, her dexterous tongue, Harry's heat and hardness in her hand, the sense of power and control over I all… it was incredible and she had to break off the kiss just to gasp for breath.
Luna screamed between her legs and convulsed more violently than ever before in response to the most recent hit. Arko shuddered, preparing to hit her again. Only a little more and she would reach her peak.
"Easy." Harry growled, reaching out to grab her hand. "Don't get carried away."
The paladin snapped out of her lusty daze, realizing with mild horror that she had steadily been increasing the force in her hits as her arousal mounted. The last one would have definitely been more painful than pleasant for Luna.
She immediately stepped back up on the tips of her toes and leaned back a bit to look down on Luna's face.
"Are you alright?" She asked in concern.
"I'm fine." The priestess assured, her mouth and most of her lower face slathered with the evidence of Arko's arousal. "But, umm, maybe put down the riding crop? I'm really sensitive right now."
The night elf paladin let out a relieved breath, but still felt a bit guilty for getting carried away. She made to step away, put Harry put a hand on the small of her back and pushed her forward until she was once against straddling Luna's face.
"I have just the thing." He said and walked around Luna until he was standing between her legs, hard member pointing right at her entrance.
Arko shuddered a little. It wasn't the first time that she would have Luna licking her while Harry fucked her, but they had never done it in this position before. There was something about having the blonde priestess tied down for it that just made it… sexier.
She placed her sex over Luna's mouth again and reached out to grab her breasts, lightly pinching the nipples. Harry gave her a half-grin and grabbed her waist, lining himself up and thrusting all the way inside in a single motion.
Luna moaned and arched her back in response, arms and legs straining against the restraints.
Arko panted with arousal and looked at Harry lustfully, urging him with her eyes to start moving. He got the message and pulled out, only to immediately slam himself back inside. He began picking up speed with every thrust, until he was pounding furiously into the bound priestess.
Arko bit her lip to stifle her cries as every thrust reverberated through Luna's body and passed into her. To say nothing of the blonde woman's pleasured moaning and furious licking.
She had already been close before, the guilt at having gone too far with the riding crop having only dimmed her ardor slightly. It was obvious that so had Harry – he had been playing with Luna for some time before she'd showed up already, and then she had stroked him while she hit the bound priestess with the riding crop.
He began to grunt with every thrust as his climax approached and the sounds of his passion egged on Arko's own lust. Their eyes met over Luna's bound form and understanding passed through them – they were almost there, too late to turn back. If one of them reached climax, the other would be pushed over the edge.
Arko's legs began to shake and her hands were practically mauling Luna's breasts. Harry's hips were moving so fast that they practically blurred, each thrust heralded by a wet slapping of flesh on flesh.
Arko's fangs pierced the soft skin of her lower lip and she was barely able to keep herself from collapsing on Luna's face. She wanted to win this little impromptu competition with Harry, but her ability to hold It back was giving out.
With a frustrated growl, Harry slammed himself into Luna one last time and stayed hilted into her, obviously discharging his seed into her depths.
Luna convulsed underneath both of them in response to being filled, clearly experiencing a violent climax herself. She screamed into Arko's crotch and that was the end of it.
The night elf paladin couldn't have held back her climax anyway, but the sight of her 'victory' robbed her of any reason to bother, so she let go and pitched forward with a cry of mingled relief and pleasure.
From her new vantage point, she had a close view of where Harry and Luna were connected. She could see his shaft pulsing as it filled the bound blonde up and her own sex clenched in protest at its emptiness. Yes, the orgasm she had just experienced had been the most intense she'd ever had, but the memory of how good it felt to have Harry filling her made it feel like she was missing out on something.
A minute or so later, Arko had recovered enough to push herself off Luna and look Harry in the eyes again. There was an unmistakable glint of satisfaction in those emerald orbs. He was looking terribly pleased with himself for finally getting her to 'play' with them in the sex dungeon.
"Don't tell Jessir about this." Arko half-requested, half-theatened. Her old friend would never stop teasing her if she found out.
"My lips are sealed." He grinned smugly.
Luna said something too, but was still muffled by Arko's crotch. Right, she should probably 'dismount' her face, even if her legs felt like they might not cooperate.
"Aren't you being just a tiny bit paranoid?" Jessir was asking. "I mean, what are the odds that we get dumped into another pool of acid?"
"Non-zero." Harry retorted firmly. "Which is enough for me. Besides, there's all sorts of nasty shit we might get dunked in that isn't acid. This was completely necessary."
'This' being new sets of armor for the four of them.
"Is this going to be a thing with you?" Arko asked skeptically. "Are you going to forge new suits whenever you discover some new threat they don't protect us from, no matter how unlikely?"
"Of course not, I'll also do it if I can make any kind of improvements to them."
"Just let him have his fun." Luna advised the exasperated night elves.
"What's so different about these armors anyway?" Jessir took the advice with a roll of her eyes.
It was a fair question. Aside from there being slightly more bulk on the neck and shoulders and a slightly more gothic Adepta Sororitas aesthetic for the girls' chest plates, the new armor sets looked almost identical.
"Well, the helmets are now air tight." Harry said. "You could jump into a lake and no water would make it inside, or you could wade through toxic mist without fear that some of it would creep into your headspace from below."
"Just the helmet?" Luna asked, perplexed. "I thought you wanted to make the whole armor fully sealed?"
"Yes, well, that proved… problematic." Harry scowled, hating to admit that he'd failed at something, but there was only so intricate you could make a suit of armor with a hammer and anvil while still allowing for proper motion.
Of course, using a few spells to compensate would be the height of simplicity, but it would be a patch job and the only time a patch job should ever be used is if you didn't have time to do it properly.
"I had to get creative to compensate for that, so the armor will now have four layers."
"Harry." Jessir moaned in protest. "You can't just add new layers for every possible danger! We'll look fatter than ogres at this rate."
"Don't worry, this layer is super thin. You'll barely even notice it." Harry assured.
"Ooh, are we going to wear skintight black latex?" Luna inquired excitedly. "Is that why you asked me to make you a thong with a space-expanded pocket for your goolies?"
"Not latex, but it will be black and skintight." Harry confirmed, pointedly ignoring her second question.
Alas, the two night elves were not so willing to let go of that juicy tidbit.
"Harry, are you wearing a thong?" Jessir asked, grinning.
"As in, that tiny piece of underwear you replaced all of ours with?" Arko chimed in with an equally diabolical expression.
She had been rather upset with him for that one, even if she did later admit to preferring them over the loin cloth style panties most people on Azeroth used.
"I needed something that would keep my junk out of the way while taking up as little surface area as possible." He reasoned.
"You're wearing sexy women's underwear." Jessir concluded.
"Come on, let's see it." Arko urged, grinning in expectation.
"See, this is why you're younger than me despite being a thousand years older. You're immature." Harry shook his head in disappointment.
"As if you wouldn't tease us about it if the positions were reversed." Arko scoffed. "Now stop stalling and drop the pants."
"Yeah, show us your sexy ass!" Jessir hooted.
"Don't worry, Harry, I'm sure you look great in a thong." Luna assured, not really making the situation better.
He rolled his eyes and undressed, turning to face them with arms spread wide in invitation. "Alright, come one. Laugh it up. Get it out of your system."
Arko slapped a hand over her mouth and turned away, shoulders shaking.
"Sorry!" Jessir giggled, staring at his crotch. "it's just…"
With his genitalia hidden away in the expanded pocket on the inside of the thong, he looked about as anatomically correct as a Ken doll. Thank goodness he hadn't needed to shave his hair off at least.
Luna stepped forward and cupped his groin, rubbing experimentally.
"It doesn't feel like rubbing a girl at all." She declared.
"You don't say?" Harry asked sarcastically over the laughter of the night elves. "It's not like I suddenly grew a vagina. Can we move on to the armor, or would you three like to poke fun at my expense for a little longer?"
"We're good now." Arko cleared her throat, eyes still suspiciously shiny.
"Come on, then. It's in the next room over." He said and turned around.
Three sets of giggles reached his ears as the girls got a few of his bare arse, the thong being held together only by thin strings.
"You know, I wouldn't mind seeing you in something like that more often, maybe without the crotch pocket next time." Jessir said, biting down on her bottom lip to contain the giggles.
Harry turned to look at her over his shoulder with a raised eyebrow. "Oh? Did we stumble across one of your kinks? You know I'm always one to encourage the exploration of one's deviant desires."
Arko suddenly flushed, remembering what they had done a few days ago.
"Ooh, what's that in the giant cauldron?" Luna interjected, staring at said giant cauldron that held a thick, pitch black liquid. Despite the hot fire burning under the cauldron, the black stuff had a mirror-smooth surface, with no bubbling or heat shimmer indicating that it was itself hot.
"That is what I've dissolved Onyxia's scales into." Harry explained, crossing his arms over his bare chest. "As long as it's kept heated, it stays in a liquid state, but once it cools down it becomes a flexible latex-like material that will, theoretically, be just as tough as dragon scales."
"Really?" Arko asked, impressed. "So we'll have the natural defense of a dragon and then our armor on top of it?"
"No." he corrected. "The Black Carapace is useless against blunt attacks and almost useless against piercing, though it will protect against slashing to some degree. Its purpose is to protect our skin from any liquids or gases that get through the armor above."
As long as they weren't alcohol-based. The Black Carapace would dissolve in alcohol like sugar cubes in water. A deliberate 'weakness' of design, both so that they it wasn't impossible to remove and so that it was stronger elsewhere.
After all, who uses alcohol-based attacks?
"Did you steal that name from somewhere?" Luna asked innocently. "It sounds familiar."
"No." Harry lied. "I'm calling it a Black Carapace because it's made from the scales of a black dragon."
Jessir and Arko nodded at this perfectly plausible bit of reasoning.
"You're lying, but okay." Luna shrugged. "How do we get it on?"
"We just take a dip in the cauldron."
"But…" Arko trailed off, staring at the fire under it. And more importantly, at the cherry red metal of the cauldron bottom.
"Don't worry, due to Onyxia's innate heat resistance, the black goop is barely lukewarm." Harry assured. "It took me weeks to heat it up even this much."
"So we'll be fine as long as we don't touch the cauldron itself?" Jessir asked dubiously.
"Alright, but how are we supposed to do that?."
"Ooh, I want to go first!" Luna enthusiastically claimed the position that nobody else wanted.
"No divebombing!" Harry said sharply, knowing his wife's mind. "Gently hop feet first into the middle of the cauldron and keep your toes and fingers spread. The stuff is thicker than a sand troll's blood, so you'll sink in very slowly and I'll yank you out once you're neck-deep."
A sand troll's blood was thick enough to count as gelatin rather than liquid.
"What about our hair?" Jessir asked reasonably.
In lieu of answer, Harry waved his hand at towards her and her silver hair began falling upwards.
"That works." She acknowledged.
Luna quickly took off all of her clothes and skipped over to the platform with a pirate plank that Harry had set up over the cauldron, pausing before walking it.
"Do I need to keep my panties on, or can I go in naked?" She asked.
"Personal choice." Harry shrugged. "The Black Carapace won't crawl into your orifices, but it will cling to everything. I only need this damn thong because getting an erection while covered in the stuff would have been… painful."
Images of pipes bursting due to blocked water flow came to mind. Granted, it wouldn't be that dramatic, but it still wouldn't be comfortable.
"Hehe, that sounds interesting." Luna wiggled in anticipation and ditched her panties as well, casting the same spell on her hair that Harry had used on Jessir and then jumping into the cauldron with not even a hint of hesitation.
Her feet sank into it up to the ankles before its thickness overcame her momentum and she began to sink in very slowly.
"This feels really strange." The moonbrained priestess noted with a giggle. "It's warm."
Arko and Jessir were visibly less enthused. "It looks like it's eating you."
"Can I pee in this?" Luna asked as she sank in past her knees.
"Nope." Harry denied. "What do you think the bowel-clearing spells were for?"
"Wait, what?!" Arko exclaimed. "You said that was just a sensing spell!"
"Don't be silly, a sensing spell wouldn't feel like a breeze blowing through your intestines." Harry smirked. "I did my best to give the Black Carapace unidirectional permeability, but there are limits. Small amount of fluids such as sweat will squeeze through, but bathroom breaks will still be impossible. I knew you'd make a fuss about getting your pipes cleaned out ahead of time, so I lied to you about it."
Jessir shuddered and wrapped her arms around herself. "I feel kind of violated."
"It's not so bad." Luna consoled her. "Back in our homeworld, there were some people that regularly went to have their colon cleaned out."
"Your people were too weird!" Arko growled, glaring at Harry.
"No argument from me." he shrugged. "But look on the bright side, at least now you'll better be able to identify spell effects."
The paladin of Elune did not look much appeased by that.
"Ah, Harry, what happens if I have an orgasm?" Luna suddenly asked, squirming in place a little as she sank down past her waist. "Because this feels really good on my girl bits."
"Worst case scenario?" Harry pondered. "Your insides feel a little bit more squishy because any potential discharge from there won't be under enough pressure to push through , but it shouldn't get that far. Once the Black Carapace cools down and settles into place, the sensations should stop and we're not going to be rubbing you."
"I kind of want to be rubbed while wearing this, though…" Luna said absently, her progress slowing down as her body's natural buoyancy began to battle against gravity.
"As interesting as that sounds, I'm going to have to deem this a combat-only material." He shook his head. "There's only a limited supply of it after all and it can't be re-used. Using it for kinky sex games would be wasteful."
"How about we used it for kinky sex games after we're done fighting?" Luna suggested. "Or make a version that isn't made out of dragon scales?"
"It's a possibility, but I'm not sure if Jessir and Arko would be up for it."
Indeed, the two night elves were still glaring at him for his deception.
"Hehe, I bet Arko wouldn't mind playing with me while I was wrapped up." Luna teased, making the night elf flush in embarrassment. "Umm, Harry. I don't think I'm sinking anymore."
She had gotten up to her breast bone and now appeared to be stuck.
"Hang on." Harry floated closer and put his hand on top of her head, pushing downwards. He had to exert more and more force with every inch deeper than she sank.
"Ooh, it feels really good on my boobies, too." Luna squealed happily. "Kind of like a full body heating pad, actually."
"Well it's time to get out now." Harry told her, as he had already pushed her far enough into it that the surface was now just under her jawline.
Getting Luna out was harder than getting her in. After her initial buoyancy was defeated, the proto-form of the Black Carapace grabbed at her and almost refused to let go, but ever so slowly she emerged from the cauldron.
Her body was covered in a perfectly uniform pitch black coating that immediately solidified once it was removed from the cauldron's heat. 'Skintight' took on a whole new meaning as the Black Carapace clung to every crease in her flesh.
"This is pretty neat." Luna giggled, stretching to test out her range of motion. "It feels like it should restrict my movement, but always stops just short of that."
"That's the idea." Harry nodded. "It molds itself perfectly to your skin, so it has enough surface area to move with you, but not a millimeter more than that."
That was why erections would be troublesome.
"My nipples were pretty hard in that cauldron, so I think I have a little bit of give." Luna admitted.
"So, who wants to go next?" Harry clapped his hands, turning to Jessir and Arko.
"What?" Arko blurted, snapping out of a trance. She had been staring at Luna's shiny black-covered body with an unmistakably hungry look. Even the much more vanilla Jessir wasn't unaffected.
"Ah, I see you have discovered the paradoxical temptation of clothing that covers everything, yet nothing." Harry said solemnly, affecting the tone of a prophet speaking holy truth. "For more than the naked flesh, it is the hidden mysteries of the female body which truly set the blood afire, and so it was that the cunning temptress learns she needs only hint at herself to make men hard and women wet."
Jessir let out a long, exasperated sign and dragged a hand down her face. "Why am I even attracted to you?"
"Because as woman may learn to flaunt her goods, so too may man learn to push her buttons." Harry returned in the same sagely tone. "Now dip thy sexy bodies into the cauldron."
Light's Hope Chapel in the Eastern Plaguelands made for an optimal meeting spot, due to both its location and heavily consecrated nature. That last bit did, unfortunately, make the Forsaken extremely uncomfortable, but they bore it with stoic silence.
"Alright, let's go over the plan one last time." Harry said, standing at a table that held a somewhat crudely drawn blueprint of Naxxramas.
Their best guess about it at any rate. None of them had ever been inside the place, with Sylvanas having only seen the inside of a different necropolis when she was still under the Lich King's control.
It was split into four quarters, as necropoli tended to be, clearly marked on the map with their guesses as to what they were dedicated to.
The only quarter they were sure of was the one for the death knights, as they were a proper army which needed considerable space for their armories, stables, siege weapons and training facilities.
The other three they had only educated guesses for. A nerubian hive, a fleshworks for the creation of abominations and other such monstrosities and some kind of laboratory complex where the Scourge necromancers and alchemists can work towards spreading the plague of undeath ever further.
Sylvanas stepped forward first, clearly eager to get to the actual fighting. The female high elf she had possessed years ago was uncommonly tall for her kind, standing at 6'3''. With her glowing red eyes, pasty undead flesh, skull-adorned armor and huge bow that looked like someone had used a couple of spinal columns for the limbs, she made for an understandably intimidating sight.
Her appearance and that of the elite dark rangers arrayed behind her was extremely off-putting for the Argent Dawn paladins, but they weren't like the rabid zealots of the Scarlet Crusade and were able to work with the Forsaken.
"I and my forces will take the Plague Quarter." The Banshee Queen rasped. "The plague cannot harm us and the spellcasters presiding over it will fall to our arrows easily enough."
That was the idea at least. The dark rangers' combination of archery, general sneakiness and necromancy should work as an effective counter against what they were likely to face there. And they had a force of Forsaken warriors and mages with them just in case as well.
"We will take the Construct Quarter." Jaina spoke up next, still stubbornly refusing to wear armor. At least she was wearing a thicker robe this time, but that probably had more to do with the temperature than any concerns about protection. "My magic will be more useful against the monsters there than swords or bows."
Her group was made up of Jaina herself, some other mages and warriors from Theramore and some Argent Dawn paladins.
Harry had been quite pleased when she agreed to join this venture. Apparently she had something of an axe to grind with Kel'Thuzad herself, and was always up for a venture that would improve relations between the Horde and Alliance.
"We will take the Arachnid Quarter." Commander Eligor Dawnbringer, nominal second in command of Light's Hope Chapel, spoke up. "The nerubians should pose little issue, especially with the weapons you provided, Lord Archmage."
The reason for him being here was due to Lord Maxwell Tyrosus having taken a large chunk of their forces to Stratholme some time ago to relieve the besieged Scarlet Crusade holed up in its depths, which would serve to further pull reinforcements from Naxxramas.
That was just the latest in a long line of diversions. Sylvanas had assigned her top subordinate, Nathanos Blightcaller, to rampage across the Plaguelands for the past few weeks, destroying vast numbers of mindless undead and multiple plague cauldrons designed to spread the taint of undeath. The Argent Dawn coordinated with the Scarlet Crusade and hit their own targets of opportunity, splitting Kel'Thuzad's attention. The final straw had been laying siege to the fortified necromancer academy of Scholomance, which had been created by Kel'Thuzad himself as a place to train more necromancers. The archlich couldn't let that one slide and had sent out his armies to relieve the place, only for his opposition to engage in a war of maneuver that kept them moving around and generally wasting time.
"And we take the Military Quarter." Harry said lastly, looking behind him.
His group was by far the smallest. Just him, Luna, Jessir, Arko, a handful of night elf Sentinels that had volunteered for the mission, a young blond paladin by the name of Darion Mograine and a female orc warrior by the name of Grunn'Holde.
Given that they expected the Military Quarter to be the toughest nut to crack, this might seem like a stupid set up, but Harry planned to come out of there with an army of death knights at his back.
The Lich King's control over his minions hinged on his mastery over the necromantic magic clinging to their souls. The Helm of Domination acted as a nexus that turned every minion into a lodestone for his consciousness, expanding the reach of his will and the power of his magic. Even if it was his dominated minions raising more undead, it was still his magic they were using, which essentially allowed him a backdoor into their souls, further spreading his reach.
A troublesome artifact to be sure, but not all-powerful. That method of control required that the Lich King be omnipresent in the minds of his slaves in order to suppress their will. Even the slightest disruption would have them claim the necromantic magic clinging to their souls as their own, immediately cutting the link to the Helm of Domination. They wouldn't be quite the same people as they were in life, but they would be free.
Harry had divined this after examining a few Forsaken and a few Scourge undead. And wasn't it convenient that his own magic was uniquely well suited to disrupting bonds of servitude, whatever form they may take?
Darion had been especially happy to hear that part, as he had been planning his own infiltration into Naxxramas when he heard about their plans.
His purpose? Free his father's soul from Scourge control.
The problem? His father was Alexandros Mograine, leader of the fearsome Four Horsemen and Darion had no clue whatsoever how to free him. His entire plan had been 'infiltrate Naxxramas, find Dad, figure the rest out later'.
Harry had deemed him a reckless idiot, but the man's shamelessly stupid desire to attempt freeing his father despite the extremely remote odds of even reaching him, never mind having no idea what to do if he succeeded, had been what impressed Grunn'Holde to join up with them.
Further proof that orcs just weren't right in the head. Their fixation on honorable death could probably be classified as a mental condition.
Well, whatever. Even if both of them were idiots Darion was still a powerful paladin and Grunn'Holde was still a skilled warrior.
You'd think infiltrating a giant flying fortress with a small army of elite fighters numbering just shy of a hundred would be hard, but it really wasn't.
The necromantic magics used by the Scourge weren't very good at defense, and wards didn't take well to moving objects besides. Harry and Luna, with Arko and Jessir in tow, were able to simply fly up to it and enter through one of the numerous openings on the bottom.
Naxxramas apparently performed some weird combination of mothership for gargoyles and other flyers, bomber for alchemists dropping crap on the land below, mobile logistics for the death knights and their armies and Kel'Thuzad's personal 'mage tower'.
Harry had to admire how much force projection it gave the Undead Scourge. He hoped he had enough bombs to blow it up. Taking it for himself and repurposing it was tempting, but he could never trust a thing so thoroughly soaked in the Lich King's power.
Sylvanas had informed them that Scourge necropoli typically had a central area that functioned as a sort of hub to pool resources from the four separate quarters into a single unit. Said hub then had another opening for easy deployment, as well as access to the control hub of the necropolis, which they could see even now in the form of an ostentatious spiral staircase sitting smack dab in the middle. The tactical weakness of such a thing had never been an issue before, because who would be crazy enough to infiltrate into a gigantic flying fortress filled to the brim with undead?
The four of them had each been carrying one large trunk and now set them down, flipping open the lids.
People began hopping out of the expanded spaces inside, eager to get out of the box.
"First time I've heard of anyone sneaking into enemy territory as luggage." Jaina shook her head bemusedly. "Where did you even get that idea?"
"I used it once before to take down a goblin stronghold from the inside. Good times." Harry smiled, thinking of all the dead goblins from that day.
Sylvanas had gotten out by then and immediately ordered four of her dark rangers to scout the area and determine which passage led to which quarter. That didn't take more than a minute, as they only needed to take a peek through the passages in order to deduce which was which. Not even that in the case of the Arachnid Quarter, given the webs hanging from the archway.
"Alright, let's go." Harry said quietly, feeling the need to keep his voice down. "We do this quick and quiet and finish it before Kel'Thuzad even knows what's going on. If he gets alerted and decides to come down to deal with us himself, you all have the signal orbs."
Unlike the Lich King, Kel'Thuzad would not immediately know that his minions were being killed. It was tempting to think of the Scourge as a monolithic entity, but not everyone served it unwillingly and not everyone was controlled by the Helm of Domination. Kel'Thuzad was one such individual.
It was entirely possible to catch him by surprise, especially if he was arrogant enough to believe that nobody would dare directly assault Naxxramas like this.
"If you come across Sapphiron, do not engage it alone."
That final order was necessary, because Arthas was known to have slain and raised the ancient blue dragon Sapphiron during his return to Northrend several years ago. The massive frost wyrm had been seen flying over the Plaguelands a couple of times, but was mostly confined to Naxxramas, presumably as a guardian for Kel'Thuzad.
Harry didn't expect to encounter it on the bottom strata of the necropolis, but you could never be too careful.
The entrance to the Military Quarter was a tall and wide archway, big enough for a dozen mounted knights to comfortably pass through side by side. It was also, fortunately, unguarded, the army within apparently seeing no need to post a watch while in their own stronghold.
The first room seemed to be where the Scourge kept its siege weapons, which made sense given how difficult those were to move and was also terribly convenient for any stealthy intruders.
Harry and his party snuck inside under a plethora of concealment spells that suppressed everything from sight, sound, smell and body heat. Basically everything possible to confound the senses of the undead.
There was little to no chance of keeping the element of surprise all the way to the Four Horsemen, but they also couldn't allow this to turn into a siege. If they got discovered too early, then the whole plan would go to shit.
Harry spotted a likely first target, a male high elf with long hair that might have once been blond walking in between rows of meat wagons, inspecting their wheels. Isolated and out of sight, perfect.
He gestured for the girls and Sentinels to keep watch and snuck up on the death knight. Then once, he was close enough, he jumped him and wrapped one hand around the man's mouth while simultaneously exerting his divine authority to undo the Lich King's domination.
The death knight had initially reacted to the assault by gathering the necromantic power within himself to attack, but faltered in sheer confusion when he felt the oppressive presence of the Lich King vanish.
"Shh, stay quiet." Harry whispered. "I'm going to let you go now."
The undead high elf nodded and turned around as soon as he was released. He stared up into the visor of Harry's helmet with glowing icy blue eyes, brow furrowed in confusion.
"You freed me?" He whispered, voice carrying the unnatural rasp of a powerful undead. "How?"
"Long story, I can tell you later." Harry dismissed. "Help me and I'll restore you to life."
The death knight stilled in surprise again and his eyes narrowed. "You can do that?"
"I can." He assured, hearing the hidden longing in the other man's tone.
The undead high elf was quiet for a moment before nodding firmly. "I am Teleron Coldheart and I will follow you. What do you need me to do?"
What was with that edgelord name? There was no way he'd had it before becoming a death knight. Did these guys rename themselves?
Regardless of his thoughts, Harry smiled victoriously behind his helmet. "Harry. And I need you to lure in more of your fellows so that I can set them free as well."
"Not all of them serve unwillingly." Teleron warned.
"I figured." The wizard shrugged. "We free those that do, kill the rest."
"Good plan." The newly freed death knight agreed.
Sylvanas watched with satisfaction as the necromancer known as Heigan the Unclean fell, his body riddled with arrows.
The Plague Quarter was more of a vast laboratory than a military complex, and its residents were generally not combatants. Powerful necromancers, to be sure, and dangerous if allowed time to act, but not combatants. It had been easy enough to slaughter their way through, even with the numerous abominations created to further spread the plague of undeath.
And there had been many indeed. Infected bats, vermin, monstrous mutated slugs, slimes and more. Noth the Plaguebringer had been the 'expert' for those, while Heigan worked with the raw form of the plague to increase its potency.
There were also many members of the Cult of the Damned present, still living people from a myriad of races seeking to join the ranks of the undead for whatever reason. Sylvanas and her Forsaken had slaughtered them all without mercy.
Their progress had been swift and Heigan looked to have been in charge of the Plague Quarter, so unless there were any more surprises to be found, it was time to head back to the center.
But first, Sylvanas had one last thing to do that Harry had asked of her.
Taking the flask he had given her from her hip pouch, she dipped it into one of the plague cauldrons in Heigan's laboratory and filled it with the virulent green goop that was the liquid plague of undeath.
Sylvanas was not happy to be doing some wizard's bidding, but he had asked nicely and it was for the sake of creating a counter-measure to the plague, so she would bear it. After seeing him restore one of her Forsaken to true life, she did not doubt his prowess as an alchemist. Hopefully, he would be able to cook up something sufficiently nasty to surprise the Lich King with. There was, of course, the chance that he would use the plague sample for something nefarious, but Sylvanas considered it unlikely.
She had met Luna since their first meeting and the cheery priestess of Elune made it disgustingly hard to suspect him of anything worse than ruthless pragmatism. Sylvanas had felt Elune's presence near the wizard's tower and it had had been distinctly disapproving.
The Banshee Queen knew that both her nature as one of the undead and things she had done would sit ill with the Moon Goddess and was not surprised. That Harry's marriage to a highly favored priestess could continue to work despite him being a self-professed necromancer could only mean that, somehow, he truly was using his knowledge in ways that Elune approved of.
Well, she could respect pragmatism. And she could also respect his intention to bomb the hell out of Naxxramas.
Having finished collecting the plague sample, Sylvanas observed as her dark rangers carefully placed another of the magical bombs Harry had given them in a corner. Naxxramas was big enough that much of the explosive force would be lost to the air, but there were tight spots where the superstructre would be damaged.
"My lady." Anya showed up, returning from her scouting mission.
"Did you find anything ahead?" Sylvanas asked.
"There is a vault of sorts." The dark ranger reported. "The necromancers appear to have somehow infused the plague into a bog beast. It passively spreads plague-infested spores into the air around it."
The Banshee Queen's eyes briefly widened in surprised. That… would have been quite the dangerous monstrosity, a creature that could spread an airborne version of the plague wherever it walks. If it was locked up then it may have proven difficult to control… bog beasts were technically plants and those had always proven oddly resistant to the Lich King's control.
"We destroy it." She decided. Even if their group was more specialized for stealth, they could not risk that thing surviving the destruction of Naxxramas.
Jaina had fought the undead before, but the horror of it never abated. The surprise did, but not the horror. In fact, as she and her team fought their way through the Construct Quarter, the horror only grew.
She still vividly remembered how she and Arthas had encountered their first abomination while pursuing a still human Kel'Thuzad. The stitched-together monstrosity had been the most loathsome thing she had ever witnessed.
The Construct Quarter was a vast workshop of foul machinery and undead flesh. There were people being cut apart and pieced back together in new, monstrous forms. Even knowing that she would see some truly horrible things in Naxxramas hadn't prepared her for just how horrible it would be.
Then she saw cages with children in them, waiting to be used like raw material and kind of... snapped.
Jaina breathed deep to calm her fury. The room she was in was buried under the ice she unleashed. Members of the Cult of the Damned and undead servitors were impaled on sharp spikes, and the hideous flesh golem they had called 'Grobbulus' was reduced to broken ice chunks.
She hadn't been expecting to find still living prisoners in Naxxramas, and the thought that she had abandoned the people of Lordaeron to the Scourge didn't sit right with her.
Realistically, she knew that she couldn't have done anything for them without setting off a war with the Horde or abandoning others to similarly unkind fates. She was still only one person, no matter how powerful.
But that was a hollow consolation when looking at what had happened to the people of a kingdom that had at one time as good as accepted her as their future queen.
"Lady Jaina? Is that you?" One of the men they were freeing asked shakily, as if unable to believe what he was seeing.
"Yes, it's me." Jaina replied, trying to keep her inner turmoil from showing.
"Thank the Light." He took a shuddering breath. "I'd lost hope that anyone would come for us."
Jaina felt another pang of guilt, but pushed it aside. She coul feel bad later. "Can you tell me anything about what's ahead?"
"The cultists spoke about some kind of giant zombie dog they called Gluth." The man said tremulously. "I think they fed it with undead that were considered too weak to be used in combat. There was also a creature called 'Thaddius', they…" The man shuddered again. "They bragged about piecing it together from the women and children."
Jaina's fists tightened around her staff and she had to struggle to keep her voice from shaking. That explained why there were so many more men in the cages here. "Thank you for telling me. I'll teleport you all to Theramore. Just tell my guards that I sent you and they'll take care of you."
"Thank you, my lady." The man sounded like he was about to burst into tears.
The gratitude made her stomach twist with guilt. She felt like she should have been here sooner, no matter how unrealistic that was.
Instructor Razuvious gurgled his last as multiple death knight runeblades hacked him apart. Nearby, other liberated death knights were either fighting or restraining their 'juniors' that had been training here, waiting for Harry to come around and free them.
By now, their initially small force had grown to grown by just over a hundred death knights. A good chunk of Naxxramas' strength had been drawn out by their diversions, but Kel'Thuzad had apparently been cautious enough to suspect foul play and refused to completely empty his floating fortress.
Too bad for him that he hadn't anticipated Harry's ability to free his minions.
Well, 'free' might be an inaccurate term. The higher tier undead in the Scourge were a peculiar sort. The ones that didn't serve willingly weren't exactly being dominated, but more like having their ability to even think of rebelling against the Scourge suppressed. Other than that, they were fully capable of independent thought.
Regardless, Harry was able to disrupt the influence on their free will and after that they would not easily fall prey to it again. Not all of them were unwilling, as Teleron had warned, and some had been so twisted by the long-term influence that there was nothing to do but put them down, but many had been pleased by their freedom.
And even better, the Scourge couldn't really tell the difference. That allowed them to approach unsuspecting former comrades and lead them into traps, either for liberation or destruction. Likewise, the non-sapient undead acting as servants in the Military Quarter obeyed orders mindlessly and didn't question when told to walk to their doom.
In this manner, Harry and his group had managed to make their way through the Military Quarter in stealth despite their ever-increasing numbers.
But all good things must come to an end and the death knight combat instructor, a vicious bastard by the name of Razuvious that was rumored by death knight gossip – because of course death knights gossiped – to have once been a much hated sergeant in Lordaeron''s army – had somehow caught on. Things had gotten… chaotic.
"I guess we're done skulking." Harry said with a frown as Teleron kicked what was left of Razuvious off his blade. Aside from being especially cruel to the enslaved death knights, the combat instructor liked to boast about being part of the Cult of the Damned before Lordaeron fell.
"I have wanted to do that for years." The high elf death knight's voice rattled with satisfaction.
"I'm glad you got what you wanted, but you really should find some less homicidal hobbies." Luna patted him on the back. "How about knitting? It can be very relaxing once you get into it."
While the death knight looked at his wife incredulously, Harry was staring at the re-dead man with a frown of concentration. Or more specifically, his hair.
"Why does that ridiculous hair style spark a sense of familiarity?" He pondered to himself.
Razuvious' blond hair was sticking straight up, creating something between a flat platform and a pair of hair horns on top of his head. He felt like he'd seen it before.
"… Doesn't he kind of look like that American fellow from those fighting games that the triplets liked?" Luna offered, her own memory not having been subjected to any fragmentation.
Upon hearing the words, old connections snapped into place and Harry remembered a muscle-bound stereotype of an American soldier with the single most ridiculous hairstyle to have ever been conceived. The triplets he had with Dora had indeed liked fighting games in their teens, Street Fighter among them.
He looked back down upon the felled death knight and sighed. This one wasn't nearly as bad, but it looked kind of like that. "What was seen can never be unseen."
"Is something wrong?" Teleron asked, clearly confused.
"Nah." Harry waved off. "Tell me about what's ahead while we free these trainees."
The high elven death knight had sort of defaulted into a liaison role by simple dint of seniority on being freed.
"We are now past the 'public' areas of the Military Quarter." Teleron reported dutifully. "The only things left are the personal domains of Gothik the Harvester and the Four Horsemen. Death knights may enter there by summons only."
"They seem to have caught wind of us anyway, so I guess that's not important anymore." Harry hummed, absently placing his hand on a trainee's head and freeing him. "What can you tell me about Gothik and the Horsemen?"
"The Harvester is a powerful necromancer, with a particular focus on soul binding." Teleron answered. "Some of us here had bodies too damaged to be of use, so he bound their souls to more whole ones or infused them directly into suits of armor. Any who die in his presence will be called back as spectral slaves to serve his will. Even undead already in his service will not be freed unless their spirits are destroyed beyond recovery."
"Nasty." Harry mused, the mystery of several bodiless death knights following him now solved. Restoring those to life would be a little trickier. "What about the Horsemen?"
Teleron's face adopted a grim expression, and the undead can look very grim indeed.
Gothik the Harvester was also the necromancy teacher for the death knights. As such, he always had plenty of 'practice material' on hand. The area just before his personal abode was basically a massive charnel pit of corpses and bones, both fresh and old.
The necromancer himself was waiting for them on the balcony from which he oversaw his lessons, sneering down at them condescendingly.
"He looks kind of like Dumbledore." Luna observed inanely. "If Dumbledore wore robes with skulls on them."
"No way." Harry disagreed. "Dumbledore doesn't have a monopoly on long beards and this guy isn't nearly gaudy enough. Plus, he's more blond-ish anyway."
"What are you two talking about?" Arko asked in bewilderment.
A sentiment shared by everyone.
"Fools, lacking even the wisdom to know the power they disregard." Gothik sneered. "Perish, and join the ranks of the damned!"
The necromancer raised his hands and the burning dead all around the immediately began to rise, all at once. Those whose bodies were too destroyed rose as specters and rushed towards the group, clearly intent on simply overwhelming them.
Harry had to admit that he was kind of impressed. Raising that many undead without even a properly formulated spell was no small feat and spoke of great mastery. Properly preparing and enhancing your undead minions before raising them was still superior of course, but necromancy generally wasn't the best suited discipline for direct combat, so this was nothing to sneeze at.
However, there were about a hundred death knights there, along with the original party. To overwhelm so many with hastily raised undead would require numbers that Gothik simply did not have available.
Especially with how effective the death knight's runeblades were against their fellow undead, to say nothing of the purifying power of Elune wielded by Luna and Arko or Darion Mograine's Holy Light.
Harry, meanwhile, engaged the necromancer in direct combat and was, as expected, proving the better duelist by far. Necromancy really wasn't the best for battle magic.
Gothik tried his best, teleporting around and throwing putrid, corrupting spells at them, but his repertoire was very limited and there was nowhere to escape. He was clearly not used to fighting this way and it didn't take long for him to make a misstep.
"That was… kind of easy." Jessir said with obvious surprise as Gothik screamed his burning death scream, cautiously putting away her arrow.
"Even the most powerful of mages may be overwhelmed by numbers." Teleron said with a rather lifelike shrug.
"And he was a shit combatant, too." Harry added his own opinion. "Too used to just throwing trash mobs at people."
"Trash mobs?" Grunn'Holde asked, puzzled
"Trash mobs." Harry confirmed instead of explaining what the phrase meant. "Come on, let's go unhorse the Horsemen… and woman."
The Four Horsemen had an entire section of the Military Quarter for themselves. One might think that this was because they were the most powerful death knights 'alive', and that was certainly part of it, but the real reason was…
"Invaders!" The Horseman identified as Sir Zeliek spoke up as soon as he saw them, his tone a desperate plea. "Turn back while you still can!"
The former paladin was a peculiar anomaly. His faith in life had been so strong that even in death the Holy Light still answered his call. This allowed him to retain much more of his old personality and even control of his mouth, if not his body.
This made him very, very annoying for the other death knights to deal with, as the man continually entreated them to fight against the Scourge's control. That venture didn't have much success, but it certainly infuriated them, which sometimes led to fights, which Sir Zeliek was happy to use as an excuse to deprive the Scourge of bodies.
Or it had, until Kel'Thuzad got annoyed enough to confine the Horsemen to their own private part of the Military Quarter.
It also made him Harry's first target among the four, as it meant that his mind was less bent than the others.
"Come now, Zeliek, we've not even had our fun yet." Lady Blaumeux said wickedly,
"I'd love to have some fun with you." Harry cut in flirtatiously, stepping forward. "Why don't you bring your sexy self over here and give me a kiss?"
"Unbelievable, he's even hitting on the undead." Arko muttered incredulously.
Ah, she didn't realize his plan. If Blaumeux was actually dumb enough to take him up on that offer, then he'd be able to free one of the Horsemen without a fight.
"Ohoho, I do like the bold ones." The female death knight chuckled hollowly behind her horned and veiled helm. "Perhaps once you join us in death, we can… get to know each other."
"Are you threatening me with a good time?" Harry challenged, privately marveling at the absurdity of this situation. Blaumeux must have been a huge flirt in life if she was still keeping it up as a death knight, given that he knew for a fact that sex – being a life-affirming action – would be downright painful for the undead even if it was physically possible.
"What are you doing?!" Jessir hissed at him quietly, but Harry just waved at her to keep quiet.
"This fool is mad, yet still I wish not to kill him." Zeliek spoke up, apparently to himself.
Maybe he wasn't quite as sane as Harry had originally thought…
"I've heard enough a' yer snivelin'!" Thane Korth'azz, the sole dwarf of the foursome yelled in frustration. "Shut your flytrap before I shut it for ye'!"
"Save your anger for these invaders and traitors." Alexandros Mograine finally spoke, his tone completely flat and dead despite the aggressive words. "We will grind their bones to dust."
Harry felt a shiver of nervousness at the rising sense of power he was getting from these four. They were on a whole other level compared to the rank and file death knights at his back. Mograine and the corrupted Ashbringer in his hands felt especially potent.
"Father!" Darion cried out with a sort of anguished determination. "I will free you, I swear it!"
Idiot boy. What was the point of making declarations like that to a man that couldn't even control his own actions?
"The son of our illustrious leader?" Blaumexu purred, which was an especially strange sound with the necromantic rasp behind her voice. "How interesting."
"We ride!" Mograine announced and the Four Horsemen began charging and shit were they fast.
The room that Kel'Thuzad had given them was large enough for them to fight mounted, but it also meant that there was enough space for a good number of the liberated death knights to enter without any fear of getting in each other's way. Only the strongest had come, as there was only so many people that could fight four enemies at once.
Harry quickly dashed to the side, as did the entire frontline. Behind them, several death knights to which he had given net launchers stepped forth and fired their weapons.
The Four Horsemen didn't slow down in the slightest, each using their own particular brand of power to knock the heavy metal-weaved nets away.
"Scatter!" Someone yelled just before the four-person cavalry charge hit.
And boy did it hit. Death knights that only got glancing blows were sent flying as if they'd been hit by a train, the ones that took direct hits were simply trampled. It was like someone had condensed a full platoon of cavalry into a single rider.
Alright, Plan A was a bust. Harry acknowledged. But Plan B is still underway.
It would have been overly optimistic to assume that the nets would work perfectly, so Plan B took failure into account. The liberated death knights may not be as powerful as the Four Horsemen, but they weren't weak. Certainly, they were strong enough and fortified with enough defensive enchantments to absorb the charge without excessive casualties.
Once the Horsemen were committed, Luna cast what could only be called either a reverse blessing or a holy curse on them, a spell that crippled the undead instead of bolstering the living. She had to be careful with the actual blessings due to their party now being largely composed of death knights.
The Horsemen visibly flinched as Elune's purifying divine power pressed down on them, eating away at the putrid necromantic magic animating them. Not enough to instantly destroy them, but enough to weaken them to a significant degree.
Then Jessir and the volunteer night elf Sentinels did their part, firing concussive arrows at the riders in an attempt to knock them off. The Horsemen stubbornly stayed mounted for a time, blocking the arrows either magically or physically, but then one of Jessir's supercharged arrows nailed Blaumeux right in the chest and sent the female death knight flying off her horse.
A group of death knights instantly peeled off and ran after her, a prior conversation with Teleron having revealed that the female Horseman specialized in shadow magic and lifedrain spells. Those would have less purchase against fellow undead.
At the same time, Harry had been conjuring a fireball into his hands and shaping the spell for a specific purpose. It was loosed mere moments after Blaumeux was knocked off her horse, the flaming spell rocketing into Zeliek's chest.
A normal fireball would have exploded and damaged everything around it, this one had more physicality to it and struck like a warhammer. Instead of expending its power in all directions, it acted more like a rocket booster and launched the Light-using Horseman off his mount.
As previously strategized, Arko, Grunn'Holde and a couple of Sentinels broke off and went after him. Even if Zeliek could still use the Holy Light, a discussion with Sylvanas on the matter revealed that any undead doing so suffered terribly for it. There were a few stubborn priests among the Forsaken that refused to abandon the Light even though it rejected their existence and simply endured the pain of using it. Fighting against Arko, Zeliek would be at twice the disadvantage.
There was no need to knock Than Korth'azz off his mount – the death knights around him simply hacked it down.
That left only Mograine, the most powerful and most troublesome of the Four Horsemen. The former bane of the undead was swinging the corrupted Ashbringer in wide arcs, leaving behind trails of burning necromantic energy. Luna had to constantly counter the putrid magic radiating from both sword and Horseman to keep him from slaughtering everyone around him. Darion was likewise having trouble containing his undead father's rampage.
Back when Alexandros Mograine had still lived and the Ashbringer had still been pure, legions of undead had been turned to ash by the two of them. It didn't appear to have as much power in its corrupted form, but it was still a fearsome weapon.
Harry personally thought that the craftsmanship was shoddy. He had no doubt that the actual smithing was excellent, as it had been forged by Magni Bronzebeard, but the dwarven king was no wizard or enchanter. The mere fact that the sword could be corrupted – and so easily at that – was inexcusable as far as he was concerned. No weapon that he made would have been that wishy-washy in its alignment. If someone wanted to corrupt Arko's Holy Moonlight Greatsword, for example, they would have to put in so much effort and be so much more likely to simply destroy it in the attempt as to render it not worth the bother.
But this was no time to be critiquing other people's work, there were undead to be freed.
Harry decided to leave Mograine to the others since they seemed to have him contained for now. Taking his draconic poleaxe out of hammerspace, the wizard charged at Sir Zeliek.
The Light-using death knight was being kept in a stalemate by Arko and Grunn'Holde at melee while the trio of Sentinels backing them up continually harassed him with disabling arrows.
"Why do you hesitate?" Zeliek cried out in frustration, apparently having figured out that they weren't trying to kill him. "Cut me down!"
Harry got his attention with an excessively loud battlecry, swinging his poleaxe in a massive overhead swing. Zeliek was too surrounded to dodge and had to block, bringing up his sword and calling upon the Light to bolster his defense.
One weapon impacted the other with terrible force, but Harry immediately let go of the poleaxe and lunged forward with his hand. Zeliek stumbled forward at the sudden lack of pressure, and Harry's gauntleted palm grabbed his face before he could recover.
A now-practiced flex of divine authority and the Horseman was freed of the Lich King's domination.
"Go help them contain Mograine, I'll be there in a minute!" Harry barked orders are the disoriented man and rushed off to his next target.
While disoriented by his sudden freedom, Zeliek was still a combat veteran and knew how to prioritize, so it only took him a few seconds to get his wits about him.
"Lead the way, ladies." He said with about as much happiness as any undead was capable of feeling.
While that was happening, Harry was charging towards Lady Blaumeux. She was more of a caster than a melee fighter, having apparently been a priestess of Light in life. In death, she had turned to the Shadow and specialized in area control by casting Void zones on the ground. This was forcing the death knights fighting her to keep repositioning.
He yelled another battlecry to call attention to himself and the death knights responded by pressing in closer. Up to now, they had played it safe and not truly engaged the significantly more powerful undead, but as soon as the signal was given they put on the pressure, forcing Blaumeux to expend time and effort to keep them from surrounding her.
That was all the opening Harry needed. A quick Grease spell under her feet – an old favorite that never stopped being useful – and Blaumeux suddenly found her footing to be rather more slippery than it had been a second ago. A caster on her level would probably figure out a way to counter it quickly enough, but that momentary stumble defeated her.
Harry swung his poleaxe diagonally and then abandoned it as soon as Blaumeux awkwardly raised her sword to block, lunging forward to grab her veiled face.
"What?" The female Horseman asked in confusion as the urge to do the will of Kel'Thuzad and the Lich King suddenly vanished.
"I set you free." Harry explained succintly. "If you want to help, go delay Mograine, but no killing!"
And then he was off, rushing towards Thane Korth'azz.
Blaumeux stayed on the floor for a moment, just blinking away the confusion. The sudden lack of compulsion to obey was much more disorienting for her than it had been for Zeliek, who had managed to retain more of his mind.
She took off her helm and considered the odd wizard's order, marveling at how she felt neither the urge to obey nor resist. There was no longer a foreign will subverting her own.
The confusion faded as the new reality of the situation became clear. She was free, and the wizard intended to free her fellow Horsemen as well. Even if they were all serving against their will, they had still been comrades, so the choice of what to do next was obvious.
Blaumeux took a firm grip on her sword and started running towards where Mograine was fighting. The Four Horsemen always ride together and this would be no different.
Thane Korth'azz had by this point noticed what was going on. It wasn't even that hard to figure out. Their former subordinates had rebelled and sided with the invaders, they were fighting to delay and obstruct rather than to kill and now two of the Horsemen had turned as soon as that armored wizard touched them.
The undead dwarf knew that he was too badly outnumbered to get out of this, but that didn't mean he was going to make it easy for them.
"Come and face me, ye wee ninny." Korth'azz bellowed, conjuring up mini meteors with reckless abandon. Before, he had paced himself, but now he no longer bothered. "I'll make all of ye extra crispy!"
"Who are you calling 'wee', midget?" Harry yelled back, countering the flaming assault. Korth'azz was a peculiarity of a paladin, having an affinity for fire that would have been better suited for a mage. That had apparently transitioned into undeath just fine. "I've got two and a half feet on you."
"Elves have tiny peckers, everyone knows that." The dwarf sneered back.
"Can we please just kill him?" Teleron requested in a growl, being one of the death knights assigned to contain the fiery dwarf Horseman. "The world doesn't need another vulgar dwarf in it."
"No." Harry's helmet hid his amused grin. If anything, the dwarf's crass insult just made him more determined to save him. "Advance!"
The death knights obeyed, casting spells of protection and obstruction on Korth'azz while Harry advanced with his poleaxe ready to parry the dwarf's skull-topped mace/scepter.
Korth'azz roared in frustrated fury at being unable to properly kill anyone. The freed death knights had been playing the fight defensively the whole time; stalling, refusing to engage properly. It was enough to drive a dwarf mad!
He called up all the power he could muster for one final spell, perfectly willing to blow himself up as well if it would take some of his attackers along.
But then Harry was in his face, hooking the blade of his poleaxe around the shaft of his mace/scepter thing and yanking himself forward, hand outstretched to palm the dwarf's hairy face.
It only took a moment of contact for the wizard to expel the Lich King's will from the Horseman's soul, but the volatile spell was already too far along to be stopped. Korth'azz had known what was coming so he was less confused as his desire to kill the invaders abruptly shifted into gratitude for his freedom. It was just enough time to make a last second alteration to his suicidal spell. A fiery explosion scattered everyone away with singed armor, while the dwarf himself collapsed onto the ground.
"Are you still un-alive over there, midget?" Harry called out unsympathetically as he picked himself up. His spellforged armor, the lingering effects of once having been a god of fire and his elementium bones left him virtually unscathed by the half-aborted suicide spell.
"… ye've still got a small pecker." Korth'azz groused painfully. "Ye did alright, though, I'll give ye that."
"He's fine." Harry declared. "Let's go get Mograine while the good dwarf recovers his delicate constitution."
"My delicate constitution?!" Korth'azz squawked in outrage, already pushing himself up on his feet despite his charred body. "Get back here and I'll show ye who has the delicate constitution!"
But Harry was already moving towards Mograine.
The leader of the Four Horsemen was being pressed from all sides. Luna was continually renewing the holy curse that crippled his necromantic powers, the man's son was engaging him in melee from one side while Arko took the other, death knights used their own magics to slow him down, Jessir and the Sentinels were blasting him with concussive arrows to knock him off balance, and now at the last his former comrades Sir Zeliek and Lady Blaumeux had joined the fray as well.
Even still Mograine remained dangerous, because despite everything being thrown at him, they weren't trying to kill him or even seriously injure him. The Horseman had no such need to hold back and every swing of the corrupted Ashbringer was made with lethal intent.
Darion was still trying to talk his father into surrendering.
"Father, lay down your sword, please!" The younger Mograine pleaded. "Can you not see that you are defeated?"
"Listen to your son, Highlord." Zeliek backed him up. "Freedom is near."
"You waste your breath, boys." Blaumeux was audibly rolling her eyes. "The Lich King's voice is the only one he heeds."
Harry sympathized with her exasperation. If it was that easy to get people out of the Lich King's thrall, more people would be doing it.
"I will present your mangled corpses to the master." Mograine growled out. "You will serve him for eternity!"
"See?" Blaumeux said smugly. "Just hold him down so that our strapping savior can snap him out of it."
Seeing Harry approaching, Arko shifted tactics and locked her Holy Moonlight Greatsword against the corrupted Ashbringer, drawing on Elune to bolster her strength. The magically sensitive among them could almost hear the tormented metaphysical screech as the opposing powers clashed.
Zeliek and Darion were quick to pile on top of the last Horseman, grabbing onto his arms to restrain him. Blaumeux elected to help by barraging her former leader with draining Shadow magic, siphoning away his strength.
Mograine struggled and roared defiantly, but Harry was already there, slapping a hand over his head. And thus it was over, the fight abruptly leaving the man as the Lich King's weighty presence vanished from his soul.
The corrupted Ashbringer clattered to the ground as the newly freed death knight blinked up at his son.
"…Darion?" He asked, almost disbelievingly.
"Father!" The younger Mograine replied joyously.
"Well, that was exciting." Blaumeux commented, stepping away from the sort-of family reunion and approaching Harry. "I never did get to introduce myself, did I? Colette Blaumeux, formerly of the Silver Hand. How do you do?"
She took off her helmet, revealing a woman of late middle age, her dark hair streaked with grey, though it was hard to tell properly beneath the pallor of undeath and the somewhat… flexible relationship with aging people had on Azeroth.
Harry had seen an old sorceress in Stormwind once. She'd had silver hair, but the body of a twenty-year-old and nary a wrinkle on her face. And it wasn't just an unusual hair color either, given that she had been escorting a grandchild around the city. The average woman didn't have it quite so extreme, but Azeroth's heavy magical density was clearly at play.
He took off his own helmet, smirking as her eyebrows shot up in surprise at seeing that he wasn't a night elf despite his size and the look of his armor.
"Charmed, I'm sure." He said with a smile, taking her hand. She had angled it palm down as if to have him press a kiss to her fingers, but like hell was he doing that to a walking corpse. Just touching her sent a reflexive shiver of revulsion shooting up his spine. To say nothing of the how long it had been since that armor had been cleaned. "My name is Harry, and I have a proposition for you, if you wish to hear it."
"Oh?" She purred, abandoning the fake pout she had been giving him for refusing to kiss her hand. "Do tell, Harry."
"Help me kick the bone marrow out of Kel'Thuzad's arse, then we can go over to my place and I bring you back to life."
All four of the Horsemen stiffened in shock and surprise, in much the same way that every death knight to whom he'd made this offer so far did.
"You can restore us to life?" Zeliek asked, desperation leaking into his tone.
"I can." Harry nodded firmly. "The method has already been tested and I will begin restoring the Forsaken as soon as Sylvanas Windrunner deems the Plaguelands secure enough to afford the disruption to her military disposition."
Alexandros Mograine now stepped forward to speak for the Horsemen, and the other three automatically fell in line behind him.
"We accept your terms."
They didn't all finish their respective quarters at the same time.
Sylvanas and her Forsaken were the first, followed some time afterwards by Eligor Dawnbringer. Jaina was a relatively close third. Harry, having objectives besides just 'get in there and wreck shit' took much longer.
That left three groups of people standing around awkwardly, at semi-attention in case something attacked them. Well, Eligor was awkward. Jaina was still brooding over the horrors she'd seen and Sylvanas was half-expecting some kind of betrayal.
"What's with this atmosphere?" Harry joked as he walked out of the Military Quarter with a small army of death knights at his back. "I've met death knights less gloomy."
"I see your plan worked." Sylvanas commented, looking over at the gathered host, especially the Four Horsemen. A part of her mind began automatically plotting ways to bring them into the Forsaken before recalling that the Forsaken might not exist for much longer.
"Yes, we made so many new friends!" Luna beamed happily.
A small chuckle of amusement was heard from Lady Blaumeux.
"Did anyone have any noteworthy trouble?" Harry asked.
"No." "Not really." Came from Sylvanas and Jaina, both of them keeping it short for vastly different reasons.
"Your suggestion to 'kill it with fire' worked beautifully." Eligor said wryly, nodding towards group of dwarves holding their loaned flamethrowers possesively.
"Would ye mind if we kept these, laddy?" One of them asked hopefully, a pyromaniac gleam in his eye. "They'd be mighty handy for clearing out the Plaguelands."
"You can have fun with them until they run out of fuel, then I'll need them back." He decreed "We'll be teleporting most of you back to Light's Hope Chapel anyway while the strongest of us move up to take out Sapphiron and Kel'Thuzad."
"Could you free Sapphiron like you did these death knights?" Jaina asked. "I can't say I'm eager to fight a reanimated ancient blue dragon and he deserves his freedom as much as anyone."
"Maybe." Harry admitted. "But from what I hear there's not much left of him except bones. That's not enough for my restoration cocktail to work even if he wasn't too big for it, and I don't think I can make a fresh dragon body to transfer his soul into."
Azeroth's dragons were more than just flesh, after all. He couldn't replicate the blessing of the Titans even if he successfully adapted a method meant for mammals for giant lizards.
"No, I think we're going to have to just kill him." He continued. "Blue dragons are known to be cranky bastards at the best of times and I doubt several years of undeath have improved Sapphiron's disposition."
"I see." Jaina frowned slightly, but accepted the explanation.
"Don't die." Teleron said to Harry seriously a few minutes later, as they prepared to teleport away all the extras. "It would be terribly ironic if you ended up being enslaved by Kel'Thuzad after freeing us from him."
"Yeah, that's not happening." Harry snorted in amusement.
"That is exactly the fate that awaits us if we fail." Zeliek warned. "The archlich will not hesitate to reanimate any of us once again if we are slain."
"That is the fate that awaits you." Harry corrected. "I used to be a god of freedom and as such, my own freedom is inviolable. No binding either physical or magical can hold me."
Gods and their domains were peculiar things, twisting reality around them. No matter how secure any binding was supposed to be, a way to escape would always present itself shortly.
"So if he tried to raise you…?"
"Yes, I would just turn on him immediately, kill him and bring myself back to life." Harry inhaled deeply through his nose, a sound of pure satisfaction. "Ah, a battle I can't lose, my favorite sort."
"You shouldn't have told us this, fool." Sylvanas sneered. "Now that we know it, we will tell Kel'Thuzad and warn him away from raising you as soon as he has us in his grip if we fall."
"My girls already knew, so your argument is invalid." He shrugged. "Besides, we aren't letting that bootlicker beat us. It would be embarrassing."
Most of their group had been sent away, as there was little they could do against the likes of Sapphiron and Kel'Thuzad aside from become casualties.
That left only the Four Horsemen, Jaina, Sylvanas, Eligor Dawnbringer, Darion Mograine, Grunn'Holde and Harry's battle harem.
"Do you really call yourselves a battle harem?" Blaumeux asked amusedly as they made their way up to the middle strata of the necropolis.
"No." Arko and Jessir chorused.
"Yes." Harry and Luna chorused at the same time.
"Please disregard what Harry and Luna say, Lady Blaumeux." Jaina advised/begged the former High Priestess of the Silver hand. "They're both incorrigible perverts."
"Hehe, Jaina is complimenting us." Luna wiggled in place happily. "I knew we would win her over eventually."
"Since when is being called a pervert a compliment?!" The much younger woman squawked.
"When you take pride in it." Harry explained sagely. "You can't even begin to imagine how much time I spent mastering sexual techniques both magical and mundane. Skills and spells to turn any woman into a shuddering pile of orgasmic bliss. Toys with enchantments so powerful and intricate they put all but the most powerful weapons and armor to shame. Potions and tinctures enhance both pleasure and production. Fleshcrafting to turn our bodies into temples of sensation. Tantric rituals powered by sexual energy-"
"Alright, I get it!" Jaina interrupted, blushing furiously. "Please, just… stop talking."
"It seems you are even bolder than I gave you credit for, Harry." The female death knight smirked. "I look forward to… getting to know you better."
"Would you like to see my sex dungeon after I bring you back to life?" He offered immediately.
"Sex dungeon?" Jaina mouthed to herself quietly, looking towards the two night elves in the hope that they would say he was joking.
Alas, Arko and Jessir could only shrug with vague embarrassment.
"Enough, we are almost at Sapphiron's lair." Alexandros Mograine interrupted the banter.
Sapphiron sensed them before they ever set foot into his lair. He was the guardian of Kel'Thuzad's inner sanctum and none may pass without his knowledge.
He awoke from the torpor in which he spent most of his time, a miniature blue sun composed from the magics of death and ice igniring behind his ribs, then spreading across the rest of his skeletal body.
"Keep it on the ground!" The heavily armored apparent leader roared.
Jaina's suggestion that Harry free Sapphiron was doomed to failure from the beginning. When Arthas had killed and raised the ancient blue dragon, he had not allowed him to retain his capacity to think, only obey.
That also meant that Sapphiron understood what was being said, but not why. So instead of attacking the backline of casters with its frost breath, it went for the charging melee fighters with its claws.
Before they could get into range, Sapphiron felt pain, of a sort. The armored female with the moon-themed staff was projecting a gentle silver light from it. What was left of the ancient blue dragon that he used to be recognized Elune's power and it burned. The touch of the Moon Goddess was gentle, relentless as it worked to destroy the necromancy that animated him.
He immediately turned his attention to the priestess, who was by far the greatest threat to him.
Arrows both holy and necromantic struck him in the face, mini meteors rained across his back, ice began accumulating on his tattered wings, pits of Shadow magic opened under his hind legs and started siphoning away his strength and a massive fireball with a core of molten magma exploded on his back, but still the priestess was the greatest threat.
Unable to reach her with the pests mangling his feet, Sapphiron took a deep breath and prepared to blast the priestess with his frigid breath.
"Luna, look out!" The frost archmage shouted, blinked next to the priestess and quickly conjured a shield of ice for both of them.
Sapphiron didn't care, the priestess had to die. He loosed his breath at the curving ice wall… to no effect. The frost wyrm lacked the tactical acumen to grasp why attacking ice with more ice was ineffectual.
But at least the burning light of Elune had also been blocked and he turned his attention to the next most dire threat; the female with the huge greatsword that radiated the same power as the priestess.
Sapphiron swiped his claws at her and she met it with a mighty swing of her own.
It shouldn't have been a contest. The frost wyrm was massive and each of his claws had more weight to them than all of her did. By all rights, the clash should have ended with the night elf's broken body flying across the lair.
But Arko was drawing heavily on Elune and would not be so easily smashed aside. The Holy Moonlight Greatsword crashed against Sapphiron's claws, purifying divine power clashing against necromancy as much as the moonsteel clashed against bone.
Arko stumbled from the backlash, but Sapphiron came off far worse. His entire foot shattered, the blow disrupting the magic holding it together in a single powerful burst instead of the steady decay inflicted on him by the priestess.
Had the frost wyrm the capacity, this was the point at which he would begin panicking. Sapphiron was down a foot and could no longer attack physically without faceplanting into the ground. Plus, the multitude of attacks was rapidly wearing him down. Dragons were powerful, but far from invincible, and these mortals were powerful in their own right.
He tried to lift off, flexing his wings to break off the ice that Jaina had clad them in, taking yet more damage to his legs in the process. Of course, the wings were too tattered to actually physically support him, but he still had to flap them for the magic to work.
Then the priestess stepped out from behind the ice wall and once again began bathing him in Elune's light.
Harry was quite pleased with how this was going. Sapphiron was as dumb as a sack of bricks, only reacting and never thinking. Clearly, the Scourge was using him as a blunt tool rather than allowing him any room to think the way they had done for the death knights. Perhaps they feared that the dragon may be able to break free?
No matter, it was time to finish this. The frost wyrm could still do some harm from the air, but Luna's consistent efforts to purify it had already considerably weakened it. All it would take was the finishing blow
"Get out from under it!" He yelled, causing the melee combatant to scatter. Then he began taking out bladed discs from his hammerspace and tossing them at the undead dragon one by one. Each was a miniature Light bomb, too weak to take Sapphiron down if he was at full strength, but plenty strong enough to finish the job.
A series of golden explosions bloomed across the frost wyrm's ribcage, making the already struggling creature fall out of the air as the steadily weakening necromantic binding failed. Once the dust settled, the melee fighters once more closed in and began hacking at it. With as many powerful people as they had, it didn't take long before Sapphiron was re-killed.
"… That was easier than I expected." Jessir commented, still holding an arrow nocked just in case it would get up again.
"That's what you get when you rush shit." Harry grunted in professional disdain. "Proper necromancy takes time and careful preparation. This thing was clearly raised on a whim. Still powerful, but not nearly as powerful as it could have been."
Lady Blaumeux chuckled in amusement. "You reminded me of Uther just now, scolding the paladin trainees about how to properly hold their weapons."
"I was reminded of Antonidas when he would lecture me about making sure my spells were properly formed." Jaina snorted in agreement.
"Ye can flirt later." Korth'azz intruded rudely. "We've still got a lich to kill."
"The midget is right." Harry agreed, much to the dwarf's indignant fury. "Let me just rig our frost wyrm friend to blow first so they can't reanimate him again."
"Good idea." Sylvanas agreed, not wanting to deal with Sapphiron again. The Scourge was extremely annoying to fight because they could keep on raising even their own dead if they weren't too badly damaged.
Half the reason that the war for the Plaguelands had dragged on so much was because the dead just kept getting back up. The land itself was so tainted that necromancers hardly had a need to do anything at all. Granted, this had also resulted in swelling the numbers of the Forsaken, but it benefitted the Scourge far more.
Harry climbed into the frost wyrm's carcass, looking for a likely place to put one of his last larger bombs. This one wasn't solely of Light, but a combination of Light and Void for extra oomph. Fortunately, it took extreme amounts of both in a tight environment to create fel, so there was no danger in making a bad situation worse.
"What does it look like in there?" Luna asked curiously.
"Boney." Harry answered. There really was no other answer – it was just an empty ribcage.
He had just about decided on an optimal spot to stick the bomb when something besides lingering necromantic magic invaded his senses. It felt… pure, but not in the way that holy magic felt pure. No, this was a more neutral kind of pure, the distinct feeling of raw arcane power that blue dragons gave off.
… Had the Scourge actually not noticed that Sapphiron still had some artifact of his flight on him all this time? His respect for Kel'Thuzad and Arthas dropped sharply.
Harry chased the elusive feeling, eventually crawling into the empty skull.
"What are you doing?" Came the bewildered question from Arko, no doubt finding it strange to see his armored backside sticking out of Sapphiron's eye socket.
"Aha!" Harry announced triumphantly and wiggled out of the cranial cavity, a gem the size of his head held in his head. A gem shaped into the likeness of a blue dragon's eye.
"That's an artifact of the Blue Dragonflight!" Jaina recognized it immediately, even if she didn't know what exactly it was.
"Finders keepers." Harry claimed it before anyone could get any ideas. He might not know exactly what it was, but he knew that it was more than just a pretty rock.
"Harry, we should return that to the blues. They won't be happy with you keeping one of their artifacts." Jaina warned.
"Well, then they should have guarded them better."
"Don't bother, he's always been a hoarder." Luna said when Jaina looked like she was about to make another protest. "He kept our school headmaster's severed hand for centuries."
Kel'Thuzad spent most of his time in his inner sanctum at the top of Naxxramas. From this lofty perch he conducted the war against the living and the rebellious Forsaken, communed with the still-dormant Lich King, piloted Naxxramas, and pursued his personal quest to reassemble Atiesh, the Greatstaff of the Guardian.
Here, he was almost completely cut off from the rest of the necropolis, all the better to not be bothered by his minions. Rarely indeed were any of them allowed up here. The last time it had been over complaints about Sir Zeliek's incessant whining.
Truly, figuring out why it was impossible to shut that paladin up had consumed entirely too much of his time.
It was because of this preference for solitude, that Kel'Thuzad was caught very much by surprise when he sensed a mixed party of living and undead approaching his sanctum. That meant that they had already overcome Sapphiron, so they must be mighty indeed.
His nature making him immune to panic, it took Kel'Thuzad only seconds to deduce what had happened. He had thought that the recent aggression from Sylvanas was unusual, leaving too many of her troops vulnerable. And the paladins of Light's Hope Chapel were usually much more defensively minded. Diversions to draw out his armies.
Still, he had left behind enough that no force small enough to infiltrate Naxxramas by stealth should have been capable of winning. And how was it that the alarm wards before Sapphiron's lair had not triggered? That could only have happened if one of his lieutenants had betrayed him, which should be impossible. The Forsaken were a fluke, come about due to the powerful spell Illidan Stormrage had hurled at the Frozen Throne. No such disruption had occurred to loosen the Lich King's grip on the Scourge.
Well, there was no use in contemplating it now when he would find out the truth in short order. In what little time he had before the interlopers arrived, he prepared himself for battle.
Soon they came, thirteen of them, some familiar and some not, but all mighty. The presence of the Four Horsemen, what he considered to be his masterpiece creation, explained where the betrayal had come from, but not how.
"Well, isn't this nostalgic." He rasped with faint amusement. These were not good odds for him, but he had no fear. "I know most of you, but some are unfamiliar. Would someone care to do the introductions?"
The only ones he didn't know were the four in matching suits of arcanite plate. Well, he also didn't know the orc female, but she was irrelevant. This motley group was clearly formed around those four.
"Spare us the false courtesies, lich." Sylvanas spat with admirable malice. "You die here today, and your master will follow soon after."
"Don't get your hopes up, Sylvanas." The only male in the mystery group interjected wrily. Kel'Thuzad couldn't quite figure out what he was sensing from this one. Judging by the look of the armor and his size, he could be a night elf, but something was telling him that it was not so. "Unless he is exceptionally stupid, then his phylactery isn't anywhere close."
"You speak on the matter with both authority and familiarity." Kel'Thuzad noted. "Perhaps a fellow practitioner of the necromantic arts?"
It could potentially explain the freedom of the Horsemen. A skilled enough necromancer could theoretically loosen the Lich King's grip on them. Odd for such a one to be wearing full plate, but you get all kinds.
"I am a practitioner of all the magical arts." He replied easily.
"A man after my own heart." The lich recalled his own mortal years, and the narrow-mindedness of the Kirin Tor.
"Don't listen to him, Harry." Jaina Proudmoore interrupted, glaring at him. "For all the airs he puts on, he's just another fool enslaved to the powers he dabbled with."
"Jaina, please." The now named Harry scolded almost gently. "As if I'd listen to someone who thinks himself a master with such a crude approach to necromancy."
"Then I suppose there is nothing more to say." Kel'Thuzad was unperturbed by the rejection, having known that there was little chance of turning anyone on such short notice. He did wonder why his approach to necromancy was considered crude, though.
"Aye, was about bloody time, too." Thane Korth'azz spoke up irritably. "I've had enough of yer nattering already."
"For all those you have slain and damned, you fall today, lich." Sir Zeliek the Obnoxiously Self-righteous declared.
"For vengeance." Alexandros Mograine added simply, his deep growl conveying more than the words.
"For justice." The man's son corrected.
"And truth." Eligor Dawnbringer reaffirmed.
If the action was not of so little dignity as to be beneath him – and if he still had them - Kel'Thuzad might have rolled his eyes.
"I never did get to properly thank you for raising me into undeath." Lady Blaumex said suggestively.
Kel'Thuzad had no idea what had happened to that one. He had briefly met Colette Blaumex back when both had been mere mortal humans, and she had been a reserved lady of refined temperament.
"I've put you down once, and I'll be happy to do it again." Jaina Proudmoore spoke up now, aggressively griping her staff.
"And as I told you then, I shall tell you now." Kel'Thuzad ignored her minor editing of history – it had been Arthas who had struck the killing blow. "My death will mean little in the long run."
That seemed to be the last straw for Sylvanas, as the Banshee Queen loosed an arrow at him instead of replying verbally.
The battle was on.
As soon as the first arrow was loosed, things got really exciting.
Kel'Thuzad used Void magic to create a shadowy fissure between himself and their group, effectively cutting the room in half.
That kind of pissed Harry off, as it ruined his Plan A. Behind Kel'Thuzad was an ornate plinth, above which floated exactly forty wood splinters, a carved wood raven and a red ribbon woven with bone charms and glass-like baubles.
The remaining pieces of Atiesh, the Greatstaff of the Guardian, missing only the base that he had hidden in his hammerspace. He could feel it pulling him in that direction, wanting to be made whole again. Normally, when a magical item is broken, its enchantment also breaks, but Atiesh was ancient, so old that it remembered itself well. Even the smallest splinter knew exactly where it belonged and would return to its place as soon as it was able.
And now he couldn't get to it for as long as this shadow fissure was in the way. Certainly, he wasn't dumb enough to try running through it.
"Minions, servants, soldiers of the cold dark… Obey the call of Kel'Thuzad." The melodramatic asshole intoned while they began trying to dispel the shadow fissure.
A horde of mindless specters phased through the walls and rushed at them and Luna had to shift her attention to keeping them at bay.
Kel'Thuzad began hurling his own frost magic at them and Jaina was put on the defensive.
Sir Zeliek, Darion, Eligor and Lady Blaumeux went to work on the fissure, while Alexandros, Grunn'Holde, Korth'azz and Jessir went to town on the specters. The female orc warrior was still using his draconic poleaxe and was able to do some harm to the ghostly undead, but not nearly as much as the two death knights or Jessir.
Sylvanas was clearly too furious to care about the specters and launched arrow after arrow at the lich himself.
Harry decided to do the same thing. After all, the lich couldn't attack if he was too busy defending. His fire spells lost quite a bit of juice when they passed over the fissure, unfortunately, but they still weren't to be ignored.
"Enough of this, return to service." Kel'Thuzad intoned, lashing out with a spell to shackle all undead to his will.
"Denied." Harry retorted, easily unraveling the binding magic before it could even take hold. This may be Kel'Thuzad's place of power, but the lingering portfolio of his divine domain gave him an unsurpassable advantage against magics of that ilk.
The lich made a noise of frustration at being so casually foiled and resorted to a corrupt form of frost magic. He targeted the paladins and death knights that were on the verge of tearing down the shadow fissure protecting him, imprisoning them in blocks of ice.
Unlike Jaina's though, these were also sucking the life out of their victims.
"Sorry about this!" Luna said with a wince and let loose with a great blast of purifying moonlight to force the specters away. The death knights and Sylvanas also grunted in pain as they were hit by it.
The priestess of Elune followed it up with spells of Light and healing on the ice-blocked group of four, knowing that Sir Zeliek and Lady Blaumeux would suffer for it. Using holy spells to heal undead was possible, but deeply unpleasant for the recipient.
Meanwhile, Harry and Jaina worked to free them. It didn't take long, given his natural edge against any spell that restrained and her mastery of frost magic.
Just in time, too, as the specters recovered and resumed their assault, only to once more crash into Luna's barrier.
Kel'Thuzad retaliated with a flurry of frost bolts, but quickly had to return to the defense. As powerful as the lich might be, especially here in his inner sanctum, he was being overwhelmed.
The shadow fissure finally dispersed and the melee fighters stampeded towards the floating lich, forcing him to actually move lest he be pummeled into the ground by the vengeful death knights and paladins. And the one extra orc warrior that was there just for the lulz or something.
Harry saw the opportunity and jumped for it, bringing the base of Atiesh out of his hammerspace just as he reached the plinth where the rest of the staff's pieces floated.
Drawn together as if by magnetism, the pieces settled into place. Harry decided to help it along with a simple repairing spell. With the staff so eager to be whole again, even that small nudge was enough and the pieces fused back together as if they had never been broken.
The staff pulsed with power as it was reassembled, radiating as much satisfaction as an object could. Harry took firm hold of it, throwing the full weight of his will against it. Atiesh writhed against him, tasting his magic to see if he was worthy of wielding it or if he would be destroyed.
The staff settled into quiescence and the sense of danger passed. As it was with many objects of power, Atiesh had a rudimentary sentience and would not suffer an unworthy wieldier. The staff tolerated only sufficiently powerful and strong-willed casters.
Harry's lips twitched into a grin as he realized that Atiesh was a bit of a snob, not allowing the common riffraff to touch it.
The fight hadn't stopped entirely just because he'd pulled this move, but Jaina was certainly staring at him in shock and Kel'Thuzad was barely avoiding the swords chasing after him. If his naked skull was capable of it, Harry suspected he would look every bit as shocked as Jaina. Undeath may prevent panic, but it didn't prevent surprise.
"Thank you for all your hard work assembling my staff for me." He said with relish, stabbing the raven headpiece in the lich's direction. "Now fuck off back to Northrend."
A beam of condensed, white-hot fire lanced out from the staff and struck Kel'Thuzad directly in the chest. The lich had been caught by surprise and was busy fending off a multitude of swords. His defenses were down and the powerful fire spell burned right through him.
Harry exulted in how easy that had been to cast, even in a frost mage's inner sanctum. While it wasn't impossible for him to use that same spell without a catalyst, it would have been much more difficult and draining. Atiesh resonated with him beautifully.
"I see, so this is what you meant, when you said that the lich had something that belongs to you." Sylvanas noted shrewdly once Kel'Thuzad's death moan faded out.
"That's right." He said smugly as he swaggered back towards the group, giving a nod to the only orc among them. "Grunn'Holde, you can keep that poleaxe, I won't be needing it anymore."
It would deprive him of a melee weapon, but he already had some ideas for that.
"Thank you, I will use it with honor." She said after a momentary blink of surprise, straightening her back proudly.
He had noticed that she had become rather fond of the loaned weapon and was in a good enough mood to make a gift of it. She did help him get his hands on Atiesh after all, at least a little bit.
"Congratulations, Harry!" Luna beamed at him happily. The specters had quickly dispersed once Kel'Thuzad was 'killed', so there was nothing left to do.
"Will you stop fondling the base of that staff now that it's complete?" Jessir asked teasingly, getting a giggled snort out of Arko.
Jaina had been quiet for a while, but now just adopted a look of exasperation.
"I can't tell if you're doing everything possible to annoy the Kirin Tor on purpose or by accident." She said.
"It's not my fault if the Kirin Tor is easily annoyed." Harry shrugged. That's just what happens when an organization starts thinking that they know best.
"Today was a great victory, but there is still work to be done." Eligor Dawnbringer spoke up. "The undead we lured out of Naxxramas are still below. If the death knights you freed are willing to join us, we can catch them in a pincer move and destroy them."
"The death knights among them may still heed me if I command them." Alexandros spoke up. "We should try to free them."
"It's worth a try." Harry agreed. Turning the enemy's resources into your resources was just common sense. "Let me just plant the last of my bombs and then we can go."
OMAKE – No more than mid-tier necromancy.
Kel'Thuzad knew that he was beaten. The invaders had him cornered, his magics overcome and now that peculiar armored archmage had Atiesh in his hands.
But even if there could be no victory here, he would not go without a final taunt. "Do you truly believe your victory here will matter? I will rise again, wielding powers beyond your imagining.
"It doesn't matter what kind of power you obtain." The mage, Harry, said solemnly. "Because you do not surpass Nagash."
Who in the Twisting Nether was Nagash?!
If you play Total War: Warhammer II, then you can tell by the omake that I've played too much of it recently.
On another note, I actually thought Lady Blaumeux's first name was Colette canonically. I'd already used it by the time I thought to check the wiki and realized that I had apparently headcanoned it after seeing it used in plums' Wizard Runemaster.
In any case, the name fits entirely too well with the vaguely French Blaumeux, so I decided to leave it as it is instead of trying to come up with my own.