Thursday, 6 September 2012

The Story of Vlad: Chapter V, The Return to New Avalon

Chapter I, The Assault
Chapter II, He who resists
Chapter III, Rotten to the core
Chapter IV, The Resurrection

Booyah! Last time I posted a chapter of this was in June. I realise that was long ago, but I really needed a creative break. It's my goal to finish this story before Pandaria lauches, and I intend to write one more chapter. And as there is now a general disclaimer on the bottom of the site, I won't be putting them on each individual story post.
Writing soundtrack: Rhapsody - Power of Thy Sword, The 69 Eyes - Wasting the Dawn

A being of darkness stood on the balcony, quietly staring into the fields of Havenshire below. Upon Vladan's arrival the figure turned to look at the death knight over his shoulder. From the shadow of his helmet, his eyes pierced those of Vlad's, for they were the coldest he had seen, ones with no pity or remorse. And as the figure gazed towards Vladan like death itself, something coursed through his body. The sudden unholy wave was unstoppable. Whispering of chaos and perdition, it silenced the last cries for help within Vladan; those driven by hope and dreams. He was cleansed of humanity.

. . .

As restlessly as he walked, he seemed focused. He was seemingly human, yet the height of an elf. A set of reins were sealed in his right fist guarded by a rugged leather glove. Muttering angrily, the man ignored Vladan arriving at the scene.
- A waste! Waste of flesh and bone!
Vlad took a few steps closer towards the man, who noted his presence with a sour, almost disgusted stare.
- Who the hell are you?!
- Vladan Jel-
- I don't even care! You're the only creature here with a brain not entirely rotten! And that is the best I've got.
He rapidly turned away from Vlad, swinging his arms irritatedly.
- There's a whole battalion of Scourge ready to rip the living to shreds, yet Mograine is telling me to wait! I'm not waiting for anyone anymore! We have to make our final move, with or without him. That's where you come in.
The tall man turned towards Vlad.
- The Crusade was able to take out one of the commanders just before they were to charge in. Why? Because he was stupid! Stupid as a molded ghoul. You don't seem much smarter, but at least you're alive... more so than he is now. You will take his place.
The man's lips rose to a mild smile. Vladan watched him walk up to a horse, a fairly small deathcharger that was tied loosely to a booth with a chain. As the man approached the horse, it flinched and took a step back, making the chain clang loudly.
- Perhaps you and this runt will benefit from one another.
Saga, it said on the rusted tag hanging from the horse's reins. The animal was gaunt. Judging by the looks of it, it would have probably ended up dead soon even without the Scourge's help. Vladan eyed the horse, and the horse eyed him back. With careful motions he moved closer to it, step by step as the equine kept a constant eye on him. He saddled the horse just as carefully, finally untieing the reins from the booth.
- The King's Harbor. Bloodbath, the tall man hinted. - See that hill in the distance? They're waiting for you behind it.
Vladan nodded at the man, who nodded back at him with a smile rather twisted. The death knight mounted his newly found steed that instinctively took off towards the town of Havenshire, as if escaping together with the knight.

. . .

- Kill me. Please, kill me!
Leaning against the burnt tree was a man, a Scarlet soldier. His tabard and armour were covered in blood, both dried and fresh. With knees twisted like his it was sure he wasn't going to walk again. His right arm appeared to have been vigorously torn off; it was nearly detached. His eye of the same side was missing with only a bleeding hole left, leaving most of his face red with blood.
- You've killed my family, my friends, my faith and my dignity. Now do me a final favour and put an end to my suffering.
After a moment of silence Vladan dismounted at the man's feet. His eyes remained glued to the reins he held loosely on his palm, fiddling them between his fingers.
- You're a fool to ask for salvation. Can't you see that your fate is sealed? We will all serve him in the end.
- Just bloody do it, you son of a demon!
- Very well! I will free your body of the pain... But your soul will never be free.
Vladan took a firm grip from the man's shoulder and raised his runeblade in the air. The dying Scarlet soldier let out a final cry of agony as the glowing sword cut through his chest, colouring the death knight's armour with droplets of blood.

Vladan examined the body from a distance. Eyeing it up and down, the look in his eyes suddenly became what was once grim to him, now determined. He felt the life energy escape the dead man's body and siphoned it with a touch. Harnessing the energy for his own use, he gave the deceased soldier a focused gaze. As the death knight placed his palms close to the body, slowly moving them upwards, the bones, cartilage and remnants of flesh slowly began to take a shape of their own.

Finally, a creature of somewhat human features arose, leaving behind a bloody pile of decaying flesh. Vladan's eyes glimmered with what was nearly impossible to identify. Whether it was pride, pity or disappointment was even unsure to him. Nevertheless, he turned towards the deathcharger that still faithfully stood beside him. Touching the horse's neck gently, he whispered something to the majestic animal plagued by undeath. Soon after he rose to the saddle, signaling the cursed horse to move onward with a soft jab of spur.

. . .

A number of deathchargers stood in a line with death knights on their backs. Before the Scourge cavalry another ambassador of darkness slowly rode back and forth, yelling to the mounted men.
- Tear them to pieces, burn them to cinder! Ensure that no one rises from the ashes.
Upon dawning the Scourge armies marched upon New Avalon. Undead masses filled the roads. Household after household the town was purged of life. With each clattering step tearing the remains of humanity to pieces, New Avalon transformed into a ghost town. Under the orders of the former prince, the once peaceful residence succumbed into what Lordaeron had become in a matter of days, a kingdom of dust.
The final warning was given as the clash of metallic hooves slamming against the paving echoed through the grove. Countless huffing horses carried heavily armoured men down the pathway leading to the King's Harbor. The steeds were armoured similarly to the riders, with horns attached to their heads and saronite guarding their bodies. As the winding road finally exposed them to the civilian crowd, panic took over the atmosphere. Vladan charged in, his runeblade tearing bodies, throats and limbs apart, leaving behind only troubled cries of agony. Those attempting to escape were slain before they could even reach the waterline. The blood of innocents mixed with the blood of sinners on the metallic surface, as countless civilians fell to the unforgiving runeblade in the baptism of blood.

Mere moments later silence descended upon the King's Harbor. On the ground lay bodies of men, women and children with their flesh cut like paper, their entrails exposed in the open wounds. With only the sound of hooves and a silent clash of metal from swords rubbing against armour breaking the silence, Vladan dismounted. He held tight to the reins of his steed as he slowly walked towards the bushes, peering around as if he were the hunted. He approached the small trees carefully and moved the leaves aside with deliberate motions. He raised his sword to rest on his shoulder for a moment before striking.
- I draw nigh to thee with a contrire and humble heart...
The words paralysed Vladan. He let the runed blade fall down from his shoulder, loosening his grip on it.
- thee I recommend the last hour of my life, and that judgment which awaits me afterwards...
Silently looking at the kneeled woman, who hadn't yet given a gaze to Vladan, he lowered himself down to bended knee.
- Oh Holy Light...
She turned her muddy face towards Vladan. With eyes expressing readiness she peered at the armoured man. Vladan slowly raised his hands, carefully choosing each move to look as unthreatening as possible, and removed his helmet.
- Vladan..., she whispered nearly voicelessly, turning fully towards him. Embracing his face with her hands, she was in a shocked state. - What... what have they done to you?
- What they've done to me is insignificant. What I've done, can't be undone. This bloodshed was only the beginning.
- But you can stop this madness!
- I don't expect you to understand, but you must do as I tell you. Listen to me, Isa... There isn't much time. Go south; go south and I will lead them west, to Tyr's Hand and Light's Hope. Seek out Aerie Peak, they will provide you with shelter.
Finally she broke into tears. Hissing in panic, she grabbed onto his arms:
- You will not leave me again!
- Do as I tell you! Trust me, Isa, as I promise we will meet again. Now go and do not look back.

- What's going on there? a piercing voice requested an answer.
The question reached far from the docks. An elven death knight, along with two other Scourge soldiers, rode towards Vlad, who stood up. Their curious eyes soon found their way from Vladan to Isa, who Vladan covered by placing his runeblade between her and the death knights.
- Commander Jelen has found a survivor, I see. You do have the potential to be at least half of what the elder Aldenkamp was, isn't that right?
- Soldiers of the Scourge, I command you to abort the mission!
The command received the attention of the death knights at the harbor. The undead high elven soldier stared at Vlad in disbelief, soon bursting into laughter. Inspiring one another, the death knights showed their disrespect towards the man in the lead.
- Did the living smack you upside the head, or what?
- By my right of quorum, I order you to leave this place at once! Turn your backs to New Avalon, Havenshire and Acherus, and never return.
- Have you lost your mind?! the elf with a long, silvery hair took steps towards Vladan and stopped inches away from him. - You seek to undo the master's work, and for what? For this wench?
The elf knight rapidly pointed his sword towards Isa, which caused Vladan to instinctively step on the way.
- Don't you realise that we're only tools in the hands of the Lich King? He's sent us here to kill these people, but he doesn't care whether we die with them or not! I don't even want to look at the death and destruction we've caused, with nothing to fight for.
- In that case I offer you quick relief.
He took a swing at Vlad with his sword. The sharp tip shredded its way through his left eye, leaving a deep blade marking that momentarily coloured half of his vision red. Vladan swayed back and let go of Saga's reins. Holding his palm against the wounded eye, he sealed the hilt of his runeblade within the fist of his right hand.
- Feeling better already, commander?
The elf swung his sword at him again, this time aiming for the right side, but found his blade slamming against another. With resistance, Vladan pushed the elf's sword back. Upon what seemed like defeat, the silvery-haired death knight calmly stated his taunt.
- Has one man ever beaten a dozen?
Death knights worth a small battalion gathered around the elven man with their swords at the ready. With a simple nod from the elf, they unleashed their fury upon Vladan. As runeblades clashed against one another, Vladan fell easily before the predominance, hitting the ground with his saronite armour.
Laying on the cold sand of the shore, all he could spot were dark silhouettes standing out against the different shades of grey.
- Vladan Jelen, your death wish will be fulfilled.
The silvery-haired elf placed his other foot on top of the Scourge commander's conquered body and held a bloodied runeblade above his head. Dripping blood - his own blood - coloured Vladan's forehead. The elven death knight took a firm grip of the hilt with both hands and raised the sword.

- NO!

. . .

Within the ruins, a breath of wind sprung from the cellar. It made its way through the keyhole and into the house, blowing the curtains to cover the broken window. Moving effortlessly on the table and past the bookshelf, it settled in the broken cradle lying next to a burnt bed.
A bloody red morning dawned for the day, which was to some the longest they had ever lived. There, in the heart of silence, a life begun and a life ended. It was the cradle for the tortured souls to be rocked in for all eternity; in the shadow of the jailor of the damned.

How a maid could look the way she did, he never understood. To him her bright blue eyes were the brightest in the world, shining with a glint of hope during the darkest hours. Their infinite blue ocean would put out the flames of hell, soothe the charred land for a new beginning. Cleanse its wounds and lull it to the sweetest dreams.
And her hair, it was soft as silk. Fair as a foggy sunrise, the flaxen braid could have born the weight of a kingdom's sorrow. Golden silk, from root to tip.

Now lying in his arms, her bruised face against his chest, violated and abused, the ocean had bled dry. Cold and lifeless, her dress torn apart, she was but a shadow in the sunrise.

And as her sun set, he laid her to rest.

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