The third of five winning entries we received for the BBB Arthas Book Contest! Since the first two were quite long, you should be relieved to see that our last three winning entries hewed closer to our request that entries be short little scenes, brief encounters, a taste, a teaser if you will of your vision of your character meeting Arthas. Each of the three approaches the idea from vastly different directions, and this one from Malphailuron of Eredar was one of Cassie’s first favorites. Enjoy!
“The Bronzes aren’t going to like this.”
“Light guide your steps, Dalgren.”
“Light bless you, Luri, and all you’ve done.”
Dalgren watched as the archmage faded from view, leaving only the quiet, sun-dappled woods of afternoon Tirisfal. It was almost unrecognizable, untainted by the Scourge, and then the Forsaken. The air was fresh, the trees were strong and healthy, the sky was clear and blue. It will be this way forever now, thought Dalgren.
A noise to the southeast drew his attention, and Dalgren instantly recognized the newcomer. The boy was a perfect copy of the ghost-child Matthias Lehner, running headlong through the woods, slashing at phantom orcs with a crude wooden sword. Noticing the imposing, armored figure of Dalgren, the boy stopped, his crusade forgotten as his eyes and mouth grew wide.
Dalgren drew his sword and resolutely approached the child.
How many thousands had died at the Lich King’s hands? How many disembodied spirits wandered the Plaguelands even now, unable to find rest? How many noble soldiers had given their lives in defense of their loved ones, only to be raised in a cruel mockery of life as they turned their blades on their former comrades?
The boy stared up unflinchingly, his face fixed in an expression of admiration and awe. He gave the paladin a shy smile, unaware of Dalgren’s intent.
The glory of Lordaeron, forever shattered by the Scourge. Unthinking cruelty, unmitigated rancor, unimaginable treachery, a hundred sins and vices committed … for what? For earthly power? For dominion over a dead and sundered world? All life, all light, extinguished to sate the ambitions of a single madman?
Dalgren kneeled before the child, sinking his sword into the soft loam, and placed his gauntleted hands upon the kid’s shoulders, and gazed into the blue eyes of his future nemesis.
To undo it all—the needless deaths, the endless months of war, plague, and suffering, the looming threat in the north, his mentor’s defection to the Lich King’s ranks, transformed into a Death Knight. The power was in his hands. Everything he had worked for …
“One day, young prince, you too shall wield a sword Never forget that true strength does not come in arms, nor power in a kingdom, nor valor in command … true strength, true power, and true valor will always rest in a good heart. And nothing—nothing!—will ever change that.”
So saying, he rose and turned from the boy, and walked off through the woods.
“Why didn’t you do it?” Luri asked, dismissing her spellwork.
Dalgren was silent for a long time.
“If I had done it … He would have won. He’s still a child, still innocent of his future crimes. But if I kill him … I’m no better than what he will be. To do this, to be a monster in life, is no better than becoming a monster in death. This is how the Lich King works. This is why he must be stopped.”
Dalgren sighed. “Let’s go home.”