The first of five winning entries we received for the BBB Arthas Book Contest! I hope you enjoy as much as we did!
As told by Ærynn Lómëhtar
I groan in my troubled sleep and open my eyes. Myrrh is kneeling by my bedside, her head buried in her arms. She is finally asleep, poor child. The plague in those Wintergrasp barrels were potent, making me very ill. Thank Elune… thank the Light that the Argent Dawn can treat this—I shall not turn into undead.
War will always have its casualties. But in times like these, when I am at my weakest, I often bitterly curse my losses. Mórrígan… Oh, my Mórrígan! If only I had not been so foolish!
It was the eve of the invasion of Northrend. The Beta Expeditionary Force, already there, were already engaged in numerous battles. Fresh from my victories in the battles against Magtheridon and Gruul, I had grown arrogant. “Ærynn and her stormcrow Mórrígan have a new grisly trophy!”
I had heard that Naxxramas’ hold on the plaguelands was slipping. Of course, with Northrend so threatened, it was natural that Naxxramas would retreat to reinforce their holdings.
But I did not want them to retreat. At least, not yet. I longed to go to Naxxramas and gain even more glory.
A few shared my feelings; all of us found ways to find the hidden entrance deep in the eastern plaguelands. We wanted in before they escaped Lordaeron forever! Oh, what did we hope to accomplish? Those more powerful than we have gone in, and have either returned as embittered veterans or returned not at all. Yet here we were, sneaking into the dread citadel itself, hunting for the glory of bringing back Kel’thuzad’s head.
We all went through the portal, but on the other end was only Mórrígan and myself. Even then I should have heeded the warning in my heart. The sudden gloom was like a physical presence. The sounds of skittering feet and the distant wails of those who were being tormented drove me almost to terror. Walking around the circular vestibule, I found a madman, claiming to be a wizard and high elf (though he looked neither), wailing bitterly about a staff and how it was taken from him and broken.
Summoning my courage (or was it just hubris?), Mórrígan and I attempted to kill some of the giant spiders in one wing. We were thrashed to an inch of our lives, and only by feigning death were we able to escape.
After mending our wounds, I told Mórrígan that we would spend the night at the entrance near the “elf” and attempt to sneak past the mobs. I am quite sure that if I can get close enough to Kel’thuzad, I can kill him, take his head and trigger my hearthstone to escape. Mórrígan, my Mórrígan was not so sure. She was agitated and wanted to fly away—she kept hearing voices all around us.
As we lay down to sleep, I saw a small, living cat looking at us with glowing eyes.
I awoke in pain and nothingness, that is, I felt unbearable pain everywhere, but I felt that I had no body to feel that pain. I could make out two people talking.
“Yes, my lord,” said a tremulous voice. “Another one of these ‘adventurers’. A nightelf.”
“What fools,” said a loud whisper. “And they are trapped, lich? They cannot get out?”
“No, my lord,” the first answered. “There are… enough of them to fully satisfy the needs of Acherus. It only remains to slay them properly and… transport them.”
“Very good, Lich. Not all of them, though. Some are weak; too weak to even use as ghouls. This one, for instance,” and here I felt a sharp, painful throb everywhere but nowhere, “can safely be left to rot.”
“But, oh…” continued the harsh whisper. “Not this one… Not thisss one.”
“Which, my lord?” his servant asked, confused. “The stormcrow? This hunter’s bird?”
“No… not a bird… oh, no… not a bird. One who has lost… hurm… forrrrgotten herself. Her… true shape… Yessssss… I sssee ssstrength here! Be sure that this one reaches Razuvious. Be sure to begin… persuading her.”
“It shall be done, my lord.”
Who had they been talking about?
Moments? Days? Weeks? I lost track of time. But, Mórrígan and I, we escaped. Or, rather, we were rescued. My daughter Myrrh and Mr. Vault petitioned an Avatar of the Great Blizzard to free me and all those trapped within. No… those voices were not talking about Mórrígan. She was right there beside me when we were restored. But Mórrígan, my poor stormcrow… she was never the same.
From being the most powerful of my beast companions, she fell into a deep melancholy and never left the stables. Every night, when I went to her, she would look into my face, showing much more intelligence and awareness, and also much more sadness than I have ever known her to show.
My marching orders came late, and I cannot join my guild in Northrend. But I took Mórrígan to the Stormwind harbor, hoping the sea breezes would do her good. Together, we would watch the sun go down behind the tall lighthouse.
A week had passed and I had recovered; Mórrígan hasn’t. I finally got my marching orders, and prepared to board a ship to the Borean Tundra. I had left Mórrígan behind.
As I waited for the ship, a druid walked toward me. She was dark and gaunt, and very sad.
“Ærynn,” she said. “I am sorry, but I must leave. He calls to me… I hear his voice. I… I must obey.”
When I turned toward her, she had already disappeared. I thought she mistook me for someone else, but Myrrh told me later that that was the last time Mórrígan was ever seen. So, he took her after all. Gave her back her senses, then took her.
Since then, I had fought in every engagement against the Lich King. I knew what he turned her into.
He will pay.