Nothing Without You
The time had come. Over ten thousand years since Maiev Shadowsong had volunteered to execute the man who had nearly killed her brother, less than a decade since she cornered him in the ruins of Dalaran to renew the offer, the time had finally come to end Illidan's life.
All around her the battle raged between Illidan's demonic minions and the diverse group of mercenaries Akama had enlisted. Magic crackled in the air amid the clang of steel and cries of anger and pain.
Akama himself, never dreaming that Maiev would hesitate to slay the Lord of Outland, was nevertheless leaving nothing to chance. Consumed by battle lust, the Broken leader was face-to-face with Illidan, his hooked weapons a blur as he tried to land a hit.
Illidan was completely focused on Akama, unaware of Maiev's presence. The Twin Blades of Azzinoth flashed, reflecting the fel energies that pulsed around him.
Maiev watched, frozen by conflicting emotions. She hated Illidan. She also loved him. And she hated herself for loving him.
She would have given anything to have things the way they once were, with him safely locked away beneath Mount Hyjal and herself as his Warden. When she first followed him through the portal to Outland, she had somehow believed that it could be that way again. When she was defeated and imprisoned, when he had come to her cell as she used to come to his, when they fell together again in a primal fit of passion, she had believed that it would stay that way, a reverse of the previous ten centuries. The idea didn't even cause her much despair. A prisoner she may be, but she was his, and he remained hers.
Then she had heard of Akama's treachery, of his plans to betray the Betrayer, and she knew there would not be another ten thousand.
She made impotent threats against Akama, asserting her own claim on Illidan's life. "If Illidan is to die, it shall be by my hand!" she had railed. "Curse you, Akama, I am not a pawn in your game...my will is my own. When I unleash my wrath upon Illidan it will have nothing to do with your foolish scheme!"
Akama would not be dissuaded, however, and all she could do was pretend to go along with his plans, hoping to be in the right place at the right time.
The right time...
Presently the Broken leader managed to get a small hit on his opponent, and Illidan briefly flew out of reach. Blood coursed down his left shoulder as he dropped back on Akama, using the force of his descent to give the attack extra impact.
Maiev swallowed and moved closer with slow, stealthy strides. If she didn't take action it would be too late.
Whatever her personal feelings, she could not ignore the reality of the situation. Illidan had become a monster, commanding more demons than he had ever slain in his younger days. He was a threat to Outland and possibly Azeroth as well. No matter how well-intentioned he had been in the beginning, no matter how she craved his touch, no matter how successful he was in fighting their mutual enemy of the Burning Legion, it had to end. She knew that. But it would end on her terms.
She clutched her chakram tighter in her armored fists, her heart thudding in her chest. One of Akama's mercenaries was hit by a beam of sinister purple magic and fell with a clang at her feet. Barely registering this, she stepped over the body and edged closer to her prey.
A dream from over four thousand years ago flashed through Maiev's mind and she blinked rapidly to banish it. Once she had foolishly fantasized that she and Illidan would somehow find peace, raise their son together and draw happiness from each other. Even then it had been an impossible thought. And so much had happened since then, she reminded herself, eyeing Illidan's unnatural wings flapping as he dodged another of Akama's attacks. He was too far gone, and, she admitted as she clung to the increasingly slippery fragments of her sanity, so was she.
It was time.
Maiev steeled herself, taking a deep breath as she launched herself into the battle.
What followed was a blur of adrenaline and blood. She lashed out at everything in her path, unleashing her rage at the situation, at Illidan, at Akama, at herself, at the Burning Legion, at life itself.
When the haze cleared and she came back to herself, she stood over the fallen form of her beloved enemy. The rest of the battle had quieted now, and all eyes were upon the two of them.
"Maiev..." Illidan growled weakly, sprawled on his stomach on the blood-streaked flagstones. His wings twitched uselessly and fell still.
She looked down at him blankly, unable to speak.
"How is it even possible?" he said, his voice slurring as blood trickled from his mouth.
She slowly shook her head, wondering the same.
The green glow behind his blindfold was dimming. "You have won, Maiev," he wheezed, "but the huntress is nothing without the hunt." Grimacing from the mere effort of speaking, he continued with increasing hoarseness. "You...are nothing...without...me!" As the last word rattled forth, he collapsed and lay still.
Akama and his forces stared in wonder, letting their victory sink in.
Maiev's eyes remained riveted on Illidan, waiting for him to take another breath. When he did not she shuddered, folding her arms across her chest to contain her grief.
"He is right," she said, her voice sounding terribly small. "I feel...nothing. I am nothing." All the hate, all the love, all the passion she had focused on him over ten millennia was gone. She felt ill from the sudden hollowness, as if she might fold into herself and disappear.
She bid farewell to the gathered allies who had forced her hand and wandered blankly down a corridor into the stillness of the Black Temple. The stench of death followed her, pervading the ancient structure with an inescapable pall. Smashed finery and the bodies of fallen demons and Draenei littered the hallways.
Having been dragged there in chains several times, Maiev knew the way to Illidan's chambers. The sparsely-furnished rooms were untouched by the violence that marred the rest of the temple. She wandered blindly across the mosaic tile floor and came to a stop at a tall window. How long she remained there, starting numbly at the turbulent greenish sky, she couldn't say.
The day's events ran through her mind in a horrible kaleidoscope of memories. Her arms still trembled from the impact of her weapon on Illidan's body. His lifeblood speckled her armor. His final words echoed over and over in her ears.
"You are nothing without me!"
He was right. The bastard, her beloved, was right.
Illidan was dead.
She had followed him to Outland. Now she would once more follow to wherever he had gone.
Ignoring the tears that streaked the blood, dirt and sweat on her cheeks, she reached for the chakram at her side. Its serrated blade was stained with Illidan's blood. She laid the curved metal against her neck, savoring the moment before surrendering at last.
"No!" came a voice from behind her.
In her reverie Maiev hadn't heard anyone approaching. She whirled around, furious at the interruption.
The figure in the doorway seemed to be made of shadow, a silhouette given form. Golden eyes shone beneath a thick cowl, but only the staff in the intruder's hand seemed to have any substance.
"Who...?" she gasped.
The figure stepped closer and slowly seemed to solidify before her eyes. He spoke in a deep, authoritative voice. "Put down your weapon...Mother."
Maiev regarded him with wide, unblinking eyes, her lips moving silently as she took in his strangely familiar features. "M-Maeldan?"
He sternly reached out a hand, the sleeve of his ornate robes draping dramatically, to take the blade from her.
Before he could wrest the weapon from her hands, however, she crumpled to the ground in a faint.