Only the most highly-attuned senses could have
detected anything amiss around the Scourge encampment. Gargoyles flapped lazily in the
frigid air, and abominations ambled aimlessly in the courtyard. From time to time a
necromancer wandered in or out of the ziggurat.
Just beyond the reach of the ghostly blue torches, one of the shadows yawned.
Kalizai was crouched at the base of a rocky outcropping, perfectly melded into the gloom.
A ghoul could have passed within an arm's length of her position and not noticed her
She had been spying on the camp for several weeks, observing the comings and goings,
mentally keeping notes that she later committed to paper back at her base of operations.
It was only an abandoned yeti cave, but it was a safe distance from the Scourge camp and
provided shelter from the bitter Northrend air.
Her long-honed techniques of stealth and subterfuge told her to stay downwind of the enemy
to ensure that they would not detect her scent. She had adhered to this despite the
unpleasant stench of undeath.
She had learned a fair amount about the Scourge's method of training ghouls and
abominations--as much as such mindless creatures could be trained. So far, however, she
had failed to witness the necromancers in action. That was what she really needed to
learn. After all, Staghelm wasn't interested in the shambling skeletons and lumbering
monstrosities. He wanted to know the secret of the initial reanimation itself.
Easy, she thought with a sniff. Should be lounging in luxury on a balcony in Booty Bay in
no time. Sipping a fruit drink, paying a goblin to massage her feet...
The bitter cold now made it difficult to feel her feet, however. She didn't dare
move at the moment, warily eying a flock of gargoyles circling nearby.
As usual, there was no sign of any necromancers coming out to do a free demonstration. She
set her jaw in frustration and finally admitted that this passive, distant reconnaissance
wasn't likely to yield the information she needed. It was time to step things up a notch.
It would be even more dangerous, of course, but that was why the archdruid was offering
such extravagant compensation.
When the last gargoyle had disappeared behind the tree line, she began to move, one foot
at the time, finding her way across the rocky, snow-dusted hillside. She made sure each
foot was securely placed before moving the next, taking no chances on slipping. Haste was
often fatal in this line of work.
At last she reached the perimeter of the camp, pausing in the shadow cast by the ziggurat
to get her bearings. The pall of death felt like a physical weight on her chest as she
inched closer to the front of the building. She melted into the darkness in a nook where
she could see the steps leading to the front entrance, and waited. Minutes ticked slowly
by, but Kalizai remained as motionless as a statue. Once an abomination wandered within
ten feet of her but the simple-minded creature completely ignored the intruder.
When the coast was clear again, she stepped forward a bit further and took up a position
against the side of the stairs. With the side of her head resting against the icy stone,
she listened for any sign of activity inside.
There was an anguished wailing--a banshee, perhaps, or a prisoner. She also detected a
boiling, bubbling noise that reminded her of the tar pits she had seen once in Un'Goro.
Other strange noises reached her more faintly: scratching, groaning, banging, and distant
voices speaking a language that was unfamiliar to her. It had to be the necromancers. She
strained to make out their words, but only snatches of the strange language were clear
enough to make out.
Kalizai frowned. Even if she could hear every word, there was no telling if the
incantations they were chanting now were the ones she needed. There were probably other
elements to their magic, anyway: potions, gestures, fire... The great mages might make it
look easy, but she knew magic was complicated. One wrong move and a simple spell could
have drastically different results than the caster intended.
Did she dare try to sneak inside the ziggurat? Even if she had a front-row seat for the
necromancers' rituals, she doubted it would be enough to enable her to successfully
recreate them. How in the world did Staghelm expect her to do this? Short of personal
tutoring, there was no way--
"That can be arranged."
The breath caught in her throat as a cold, ghostly voice suddenly echoed in her head. She
did not blink or twitch a muscle, trying to determine where the sound had come from.
"You wish to learn the secrets of undeath?"
An involuntary shiver ran down her spine. The voice sounded almost like the icy north wind
itself, but its words were clear. It seemed to be coming from inside her mind, from the
darkest recesses of her soul.
She released the air in her lungs to whisper, "Who...?"
"You seek knowledge...power... I can taste your greed, elf. I can see your
Kalizai's eyes darted around, looking for an escape route. But how could she escape from
something that spoke within her head?
"Yes...you will do nicely."
Seemingly from out of nowhere, a crypt fiend closed in on her. Numb with terror, Kalizai
managed only a few wild swings of her daggers before the giant arachnid knocked the
weapons from her hands. Before she could cry out, the slashing claws sliced across her
throat. There was a burst of pain, then...nothing.
She was not cold anymore. She was not afraid. She could no longer smell the miasma of
death. A strange new power hummed in her veins.
She was dimly aware of her hands moving, as if of their own accord, to grasp the hilt of a
The same haunting voice was speaking, but it no longer came from within her mind. Its
source was nearby, slightly above and in front of her.
"You wish to learn the secrets of the Scourge? You wish to wield death itself as a
weapon? Very well. Then you will serve me. You will have the knowledge you seek, and I
will have you...mind, body, and soul."
Her eyes opened and she raised her head, knowing even before she did so what she would
see. Although she could not remember how she got there or how she came to be clad in plate
armor of shining ebony, she was kneeling before the Frozen Throne.
Some tiny flicker of awareness deep in her mind told her to be terrified, to resist, to
fight, to reject, to...
A piercing blue glow shone from the eye sockets of the Lich King's helm, and she remained
riveted to the spot.
"Master," she said with hushed reverence.
The Lich King smiled.