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Part 3

Archdruid Fandral Staghelm looked up with an annoyed expression at the knock on his door. What mundane drudgery did they desperately need his input on now? Furbolg raids in Ashenvale? New findings about sludge in Felwood? Ridiculous nonsense about the so-called corruption of Teldrassil? He had important matters to attend to.

"Enter," he snapped.

The Sentinel who opened the door looked almost...frightened? That piqued Staghelm's interest. The guardians of Darnassus were usually unflappable, but the woman in front of him now was wide-eyed and clearly uneasy. "Archdruid, there's a...well, that is, she says..."

"Spit it out!"

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"You have a v-visitor." The Sentinel quickly turned and rushed away, being so careful not to touch the person waiting behind her that Staghelm wondered if his visitor had some kind of horrible disease.

The truth was far worse.

The figure in the doorway was clad in shining black plate armor decorated with steel bones. A fur-lined black cloak covered her back, and an unnatural chill accompanied her as she strode into the room. In contrast to her ebony armor, her skin was deathly pale, and her hair was white, but not the white of advanced age; it was as if all the life had been drained from her.

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It hardly seemed possible, yet he did recognize her. "Kalizai?"

She smiled slightly, but there was a coldness to her gaze that unsettled him. "I've come to collect."


"I've upheld my end of the bargain. I have mastered the art of the Scourge's magics." She drew the broadsword from her side but it wasn't a threatening gesture. She held out the blade so he could see the runes glowing on the steel. Tendrils of icy vapor snaked from the strange symbols. Staghelm grimaced, repulsed by the dark magic emanating from her. "You wished to know how the Scourge conquered death itself? I stand before you as an example of the Lich King's might. I am now a Death Knight."

Staghelm took a step back. "I never asked you to--"

"I was not given a choice," she interrupted. "You should have known--I should have known--that there is no way to master necromancy without corrupting your own soul."

"I did not ask you to give your soul, Kalizai!" he said adamantly.

"The Lich King didn't ask, either. He just took it."

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"Kalizai, I..." Staghelm faltered, his expression a mixture of revulsion and sympathy. "I'm sorry."

"I didn't come for an apology, Fandral. I came for my money."

"Uh...of course! Of course!"

She strode forward, her heavy armor clanking. "In return, of course, I will tell you what I have learned from the Scourge...if you still wish to hear it."

Staghelm swallowed but managed to reply coolly, "I would not have hired you for this task if I did not want to hear it."

She was standing close enough for him to feel the chill that emanated from her, as though she had just come inside from a blizzard--although it was as mild as ever in Darnassus. He hurried to rummage in a storage chest for the gold he had hidden there.

"Very well," she said. "I will warn you, however, that you will not find the pure restoration that you seek. The Scourge's magic is unholy, vile, unnatural and utterly without redemption. Once tainted by it--as I now am--there is no going back."

He turned back to her holding a small sack weighed down with gold coins. "That is one third of what I promised. I wasn't expecting you, so I'll have to send for the rest."

"You probably weren't expecting me back at all."

"It has been nearly two years."

"I was on the Lich King's schedule," she said bitterly, taking the sack from him. "I'll be back tomorrow for the rest." She started for the door but stopped and regarded him with a thoughtful, slightly softer expression. "And, Fandral...let your son rest in peace. There are worse things than death."

His lips parted but no words came.

She walked away, a quiet metallic sound marking each footstep.

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