Demons Within

With the Lich King defeated in Northrend, the Horde and Alliance have resumed their war for dominance over Azeroth. Garrosh Hellscream, the new Warchief of the Horde, has never trusted Sylvanas Windrunner and her Forsaken but endures them simply because his cause would be surely lost without them. But just how effective is the Banshee Queen? As she becomes more erratic, her aide, Aleric Hawkins does his best to contain her outbursts but knows it's just a matter of time before her instability is discovered by Garrosh. And now, a new player joins the war and has plans to turn the tide in favor of the Alliance once and for all.

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1. Demons Within

Demons Within

By

J  Davis

 

 “Pig-faced oaf,” Sylvanas Windrunner muttered to herself as she started to shed her armor within her quarters. She was amazed by the thick-headedness the Warchief showed during their meeting in Silverpine. It was obvious to the Banshee Queen that Garrosh had not fully comprehended what she tried to explain, in very remedial terms at that.

 

“It’ll take the Forsaken to get wiped out and the Alliance knocking on Orgrimmar’s front gate for that buffoon to truly understand what I was trying to offer him.”

 

Sylvanas huffed and started hanging her armor up. What else could she do? The Warchief must be mad not to consider what she was offering. The Horde would have an endless supply of soldiers, Forsaken perhaps, but soldiers of the Horde no less. She and her vast army would crush the Alliance and usher in peace for the Horde.

 

Damn you Thrall! Sylvanas knew that Thrall had seen the importance of the Forsaken in their war against the Alliance. Who would not want soldiers that never tired or never had to seek nourishment? Now with Garrosh Hellscream as the Warchief, the Forsaken were seen as barely more tolerable than the peons the orcs used for their mundane manual labor.

 

“He may as well slit his own throat,” she mused to herself as she sat down to relax on her couch. “Better yet, let me do it for you, dear Warchief.”

 

Sylvanas closed her eyes and rubbed her temples. Lately she started to wonder more and more why she was tired or why she felt the stress of the day on her shoulders. It was never like this before. It made her feel vulnerable and that disturbed her.

 

Ever since the Lich King was dispatched, Sylvanas spent her nights sleeping, briefly at first but as the months drove on, she was sleeping nearly six hours a night. After a hard day, she felt the need to relax and unwind from the stress. Recently she had found solace in pampering herself with finer civilian clothing while she was in her quarters. Subsequently she was spending more time alone than ever before.

 

Others had noticed this change in her as well but none paid more attention to it than her advisor, Aleric Hawkins, the Deathstalker. He went through great lengths to give excuses or plant alibis for her, keeping her unusual behavior as hidden as he possibly could from the general eye. The last thing he wanted was to be caught between Sylvanas and anyone who thought she had become incompetent or worse, mad.

 

Sylvanas spent the next few hours lost in thought before retiring to her bed. Her new silk sheets felt so much more refreshing against her skin than her old ones. She nuzzled against her pillows with a satisfied sigh. After such a taxing day, she really needed this.

 

Sleep didn’t come easily for the Dark Lady. She found herself tossing and turning and not at all relaxed or content anymore. Every time she closed her eyes, the image of the Warchief kept popping into her mind. Sometimes he would be pointing and laughing at her. Other times he simply glared at her with folded arms.

 

It was no use and Sylvanas succumbed to her frustration and got up again. She slipped on a gossamer robe and padded into the den. She scooped a mug of tea from a tiny cauldron she kept heating in her fireplace. She held it to her nose with both hands and inhaled its sweet citrusy aroma. It reminded her of the nights she and her sisters would sit on the balcony of their home and count the stars in the sky. She missed her sisters and although the Forsaken and the blood elves had an unusual relationship, she and her sisters did not. Arthas had taken more than just her life from her, he took her family too.

 

Sylvanas took a tiny sip from her tea and made for her couch. She stopped a mirror in passing and gazed at the image that mocked back at her. She watched as her reflection changed to when she was, alive, before she had been taken by Arthas and murdered, before she had been turned into the monstrosity that had been mocking her.

 

She ran the tips of her fingers down her slender ear and along her jaw slowly. Her skin was smooth and pale but held a slight sun-kissed hue. Her deep golden mane cascaded over her intoxicating shoulders and down her curvy back. She imagined she had turned a number of heads but for her it was always duty over self. She wasn’t built to have personal relationships.

 

“If I could do it all over again,” she whispered to the stunning image that smiled back at her in the mirror. A sudden pang of loss and depression took hold of her as she realized she would be alone, forever. She balled her fingers into a fist and slammed it into the mirror. Its smooth surface cracked and splintered out from its center.

 

“Just die already!” she screamed at the mirror. Sylvanas began shaking uncontrollably in rage. The cracked image laughed at her madly. She ground her fist harder against the mirror. The Banshee Queen paid no attention to the blood that started to streak down the splintered surface from her hand.

 

“Shut up! Shut up!” Sylvanas begged her reflection over and over. The maniacal laughing echoed loudly through her head. She covered her ears tightly, trying to block it out but she couldn’t. Slowly the Sylvanas cowered away from the mirror until her back was flat against the opposite wall.

 

“Please stop!” She sobbed as she slowly sank to her knees. “I’m sorry!” With her apology everything stopped. Sylvanas collapsed on the floor. The only noise left in her room came from her crying.

 

*

 

Morning came and Sylvanas woke to find herself still on the floor. She knuckled the sleep from her eyes then picked herself up. After washing the dried blood from her hand, she traded her gown for her armor. Sylvanas went to the cracked mirror again and touched her cheek on its broken surface for a moment. The Banshee Queen pulled her hood up over her head and quietly left the room. She had a full day ahead of her.

 

She met Aleric Hawkins in the main room of the Royal Quarters to discuss some matters at hand. The Deathstalker shooed away one of his underlings with a subtle nod then turned to greet his Queen.

 

“Good morning my Queen,” he hailed. His voice was haunting, like a ghostly howl that carried on the wind from a distance. It disturbed most to their core.

 

“Aleric,” Sylvanas acknowledged him with a nod. “Have my warhorse ready within the hour.”

 

The order caught the Deathstalker off guard. “I’m sorry?”

 

“I’m riding out within the hour,” she replied. “Have my warhorse ready.”

 

“Not now,” Sylvanas whispered aside. Aleric glanced around quickly, somewhat confused.

 

“Okay,” the Deathstalker said somewhat hesitantly. “So when, my Lady?”

 

Sylvanas answered him with obvious annoyance. “Within the hour.”

 

“But you said,” he started to speak.

 

“It’ll be okay,” she whispered again to her side, interrupting him. Aleric narrowed his eyes at her in suspicion. He did not like the way she was acting.

 

“Will you require your usual escort?” he asked.

 

“No,” she answered. “I’ll be riding out alone.”

 

“But my Lady,” he started to question her but was answered with a stiff backhand across his cheek. His reflexes brought his hands to his daggers but his sense stayed them from drawing them out. Aleric looked at her quickly and met the most hateful glare he had ever seen from her, or anyone for that matter.

 

“You’re excused,” she ordered. Aleric nodded and marched off to ready her warhorse.

 

“What?” Sylvanas demanded from Bragor Bloodfist. She hadn’t noticed the Kor’Kron captain standing a few feet away until Aleric left. He was staring at her in disbelief with his mouth agape.

 

“Nothing,” he simply replied before leaving. Bragor was not going to let this incident go unreported. If he valued his position, which on most days he didn’t, and his life better send a missive to Garrosh.

 

“I know,” Sylvanas whispered again then she hugged herself briefly. “It’ll be okay.”

 

The Banshee Queen mulled around Undercity for a little while. She acknowledged a number of her subordinates with courteous nods but ignored the Kor’Kron completely. Sylvanas despised their presence and has said so to the Warchief every opportunity she’s had.

 

As she was passing a pair of orc guards who were obviously engaged in animated storytelling of honor and glory, one of them jerked back and crashed into her. Sylvanas was knocked to the ground and the guards immediately snapped to attention.

 

“My apologies, Queen Windrunner,” the guilty said while keeping his eyes focused straight ahead instead of looking down at her. As the ranger-general got to her feet and loomed over them, both orcs felt a sinking feeling grapple their stomachs. Red glowing eyes, full of bitter contempt, glared at them from inside her cloak’s shroud. For the first time in their lives, they felt small. She raised her hand and the two braced themselves.

 

“It was my fault,” Sylvanas apologized as she placed her hand on one of the guard’s shoulders. “I should have paid more attention of where I was going.”

 

They just stood there in shock as the Dark Lady gave them each a nod then continued on her way. They watched her leave in silence. Her powerful, shapely legs snapped her equally curvaceous hips side to side as they took her around a corner and out of their sight.

 

The guards looked at each other in silence. They had never been so close to the Banshee Queen before, only seeing her parade through Undercity from a distance. She was unlike everything they had expected, nothing like they had heard. They pondered the thought for a few minutes then resumed their tales of glory and honor.

 

Outside, Sylvanas joined Aleric who was waiting with her warhorse. She grabbed the reigns and kicked herself up into the saddle. She snapped the reigns and called back to the Deathstalker, “We’ll be back in three days.”

 

We? Aleric thought. Troubling, very troubling. He watched her disappear through the gates of the courtyard ruins. Aleric Hawkins nodded towards the shadows and a subordinate Deathstalker appeared with a horse.

 

“Dispatch some scouts to intercept Bragor’s messenger,” Aleric ordered. “Tell the rest to start putting their feelers out. I need to know everything that is happening on both sides. Everything!

 

“Yes sir!” The junior Deathstalker snapped their usual salute and disappeared back into the shadows. Aleric kicked his mount off in pursuit of their Queen.

 

*

 

The sun was low when Sylvanas arrived at Windrunner Spire. She quickly dispatched a handful of banshees so she could visit undisturbed. A long time ago, her home had been majestic, a monument to her society’s architectural prowess until the Scourge invaded. Now all that is left are ruins hosting an assortment of vermin, banshees and the occasional Scourge.

 

The wind howled through the abandoned towers and Sylvanas set down her bow to pull her cloak around her to shield her from the bitter bite of the cold. As she walked through her former home, everywhere she looked she saw the ghosts of her past life.

 

Screams and giggles echoed hauntingly through the main spire. Sylvanas turned just in time to see three little girls running and poking at each other. She recognized Alleria first then Vereesa. The last girl stopped and turned around to look at her. It was her when she was around seven years old. The child shoved her tasseled golden locks aside and smiled at her then waved.

 

Suddenly their mother rounded a corner, scooped up the child and disappeared around another corner in a flurry of high-pitched screaming and laughs. A feeling of panic washed over Sylvanas. Panic? Perhaps it was the need to see her mother. It took a moment for her to be able to move. She took off after her mother and herself.

 

Each time Sylvanas rounded a corner, her mother and her younger self rounded the next. Her breaths became short and ragged as she chased the figments of her past through the ruins. Her legs were on fire from fatigue but some unseen force pushed her onward, pushed her to make that connection and have closure with her past. As she rounded the next corner her world went black.

 

*

 

“A fine catch indeed,” General Joren congratulated his men as he walked around the Banshee Queen. He eyed her up and down, quite pleased to see the Banshee Queen shackled to a tree. The Circle of Destiny had waited for decades for an opportunity to crush the Horde and it seemed like their biding was about to pay off.

 

“Your orders, sir?” one of Joren’s lieutenants asked. The General reached up and took Sylvanas’ chin and moved her face side to side to get a better look at the Dark Lady. He released his grip and her head dropped limply again.

 

“Bring out the Bender!” General Joren bellowed.

 

The crowd of soldiers parted to make way for a blood-elf woman clad in deep hues of crimson and violet. Her raven hair cascaded down the back of her cloak and was a stark contrast to her porcelain white face. She looked to be in her early twenties and her features had not yet been marred by the lines of time. The young woman carried a satchel, woven of the finest cloth. She was beautiful.

 

“General,” the woman spoke softly as she looked at the stoic veteran. “Please have your men leave us. They add too many minds to work with.”

 

Joren ordered his men away. Most gathered down the hill from the Spire but a few searched through the ruins for valuables long forgotten. The general himself moved a number of paces away to give the mindbender some room to work but still close enough to reach her quickly if circumstances demanded.

 

Joren was excited. He felt like the first day he had stepped onto the battlefield in defense of the Alliance. This time, however, he had the upper hand. He had the Forsaken’s Queen in his clutches and victory should follow closely. A clean victory, one that would have the Horde destroy itself.

 

He watched as the mindbender removed a circlet from the satchel and placed in on her brow. Tendrils of silver and assorted gems had been arranged just so on the circlet to amplify the woman’s talents. The woman placed her hands on both sides of Sylvanas’ head and closed her eyes to work. It seemed like forever to Joren.

 

Finally, after hours, Sylvanas’ eyes flew open and she screamed. Joren felt his blood curdle from the shrill pitch that came from the Banshee Queen. Sylvanas’ body convulsed a few times then went limp again. The woman withdrew her hands, removed the circlet from her brow and motioned to Joren.

 

“It’s done, General,” she said.

 

“Did you encounter any problems?” he asked. The mindbender shook her head.

 

“She had plenty of demons within,” she answered. “I simply, encouraged, them to manifest.”

 

General Joren smiled and nodded. “Well done Windrunner. Very well done.”

 

“Thank you, General,” the blood-elf Windrunner said with a smile. “Anything in service of the Circle.”

 

Before either of them could say another word, Joren’s men shouted out in alarm. He heard the familiar sound of sword meeting sword and he looked at the mindbender. “Hurry, we need to go.”

 

The two mounted their horses and sped off from the Spire.

 

*

 

Aleric Hawkins helped put their Queen in the back of a wagon for transport to Silvermoon City. He looked at the pile of dead humans and cursed. The Deathstalker was worried about this blatant attack on Sylvanas but was thankful they had arrived in time to rescue her before anything unfortunate could happen.

 

“Start heading to Silvermoon,” Aleric ordered. “I’ll meet you on the road.” He watched as his Deathstalkers started off to Silvermoon City with their Queen. After they were out of sight he turned his attention back to the pile of bodies.

 

Aleric ripped a tabard off one of the bodies and studied it. The symbol was nothing he had seen before. Indeed they had a new player in the game and Aleric was determined to find out more about them. He spat on the bodies then burned the pile. The Deathstalkers had a new enemy.

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