Assassin of Kings

In the shadow of the Gilneas wall, deep below the earth, prisoners of war are being forced to dig through the night, at the point of a crossbow. What they uncover will be their end...

A (very) short story by N.T. Blevins, set in the World of Warcraft universe, created by Blizzard Entertainment.

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3. Assassin of Kings

  The tunnel was narrow, choking and claustrophobic. There were no beams nor joists dug into the walls, and the dirt and rock overhead drizzled down onto the torch as Cromush hunched through. Below him, his boots dug into the bodies of several prisoners, crossbow bolts and blood scattered among them. Gilneans. Shapeshifting beasts, most of them, but not these. These had been captured when the city fell, cowering in the basements and cellars. Now their bones crunched beneath his weight, pointing the way forward.

  He cursed Sylvanas under his breath. Whatever was down here, it wouldn't save her from Garrosh when he reported tonight's events. Cromush would be there for it, when the Warchief put her down. He would be there, and if the gods were good, perhaps he would slay her himself.

  Before long he came upon the dig master, Darion Barker. His own torch cast an eerie glow across two rotting cheeks, which made the fool look like he was always grinning. He looked dismayed to find Cromush instead of the Banshee. Hoping for praise, no doubt. He saluted nevertheless and waved his torch over the hole in the wall.

  Cromush shoved past him and stepped inside. The walls were cut stone, smooth, save for the myriad of runes which ran along the edges. At the end of the small chamber they had broken into, a carved archway led deeper into another room. Cromush did not hesitate. His torchlight illuminated yet more runes, and in the center of the chamber, a coffin. It was vaguely shaped like a man, but bigger. Instead of lying prone on the floor however, it stood upright. Words had been raised from the stone, forming a circle around a shallow hole in the middle. The keyhole, for the talisman.

  Cromush examined the writing. It was old, very old. The language of the old gods. "Am'rok Su'Tan..." Cromush fumbled. He had seen very little of these runes. "... Assassin of Kings."

  So... this was what Windrunner was after. No doubt this creature had been buried with some powerful artifact, which she meant to present to Garrosh. Perhaps she believed she could win back her favor with trinkets. Cromush knew better. The Warchief had all but killed her last they met. Sylvanas would not survive their next meeting. If Cromush were to present it, however...

  He slammed the talisman into the socket, and twisted. The stone churned, a thousand years of dust and gravel dissolving around the joints of the crypt as it pulled open before him. The High Warlord's breath caught in his throat. A sound drifted from within. The sound of a death awakening. Whispers and screams, silent, yet crashing through his mind with thunderous force, burst from within the coffin, and something emerged. It was a man. It was a shadow. It was the last thing Cromush saw. His mouth hung open and his eyes were still wide when his corpse hit the floor.

   Darion Barker dropped his torch and scrambled out of the tomb. He stumbled over Alastar's body, still warm, and ran down the tunnel, swallowed by the blackness. The damp mine air huffed in and out of his rotting cheeks, and he did not look back. The light from the main tunnel appeared before him, and he nearly leapt as he reached it. But just as his outstretched hand, missing three of his five fingers, reached the opening, something caught him, and a scream escaped his lips as he was sucked back into the tunnel.

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