World of Warcraft: Azshara's Champion

In the midst of a heated undersea conflict, one Naga warrior proves her worth to the delight of all her superiors but one. In the end, one duel will decide this warrior's future forever.

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1. The Challenge

One.

 

Noise erupted around her, though she perceived none of it. Naga and Kvaldir alike were impaled, maimed, and mutilated as the furious storm of battle sweltered all around the sunken city of Dol’Remar. She clenched her webbed fists together tightly. Her eyes were focused on one object, and one object alone: the creature upon which she would soon unleash all the bitter hatred she had been harnessing.

 

Two.

 

Something flew past, only inches away from her face, but it did not faze her; she had, in fact, not even noticed it. She breathed deep, her serpentine eyes narrowing. Her fists unclenched as she slowly drew out her long, jagged blades. She arched forward, and hissed low.

 

Three!

 

She took off instantly, swimming at a furious speed, catching her prey completely off his guard. Four jagged blades tore through the body of the Kvaldir: one through the chest, one through the abdomen, one through the neck, and a final blade through his skull. The leader of the Kvaldir forces shuddered violently. His eyes rolled back into his head, and he then went limp.

 

The battlemaiden withdrew her blades from her victim, his blood slowly flowing out into the cold waters. The taste of it was sweet. She smiled, swelling with pride at the easy triumph over her enemy. She always preferred her battles to be swift and concise: her enemies falling swiftly before her, her blades cutting through them concisely. Her brethren cheered as the last of their enemies, so entirely daunted by the quick and simple defeat of their leader, either fled or perished.

 

A large figure emerged out of the shadows of the great stone building that stood behind the Naga. It spoke in a voice entirely familiar to the battlemaiden. “Yet again you have proven yourself to be the mightiest of all the queen’s warriors, Nar’jira.”

 

The triumphant warrior turned in time to regard the beauteous face of her new matron. Lady Mal’zara gently stroked her cheek with a webbed hand, and smiled at her, showing off a set of fanged teeth. The battlemaiden could feel her Lady’s pride in her success, and it added to her own. “Our queen will revel in the tale of your victory this day. Your name will be etched into the very stone of the majestic temple behind us. Nar’jira! Nar’jira for Azshara!”

 

As one the Naga shouted her name, glorifying her. It was now all she could hear, all she desired to hear. She raised her blades aloft, clenched tight in four webbed hands, and gazed up towards the ocean’s surface, unseen from the depths so far below. She shut her eyes, and let out a deep, gratifying sigh.

 

But, right then, her pride melted as if she were standing in the midst of the molten core beneath the Maelstrom. A shrill, bitter interruption tore through the joyous praise: that vile plague that had cursed her, tracking her every movement, mortifying her every dream. General Zalgasz emerged from among the jubilant crowd, and slowly chanted the battlemaiden’s name. His voice was pitched higher, and was not in harmony with the others. It was mockery at its zenith. Dragged out of her moment of rejoicing, she scowled: thus the general had achieved his desired outcome. He licked his thick, slimy lips with a long, pink tongue in ecstatic delight.

 

“Sssso triumphant, sssso victorious! Praise and glory to the mighty Nar’jira, Champion of the Queen!” He spat the words out as if they had been bitter bile in his mouth.

 

“Are you so swift to tear down the queen’s champion, Zalgasz, after she has brought us so great a victory in battle?” Mal’zara glared at him, though he still would not defer his gross contempt even under the weight of her austere countenance.

 

“What part have you to play in this, mighty handmaiden of the queen? Be content that you have achieved a victory for us this day, and that you alone shall receive the fullest praise. My quarrel is with this one who slithers before us all!” If it could, his burning visage would have pierced through Nar’jira, melting her eyes in their sockets and devouring her reptilian flesh.

 

Nar’jira pointed all four blades at his purple, scaly chest, poising herself in a stance for battle. “Then let us settle this once and for all, I pray you, General! Let us see who will stand victorious, and will be revered in the most beautiful eyes of our great Azshara!”

 

Instinctively the general drew out his own blades: two jagged swords, similar in craft to those Nar’jira wielded, though much heftier and, in the opinion of some present, far more intimidating. The other two were daggers, or at least resembled swords of human craft, though these he had coated with a deadly venom. They thirsted now to pierce the heart of the queen’s champion. Once more he licked his lips with his forked tongue.

 

“Happily I accept your challenge, worm!” He positioned himself in an aggressive stance, and the two stood facing one another, separated now only by the much larger figure of the Lady Mal’zara.

 

“Very well,” Mal’zara conceded at last with a long, heavy sigh. She took one glance at each, and then spoke again, her voice betraying pensiveness in her mood. “If a duel you desire, a duel you shall have. Let those present stand as witnesses this day, for by the prowess of one shall we hereafter know who will stand as Azshara’s Champion!”

 

Mal’zara moved in slowly among the rest of the crowd, which now formed a half circle around the two combatants, exposing them to the vast horizon of ocean beyond. In the distance, she thought she could descry, though faintly, a figure approaching them. She shook her head, the living serpents that served as her hair swaying in motion with her. Now was not the time to be seeing things. She resumed her gaze upon the two battle-ready warriors.

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