Blood And Thunder
Veron undid the chains that held the Tauren and the man-beast smiled. He had been no coward in life and saw no reason to act like one now. He knew defeating the elf would not free him but perhaps one of them may be free in a higher sense when this was done.
“Blood elf!” said the bull in a graveled voice. “I will try to kill you, to release you from this curse of immortality. I request you do the same so that at least one of us will be free.”
Veron walked slowly back to Thorval thinking about what the bull had said. He called immortality a curse. But yet Veron felt a strength he had never known in life and it was his now forever. How could this be a curse? Thorval had heard the Tauren’s words and knew by Veron’s look what was going through his mind.
“Some feel as though they would be welcomed back to their homes and families should they leave this place.” he said softly. “Being a bit more pragmatic, I wonder if anyone would welcome a walking corpse back to their homes and lives.”
“But being immortal is to be free of death.” replied Veron. “How can immortality be ended?”
“Sever the head and the two entities live on but can do no harm.” said the Knight. “While it is not death, it is peace.”
Veron hefted the mace and looked at the Tauren. His eyes were closed and Veron could see the slight movement of his lips and realized the creature was invoking a prayer to whoever his god or gods were. Veron looked at the mace and then towards Thorval, who understood and drew his sword, switching weapons with the elf.
Veron dropped lightly back to the sand covered floor of the pit while workers and instructors gathered around the perimeter. The Tauren finished his prayer and looked across the circle towards the slight elf that stood there. He was clad only in a loin cloth and his muscles moved fluidly under the short fur that covered his body. He looked at Veron and then a sudden change came to his eyes. With a bellowing roar he lowered his head and began a rush towards the elf, each step gaining him more momentum, more speed. With nerves tensed like steel springs Veron held his ground as the behemoth closed the gap between them alarmingly fast.
The Tauren outweighed Veron by a good three hundred pounds and he used every bit of that weight in the cleaving blow that he now aimed at the center of Veron’s head. He meant to split the elf in half with one blow and release him from this curse. Veron had other ideas and rolled lightly away at the last moment, neatly cutting the Achilles tendon of the bull before leaping blithely to his feet. As the beast bellowed in pain Veron chanced a look at Thorval who nodded his approval.
Unable to mount another charge the bull, grimacing in pain with each step, carried his huge frame once more towards the elf. Once more he lifted his axe and swung it in a mighty arc at the place where Veron had been when the swing had just begun. But Veron was no longer there. With blinding speed he threw himself to the ground and slid between the beasts legs, popping up behind him. The bull saw this but was unable to stop his swing or pull his legs together fast enough. When he spun to face the elf the last thing he saw was the sword in Veron’s hand nearing the end of its own arc and then the spray of the final blood in his body. His still open eyes recorded the last seconds in an almost surreal slow motion. His head tumbled but he saw his body still standing, the axe falling from his hand.
He also saw Veron, the elf’s eyes still wide as he stopped the sword from carrying him in a circle. His head came to a stop facing his own body. He saw the legs tremble, no brain to tell the muscles what to do, and then finally collapse. Veron turned his head and saw a smile forming on the bull as the eyes shut in the eternal sleep it would now find peace in. After long minutes he became aware of the buzzing crowd that surrounded the pit. His eyes lifted from the bloodied sand of the killing floor towards their whispers. His head turned slowly as if memorizing all the faces in one sweep and settled on Thorval walking towards him with a woman.
“This is the Lady Alistra.” he said. “She will teach you the art of plagues and diseases that will be at your command. I will teach you to control the fury of blood and another instructor, Amal’thazad will teach you the gripping properties of frost. The majority of your time will be with Alistra so it is important you know each other.”
“You fight well hero.” she said softly as she looked him over from head to toe. “Your teachers in life were very good it seems. A pity they were unable to teach you how to defeat us. But the truth is, only another Death Knight can defeat one of the Ebon Blade.”
Veron grew uneasy with being called hero. A hero is what he was…what he would never be again. He also didn’t appreciate the way she looked at him, as if he were a side of beef or a rack of lamb hung on display in a butcher’s window. But even in this slight distress he still saw the glare Thorval sent towards her at the mention of Ebon Blade. Who or what they were he would find a way to get from Thorval.
Moments later the trio was back in the long corridor heading towards the center room and more of the honey mead. They entered the circular room quietly. There were two other men in there but they quickly left at a word from Thorval. He motioned to Veron to sit as he closed the door behind the men and locked it. Alistra was circling the room as well, opening the many doors one at a time and checking the corridors behind them before closing and locking them. After the two Knights were satisfied that they were all quite alone Alistra poured three glasses and sat across from Veron.
“We have a proposition for you Veron.” said Thorval. “It involves a small group of Knights and the Ebon Blade. I advise you to listen well. Alistra will tell you all you wish to know.”
“Well that was easy enough.” thought Veron. “Now to find out what this is about…”