The Pit Of Sorrow
The heavy oak door creaked as Thorval pushed it open cautiously. To his relief he could see Veron sitting upright on the cot, his back leaning against the wall.
“I see you are of better spirits this morning.” said Thorval. “This is good. You have much work ahead of you and fighting your instructors will never get you to where we need you to be. Now then, are you willing to accept your situation and pledge loyalty to the Knights?”
Veron thought it odd that the man asked him to pledge to the Knights and not to Arthas. Perhaps it was just an oversight but it mattered very little. He would have pledged to all the demons who rule the vast nether to learn the power that had crippled him the night before. He looked at Thorval, his eyes emotionless as he nodded his agreement.
“Good, good!” said the Knight. “Let us test your loyalty. Come.”
The two men walked the long hall again as they had the night before. Within the room Thorval poured another glass of the honey mead and handed it to Veron before directing him through another door and another long, dark hall. Veron reached out with his senses as they walked. He could see in the dim light that the hall turned ahead and that after that turn there was much more light, probably a bigger room. He could smell burning metal mixed with sulfur. He could hear the sounds of combat as well. Not as intense as the sound that raged in his head still but combat nonetheless.
After the turn they walked into a very large room shaped almost like an amphitheater. At various spots around the room large forges stood, unnatural flame feeding on the metal that was thrust into them by large burley men. Veron looked around, his eyes squinting in the fuller light picking out weapon racks as well, filled with dull, rusted swords and axes.
“Pick out a weapon Veron.” said Thorval. “Your first lesson will be at the Runeforge.”
Veron looked over the weapons in the rack closest to him. They all looked as if they had been buried in the damp earth for the last twenty years. Swords and axes with no edge left covered in scaly, peeling rust and only Elune knew what else. His eyes settled on a mace, and his hand grasped the tattered leather wrap of its handle. He lifted it, feeling the weight and balance and then held it for closer inspection. It was not the elegant mace of the city guard, but more of something an Orc might wield. It was round, about the size of a man’s head with two inch spikes pushing out from every direction.
“Show me your weapon Veron” said Thorval. “Bring it here and I shall teach you how to use the runes of the Knights to make it worthy to be held in your hands. Then we will see if you are worthy to use it.”
The two men walked to the closest Runeforge where Thorval taught Veron how to call his intent to both the weapon and the forge. The fact that Veron was able to do so after very little explanation impressed his mentor immensely. Within an hour Veron had learned all the easiest forge chants and was ready to test his new-found knowledge. He watched as Thorval thrust a sword he had picked up into the blue flames of the forge, unharmed by the flames that now ravaged the sword’s blade. His lips chanted in the long forgotten language of the rune masters and moments later he withdrew the sword. Veron did the same, carefully keeping his rune chant low enough for only him, his mace, and his forge to hear.
As he held the mace within the flame he could feel it reshaping itself. He could smell the rust burning away and the smell of the raw iron under it becoming pliable to the will of his chanting. The worn, ripped leather under his hand burned away as well yet the blue flames that climbed up the handle never burned him at all.
“Very good Veron.” shouted Thorval above the roar of the forge. “At my signal pull it from the flames and douse it in this barrel of water.”
At Thorval’s call the young Knight did as he was instructed and plunged the burning mace into the barrel. A foul plume of smoke rose up to accompany the hissing of the hot metal as it protested the cool water taking hold of it. Thorval motioned him to lift it and Veron withdrew the mace.
It had indeed reshaped itself in the forge. The metal was black as the night and the shape was perfect. Each spike had expanded at the base and had become part of the heavy iron ball rather than an added piece. In seconds under the awestruck gaze of the young knight there suddenly appeared runes in the metal, slight indentations of their forms yet they began to glow with the same bluish hue of the fire. After a minute the rune ceased to glow and the entire globe became frigid to the touch and a wisp of frosty mist lifted from it. Thorval took the mace and inspected it, a satisfied smile settling on his lips.
“A truly magnificent weapon Veron.” he said as he handed it to a smallish creature and instructed him to bind the handle in leather. “And now we shall find out if you are worthy to wield it.”
He led Veron along a wall that stood about seven feet high and then up a ramp. When he was able Veron looked over the wall and below him was a large gladiator-type arena. All around the walls he could see captives. Humans, Elves, Tauren…all races. Thorval handed him the mace and a shackle key.
“This is the Pit of Sorrow Veron,” he said. “Those held as prisoner here have chosen to not accept their new calling. This makes them traitors and traitors must not be allowed to live. You shall go down into the pit and choose one of the many. After you have unlocked his chains you will walk to the middle of the arena. Guards will arm him and then you will kill him. By performing this task you show your acceptance and allegiance. When it is done, if you live we begin your training. Are you ready?”
Veron replied by lightly leaping down into the pit and walking towards a huge bull of a Tauren. When he saw that he would be the chosen one he raged and snorted, his massive muscular arms straining the chains that held him.
“If you want a chance to live Tauren” said Veron calmly, “I suggest you stand back and let me undo the chains. Then all you have to do is kill me and you’re free.”