Tuesday, October 2, 2007
For the living, the twisting corridors of the Undercity are a nightmare made manifest. For me, it is home.
Undercity is the dark inversion of old Lordaeron. The greatest human city in the world now lies in tattered ruins, cracked boulevards haunted by lonely ghosts. All activity takes place deep beneath the earth. After seizing the capital, Arthas set his undead minions to work expanding the sewers of the city, planning a subterranean base for the Scourge. Perhaps he still felt a bit of pride in his old home. After all, he was (and technically still is) the king of Lordaeron. Sylvanas made Undercity her own after Arthas departed to the north.
I went to the inn, exhausted by my journey to the rotting east. In a touch of dark humor, the innkeeper used empty coffins for beds.
“I hate undeath. I hate this curse and I hate those who think themselves better than us for being alive. That said, I think it’s perfectly fine to twist some amusement from this sorry situation,” explained the innkeeper.
I rented a coffin and retired for the night, its bare interior satisfying my needs. The inn is notoriously difficult for tauren, orc, and troll visitors as they cannot usually fit into human-size coffins. The innkeeper said that he planned to purchase larger coffins, though I doubt the living would find this an improvement. Besides, not even the most luxurious bed can dispel the oppressive cold or the stink of death.
I spent two long years moldering in Undercity after my resurrection. Despite that, the place remained unfamiliar to me. I rarely left my sewer home in those days, preferring to dwell with my spellbooks and memories. Returning from my journeys, I essentially viewed the place through a newcomer’s eyes.
Undercity revolves around the hub of the Trade Quarter, a vast and roughly cylindrical chamber. Walkways built into the sides connect with shops in alcoves that dot the walls like a honeycomb. Magic elevators propel passengers to the surface world, and the lowest floor offers egress to the city’s deeper regions. A ghastly green light filters up from the green morass at the bottom, a mixture of alchemical byproducts and decaying matter. Grandiose icons of death cover the walls, many of them placed by Arthas during the creation of Undercity. Though a part of the Scourge, the residual humanity in his mind recalled the power of symbolism.
For a moment forget that Undercity is inhabited by the undead. The reader may find it more palatable to view it as an underground dwarven colony. With this done, the Trade Quarter is not so different from any other urban marketplace, at least in spirit. A never-ending stream of Forsaken chatter in hollow voices as they trudge beneath spectral lanterns, going about their daily business.
It might seem curious for a city of the undead to have an active market. To learn more, I talked with Ophelia Montague. In life, the Montague family was a wealthy clan of bankers from the island nation of Kul Tiras. They had the misfortune of vacationing in Lordaeron when the plague hit. Now, those Montagues that are Forsaken continue their old trade. Ophelia was a ghost, her transparent features strangely puffy. She drowned herself in a vain attempt to escape the Scourge. Very few Forsaken are non-corporeal.
“Money’s very useful of course,” she said.
“Yes, but why to us?”
“You’re forgetting the other races of the Horde, Destron.”
“So we use money to facilitate our dealings with them?”
“Yes. None of the Horde races are very good with money yet. It’s practically a foreign concept for those dumb cow-people, and most of what the orcs know about gold comes from their time in the internment camps.”
Actually that wasn’t true. Though the orcish economy always depended heavily on barter, they used a simple monetary system long before they arrived on our world.
“Do you know how most Forsaken use their money? I can’t imagine they’d spend very much on the old necessities of life,” I asked.
“They use it on all sorts of things. Another thing is that money is familiar. Gold’s so very warm too, not like iron or silver. Besides, there are plenty of things that Forsaken would pay good money for. Replacements for missing body parts, old heirlooms and reminders of the past. You can get a fortune dealing in pre-Scourge baubles if you know where to look,” she laughed.
“Where would I look?”
“See! You want money even though you’re dead! Anyway I don’t know, those rag-pickers are a secretive bunch and they aren’t going to share where they found their treasures. We have much more freedom to use money now, since we don’t really need much to buy food. Also there aren’t any nobles to suck up all the money.”
Ophelia made an accurate insight into the nature of Forsaken society. As I have said before, the nobles were already fading from prominence in Lordaeron. Undeath robbed them of what little grandeur remained. A Forsaken peasant rotted just as well as a noble. It is actually quite telling that a large population of former nobles resides in the melancholy town of Brill, where they bemoan their current status. The Forsaken define themselves in opposition towards the living, who think themselves superior by virtue of their beating hearts. Most feel the same way to those who elevate themselves by accident of birth rather than by skill or ingenuity.
Beneath a staircase on the lowest level of the Trade Quarter, I came across an example of the peculiar things some Forsaken buy. A horribly decayed undead sat in the shadows, cockroaches scurrying around and on him. At first I thought he might have actually been completely dead, but he turned to look at me when I got close.
“Care for a pet sir? Roaches make great company.”
The roaches were tremendous, some as big as my foot. I’m inclined to think that they grew so large on account of Apothecarium experiments.
“They’re a fine snack in a pinch,” he continued.
I politely declined his offer.
It would be amiss for Lordaeron, the holiest of the old nations, to abandon mysticism entirely. As many Forsaken hold the Light in disdain, a fair number instead follow the Shadow.
The idea of the Shadow long hovered over philosophical discussion amongst the churchmen and faithful. The Shadow never played a major part in the Light’s cosmology. Certain talents of the priests were classified under “Shadow,” but those abilities were drawn from the Light the same as everything else. Shadow abilities were simply channeled for more combative purposes. No less a cleric than the now-deceased Alonsus Faol believed that the Shadow did not truly exist as a concrete force. He said that the Light connected all thinking beings. Thus, how could there be Shadow? Those who did evil ignored the connective spirit of sentience, but they were not outside of it. Those that lacked self-awareness simply existed, not part of any metaphysical skein.
One of the new, self-proclaimed Followers of the Forgotten Shadow was very eager to enlighten me. His first name was Edmond, as it was in life. His new surname was Shadowborn. A fair number of Forsaken adopted pretentious monikers after resurrection, something I’ve never quite understood. Long, mold-encrusted hair hung limply from his peeling scalp.
“Let’s start with some fun then, eh?” he hissed. He was dressed in a threadbare robe that seemed more stain than cloth.
“First, what’s shadow? I mean in the literal sense.”
“The opposite of light—”
“Ha! Wrong! Darkness is the opposite of light. I don’t serve Darkness. You see, you can’t have shadow without light. Shadow’s what you get when you place an object by a light.”
“Do you consider Darkness a metaphysical force?”
“Perhaps. I don’t care any longer. The Forsaken still take care of each other, in a sense, so we didn’t really abandon the Light. Shadow is simply what I want to do. Maybe it’s good, maybe it’s bad. Either way’s fine with me if it’s fun!” he laughed.
“But then you have rejected the old precepts of the Light—”
“Not entirely! I help the Forsaken, I serve the Lady. Why? Because it’d be worse for me if I didn’t. If I killed that Deathguard over there”, he pointed, “I’d get in trouble. Actually I think I’d like to kill him, he looks stupid. And I do whatever I want. But if I did that, I’d probably be killed by his friends. So I don’t. If I hurt the Forsaken I’d probably hurt myself too, and the rest of the world hates me. I return the favor of course.”
“How many Forsaken hold this belief?”
“How should I know? Do I look like a census-taker to you? The point is, I’m not alone and I’m growing less alone every passing day. Those drones of the Scourge do what they’re told, can’t even disobey! The living believe in helping everyone. I’m neither. One day soon we’ll tear down all their cities, make them undead like us.”
“To turn them to the Shadow?”
“You’re an idiot.”
“I want to tyrannize those humans who think they’re so wonderfully holy! If I taught them Shadow they’d get it in their minds to do the same to me.”
“If that’s the case, why proselytize at all?”
“I think the Forsaken have a right to rule! Look at the hell we’ve been through. I used to be a very handsome man! Very holy, everyone thought I was grand. Now they want to kill me.”
In my travels I discovered that many Forsaken believe in the Shadow though this new religion is, and probably always will be extremely heterodox. It’s hard to imagine the Shadow ever becoming very organized. Most simply regard it as keeping an eye out for oneself, a source of inner power. Those like Edmond Shadowborn simply take a more radical view.
That said, the Shadow is still a minority, albeit a growing one. Most Forsaken show little interest in matters of faith. Some search for new ones, such as Horde shamanism or (regrettably) demon-worship. A few even hold out and continue to believe in the Holy Light. Arcane magic is greatly revered as it can be a path to great power if used correctly. However no one (to the best of my knowledge) actually worships the arcane.
Many Forsaken believe that the Light abandoned them and it is easy to see why. The faith of the Holy Light always considered the undead as the apogee of evil, even worse than demons. The undead, said the priests, were violations of nature. Though corrupt, demons at least exist normally. Prior to the Forsaken, most undead were mindless and thus not part of the Light. Those who were sentient, the death knights of old, numbered few and were generally orcs (during the darkest days of the Second War, many believed that the orcs were simply a kind of lesser demon).
The Forsaken are thus unique in history. Still, we are persecuted. We are damned, according to the dubious authority of the Scarlet Crusade, and many outside of that detestable group seem to think the same way. I was not present in the Battle of Hillsbrad, when Alliance forces made daily incursions into the Forsaken-occupied town of Tarren Mill, but I heard stories of paladins cutting down Forsaken noncombatants. In the strictest philosophy of the Light we are as much part of it as the holiest cleric. Yet few on either side believe that. That said, I later got a better understanding of why the Forsaken are so hated; we damn ourselves by our own unconscionable actions.
Even then, I knew something of my nation’s questionable early deeds, such as our Dark Lady’s slaying of Garithos. Warlord Garithos is one of the most polarizing figures in recent history. He is so polarizing, in fact, that it’s very difficult to get reliable information about him. An obscure Stormwind nobleman, he led the last elements of Alliance resistance against the Scourge. Garithos despised non-humans, and frequently sent his dwarven and elven subordinates on suicide missions of questionable strategic value. Kael’thas was forced from the Alliance after siding with the malevolent naga to survive such a mission.
When our Dark Lady broke free from the Scourge, she and Garithos worked together as reluctant allies. They made an agreement in which Garithos would reclaim the capital, while the surrounding countryside would go to the free dead. However, our Dark Lady changed her mind and killed Garithos once it became possible for her to do so.
Horde apologists say that Garithos would have never stuck to the agreement. Those on the Alliance argue that, whatever the man’s faults, he was a man of his word. His biography suggests that this was usually the case, even with non-humans, but not always. In the end, it’s a moot point; no one will ever know what Garithos would have done, and the Dark Lady had to protect her people.
The masters of Undercity still remember how terrifying the prospect of undeath is to the living. This explains the presence of the Apothecarium. I approached their labs with some trepidation. The cruelty of the Apothecaries is legendary among the Forsaken. I came to a great room that stank of lightning and blood. Disconnected limbs and twisted flesh adorned the walls, and strange metal pylons crackled with electricity. A torrent of human screams from another room faded into silence as I entered.
“May I ask what you’re doing here?” inquired a harsh voice. A nearly skeletal Forsaken in an elaborate blue robe stood before me.
“Curiosity, I suppose.”
“I find your interest commendable, yet the Apothecarium is not open to those who simply wish to visit,” he replied gently.
“I wouldn’t be able to speak to Faranell?” Faranell is the head of the Apothecarium.
“No sir, I’m sorry but Master Faranell is quite busy and can only be interrupted for good reason.”
“Fair enough. Could I ask you a few questions? I’ve been Forsaken for some time, but there’s still much I don’t know.”
“I think that can be arranged. Please, follow me out of the Apothecarium. This is not always the easiest place for conversation.”
“So I can see.”
The Forsaken who stopped me was actually a lower-ranking Apothecary who had just gotten off work. His name was Nathanael.
“Please understand that I’m not free to divulge certain facts, so I cannot necessarily answer all of your questions.”
“What do you think of undeath?” It seemed like a horribly inadequate way to begin an interview, but I could think of nothing else.
“It’s a terrible curse. Nearly everyone here would agree to that.”
“May I ask who you were in life?”
“I was a simple scholar. I had a wife and children.”
“My son still lives, though he is effectively lost to me. He’s joined the Scarlet Crusade.” He smiled, a cold, lipless grin.
Something about the Apothecarium had unnerved me, and I was having a difficult time thinking of questions.
“What can you tell me of your activities in the Apothecarium?”
“We work to defend the Forsaken from our enemies, which is every living thing. The other Horde races are fair weather friends at best.”
“It’s generally known that you develop plagues.”
“Of course. It’s appropriate, after all, to master that which destroyed us. Our plagues are made to destroy the Scourge and to ensure our survival.”
“But of what benefit are living captives? I heard them screaming.”
“One never knows.”
“Is this a plague of undeath? Or can you not answer that—”
“There are many plagues”, he laughed. “Some simply kill, others turn the living into the damned, still others cause terrible pain and discomfort.” His glowing eyes seemed to look through me. “Some Forsaken are made uncomfortable by those captives. Many orcs and tauren detest us for it. You have objections? Mind you, these prisoners come from the Scarlet Crusade.”
“I’m not sure yet.”
“Don’t fret, you’re free to think what you will, though if you act against us we will destroy you.”
“Why would you want to inflict undeath on the living? You said it was a curse. I wouldn’t wish this on a human.”
“Again, our main focus is on the Scourge. For the time, plagues against the living are simply a last resort, as the orcs desire it to be. But why should it be wrong? The living have, after all, rejected us totally. Let them know our pain firsthand. It’s only fair after all, at least that’s what we believe.” His voice remained friendly and conversational as we spoke, as if he were discussing the weather. I chose my words very carefully. He said I was free to say what I wished, but I did not think he meant it.
“I can see how our persecution would necessitate that. What about fighting through conventional means?”
“We do that as well, though it is not enough. None on this world have suffered as we have, as I’m sure you can relate. We’re the focus of hatred for all living things. That is how we must define ourselves. Since they hate us, I see no limits to what we can do to them. Do you still believe in the Light?”
“No.” In truth, I was not sure if I still did or not.
“Good! There’s still a residual stain of the Light on your thinking but you’ll get over it. There is no brotherhood of living things. Even if there were it does not apply to us. Remember this as the mantra of the Forsaken: there is no cruelty which is not justified. Simple, I know, yet so very enlightening.”
“Who decided to develop plagues?”
“Our Dark Lady. Her lieutenant Varimathras nurtured it, and Master Faranell engineered the details.”
I thanked Nathanael for his time, and left feeling quite perturbed. Nathanel’s words demonstrated the perverse joy that comes from embracing the role of the victim. I questioned the necessity of such measures. With the Scarlet Crusade and the Scourge both so near, I at least understood the rationale behind them.
The section of Undercity called the Outer Ring holds a particular fascination for me. While the Trade Quarter mostly devotes itself to utilitarian commerce, the shops in the Outer Ring’s vaulting halls aim towards a more specialized market. I found something amusing about a Forsaken selling bushels of flowers in the area, somehow bright and healthy-looking in the suffocating gloom.
The salesgirl explained that there was a strong demand for herbs and plants in Undercity. In addition to providing vital alchemical reagents, many Forsaken bought them for more personal reasons. One customer, a relatively well-preserved Forsaken named Lyza presented a particularly baroque example when she bought a lovely rose and inserted it stem first into her left eye socket. She turned to me and smiled.
“Great look, don’t you think?”
“It is. What’s the occasion?”
“To return some joy to my existence. I was beautiful in life, now I’m dead. At least I can be more creative. A lot of Forsaken do that, though most of them end up looking disgusting. Most are summerdead anyway, not much you can do for a shambling mess.”
Summerdead is a term describing extremely decayed Forsaken, the idea being that they first died in the heat of the summer (Arthas’ attack began in the autumn, but the most horrific violence did not occur until the next summer). Others, like Lyza and myself are winterdead, named because of the cold temperatures that preserved our bodies. I’ve noticed that these terms are not often used outside of Undercity.
“Some of us are going to gather together in the Rogue’s Quarter. Minstrels will be playing and all that. Want to come?”
I cared nothing for entertainment while living in Undercity, yet revisiting it inspired curiosity as to the Forsaken concept of social recreation. I talked with Lyza as we walked to the Rogue’s Quarter. She said that while parts of the Rogue’s Quarter are private, the area around it earned a reputation as a place for undead merriment, or what passed for it. Lyza spoke a great deal of her old position in life, as a young noblewoman with an army of suitors. She even showed me bits of jewelry from her life. They looked curiosly cheap.
We passed a troll who nervously eyed one of the abominations, the stitched-together guards of the city. He shuddered.at the sight. Bone fetishes hung from a crude necklace he wore, suggesting some sort of ecclesiastical or shamanistic role. Lyza suddenly broke away from me and went to the fearful troll. Reaching to the rose planted in her empty socket she deftly removed a few petals and placed them in the troll’s hand.
“Dream and dream and dream away, your prince shall come to take you away, down and down and down the road, to where your heart is turned to cold,” she sang, her voice hoarse and atonal. The troll, who towered over her even with the slouch characteristic of his race, nodded and took a few nervous steps back while mumbling something in Orcish. Lyza clapped her hands in girlish delight and returned to me.
“What was that all about?”
“I deserve good times don’t you think? He’s a troll, he’s too stupid to really feel fear,” she sniffed. I should note that she didn’t say that until we were well out of earshot.
Lyza sang off-tune pieces of old songs as we walked. Just as she said, a large crowd milled in the area outside the Rogue Quarter, where Forsaken spies and scouts are trained. A trio of Forsaken sat in one corner, playing musical instruments. One, a bloated green Forsaken covered in open cuts, strummed a mandolin, plucking the strings with mournful deliberation. Next to him, a female Forsaken without a face played a small, whistling flute. The third banged a large drum, the percussion booming in the great room. The music was appropriately eerie, almost without coherent rhythm. I sometimes detected strains of traditional funeral dirges.
The party was silent apart from the music. The dead kept their distance from each other. A few danced in stiff, halting steps, their arms swinging limp from worn sockets. Lyza simply stood under grime-specked lantern, the blood-red rose in her eye perfectly illuminated. She stayed near a group of Forsaken in good physical condition. Farther off were others in various states of decomposition. Like the unfortunate Velle, whom I met in Deathknell, they went through elaborate means to preserve the appearance of life. One man had his entire head wrapped in gauzy, tan silk, creating a poor facsimile of skin. These were called the stitched, for their habit of weaving cloth, metal, and pieces of other corpses to replace missing parts.
“Damn pretenders. Everyone in this city are cowards or beasts,” whispered Lyza, her voice tense.
“Why do you stay?”
“I can’t go anywhere else. I’m not wanted, and I don’t want them. Do you see those over there? The rotters?” She pointed to some Forsaken who mortified their own bodies as a way of showing power over their dark state. The rotters flayed the skin from their faces, and burned symbols of death onto their arms and backs.
“I hope they die, for good,” she muttered.
I stood there among the other winterdead. A few of them spoke in grating hisses though most maintained the thick silence. I wondered what, if anything, they did for work. Many Forsaken are unreliable when it comes to tasks. While those in the Deathguard or other military arms of society pursue their duties with fervor, those in the common civilian populace tend to indolence. Their minimal living standards make it easy for them to get by with little money.
I’m not sure how long I stayed. I gradually lost myself in the music, the slow, tuneless notes dragging me to apathy. The party bore little resemblance to the dances and balls I’d visited in old Dalaran. The participants shunned one another. On one level they despised the different subcultures: winterdead scorning rotter, stitched hating the summerdead. Nonetheless, a certain perverse egalitarianism held sway. No hierarchy of style existed. Each group simply looked down on the others equally, even as a given clique’s component members hated each other.
I was wondering how any such civilization could last when the tempo of the music suddenly rose. The assembled Forsaken looked to the ceiling from which hung three oblong objects, shackled and connected to a chain-pulley system. The rusty chains shrieked as they lowered their cargo, which I saw were fearfully realistic effigies.
“The Apothecarium needs the real corpses, so we must make do with wax and pig blood,” said Lyza.
The effigies were of King Terenas Menethil, Prince Arthas Menethil, and Archbishop Alonsus Faol. They hung upside down, their faces molded in horror and pain. The music played faster, the notes harsh and jangling. A howl of rage went up from the dead, who took expectant steps towards the three effigies. Lyza flew into rage, shouts and sobs pouring from her throat. I finally understood how the Forsaken survive as a society.
Those nearest the effigies struck, tearing into the wax figures with jagged nails. The blood inside the effigies was certainly real, and its coppery stink spattered through the chamber. Screams promising vengeance and cruelty drowned the music, and those farther back grabbed chunks of wax from those in front, tearing them into smaller and smaller pieces. Within minutes nothing was left and the chains retreated back to the ceiling. The party dispersed, each Forsaken going his own separate way.
Lyza stopped at the edge of the canal and removed the rose from her eye. She crushed it, and sprinkled the bits into the sludge.
“I had so much while alive. Why can’t I have it now. It’s not fair,” she cried. “Everything will die, soon, very soon.” With that she was silent, staring into the rotten canal. She refused to respond to anything I said.
I was more than ready to leave Undercity after a weak. If such a hopeless sense of hatred defined undeath, I wanted no part of it. I had one important stop to make before leaving. If I intended to see the world, I needed to visit the cities and people of the Alliance as well. The Alliance typically kill the Forsaken on sight. Thus I sought the Masquerade, who lived in a wagon in the desolate Inner Ring.
No one knows the Masquerade’s identity. It is a Forsaken, that much is certain. The Masquerade walked in multiple layers of silk and velvet, all horribly rotten. The head is entirely covered, the top with a hat of black mageweave, and the face with a simple white mask. Spiders crawl in and out of the folds in its clothing.
“How may I help?” it intoned.
“I was told you can provide a disguise.”
“The very best. Our spies have made good use of it, and I now have permission to sell it to all who seek it. Though you already know that.”
The interior of the wagon was piled with strange objects for which I can attribute no purpose: rusty contraptions, broken glass, and the like. Cobwebs covered the deeper part, some still inhabited.
“How much will it cost?”
“Let me see. You winterdead are so easy to work with. All you’ll need are some glass eyes, color for your face... definitely some metal supports for your back, that will be the only hard part. And of course something to get rid of that corpse-stench. Three gold pieces.”
Expensive, but not unreasonably so. I paid.
“What would I have to do?”
“The glass eyes ought to be simple enough. Any particular color you’d like? Two different colors might be fun, though you probably don’t want to draw suspicion to yourself.”
“I had green eyes in life, so I’ll go with those again.”
“How boring, you ought to take the opportunity to try something new,” it sighed.
“Good point, actually. I’ll take blue.”
“Excellent choice. I have some fine blue ones right here.”
The two glass eyes glittered in its gloved hand.
“You won’t have any trouble seeing through them. As for the color in your cheeks, you’ll need to drink from this. Just a sip, mind you!” He handed me a large red flask.
“What happens if I take more?”
“You’ll turn a rather nasty shade of crimson. Very obviously artificial. I doubt they’ll jump to the conclusion that you’re Forsaken, but it will draw a lot of attention. A sip, really a few drops is all it takes, will last you for around a day. As for your back, I have an adjustable metal frame. Not the most comfortable but you probably can’t feel much anyway.”
“Indeed. And the smell?”
“You can mask the odor with this powder. Simply apply it to your chest. I’m not sure exactly how it works, but it does and that’s the important thing. It lasts a good deal longer than the coloration potion, about a day and a half.”
“Thank you. I’m surprised you’re allowed to sell this stuff. Isn’t there concern that someone will slip up and alert the humans?”
“Sylvanas does not seem concerned with it.”
I bought two potions and two boxes of the powder, increasing the total to five gold. It was not until much later that I learned from another Forsaken that the Masquerade sold its skills on the market because the spies using its technique had nearly all been found out.
One cannot enter or leave Undercity without going by the tomb of King Terenas. It lies alone in a small chamber, overlooked by the multitudes that pass by each day. A funerary urn is all that lies within the sarcophagus. Arthas desecrated his father’s ashes and only a small amount was recovered, no one knows by whom. A plaque is set on the foot of the tomb: “Here lies King Terenas Menethil II—Last True King of Lordaeron. Great were his deeds - long was his reign - unthinkable was his death. ‘May the father lie blameless for the deeds of the son. May the bloodied crown stay lost and forgotten.’”
I saw King Terenas a handful of times in life, always from a great distance. I remembered little about him. Another Forsaken came up behind me as I stood, lost in introspection.
“Such a great king,” she sighed in a dusty whisper. The face of the speaker was hidden in a tattered cowl. The light of candles briefly revealed a sere and shriveled face. “I was just a girl when he first came to the throne.”
“Did you live here?”
“Yes, I did. I always come here to pay my respects to our fallen king.” With a frail, gray hand she placed a bouquet of wilting flowers on the top of the tomb.
“Are you coming or leaving Undercity?”
“Leaving, for the south.”
“I’ve never been to the south. People still live there, do they not?”
“Of course.” I was surprised she didn’t know.
“I pay little heed to the events of the world these days. It has long since passed me by. I’m going up to the ruins. I have a little house there. I lived there, died there, and now I live there again. I’m Elsia, by the way.”
“Destron Allicant,” I responded with a nod of my head. “What do you do in Undercity?”
“I harvest fungus in the sewers, for the mushroom vendors. I only work a few days a week, thank the Light.”
“You still believe in the Light?”
“Why of course! You should too, young one. Though most Forsaken don’t care for it. I suppose I can’t much blame them.”
“I do not know if I believe in the Light yet.”
“We owe it to our Illuminated Lady, wouldn’t you say?”
“I’ve heard her referred to as the Dark Lady and Banshee Queen, but I have to admit Illuminated Lady is new to me.”
“That’s what she is though.”
“We were slaves to darkness. I shouldn’t have to explain this!” She seemed indignant.
“You view her as righteous?” Perhaps, I thought, she had not seen the Apothecarium.
“Righteous or not, she brought us to the Light. We weren’t part of it when we were in the Scourge. Now we are.”
“I see.” It made a strange sort of sense.
We passed through the empty throne room where Terenas was slain by his son. Some say you can still hear the whispers of their last conversation. A great bell once rang from the hall on occasions of festivity and triumph. Now it lies on the floor, forever silent.
Past that stretch the ruins of the courtyard. The Forsaken avoid most of Lordaeron’s surface ruins, and I have heard rumors of darker things lurking in the broken streets. Only a few of the free dead, similar in mind to the wretched people of Brill, make their home above ground.
I bade Elsia farewell, and she slowly went up to her house after giving a strange prayer to both Sylvanas and the Light. I went to the great gate, hoping I would discover better things to the south. A party of tauren went past me, headed towards Undercity. They gave me suspicious glances but said nothing.