Thursday, April 21, 2011
Streets erupted with life and joy when the news of the Lich King’s fall at last reached Dalaran. It spread through the streets, a rumor that gathered believability with each passing second until at last the Kirin Tor made the announcement from the Violet Citadel, their weathered voices shaking with relief. Lanterns shone bright in the evening streets as the people rejoiced, knowing that their city had at last been avenged.
A more muted celebration took place in the sterile halls of the Sunreaver’s Sanctuary. A substantial portion of the Scourge armies remained, to be sure, but they posed little threat to those outside of Northrend or the Plaguelands.
“A fine thing that the Argent Crusade and Steamwheedle Cartel fought and bled so well,” remarked one aging Sin’dorei diplomat. “Their sacrifice has given us time to consolidate, to better fight our true foes.”
I did not need to ask him to identify those foes.
The zeppelin had carried me from the Lich King’s doorstep to the embattled base camp at the edge of what had once been the Fleshwerks. Otuura, the draenic death knight, had survived her battle against the dragons, and seemed impressed at my continued existence.
Healers repaired my wounds with laudable skill, though my hand was too damaged to save. The Crusade ferried me to Dalaran once I’d regained some strength, and I spent the rest of my recuperation in Sunreaver’s Sanctuary. It was there that I heard of the victory against the Scourge. My service to the Horde in Dalaran’s Underbelly had not been forgotten, and the emissaries there arranged for me to receive a prosthetic hand.
Even today, I admire the craftsmanship of this new left hand, an elegant assembly of steel gears, rune circuits, and copper wires. The finer motor functions are too complex for the machine to emulate, but it can curl into a fist and extend into an open palm.
I stayed in Dalaran perhaps longer than necessary, rarely venturing outside of Sunreaver’s Sanctuary. It was not a proud time for me. I struggled to understand my actions at Icecrown.
In many ways, I had believed myself above the Lich King’s corruption, and I had disdained those Forsaken who used his evil to excuse their own. Even now, I am not so mad as to compare myself with Undercity’s worst. Certainly I have never brewed plagues or sought to end all life. Yet I had still used others to save myself, though in so doing I had saved them as well.
Are we all cowards in the face of damnation? Aletta and Lennister had defied their beliefs to save each other and their child, though they did not truly understand what was at stake. When they fled, he slowed to help her down those treacherous steps, even though the Chosen ran close behind. I turned around to fight the Chosen, but had I done so for any reason beyond hatred? I strained my memories, seeking some grain of courage or sacrifice in that attack. I could not decide if any had existed.
I have always thought that it is too easy to say that the ends never justify the means. Good intentions matter little if they only bring death and destruction. If Lennister, Aletta, and their child all escaped, who am I to judge?
Perhaps the doubts stem from the shame of slipping under the Lich King’s sway a second time. Had the Argent Crusade not commenced that bombing raid, I am sure I would have returned to the Scourge. I, who had thought so highly of my own mind and spirit, had come close to losing them again.
Contacts in the Argent Crusade informed me that Lennister and Aletta had been transported to Hearthglen. Formerly ruled by the Scarlets, the burgeoning township is now under the Argent Crusade’s protection.
“Aletta gave birth to a daughter, whom they named Vestra,” explained the Argent liaison, a blood elf. “She’s a very sickly child, I’m afraid. Aletta’s malnutrition took its toll on Vestra’s body, and perhaps her mind as well. But she will live, and she will be safe.”
I nodded, a mixture of feelings welling up inside. Suffering does leave its mark. Yet I am sure that there is no better place than Hearthglen for Vestra and her parents.