In the days that followed our revelation about Silverbrook, Angus was resigned in doing anything other than studying the history of the Worgen, and trying to figure out why the creatures might have made their way to this place. Christine and I found ourselves with little to do, but that changed when an Alliance soldier arrived with a dire report. The work at the Hollowstone Mine had gone silent.
We decided it was in our best interested to investigate.
The mine was a full day’s ride from the Lodge, and we steered far away from Silverbrook to make sure we didn’t draw any unwanted attention. When we arrived at the mine, it took only seconds to know what had happened to these poor souls.
The smell of death hit our noses, overwhelming us.
We were just about to turn back, when we heard the sound of metal on metal clashing in the distance. We got closer, peering down on the mine entrance, and we saw something rather unexpected.
Undead soldiers. Working.
Their decaying hands still clenched their pickaxes, and they mindlessly worked, breaking rocks and putting them in wheelbarrows to carry off. It was disturbing to see all of these fallen men and women, working even after their lives had ended.
“What happened here?” Christine asked. “Are they Horde?”
“I don’t think so,” I said. “This looks like scourge activity.”
“So what do we do?”
“We give them a proper death,” I said. “Come on.”
Christine gave a solemn nod and came to my side. The two of us stood in place while I began to summon a firestorm that would put a quick end to most of the undead minors marching outside. I was just about to kick it off when Christine pulled my attention.
I looked in her direction and saw a man with a torch, an alive man, running toward us waving his arms without saying anything.
I stopped my spell and turned toward him as he arrived.
“Hello,” he said quietly. “Thank goodness you’re here!”
“You know what is going on here?”
“My workers,” he said through short breaths. “The all died after we ate dinner. Damn, the food was poisoned, just like in Lordaeron. I tried to worn them, I knew it was poisoned. It just didn’t smell right, you know?”
“I’m so sorry to hear that,” I said, trying to calm him.
“After they were dead, I didn’t know what to do. I tried to burn some of the bodies, but I could make it work. It’s hard to burn people. I might have figured it out, with enough time, but then they started moving again. They were undead.”
“Who could have done this?” Christine asked. “Is this the Lich King’s work?”
“No,” the man said. “It’s a mage named Arugal.”
“Arugal?” I asked. “That’s impossible. He died years ago in Shadowfang Keep.”
“Arugal had his hands all over the Worgen curse,” Christine chimed in. “If it was him, that would make a lot of sense.”
“It was Arugal,” the man said energetically. “I promise.”
“Okay,” I said. “Let’s get you somewhere safe, then we’ll clear out this mine.”
The man nodded, and then I sent him spiraling through a portal to the Alliance camp that was somewhere nearby. As soon as I closed the portal behind him, I lifted my arm in the air and created a fire vortex. The flame spiraled into the air, then came down upon the undead and quickly burned away their dead and broken bodies, leaving little more than ash behind.
“Arugal,” I said. “We should tell Angus.”
Christine shook her head. “No, we’re going to see Ruuna the Blind.”
“She’s a soothsayer,” Christine explained. “She’s lived in Grizzly Hills for years on end. Some say she was originally one of the soldiers that came up here during the Third War. She might be able to tell us something we don’t already know. Arugal, the Worgen, why here? Why now?”
“You think she’ll know?”
Christine shrugged. “Why not ask?”
I nodded. “Okay, if you think it’ll help, I’m not going to say no.”
“Good,” she replied. “Now, come on. I need some fresh air.”
We rode in silence for a while, but Christine was never one to stay quiet for long. She always liked to keep some kind of conversation going, especially when she was anywhere near some kind of boredom or dull scene.
“So, your horse,” she said. “What’s with the eyes?”
I looked at Surfal, and he looked back at me, his eyes glowing purple and reminding me of the very reason I was here in Northrend. I thought about lying to Christine, but that wouldn’t be fair to the sacrifice that had been made on the slopes of Mount Hyjal so long ago.
“The glow because of a spell that was used on it years ago. A druid saved Surfal’s life.”
“I was at the Battle of Mount Hyjal,” Sionis explained. “Surfal took a hit that would have killed him. He was felled by a demon’s attack as we retreated up the mountain. He was hurt, bad, and though I defeated the demon, there must have been a thousand more rushing toward us. I knew I wasn’t going to make it. I might have broken in the moment, if I had time to process it. Surfal was my only real legacy. He was a gift from my Uncle back in Stormwind, and I loved him dearly.”
“So, what happened?”
“A druid helped me kill the demon that had struck Surfal. I felt her pulling me away from my companion, but I resisted. I assumed she wanted me to follow her up the mountain, but I was so tired of running, Christine. I was so tired of losing.”
“So then what?”
“She used her power to restore Surfal. I didn’t learn it for some time, but the druid bound a part of her own soul to the horse’s lifeforce. When she did that, Surfal opened his eyes and they were glowing that purple color. He stood up as though he had never been injured, and his wounds healed up. I was amazed and inspired, and the will to survive exploded within me. I put the elf on the horse and I jumped on as well. We rose up the mountain and regrouped with Lady Proudmoore. The rest, as you know, is history.”
“That’s amazing,” Christine said, looking deep into the horse’s eyes. “What happened to the night elf?”
“Her name was Keaira,” I said. “She… she died in the Outlands years later.”
“I’m sorry to hear that,” Christine replied. “I know how you feel.”
“Yup,” she replied. “I was going to be married to a man that I cared for very much. He wasn’t always the strongest when it came to some things, but he was loyal to me. Most importantly, we loved one another. I mean it. We really did.”
“So,” Sionis said, “what happened to him?”
“He joined the Alliance to fight the scourge in Lordaeron,” she said, pausing for a long moment, then looking over to Sionis with a forced smile. “I haven’t seen him since.”
“I’m so sorry,” Sionis replied.
“Me too,” she said, nodding in agreement.
We rode the rest of the way in silence.