Episode 12: Dead on Arrival

The “Shade” of Arugal.

      I heard the old lady’s voice in the darkness. My head was fuzzy, and the ground seemed uneven under my feet. I swung my staff, trying to keep the dark forces away, but I could see nothing around me. I felt panicked, and angry, and lost.

      I heard her snap her fingers, and I collapsed to the floor.

      “Wake up, Sionis. It’s over, my boy.”

      I opened my eyes and I was inside an old wooden hut. The darkness I had seen was gone, stripped away by Ruuna’s magic, and I nearly cried with relief.

      “The potion has not yet worn off,” Ruuna added. “Please, you’ll only hurt yourself more if you struggle.”

      “Okay,” I replied, taking a deep breath.

      “What did you see?” the woman asked. “Was it Arugal?”

      “No, I saw Arthas. The Lich King was raising Arugal from the dead!”

      Ruuna seemed completely calm, even with me lying on the ground. “You will fully recover,” she said. “Your anger and confusion are the result of distant memories. This potion brings out your most painful memories as it opens you to the visions you seek.”

      “Ruuna,” Christine said as she looked at me with hurting eyes. “He seems like he is in so much pain.”

      “That would be because he is,” the woman replied. “This one is dangerous. His anger is raw and unfocused. His goals are questionable, and he is not… honest.”

      “That’s it,” Christine said more firmly. “That’s enough.”

      With that, that paladin stepped forward. She used the Light to cleanse me of the potion. I felt a bit of a sting as she cleared my doby, but I felt the ability to rest sweeping over me.

      When the Light faded away, Christine waited for me to stand.

      “Thank you,” I mumbled.

      “You will need to seek out a woman named Sasha,” Ruuna said. “She holds the answers you seek, mage. Your vision bled out the name in many strands of time.”

      I looked to Christine and shrugged. “More importantly, I saw a vision of Arthas raising Arugal from the dead. He’s responsible for the Worgen, Christine. If we don’t stop him soon, this place could be the new Silverpine forest.”

      “How can I help?” she asked.

      “Go and get Angus, tell him to meet me south of Silverbrook. There’s a group of trappers there. That’s where this will all set off.”

      “Are you sure?”

      I nodded. “I’m confident.”

      Christine nodded and then rushed outside, jumping on her horse and riding back toward Amberpine Lodge. I went to Surfal and began to climb on when Ruuna stopped me with a hand on my shoulder.

      I glanced at her and she appeared to be looking right into Surfal’s glowing eyes.

      “A druid soul is bound to this animal,” she said somewhat awkwardly. “A piece of a soul that cannot be replaced.”

      “I’m sorry,” I said. “I don’t understand.”

      “Your horse carries all that is left of Keaira,” Ruuna said, expressing no emotion. “Her lifeforce, what is left, goes with this creature.”

      “What are you saying?” I asked.

      “Even in death, our soul carries on, pain and death unable to be separated.”

      “I’m not following.”

      “This horse is special,” Ruuna said. “Care for it. It serves as a beacon to a lost life.”

      I glanced at Surfal’s faintly glowing eyes and he looked at me.

      “I’ll keep him safe.”

      Ruuna nodded. “Go then, mage. Save the Grizzly Hills.”


      In my vision, I had seen a small trapper camp. There, I heard the name of a woman named Sasha. She had been in great pain, calling for someone to aid her, and now I was rushing toward her to help answer that call.

      Just as I arrived, I heard gunfire inside one of the wood houses.

      I rushed toward it, but as I was running I saw several dead trappers scattered around the camp. Then, I saw two dead Worgen too. I feared the worse, and instead of being careful I barged into the building where I’d heard the shots. I saw a man standing, pressed against the wall, holding a wound stained with red blood.

      In the center of the building stood a woman with shoulder length black hair and a large rifle that she had pointed at another woman. This third individual was tied to a chair, and she was looking pretty terrified.

      “Hey,” I shouted. “What’s going on here?”

      “This Worgen scum was just about to tell me where I can find Arugal,” the woman with the gun snapped at me. I recognized her, and her voice, to be Sasha.

      “I won’t tell you anything!” the man shouted.

      “You will if you want your wife to live,” the woman replied.

      “Sasha,” I said, trying to think of how to diffuse the situation. “I think you need to calm down for a moment.”

      “No!” she shouted. “I watched these murderers kill my husband and child. They’ll either tell me where I can find Arugal or die. So which will it be?”

      “Forgive me, Tabitha,” the man said aloud as he charged forward. Sasha fired the rifle, hitting Tabitha right between the eyes and killing her instantly. Her weapon needed to be reloaded, and the man closed the distance between the two almost instantly. As he ran, his body transformed into a monsterous Worgen.

      Sasha was helpless. She dropped the gun and pulled a blade, but the beast was on top of her before she could do anything to stop him. He was just about to tear her open when I slammed him with a fireball. He was thrown by the spell, and as he shook off the attack he saw that I was the source of his pain.

      Sasha stood, her weapon now reloaded, and pointed it at the Worgen. “Now, where is Arugal?”

      The Worgen frowned. “He’s on Bloodmoon Island.”

      “Thank you,” Sasha said.

      She then fired her weapon, killing the Worgen. She then turned and faced me, looking at me carefully. “You’re a mage?”

      “I am.”

      “I’m going to kill Arugal for what he’s done to my home and family. Are you in?”

      “I am.”

      “That’s what I like to hear,” she said. “We need to get to Bloodmoon island.”

      “Not yet,” I said. “This situation isn’t as simple as killing Arugal. The fact of the matter is, Arugal is already dead. He’s empowered by the Lich King. We’re going to have to be careful with this. The two of us can’t just walk in there.”

      “So, what do you recommend?” she asked.

      “Come and see,” I said, gesturing outside.

      Sasha did as I asked and when she stepped outside she saw dozens of soldiers, travelers, and other adventurers as they rode up on their horses. At the lead was Christine and Angus, both of them looking ready for a fight.

      “We’re going to Bloodmoon,” I said loudly. “We’re going to take back these lands.”


      Above Bloodmoon island, a dark circle of clouds circled ominously. Fortunately, the water was shallow, and Surfal walked through with no signs of slowing. We walked slowly, deliberately, and with purpose.

      A scout on the island’s edge saw us, and sounded an alarm.

      At least a dozen worgen rushed out from a building on the island. They came right for us, and they looked intimidating as they charged over the land, growling and snarling as they closed in on us.

      “You know what to do,” I said. “Stay strong, heroes.”

      Argus and his men charged forward to engage the Worgen, and I cast an invisibility spell on Christine and Sasha. We rushed past the chaos that erupted on the beach of the island, past the building where other Worgen were coming to aid their allies, and eventually reaching a strange stone platform where we saw what he had come here to put down.

      Arugal, or at least, a ghostly undead version of him, was standing on the platform, casting some kind of dark magic spell. There was nothing physical left of this monster, just a ghost of his former self.

      “Welcome to the end of your journey,” the shade said aloud. “No need for disguises.”

      The invisibility spell was ripped away, leaving the three of us exposed.

      We stepped closer together and pulled our weapons.

      “You’re brave,” Arugal said, smiling at us. “You face the will of Arthas. You will lose.”

      “You’ll pay for your crimes,” Sasha yelled. “You’re a monster!”

      “I have empowered the men and women of this land. A Worgen is far superior to your flesh and bone human forms. All I have asked in return is their loyalty to me. Imagine, all of you, if the entire army of Stormwind was able to use the power of the Worgen curse to fight their battles. It could change the face of Azeroth!”

      “The Lich King controls you even now,” I said. “You’re only furthering his plan.”

      “There is much the frozen prince does not know,” Arugal replied with a grin.

      “You won’t win this.”

      “You can’t stop me,” Arugal replied. He held up his hand and a dark bolt of magic sliced through my regalia and my arm exploded in pain. I ignored it, instead throwing a fire blast right back at him. Unfortunately, it passed through through his spectral form.

      “Foolish mage,” Arugal said with a laugh. “You’ll have to come up with something better than that if you’re planning to stop me.”

      “How about this?” Christine asked.

      The shade turned just as the paladin threw down a shield of Light. It encircled Arugal’s dark magic and pressed in on it with an incredible intensity. Arugal struggled against it, but it responded by tightening down on him, forcing him into an increasingly smaller space.

      Sionis was impressed. She was basically doing the same thing he had done to close the rift in the Nexus, but this time it was Light vs. Dark, rather than magical siphoning. In this case, one was wiping out the other.

      “Curse you paladin!” he shouted.

      “You got him?” I asked.

      “Temporarily,” Christine replied. “He’s far stronger than I realized.”

      I reached into my robe and pulled out a small mana crystal that I had made the night before. I wasn’t certain how powerful Arugal was, but I couldn’t believe that Arthas would have given the old archmage too much power of his own. Thus, running on luck alone, I energized the mana crystal and shoved it through Christine’s shield. When it came into contact with Arugal’s dark energy, it started to vibrate wildly. I pulled my hand back out and put up my own mana shield around Christine’s.

      “Keep your shield up as long as you can,” I said.

      “What? Why?”

      “Just trust me,” I said.

      By now, a loud humming was coming from the mana crystal. The sound was so loud, in fact, that Arugal’s continual curses and profanities were barely heard. The more the crystal reacted with Arugal’s energy, the more unstable it became. It was literally turning into raw energy, cancelling itself out and consuming the shade of Arugal in the process.

      As the power exploded outward, Christine’s shield was struggling to contain it.

     “Hang in there,” I said. “We just have to hold out a little longer.”

      “It hurts,” she replied. “It is physically hurting me!”

      “I know, just hang in there!”

      “Until when?” she asked.

      As she asked, the crystal within the shield hit critical mass. It exploded into a million shards and the energy vaporized the shade of Arugal. Unfortunately, the resulting blast of energy was too much for either of us to contain.

      The explosion erupted outward, and we were all thrown from the top of the stone platform where we had faced off against the shade.

      When I hit the ground, I opened my eyes to see several individuals around me. They all looked equally shocked by the explosion that had just rocked the island.

      I stumbled to my feet and an Alliance soldier came running up to him with bloodied sword in hand. All around me, I could see only humans. There appeared to be no Worgen anywhere in sight.

      “Sionis!” he shouted. “The Worgen… they all just turned back into humans.”

      “What?”

      “These people were Worgen just a few moments ago.”

      I sighed, carefully standing up and checking my footing. “Then it’s over. We did it. Arugal is dead… again.”

      “Thank the Light,” the soldier said.

      The Light. Christine! I rushed toward the stone platform, calling for the paladin by name, and after a few precious seconds of pure fear, I heard her call out for me too. I saw her struggling to stand, and I rushed over to help her up.

      “Are you okay?” I asked.

      “Yeah, sure,” Christine replied, her voice weak. “I’m fine, but Sasha…”

      I looked around, then saw her. I rushed over and found her lying on the ground. She looked calm, but I could see a visible hole in her chest. One of the mana crystal shards had pierced her in the blast, and it was obvious the wound was fatal.

      “Christine, is there anything to be done?”

      “I tried,” the paladin answered. “The crystal shard had dark energy in it. I can’t use the Light to heal her.”

      “Even if you could,” Sasha mumbled. “I don’t want it. I’m ready to go.”

      “What?”

      “My husband and child have already moved on,” she said. “I want to go too.”

      I hesitated for a moment, but Christine reached out and took my hand. When I looked up at her, she nodded. She agreed with Sasha, and I was suddenly overwhelmed by emotion.

      “I wanted to thank you,” Sasha continued. “My actions against the worgen were bold, and I know that full well. Now, Arugal is gone. The Grizzly Hills will be safe for other families who seek shelter in these remote lands.”

      “Yes,” I said. “We’ll keep them safe, I promise.”

      “Good,” she said, closing her eyes. “I’m…”

      With that, Sasha was gone.

      “We have to burn the body,” Christine said. “She must be allowed to rest in peace.”

      “Right. I’ll take care of that,” I said. “Get out there and help organize the survivors. We’ll put all the bodies together. All of these victims deserve rest.”


      A short time later, the single hut on Bloodmoon island had been filled with the defeated Wogen, fallen soldiers, and the brave woman named Sasha. As the others left the island, I set the entire building when the hut had been filled with the defeated worgen and soldiers, I set the building aflame with a steady stream of magical fire. The crackling and hissing of the wood and straw made for morbid funeral music, but there was no time for formalities. In Northrend, knowing that Sasha would not return to fight us again was enough solace.

      “Are you ready to go?” Christine asked as she set her hand on my shoulder.

      I nodded slightly and turned toward the other survivors. I noticed that Surfal’s head was hanging low. Again, for a quick moment, I thought of Ruuna’s words. I wondered how much of Keaira lived on within my stallion.

      “Okay,” I said aloud, turning from the horse to Christine. “I’m ready. Let’s go back to the Lodge.”


TO BE CONTINUED…

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