Tale of the Red Magister – Part 4

“I am the truth born of lies… The fire sparked of waters… Evil spawned of righteousness. There is but one word befitting of these contradictions that can only exist in a singular emotion. Anetho. In Thalassian, it means revenge. What am I, if not the very embodiment?”

As the world broke apart under the crazed eyes of Deathwing, Anetho returned to Orgrimmar. He had heard of Twilight Agents operating out of the shadows, murdering those who stood against them, and slowing the Horde war efforts. The Red Magister worked closely with several prominent heroes ultimately discovering that they’d forged a bastion upon the Twilight Highlands.

Garrosh Hellscream demanded blood, and Anetho was more than willing to fall in line. As preparations for an assault upon the continent via the air were made, he saw to last minute details. A hefty contribution to the children of the Orgrimmar Orphanage, a handwritten apology, and the security of his vault. When the Bilgewater Goblins assembled and everything was coordinated, he was the first upon the airship. Amongst the bulk of the Horde Vanguard, he was welcome.

“What are -you- doing here, Elf?” The Kor’Kron captain snarled, looking down at Anetho in distrust and biased discontent. “Ensuring that you and your kin do not foul this up. Orc.” He retorted, the winds blowing his hair about like a crimson cape. He regarded the imposing creature with malicious eyes. They practically glowed with his rage. His voice was devoid of any threats, but rang of violent promises. “You threaten me!? I will break you!” He rose his hand to slap the Sin’dorei aside, only to be caught at the wrist. Mana fueling his every muscle to forge a barrier along the back of his hand. The captain was dumbstruck.

“…As I said. I am here to ensure that you and your kin do not make a mess of things in your overzealous desire to prove your strength. You’ve obviously none to offer.” Anetho withdrew his hand, the Orc’s forehead practically burst with veins of fury as he conceded before the Red Magister as they neared the Thandol Span. This act did not go unnoticed by the rest of those present upon the ship.

“Fellow warriors of the Horde, hear me now! Ahead hides our foe, worshippers of chaos who seek to remake the world. A new world is coming, friends. But it is not the world of their design…” Garrosh proclaimed from a distant airship. His voice as strong as he, and just as arrogant. “Today! We will remake the world! Our World! FOR THE HORDE!” He proclaimed. A thousand cheers followed. “Lok’tar Ogar!” This phrase nearly deafened the Magister, as they came into view of an Alliance fleet. The Warchief ordered his fighters to assault them, splitting his fronts within the first ten minutes already. This would prove fatal.

“…And so your glorious onslaught is undone before it begins.” Anetho smirked. “WHAT WAS THAT, ELF!?” The captain exclaimed, his colleagues towering over him now, infuriated at his insult. “…You’ve lost. The fool has disposed of your defensive line. And look to the horizon… The Twilight Dragons cometh.” Every Orc and Orcess turned to face the fore of the ship, and sure enough there were several Twilight Dragons. Worse yet, they bore witness to Deathwing himself passing beside them, ripping through a nearby ship.

The dragons ripped through the formation of zeppelins, one entangling itself upon Garrosh’s own. “They’re after the Warchief!” He heard many exclaim. Anetho smirked, as he watched the airship take to the flame and begin to spiral downward. “GET! OFF! MY! SHIIIIIiiiiiii-” Was the last he would hear of the would be paragon. “…And then there were two..” He whispered indifferently, looking to the captain, white as a sheet. “We’re next on the chopping block.” He quipped, observing the only other airship peppered with dragonfire burst, and showering the oceans below in what remained.

Then their ship rocked, as a dragon entangled itself in the rigging. “SOMEONE! ANYONE! KILL IT!” He heard a Goblin scream, as the Orcs rushed to slaughter the beast, as the entire ship began to come apart with it’s violent thrashing. The others rushing to coat the lone vessel in flames. “…To weak to even save a single ship… Captain.” He regarded the Orc as he leaned off the side and tumbled to the oceans below. “COOOOOWAAAAARD!” The Orc shouted, trying desperately to save the airship.

He snapped his fingers, and vanished from sight.

He would appear within the depths of Grim Batol, already infested with the Twilight influence and their draconic pets. But more so, he had learned Harper was waiting here for him as well. Past the abandoned dark halls, and unlit paths, tucked within the remnants of an ancient mead hall. The Magister’s footsteps echoed throughout the halls, and he surely felt he would be discovered. Rather than fear, it excited him. He thrived upon it. The supposed ambush never came; rather it was Harper by his lonesome, drinking ancient liquors at the head of a stone table coated in dust. He was crying.

“I had no tears for my father. My sister. They long ago disposed of our beliefs in favor of personal gain. My father through his desires of immortality amidst destruction… my sister as his sword…” He sniffled, and wiped his nose. His hand moving to grasp at his mug. “…They meant nothing to me… They were Sariane’s… Not Cho’gall’s. They never believed in the promise of the Twilight Hour…” He chased his sorrows with another mouthful of intoxicating brew. Excess soaking his clothes and clinging to his mustache. “…And in their sins, have I been lost…” The Magister moved to sit next to Harper and drew a mug of his own.

“…We’ve both sank the dagger, and we’ve both been privy to the pains of betrayal. But those transgressions have only served to further our own designs. Yours of a broken world. Mine… of a world free of your ilk.” He sipped from it and continued, reclining in the stone chair. “…I care not for your dragon, or the world. If the Twilight Hour is achieved, you and all of creation fade from mind. Twilight’s Hammer dies. I win. But it would not be a victory of my own hand…” Harper chuckled. “Not one amongst us fear death… We praise the release.. the end of all things. Order into chaos. Life into death…” Anetho sat the now empty cup down, and rested his left hand on the man’s shoulder. “…Yes. And it all amounts to a single word. Satisfaction.”

Harper felt his stomache wrench, as if a great intensity had sparked within him. His innards practically baked, his blood boiling, his eyes watering and his mouth dry. He groaned in agony, realizing what was taken place in his drunken stupor before his entire body caught flames. Hellish fire burning out his eyes until only charred sockets remains, smoke escaping his nostrils and ears. Pain erupting from his mouth, until all that was left was a charred husk, burnt to the very bone. “…You make nine…” He whispered, drawing the soul into another orb and pocketing it. He was so close.

With his business in Grim Batol settled, he retreated to the Dragonmaw Clan’s central base of operations within the Twilight Highlands, Blood Gulch. It was here that the final pieces fell into place. It was here the last revelations would shake the Red Magister. Astoreth had surfaced once again and in greater prowess than ever before. It was unsettling to him, for he knew she was chasing at his heels. A hunger for power that would never be satiated. She was nearly as furious as he, having lost her husband. But she lacked his capacity to retain it. His control. His judgement. His experience. He saw what would become of her, even before he could witness what he himself was warping into. But beyond her demons, much as his own, she could not see past them. Finding his warnings insufficient, he left her to the grips of her own instability.

“I’m not unsympathetic…” “I didn’t ask for your sympathy.”

Astoreth stalked through the gates of Bloodgulch to stand outside them, momentarily directionless.  All she’d known a moment ago was that she needed to get out and now that she had accomplished this, she was embarrassed and furious to realize that her next steps were unclear.  Her only saving grace at this point was that Anetho had already turned and walked away.  Showing him more emotion would have only added fuel to his fires and evidence for his conviction that she shouldn’t be doing what she was determined to do.

“Who will love her, if you are gone?”

She hadn’t been home – to her home – in days.  Laurelia was staying at the Luminiars’, blissfully ignorant of anything but milk and giggles and Kuvasei’s funny faces and her own very fascinating toes… and on the few occasions Astoreth had slept in Eversong this last week it had been easier to stay there with her; curl up with her angel child on a cot in the nursery and stroke her hair until she fell into a restless sleep.  So much easier than to go back to her own fine, vast home and walk through empty halls to a vacant bedroom to lie awake with a tangible void beside her.

“We were looking for answers.  What we found was an Eredar Lord.  Bareris and I had faced one before… in Northrend, when the fiend was still weak from the summoning, and we stood with twenty-three of the finest combatants the Horde had to offer.  This time we were the ones battered and broken even before he arrived… and we were on his turf….

“It was over, and we both knew it.  I told him I loved him… and he smiled at me.  That… that smile….”

Was it only last week Kuvasei had asked what had drawn her to Bareris?  The first thing she’d thought of was his smile.  The way his eyes sparkled; the way his lips parted in laughter.  It had charmed her at their first meeting… and at their second, months later, when a broken heart had stolen that smile and left a cold, perfunctory and imperfect replica in its place, it had seemed to Astoreth the most tragic loss she’d witnessed in years.  Possibly ever.  The change that came over the weeks and months following was slow, but steady, until one day she realized the old smile was back… and it was hers.  She fell in love with him all over again that day, as she’d been doing every day since.  That smile had its own language, she found, and what it said most was ‘I love you’.  But in that moment, as they stood together in the demon lord’s domain and prepared to face the inevitable, it was saying something else, and it took Astoreth a half-second too long to realize that the something else was ‘goodbye’….

“He spun on his heel, bellowed a challenge to the beast, and charged.  I screamed his name… but it was already too late.  The fiend hadn’t seen me yet, but it zeroed in on Bareris as he struck…  I heard Bare’s voice in my ear, saying ‘Run, Astoreth. Laurelia needs a good mother, and you’re the best.’ I refused – I told him I wouldn’t leave him, and he yelled at me. ‘Go! Don’t let this be for nothing!’  I saw the beast’s arm come down…”

She’d known the exact moment it happened.  Just as the portal opened for her escape, the pendant nestled next to her heart turned ice-cold.  Just as he told her it would do if he ever….

“I know some of the most powerful warlocks in Azeroth–”

“I AM one of the most powerful warlocks in Azeroth!”

Astoreth’s hand found its way to the coin through her robe, still cold against her skin.  She closed her eyes, feeling the strange winds of the Twilight Highlands whip her skirts around her… cool due to the altitude, but with occasional bursts of heat carried from dragons’ maws and lairs.  Kreelum tilted his head at her and whined; although impervious to weather, he sensed his mistress’ discomfort, and was anxious to move on to something distracting and hopefully wantonly destructive.  Astoreth’s mouth twitched into a half-smile as she reached a hand down to stroke the quills atop Kreelum’s sightless head.

“I should have been able to stop it,” she said again, softly.  “Now there’s only one thing left to do.”

“Astoreth.  You would brave the gates of hell for just one person?”

*Dark Intent; Jan. 3, 2011

Liaskar Moonwalker would find him in the thicket to the north. He knew his friend, Asleon De’Forte, would inevitably stumble upon him. It was destined that the two of them would hold one final debate. This time, it was Anetho’s turn to be dissuaded.

“…The Firelands did not claim you.” The Red Magister mused, looking over the Paladin, clad in the Alliance’s colors. The shield harboring the crest of Lordaeron. “Neeshaka, did not take you. I am relieved… and burdened at this.” He prepared himself, bringing his shield upright that it might protect the majority of his body. “You wish to appeal to my memories. To beg me not to pursue this path. And you know exactly how I will reply.” Anetho shook his head, with a sigh. “Do you see what you are doing, Asleon? Do you grasp what you’ve become? What you’re doing to everyone around you?” Liaskar asked pleadingly, hoping his old friend would see the Light. “I do. All around me the world burns. And I care nothing for it. What was destined for your friend died long ago with his spirit. Now I am but his face, not his voice.”

The Paladin fought back several tears. “I can’t let you go on like this, Asleon! You’re killing yourself! You’re killing everyone! When will it be enough? How many sacrificed in your name? How many more have to die?” Guilt pulled at the Magister’s heart. His face was stern, and unwavering. His rage snuffing out the rebellious sensations threatening to overtake his course of judgement. “The world is breaking. We’re already dead.” He replied calmly. “That may be so, but our souls may yet be saved. I may yet wash you of your sins, Asleon. I shan’t let you become as though –him-!” Anetho looked at the man for the longest time. “What if she could see you… right now? How different you’ve become.” He wished so desperately for salvation such as that, but knew it to be so far away.

“Asleon De’Forte died a great many years ago, Liaskar. Only his visage remains, and it demands revenge! I AM NEITHER ASLEON DE’FORTE, NOR AM I OF THE CLERGY! I AM ANETHO DAWNPRIDE! I AM FIRE ETERNAL! I AM REVENGE, FINAL!”

“Then you are truly lost. I will do what I must, that many more may be spared the suffering you will incur. I do this of love, brother, not of rage.” The Magister tilted his chin upright at the male. “…You will try.” He drew the runic blade from it’s sheath. There was but one last wall to overcome before he would finally be satiated.

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~ by anethodawnpride on May 19, 2013.

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