This is part 2 of the "who the crap is Sedrai" set of tales. These events take place in the past year of her life, shortly before the Cataclysm. To see part 1, look here.
Interlude: The Merciful Blade
“Here it be, lass, good as promis’d.” Though the burly craftsman slurred his words, already well into his fourth Nethergarde Bitter of the morning, his hands were steady as he passed the leather-sheathed bundle to his customer.
She took care examining the workmanship and design, her soulless gaze tracing the small grooves that ran down the blade and disappeared under the hilt. The grip was strong, a netting of titansteel rods protecting the delicate-looking crystalline core. The Command Rune, engraved on a pounded steel medallion near the cross guard, shimmered slightly with the fresh enchantment bound behind it.
The dwarf across from her watched her perusal, his face bright with a maker’s pride. “Go on. Try th’ release,” he prompted.
Sedrai shrugged and brushed her thumb across the Rune. The spell triggered with a pulse of magic, a reaction that was visible only as a weak waver in the air. More obvious was the way the core darkened, its edges blurring as it shifted out of phase with the physical plane and dropped straight through the solid cage that held it in the dagger’s grip. She caught it as it fell, her hand ready a few inches below the weapon.
“Aye, lass. Jes’ like that.” Brandig grinned, pleased with himself for his handiwork.
The death knight nodded appreciatively, triggering the spell once more to shove the orb back through the solid bars. She slipped the dagger back into its sheath before she returned her attention to the blue-skinned dwarf before her. The weapon was a masterpiece. “And the spare cores?”
He waved a negligent hand at a pair of small crates near the lean-to, plonking himself down on the stool by the forge. “Ever’ one ye asked fer is there, luv. Enchanted jes’ as this’n an’ ready fer yer use.”
“Good,” she said, her breath frosting in the frigid air of the Storm Peaks. “I trust the armor is ready as well?”
He scoffed, fixing her with a scowl that said she’d just pricked at his pride to consider otherwise. “O’course, though I dinnae ken why ye’d want th’red. Sh’inna yer color, lass.”
Sedrai raised a brow, but decided not to point out that he was hardly an expert on fashion. Though the banter might be enjoyable, she wanted nothing more than to get this trial over with.
“As promised,” she said, dropping a pouch of gold beside the crate of Bitter she’d already given him. She felt his gaze as she turned and gathered her goods, but she did not care to see what it contained.
Now that her tools were ready, there was work to be done.
Onerous Task: Orgrimmar
(( Please be forewarned: This segment of the story is not for the faint of heart. If you do not wish to read unpleasant things, I recommend looking elsewhere.))
There are ways into Orgrimmar, if you know where to look. Places to hide. Patrols easily avoided with a bit of inside intelligence. And as ever, the ease of finding those willing to sell the secrets of their city was astonishing.
Sedrai crouched in the deep shadows of the night as another oblivious guard passed below, her boots hissing against the well-worn path. Kor’kron Elite though she was, the orc was clearly tired, her steps lazy and her waraxe drooping in her grip.
Too easy. The death knight barely realized she’d moved, instinct making her reach for the polearm strapped to her back. But there she paused, her grip white-knuckled on the weapon’s leather-wrapped hilt while she reminded herself that the Horde warriors were not her quarry. They would not serve her purpose, and if she made a mistake… Well, she could not afford an outcry that would ruin her mission.
Forcing her hand back to her side, Sedrai relaxed against the stone ledge, sinking deeper into the shadows. The guard continued past, never knowing how close she came to oblivion.
Oblivion. The draenei held on to the word as she slowly continued her creep along the hidden ledges above the shops of the Drag. It was such a superior word to “death”. Death meant gore and blood, the stink of offal and rotting flesh. “Oblivion”, on the other hand, meant something much sweeter – peace and serenity, restful darkness, unburdened nothing.
Or so she told herself.
Drawing reign on her wandering thoughts, she slipped quietly onto a wooden roof, circling the flickering light that reached up from a brazier on the street below. Two buildings closer to the Valley of Honor. Third window on the left. She would begin there.
The maw was dark, the room beyond still and silent as those within slept through the deepest hours of the night. Nothing stirred when she dropped on soft hooves through the window. No one moved as she crossed to the first bed and stared down at the figure twisted around its blanket and pillow. Sedrai reached under her gauntlet, glad for the darkness that obscured the middle-aged orcish woman’s features, hid the peaceful repose of slumber. Her hand closed over the hilt of her dagger.
It is as though I am walking in my sleep, a part of her mused idly even as her body moved, feeling detached and numb. She watched the blade descend, barely recognizing that she held it, buried as deeply now beneath her own cold determination as she had once been beneath the Lich King’s. There is only this one moment. This task.
Slip. The blow was light, the weapon’s edge exceedingly keen. A smooth drive straight through the sternum to pierce the heart. A silent, instant death. Painless and pure, even if the blood that seeped down the channels carved in the dagger and into its hollow crystalline core was not given willingly.
She watched, her gaze as dead as her body, as the receptacle drank every drop. Then, with a swipe of her thumb, she triggered the cantrip that released the blood-filled core. She held a life in her hand, its warmth reaching through her thin, mail gauntlet to touch her skin. Trapped somewhere between grief and relief, she glanced from her hand to the mother’s pale corpse, wondering if it was peace she saw on the orc’s shadowed face.
“There is no peace. Only oblivion. Chaos, unfettered and unfeeling.” The still air whispered the words in her mind, a voice she could neither ignore nor silence. Xonath. It brought a chill to her blood that had nothing to do with her body’s undead state. “Send them to Nothingness.”
Sedrai grimaced, covering her ears in a futile motion. The demon was bound to Moontreader; she should not still hear his whispers. Was her own mind playing dark and dire tricks on her? Her troubled gaze falling on the body laying still before her, she shuddered and entertained the notion that she was going mad. Already.
No. She shoved anger into the thought, using it to burn away any doubts. This is nothing more than nath’rezim tricks and games. We know who we choose to be. Focus on the task at hand.
Gritting her teeth, Sedrai withdrew from distractions, wrapping herself in unfeeling ice. She watched her hand slip the filled orb into her pack, bringing forth a new one to replace it. She watched her muffled hooves move to the next bed, where one of the children slept on, unaware that his mother had just been culled. It was a little easier, this way, as if the actions were not truly hers. As if she were still a puppet.
But it was a lie. She did not hide from that fact, even as she used it to give her the dispassion required to fulfill her duty. The innocents deserved no less than perfection from their murderer.
Two hours later, Sedrai slipped silently into the last chamber of the last hovel, her bulging pack strapped tightly to her back. One last empty core filled the handle of the bloody dagger in her hand, and one last bed greeted her from the predawn gloom. It was almost over.
The death knight stared down at the two figures curled together, her brow furrowing. The young woman she’d expected. The young man, the warrior, was supposed to be on assignment in Terrokar. Her source had been wrong.
One last empty core to be filled.
Her frigid gaze memorized the lovers, her mind and heart far beyond sympathy. Instead, she strategized the best way to harvest the woman without waking her mate. His arm, thick with bulky muscle, draped across his woman, cradling her to him and inadvertantly shielding her heart from a painless death. Sedrai cursed silently, her careful gaze revealing nothing she could use to do this the easy way. She would have to kill him first.
Tapping her thumb against the dagger’s Rune, she released the last empty core so as not to waste it on worthless blood and, without allowing herself to pause for doubt, plunged the weapon into his barrel chest. Unfortunately, the dainty blade had been made for much smaller prey. Digging deep through corded muscle and sinew, it fell short of fully piercing his heart, instead only ripping a hole. It was a wound every bit as deadly, but far less pure.
The warrior jerked, his agonized eyes snapping open as his life’s blood spurted through the empty handle, soaking his chest and Sedrai’s gauntlet-covered hand. He opened his mouth to cry out, his left arm moving on instinct, reaching into the darkness beside the bed. It emerged with a huge axe, a beast of a weapon meant for cleaving skulls and felling mountains, and while Sedrai ripped the pillow out from underneath his mate’s head, stuffing it over his face just in time to muffle his cry, he swung his arm, sinking its blade deep into her undefended side.
Beside him, his mate stirred, groggy and confused.
Doubled over, the death knight ignored the injury with the ease of someone forged in the fires of a necropolis, using all her weight to drive the dagger tip deeper.
Stop. Stop. Stopstopstop. The word became a mantra in her mind, filling the few short seconds it took for the orc’s struggles to weaken and finally cease. His fist slipped from the haft of his waraxe, letting it slide free of Sedrai’s side with a sickening squelch. It came to rest against the foot of the bed, where she watched the growing pool of blood on the floor lap against the fouled blade. She may have gone on that way long after he died if not for his bedmate’s sharp gasp. The sleeper had realized what was happening.
Sedrai moved more quickly than she had in all her life and unlife, clubbing the young woman with a mail-clad backhand to the side of the head. The move stunned her mid-breath, stopping the scream that had built in her throat, and bought the draenei one precious second to load the last core into the dagger and plunge it into the girl’s heart. Shocked, the orc grabbed a fist full of her killer’s jerkin and yanked her close, forcing her to watch as the last spark of Light faded from her eyes.
Trembling from head to toe, Sedrai eased the young woman’s hand open and gently laid her corpse back against her mate’s. “Rest well, children,” she whispered, closing her glassy eyes.
The last core was filled. It was over.
It was over.
The final gryphon ride was nothing but a blur, lit gently by the first, weak hints of the coming morning. She barely felt the bandaged gash in her side. She barely acknowledged the chill from her wet armor. The only thing that mattered was that the blood was gone, washed off in the sewers of Dalaran, far away from prying eyes. It was a purely practical concern, of course, as bloodsoaked heroes were not permitted into the sanctuary of the inn.
She wanted nothing but rest. A short period of her own personal oblivion. Her thoughts fixed only on this, she did not notice the pressure of eyes upon her, nor catch a glimpse of the young nightelf that hid in the corner of her room.
She wanted nothing but rest, but Sedrai wasn’t going to get it, quite yet.