((A scene co-written by myself and Tallgeez . Maeorra has been captured, during a mission to root out some Sargerai assailants operating from Socrethar’s Rise. The mission, while partially successful, took a wrong turn when the ground team set off a spell rune which collapsed the building they were in, killing some, and trapping the rest. Now she languishes in captivity, and it is only a matter of time before she becomes irretrievable.))
The voice, deep and rough, filtered through her emerging consciousness. As she came back to awareness, she felt at once both weightless and encumbered. And her head hurt. By the light, her head throbbed. A moment’s pause and she realized the reality of the strange sensation: she was suspended by some manner of foul magic, tethered to an obsidian pillar on either side of her as if by shackles, though none encircled her wrists or legs. Instinctively, she struggled, only to find that the more she tried to move, the more resistance the magical bonds offered, and after a moment, she realized the futility of it.
Her vision began to clear. The air was clammy and cold, and from the dim light, she guessed that she had been brought into the depths of some cave somewhere. She’d been divested of her armor and her weapon, of course; these were nowhere to be seen. Tattered rags that had once been the shirt and trousers she wore underneath still clung to her aching frame, covered with dust, grime, and other remnants of the battle and of the terrible runetrap she had somehow survived. She winced against the throbbing of her head as she beheld the only other thing in the room: an immense, black-clad figure, clearly either Draenei, Sargerai, or Eredar, though she had little doubt he was one of the latter two, rather than the first. The armor he wore was unmistakable: it was of Karabor make, the same as her own. Or, rather, it was a twisted mockery of Karabor’s regalia, stained, tarnished, corrupted into an oily black teeming with a pulsing glow that could only be fel.
She let out a grunt, as much from the pounding of her head as of scorn and frustration at her predicament. She thought to answer, but no words came; instead, she simply glared defiantly at her captor.
“Your injuries are fresh. I can sense the pain in you,” he rumbled. There was a pause, and then a somewhat wry observation that was just a bit too keen for her comfort: “Your body, and your pride.”
“And yet even now I still look down upon you, traitor. Am I suppose to be frightened? Am I supposed to recoil in dread at the sight of you? Well, I see.” The worlds growled their way forth from between her teeth even as the throbbing in her temples flared in protest.
Her captor seemed to scoff behind his helmet, shaking his head slightly. “Dread. Hatred. Pride,” he intoned grimly. “Any of these will serve the Legion, Prelate. Choose whichever drives you best. It will not change your fate.”
“What about pity?” she answered. “Because that’s all I can muster for you. I will not forsake everything I serve to save my own skin, and I learned how to die a long, long time ago. You on the other hand, have forfeited your soul, to grovel and scrape before those far more powerful than you, as a coward does. You seem reluctant to even show me your face. So tell me, traitor… which of us is afraid?”
She expected him to laugh at her, but instead, his voice came forth almost mournfully. “Pity? You feel pity for me? Oh, Prelate, I admire your fighting spirit. You cannot wound me with your hands, so you must use your words.” His words were dripping with sarcasm, and the patronizing tone ate at her far more than she would have cared to admit. He stared at her through the visor in his helm. “Do you wish to see my face, Prelate? Will looking upon the visage of a traitor change anything for you?”
She smirked at him, lifting her head triumphantly. “Yes, I pity you, for you chose a fate worse than death. You chose an eternity—or perhaps not, expendable as you are—of groveling, of wondering when they’ll tire of you and squash you like an insect. You have nothing. You ARE nothing. Your aknowledgement that my words wound you is proof enough of this. They cut deeply, I can tell. I can think of nothing more deserving of pity.” She stared defiantly at him as she spoke, her tone dripping with scorn. “As for seeing your face, it makes no difference to me at all. You’re a coward, and a traitor, whether you identify yourself or not.”
Again, she prepared for some manner of hotblooded retort, or to be run through with the wicked-looking spear he carried, but instead she was met with grim silence and an uncomfortable calm. It was far more unnerving than she expected. It was impossible to read his face, behind the helm, but his eyes, and the slight tilt of his head at her words, betrayed curiosity more than anything else.
“It’s supposed to make it easier to kill a foe if you cannot see their face,” he said, cryptically, taking a step towards her. “But you don’t have that problem, do you? Not when you’re faced with a traitor. You’ll do everything in your power to slay a traitor, will you not?” He held the spear out, almost as if offering it to her, as he approached. “Or to spare one, from a fate worse than death?”
He stopped rather close. Uncomfortably close, only a few inches from her. And still he held the spear out, between them, taunting her with its proximity. Did he mean to run her through after all? Or was he simply toying with her?
She kept her poise, letting out a chuckle. “Why, are you having second thoughts? I can’t say I blame you. If I can beat you this easily, even bound and helpless, then you don’t stand a chance in the service of the Legion. You’ll be crushed on a whim, and if you’re lucky, it’ll happen soon, so you’re not languishing in doubt about how long that will take.” She smiled sweetly at him. “I’ll tell you what: let me down from here and give me a weapon and I will end you quickly. It’s a better deal than you’ll get from them.”
“Very well,” he boomed, without a moment’s pause, nodding at her. Suddenly, he slammed the shaft of his spear into the ground before her, the grim blade sticking up right in front of her face, well within reach. “Here is your weapon.” He reached forward first with one hand, and then the other, wrapping his powerful hands around her fel-shackled wrists and placing them around the spear, even holding them there, locking his grip around her own.
She could do it. With a push, she could thrust the tip of the spear into his throat, and perhaps even up through the base of his skull. “Kill me, and be free,” he said. His tone was earnest. She blinked, and then narrowed her gaze, and, wasting no more time in consideration, push she did. With a shout of exertion and all the strength she could muster, she drove the spear up through his neck and jaw. It was surprisingly easy. The only resistance she felt was from the shackles that bound her, every fraction of an inch becoming harder and harder to push against, but it was enough. The weapon began to sink into his flesh, and then the bone beneath it.
He made no cry of pain or shock as the spear began its journey. Instead, he rather pointedly choked out his final words even as the blood began to gush from his neck, coating her hands. “Show me the mercy of your false Light… the glory of your dead Prophet… the blessings of your pathetic Naaru… the honor of order betrayed again and again…” His voice became crackled and distorted as the spear breached the bottom of his mouth, the shackles offering more and more resistance to her movement as it went, but she was determined to see the task to completion. “For all your brothers and sisters, killed by a knife in their back,” he continued, gurgling. Her hands began to slip along the spear, prompting her to clutch it with every bit of fervor she could muster. More than this, curiously, he even seemed to be adding his own strength to hers. “Deliver your judgement, Prelate!” he croaked as the spearhead finally pierced the roof of his mouth and found its way into his brain.
The Dark Vindicator fell silent, the green glow fading beneath his helm. He fell backwards, the spear lodged into his skull wrenching free of Maeorra’s grasp, and, without his strength to hold her arms so far from the obsidian pylons, the fel-bindings snapped her back to her suspended position. It was done. She let out a sigh of relief, brow beaded with sweat, but then swiftly realized she was no nearer to escape even with him dead. After a moment of catching her breath, she looked around, for the first time with a keen eye turned to her surroundings. But it would not be so easy, she knew. Surely the solution to her plight would not be within reach.
Her gaze beheld the fallen corpse of her captor, but beyond that, little else. The room was lit by a few ritual candles, and beyond, down the long winding cave passageway, she could see what she thought might be luminous mushrooms growing from the damp walls.
Suddenly, a clattering sound brought her attention back to the room she was in. She watched in disbelief as the body of the black-clad traitor rolled onto its back and ripped the spear free of its skull. It was a sickening sight, and a sickening sound, and her heart sank a little in her chest as she witnessed it. Setting aside her shock for a moment, she managed a quip, though she began to prepare herself for what she imagined would probably be a terrible response. “Well, damn. Just when I thought I’d finally gotten you to shut up.”
“Do not worry, Prelate…” he rasped, reaching for his helmet and slowly pulling it free from his face as he spoke. “You will not have to listen to me for much longer.” He stepped toward her, and in the dim light she could discern myriad crevices and scars, pale and discolored tissue, and, from the gaping wound, a steady stream of blood against ash-gray skin. But even against the horrible disfigurement she, to her sadness, beheld the face of someone she knew. Phurreos had been a vindicator, a healer, and a master of the spear, and in fact had been an instructor at Karabor. She had never trained with him, but she had known more than a few who had.
There was no mirth in his expression. His hair was white as snow, and drawn back into a ponytail. Then, suddenly, he raised a hand, stretched it out towards her, and before she could react to the fel-glow emanating for his fingertips, he began to draw the very life force from her. She groaned and tensed, but the pain was not as intense as she expected it to be; rather, she felt herself weakening.
He closed his eyes as he pulled upon her vitality, and the gaping wound began to close. When he opened them again, releasing the spellhold, the fel green of his eyes burned brighter than before. For her part, Maeorra nearly collapsed, trembling and weakened. Only the restraints kept her from crumpling into a heap at his feet, but even the magical binding could not keep her entirely upright. She gasped, and whimpered.
Phurreos looked down at her, his scarred features twitching in disdain. He held up his hand again, as if to finish her off, but stopped himself, clenching it into a fist as he stepped back, pacing away from her and letting out a heavy sigh.
“No. I am not here to decide your fate, Prelate. That choice still lies before you.” He picked up his spear, and continued, his voice sounded more resigned than gloating. “I am here to tell you the truth of your situation. You will not die gloriously on the battlefield. You will not sacrifice yourself nobly for a cause. You will be taken to Hellfire Citadel, and it is there that you will be presented with your choice. It is there that you will either live, or you will die.”
He turned back to her, a look of solemnity on his face. “If you die, you will die slowly, in agony. Your body will be broken, torn apart, and fed to the felhounds. And your soul will not become one with the Light, it will become fuel for the Legion’s war machine, lingering on in anguish and torment until at last it is consumed utterly. If, on the other hand, you choose to live…. you will suffer a fate worse than death. But either way, you will serve the Legion.”
She might have tried for a defiant remark if not for how weak and cold she felt. But as his words reached her ears, it was all she could do to maintain her composure against the flood of despair. Silently, other than to gasp for the breath that still seemed to elude her, she prayed: first for a rescue; then, for a swift, merciful release; then, for the strength to endure the torment Phurreos had described; and then, finally, desperately, for him to leave the room before her last reserves of determination were spent and her stoic facade crumbled. She’d already maintained it for so long.
Perhaps he could read her thoughts, or perhaps he simply had nothing else to heap upon her, but after a few moments, her antagonist picked up his spear, still coated with his fel-tinged blood, and granted her the solitude she had prayed for. Even as he turned and slowly made his way down the passage, despair began to fill her eyes with tears. It seemed an eternity before she could no longer hear the heavy, plated thump of his step, and, just as it faded, her resolve finally crumbled. She choked back a sob.