- September 24th, 2010
Lissandria circled her wyvern slowly down into the main courtyard of the Ebon Blade's compound deep within the Icecrown Mountains. From the air, the compound had seemed small, but now as Lissandria set Rollo down in the courtyard, she saw how much activity truly went on there. People bustled to and fro, intent on their own agendas. Nobody paid attention to the mage who stood in the center of the courtyard, painfully out of place.
Off to the side, an auburn-haired Blood Elf swung a massive longsword, held in a two-handed grip, at a training dummy. Despite the chill in the air, the Blood Elf was stripped down to sleeveless fighting leathers and snug breeches, and sweat stood out on her brow as she went through her routines. Lissandria watched the woman out of curiosity and a desire to put off going into the imposing central building.
Alaida had seen the mage land from the corner of her eye, and felt the woman's eyes on her as she continued training. After several minutes passed and the mage continued to stare at her, Alaida turned from the training dummy, laying her sword over her shoulder. She fixes the mage with a steely look, studying her from across the courtyard.
Lissandria started as the woman training turned a looked directly at her. Ducking her head, the mage hastened toward the central building. The auburn-haired elf intercepted her halfway across the courtyard, putting out a hand, to stop Lissandria. “You look lost.” There was no malice in the voice, the fighter looking over Lissandria, taking in the robes and identifying her as a mage. “We don't often see casters around here.” Up close, Lissandria was surprised to see that the Elf lacked the characteristic blue-glowing eyes of the Death Knights. The fighter's eyes were the standard green of any Blood Elf, set in a face that was far too angular to ever be considered pretty.
Lissandria flushed slightly, nodding. “I'm looking for somebody.” She extended a hand, smiling faintly. “My name's Lissandria. Liss.”
The fighter laughed shortly. “Aren't we all?” She regarded Lissandria's hand for a moment, then jerked her head in acknowledgement, disregarding the proffered hand. “Name's Alaida. Who're you looking for?” Turning, Alaida led the mage towards the central building.
Lissandria hurried to keep up, digging into her pack. She drew out a leather-bound book, passing it to the fighter. “His name's Daranon. He's a Death Knight, and he's been missing in Northrend for over a week.”
Alaida glanced down at the book, studying the face sketched there quickly. “Never seen him,” she stated, and Lissandria withdrew the sketchbook, holding it to her chest. Alaida led the mage into the building and to a woman standing against the wall. The fighter greeted the Death Knight perfunctorily, and then gestured to Lissandria. “Tell her.”
Lissandria faltered as the Death Knight's cold gaze fell on her, and then cleared her throat. “We are...That is, I am looking for one of your brethren. His name is Daranon, and he's been missing in Northrend for over a week.” She extended the sketchbook toward the Death Knight, her gaze hopeful.
The woman studied the picture for several moments. “We know of this Daranon,” she said finally, and lifted her gaze from the drawing. “Why do you seek him?” The Death Knight handed the sketchbook back to Lissandria, her eyes on the mage's.
“We're worried about him. It is... It is not like him to disappear this way. I've been looking for him for the past several days, but to no avail. I had hoped you could help me.”
The Death Knight frowned. “If you know him, as you say you do, you will know that Daranon is quite capable.”
Lissandria sighed, her eyes narrowing. “Even the strongest fighter can be overwhelmed. Even the most capable can be outnumbered, or taken by surprise, or simply meet mishap. Daranon has ignored our every attempt to contact him for the past week and a half. That is not like him.”
The armored woman looked disdainfully over the frail-seeming mage. “And you think you can save him, if he has encountered trouble?” Her cold voice held contempt.
“I have no choice but to try.” Lissandria lifted her hands in a gesture of futileness. “I can do nothing else. I had hoped you would know where he is. If you cannot help me, I must continue my search.” Her voice bordered on anger, and her face held the dejected look of one close to giving up hope, mingled with a growing irritation.
“I did not say I didn’t know where he is,” the Death Knight stated as Lissandria turned away. The mage paused as the other woman continued. “I simply have not determined a reason I should help you.”
Lissandria turned back to the Death Knight, eyes burning darkly. Her voice was dangerously low. “Are you really so callous -” she started, but was cut off by Alaida’s reproachful gaze, the fighter resting a restraining hand on her arm.
“You would leave one of your Brethren out in the field, when somebody raises their suspicions that he may be in danger? That is unbecoming of even you. Tell the mage where he may be found, or we will go to Thassarian.” The auburn-haired woman’s voice was calm, but the threat got through where Lissandria’s rising ire had failed.
The Death Knight sniffed disdainfully. “He’s out in the field.” With that, she turned her back on the mage and fighter, suddenly gaining a deep interest in the blacksmithing going on behind her.
Lissandria bit back a sharp retort, huffing out a breath. Turning, she stalked from the building, Alaida on her heels.
The fighter tried to apologize for the Death Knight’s rudeness, but Lissandria waved her off with one hand. “It’s no matter,” she said darkly. “I got what I was after.” She took a deep, calming breath, and then turned to the auburn-haired woman. “Thank you for your help. If this helps me find him…” Lissandria trailed off, and then shook her head. “I’m in your debt. If you ever have need of anything, I am usually found in Undercity.”
Alaida nodded. “Do you want an extra set of eyes?” she offered, gesturing towards a great bronze drake resting on one of the craggy rocks surrounding the enclave. The mage shook her head.
“No. I don’t know…” She took a breath as her voice shook, and started over. “I do not know what Daranon will be like when I find him. I don’t think it’d be a good idea to have a stranger with a large sword with me.” She smiled, then, genuinely. “I do appreciate the offer, but this is something I have to do by myself.”
The fighter nodded. “Stay safe, Lissandria. Perhaps I shall run into you in Undercity sometime.” The mage nodded, and crossed the compound to where he wyvern rested. She climbed aboard, securing the pack to the saddle. Lifting a hand in farewell, she set her knees to the wyvern’s sides and took off into the skies.
Daranon swung is his axe around, redirecting the Bone Giant's mighty swing away from himself. Slowly, but surely, he was beginning to win this self-appointed battle. The death knight ducked under the back-swing, striking the giant's leg as he passed it by. The almost rhythmic sound of crunching bone and metal was an odd sort of comfort.
The giant turned, nearly stomping the tiny death knight flat, angrily swatting the ground. Daranon smirked to himself, corrupting the bridgeway that the giant walked on. Soon it would fall...and he would move on to another.
Lissandria’s hunt had begun in the early afternoon, and darkness was not so much as encroaching as settling in to stay, promising to ruin whatever chances of actually spotting the Death Knight she would have otherwise had. She was just about to call it at night when she spotted the lone figure facing off against the giant on the causeway. With a weary sigh, she nudged her wyvern lower, not even bothering to hope that this figure could possibly be Daranon. Countless letdowns had wiped her of the hope of ever actually finding him.
And so she almost wept with relief upon flying low enough to see that the solitary figure was the one she was looking for. She urged Rollo closer with her knees, landing behind the giant and dismounting, setting her pack down at her feet. The wyvern flew off to perch away from the battle as Lissandria briefly debated assisting her friend. In the end, curiosity got the better of her, and she decided to wait and see how the fight would turn out. She stood nearby, though; ready to lend aid should Daranon seem to require it.
If Daranon noticed Lissandria’s approach, he gave no indication. The death knight continued to weave around the bony giant, keeping it misdirected at all times. In a direct fight, there'd be no way he'd win, but slowly, he was making the giant do his work for him. The edge of the bridge came ever closer.
Lissandria watched the fight unfold with fascinated wonder. Each time she began to worry, began to draw her power to her, Daranon had already reacted to the danger, and Lissandria would slowly release her power. She watched in relative silence; her only sounds the occasional gasp of shock or dismay as the giant attempted again and again to smash her friend.
Once again, the giant attempted to stomp on the Death Knight. This time, Daranon used this as the advantage he needed. He reached out, beckoning a small army of ghouls into existence. The giant stomped again, and now Daranon charged, the ghouls assisting him in pushing the looming abomination off balance and over the bridge. Moments later, a thundering clatter of bones affirmed the giant's demise.
The army of ghouls surprised, and alarmed, Lissandria. She waited until the faded before stepping forward toward where her friend stood, staring down the distance that the bone giant had fallen and lost in thought. The Death Knight frowned, trying to recall where more of the giants could be found, when Lissandria gently spoke from behind him.
The Death Knight whirled on his heels at the voice, axe and sword drawn at the ready. He swung the blade with precision in the direction of the voice, crouched and ready...for the only people out here were the enemy.
Lissandria took a hasty step back as Daranon spun to face her, her hands raised and spread before her. If a glimmer of fear passed over her face at Daranon's quick and intimidating reaction, she pushed it aside quickly. Second thoughts at the wisdom of this venture were also pushed aside, more easily than the clutch of fear. The fear remained a faint shadow behind her eyes until Daranon began chuckling hollowly.
“Aah, you should be careful...sneaking up on me like that." The Death Knight seemed slightly amused by her presence, and lowered his weapons slowly.
Lissandria cleared her throat. “We…We’ve been worried about you.”
The Death Knight responded with another cold chuckle, gesturing towards the side of the bridge which the bone giant fell from. A smirk played across his features. "As you can see, you have nothing to worry about, Lissandria. Surely, you didn't come all this way to tell me that?"
Lissandria slowly lowered her hands, her shoulders relaxing. “I am not the only one worried about you, Daranon. You've been ignoring your communicator. We're all concerned.” She cautiously took a few steps forward, lessening the distance between them, her eyes searching his face. “All we knew was that you'd come to Northrend, and then...Nothing.”
Lissandria paused a moment, then continued quietly. “I've lost too many people to this place that I can't not worry.”
Daranon's grip on his runeblade tightened as the mage drew nearer, but he continued to smile. He waved off her concerns, and those of the others, with his free hand.
"I've been rather busy since I arrived, Lissandria." He smiled, though most of the oddly hollow expression was hidden by his helmet. Daranon glanced off towards Icecrown, eyes narrowing as he searched for another target. "No reason for concern..."
Lissandria narrowed her eyes, studying his face closely as grave misgivings began forming. “The Daranon I knew in Undercity wouldn't wave off the concerns of his friends,” she said carefully, and, despite the warning bells sounding in her mind, moved cautiously toward him. “The Daranon I knew in Undercity was never too busy. What happened to you?” She stopped before him, turning her head to peer searchingly into his face.
The Death Knight tilted his head to the side, peering down at the mage. He blinked his eyes rapidly, suddenly wincing. The smile softened faintly as a very brief wave of confusion passed over his features. When he spoke, the unnatural edge in his was voice gone. "You...shouldn't be here."
Lissandria returned the faint smile, hers tinged with sadness. Perhaps she recognized that half-smile as being more from the Daranon she knew than the one who’d moments earlier caused fear to tighten about her heart. Her hand lifted as though she were about to take his, but then lowered back to her side helplessly. She hesitated a moment before she spoke, ignoring his admonition. “I wish you'd come back with me, Daranon.” Her eyes remained intent on his face, her concern increasingly evident in her expression.
Daranon looked down at the bridge, eyes darting back and forth, as he puzzled over his apparent black-out. Confused, he staggered back a few steps, but managed to keep his voice and facial expressions as calm as possible as he responded. "I can't. Not... Not right now. I have a job to fulfill and I intend to do just that."
He looked up finally, imploringly. "Lissandria, please. You need to leave."
Lissandria reached out to him immediately as he staggered back, eyes flying toward the edge of the causeway, just behind where he stopped. “Daranon, be careful!” Her hand gripped his arm tightly, as though she'd somehow be able to prevent his falling, should he stagger back that last step. His first statement fell on deaf ears, concern for his safety coming first. His pleading tone, though, had her wrenching her gaze from the drop and lifting her eyes to his. Her eyes searched his face for a moment before she nodded, seeming to understand. She released his arm and took a step backward.
The fact that he was standing on the edge of the bridge seemed to give the Death Knight no reason for worry, but his expression grew more troubled when Lissandria reached out for him. As she stepped away, he closed his eyes for a moment, the hand on his runeblade reaffirming its grip. Darkness claimed him once again.
"You be best be off now, I'll... be along shortly. I wouldn't want to keep you all waiting..." The voice seemed sincere enough, but the Death Knight's expression was once again hardened. Distant. He smiled. "Go. I will return to you soon."
Lissandria lowered her hand slowly to her side, her face clouding. She took a step back, and finally seemed to notice the way he clutched so tightly at his runeblade. Her gaze returned to his face, briefly, and then she closed her eyes and turned her head away. “Of course,” she murmured, more to herself than in response to his words.
Opening her eyes, she scanned the bridge for signs of her wyvern, spotting him several yards down the causeway. Lissandria looked sadly toward Daranon once, before turning about to head toward the beast.
Standing perfectly still, the Blade watched as the lonely mage made her way down the bridge towards her wyvern. When she was a suitable distance away, he whistled sharply. The unnatural sound of bones flapping grew ever closer, but still Daranon did not tear his steely gaze away from the lone figure of Lissandria. He had to watch, had to make she left...otherwise...
Lissandria stopped only long enough to pick up her pack from where she had let it lie, turning her gaze once again towards the Death Knight. Her gaze met his from across the bridge, and she sighed heavily, turning and calling for her wyvern. As the beast settled down on the causeway and Lissandria climbed into the saddle, she looked once more for her friend. She closed her eyes, shuddering at the sight of the skeletal mount hovering behind the Death Knight. When she opened them again, he had already climbed into the saddle.
Daranon shook his head as the mage mounted, his vision fading in and out. But the simple gesture did nothing to calm the rising fear in his heart. He opened his mouth to yell for Lissandria, but just as quickly fought down the urge. Something was happening to him, now he knew it for certain, but exactly what was still a complete mystery. Something prodded him silently to return to his task.
The skeletal gryphon hovered, waiting as its master climbed into the saddle. Daranon glanced in Lissandria's direction once more and took to the air.
As Daranon’s unnatural mount set off into the night, Lissandria set her knees to her wyvern's sides and took off in the opposite direction, headed for Dalaran. Trusting the wyvern, she began digging through her pack until she came across a small metal box. She flicked a switch on, then hesitated a moment. Shaking her head, she lifted in the box to her mouth, speaking over the rushing wind in a grief-stricken voice.
“Daranon’s gone. The Blade has him…”