céline taillefer

In The Blood

Shortly after midnight, there was a knock at Lana’thel’s chamber doors.

“My lady,” said the archmage, holding forth a small red orb.  “The princes… they’ve-“

“I know,” Lana’thel interrupted, refusing to turn from the window where she stared out at the Citadel’s icy parapets.  “Leave it near the door, and leave me.”  She did not move until she heard the orb click down on a side table, and the door whisper shut.  Assured of being alone – and here she laughed bitterly, for who in this wretched palace was truly alone, with Frostmourne licking at all their thoughts ? – Lana’thel moved towards the table where the archmage had left the Darkfallen Orb.  What remained of it.

Lana’thel’s fingers caressed the surface of the orb; it used to be fat and smooth, like a seedpod ready to burst.  Now it lay dormant in her hands, the glassy surface still hard but wrinkled and much smaller than it used to be.  Instead of a steady thrum of power, she felt only the thready beat of a damaged heart.  Fools, fools, to have used the orb thusly!  And with nothing to show for it but three decaying corpses to be tossed off the nearest tower.  She felt she could weep.  Not for the loss of a powerful weapon, but for the three Princes she had trained and studied with.  Arrogant Valanar, brilliant Taldaram, loyal Keleseth.  Having them and the San’layn to command had not lessened her rage at being raised but she was a commander, and she needed them as much as they needed her to lead them.

Now there were three dead lieutenants and an army of soldiers knocking at her very door, while any source of power the Darkfallen Orb might have lent her in the coming fight was useless.  She was fighting a war on two fronts; her body and mind engaged with the forces of the living and her soul – what remained of that – with the King of the Scourge.

With a furious shriek borne of the same kind of helpless fury that had led her to shatter Quel’Delar, she hurled the orb out the window that looked out over the sere landscape.  Panting with rage, she rushed to the window to see the deflated orb shatter against the cobbles below. “What a sick joke this is,” Lana’thel moaned, fingernails digging into the sill.

When Lana’thel had turned her lieutenants, fallen on fields of battle far from Icecrown, she had gathered ones consumed with blood.   Blood, the antithesis to the forsaken existence of undead.  Taldaram led the way, for he gloried in consuming mortal blood before his first death.  Glutting themselves on blood and flesh, the Darkfallen Princes became a part of a power play Lana’thel could not admit to herself, for fear the Master would discover it.

As they gorged, Lana’thel channeled the power of their blood-soaked excesses – first, into the charnel pits below, and later into the Darkfallen Orb.  Her quarters became known as the Crimson Halls for their coppery reek.  Well, and what of it?  Better fresh, hot blood than the unidentifiable oozes and gasses that occupied the Professor’s wing.  And the green dragon – her presence had been the most poisonous of all, for tendrils of dream would purl outwards from the enslaved dragon, touching Lana’thel with waking dreams of ranging the woods of Eversong with her blade naked in her hand. Such things were gone forever – and thus, she had feared the dragon almost as much as the Lich King himself.

“Very well then,” she muttered to herself.  It was time for more drastic measures to ensure that these… heroes, these laughable sacks of meat, did not venture any further. For if she failed, Lana’thel was certain the second death would be preferable to an undeath which would become very, very unpleasant for her.

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