The scent of smoke and sulfur was strong enough to cling to his throat, carried by the humid wind of the night. He could count the beatings of his heart, which was once again struggling to not jump out of its ribcage. He needed some fresh air, to stay alone and know that he needed no one beside him in order to be able to keep fighting.
No matter how hard he tried, no matter how strong the desire to forget was. That past was always there, akin to a ferocious, voracious predator patiently stalking its prey to exhaustion.
The heavy breath of the black maned stallion was scanning the flow of his thoughts and the raging emotions soaring towards the surface. The clapping sound of the plate armored hooves was echoing in the vast forest of Feralas, disturbing the troubled silence of the suffering groves.
He didn’t want to depend on someone. He didn’t want to trust anyone but himself; the memory of the Custodian who died in his arms, crippled of both arms and legs was so vivid, so present and unforgettable to constantly remind him the reason behind that fatal decision that had him hung the mantle of command and disappear. Back then, he parted from a world that was sinking into unshackled madness, when those who were supposed to protect it did nothing but waste their time, toying with nuisances, closing themselves under golden domes of lies and petty reasons.
That thought was enough to trigger an ocean of hate. The tides of that raging, boiling sea could swallow him whole, devouring his facade of unsensible, untouchable and incorruptible calmness in an heartbeat.
Mor’denath kicked the left side of the Shadowrunner and pulled the reins to the right, abandoning with haste the beaten track close to Stonemaul Hold, leading the barely tamed beast deep into the infested woods. He needed to feel the danger tingling his senses, to know that his emotions were worth nothing if compared to the impending demise of Azeroth. He wanted to know that, if compared to the unbound powers of the cosmo, he was nothing but a tool to be exploited for a greater good. That was truly the only way to move on and continue that unending fight: not for passion, not for love nor for “those he held dear”; Fate proven countless time to him, how easy it was to turn allies into enemies or annihilate them until nothing was left but ash.
How could he fight for something or someone so fragile and likely to disappear from his life? Was that fear his greatest weakness? Could he ever manage to twist it into the fuel his heart needed to keep beating?
The horse kept running, leaving roads and villages behind; it jumped to avoid a fallen trunk and the rider adjusted on saddle and brackets, following that suspended movement, enjoying the tension running through the muscles of his stubborn but most loyal companion. There were moments in which the Sin’dorei could imagine their hearts following the same beat pattern and their two souls merging into one. He knew how much that animal needed to run, jump, feel the wind run through his long, wavy hair. Hildago, that was his name, couldn’t stand among the crowd for long in the same way the archmage was constantly battling to adapt to the way too fast changes thrown into his life. He did -not- want to return to Silvermoon and didn’t ask to pick up that abandoned leadership a second time, in the same way he fought against the orders to emerge from the shadows that so dearly and motherly concealed him during the course of the last two years.
Away from everyone, there where no one could touch him… There, where no one could maim what little was left of his “humanity”.
A wide grove opened after the umpteenth bush; immense monolites, scorched by the fel fire that darkened that part of the region during the recent invasion, stood around the perimeters like silent guardians of a still not forgotten past. In the center of such devastation, was a moonwell. Mor’denath shifted the weight of his body backwards and pulled the reins in the Shadowrunner’s mouth; the indignated charger pranced in protest but eventually halted the wild advance, turning its majestic head to stare at that insolent rider in silent inquiry. The elf returned that gaze and such contact was enough for the steed to understand and allow the elf some time to inspect the recently purified waters, which radiating energies were slowly re-rooting into the depleted and tortured ground. It’s feeble but warm light was winning over the darkness and softly caressed those dried leaves and grass.
In the heart of a region turned into a wide and unexpected battlefield, a small spark was fighting to make the difference, no matter the odds or how impossible the task was.
The elf rose his eyes to the wide canopies of the trees above; the silence was cruel and thick, but the energies spreading from that glowing pond were strong enough to bring a piece of tranquillity inside his heart, enough to allow him to remember - why - he felt the sudden urge to rush away from the Horde camp without looking into anyone’s eyes: a way more recent past than the Fall of Quel’thalas came back in all its glory. It stroke deep into the unrest of his soul, which was so ready to break the embankments and flood an uncontrollable rage in front of his entire division… and he couldn’t afford such lack of control, not now that he was the only living leader of the Blade and that others had been killed by the same enemy his soldiers were constantly fighting against. So he mounted the only creature he knew was not there to judge him and ran somewhere, anywhere that could had been considered relatively safe to think about that past. Every single memory of it, could be summarized by a single name: Zethys “Van Hellcall”.
That corrupted and depraved elf kept him on a lash for years. A soulmancer and demonologist, whose perverted thoughts, actions and atrocities destroyed the lives of many, and did so from behind the crimson curtains of a glorious, pompous stage. Cruel, ruthless, selfish, a slaver and a beast that now sold his loyalty to the Legion, taking with triumphant joy the Inquisitor’s youngest sister away, enjoying every single moment spent to turn such an innocent flower into an instrument of malice and destruction.
How long did Mor’denath search for that elf, scouring and scrying every single region of Azeroth to find that plague and free the elven race from such a staining burden? How many times did he try to repair that madman’s actions? Too many. So many to almost lure the same Inquisitor beyond the point of no return. When Ara’ni, Zethys’ former slave, approached him some hours before and spoke his name, a fire he trusted to be extinguished and forgotten turned into an all-burning inferno. Memories emerged from apparently unsealed, dusty cages, sensations and emotions he did the impossible to leave behind, in order to focus on the present and not taint his decisions with a way too personal agenda, took over his stern demeanor.
But Zethys was back, and he was serving the enemy hiding behind the body of his sister. The only difference between the past where he was untouchable and the present day, was that their souls were no longer bound and, as a consequence, the only weapon that guaranteed that bastard’s safety was no longer in his hands. The magnitude of the price paid to erase that burdening, unwanted link that granted the arcane user more knowledge on the fel arts than he ever wanted, had been more than Mor’denath could handle without repercussions.
Because of that betrayer, he lost - everything-. Everything, for a second time.
The wind blowing from the coast was gently toying with his long hair and caressing his skin, the horse was taking some breath. The silence, once again, helped him to see a distant light at the end of an almost endless tunnel, a shelter where he could control his emotions. At that point, his pragmatic rationality kicked in.
Even though the days were going on, everything was still too close. The past was just lurking in the shadows, waiting on his shoulder for the right moment to leap and end an already withering prey.
What did he leave behind? He had seen the hell like all his people, but unlike many of those strolling so lightly around the alabaster streets of Silvermoon, the elven lord was still struggling to accept his own survival; the lives lost along the way were a constant reminder of how impossible it was to avoid the pain, of how visionary (if not even ridiculous) was the will to keep -everyone- safe.
Mor’denath lowered his eyes on the sparkling, shimmering waters of the moonwell while even his steed left behind its restless behavior; sniffing the ash-coated ground, the shadowrunner was puffing away the layer of deep gray cinders, revealing fragile but blooming stems. The male’s lips remained sealed in religious silence while the mail-armored body shuffled on the decorated saddle, rubbing his hardened fingers against the rough surface of the reins. Whilst rage, sorrow and melancholy were blown away by the wind coming from the sea, the Sin’dorei understood where his place was and what he had to do.
It was time to close a chapter of his life and be the elf his men deserved, that lonely light shining atop of a lighthouse standing tall despite the merciless tempest battering the shores. No matter if he had to sacrifice his desires, no matter if he had to march against his own interests and will, and in order to become -that- elf, his hands had to bath in Thalassian blood for the first time.
The life of someone who was once an ally and now a pawn of the Deceiver had to meet righteous end.
Zethys “Van Hellcall” had to die. Nothing was going to save him because now, unlike many others, -that- Inquisitor had nothing else to lose.
There was no one left to hear him now.