The Female Night Elf that had brought Kopfjagger water spoke into the still, tense room. "Forsaken," she began timidly. "We do have many questions for you. It would" She paused and fidgeted with the stack of papers in front of her. She seemed to become exasperated and with a sigh, she continued into the otherwise stagnant room. "I will just speak bluntly, Forsaken. The Council referred to is seeking a cure to the disease or whatever it is that has afflicted the Forsaken. Your answers may do you and your kind a great service in the long term." Still looking down at her papers, she placed her hands squarely upon the top of the stack in finality.
The dry brows of the Forsaken grew together in a concentrating frown. Perhaps these games are not so silly. Chains rattled as he tried to rub his chin as he thought. There was not quite enough play in the chains. Still, he pondered long the implications of the Elfin revelation.
His hollow voice seemed to echo off of the barren walls. "What, pray tell, makes you think that the Forsaken desire such a thing?" Playful confusion glimmered across his features as he tried to take his leisure within the confines of the chains. The result was him leaning arrogantly against the wall with his arms stretched out, but hanging lazily by the wrist bindings.
The Night Elf and others at the table made a small gasp and looked up at their captive with wide eyes. Several people stammered in what sounded nearly like protest. The human in the over-sized armor chuckled under his breath. Coming from him, it was rude.
"Consider, for a moment mortals, what immortality must taste like," the Head Hunter continued. His voice was low, deep and some would say, enchanting. "To live forever to see the lives of your enemies, particularly the short-lived humans come and go their feverish lives played out while the schemes and desires of your own heart ripen. Immortality may have a price, yes." His hands flopped palms up before falling limp against the tension of the chains. "But, for some, the price is worth the purchase." He shrugged and leaned back against the wall.
"The beast lies," spat the human. "The Scourge are no more immortal than squirrels! Bah!" The whip began to move again before the Elf bade him to hold. He did. Kopfjagger was almost welcoming the blow. The more reason to eat the man's liver before his very eyes.
"Please," the Night Elf gestured consolingly. "Please continue. How is it that the Forsaken believe they are immortal?" A pen was in her hand, freshly dipped in an inkwell. Glancing at the parchment, Kopfjagger was surprised to see that she had already taken a great deal of notes already. He made a face of approval at the Night Elf despite himself. At least someone was paying attention. And, he thought to himself, why not speak freely?
Shrugging again, sending the chains to rattle ominously, the Forsaken tilted his head to look curiously at the Night Elf. "I have sought an end, Elf. I have questioned the Spirit Healer often in my many visits to her. It seems, as best I am able to glean, that the Forsaken are meant to occupy our dead flesh until time itself has lost its meaning."
The Human with the whip burst in. "We know that the Scourge are constructs of animated matter. There is no "
Kopfjagger did not appreciate being cut off. "FORSAKEN!" His bellow echoed fiercely off of the walls of the small room.
In the silence, a gnome who had before gone unnoticed stood on his chair behind the table. "Sir," he addressed Kopfjagger weakly, "Please do not take this rudely, but what, precisely, is the difference?" The Gnome sat down quickly.
A low growl rolled across the dirty, wet floor. It started low in the bowels of the chained Forsaken but it seemed borne of his entire being. "The differences are many, Kibble," he finally replied. "Scrouge" he spat,"are mindless, soulless animals. Forsaken have full communication with that which makes men truly men." His memories of Lucia were proof enough of that, he thought to himself.
The humans laugh was anticipated and for the laugh, he received a mouthful of spittle on his cheek. The laugh ended with a whip-crack to the Forsaken's forehead. The small wound barely trickled dark, coagulated blood.
"As I was saying," Kopfjagger continued, "Scourge are mindless. They are soulless. Forsaken have independent will. We have hearts as well as minds."
The human in the ornate cloak laughed again.
"You," the Head Hunter sneered, "I will kill slowly and with pleasure." Human liver was quite wonderful.
Standing and taking a position between the Forsaken and the Human, the Night Elf stood tall and confident. "We believe that we can remove the affliction that keep the Forsaken in their dead flesh." She seemed proud and looked at the Forsaken before her as if expecting praise.
"To what end my dear?" Kopfjagger shot back. Her curious look prompted him to continue. "What would become of a Forsaken when the 'condition' is removed? Would we become permanently dead? Our flesh most certainly is. Would we perhaps have new flesh restored to our bodies, only to watch it grow old and die again? My life ended when I died. You will be hard pressed to find those willing to die again."
Her countenance fell as the words sank in. Her posture shifted until she felt a little awkward standing. Slowly, she made her way back behind the table and sat; deflated.
"It is not a matter of finding 'willing' participants, Scourge." It was the human's turn to spit.
Kopfjagger ignored him and returned his attention to the Night Elf fully. "How long have I been asleep?"
She tossed a hand casually. "Four or five years, maybe more. It took the Council a very long time to figure out what to do with you. We have not captured a Forsaken before or since you actually. You are quite an oddity, really."
Kopfjagger stopped listening after he heard how long he had been chained to the wall. Lucia His mind screamed with the implications of being away so long. Her children would be nearly grown now. Lucia herself could be anywhere and probably thinking that he had abandoned her. Slather oh poor Slather. He could only wonder about the Shaman. Blood Fist! His guild! What of them? His absence from them, for so long, was inexcusable.
He lost his strength as his mind spun the consequences of being absent for so very long. Chains rattled as his broken body hung limply from his bonds. Her name fell to the cold, damp floor wrapped silently in single a tear of loss.
How is it that the loss of time disturbs you so, inquired the Night Elf behind the table. Her papers were arranged precisely just so. The pen was hovering expectantly over a fresh parchment.
Looking up slowly, Kopfjagger allowed his sad eyes to look into the softly glowing eyes of his questioner. His body still hung limply by his chained wrists. His head moved, and that only enough to bring his gaze up to meet the question. With a sigh that did not adequately express his sense of loss, he answered after a pause to collect his thoughts.
Time and its passage mean precious little to me in its own right, he began. His body still hung by the chains. It was fitting. I have walked the barren fields of desolated lands. I have trod upon the verdant jungles of the Crater. I have watched the sun rise and set over vast oceans. My eyes have seen more than can be described. My blades have slain countless enemies and I have seen my body torn asunder more often than I care to recount.
He paused for a moment before continuing. In my first life, I had love. True love. His eyes lowered to the floor and if it was possible, his body sank lower, straining against the chains. My heart was complete, my children my joy. Each moment of every day was a blessing that I took not for granted. Love is what time was created for. Everything else is trivial in comparison. Everything else is a means to express that love. Time is the currency of devotion.
Again, he paused. Even the human with the whip was looking at the Forsaken with curiosity. I was robbed of my first love. Disease pulled from my heart its joy. Pain replaced the sense of completion and time became my enemy.
Looking directly into the eyes of the whip wielding human, Kopfjagger let his words strike out. Human, my wife; my love; my life was turned Scourge. By these hands was she buried. And by these same hands did she die again. When she died so did a part of me that you, in your feeble excuse of humanity, will never be able to fully appreciate. Twice she was lost to me. My children, also Scourged, feasted upon her twice-dead corpse. These same hands that once nurtured and adored them brought them a fresh death. Twice did I see them all die. Once by disease, and then, by my own hands. These hands.
Driving his point home over the gasps and freshly sown sorrow, Kopfjagger continued. His tone was malicious with his remembered pain. I killed them anew to release them from the horror of being mindless. Their flesh was an abomination, their minds were gone. Speak not to me of the difference between Scourge and Forsaken when you speak out of ignorance. I am the difference. These hands that you have chained to the stone walls of your fortress know more of Scourge than all of you in this room could ever fathom.
Water dripped down the walls. The chained Forsaken continued to slump against his bonds. The silence was long and palpable. Finally, the Forsaken continued into the still, quiet air. You ask me why I mourn the passing of such time. He looked back up into the eyes of the Night Elf. Her pen still hovered over a blank parchment. My heart found its joy again. The time that I spent chained against this wall was time that was stolen from me. You have taken from me years of currency that should have been spent on love. Instead, it was dismissed by the arrogance of the thoughtless.
Another tear slid down his cheek. His allowed his knees to release what little weight it was supporting. He was defeated now. It was not by sword or spell. He was defeated by ignorance. A Council he had never met in combat had robbed him of his ability to love. I hate you, fell from his sagging countenance.
The silence was finally broken by the Night Elf that had brought the Forsaken a sip of water earlier. Her softly glowing eyes were moist as she looked up at her enemy chained before her. Why do you speak so openly to us, she asked in a voice that barely contained a slight tremor. Surely you are revealing much to your enemies. Is this not some type of crime amongst your kind? She finished tentatively, tripping up on the proper way to address the undead man before her. She nodded back at the Forsaken that acknowledged her question. He would answer.
Straightening himself so that he now stood as opposed to being wilted and defeated, Kopfjagger decided to continue this game. There was really nothing else to do and he needed to get his mind off of his loss. Anything but dwell.
My name in death is Kopfjagger, he related, regaining his confidence and composure. It means Head Hunter and is a name I am most proud of. It was given to me when my soul was searched and I was given the weapons of an assassin. A cold smile replaced the lost, hopeless expression he wore moments before.
If there was fear, I would remain silent. If there was a challenge, I would remain silent, he stated clearly and boldly to the room. There is neither fear, nor challenge. There is only time until victory. And we, the Forsaken, have an eternity.
There were some challenging grunts from some of the once-born in the room. Arrogance and ignorance was rampant among the living, the Forsaken noted to himself.
Allow me to ask you something, Kopfjagger addressed the room. Why do you tender once-born wear armor? Hmmm? Why do you wrap your juicy flesh with metal? The brightly armored human with the whip shot a bemused look at the table.
I, your Forsaken cousin, will tell you, he continued before the others could begin to formulate a response to his odd question. It is because you fear death. You do not want yourselves to be hurt. Oh, sure, you brag about war wounds and show the lady folk your scars. Deep down, however, your hands tremble when you put that armor on. Images of the countless ways your flesh can be torn asunder flash through your narrow little minds each and every time you don your armor. Each buckle you fasten, each strap you tighten only reminds you that you are wrapping protection around something frail and juicy. With bound wrists, the chained Forsaken pointed to each plate-armor clad person in the room.
Why do the Forsaken wear armor, you may ask? Once your salty brains can get past my last little nugget, I will tell you that as well, he continued. Disdain dripped from his dead lips like honey from a freshly opened hive. We, the undying, wear armor to reduce the time outside of battle. He paused, looking around the room, noting the looks on the faces of those gathered to hear his information. We have no love for our flesh, he continued. We do not cherish it, or nurture it, or place balms upon our cheeks to look more alive. The human with the whip looked around nervously. Our rotten flesh will find our bones after our spirit releases. So has it been. So shall it continue. Without end. The dank, dark cell seemed like a closed grave to those present. To the Forsaken, it was a comfortable feeling of home.
The Night Elf with the softly glowing eyes looked up from her writings. The end of her pen stuck in her mouth as she unconsciously nibbled. Her lush brow was knitted together until content, she spoke. Interesting point. But we digress, I believe. It is of interest to us why the Forsaken seek the wholesale slaughter of the living. Perhaps if we are able to better understand your motives we would be better able to
Kopfjagger cut her off. You are not LISTENING, tree lover! He nearly spat the words at her. There is more to this world than flowers and sunshine. Perhaps if you used your eyes to observe more than dirt and foliage, you would see. The last words came out as a harsh whisper as he tried to regain control over himself. His emotions were too free and too frequent. The Forsaken chained to the wall was having difficulty managing the myriad of thoughts that kept trying to force their way to the forefront, vying for dominance. A deep sight rattled in his hollow chest.
Let me see for you. There was another pause as eyes fixed on the Forsaken. They had come for information, and information they shall receive. Imagine, if you will, that you are a small boy. You are new to the world and unsure of your place in it. Everywhere you look, you see beauty. You desire nothing more than to be able to reach out and embrace it; yet you do not know how.
Imagine now, as this small, wide-eyed young child, that you are told you are a monster. The world has no beauty for you. Your life is spent running, hiding. You are beaten, hunted, killed over and over again as you seek a way to survive in this alien world of unwanting; a world of beauty forbidden. Pain quickly becomes the only feeling you can remember; death the only thing awaiting you. Misery becomes your only lover.
Kopfjagger paused for a moment to look at the female Night Elf. He licked his dead lips with a dry tongue and stared into her softly glowing eyes before continuing. Now, this boy, that your small minds are trying to wrap around, was brought innocent into this world; unknowing and vulnerable, just as the Forsaken upon rising anew. We did not choose this fate; it was inflicted upon us. We are not monsters, because we have a heart and a soul to guide our actions. We are not on a pilgrimage to destroy the world of the living because we are mindless slaves like the Scourge. He paused again as he looked around the room again, into the eyes of each of his questioners.
We kill you because it amuses us. We kill you because we hate you. We kill you because we are jealous of you. But, for me personally, he bowed his head ever so slightly. I kill you because I like it. His last words came through a maniacal grin as he raised his head and stared into the fear-laden eyes of the whip-wielder.
The silence that followed the Head Hunters last statement was pleasant, to say the least. The once-born were worrying over the motivations of their undead enemies. Silence prevailed. The only sounds were the incessant dripping of water and the slow, ponderous breathing of the questioners. The anxious air was split by a soft question from the Forsaken chained hand and foot to the damp stone wall.
Why, in your world of nobility and mercy, has there been no mission to seek a cure for the curse of the Forsaken? Why do you expend the energies, wealth and youth of your nations on the propagation of a war that, deep down, you know you cannot win? Does it, perchance, give your Paladins some noble thing to do? As he asked this, his hands performed a mocking happy-dance in their shackles. Does the slaying of the never-dying fulfill some sort of sick pleasure you living have?
He leaned casually against the wall. He head was lowered as he looked up at them with hate in his orange glowing eyes. You ask why we kill you and I, at least, have answered honestly. You speak and preach to your children of honor and nobility, but none of the living has ever tried to undo the curse that ties the Forsaken to their ever-rotting flesh. He spat again, but his mouth contained no moisture. A small cloud of dust and a maggot was all that landed on the ground.
Water, he beckoned to the Night Elf taking notes.
The Night Elf nodded ever so slightly once she had completed the last set of notes. She stood, whispered into the ear of a guard and pressed something into his hand. With a grunt, the guard left, muttering under his breath. Without delay, she picked up a tall flask from the table and walked over to the Forsaken and offered him the drink.
You would be correct in your questioning the nobility of the Alliance, Forsaken, except for one fact that will now be revealed to you. She extended the flask to him. We have not made public the efforts of the Council, but the reason for your sleep was to preserve you until this was completed. She nodded towards the flask in her hand. You were correct, until now.
Kopfjagger looked down at the flask and back up into the eyes of the Night Elf. The whip-wielder looked completely stunned, but the undead was not interested in him. Eyes that lost their fire looked into eyes that never lost their softness.
What is this, Elf? He could not think of any other question to ask. It did not seem to do justice when compared to what his mind was screaming at him. You must understand, Elf, that a Forsaken chained to a cell in the bottom of Stormwinds infamous Stockades is not a setting that elicits a great deal of trust. That still wasnt close to the screaming that raged in his mind.
Setting the flask down on the floor, the Night Elf asked one of the guards for the key to his shackles. Reluctantly, the guard handed a key ring to her with the key she needed between his fingers. Nodding, she unlocked the Forsakens shackles that bound his wrists and wrapped his hands around the vial. Her movements were graceful and tender. Her eyes shone light blue that spoke of compassion and hope.
This, Forsaken one, is hope. It is your hope. It is the hope of the Elven people. It is the hope of the Humans and the Alliance. Most of all, however, it is your hope and the hope of the Forsaken. Twice born, once damned and with this, perhaps, freed.
He held the flask in awe. What he held in his hands was unimaginable. His mind ceased its screaming. It was as if his mind had indeed forgotten how to think. Long was the silence. The Elf had returned to his side and offered him the ladle of water he requested earlier. He did not even recall her leaving. He drank the water, with her hand cupped under his chin. His eyes never left the treasure between his hands.
Finally, thought returned. The room was silent except for the soft snoring of a dwarf at the end of the table. Do you know do you know what will happen? His question was his awe expressed in words. It was a childs voice of wonder and hope.
The Night Elf shook her head.
What what do you think will happen? His mind was re-playing the conversation earlier. All the reasons he expressed about how horribly wrong such a cure could render the Forsaken that choose it.
Honestly, the Night Elf replied with a sigh, We do not know. It is designed to remove the curse, but we have never yet tried it on any Forsaken. That, sadly, was the long wait that you endured. It is difficult to obtain a spec a Forsaken and we did not want to lose you.
He nodded dumbly. Of course. That made sense. Indeed.
Redemption. His whisper did not carry to the translator on the table.
Kopfjagger looked up at the Night Elf and stared long and hard into her eyes. He had much experience with the living when truth needed to be picked from a pack of lies. It seemed as if she actually believed that this elixir would restore the Forsaken from their cursed state of never dying to whole flesh again.
That, at least, was what the Night Elf believed. That did not make it so, however. Kopfjagger had been used as a pawn in games larger than himself before. He had believed what he had been told to fulfill his part of a plan, only later realizing that it was a lie to fulfill and elaborate scheme that he would never know the whole of. Believing something did not make it true.
It must be a trick, he thought. If the flesh of the Forsaken were made whole, would that mean that they could be easily defeated in battle? Would the Forsaken then be hunted down and slain once and for all? Their immortality would be gone! What would one who could not remember what the sun felt like on living flesh do when all sense was returned? It was too much to imagine.
Why? That was all he asked as he lowered the elixir.