Kopf's Story

- by Kopfjagger and Lucia

Conclusion Part 2 of 3Edit

The rope bit into her wrists painfully, but Lucia refused to show it. Her discomfort already gave her captors enough amusement. She refused to add to it by wincing every few moments when the feeling in her fingers returned. The march had been gruesome for her as they rarely rested. She hadnt eaten in two days and water was only given when she was close to passing out. She had fainted once so far and had gotten a cupful of it in her face. Right now the party had taken one of the rare stops and Lucia had closed her eyes in hopes of resting as much as she could before they moved again.

They had passed out of the Foothills of Hillsbrad and into a forest filled with Silverpines, Satinwoods and giant Redwoods. The areas between the trees were filled with bears, rabid wolves and their worg cousins. Glowing eyes peered out at them as they traveled a well beaten path that led through the center of the woods. Eyes she was sure belonged to other hostile creatures yet unseen peered out from the bushes that lined the road.

They had passed by a village populated with humans that upon first glance had raised Lucias hopes. Her hopes were quickly dashed when she realized they didnt seem to care that she was a captive of two Forsaken and a Troll. They chatted in little groups around their encampments and barely spared them a glance unless they got too close to a tent. Then the patrols stopped and watched them carefully, making sure the party continued on its way. Lucia got the feeling they would attack them all, bound or not, if they attempted to enter their territories.

When the undead and Troll had finished whatever they had stopped for, Lucia was pulled to her feet and once more forced to keep pace with them. They passed many paths that forked from the main road but the party always passed them by. Already two days had passed and it was mid-afternoon of the third when they finally emerged from the trees and the giant gray walls of the Undead city loomed before them. The cold stone walls looked so forbidding and had an air of menace about them. If stone could do harm on its own, Lucia was sure these walls would crush anything beneath them. She shivered at her own imaginings and wished her thoughts would stop tormenting her. It made going into the city all that more frightening.

They moved along the path until they came to the long walkway to the open door. Inside they went, around a section of wall and passed a rusted broken bell that littered the path. They passed under the double archway and into a long courtyard where a statue used to stand. Now all but the feet were gone and a few crumbling pebbles that may have been part of it when it was once whole. On either side of the indoor yard was a flowing river of green ooze that Lucia knew ran into the city and polluted it as well.

Twin sets of stairs led to a dais on either side that had double doorways that led to somewhere unseen. They moved through the courtyard and into another corridor, down a ramp and through an abandoned throne room. Past the throne room was another ramp and the most hideous things Lucia had ever seen. Their mouths slacked open, their innards were revealed and their limbs looked clumsily sewn on. They made a swishy sound when they moved and seemed to have no intelligence to speak off, if they could even speak, Lucia wasnt sure. They said nothing as the party waited in front an arched door decorated with skulls. The door opened to reveal a lift which Lucia and Kopfjagger were shoved into.

Inside the city was like a giant wheel, the huge round column in the middle being the hub and the corridors making up the spokes. They traveled down ramps, across bridges and through corridors until they stood outside a heavily guarded arch. They were coldly surveyed and then marched through. The tunnel was long and when they reached the end of it Lucia jerked to a halt.

In the center of the room was a large dais. The first thing that caught her eye was the tall demon lord which caused Lucia to rip her eyes away from it. The second thing, she noticed was the Queen. She was truly beautiful in a cold way. The hunter and the two undead bowed and went to their knee in her presence, even Kopfjagger the ropes still binding his hands behind his back knelt before her, leaving Lucia starkly standing in plain view.

The voice that filled her head was toneless and yet mesmerizing, So Head Hunter, this is the little human that has fascinated you so much you betray your loyalty to me?

She didnt seem to require and answer as she continued after a pause, She is but a child compared to me. I wonder what caught your attention about her that you deny your Queen. That has clouded your judgment so much as to go against my wishes. I see nothing remarkable, Head Hunter; she is but another human like the rest.

She turned to the mage and addressed him, though Lucia, and she was sure everyone else, could hear. Haslet, perhaps you can take our guest to see the Master Apothecary. I hear he was especially happy, almost giddy for him, to hear she was returning to his chambers soon. Then meet your fellow party members and collect your reward. I am pleased with you all. Go now, I wish to have a little talk with the Head Hunter myself.

She turned to the mage and addressed him, though Lucia, and she was sure everyone else, could hear. Haslet, perhaps you can take our guest to see the Master Apothecary. I hear he was especially happy, almost giddy for him, to hear she was returning to his chambers soon. Then meet your fellow party members and collect your reward. I am pleased with you all. Go now, I wish to have a little talk with the Head Hunter myself.

As Lucia was led away she glanced back to look at Kopfjagger kneeling before the Queen. Little did she know it would be the last time she would remember seeing him as they turned a corner and he was lost from her sight.

They didnt have far to go as the apothecary was almost directly beneath the royal chambers. They went down the ramp and once again Lucia was in that horrible room. It smelled the same, now with an underlying odor of smoke and burnt cloth. Trails of black soot could be seen staining the walls where the previous flames had crept up and merrily burned away. New tables had been added. They looked oddly out of place in the grim room, fresh wood on which the red stains were stark and unmistakable. In no time at all the various liquids that oozed over their surfaces would blend to become a single tinge that hid the newer discolorations. Several books, some with their edges blackened, lay open on the various counter tops and even on the floor as if someone had frantically rifled through the entire collection and left it where it was thrown.

Behind her, the mage made a noise to announce their presence and the bony apparition of the head apothecary came from a side chamber. He grinned when his eyes lay upon her. Lucia bristled when she saw him, her anger and hate for what he had done to her husband rising up and raising her temperature. The mage chuckled and whispered softly, Now now, none of that sweetheart, and once more Lucia felt that cold emptiness as her magic was countered.

The Apothecary stopped a few feet from her, a little wary of her now. When he spoke however if was with a cheery undertone that clashed with his appearance, Ahhh you are back I see. Welcome to my chamber and I have a gift all ready for you. He walked to a shelf and pulled down a vial filled with a thick deep blue concoction. He held it out to her guard who took it, popped the cork and grimaced at the smell. He tipped the bottle at her and offered her the viscous fluid inside. The apothecary noticed her unwillingness to drink.

Drink it.come now drink it or I will force it down your throat. It will not harm you; I just do no wish to have another barbeque in here and as you can plainly see I havent repaired all the damage from the last one. As he spoke he waved a hand at the charred books and sooty walls that she had caused her last trip. Drink it. It will remove your ability to use those mage powers of yours, he urged once more in that cheery voice. His weak smile showed sharp, yellowed teeth.

Seeing that she really had no choice and didnt want the horrid liquid forced down her throat, Lucia sipped it first and was surprised the fluid was sweet. It was thick, like honey and hard to swallow but the taste would have been almost delightful if the effect hadnt started at first swallow. It caused a wave of varying temperatures, from over-warm to freezing cold as it slid down her throat and settled in her stomach. The empty feeling was back, ten times worse then what the counter spell caused. This felt permanent; as if she would never have her magical side returned to her. It was like losing a part of her and the feeling was heartbreaking. In the background Lucia could hear the apothecary still rambling on in that strange tone of his, switching from cheery to fatherly and then back to cheery. It was unnerving.

Good girl he said when he saw the last of the blueness disappear from the rounder bottle. I wish our relationship to start off on the good side. You may be my guest for some time you see and I do so enjoy having my guests feel well, certainly not comfortable, but lets just say appreciated. Your fate is not up to me you see, believe me if it were and here his voice took on a more menacing tone which befitted his state, . I would enjoy nothing less then to set you afire and watch you roast as you did me. But my hands are tied. Back to fatherly, . and I can see yours are as well. He turned to her mage escort and addressed him, Remove the ropes please. She will not escape from here again.

The rope was unbound and he let it fall unceremoniously to the floor. Lucia rubbed her hands together trying to get the feeling back in her fingers. They tingled unpleasantly and prickled painfully as the blood rushed back to them. The Apothecary was speaking again as he moved about the room, completing tasks, wiping instruments, collecting books and placing them back on the shelves. He couldnt seem to stay still for any length of time.

He beckoned to Lucia to come further into the room as if she were a steady visitor to the place, Now as I was saying, my hands are tied until I hear my orders from the queen and so until then I am to see to your housing and health. Housing is simple; I have a free space for you my dear He pointed a long, bony finger to a large empty cage that sat in the corner of the room. Your health is another matter, which will take some cooperation from you He paused in his busy work and looked over his shoulder at her. Come on dearie, I wont bite. Cant have you causing mischief like the last time, can we? Into the cage with you and we can talk about your health then.

Lucia reluctantly walked into the iron bars and was amazed when he looked at her expectantly. She nearly stomped her foot in agitation when she realized he was waiting for her to close the door and click the lock. He gave a weary disappointed sigh when she crossed her arms and stubbornly refused to touch the door. He crossed the room and locked her in, giving her a reproving look before he returned to his counter. Her slight seemingly forgotten, he returned to his light banter.

Alive human health I am not much good at I am afraid, never had to try and keep them alive usually tying to see how fast I can kill them. You know, how quick, how painful, how creative things like that are my specialty..Ahh yes, here it is Of course it all depends on what the Dark Lady wants, most likely not a quick painless death for you No no, not with the betrayal of the Head Hunter, she favoured him you know. TWELVE eyes... well my! Thats a bit inconvenient if you ask me, humans only have two a piece.. And it has to be human you know, beasts eyes never work the way they should in something like thisYou know As I was saying, the Dark Lady was most upset when she discovered what he had done. Youre a very quiet human arent you? Most humans chatter away, cry for hours Spew out the most ridiculous threats Most annoying if you ask me.

Lucia wanted to throw something at him. She was very tempted to take of her shoe and whip it at his head. She wished she could cry. It would at least drown out his mumbling and she certainly didnt want to know what he was creating if it required twelve human eyes, toenails of a dragon, the liver of a pig and something called Mistlewithe, which turned out to be the venom of a nasty snake that resided only in high regions of the Searing Gorge, they thrived on heatdidnt you know? She wanted to kill him again. Blast him into oblivion just for a moment of quiet.

She turned her thoughts inward, the mumbling of the apothecary becoming a drone of incoherent background noise as she began to think of Kopfjagger alone with the Queen. What would happen to him? What did happen to traitors of the Undead? She really didnt want to know that either, though she was sure if she asked the apothecary he would be more than delighted to tell her. In fact she would most likely get every single detail and that was why she didnt ask. It was horrible enough to think of him dying, spending countless hours in gruesome pain was not something she wanted to know about. Lucia was beginning to wonder what was going to happen to her. She didnt have long to find out.

Not more than a couple hours passed when a guard wearing resplendent red armor came and spoke quietly to the apothecary. He turned and gave her a delighted grin, Well now, that was fast and here I thought Id have to feed you and whatnot. Looks like the Queen has decided what to do with you and the Head Hunter. Be back in a jiffy. And he scrambled out after the guard.

When he came back it was with a dejected droop of his shoulders. He glared at her for a moment and then sighed. Ah well, he ho-hummed, not what I expected, not at all. I was so looking forward to roasting you Well, cant have everything we want can we, makes what we do get seem less important doesnt it? Still would have been a real treat. He tsked and moved back to his counter. He began pulling down bottles and vials, a sack of something and a box of something else, all the while he complained about his task.

Not like the Queen to be so kind, not at all. Its because she favors that Head Hunter you know She likes the seasoned fighters the most, not much an old apothecary can do in that department as he rambled he began mixing together various things in a large stone bowl and pounding away at a dry root on the counter. He worked in silence for the first time since she had been there and only acknowledged her when the disgusting stuff was beginning to bubble over a small flame. The smell permeated the room, a smell of rotten apples and wormy tomatoes left in the sun.

The forsaken apothecary approached the cage and this time his cheery and fatherly demeanor was gone. He frowned in at her, as if he blamed her for the loss of his fun in roasting her. He gave her the Queens order, an ultimatum that had a heavy consequence.

The forsaken apothecary approached the cage and this time his cheery and fatherly demeanor was gone. He frowned in at her, as if he blamed her for the loss of his fun in roasting her. He gave her the Queens order, an ultimatum that had a heavy consequence.

The Queen has given you a choice, human, she is being too kind in my opinion but what does my opinion count. This is your choice. You chose: The pain filled and, trust me here, most permanent death of yourself and Kopfjagger the Head Hunter, or, you drink the potion, the very essence of undeath and fill her rank, swearing loyalty to our Queen. You and Kopfjagger will have to prove your allegiance to her and if you fail you will both be put to death. And as I said before, it is painful and most assuredly most permanent.

I do not know her motive in being so easy on you, but those are your choices. She has instructed me to inform you as well the consequence of the potion. It is not fully perfected, you see. You will most likely lose all memory of your previous life. The journey to undeath is painful and in essence the same as dying from a horrific disease that eats away at your flesh. He made a happy clapping motion, like a malicious child realizing for the first time that a fly cannot fly without the wings that were just pulled off.

You will be fully aware of the pain right up to the moment that your heart stops beating. You also take the risk of becoming mindless, a walking corpse with no will or reason. We have not had a case of this in a while but the risk is still there. I will give you a moment to think about it and you make your choice. Death or Undeath, make the right choice for there is no turning back once you choose. He walked away leaving Lucia with her decision.

Lucia wished she could talk with Kopfjagger about her choices. They seemed too much for her to decide on her own. Would Kopfjagger want her to become like him? Would he rather they both die than for her to share his fate? Could she withstand the pain of the potion and losing her memory of her life? She would not remember loving Kopfjagger! She would not remember her children!

Her thoughts crashed in a heap. No matter what she chose she would lose her children. They would never know what had become of their mother. Finally she was able to cry. Her babies would forever wonder why she had abandoned them, why she never sent them another letter or a batch of sweets, or soothing scented herbs to relax with. She would never see Loria finally become a mage, never see either of her children married or her first grandchild.

The Queen was cruel. A seething hatred coursed through her body. How carefully the Dark Lady had set up her little plan of revenge. She lost no matter what she chose. Death or Undeath?

In the background Lucia heard little snippets of the apothecary chatting with himself. ..well perhaps if she chooses death I can request the queen to allow me to roast her after all, I mean what could be more painful them a slow burning of your flesh besides the potion of course, that would be worse, much worse but still roasting her is what I would chose to do Where did I put that bat wing.

Lucia paled at his words, worse than burning alive? Yet could she willingly sentence Kopfjagger to death? A horrible death from what she gathered it would be and how many times would he die painfully before he was allowed to stay dead? She would die quickly, for him it could be endless. The first choice was obviously meant to punish him, its consequences would be visited mostly on Kopfjagger. The second, on the other hand was for her. Pain for her, loss for her and she would rather go through the pain then watch Kopfjagger die. She loved him too much to choose his death, as the Queen surely knew when she conjured her subtle revenge.

Her decision made, Lucia beckoned over the apothecary and watched him slump over in disappointment, Are you sure? he asked hopefully. It will be nasty for you. Take my word for it dearie; you would rather die by flames than that potion. She shook her head and again stated she would join the undead ranks. He sighed and nodded at her, then left to inform the Queen of her choice.

Somewhere someone screamed.

When he came back, he removed the vial off the flames, transferred it into another bottle that was half filled with another liquid. The two mixed and the potion turned a deep inky black. He approached her cage and handed her the potion through the bars with instruction to drink every last drop. The smell was enough to make her gag, but the first taste of it forced her to cover her mouth and control the urge to vomit. It tasted like mashed up, raw rotted meat mixed with curdled milk. It had the consistency of a congealed cream soup. It slithered down her throat until the bottle was empty.

It was done. She could not turn back now. She laid the empty bottle on the floor, her face deathly white. She glanced around the room for the apothecary and was surprised to see him lying on the floor near the stairs with Slather bent over his body.

The Troll Shaman grabbed something from the apothecarys robe and approached the cage. He fit the key in the lock and it clicked open. She stood her mouth agape to see him alive.

Slather? But I saw you You were dead!
Aye Sistah, but I know da way of da Spirits. I walked the path to my body from the nether and forced my free spirit back into this shell. I couldnt leave when my friends still needed me. Hurry now, we still have to find Kopfjagger.

Lucia shook her head in despair, Slather Oh Slather it is too late. She pointed to the empty bottle on the floor, I already drank it

He stared at the bottle for a moment, What was in dat? What did you drink woman?

She paled even more, The Essence of Undeath Slather I am going to die and then rise again to be like Kopfjagger. I am to become Forsaken. I was given a choice

The apothecary groaned and Lucia pushed Slather back. She fought with him a moment for the cage door and slammed it shut, locking herself inside again, quickly she urged him, Go, you must go before he realizes it was you. You cannot be discovered. Horrible things will be done if they find out. It is too late, but you must go now Please, I do not want another of my friends to suffer.

Slather nodded but didnt leave. He rummaged around in his pack and pulled out a cluster of tiny berries. He shoved them at her and whispered, Eat dem, dey cause death in large quantities, sleep in a few less and numbness in a little. It will lessen any pain you may feel from da potion Tell me Lucia, does Kopfjagger know what joo have done?

She shook her head. I dont know. I didnt get to see him after we were separated. She took the berries and ate them slowly, they were bitter but nothing could taste worse than the potion she had already drank. She urged Slather to go as fast as he could, but just before he left her sight she called to him, Slather! Thank you my friend. You came even though you knew the risks to your own life. Even though it was too late, I thank you for the effort and the kindness you showed me. You are a true friend when even my own kind, my own family turned their back on me. May your spirits be forever with you. Slather nodded and jogged out the door before the apothecary could wake and sound the alarm.

Lucia was alone now, the apothecary was out cold on the floor, the one groan was all he made and all else was silent. Lucia lowered herself to the ground and waited. Minutes passed and the first little twinge, a tickle in her legs as the berries took effect. Soon she couldnt feel her hands on her knees, couldnt feel the muscles in her face when she smiled or frowned.

She ran her numb fingers over her cheeks and marveled there was no sensation at all. Not surprisingly she was shocked as a wave of pain clenched at her stomach. She groaned and lay out on the floor hoping to alleviate some of it by laying flat. The next wave forced her into a ball. Her knees pressing against her forehead, tears began dropping onto the stone floor. She was unconsciously crooning in the back of her throat as the pain intensified. She tried to breathe through the agony but her lungs were on fire. She could feel the potion eating through her stomach and racing through her bloodstream.

Her scream woke the apothecary. Stumbling upright, he and scanned the room, looking for the disturbance. Rubbing his head, he approached the cage and glanced in. He chuckled at her and said, Did I forget to mention that this takes hours. It will eat through your organs slowly, shutting them down one by one until your heart finally stops. Kopfjagger was very upset when he heard of your decision, he actually begged the Queen to reconsider. It was all very touching. He sneered, his true demeanor finally showing, and walked to his counter to finish whatever he had started as if he had never been interrupted.

Three hours later Lucia could no longer scream. Her throat was closed and it took every ounce of effect to suck in a breath every few seconds between the stabbing pains. She could feel her heart beginning to slow, as if she was slowly suffocating. With not enough oxygen it was struggling to continue, her stubborn will to live was fighting the potion and delaying the inevitable.

She was terrified now, the slow, thummmmmmp. thummmmmmmp of her heart was by far the most horrific thing she had ever experienced. It reminded her of the time she had nearly drowned. Her kidneys had already shut down and her bodily fluids had already drained from her. She had stopped sweating long ago as the dehydration settled in, sucking up every last bit of moisture she had. She dry heaved and sobbed in pain, sobs that produced no tears or sound.

Her white face slowly took on a gray pallor while her flesh had begun to sink in, making her round cheeks hollow. The skin between her knuckles had all but faded and now her hands were almost as bony as Kopfjaggers; the bones pushing up against the sunken grayish flesh. Another intense flash of agonizing pain wracked her weak body. She wondered briefly how bad the pain would have been without Slathers saving berries. As bad as it was now she hated to think what she would have been feeling.

She concentrated on her heart beat. Thump.thump.thump.thummp.. thummmmp.. Thummmmmmmmmmmmp.. Thummmmmmmmmmmmmp. Her breathing became shallow, her vision blurred. Thummmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmp. .. Thummmmmmmmmm . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . She closed her eyes and a thin sigh escaped, then blackness and the final interrupted beat of her heart began, and never finished. Her last thought was of Kopfjagger and that they would now be together for as long as the undead could walk Azeroth.

End of Kopf's Story Book 25
[<---Book 24] [Book 26--->]

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