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Meet Anthalos

by Anthalos

This would break my heart if I still had one. The killing of a Night Elf, my enemy, my kin, should evoke something in me. I know I should remember how to grieve for him, but I can’t seem to. The Wretched should move me, for I am so near them in desperation, but they do not. I stand apart from myself and look down upon my deeds as if they were someone else’s and feel nothing. I look down upon this dying Night Elf and I wish I still knew how to mourn.

I was one of them once, not even that long ago. All Blood Elves are the stray children of Night Elves, whether they choose to believe it or not. I had no idea the Highborne’s journey into exile so long ago had lead them to found a new civilization. But I should have. I should have guessed that the madness and arrogance that drove them… that drove us to defile the Well of Eternity and try to summon the demon Sargeras, would drive the unrepentant onward.

I was not one of them, not then. In the sheer horror of the Sundering I awoke. I saw my folly and the lives and lands it ruined. I had no choice for a woman tried to kill me the second I crawled bleeding onto the shores of what was now Kalimdor. I knew I would marry her one day. I knew that a life lived, as it should have been, without the corruption of the arcane, was the only redemption for my crimes, for my part in the ruin of the world.

But that was ten thousand years ago. And for so long change was slow and sweet as I did marry that murderously grief-stricken priestess, and we had a family. I hunted in the woods, providing for family and village, grateful for a second chance. The water of the Moonwells suppressed my thirst for magic and my simple life was as a softly running stream, compared to the clamorous and powerful waterfall it had been when I wrought magic with the Highborne.

Time has a way of speeding up and slowing down at the whim of one’s spirit. And those years went by more quickly than one would think. Of my sons I know little, for I was hard on them, more than I should have been. It took a daughter to blunt the edge of my addiction and the ill temper it aroused. Her name was T’shera, a word that in the lost tongue the most ancient Highborne herbalists means “the first flower of Spring.” And that she was, for my hope for the future and ability to nurture it were reborn with her.

Then one day after thousands of years of peace and happiness, I was inexplicably stricken with the pangs of magical hunger I had so long suppressed. It had arisen now and then over the centuries, but never this badly. I couldn’t figure out where I was or what was happening and I was plagued by the same nightmares that had haunted me in the days of the war. Dark and terrible visions laughed at me from behind my eyes and told me they were coming for me and my family and all who stood in the way. I warned the Elders. I told them the demons were back and were coming. But they didn’t believe me until the foul things were on our doorstep. Who was I but that crazy old arcanist with another flashback? I was one of the few who hadn’t been exiled since I had forsaken magic utterly and railed against those who still practiced it.

What followed is difficult to remember because my mind was such chaos. I know that my wife was killed in almost the first volley. In my anguish I couldn’t recall where my daughter was and I have a vague notion of searching frantically, but the barrow dens were empty. She had become a druid, not by choice, but by force although she embraced it. Somehow I found she had been sent into battle. I think I killed someone over that, but I can’t recall fully. What I do know is that I forced myself up Mount Hyjal to find her. What hope did I have of rescuing her in my weakened state? I don’t know. I wasn’t relying on good sense. But I did find her thanks to the help of some short, stocky, ruddy beings that seemed to know her. Oh yes, dwarves. I’ve just found out what they are.

In the end, I simply followed the flames. The great burning of land and noise and the screams were guideposts in and of themselves. I came to a ridge upon which the dwarves had created a barrier of metal things that moved and shot flame. I thought it was magic and was afraid they might make T’shera use magic as well. This thought was as terrifying as her being in danger from the demons and I grew frantic in my efforts to find her. I think I helped them because I slew several demons looking for her. But it’s possible that I slew a few of the dwarves. I simply can’t be sure of who and what was before me. Blood and flame and the pain mingled to the point of blinding me.

Time can also stop. And it did in the moment that I felt the tranquil energy of druidic healing wash over me. My sight cleared and the pain subsided. I knew this must be from my daughter and I turned to see her standing a ways off, bolstering the league of dwarves around her. My cleared senses perceived the ground shaking and I looked up to see a demon of immense size, as red as living blood, bearing down upon them. I screamed her name. I tried to run toward her, but I could not move fast enough. I watched the demon swing a hideous axe, barbed and poisonous, toward them. I think I was still screaming when the axe buried itself in her back. I’m not sure when I stopped screaming, but I know I ran to her and lifted her head. Her eyes were wide open and staring, but her blood was all over the ground. I think I slipped in it because I fell flat, crushed by the weight of her loss, by my hunger, and paralyzed by the sound of the demon’s laughter.

And so as this Night Elf lies bleeding, breathing his last, I can only give him a nod, some small gesture of understanding. He came here to root out the arcane curse that lies upon the Blood Elves, that afflicts the children of his race. He was doing the right thing. But I am not. Not yet. I am An’thalos Nightwhisper. And there is no murder I will not commit to avenge my child. When the wind shrieks through an empty Nether in which no demon moves in or out of it, and the Blood Elves starve for the lack of energy, then will I join my wife and child in the only place fit for me: death.

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