4/23/2009

Moira

I wrote this, intending to submit it to Blizz's story contest. However, it was literally half the needed minimum length. Fluffing it up didn't feel right. So, I submitted nothing. Still, here is this.

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Moira lifted her face to the steeple of the Northshire Abbey. It was years ago - when she was a girl, living and breathing - the last time she'd seen this place. The memories were hazy now, like the memory of a book read as a child, but she remembered sneaking off of the grounds and heading to the front, to help the citizens of the beleaguered towns of Lordaeron. That was how she'd become part of the Scourge; her body was tossed into a mass grave with hundreds of others who had been killed in Arthas' purging of Stratholme, only to rise days later enslaved to the will of Ner'zhul. Her flesh had rotted, her eyes were gone. The 'gift' of the Scourge allowed her to see without sight, but her face was bound, covering the decaying caverns of her eye sockets.

Moira was blind. Like many of the Forsaken, she had not risen as one of the Scourge until she had already begun to rot. The guards in Elwynn Forest did not know this, and dressed in her Death Knight regalia, none could tell she was Forsaken. A human name, knowledge of where she was going, it was all enough to give her safe passage to and through the gates of the Abbey.

She lifted a gloved hand to touch those worn leather straps, but her fingers met the faceplate of her helm. Thanks to King Varian's decree all Death Knights that were freed due to Tirion's confrontation with the Lich King were to be treated as allies. Now she stood before the doors to the Abbey she'd dwelled in as a child, waiting for a priestess to grant her audience.

===

"Mary?"

Mary placed a finger on the page of the book before her, offering a smile to the young acolyte standing in the library's doorway. "Yes, Thomas?"

"There is a Death Knight here to see you. I made her wait at the gates. She would not give a name, except one she said is your father's."

Her lips pursed and color drained from Mary's face as she closed the tome. "Tell me what name she gave?"

"Alaric."

"Bring her to me."

===

The halls were much the same as they had been when she was younger. It had barely been more than a decade, hadn't it? Moira found herself wondering, but not caring. These memories were more of a mental exercise, lacking any sentimentality. She was here for one reason and one alone.

The acolyte led her to one of the smaller libraries, holding the door open for her. She stepped inside and nodded to the boy before turning to look over the room. As her eyes came to rest on the priestess sitting at the table in the center of the room, she heard the door close behind her.

"Please, come in and have a seat. You may remove your helm, Knight. Though I understand you do not require air to breathe, it cannot be pleasant to be so confined all the time." The priestess's voice was soft and kind, but tight with wariness.

"Swear on your father's grave you will not call for the guardsmen." Moira's voice was hollow within the helm, hissing through the dryness of her throat and lips.

Mary folded her hands, resting them in her lap, "You've my word."

Moira slowly raised the helm from her head. Strands of dry, dirty, blood-caked hair fell loose around her shoulders. The glow of undeath leaked from behind the leather straps across her face. She waited for the priestess's reaction, one hand resting on the hilt of the blade at her hip.

Her voice was tight, when she spoke, "What are you doing here, Forsaken?"

"You do not recognize your own sister?" There was amusement and malice in Moira's words, but also a measure of sadness.

"Moira..." There was a thud as the priestess fell to the floor. She'd fainted.

===

Moira paced as she spoke. "...I didn't care about anything anymore. Sylvanas said we were free, but what is the difference between a prison of the soul and mind, and a prison of the flesh? I was still trapped in this, this carcass. When the second Plague came, Arthas’ this time, even we Forsaken were not immune. He, his commanders, they all delighted particularly in the Forsaken that fell and were reborn as his Death Knights. Another prison, this one worst than the first. It was not like the first time, where I felt I was trapped in a nightmare from which I could not wake. No, this time, I slaughtered Crusaders and peasants alike and I enjoyed it. It made the pain stop, it made everything stop. There was only killing, only serving Arthas’ will. When we besieged Light’s Hope, Tirion and Arthas faced one another. I exalted and despaired – no matter the outcome, I would be a prisoner. I would still be denied the peace of our mother and father. I would be trapped in this husk. Though it does not decay any longer, I am reminded of what I have lost at every turn. Your robes, priestess, are they soft? The wine in your glass, is it sweet? I cannot feel touch, I cannot taste, I cannot smell the air, I cannot even see the way you do, the way I once did. I cannot feel the world; I cannot feel anything but this loathing, this hatred, this despair. I can remember feeling. Is that not ironic? The memory of sadness, of loss, of love. I have it, and it is poignant, but it means so little. It is like remembering the emotion of a character in a play. You remember the tears, you remember why they were hurt, but you weren’t them, you can’t feel it. All is ash and sawdust, and I hate it."

Mary took a slow and deep breath. This was her sister, this twice Plagued Death Knight sitting on the bench next to her. She didn't smell, as Mary had thought she might, of rotting flesh and disease. She smelled dusty, of long empty tombs and forgotten ruins. If she looked closely, she could see how the Death Knight before her resembled her sister, as she was in life. They looked very alike, the two sisters, and Mary gazed into what she knew could be a mirror. If the Plague had taken her instead, if she had died, this is what she would look like. Nausea swept over her again.

"I came here to ask one thing of you, my sister."

"What is it?" Mary barely managed to whisper the words. She still felt lightheaded and feared she would faint again. Light or not, if she were prone and helpless, this Death Knight who was no longer truly her sister could easily dispatch her.

"I want you to release me."

"Release...?" Mary blinked in surprise and sat up straighter. "Kill you, you mean? I can't do that. You're my sister! My... my last living relative?"

Moira rose to her feet, drawing the sword from her belt. "Living? LIVING?! You call this living?!" She drew the blade across her own throat. No blood spilled from the wound, only a ferrous dust. "This is not living, little sister. This is a hell unlike any you've known. If you have any love for the person I used to be, for the sister you lost, you will kill me. Release me from this husk, from this torture." Moira went to one knee before Mary, a Priestess of the Light, and once upon a time her baby sister. "Please."

Though her sister's eyes were long gone, and the sockets covered, Mary could feel Moira's pleading gaze. "H-how?"

"The Light. If nothing else in this world is good or right and I know nothing is, then the Light must be able to set me free. Burn me with it, cleanse me with it. I do not care how much it may hurt, or how long it may take. I only want freedom, Mary, freedom. I want to die."

===

The guardsmen came into the library at the priestess's call. On the floor at her feet laid a Forsaken Death Knight.

"Priestess, how...?"

"It is not important, Martin. Please, this woman needs a proper burial. I will provide all the information to Brother Neal, but for now, will you please remove her body?" Mary walked past the dumbstruck guardsmen, who were still trying to figure out how a Forsaken had gotten into the Abbey, and paused at the door, "Please, treat her with respect. She was my sister."

===

The funeral for Moira Elias was a quiet affair held on the grounds of the Abbey. The coffin was carried by four soldiers sent from Stormwind, with the Priestess Mary Elias leading the procession to Goldshire. A grave was dug, and Moira was finally laid to rest between her mother and father.

===

It was raining. The coffin creaked under the weight of wet earth. Inside, Moira stirred.

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