Less than a week after our arrival in the Hinterlands, I was resting from injuries sustained by (in no particular order): Attempts by slimes to devour me, a dagger wound from trolls, and the concussive effects of being blinded and walking into a tree.
Although there was discontent, little had been said since our arrival. Even in the thick of our time in Silvermoon, I had not physically felt so much plotting as I did now. Perhaps it was Khairan’s training. I was marginally improving, although my technique still needed work. I would have to work on it. He had offered to help establish a cloak for the teleportation link to the Main Library – something that would certainly help. I was already beginning to run out of books. I had read all of them at least once, except the one Khairan had given me a couple of days earlier – it was delicate, a personal copy, and one I was not about to risk by reading it on excursions.
‘Y’know, your problem is not the problem, but your attitude to the problem.’
Forestfire got up from the seat beside me where I’d been ignoring his presence for the last half-hour and moved in front of me.
‘You acknowledge, therefore, that there is a problem.’ I was not in the mood for more of his insane rambling.
‘Lass, I present to you, your problem.’ He bowed. ‘I may be Undead, however I’ve got the common sense to know when a woman is hurt by the person she sees. In this case, you by me. The least I can do after last night is try to mend some wounds here and there. So take your best shots – get it off your chest.’
I wasn’t sure of his purpose, and I slammed the book shut. ‘What is it that you want me to say?’
‘Whatever it is that you’re wanting to say to me. I’m sure there’s some cauldron of hatred bubbling inside you, waiting to spill on me.’
I wasn’t about to keep it all in. ‘That after all the fuss I made about you sabotaging the Cho’thaki, you did the same thing to an elf… for what?’
He nodded calmly. ‘Let it all out.’
‘Before you got off the boat, you didn’t see Dawnlake rip the beating heart out of another elf. I was there in the Third War. I didn’t go through what you did, but it…. it brought it all back. Seeing our people – our own people – taken apart so systematically, no thought or reason. Just. Following. Orders.’ I paused. ‘And there is also the fact that we’ll all be killed on sight if anyone in Quel’thalas sees Dawnlake.’
‘I’ve no intention to let Dawnlake set foot in Quel’thalas.’
‘You did a great job of keeping her on Kalimdor!’ I was quick to retort. I was still angry that she was here at all.
He shook his head. He looked slightly embarrassed. ‘Lass, I didn’t even know she was leaving. I only got back to hear the screams of the orcs as they set sail. It was then… that I saw the failure that has become Dawnlake.’
I didn’t let up. ‘You can’t control her, just like you couldn’t control the Cho’thaki.’
‘The ones that attacked the officers were meant to fail. Amaran requested it. The stable ones are much more obedient than Dawnlake ever was. It’s the fel – I’ve spoken with Amaran, and he agrees that it needs to be stopped.’
‘No, it’s not that, it’s the fact that Dawnlake was never going to obey your orders. The Cho’thaki, willing or not, were doing it for Garrosh. Lareen, whether she did it for herself or Sorlain, was the one in control. You just made her more powerful and less likely to obey you – and you did not see this coming?!’ I felt my cheeks redden at the sudden outpouring of anger. A part of me, even if just a small one, had thought that this would happen. I did not know how, where, when, or why – but fel could not be taken likely. History should have taught Dawnlake that – but apparently her ego was too large.
‘I never saw the fel coming. Whatever I do, Lass, it never involves Fel. It’s a catalyst that is fuelling her own ego. Had she not taken it, she wouldn’t be like this.’
I didn’t believe that, and snapped back sarcastically. ‘Well, unless you plan on draining her dry, it’s too late now. The fel on her armour is self-sustaining.’
‘You can place the blame on me all you want, but at the end of the day I’m not the one who took Fel and mutated myself into an abomination.’
‘I do blame you! Because you came up with this whole thing, and now Lareen is too dangerous!’
Purple flames suddenly shot out of his hands, flickering at the air and dimming the area around us. Shadowflame. He moved closer. Was he… threatening me?
‘Look me… in the eyes… And tell me… you don’t know that she’s weak to this… tell me.’
I looked into his eyes and bit my lip, drying to avoid showing fear. ‘And how are you going to get this close to an eight-foot tall Spellbreaker?’
‘Spellbreaker? No. Drugged-up warrior – yes. I have enough knowledge to know that as a member of the living… She needs to sleep.’ He seemed to calm down, extinguishing the flames and stepping back again. ‘Lass, I’m as pissed off as you are about her. For once I ask you to take my word for it and not interrupt me. The project is obviously a failure, however it’s a failure with a large gaping hole in her side. With the single wave of a hand, it’ll become just a horrid memory on the face of Azeroth.’
He stopped, waiting for my response.
‘What do you want me to do? Stop being angry because Lareen is suddenly dead? It doesn’t change the fact that you walked into the project willingly, or that if she hadn’t taken fel you would be happy as Larry about her.’
He nodded. ‘I’m not going to stop the emotions that keep us all striving, Lass. There’s little point and it’s cruel to you. Be mad, by all means… Just know that I’m asking for some semblance of forgiveness… And that I do care. Strike back at me for this… But… my interests lie with the Sin’dorei. Perceive that as you will.’ At this, his voice seemed to soften to the point of sadness.
I couldn’t just stop being angry about this, horrified even. I wasn’t sure whether Aleck cared for the same things I did… and I wasn’t even sure that my interests laid with the Sin’dorei anymore.
‘Lareen still lives, and you gave that technology to the Warchief. I can’t change that now, but neither can you-‘
‘Do me a favour and stop jumping to conclusions, will you?’
‘Do you really think I would give Garrosh the formula to the Cho’thaki? I took that with me. The Cho’thaki are finite. I’m eccentric, not stupid.’
‘You understand that this won’t go away overnight.’
‘This hatred you hold for me? Or Dawnlake? The latter I sorely beg to differ…’
‘I have seen Dawnlake in action. Personally, I think she will be harder to get rid of than you think. But I meant the former.’
He attempted to reassure me. ‘Lass, I don’t intend for all the hatred to just dissipate overnight. I’ve earned my piece with Amaran… And I intend to do so with you. All I’m asking of you right now, is to accept that I want to make amends.’
I had nothing else to say by now. ‘… I can accept that.’
He extended his hand and I extended my own, rather reluctantly shaking hands. He nodded, and I pulled my hand back as soon as possible. Hatred or not, shaking hands with an Undead… does not bear thinking about.
‘Right then. We on less-than-stellar-but-more-than-hellish terms?’ He changed his regalia while he waited.
‘Enjoy your night, Lassie.’ He smiled. It seemed almost pained. Maybe it was hard for Undead to smile.
Afterwards, I still remained unsure. I did not want to forgive anytime soon – but what choice did I have? I had nowhere else to go.