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Redstone approached the group of Embraced members, their faces hidden by their shadowed hoods and the canopy of trees that smothered Feralas like a plague. The ex-Dwarf grimaced within his thick helmet, at the cawing of exotic birds, and the soft crashing of waves upon the shore.

He stepped between two cultists, who turned out to be Yebern and Gutzy. Redstone nodded grimly to the group, who acknowledged his arrival in turn. His visage scared them, and he liked it. None of them would dare raise a hand against him, in fear of losing it, along with their life.

Then Nirofen stepped forward, Azeera watching him grimly, her face one of dark, brooding anger. Redstone peered sideways at her, his head facing Nirofen. 'What in the Shadows' name is wrong with her?', he thought. He pondered this, whilst Nirofen acquired about their progress regarding the University of Dalaran, and their operations in Azshara. Redstone barely listened, the reason for Azeera's dark expression gnawing at his mind.

"Redstone, pay attention!" Nirofen was looking right at him. Redstone blinked, and looked at him, tilting his head slightly. The gnome sighed, grooming his beard with an exasperated look as he glared at him. "Do you have anything of interest to report from Azshara? You are the most senior member on site, after all."

Redstone paused a moment. "We were assaulted by a man in a pair of red goggles. We slew him, but he turned to ash and blew away as he died." The Reaver nodded, assuring Nirofen that that was it. The gnome's long moustache twitched, and he frowned at Redstone.

Nirofen peered around, in case anyone had anything else to say. After a moment or two, he concluded, "Very well. If that is all, then you may return to your duties. May the Shadows gui-"

"Wait." Azeera stepped forward next to Nirofen, her eyes locking onto Redstone, who glared back defiantly. Nirofen peered at her, slightly offended due to her interruption, but stayed quiet as he saw her stony expression.

"You thought you could hide your true colours. You thought you could fool us all with your false loyalty, your services to us. No one infiltrates the Dark Embrace, and lives to tell the tale." She glared right at Redstone as she spoke, who glanced around, looking more than a little confused.

Everyone's heads turned his way. He looked at them all in turn, his stance becoming defensive, as weapons were drawn, and balls of fire and shadow spawned in the hands of a few.

"Redstone, your treachery has been revealed." Azeera took a step forward, but not drawing her swords. A wry smirk flickered at the side of her mouth. "Prepare to die."

"No... this is a lie!" Redstone roared, as he rediscovered his voice. He took a step towards Azeera, his fists clenched. Several members took up defensive stances. "How DARE you accuse me, you silver-tongued, corpse-bloated, backstabbing wench!" Azeera merely smirked back at him, her arms folded.

Redstone could contain himself no longer. He surged forward, drawing his fist back, and smashed it into the side of Azeera's face. Many of the Embrace took panicked steps forward, but did not engage him. The Matriarch's neck gave off a satisfying crack, as she stumbled back, and onto the ground. Umbert took a step forward, his fists still clenched.

The sound of quiet laughter emanated from Azeera's body, as she slowly took a firm hold of her head, and twisted it back into place, before turning it quickly, her neck snapping back into place. She squinted at Umbert, her smile gone.

"Return what you said, wench, and I may consider killing you quickly. Otherwise, I will snap your neck again, and again, until I tear your head from your shoulders!" Redstone roared, raising his fist threateningly.

But then came something he did not expect. Azeera wordlessly reached inside her robes, and took out a black glowing orb: his phylactery. Redstone's fist dropped, as he stared in horrified disbelief at his incarcerated soul.

Azeera merely grinned, as she slowly turned the crystal ball in her fingers. "I have become quite a fan of chess, savage. Do you know the first rule of chess?" Redstone merely stared at her blankly, unbelieving that she had found it, let alone obtained it.

The Matriarch's smile dropped again. "Don't leave your King unprotected." And with that, she raised the phylactery above her head, and smashed it on the ground at her feet, the shattering glass sounding like a death-toll to Redstone.

He raised his arm for a moment, in a futile attempt to grab it, before the phylactery's magic broke, and he slumped to the ground under the heavy armor, his unnatural strength gone. He paused there on his hands and knees, staring at the ground, still unbelieving that he had been defeated.

Suddenly, he noticed that the fingers of his red titansteel gauntlets were turning gray at the tips, and turning to ash. His eyes widened with horror, as the infection spread to his palms, and then slowly ate it's way up his forearms. Losing his balance, he quickly slumped over, ending up on his back, unable to act due to the heavy armor that had been his guardian, and was now his tomb.

He turned his head slightly, watching the tips of his helmet's lengthy horns follow the way of his fingers, and disappear into the cool night air. The calls of the birds, and the words of the surrounding Embraced, seemed so quiet suddenly. Redstone glanced down over his chest, watching the ashes that were once his legs, float up into the air and vanish from sight.

Redstone - Umbert - felt breath moving between his lips. He was breathing again. It felt wonderful, to be alive again. He had forgotten how much he missed being alive. Able to eat, able to sleep, able to breathe, able to feel, have sex, enjoy the kill. The memories of all those feelings came rushing back, and they filled his last moments with joy.

Then, Nirofen's face, looking sorrowfully down at Redstone, said something that Umbert couldn't hear. Umbert didn't know if the gnome could see his face or not, but he smiled up at him, and uttered his last words, as he felt his heart and lungs coming to a stop, his heartbeat, so loud in his ears, slowing down, and growing faint.

"Balance... Dest'ny an'... Death." The word Death, in his own, thick Dwarven accent, was the last thing he heard, before he closed his eyes, and all was quiet.

Death. Death. Death. That word haunts me forever, in this endless sea of screaming faces and tormenting memories. Everyone I've ever killed is hear. They look upon me, and laugh. They cry, "Where is your bloodthirst now, Dwarf? Where has it gotten you?".

I cannot answer, but instead I tear my own eyes out, the pain stifling, before my sight reappears, to be greeted by their mocking faces again. The faces of the dead. The damned. They are watching.

I don't know how long I have resided here. It could be minutes, seconds, centuries, or millenia uncountable. For all I can tell, Azeroth may have crumbled to dust, the Burning Legion now just a myth to scare naughty children. The Pantheon, the gods I once believed in and cast aside, now may well be mere scattered bones and a forgotten legacy.

The human commander I slew, the captain of Westguard Keep, is here too. His fate is mine. Whenever I see his ethereal form, he is crying, every crying, but his tears are of blood, and his head is twisted at such an angle, that I want to be sick, if there was anything material of me. But I am just a ghost. Trapped here until the Shadows know when.

But if I ever get out. If I ever see the world of Azeroth again. If not so much time has passed as I may believe, and if I can act, then I know what I must do.

Matriarch Azeera will die. Then we can both suffer this eternal damnation together, and she can taste my endless suffering for herself?

She thinks herself cursed with undeath? Oh, she has been rescued from a far worse fate, beyond the doors of death.

I will make her suffer that fate.




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