The Old Bull Fades

Storyline: 
Other characters: 

The sky burst open and a hellish green-black disk whirled into being over the Barrens. A floating obelisk descended from the burnt clouds into view, fel fire twisted through its mechanical veins as destruction rained over the dry grasslands. Where the bolts hit, the ground burned and green glow shone on the hills and trees.

As demons poured in from their meteoric assault, they erected gates and portals to other worlds and flooded the realm with their hordes. Red banners rose up in defense, and even some knights in blue erupted from the forests to the north. The Horde and a few stray Alliance rallied to fend off the invaders.

A pair stood on a mountainside overlooking the carnage, only undecipherable orcish commands could be heard above the modulated clashes of metal. The largest of the two hefted a massive elementium scythe from the ground. “Time to go back.”

“No! I want to watch, uncle,” the smaller figure said. Her clawed fingers curved over her brow to shield the hell-glow from the sky and improve her view. The larger, snorted and reached out with a black, furred hand. “Now, Rithlana, this is the third assault today… We know the outcome.”

“Maybe this time, they’ll break the Horde…” She said with a spiteful glare as tendrils of shadow whirled over her fingers.

“Maybe,” her uncle said with a bullish snort, “but either way, this is not our fight. Come, Awakorwi and your sister await us.” And he turned to leave.

“What will we do if the Legion attacks us?”

“They don’t know or care that we exist.”

“What about the City? Does the Family still stand? Is Ahn'Qiraj under attack?”

“I do not know, Rithlana. Only that your father told me to hold the Title and you in the shadows until you were ready.”

The sinuous “elf” silently relented and followed, her gaze continually returning to that warzone behind her, just out of view.

At the camp, her sister, just like her in every way, except more pathetic, was stirring some melted meat in a pot. A tauren so old his black fur had greyed so far to be nearer white sat curled up in a thick hide blanket and shivered at the entrance of his tent.

“Father,” Crag said. “How are you feeling?”

“Dead… S-s-son.” He sniffed sharply at Crag, and the scythe he held. “W-what does the battle look like?” He glanced up in the wrong direction with cloudy eyes.

“The Horde is feeling pain and blooded this day. No doubt their victories feel hollower by the hour.” This brought a smile to the old bull’s lips. “I have a favor to ask you, son… Come closer.” He whispered out of earshot of Rithlana who approached her sister.

While Rithlana was lithe, angular and blonde with a face to match her unwilling mother, Nukore was softer, quieter, and dark haired, like her mother. Despite her affections for her older sister, Rithlana felt superior to her in virtually every way.

“What are we eating tonight, Nicky?”

“Same thing as usual, Lala: Windstrider Stew.”

“Ugh. Don’t you wish we could explore the tastes of the world? I want some fruit, dammit.” Rithlana muttered and collapsed back down to a log next to her sister. “When I’m Apophan, nothing is going to hold me back from taking anything I want.”

Nukore sighed at the complaint she’d heard a thousand nights before. They both jumped to their feet when they heard Awakorwi gag out his last bloody breath as Crag removed the Scythe blade from his father’s throat.

Nukore threw the spoon of the stew aside and rushed over to the dying old bull and cradled his head. “No no no no no…. WHY?!” She demanded with tears down her cheeks and hatred in her eyes at Crag. Rithlana stood near the pot, watching, as she’d noticed the unseen magic pouring out with Awakorwi’s blood.

“Because he felt that he would be needed later.” And gripped Nukore by the mane and tossed her back towards Rithlana. With a cutting knife in hand, Nukore lunged forward only to be locked in place by her sister. “Wait! Nicky… Watch. Don’t you see it?”

“See what? I only see a murderer!”

“You don’t see the shadows peeling off of Grandpa?”

Nukore blinked, “No…” Rithlana eased her grip when Nukore stopped resisting. Crag gripped his father’s lifeless throat and pulled nothing from it that slowly coalesced into twining strands of magic before two yellow eyes appeared and it seemed to “harden” into a serpentine shape that Nukore could finally see. The new shadow serpent lashed itself around the Scythe of Apophan instinctively.

“Korr…” said Crag, with hollowness to his voice. The shadow serpent glanced up and nodded.

Rithlana finally let her sister go and snorted. “Uncle,” she finally said. “If you die, would you want to become like that?”

Crag regarded Rithlana a moment.

“Yes.”

The daughter of Awakanka steeled herself.

“I challenge you as the Apophan.”

Nukore leapt out of the way just in time to avoid the downswing of the Scythe towards Rithlana.