Altherion

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Ark's cigarette started to singe his finger as he realized he had allowed it to burn to the nub again. With a curse, he flicked it to the side, hoping no one else in the Stormwind Cathedral noticed as the grey ash stained the nearly glowing marble.

Well, it might stain, but at least it wasn't as disruptive as this damned racket. He stood in the central, wide hall of the holy building, where pews had been pushed aside to block the doorways to the crypts. The front door was mostly barred by wooden pallets, a deterrent from the demon they were about to unleash. A Redblade flag, the banner of those who were sponsoring this event, hung against the door frame. The altar where the most holy of baptisms occurred was left in place, however, even a matter as pressing as this could not stop decades of tradition.

Five pillars flanked the central walkway on either side, made of the same radiant marble. The floor between them was a rich shade of blue, outlined with a golden trim, as beautiful as the stained glass windows of the place. The room, for all the Light that poured in, was oddly dark. The candelabra that accompanied the pillars were left in storage today, their flames extinguished. Numerous altar boys, Priests and Paladins had also had the day off, the group paid their weight in gold for the support given.

Instead of the usual pacifist workers, there stood Ark and his allies. The Corsair was bearing an ugly brown armor, made to look like a Nerubian carapace. With either hand, he bore two small handguns, made for six quick shots that would allow for easy reloading. With him and the other Redblades were the few vengeful Surwich sailors left, as well as hired mercenaries, the majority of which were Paladins. In addition, the captured Quartermeraster, Rosepha Anderson, was with the group, there to watch the death of her Master in an attempt to free her mind.

In truth, she was the real reason Ark wanted this. The vengeance was fine, yes, but if he could help her even slightly... The Hunter cast a sad glance at the woman, allowing it to linger before he looked forward again.

The light of the room was blocked out further as clouds continued to move in. They had chosen this day not for additional Light, but for less of it, the more likely their enemy would take the bait. As Ark loaded a few shots into the chambers of his guns, he let out a sigh and looked over his allies.

A magical rune continued to glow in the increasing dismal weather, set to help the Admiral with his portal. It hummed a glowing shade of purple, similar to the marks left on the Northern Sea. This place of worship was also about to become a battleground.

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Cyllos looked upon the fine collection of Paladins and Priest among them. A portion of them being Draenei, as Cyllos Requested. He had no doubts of the faith of the other paladins in the squadron, but he felt that his people were the best among their belief in the light in his opinion. He raises his voice over them, " Alright , I want you all to be on your guard. I shall keep the Death Knight at bay, everyone here shall be the last line of defense in case I fail. If things go sour, and they most likely will, you are to do your best to either destroy him, or push him out of the city." He gazes at the Light Users, " This man has killed many innocents, and many of our brothers of the light. No matter what happens, he must pay for his crime. But above all else, your safety comes before his demise. Is that clear?" Squadron shouts in agreement . He nods at them and heads inside the cathedral.

He looks among the people inside, he nods to Ark to signal that he was satisfied with this plan. Before he gave the command to start the ritual, his eyes fell upon rosepha and his determined grin fell to a frown. He shook his head," Admiral, begin the ritual." He unsheathe his axe and puts on his helmet, he was giving no chances.

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Evellin leaned quietly against a wall, behind the small army of paladins and other Light-lovers who were gathered around. Her armor, unlike the usual black, was a generic silver trimmed with blue; she didn't want to attract much attention, especially in a place like this.

Ah, the Cathedral.

It was a smart battleground, on the one hand. Instead of entering Altherion's territory, they would be dragging him to theirs, and he would have the field disadvantage. Or at least, that was the idea; Eve felt the buzz of Light in the air, down to her core, and it was deeply uncomfortable. Still...

There was a graveyard behind the Cathedral, and crypts within its belly. An orphanage was just down the steps and to the left. Innocent people for whom Stormwind was their home. Civilians, the unarmed, merchants and traders.. children.

A smart battleground, but a reckless and irresponsible one. Evellin grit her teeth, resting her wrist on the hilt of her arming sword. If these paladins thought this a good idea, they were in for a rude awakening. The very least she could do was save them from themselves...

...and then probably get insulted and banished from sight, or something. She shrugged to herself, and waited.

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"Such pointless vengeance from zhese greedy, bloodtiiirsty, unforgiiiving, non-trusting, mongrels! For zhem to defy MY sacrfices to keep Azeroth safe, just because ZHEY tiiink zhey know better! Zheir mad drive toward revenge, to ze point of puttin our new, innocent recruits in harms vay!

Fel and Arcana curse zhem all!"

But Admiral Tuuroto would never utter these true feelings aloud to Ark, Cyllos, Eve, and the other Redblades who've pledged themselves to finishing the battle that started in Icecrown several weeks ago.

These were the emotions running through the Draenei's head as he was regrettably conjuring the portal that would eventually bring the Altherion to Stormwind. Amdist a sudden, strobe-like flash, the portal emerged in the Cathedral.

"Zhere, it is done. I vash my 'ands of zhis."

Without a second's delay Tuuroto would cast greater invisibility on himself, leaving his revenge driven associates to the dirty work.

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The magic brace around Rosepha's ankle was made to slow her movement and keep her within city bounds. She had cleaned up since being allowed this step toward freedom, her maroon hair chopped short and brushed out and her skin a pale version of her usual caucasian tone rather than the previous black of grime and dried blood. Her hands moved around in her pants pockets. She wore this loose-fitting cloth clothing since she wasn't allowed armor. The girl fidgeted, unsure and anxious.

Half a year she was a minion of the death knight, forced to obey through means of torture and manipulation. She mercilessly slayed children and other innocents, attacked the people she loved most, crippled herself, and even helped to destroy her own town, all by the command of her master. Rose had admitted and owned up to these crimes, giving hope to some and angering others even more, but the decision to help the girl was the majority vote.

Rosepha caught a glance out of the corner of her eye and shot one back at Ark. He was the main cause of her signs of sanity and the reason she was able to venture out of the brig. But, they sought to summon her master. Ex-master? She attempted to take a deep breath, but the air came out shaky, announcing her anxiety to those nearby.

Tuuroto conjured the portal. She held her breath.

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In the thin space between the higher levels of the cathedral and glowing roof, the portal slithered into existence. The lighting of the room would flicker a deep shade of violet, and anyone who gazed up would see a distorted image of Netherstorm, as well as the ship that had been Vennathros and Altherion's purgatory. Behind them, the twisted lines of the Nether floated in the darkness. Inside the darkened Cathedral, one might mistake it for night with all of the additions, from the wooden boards to the massive spell.

A defile spell began to seek in through the portal, the tendrils of unholy magic winding their way down, grasping at the edges of the portal to keep it open. There was a constant shrieking noise from the loss of oxygen and organic matter into the voidspace, but the spell maintained long enough for the sound of a cannon to tear through.

One of the harpoon guns on the ship fired, the final tether between this world and the one in the portal. The spiked end stabbed into the wall of the Cathedral, a long chain from behind it holding it in place. Two more were launched, forming a thin framework as Altherion struggled to maintain Tuuroto's portal through brute force, even if the Admiral tried to end it.

The next thing that would be dropped onto Azeroth was a certain undead, Vennathros ushered forward by his master.

Ark took a step back, behind one of the pillars, handgun raised to fire at whatever came.

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Leaning against one of the benches outside of the chapel, a few dozen feet from the entryway, Tesia watches the entry with an unbreakable stare. Her 'bow' was already in her left hand, but she did not carry any arrows with her today, realizing how pointless that would be. All she could do now was wait for this utterly foolish plan to begin.

Thoughts were racing through her mind as she awaited the death knight's exit. Fear caused her upper body to shake every few seconds; doubt was causing her to rethink her presence. What she planned to do was something that should never be done in such a populated area... or ever, for that matter. But if it ended this here, then it would be worth it, no matter the cost to herself. She realized how foolish she was being, and she doubted that the others would trust her after this, but she wasn't going to see her friends die, as she looked on helpless. Not again.

The first thing she had told the Stormwind guard near her was to stay away once she engaged Altherion, and had already warned the Redblades of the same.

And so she waited, thinking of the incantation's first word until it was etched into her mind.

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As Vennathros landed on the solid stone of the Cathedral floor, he held out a hand towards the living, as if to ask for help. A staggered step forward was met with a burst of fire from the archers and magic from the Paladins, though it was futile as the undead let out a mechanical groan. As the damned minion moved closer, it seemed to seek out Rosepha. His broken eyes looked into hers, aiming to warn her of his fate. After all, he had been a loyal minion. And this was the gift he received. The explosive planted within the flesh of his chest went off, shattering the stained glass windows and launching a thick cloud of purple smoke.

Unholy magic flowed out of the broken windows, past the defensive position Tesia had taken. Shards of glass now littered the steps leading into the cathedral. Altherion had killed his most loyal pawn just for a theatrical entrance.

Ark had noticed as the creature made towards his friend, and now stood between her and the thick cloud of smoke. Even as the Redblades readied their arms, the portal above snapped shut. The unholy chains fell, dangling from their broken locations on the ceiling. The smoke cleared as Altherion's remorseless winter lowered the temperature of the room, and he strode forward, axe at the ready. He was obscured by the wind and magic that flew about him in quick revolutions, rendering several of his enemies ranged weapons useless for a time.

The Hunter Ark took a few shots at the Death Knight, but they were harmlessly sucked into the whirlwind of magic. Altherion held his axe with both hands as he looked at two living in particular, Evellin and Eleven.

"Minion. Serve your Master." He called to Rosepha.

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Ark had blindly stepped in front of Rosepha. She lowered her gaze. Ark would hear the sound of a click as a pistol was pressed to the back of his head.

"At your beck and call, m'lord."

Her finger played with the trigger. Her face was blank, emotionless.

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Altherion would then charge forward, Ark dragged from Rosepha's grip as the cursed blade broke through his sternum. There was no vague monologue or speech, instead, he finally took action.

Such force was put behind the charge that Ark was slammed against one of the Cathedral pillars, impaled between it and the axe that ripped through his vital organs. The Hunter, in his confused state, slipped his handguns into their holsters, watching the Death Knight in front of him through his death convulsions. Blood stained Eleven from where it had splashed out of her friend, the floor from where he had been flung to, and the axe that ended his life.

Altherion growled with pride at the death of his enemy, before he turned to regard the rest. He didn't bother claiming his blade, believing himself strong enough to defeat them without it. He was now without his power source, and in a place of the Light. The magic that flowed around him ceased as he began to grow weakened from the location. Altherion, in his arrogance, didn't bother to notice this. He glared at Evellin. "Come, then, Raventy. Let us finish this."

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Rosepha looked to the death of her friend with little interest. She cracked her neck and rolled her shoulders, but then something flickered within her. She blinked. She blinked a few more times, then gagged. Ark... what... what has she done?

Tears streamed down her face.

She couldn't take this anymore.

The bang of her pistol echoed throughout the Cathedral.

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As the bullet tore through his shoulder plate and out the other side of his arm, Altherion paused to eye it. He had been...assaulted? By one of his own? Not Ranavos or Evellin. Not even Jitters, whose madness was understandable. So lowly a Minion that this one still drew breath!?

He whipped about, arm hanging limply at his side. "You...shall be punished." He murmured, the light magic continuing to dampen his strength. He took a step towards the Quartermaster, Evellin kept to his peripheral, though his lust for vengeance outweighed the threat he sensed approaching. With his good arm, he reached for Rosepha.

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"Coward," Evellin muttered as she watched Tuuroto leave. She made no move to depart herself, eyes turning to the portal and beings that stepped forth.

Two of them.

The minion's explosion shook her, though it was a tactic she'd seen before; frost enveloped her and pushed outward, minimizing any rubble or glass that would find its way clattering against her armor. It was simply one less problem to deal with. Smoke poured into the room, discolored by the magic that fueled it. She held her breath, but she did not have to breathe.

One down.

Evellin drew her sword finally; the blade shone with a finishing gloss she'd applied shortly before with a careful hand. Years of living with a rogue had taught her a few things of their art; applying poison to a weapon was one of them. What was poisonous to the dead?

Her eyes glowed brighter as more frost clung to her like a second skin, hissing faintly with her movements. She grit her teeth sharply, watching Ark meet his end. She felt no pity for him; only for those gathered who were now fighting for their very lives, based on the whims of a few cowardly dogs who'd never taken her advice on the threat they now faced.

Two down.

She didn't expect those gathered to put their friend down; Rosepha would be the next threat. As Altherion turned to face Evellin, the female Death Knight braced herself for combat, knowing full well that another bullet could be coming her way. She bared her teeth like a wolf asserting dominance, right as the gunshot rang in the air.

Eve paused, surprised as the bullet made its mark not on her, but on Altherion; already the Death Knight was turning away. Vlynor had taught her well. Not to waste an opportunity; not to shy from any kill.

Three down.

Without notice, the arming sword found its mark in Altherion's back, cracking through a weak point in the breastplate. The blade, coated in a drying layer of holy water, twisted cruelly in the flesh; it was not meant to cause pain in this unholy being, so much as it was to render the organs of the corpse he possessed useless, to rip his belly open and spread the poison, and innards, as far as they would go.

"Yes," Eve snarled. "Let us finish this."

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Even as Altherion fell from the lethal wound inflicted on him, his body rapidly decayed. A mixture of the arcana that had burned within him, as well as the unholy magic that was eating away at his body since his rise to undeath, suddenly burst outwards. In the calm that followed, an empty set of armor hit the floor at Ark's feet. It steamed with the light, tearing at the saronite that formed it.

The Death Knight had vanished not with an explosion, as he so often predicted, but with an oddly soft whisper. One that might seem too easily carried out by those who witnessed it.

But there was another effect of his demise, as a hand gripped the hilt of the axe within the felled Hunter. Ark, risen to undeath by the way he had been killed, tugged the blade from his flesh. He fell to the marble floor like a freshly born animal, unsure how to crawl, much less walk. Several chunks of his torn flesh lined the floor beside him as he scooped up Altherion's armor, putting it on over himself. He didn't quite know why he lusted after it; he told himself it was to hide his shame.

Looking at the assembled through his freshly glowing eyes, he was still blinded with confusion. Like a cornered animal, he chose flight instead of fighting. Pushing aside those gathered to stop Altherion, Ark wouldn't register the frozen walls he erected to keep the others out. He barely understood how he was "alive", much less how any of this magic worked.

His boots crunched away at the glass on the cathedral steps, and to Tesia, it might seem Altherion had emerged from the crowd. After all, Ark now bore his tattered armor, weapon, and racial build. He tried to shout her name, to warn her of who he was, but instead, it came out as a cold stare. Ark couldn't even figure out how to speak.

He held a hand before him, wanting to find shelter from this madness, but instead, he found himself falling through a Death Gate.

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Rose collapsed to the floor as she cried. The price to finally be free of her master was the death of her best friend. She buried her face in her lap, hunched over and huddled, sobbing loudly. Her pistol dangled in her hand; his blood stained her clothes. She didn't notice the man begin to move beside her until he was gone, a corpse that resembled Altherion running away. She gasped as she caught sight of him. Massive confusion struck her. She moved to follow, but her legs dragged like running through water. The magic brace at her ankle hummed.

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When Altherion came through the portal in his theatrical entrance he had formed from his follower's body, Cyllos gave out the order through his radio, " Do it now!" All of the Light Wielders outside and inside the cathedral had started charging the light from their bodies into the holy ground, noticeably the light had taken effect on Altherion.

Cyllos lifted his axe to charge at altherion, but before he even got close to him ark was slain to the ground. He shouted, "ARK!" He looked at rose and then to altherion. At first glance he figured Rosepha had betrayed the redblades all over again, but somehow she managed to fight Altherion's call. He attempted to charge at him again but a gunshot shot at him next. Everything was happening so fast and oddly effectively, it made cyllos Head spin and confused him.

He decided from that after his vision went blurry from so many emotions to take time and recollect himself. He kneeled down and charged the light into the ground beneath him, giving the extra push for Eve to slay the beast.

It was done, they had slain the evil that tainted so many lives and given him so much strife . When he looked up he saw Ark seemingly alive, or...No, it seems ark was raised into undeath. He got up from his kneeling position and attempted to check on him of his well being. But in no time at all, he put on Altherion's armor and dashed through the door keeping everyone away from him. It now made sense to him, ark had turned into a Death Knight.

Cyllos sighed rubbing his face , on one hand there were still two possible Death Knights out there. The other, they had killed Altherion once and for all. Or did they?

He couldn't shake this odd feeling that he had missed something important, how did ark raise into Undeath? Who shot the gun? And most importantly, why did that went way better than expected? Perhaps he was disappointed on who slew his old Friend, but he felt something in his gut that was telling him that was way to easy for someone who gave them so much trouble.

One way or another, Altherion Dead or incapacitated. He knew one thing for sure, this wasn't the end of this. Far from it, this was only just the beginning, and Cyllos had a feeling that they were all going to be in this hell for much longer . And he opened the gates.

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After sensing the magical presence inside the chapel, Tesia had forced herself to stay put, knowing she would be of far more use outside the holy grounds than in. Even then, she had placed the hilt of the bow-shaped rune weapon over her left hand, connecting with her wrist, and allowed the cloth of the connected blades to wrap around wrist and arm, and freeze over in preparation. When the undead had emerged, however, she had hesitated. Something had seemed wrong in their appearance.. their demeanor. They hadn't attacked right away, nor said anything, which was how she expected them to react to her presence. What else had there been to do in that situation? But all they had done was flee.

That had surprised her, something she had tried to make impossible in the current situation. But in case it was a trap, she reaches underneath her armor, pulling out a small, silver necklace that glowed a faint blue, removing it over her head carefully. Her eyes begin to take on their true, icy-blue color, and she feels the curse's presence begin to surface in her mind. She hopes that it was truly over now, unsure how to feel about the prospect of having to hunt again.

Left with no enemy to slay, Tesia begins taking long strides towards the chapel, detaching the weapon from her wrist as she moved forwards, wondering what in the fel had happened.

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