High above the Netherstorm, Aliandra Mandar hovers, trapped inside a nether vortex. She doesn’t know how long she has been floating there. Time has no meaning to her anymore. She’s been here an eternity, slowly waiting for death to come.
The first few hours (or was it days?) she had tried to cast spells to get out of here, but that only served to tire her our more. She had no magic left, and wouldn’t be able to recover it until she got some sleep…
But if she fell asleep, she knew she wouldn’t wake up.
She had torn up her already ragged robe and bandaged the worst of her wounds, but that had been something of a curse. The winds were beginning to pick up, and the temperature was rapidly dropping.
Aliandra was curled into a ball, trying to keep warm. It didn’t help.
She silently cursed herself. If only she hadn’t used her last mana emerald in the fight against…
For a moment, she could see his demonic face leering inches from hers, taunting her.
The next few hours (or was it minutes?), she screamed curses at the Eredar that brought her here. When her voice gave out, she wept, her tears mingling with her blood.
She was drifting off to sleep when a bird call rang out, startling her. The source of the sound was a deep black raven, which was circling her slowly. Aliandra looked at the bird carefully, trying not to shiver.
A bubble of blood burst at the corner of Aliandra’s mouth. Her teeth chattered softly. “I think I’ll name you… aki…akatha …Akathisia.” She laughed weakly, and began to doze off again.
The raven swooped in suddenly, grabbing at her red hair with his beak. Aliandra jerked, shrieking, “Nonononono! Bad bird!” He flew away from her, the prized strands clasped firmly in his mouth. He dived past the clouds and out of sight.
Aliandra shouted after him, “Akathisia!” But the bird didn’t return. Frowning, she muttered, “Bad bird…” as her head lolled to the side, and sleep threatened to take her once more.
Aliandra could feel warmth returning to her limbs. She smiled through her cracked lips.
She saw a dark figure flit at the corner of her vision, heading towards her, but it was too late. She closed her eyes and entered the abyss.
In a moment that seemed to stretch for eternity, Aliandra opened her eyes. She blinked a few times, willing her body to move. When that failed, she opened her mouth to speak.
A small woman, dressed head to toe in black, stood over Aliandra, watching her silent struggles.
The woman spoke in a gentle tone, “My lady?”
“Whe…” Aliandra coughed heavily. “Where am I?”
“I’m sorry, miss. I don’t know myself.”
“Who are you?”
“I had a name once. I don’t remember it anymore.” A hint of sadness darkened her face. “I don’t remember much of anything.”
Aliandra frowned, or tried to. “Why can’t I move?”
“I’m sorry you can’t move, miss, but it’s one of a few precautions that he insisted upon. We didn’t know what state you’d be in when you woke up…if you woke up at all.”
“How long was I out?” Aliandra slurred.
“Almost a week, Lady. We’ve had to give you all our best painkillers. You were quite a mess when they brought you in. The Doctor had to do some extensive transplants to keep you alive.”
The nurse nodded slowly, then touched a control out of Aliandra’s range of vision. The bed she was lying on began to angle up with a low mechanical grinding. Aliandra’s eyes
“I’m sorry, lady. We did the best we could, but some wounds cannot be healed. There will be extensive scarring--”
Aliandra drew back in horror. Three fingers on her left hand and one on her right were a mottled grey, and sewn to the normal part of her hands. Her legs and feet were covered by a sheet, but she feared more of the same awaited there. Gathering her thoughts, she whispered, shocked, “Who is the doctor that did this?”
“Why, Doctor Krastinov, of course. He’s our resident surgeon.”
Aliandra blinked, thinking she had not heard the nurse right, and asked, “Doctor Theolen Krastinov?”
The nurse nodded eagerly. “Mmhmm! He was teleported up from the Scholomance especially for you.”
Reacting to Alia’s horrified face, the nurse asked, “Is something wrong, miss?”
The dark-robed woman approached Aliandra’s form, gripping a small syringe carefully. Seeing Aliandra stare at the needle, she spoke in soothing tones, “This is just something to help you sleep. You need to rest.”
Aliandra thrashed against her bonds, screaming, “Get away from me!”
“Lady, stop! You’ll reopen your wounds!” She rushed over to Aliandra’s side, but hastily retreated as she managed to tear loose from her bindings.
The nurse, trying to maintain her composure, replied, “Miss, you need to calm down!”
“No! I won’t be taken again!” Aliandra weaved her hands in an arcane gesture, and fire sprung to life in her palms.
All too late, she noticed the nurse gesturing and chanting in an all too similar way.
Before Aliandra could complete her spell, two sets of skeletal arms grabbed her, pushing her back to the hospital bed.
“We don’t want to harm you! You’re one of us!!” the nurse screeched as she ran to Aliandra’s side, clutching the dripping syringe.
Although Aliandra struggled against the arms holding her down, she couldn’t dodge the nurse’s needle. As the injection took effect, her head lolled to the side, the spell slipping away from her.
As the world fell away into darkness, tears fell from her eyes.
On the world of Azeroth, there is a country that was once known as Lordaeron.
In Lordaeron, there is a ruined city once called Stratholme.
High above Stratholme is the floating necropolis called Naxxramas.
Inside Naxxramas, there is a woman once known as Aliandra Mandar.
Aliandra Mandar stands in her quarters, silent as the grave. Her fiery red hair stands out in the dark, gothic décor of the room. Her velvet black robe and cloak seems to contrast with the dark stone, a pure black in a room of grey. She seems to exude a warmth…but it is quickly taken from her by the necropolis itself. A long scar runs across her face.
She is alone. The door to her room is unlocked, and she is free to leave it as she wills. The only thing stopping her is herself.
Because leaving her room means giving in to them. It means accepting what they’ve said to her…
‘We don’t want to harm you! You’re one of us!!’
‘You’re one of us.’
She stands in front of the door, unmoving, their words echoing in her mind.
You’re one of us.
She reaches out to the door…
But a face flashes through her mind.
She draws her hand back slowly, backing away from the door, coming to a stop in a far corner of the room. Her mismatched fingers trace the jagged scar on her face as she sobs quietly.
But she is not as alone as she thinks.
Just outside her room, a robed figure stands next to a noble man, clad in black armor.
They watch her through a magical window. After a few minutes of silent observation, the hooded acolyte stepped forward, more than a hint of arrogance in his voice. “We’d be better off killing the traitorous bit--”
His sentence was interrupted as Jason pivoted, slammed his armored fist into the acolyte’s chest, sending him flying back. He fell to the ground some fifteen feet away, gasping for air.
Surprisingly, the death knight seemed to carry the same nobility. The acolyte didn’t even realize what had happened until their eyes met and Jason’s voice grew dangerously quiet. “It is not your place to question the will of the master.”
He covered the distance between them in seconds, then grabbed the acolyte by his robes, pulling him up. “Are…we…clear?”
The acolyte nodded meekly. “Of course, my lord.” Jason released him suddenly, returning to the window. The acolyte muttered, “I only wish to note that those that last this long tend not to break. Ever.”
Jason stiffened for a moment. “No. She will break.” He leaned into the glass, watching her closely. “I know it.”
“I don’t know. No one’s been this resistant. Not even-”
Jason turned back, glaring at him, and he fell silent. They both turned to the window as Aliandra stood jerkily and started walking to the door once more.
Half to himself, Jason muttered, “She’s waiting for something.”
“My lord?” the acolyte looked to him quizzically.
“You can see it in her eyes. She’s holding on to something…” He paused, watching Alia draw back from the door yet again.
“Or someone…” Jason’s face dawned with realization. “Tharmenton Mandar.” He grimaced, pushing himself back from the window.
He spoke quietly, “Get me Karn Harow.”
“Yes, my lord.”
She cowers in the corner, sobbing. She knows it won’t be much longer before she opens the door.
I don’t belong here. I never did. I’m a good person. I just made some mistakes. I’ve hurt everyone around me.
She breathed raggedly, trying to collect herself. And there’s only one thing I can do to set my wrongs right.
A light frown adorned her brow as she focused inward, seeking the darkness within herself.
She spoke silently, ‘Darkweaver. I call upon you. Will you aid me?’
Wretch. Begging for my help, after all you’ve done. Why should I ever help you?
Aliandra sighed tiredly. ‘We are faced with a decision, sister. There’s only one way that will satisfy us both.’
Her eyes darted to and fro as she silently relayed her plan. A few minutes passed before Darkweaver could reply.
My God. You’re actually serious, aren’t you.
Aliandra nodded slowly, ‘I get what I want, and you get what you want. I can’t do this without you.’
You’re crazy. You’re going to get us both killed.
‘I know.’ She smiled slightly. ‘At least, I hope so.’ She stood and walked slowly to the door one final time. ‘It’s better than rotting in this room.’
She paused, her hand hovering above the doorknob. ‘Are you ready?’
Do you have to ask?
She closed her hand around the doorknob and turned. The door swung open and the stench of rotting flesh flowed into the room. She took a deep breath and smiled.
She was home at last.
Part FiveShe had barely taken five steps outside her room when she, looking forward, says, “Jason.”
The armor-clad figure stepped forward out of the shadows, walking up behind her. “How are you feeling?”
“Like an elekk with an axe and shamanistic powers beat the life out of me, then teleported me to Netherstorm. Oh wait.” She turned back to him, smiling slightly. “I’ll be alright.”
Jason chuckled softly, and a hint of a smile played across his face. “You did take quite a beating. I’m glad you’re alright. It is lucky we found you when we did…you were dying of blood loss and exposure.”
She inclined her head slightly. “Then I am in your debt.”
“Not just mine.” He whistled shrilly, and a large, black bird flew up, landing on his shoulder.
Aliandra clapped her hands together excitedly. “Akathisia!”
“Hmm?” Jason looked from the raven to her confusedly.
“Akathisia – an uncontrollable restlessness caused by certain herbs…is it alright if I name him that?” She reached out and petted his midnight feathers, her face filled with joy.
Jason nodded and smiled. “It suits him. Here…” he extended the arm that held Akathisia to Aliandra, who put hers next to him. The bird hopped over and looked Aliandra up and down, seeming unable to stand still for long.
She chuckled as he hopped up her arm and nibbled at her ear. Jason whistled once more, and the bird took off, flying in neat circles around her.
Another whistle, and the bird flew out the large open window. Aliandra watched it disappear into the plague mists.
Jason stepped behind her, and his hands began to trace her sides lightly. He rested his head on her shoulder. “Remind me to thank that Varozus…for bringing you back to me.”
She stared out into the distance. “He nearly killed me, Jase…”
He held her tightly, his head nestled in her hair. “None of us can really die, and you know that.” He began kissing her neck gently.
She took a step away from him, turning to face him. “Jason…we can’t. You know he wants to see me.”
He wrapped an arm around her back, drawing her close once more. “He’s waited an entire year, Bea, he can wait a little longer.”
He stopped as Alia pressed her palm to his chest. She couldn’t move him back, but the gesture was clear.
She tore away from him. “Jason…I’m sorry.” She rushed down the hallway away from him, not wanting to look him in the eyes, not wanting him to see her face.
As she turned a corner and darted out of sight, Jason cursed under his breath. “Damn that woman.” He followed her at a leisurely pace. After all, there was only one way to Kel’Thuzad’s lair.