CHAPTER 4: MASTERING THE SWORD
The Forge of Souls was a massive production facility whose sole purpose was to build Soul Grinders. Navimie had been here with Sylvanas years ago to help cripple the facility, but it appeared to be fully operational again. Navimie shifted into cat to stealth past the Soulguards and she slipped past them easily. She also managed to get past Bronjahm, the keeper of souls, and headed towards the room where the Devourer or Souls resided, and hoped she could find this crucible.
The Devourer or Souls was a 3 faced creature whose appearance still made Navimie shiver. It looked very similar to the Reliquary of Souls in the Black Temple, and Navimie surveyed the room from the doorway to see if she could find the crucible. She spied it towards the back of the room, and stealthily made her way towards it, her eyes on the Devourer to see if he had detected her presence. Her skills in stealth had clearly grown over the years, as the Reliquary did not even notice her, even when she became visible behind the crucible. Slowly she unsheathed the sword and slid it into the crucible's flames.
The flames roared as they licked over the sword, and the sound caused the Devourer to spin around and face her, its hideous angry countenance letting out a howl that made her ears ring.
"You dare look upon the host of souls?! I SHALL DEVOUR YOU WHOLE!" It leapt towards Navimie, slamming the ground in front of her, and a purple Well of Souls appeared beneath her hooves, causing them to burn in pain. She quickly stepped aside and once again shifted into Dire bear form to fight the Devourer, and charged at the monster to engage it.
The Devourer cast Mirrored Soul, and Navimie felt the pain of claws ripping into her hide as she swiped at the Devourer. She realised that it was mirroring her attacks onto herself so she stopped a moment and ran around the room, waiting for the spell to fade. When she shimmering spell shield dropped, she renewed her bites and mangles with vigour.
"SUFFERING! ANGUISH! CHAOS! RISE AND FEED!" More souls were unleashed and shadow magic from the souls wailing around her tingled her flesh. Her thick hide prevented a lot of the damage from the souls, and she was glad she wasn't in caster form.
Her claws had left a great number of rends in the angry face, and its mouth opened wide, as one of the other faces screamed. "Stare into the abyss and see your end!" As the agape mouth wailed, souls poured out in a stream into Navimie's face, their howls and screams spiking her mind with pain and she strafed to the left, stepping out of the beam, and the pain subsided. She kept running as the face turned to follow her and as his mouth closed she charged in again and slammed the Devourer with her full weight, and finally, the Devourer of Souls was defeated.
She shifted back to Tauren form and went to look at her blade which she had left lying in the crucible while she had been fighting. She took the sword and regarded it as she wielded it clumsily. Tauren druids were not made for swordplay. The blade did not feel as it if held power, but she could sense something within it. As she focused on the sensation, it seemed to be pulling her towards the portal... she yanked it back and held it aloft, as the saronite was still hot from the flames, she took the portal and headed back to Myralion.
He was waiting for her just outside the magic gates, as he said he would.
"The Tempered blade has a mind of its own, Myralion, but I sense... something," Navimie said, as she held it out to him. Myralion reached for the blade, then hestitated, as he too sensed something within the blade. He gestured for her to sheathe it, and she did, now that it had cooled.
"Tempering the sword should've restored the blade. Why hasn't it worked?" He stroked his chin, puzzled. "You have re-forged and tempered the sword, yet it sits quietly in its sheath, little different from a mundane blade. You say the sword pulls you, as though it possesses a will?" Navimie nodded.
"Dare you bring it where it wishes to go? It is not right that the sword should be this silent and this insistent, yet I fear that if you do not take the sword to its destination, we will never learn why. Bear it with you to Icecrown Citadel's Halls of Reflection, but be on your guard. I will wait for you in The Frozen Halls."
Navimie looked over her shoulder at the portal that would take her to the Halls of Reflection. It was the private chambers of the Lich King, and Navimie had been there with Lady Sylvanas Windrunnersome years ago to investigate. Navimie remembered Sylvanas entranced by the sight of Frostmourne suspended there, seemingly unguarded before Falric and Marwyn materialised and attacked their raiding party.
The Lich King, Arthas, was gone but a new Lich King now sat the Frozen Throne. Navimie wondered if he dwelled in the Halls as Arthas had done. She did not relish being chased by the Lich King again, repelling waves of undead.
"You hestitate, tauren," said Myralion, as he watched her staring at the portal. "Are you not up to this task?"
His tone irritated her. Navimie took a breath and let it out slowly before she turned to face the Blood Elf, and plastered a look of studious concern on her face. "The blade - I am not sure what it's telling me, but I am trying to divine its intentions. What could it possibly want in the Halls of Reflection? Am I returning it to it's true master? These are the Halls of the Lich King himself - perhaps, he is calling the blade to him! What if this is a trap, and I am delivering a great weapon unto the forces of Darkness?"
Myralion's eyes widened slightly, before narrowing as he contemplated her words. "I can send a few Sunreavers..."
Navimie held up her hand. "No. I can use stealth if necessary. That would be difficult with your untrained Sentinels." She couldn't resist making a small dig at the Sunreaver forces - all that uppity behaviour was starting to get REALLY irritating. What made them think they were better than her? She was the one doing all the dirty work!
Myralion waved his hand dismissively. "As you wish, Navimie."
Navimie turned and walked quickly over to the portal. Taking a breath, she took a step into the shimmering light and was teleported to the Halls of Reflection.
She materialised in a short corridor, familiar, as it was where she was always teleported to when she entered the Halls. Frostmourne was still suspended before her, in the centre of Sword's Rest. A blue glow emanated from it, icy, cold and evil, and the air around it shimmered, and Navimie almost thought she could hear the souls wailing from their prison within the blade. She unsheathed Quel'delar and held it before her.
The pull was very obvious now. Like a magnet, Quel'delar was drawn to the evil blade of the Lich King. Tightening her grip on its hilt, she advanced slowly, the tip pointing towards Frostmourne like a compass, tugging insistently.
A ghost shimmered into existence in front of her. It was Uther the Lightbringer, the first paladin of the Knights of the Silver Hand. A great Alliance Hero, he led Alliance forces against the Scourge and Arthas, the Lich King, before being killed by his former pupil. He yelled at Navimie, halting her in her tracks.
"Do you realise what you've done?! Do not come any closer!"
The blade leapt from her grasp and hovered in the air beside Frostmourne, absorbing the blue glow. It seemed to be drawing strength from it. Navimie sensed the blade's hostility and she readied herself for battle.
The blade did not attempt to attack her, until she reached melee range. Then it attacked, with the fury and mortal conviction of a warrior. Navimie was surprised at its ferocity, as she dodged Heroic Strikes from the angry blade. Her abilities to heal herself were halved as the blade continued reapplying Mortal Strike to her, and she mauled and clawed the blade, trying hard not to break it after all the work she had put into rebuilding it. She did not realise in the heat of battle that none of her attacks barely scratched the blade.
When the blade began to whirlwind, and she recieved 3 slashes across her muzzle, she lost her temper. With a ferocious roar she mangled and lacerated the sword, fighting the spirit of evil possessed within. She noticed the ghostly form of Uther assisting her battle, and she was grateful, though she was uncertain the amount of damage a shade could do to a living blade.
With Uther by her side, the sword eventually stilled, whatever strange life within it beaten and subdued, and it fell with a clatter to the cold stone ground. She tentatively picked up the blade, but could not feel any resistance to her dominance. Uther came to stand beside her, and regarded Quel'Delar.
"You have forged this blade from saronite, the very blood of an old god. The power of the Lich King calls to this weapon."
Of course, thought Navimie, as she recalled some information she had heard during her time in Northrend. There was some data in the Archivum Console in Ulduar that said that a powerful acid found within Yogg-Saron was responsible for the liquefaction of saronite. The Tuskarr called saronite "Black Blood of Yogg-Saron" and people who worked for long periods in saronite mines eventually became insane, babbling to or about "The Master" and many committed suicide. She recalled collecting chunks of saronite for the Argent Crusade to investigate, and found Pure Evil. The conversation came drifiting back to her....
Etrigg walked over to the brazier and put down the ore sample. "Now we will see why this ore is so important to the Scourge. Korfax, what can you tell from this saronite?"
Crusade Commander Korfax walked over to Eltrigg "Saronite you say? Never heard of it. Looks like pure evil." He touched it with the shaft of his axe. "Let's see how it holds up to the might of my axe!"
Korfax took a few swings, but his reaper bounced right off. He stared at the rock in dismay. "What the? My reaper didn't even scratch it! That's the toughest ore I've ever seen!"
Avenger Metz rolled his eyes, sarcasm oozing form his expression.
"Rayne, Rimblat," yelled Etrigg, gesturing to the Earthen Ring tauren shaman and the Night Elf Guardian of Hyjal who were watching with interest. "What about the power of nature and the elements?"
Rimblat Earthshatter flexed his hands. "Let us see if it is truly impervious." He and Rayne cast a shaman and druid spell on the saronite. The sparks of their spells seemed to reflect off the ore.
"By the Goddess," gasped Rayne. "It's as if Nature can't touch it!"
Rimblat Earthshatter shook his head. "Nothing."
"No surprise there," said Metz, smugly.
Eitrigg looked at Avenger Metz expectantly. "Metz?"
Eitrigg jerked his chin towards the ore. "You know what."
Metz straightened as flexed his neck with an audible crick. "Fine. Just remember, though. The power of the Holy Light isn't something to be invoked casually, brother." Gathering holy power, Metz cast Hammer of Wrath on the ore. The ore glowed for a second.
Avenger Metz stared at it, puzzled. "What's it doing?!"
With a ringing explosion, the saronite released the energy, the impact knocking Navimie and all the others gathered there for the demonstration flat on their backs.
"Whoah!" said Metz, getting shakily to his feet.
"Oof!" siad Korfax, as he stared incredulously at the ore.
Rayne shook her head. "Gah!"
She stared at the subdued Quel'delar, which she unwittingly forged from the essence of evil itself.
Eitrigg dusted himself off. "Clearly this is getting us nowhere. We need to get this saronite to Highlord Fordring for further study. Thank you for trying, my friends. We'll unlock its secrets. Hopefully before it's too late."
"Each moment you tarry here, Quel'delar drinks in the evil of this place. There is only one way to cleanse this sword. Make haste for the Sunwell and immerse the blade in its waters."
"The Sunwell?" asked Navimie. "Why would the waters of that cursed..."
In the Sunken City, he lays dreaming....
Uther began to fade. "I can resist Frostmourne's call no longer..." and then he was gone. Navimie looked around for the source of the other voice. But there was no-one there.
"Why did you not tell me this would happen?" demanded Navimie when she returned to Myralion.
"How can evil take root in such a sword?" Myralion looked surprised, and a little shocked. "I would not have thought it possible if the evidence wasn't here before my eyes. If the greatest of dragonkind's creations could be corrupted and turned against them, why not a mere sword?"
"This sword should be destroyed. I will not be the creator of an instrument of evil!" said Navimie, vehemently.
I believe Uther is right. You must heed his advice quickly, Navimie."
"You know what?" Navimie unsheathed the sword, and Myralion took an involuntary step back. She tossed Quel'Delar to the ground at his feet, the sword skidding on the cold stone, causing sparks to fly. "You do it."
Myralion knelt to pick up the blade, and as he lay his hand on the hilt, there was an audible sizzle and he pulled his hand back, as if burned. "Agh! The blade burned me!" He cradled his hand as he glared at Quel'Delar.
Navimie frowned as she cast a rejuvenate upon him and knelt to look at the blade. She reached her hand out tentatively and touched it. It was cool to the touch. She picked it up, frowning in puzzlement.
Look around. They will all betray you. Flee screaming into the black forest.
"What did you say?" said Navimie, looking at Myralion suspiciously.
"The blade accepts you as its master, Navimie," said Myralion, oblivous to her question. "It seems no other can take the Journey to the Sunwell but you. Take Quel'Delar to the Sunwell as quickly as possible, Navimie. Trust in Uther's words when he says that you will not always be able to control the blade while it is subject to the evil of the Lich King's influence. You must travel to the Isle of Quel'Danas, and there, seek entry to the Sunwell itself, where you can cleanse the sword. The guardians will try to stop you from entering the Sunwell Plateau, but make yourself known to Halduron Brightwing, who will be inspecting the guards there."
Great, thought Navimie, as she sheathed the wayward sword. Why do I have to do everything around here?
Because, the disembodied voice replied, You will be all alone in the end.
Next: Restoring the Lost Blade