"Venallus, where were you during the attack? We could have used your magic."

 

Venallus looked up from his book and turned a nonchalant eye towards the paladin Raluun. The exhausted vindicator leaned heavily on the nearby support column, his hammer resting on the ground and held only loosely in his right hand. It had been nearly two weeks since the Iron Horde's siege had been ended by an interfering force of odd new races. Venallus was surprised no one had asked about his absence before now. As for his current visitor, Venallus deduced that there must have been stragglers and lingering skirmishers to mop up.

 

"I am sorry, brother," he said, turning a page. "I was reading. The daily meditations must not be forsaken." 

 

"Many people died," Raluun answered. "Good men and women. Far too many children too." His tone turned scornful. "But you can keep reading in peace. I hope you were not disturbed by the noise. The Iron Horde was, and still is being repelled…no thanks to you." He pushed off from the wall and wearily shouldered his hammer, beginning to turn away.

 

Venallus snapped his book closed and stood. "At least it will be far fewer, then, to resist my masters."

 

Raluun froze before turning to face Venallus again. When he did, his eyes held hurt and anger. He said nothing. His indignation was evident; no words were needed. 

 

It was not the first betrayal the draenei had suffered from within, and even should they survive into the future, it would not be the last. The Burning Legion's offer of true immortality and great power had never been rescinded…it remained to simmer in the thoughts of those who fled the Legion's call. Over time, as Venallus had done, others had and still would grow tired of the constant flight from the Legion. Would more not survive in the long term by embracing the Legion's offer? 

 

It was this line of thought behind Venallus' smile as he approached the paladin who would now be his enemy. "But of course, you would resist the Legion's offers, as I once did. You would doom our people's children — your daughter! — to an eternal retreat."

 

"Don't you mention my daughter," Raluun spat. "Some things are worth resisting, worth standing against."

 

"But perhaps not running from, no?"

 

Raluun was silent for a moment. "You seek to bring the Legion to Shattrath? We will be ready. The Iron Horde has made us ready for war."

 

Venallus chuckled. "Has it indeed? Where, then, are Shattrath's mightiest heroes? The infirmary, no?" As Raluun sputtered, Venallus looked his enemy up and down with appraising eyes. He saw scratches and dents all over the armor, slouched posture that gave away both wounds and fatigue, all easily exploitable by one sufficiently experienced in warfare. And the Burning Legion was quite full of them. Had these had not been healed since the main attack was repelled, or were they new in dealing with minor skirmishes? Neither was a promising sign for the draenei. "This does not look ready to me. The Iron Horde has not prepared you."

 

His hand shot out, his fingers closing around Raluun's throat and shadowy tendrils extending out of his arm. "They have exhausted you." Venallus' lips curled into a cold grin. "When my masters come, they will not find a war-ready city, but a war-weary one, a small price for the power and peace to come. A merciful and swift end for Shattrath's people who would die at the Legion's hand one day regardless."

 

Raluun struggled to take in air, but appeared to be failing. "The…Alliance… You would risk their wrath…"

 

Curious, Venallus loosened his grip, only slightly. Raluun coughed and breathed in roughly. 

 

"What is this…Alliance?" Venallus snarled. 

 

"They helped balk the Iron Horde…" Raluun coughed again. "The visitors from another world. Even some draenei among them. A few of those, even, are men and women we thought long dead. They have faced the Legion before…and won. They have people here, in this city. Harm any of them, and you risk the wrath of them all. Not even the Legion…"

 

Venallus had heard enough, his grip tightening again. This foolish tale had gone on long enough, and should be called what it was: "Folly. To stand against the Burning Legion is folly. I am Arvallus, lieutenant to Socrethar, and eredar lord of the Burning Legion." His voice grew fierce and deep as he called upon the secret power granted him by his pact. He felt his skin grow hot, and saw his arm and hand turn red. "No longer shall I be exiled, no longer draenei. I — am — eredar! And this city… is MINE."

 

He felt Raluun's throat collapse in his vice grip, and hurled the mortally wounded soldier backwards to die on the cold floor.

Author Rann
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