The razor-cold air acted as another weapon; the living moved slower, were less eager. Were that much quicker to die. The battle turned into a route which turned into a slaughter.

*Kill them all.* The Lich King’s omnipresent voice whispered, slithered, sent its vessel forward on its deathcharger in pursuit of the fleeting figures. *No mercy.* A dark growl ringing through the vessel’s head. Twenty steps to the first enemy, a strike to the neck, ten to the next, another blow, nine to the next, swing and connect. *All must di…” The silence that surrounded Maelstrome was as sudden as it was profound. She blinked, stopping her mount with unconscious control. 

What…she looked at her mount, did a double-take, scrambled off the horror she had been riding. A horse, but…not. Glowing hooves, mane of iridescent fire, leaking darkness like sweat. It stood, unmoving, patient as the grave.

Where…she looked around. White glacial sheets surrounded her, rose to foothills some ways away, then to a line of jagged peaks. Crisp blue sky that closed in the world yet hinted at eternity.

Who…she looked down at herself. Blue-black plate mail, a shimmering two-handed greatsword. She had never handled a weapon in her life! Had she? The thought was gone as quickly as it had come, and she groped in the vacuum it left. She could remember…nothing. Nothing save the face of a man. A human. One she had trusted, had aided. Her memory balked and twisted away from her grasp, but not before she snatched a name.

Arthas. He had done this…this…whatever this was…to her. The bastard! He would pay! Nobody betrayed…her mind blanked again. A name. Her name. She could not remember it. A flash of memory, HIS voice. *Your name is no longer [redacted]. You are Maelstrome, for you will be my instrument of chaos.*

And so she had, apparently. A glance behind showed a trail of bodies. Smoke hung in the air only a few hundred feet away. Whatever it was that she had become, this was its work. Maelstrome turned away from the carnage and started walking. She had no destination except Away. After some time, she noticed that the horse followed her, step for docile step. She tried to shoo it away but it ignored her gestures, stood like a statue until she moved again.

Eventually, after unknown hours trekking across the featureless plain, she gave in and mounted the charger. It ran like the proverbial wind, pounding out the miles with tireless abandon. Still the mountains never seemed to get closer. She was still getting nowhere; she was merely getting there faster.

But there, at last, across the vast sea of ice, a dark splotch somewhat to the east. Having no reason to go any particular direction, Maelstrome steered toward it. Tents, they were, pitched around a volcanic fissure. The heat created a sort of oasis in the desert of ice; grass and stunted trees gripped the warmed earth as if afraid it was an illusion. What wasn’t an illusion were the horsemen who veered toward her at nearly the exact moment she spotted them.

Author Sunscryer
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