The Rise of Keelath

I remember nothing. This was my first thought.

Originally published on January 5th, 2022.

This part contains some events I intend to return to in more detail in another series, but for now, my goal is in bridging the gap between The Rise of Keelath and What Darkness Lies, so Tyrric’s adventures trying to bring Evelos back to the Horde is a summary, only.

Author’s Note

The immediate effects of the restoration – my breathing and bodily sensations – wore off within days of the ritual, but the memories of my old life remained.

At first, I wanted to spend more time with my brother, reliving our past experiences and reknitting our fractured relationship. At first, he was just as overjoyed by my restoration as I was, but as the days passed, that faded, and his distraction returned. Something had changed, and while he explained it away as his excruciating experiences during the Second and Third Wars, I worried.

I grew better acquainted with Alelsa too, and I grew to dislike her more with each passing day. Tyrric’s distraction seemed to increase in proportion to how much she was around him, and I didn’t think this was any coincidence. Still, I was unable to move against her, not wanting to jeopardize Tyrric’s love just as much as my own sense of honor kept me from accusing her of wrong-doing before I was sure. Tyrric was utterly enamored with her, gushing on her beauty and cleverness unless I shut him up with a slap.

We instead turned to the problem of Evelos. Tyrric told me he had met with my son several times, in such neutral places as Dalaran and Booty Bay. My son, too, had changed under the duress of the wars, Tyrric held. Evelos had rebelled over the Blood Knight’s use of a naaru and then had been forced to slave away in the Undercity as penitence – Tyrric’s eyes grew shifty whenever he mentioned that, and I was not certain if it was because of his own feelings towards the naaru or towards the Forsaken. He would skip quickly over my questions about it, turning to the problem of Evelos, falling into the use of Shadow magic, and how he feared my son was slowly being corrupted by it.

The mention of Shadow magic formed a split in my conscience. The Forsaken relied on Shadow, as normal to us as breathing was to the living, and indeed, I was to learn Shadow kept our broken souls and bodies stitched together. Yet, with memories of my first life restored to me, I could now recall the evil and dangers of it. I could not understand what drove Evelos to use it, who had always been strong in the Light. Tyrric would shrug and grow shifty if I tried to clarify that matter with him, as well.

I left him before we could come to any solution, as sleep tugged at him and the bloodlust began to tug at me. I responded to the urge with reflex, traveling to the Dead Scar and hunting the undead that would haunt that cursed land forever. Yet as I bent to eat the rotted flesh of my prey, I felt an intense pain inside me, like a tooth that was splitting. Disgust at what I was doing suddenly overwhelmed me, but under it was the unrelenting march of the hunger.

Fear turned to anger, and I attacked another of the ghouls, bringing it down using my bare hands and not my sword. As so many times before, I could only surrender to the craving, and the taste was sweet, as good or better than any dish I could remember from life, but when I woke up to myself, I felt oddly broken. Something was missing from me, like a certainty of my place under the Light. My mind was foggy, and later I found I had forgotten a piece of a past: only blankness surfaced when I tried to recall a party attended with Tyrric many decades ago.

When I spoke of it to Zurom, he grew puzzled and concerned, saying only he believed the trauma of the cannibalism had broken off a piece of my soul. He could restore it, but it would be another long ritual, and I decided it was not necessary for just the one memory. Yet we both knew what it forebode: I couldn’t be rid of the bloodlust, and with each killing, I’d likely lose another piece of myself.

Knowing I could restore myself with Zurom’s magic anytime I wanted soothed me, if only a little. As he warned, no ritual was perfect, and the more times I fractured, the more difficult it would be to repair. A new sense of urgency grew in me. I only had so much time to reunite with my son before the lack of memory stole my connections to him, and there was also the matter of my missing wife.

There was so much new to the world that hadn’t been before my death. Centuries of experience now outweighed the knowledge I had gained after becoming undead, and I was caught in an internal battle of sticking to my old values while the world shifted around me, including the shifts in me, myself. I had a sense of trying to hold back a trickling wall of sand: inevitable and hopeless.

The pain of killing was lessened whenever it was a justified killing at least, such as those of enemy soldiers on the front, and I threw myself into the war with the Alliance to escape it. It was ever-present in my mind that I might meet Evelos out there, on opposite sides of the battle, yet as more tiny pieces of my memory began to flake off, it was easier to be angry than to worry. I encountered the new void elves in the Alliance’s ranks, and I knew him now to be one of them. Disgust joined the anger, and I targeted the ren’dorei specifically, as some unconscious part of me believed them to be at fault for my son’s betrayal.

Tyrric fared better under the stress, or at least appeared to. He caught on quickly to the new ways in which politics moved in the new Horde, but there was a certain slapdash quality to his manuevering that only reinforced my idea that he had become somewhat unhinged.

And always Alelsa was there, either reinforcing or encouraging the madness.

The Horde, too, was growing shaky. My queen now led as Warchief, though she would always be Lady Sylvanas to me. She used tactics that were commonplace to the Forsaken, but the more gruesome of which unnerved the living Horde. For the most part, I trusted my lady and tried to stay out of the politics. To me, the true Alliance still belonged in Lordaeron, living on in spirit in the Forsaken and the blood elves. The humans of Stormwind were upstarts and a threat for as long as they couldn’t accept Lady Sylvanas’ leadership.

As reward for my loyalty, I was given more responsibilities and ever higher ranks. I had less time to spend with Tyrric, and even he began to grow antsy at the way the Horde was going, and I trusted him less and less.

Yet as military duty consumed my time, I was forced to release to him the responsibility for charming Evelos away from the Alliance. I only heard bits and pieces of Tyrric’s plots when I returned between missions: attempts at kidnapping, daring escapes from the Stormwind authority, even his trying to use some sweetheart of Evelos’ as leverage against the boy.

Tyrric paid special attention to this lover. She was human, and by all appearances Evelos intended to marry her. I could remember friendships with the humans in ages past now, usually taking the form of trade agreements between themselves and my wife, and after some soul-searching, I decided the potential marriage only worried me as far as the act would tie Evelos closer to the evil Alliance than to the Horde.

Yet to Tyrric, the matter became an obsession. He spoke of the purity of the bloodline, of his own intents to marry and have heirs through Alelsa, since it seemed to him, bitterly, that Evelos refused to carry out that duty. He consorted with warlocks — including one old name I vaguely knew, Croatius — investigating the use of love potions or infertility treatments or even displacing the poor woman’s soul into the body of an elf’s. I wasn’t sure which concerned me more: the methods proposed (and many of them failed) or Tyrric’s clear slide deeper into insanity.

When the news came down the line that Evelos and his human were expecting a child, Tyrric seemed to shatter, as thoroughly as I did whenever I caved to the bloodlust. He stopped speaking of Evelos entirely, cutting him out of the family and of memory. He declared Alelsa was now fiance, not just mistress, and made plans to wed her, years before it would be considered proper.

His meltdown was hard to watch, and I sent an olive branch in the form of a letter to Evelos, though I do not think it did much good. Enough of my memories had been lost that the prospect of a grandchild was a far-off glimmer that I could hardly process. A good thing? A bad thing, as Tyrric believed? A thing that had no bearing on me at all, considering a Forsaken has no place in the raising of a child? It appeared Evelos wanted nothing to do with us in return, and so the matter drifted away from me. My feelings for him went dark, just as much from the fatigue of dealing with the drama between him and Tyrric as it was I was beginning to have fewer and fewer feelings at all.

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