Wednesday, January 28, 2009
Khlar: The Beginning
The battle was over, and I was lost. As I watched Tirion Fordring and the other paladins walk away, I tried to think of what I should do next. The Lich King's voice, which had once rung so clearly in my head, was gone now, and nothing but my own thoughts remained. My own thoughts... how strange it seems. I had not thought for myself in so long.
I looked to Highlord Darion Mograine for orders, but he still looked shaken by what had happened here. No help there. I finally decided to go see the inn. Walking up to the ramshackle building, it struck me that it was the first decision I had made for myself in many years. I stopped at the door and peered in. The interior was clean but bare, with no real beds, just pallets on the floor. I spotted a member of the Argent Dawn sitting at a desk just inside, and arranged to spend the night there. As I lay down on the pallet, I couldn't help but reflect on what I remembered of my life.
I knew my family had been proud of me. I had gone from my Blood Knight graduation straight into Silvermoon's army, to serve my people in the retaking of our homeland from the Scourge and the forest trolls. I had always pushed myself hard, and was promoted to General's aide in record time. Then that fateful day came, when the General decided to take the fight to the Scourge.
We had set out from Silvermoon amid much cheering and celebrating. Our trip to the eastern side of the Plaguelands was uneventful; perhaps we should have taken that as a sign of what was to come. We had barely come into sight of Naxxramas, floating high overhead, when the Lich King's army struck us. They had been lying in wait for us; Arthas had no intention of letting us come any closer. The chaos was unbelievable, the slaughter absolute. The last thing my living eyes saw was my General choking on his own blood, and the axe wielded by a grinning skeleton coming straight for my head.
I have no idea how long I was dead, before the Lich King's will drew life back into my body. But it was not my life- my will was bound to his. I did not even have a conscious thought for many, many months. I know now that I served him for years, as my sister was not even born when I left with the army, and now she is almost grown. But I get ahead of myself- her part comes later.
My mind shrinks from the memories of what I did for Arthas while I was his slave. I killed hundreds of innocents, some murdered in their homes. I led troupes of mindless undead to ravage entire countrysides, and personally executed some of the most pure people of the Light that have ever lived. I was not aware at the time of the evils I committed, but my obliviousness is no comfort, or excuse.
My wits started slowly returning to me at the beginning of the assault on Light's Hope. There was much to be done before that final battle, but as I went about my tasks, at one point I found myself wondering, "Why am I doing this? Is there a point to it, or is it all just mindless slaughter?" I had no answer, and the questions faded from my mind almost as soon as they formed.
Then I was sent to the Scarlet chapel to execute a prisoner. This was something I had done so many times it was second nature. But as I approached to deliver the killing blow, something totally unexpected happened.
She recognized me, and called me by name. Khlar, she said, do not do this. And I found I could not raise my sword. She begged me to recognize myself and what I had once been, but I had no memories yet, and did not understand what she was saying. Then the captain outside shouted at me to hurry up and finish it, and I felt His will exert itself over mine. I killed her.
Looking back now, I remember her, although her name still escapes me. I remember we played together in Silvermoon, and went to start training as Blood Knights together. She did not last long there, however, and left the Blood Knights to follow more scholarly pursuits. But we remained friends up until the day I left with the army.
After I had executed her, I found memories surfacing at odd moments, ones that I soon realized were mine. Had I really lived this life, or was it a trick played by the Lich King? I asked myself that regularly. But there was too much warmth in those memories, and I had to admit that they were mine, from my old life. How had I fallen so far? Even as I struggled to come to terms with the person I used to be, Arthas' will kept me from acting on those memories, driving me on to complete the tasks he set for me. Until at last, all was ready to attack Light's Hope itself.
I will not recount that battle. I will only say that as I struck down every paladin that came against me, there were tears running down my face. Then suddenly it was over, and we all realized the lie. Arthas had only used us as battle fodder, so he could get at what he really wanted. Expecting us all to die, he had lessened his hold on us all, and as I watched Tirion Fordring confront the Lich King and drive him off, I suddenly found myself free.
What do you do with freedom, after so many years of being a puppet to someone else? Hence my confusion. As I lay on that pallet inside the little inn, I had to decide for myself what I was going to do with my life. I realized I was being given a second chance. Do I join the paladins of the Argent Crusade? I doubt they would be comfortable with me, or I with them. Should I go with Highlord Mograine and the newly formed Knights of the Ebon Blade? That was a possibility, but I knew there would be more fighting, and at that moment, I was heartily sick of battle. Should I go with some of my fellow Death Knights, and find my own path? Some of them continued to embrace the darkness inside them, but I knew that was not for me. As I pondered, I suddenly remembered something else.
I had a family, somewhere. Were they still alive? Where were they now? The thought consumed me. Before I dropped off to sleep, I vowed to myself that this would be my path- to track down my family and see how they fared.