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The sun had gone down by the time the blood elf paladin reached Brill, the little village on the outskirts of Undercity. Rivenlight passed many newly animated corpses of the Forsaken. A young warrior passed her, his broken jaw held on with pieces of rusty wire, his grey flesh gaping with the final wounds he had received as a living man. A mage pulled a hood over what remained of her face, then reached for a staff with a hand whose tendons were laid bare.

Rivenlight had spent so much time among the Forsaken that she hardly saw the putrefaction any more. She had learned to to turn her mind inwards, to ignore the tattered skin and the maggots. For the sake of great beauty, for her homeland and her proud people, she had learned to tolerate -- and serve -- an almost unbearable darkness.

Her mind went back to the interview she had just had with Lady Sylvanas in the dark throne room of the Undercity.

"My lady," Rivenlight had said, "I have done all that you and your minions have asked of me. I have killed Rattlecage skeletons to make Deathknell safer for newly risen Forsaken. I have avenged the Forsaken whose living bodies died to defend the cowardly Agamand family. I have gathered plague ingredients and tested them on dwarf and human prisoners for your apothecaries. I have researched the charlatan Arugal's magic and slain him. I have tracked down the gnolls responsible for the traffic in stolen corpses from Brill to Silverpine. I have fought in the Battle of Hillsbrad, keeping the humans in check until a new plague can be released. I have battled the Scarlet Crusade and assassinated the leaders that lie in their monastery. All this and more have I done to strengthen the alliance between our people."

Rivenlight showed the token given to her by Lady Sylvanas to the stablehand. His skull jerked upwards in surprise, then he bowed deeply before her. He opened the stable door and handed her a bridle.

Rivenlight wandered from stall to stall examining the animals, lifting their feet, looking in their mouths. Finally she stood a long time before the one in the corner. A few locks of brown mane clung to the vertebrae of its neck. Blue trappings held a saddle to its rib cage. Its head was delicate and graceful; its proportions were pleasing: a testament to good breeding while in life. She reached up and stroked the bleak, cold bones of the nose.


It was dawn in Silvermoon.

The elegant buildings glowed with warm light. Flags fluttered in the light morning breeze, and a few birds twittered around a laughing fountain. Rivenlight rode through the city, heading towards the paladin trainer. The hooves of her undead horse clopped on the polished flagstones. The buckles of its harness clicked against dry bone.

Rivenlight held her head high. She had served the Forsaken for the good of her people. But she knew she had paid a price. To survive among the dead, she had had to assume some of their characteristics. Her expression was withdrawn, cold, and ruthless. The living seemed alien to her, with their warmth and their messy passions.

Right and left, blood elves looked at her and shrank back, their eyes alert with surprise and apprehension. They drew back from her as they would draw away from a gallows. Rivenlight saw them, but heeded them not.

She rode to the paladin trainer. Her temples throbbed with the power of the captive Na'aru. Her trainer nodded when he saw the Forsaken horse.

"You have done well, Rivenlight," he said. "Now, I have another task for you. Now that you have strengthened our alliance with the Forsaken, Silvermoon commands you to travel to Orgrimmar and put yourself at the service of the broader coalition of the Horde. They may be uncouth races, but blood elves cannot afford to be choosy."

Rivenlight bowed her head. "One question, master. The Horde races... are they alive?"

The paladin trainer nodded, "As alive as you and me," he said.


Rivenlight took the zeppelin from the creaky tower at Brill. She peered over the railings into the the dark, roiling sea. On the other side, the water was calm. The iron-red cliffs rose all around her as she stepped from the zeppelin onto the great tower of rough-hewn logs outside Orgrimmar.

She rode through the red dirt to the gate of Orgrimmar. A caravan of dusty, sweaty kodo from Mulgore passed her. Two raptors screamed and snapped at each other. A white wolf sat and scratched a flea with his hind paw while his rider swore. The sun was warm and bright, but Rivenlight did not feel it. She shivered. She drew her cape around her shoulders and slipped into the jostling, noisy crowd.
(( Grats on the mount, and nicely written story! Working on getting my third exalted Horde faction right now so I can appreciate how awesome it is to finally hit exalted. @[email protected] *cheers* ))

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