The Caged Lion
Updated: Nov 6, 2021
The Broker’s Lounge in Oribos has become Tandreli’s favorite watering hole. It’s a great place to hear stories, gleam a rumor or two, enjoy a rousing bard’s tale, and of course, drink wine. Today is a little different though. Today, Tandreli is reading and contemplating a letter from her cousin, Allarae Dawnglow. Not to say this is the FIRST time she read it. Oh no, she’s poured over the words at least a dozen times, trying to unearth the emotion that she should feel, if, that is, it still exists.
“You know I’ll always accept you.” These words beguile Tandreli the most. She should feel something reading that, but what? A sense of warmness? Perhaps caring? Do those feelings still exist? She is not sure as she searches her mind and soul for a shred of a feeling that once was. The words fall deafly on a heart that stopped many years ago. Perhaps more wine will stir something that she vaguely remembers once was.
Before she can continue any reflection, her keen elven ears overhear words at an adjacent table. A conversation perhaps, or a story surrounding Zovaal and his acquisition of the covenant keys, relics of immense, immeasurable power as well as a symbol of each covenant’s purpose.
“I heard a mortal king, entrusted by none other than Kyrestria herself, extracted the keys of the Kyrian and the Night Fae with but a wave of his sword!” The traveller, a seasoned Kyrian acolyte, spoke with his eyes wide in amazement and terror. “Perhaps ALL the mortals are like this king, here to destroy the purpose and all of us as well!”
“I think not,” Tandreli coldly replies. “I serve the Highlord and am a knight of the Ebon Blade. We shall defend the Shadowlands to our last undying collective breaths. On that count, you can be assured. But speak to me more about this king. Who is he and how did he come to possess such power?” “I am unsure of his name,” responds the Kyrian. “Perhaps it was Allowyn… Anderwane… or Anakin? Anduin! Yes… yes… that’s the scoundrel’s name who brazenly stole the Night Fae’s key and purged the Kyrian key from Kyrestria! She is wounded as proof!”
Anduin Wrynn? This could not be, Tandreli ponders. She had heard tales of valor and honor of his father, Varian Wrynn. One story even spoke of how he sacrificed his own life in the Battle against the Legion for the sake of his own men and Sylvanas’ troops as well. Anduin had always been known as a peaceful ruler, slow to anger and long on patience. How could one of such noble lines be so bold and egregious to submit to Zovaal? Tandreli’s ire is aroused, and in one swift motion, she draws her blade to the Kyrian’s throat, pausing a fly’s eyelash from slicing it open!
“You speak lies, old one! Ale soaked half truths and falsehoods! Anduin Wrynn is an honest and noble human who sacrificed himself so that I could escape the Maw. Do not entice my blade to taste your anima, for I will savor each and every drop, deceiver!” screamed Tandreli in a voice that echoed the plight of a thousand souls.
“Mercy noble knight!” pleaded the acolyte. “I-I-I meant no disrespect. I only relate what was told to me and what others have heard. Many eyes saw him snatch the Night Fae key including your own highlord.” Tandreli pauses to regain her composure. This being is not a threat and poses no danger to her or anyone near. His death would be a waste and inglorious. As quickly as she was readied to strike, she withdraws and sheathes her sword.
“Very well then. I shall speak with my highlord to verify these claims. Should you be lying, your days will be numbered. I will hunt you down as swiftly as an Eversong cat stalks prey.” Tandreli boldly strolls out of the lounge to the commanders’ war table, the gathering place of the most powerful mortals and souls in the Shadowlands, to meet Highlord of the Ebon Blade, Bolvar Fordragon.
As Tandreli approaches the table, she once again draws her sword, kneeling before Bolvar resting the haft and pommel in one hand and blade in the other, “My highlord, my sword is yours in death forever. I serve the Ebon Blade in glory and conquest of our foes in your name.”
A slight smile slips on Bolvar’s face, “Be at ease, knight. You honor me with your service. You are Lieutenant Tandreli Dawnglow, are you not? Your name is on the lips of many here in Oribos. What business have you?” “Are the stories of the human king true? Did Anduin Wrynn injure the Firstborn of the Kyrian and abscond with the Night Fae key? Has he chosen to side with Zovaal?”, Tandreli queried. “These stories are indeed true, Lieutenant. I was at the Heart of the Grove when he removed the key of the Night Fae. But there is much to the story many do not know or understand. The young lion’s will is not his own. His armor bore the domination runes and his sword is a mourneblade.”
“Anar’Talah!” exclaims Tandreli. “Much as Frostmourne, the blade of Arthas? But how could he… Why would he wield such…” Bolvar insists calm, “Rest your thoughts, my knight and listen to my words. Anduin is not choosing this path. Rather, it has been chosen for him. Think back to rebirth. Think back to your service to Arthas.”
<Memory fragment> “YOU WILL SERVE MY WILL… RAIN DEATH UPON THE LIVING… SLAY MY ENEMIES… LEAVE NONE STANDING… SPILL THE BLOOD OF THOSE WHO OPPOSE ME…YOU ARE MY INSTRUMENT OF VENGEANCE… THEY ARE UNWORTHY OF THE GIFT OF LIFE…” Those words pulsed in Tandreli’s mind constantly in waking hours and rest. The voice of Arthas was inescapable, constantly present, always forcing submission, always demanding her will bend to his. She was numb for a time. A month? A year? Several years? It was all so blurred and undistinguished. Time was nothing. Only the voice of the master… <Memory fragment ends>
“Lieutenant! Lieutenant! Tendreli Dawnglow release yourself!” exclaimed the highlord. He had seen this before in many of his best soldiers. Inexplicable lapses of conscious, where one would slip away into a daydream of their “before life”. This was the curse of the undying knight. As one became more experienced, so too did the memories of their former life become more common, and maddening.
“My highlord,” Tandreli apologized, “I am sorry. It was a moment of weakness. I have been in battle much this fortnight.”
Bolvar comforts her, “Be well, my knight. You will learn over time as more of these memories return to you. They are nightmarish for the moment, but in time, you will learn to embrace them when needed and let them go when demanded. It is our curse and our blessing.” “But how are they of use? They are distractions and torments. I-I-I cannot focus or function!” Tandreli pleaded. Bolvar explained these lapses are from moments of her life before. Eventually, she will be able to understand and cherish them, remembering her past and how it helped to mold her future. While there will be horrid visions, there will be warm and tender recollections as well. Tandreli acknowledged and thanked the highlord for his insight.
“So Highlord,” Tandreli says, “You are saying that Anduin is soul caged as was I after Arthas raised me in undeath? Then there is no hope for him. H-h-he will be lost and but a vessel of the Jailer.”
“Perhaps. Perhaps. But as your day of independence came to pass, so too may he regain his free will. We must never succumb to despair, Tandreli, and always cling to hope as it can never be destroyed,” said Bolvar.
“Even in undeath, Highlord?”
“Even in undeath, my knight.”
Upon hearing those words, Tandreli arose sheathing her blade, then reverently bowing to the Highlord before returning to the lounge and her favorite table to read, once again, Allarae’s letter and contemplate the depths of her feelings, or where they might be at least.
“I consider you family. Do be safe out there and stay away from gnomes. I heard they bite!”
The slightest smile slips over Tandreli’s face. “Ha ha,” she muses, “and I have heard they become soggy and hard to light!”