Ignat stood before the desiccated thing, placing his fists upon his hips as his brow furrowed with consternation. Next to him, seeming to blend into and out of the shadows constantly, stood Finegal, his arms crossed over his chest as a self satisfied smirk began to grow across his features. “Here sits our goal, as inspirational as it is divine,” he intoned to the cavern’s chamber, “with this magnificent weapon we can at last lay waste to both Arthas’ scourge and the hated Horde. All glory to the Alliance, forever victorious.”
Ignat ignored the sarcastic speech, focusing instead on the withered mummy of a man who sat cross legged and preternaturally still on a natural bench of rock jutting out from the base of the cavern’s wall. After four hours of spelunking and descending further and further into the bowels of the frozen island of Northrend, the man and the gnome had found themselves face to face with their goal. The only problem was that the Forsaken Oracle, who this surely was, was non-responsive to any form of communication, simply sitting with it’s eye’s closed and back curved against the wall.
“It’s dead Ig,” Finegal intoned at last, “let us burn the cursed thing and be done with it. I wish to set an ambush for those Horde wretches who are surely following us. Hopefully we’ll catch Ter’vona in it as well.”
Ignat sighed heavily and turned to look at the shadow priest, his eyes narrowing slightly in annoyance, “Finegal, of course it’s dead, it’s had the same curse visited upon it that all scourge have, but it is more similar to Sylvanas’ lot. I can feel the same spark of magic animating it that is present in all undead, it is simply choosing not to respond to us.”
“Then let us create a portal and return to Valiance Keep with this wineskin of a man and we can hand him over to the Inquisitors. They’ll get him to respond, you can have no doubt.”
“No, unfortunately, you cannot port someone against their will. If they resist the pull of magic for any reason then the spell simply breaks and they get left behind, allowing the Horde to regain the advantage. We could summon soldiers to come and carry him from here, but we would have to deal with our shadows fir-”
Finegal suddenly stood up straight and turned, a sound echoing down the passage from which they had emerged into the chamber that held Oracle. “Tabernac,” cursed the shadow priest, “they have caught up to us, Ig, set the thing on fire or something to wake it up, I’ll try to slow them down.”
With that he seemed to slip into the long shadows created by the small ball of light floating at the shoulder of the gnome who simply nodded and stepped forward, his face inches from the undead’s long since rotted stump of a nose. As the gnome studied the face of what he hoped would become the Alliance’s newest source of intelligence against the Scourge, he noticed a slight twitch in the muscles. Ignat stepped back a moment later when the eyelids shot open, revealing orbs of pure white that gave the impression of movement somewhere below their glasslike surfaces.
“You… you can see me?” piped the slightly shaken gnome.
The jaw, set at an unnatural forty-five degree angel from the rest of the skull, began to slide up and down, creating the unpleasant sound of bone grinding against bone. As the Oracle spoke for the first time, the words came out of sync from the methodical up and down motion of the jaw, setting Ignat further at ease while the paper like rustling of the thing’s voice entered his mind, “The… door approaches… I will leave… with you… now,”
“Uh… excellent, excellent, let me simply gather my com-”
“Now… must go… now…” A note of urgency entered the whispered words, the thought occurring to Ignat that this thing was afraid of something.
“Finegal!” called Ignat, trying to see into the gloom past his orb of light’s radius.
“Too late… too late… he sees… he sees…”
With that, the Oracle leaned his head back and began to utter an unearthly wail.
* * * * *
For the third time since they had entered the gloom of the cave, Dueg felt a flash of heat radiate out from his sternum, engulfing his whole body momentarily to the point of being uncomfortable before it faded. He supposed that perhaps the rigors of their trials was getting to him as he looked over to Noxt, who was still burning a path through the magical frost left behind by the hated Alliance gnome. Scrat stood with his hand pressed against the wall, his strength still returning only slowly while Reyk looked on into the gloom of the passage before them, watching carefully for any movement. After a few moments, Noxt stood suddenly and looked down, perplexed.
“The ice is fading…” he said, his voice slowly trailing.
Reyk and Dueg both stepped forward, looking down at the floor of the cavern and boggling at the ice, not just what the mage had been burning, but all of it, slowly receded, simply vanishing as the spell began to unweave. “The spell has faded,” said Reyk, “they must have either left or they are waiting for us now. Come then, let us oblige them.”
With that he stepped forward in a guarded stance, his eyes shifting left and right as he gripped his sword tightly. Slowly the others followed, also wary of any traps as suddenly the cave seemed to be alive with noise and shadow. Dueg felt another flash of heat come over him as he pulled his dark wand from it’s sheath, and held it ready for use as the four grouped together, moving slowly but determinedly down into the depths. And as they moved, the shadows danced.
* * * * *
End Part 1