The Spider and the Serpent

Despite having planned this for months, Shalkis still felt uneasy. The swamp looked darker than usual, and even the moon looked paler. In the dim light, the Pool of Tears seemed to have a faint crimson hue. How much blood was actually spilled here? Shalkis looked around, her companions were supposed to be somewhere around here. She tugged on Windclaw's harness, and he sprang into action. With almost playful grace, he hopped from one patch of ground to the other, and then into another. He was happy, not knowing that he could not follow the mistress on this hunt.

After circling the pool, Shalkis found what she was looking for. Bumptious, Eire, Skanda and an unknown troll were next to a fresh carcass of a green dragonkin. Skanda and the other troll were arguing about scales and hides. Killing mere dragonkin did not interest Shalkis. She was after bigger prey, Hakkar. Yeh'kinya had told about a way to capture the Blood God and had instructed her to find a special egg in Jintha'Alor. Shalkis had retrieved the egg, but Yeh'kinya's lies were transparent. All trolls in Tanaris that did not serve Hakkar were either driven to exile or slain if caught. She had held on to the egg for months, not knowing what to do with it. The Dreamer's brood was watching over the Temple, so there was no immediate danger. But then the Emerald Menace appeared, as a sign that Ysera was losing, and Hakkar's prison was starting to buckle. She could not delay any longer. Hakkar had to be brought back and slain for good, before he could infect the Dream for good.

Skanda and the other troll, who had introduced himself as Blackjin had finished their "negotiation". Shalkis did not trust Blackjin, but she had no choice. Shalkis climbed down from Windclaw's back and shooed him to the dark swamp. He would manage. He always has. The five trolls dived into the black pool and swam towards the temple. Hakkar had been brought here by the trolls, and it was about time that mistake was corrected.

At the temple, Shalkis let Slayrith, her pet spider and conduit to Shadra crawl off her back and to the ground. Slayrith cared little about the Atai, trolls or even Hakkar, but he cared about releasing the Spider Queen from Hakkar's grasp. Carefully, he skittered along the moss-covered corridors with the trolls following close behind him. After countless corridors and winding passages, fighting beasts, the dead and the living Atai, the five trolls and the spider finally stood in a large chamber, lit by four great braziers. In the center of the chamber lies Hakkar, or what's left of his physical form. A pile of dried bones, surrounded by a ring of candles. The others had been chatting, joking and bragging about mundane things during their fights in the temple, while Shalkis had stayed silent. Noticing her silence, Blackjin asked:

"Does the Empire know what you are about to do here?"

"It matters not.", Shalkis spoke, more to herself than to him. "I have to see the face of my enemy. There is no time." She stood up and walked into the ring, knocking over a few of the candles in the process. The binding was failing, what does a few candles matter now? To catch the biggest of preys, Shalkis needed a good bait. Offering freedom to the greedy Blood God would do. She lifted the egg into the air, and it slowly floated up from her hand. The ritual had began, and there was no turning back. Slayrith quietly moved towards the closest wall and started to climb it, looking for a safe vantage point.

The lines of the great summoning circle, as well as six smaller ones were quickly drawn with sickly green light. The whole chamber was glowing, and it would not take long for the dragonkins to notice what was happening. The clanking of their heavy armors already echoed in the corridors. The Circles began pulsing slowly, then quickening the pace, almost like a heart starting to beat again.

Threads of the green light began to spiral up in the small summoning circles, forming into snakes. As expected, the Blood God sent his minions to the slaughter. The weak reptiles were no match for the well-trained trolls. Snake blood stained the floor, but instantly vaporized whenever it hit the lines of the summoning circle. It didn't take long for the Blood God to become impatient and send one of his sky serpents. With a furious cleave, Bumptious decapitated the serpent and turned it into a short-lived fountain of blood. Some of the blood fell into one of the braziers, extinguishing it.


"The flames! Extinguish the flames with their blood!", somebody shouted. Six more snakes appeared, but the group was prepared. Protected by Blackjin's shields, Bumptious and Skanda rounded the snakes up while Eire was busy with a new flying serpent, dodging it's clumsy attempts to decapitate her. As soon as the snakes were all together, Shalkis lifted her arms and summoned a hailstorm of ice. The cold-blooded reptiles could do nothing but die in the storm.

"No! You must not awaken the master!"

Shalkis turned around. The strong voice belonged to a dragonkin, one of Ysera's brood. But did he just call Hakkar "master"? This was enough proof that Hakkar was too strong for Ysera's brood to handle. Hakkar was spreading the corruption from within the Emerald Dream. The nightmares of Naralex the druid should have been a good enough clue that the Dream was in danger. But the elves did nothing. After all, it was just orcs and tauren who were dying from the nightmares made flesh. Naralex's mission of mercy to the Barrens had been twisted into an attempt to spread the corruption. If Hakkar was what the elves dreamt of, no wonder that the elves allow the corruption to spread. In the Wailing Caverns, and in the festering boil known as Maraudon. The elves could not be trusted to clean up this mess. Our mess. We had called Hakkar here, and we had trusted his venomous words in our hour of need. There was no hesitation in Shalkis' voice. The Soulflayer must be torn from the Dream before it was too late.

"The dragons have been corrupted by Hakkar! Kill them! Kill them all! Don't let them stop the ritual!"

The five trolls swarmed the surprised dragonkin before he even could lift his hand. Meanwhile, Eire was finished with the serpent, and poured it's blood over the next brazier.


"Good! Two more!" But Skanda was already way ahead of her, forcing one of the serpents to retreat towards the brazier. With a thundering blow, he knocked the serpent into the flames. The foul beast screamed and tried to desperately fly away from the flames, but was stopped by a wave of shadow energy, coming from Blackjin's hands.


"Come further, said the spider to the fly." The ground was littered by the corpses of snakes. Hakkar would not see the trap until it was too late. Shalkis heard a hiss behind her, and before she could turn around, a pair of fangs dived deep into her shoulder. Poison! Her strength was dwindling fast.

"Not.. yet!"

She felt the poison numbing her upper body, racing towards her heart. Her vision began to fade. She though of her beloved Dun Morogh, and she felt the gentle embrace of the frost. Flowing through her veins, covering her skin, draping her in a protective blanket. For a few seconds, she dreamt of home. Her parents.




The booming voice of the Soulflayer awakened her. The prey has arrived. The false god who caused the downfall of the first Empire. The tyrant who saw us as food. The one who turned trolls agains their own kin, against their own families, against themselves.

The avatar of Hakkar towered above them, yet there was no fear. The curse that has plagued the trolls must end right here, right now. The empty cavity in Hakkar's chest reminded what would happen to the fallen. Their spirits would serve the Soulflayer forever, helping to harvest more and more souls. Hakkar would not just defeat his foes, he would use their strength to feed himself. To spread his curse to others.

"For the Empire!"

"Kill the Soulflayer!"

"The curse of blood ends now!"

"Blood, fire, death!"

Before Shalkis could do anything, Skanda, Bumptious and Eire were already fighting for their lives. No, souls. She and Blackjin stayed behind, firing their spells whenever they saw an opening. But the Soulflayer showed no signs of being injured, or wounded. Shalkis kept throwing her frostbolts, but she could feel her powers dwindling. Five mortals, against a God. What was she thinking? No! She had called the Soulflayer. She had insisted on going here. She held the Egg. Suddenly, she heard a familiar voice in her head. The voice of the Emperor.

"Pinkskins are marching north. The Empire will meet them in battle. I order everyone to rally to Undercity."

"Emperor, but.."

"That is an order, Atai."

Disobeying the Emperor is treason. As an Atai, she was supposed to be absolutely loyal to Him. But the Soulflayer cannot be allowed to live. Returning him to the Dream was impossible now. She cennot disobey the Emperor, but she cannot allow the Soulflayer to remain here. Shalkis looked at the others. They were still fighting, with no doubt in their faces. The Emperor had not contacted them, expecting that Shalkis would bring them with her. There was no need to tell them yet. The Emperor was just a man. Destroying the Soulflayer is more important than Him, or the war. Or the Empire itself. And with those thoughts, she had already betrayed her wows.

Shalkis lifted her arms up and tapped into the Nether. This was always risky, but there was no time. Her comrades were beginning to tire. Soon one of them would fall and the Soulflayer would be strengthened. Pure tendrils of pure power from the Nether swirled around her, focusing on her hands. Just a bit more.. There!

"The Soulflayer falls today! The day of redemption is here! Hold your ground!"

Shalkis continued her barrage against the Soulflayer's exposed back, hitting him with frostbolts. Again. And again. And again. He won't notice what is happening until it was too late. The fight had finally turned to the trolls' favor, and Hakkar was getting worn down by the trolls' fury. Blow by blow, spell by spell, the Soulflayer was pushed back toward the ring of candles, towards the Egg.


Eire, Bumptious and Skanda ran out of the ring. Shalkis began chanting, and the circle pulsed again one more time, and faded into darkness. Sudden gusts of wind blew out the ring of candles. The chamber was completely dark, except for the Egg, glowing in the middle of the room. Hakkar finally realized what was going on, and tried to escape the ring. But the pull of the Egg was too strong. His spirit was sucked out from his bony avatar, and into the Egg. The egg pulsed one more time. The Avatar's bones dropped to the floor, clattering harmlessly. The Egg fell too, but Shalkis was there to catch it.

"The Soulflayer is contained, for now. He is not dead. We are done here. The Emperor awaits us."

Shalkis moved away from the ring, and took out a rune from her pocket. She began chanting, holding the rune in her hand. The reality around her seemed to twist inwards, pulling the dim light from her hands towards one point. Shalkis uttered the final words of the incantation, and the point expanded, showing one of the ziggurats of the Undercity. After everyone else had stepped through, Shalkis looked one more time a the skeleton of the Avatar.

"I hope he did not cause too much damage."

With that thought, she stepped through the portal.

Deeper in the temple, a dragon dreamt of terrible things..

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