“Eat, my pets. You must grow strong!” Vysto said to his hounds, throwing fresh limbs into their cages. The hounds ravaged their dinner with wild abandon, as if they hadn't eaten in days. It was something Vysto loved to watch on slow, dull days. “If it wasn't for you, my sweets, I would probably convert back to the Light.” Vysto laughed heartily at that remark. “Oh! I kill myself, sometimes.”
“Massster..” a voice from the shadows spoke. “I have returned with newsss..”
“Speak then, Klax. Endulge me.” Vysto replied calmly.
“The tunnel hasss been breached.”
“Again?!” Vysto erupted into such anger, that his hounds stopped eating and retreated into the corners furthest away from their master. “How hard can it be for you Nerubians, master tunnel-diggers, to hold a small, narrow pass through the western cliffs?”
“My apologiesss massster.. The Argent Dawn and adventurersss are no easssy.. foesss..”
Vysto shrugged. “Whatever am I to do with you, Klax? The Lich King, the Nether hold his.. well, he had no soul, did he? In any case, the Lich King put you under my command to aid me into holding the Plaguewood. That was years ago, and each year you fail me at least once a week. Be glad I am a patient man, Klax, otherwise you would have been replaced a multitude of times.”
“Patient hardly dessscribesss your.. persssonality, massster.” Klax humbly said, taking a bow in the process.
“Don't think that such compliments humble me, creature. Be off, and do a better job this time. For all I care you collapse the entirety of the tunnel.”
“But, massster.. The essscape route?”
Vysto shrugged. “We still have the path through the southern mountains, if anything happens. Besides, it'd be a tactical flaw and victory. The Argents are no longer able to get reinforcements through that tunnel, allowing us te re-capture Terrordale and the Plaguewood Tower. Yes, I rather like that idea. Go forth and make it happen.” Klax bowed and left, leaving Vysto to continue the feeding of his hounds. “You'll do a much better job than that silly spider, won't you?” The hounds barked, the sound they made guttural and very far from an actual bark, capturing Vysto in a trance, beholding his beauties.
The rattle of bones snapped Vysto back to Azeroth. “Who goes there?”
A strange, half-warped, chilling and emotionless voice answered in the accent of a Troll. “I be Zab'in Frostclaw. One o' da few Death Knight loyal to da true scourge, and not de usurpa' on da trone.”
“A Death Knight, you say? Interesting. Take off your helmet so that I may judge you.” Vysto replied, his curiosity taking the best of him. But the Death Knight would not comply. “Ser Death Knight, I asked you to take off your helm. You are in the presence of the Lord of the Plaguewoods, Vysto Oakbeard.”
The Death Knight chuckled, or whatever dark-form of laughter it was. “'Oakbeard'? Dat be no Human name, mon! Ya be askin' me ta show ma true face, an' here ya be, hidin' yer own.”
“I have nothing to hide.” Vysto said in a calm manner, stepping closer to Zab'in. “I was found by Dwarves when I was an infant. They raised me, adopted me, and gave me quite a pleasant life.” Vysto sighed. Somewhere he missed his parents; but those were feelings for weak mortals. Something he was no longer. “I left for an adventure when I was eighteen cycles old, happening upon the Argent Dawn and joining their Priesthood.” Vysto started pacing the chamber, Zab'in's eyes fixed on him. “And then the Lich King's armies invaded. You know, the 'Knights of the Ebon Hold' and their forces.”
Zab'in scoffed. “Dey be traitors! Dey 'elped in da demise of our King!”
“So they did. I was nearly killed in that fight, you know. Were you there? Quite a frightening experience to behold. Undead looming over you, ready to take your life, your soul.” Vysto raised his hands in the air, mimicing a prayer. “And then came mighty, holy, and strong Tirion to save the day! And my life with it.” Vysto's hands came down slowly, and he clenched them into fists, his fingernails digging into his flesh, small droplets of blood falling to the floor. His tone turned to that of rage, his face clearly showing anger and resentment. “And that is when I lost all hope in the Light.” Vysto then looked up, smiled broadly and turned to the Death Knight. “And now I'm here! Ruling over this magical forest, awaiting the return of the True Scourge. And what's your story?”
“I be sent 'ere by Baroness Mepfiste, ta take over ya place. She 'as won fair fights against da strongest remainin' leaders of da True Scourge and taken command afta' many months of bein' a leaderless faction.”
Vysto's face flushed. “T-take over?! Preposterous! And 'strongest amongst..'? Rediculous! If that were true, I'd be there! The Lich King himself made me ruler of these lands!”
Zab'in drew his sword. “Da lady also be wantin a pure
Scourge. No livin', only Undead!” He lunged towards Vysto, whom only barely managed to sidestep the slash of the Death Knight's weapon. “Ya can not escape me, mon!”
“Oh, you just watch!” Vysto exclaimed, taking on a serious posture. He made a complicated hand gesture, and became a shade. “You see, when I abandoned the Light I embraced the Shadow. But not the kind the Forsaken Shadow Priests maintain. No, I maintain a higher form of this power!” Vysto shot a volley of Shadow Bolts at Zab'in, simply by flicking his fingers. The Troll received the full brunt, not even getting enough time to cast Magic Barrier.
“You be a wicked person, mon! But ya still only human!” Zab'in lunged once more, but this time slashed in a wide arc, rather than an overhead one, slashing Vysto's left arm, leaving a deep wound.
“That hurt, you know! But no matter, 't is but a scratch! All I have to do is-” a sudden surge of pain shot through Vysto's arm. Looking at it, the wound was festering, infecting. “No.” Vysto said, fear visible in his expression. “A new plague?”
Zab'in laughed. “An' ya be infected! Ya will cease ta exist! No undeath for ya!”
“Think again.” Vysto said as he prepared a spell and quickly cast it just above the infected part of his arm, severing it, the cut-off piece still being infected further as it fell onto the ground with a thump. “I.. I am not just.. any sort of.. Shadow Priest..” he said with a rasping voice, biting back the pain. “I am half-undead, half-mortal.. I still have a soul, though weakened, but I can also tap.. into the powers of the Undead!” Vysto drew a magic-circle in the sky, and applied it to his arm.
“And what good be dat doin'? Ya cut off ya own arm!” Zab'in said with smugness.
“Oh.. but that is where you, my friend.. are wrong. Just wait.. and watch..” No sooner had Vysto said those words when he collapsed on his knees, a terrible pain coursing through his body. From his wound, where once his arm was, his flesh was bubbling, protruding and growing.
“What manner of powa' be dis?!” Zab'in exclaimed in wonder.
But Vysto was unable to answer, the pain being too much. New bone formed, and around it muscle and flesh, until he once more had a full arm and a functioning hand.
“And that.. my dear Knight.. is the extent of my power. Now if you'll excuse me, I have a property to defend.” Vysto turned his back on Zab'in and walked towards the exit of the Slaughterhouse when a Ghoul appeared in the opening. And another, until a large group barged Vysto's way, who in turn let out a chuckle. “My dear Knight, have you not learned anything?” he made a 'tsk' sound, “And these regalia? Why do you think I don this hood, fanged-skull mask, and ice-blue with black robe? Surely that should give away I am no simple cultist. But as you wish. Watch as your precious Ghouls </i>evaporate</i>!” Vysto flung his restored arm into the air, made a few gestures, and pointed at one of the Ghouls, marking his target. This Ghoul started writhing in pain, screaming and dropping to the floor, evaporating into a dark-purple mist slowly and painfully, infecting the Ghouls around it. In mere seconds the halls of the Slaughterhouse were filled with the screams of pained Ghouls, waiting to be evaporated, and all Zab'in could do was watch in anger.
“Ya be makin' a great prize for da Baroness! Face me, mon!” Zab'in shouted as he took an offensive stance.
“Oh fine. You want to play? Come play.” A battle erupted. Sword clashed against shadowy-barrier and shadow-spells agains magic-barriers. The two were evenly matched; Releasing a volley of Shadow Bolts, Vysto quickly turned to Shadow Words for his offence, and while Zab'in shrugged off the Bolts with his Barrier, the Shadow Words clung to him, sickening and damaging him.
Zab'in in turn threw Frost spells, Blood Spells and quick lunges of the blade, freezing Vysto's right hand, making his head pound and near-unable to dodge blows. Vysto quickly unfroze his arm by holding it close to a torch, and went back into the offensive.
“Enough playing!” Vysto suddenly erupted with energy, staggering Zab'in. “You are a worthy adversary. If not for your weakness.”
“Weakness?” Zab'in asked, wondering what Vysto meant. “Wat weakness?”
Vysto let out a chuckle. “This.” And he cast Shackle Undead, trapping Zab'in in place. “To think that some of these Light spells would come in handy. I think I have a few more.” Vysto cast the few Light spells he still knew, and severly hurt Zab'in, taking complete pleasure in the Trolls obvious pain, until Zab'in was close to death. “There, that should do it.” And Vysto released Zab'in, walked towards the Troll and groped him by the seams of his cloak. “I leave you alive.. for as much as can be said about you, so you can be an example, and a warning, to your 'Baroness'. Tell her she can have the Plaguewoods, and those god-forsaken Argent Dawn fools, but never let her forget that I will come for her, slowly take whatever life she has, in the most painful of ways, and take her place. Let her wallow in this 'victory', but let her know the war only just started.”
Zab'in groaned as Vysto dropped him to the floor, and let out a chuckle. “Ya be more foolish dan I thought, mon. She will skin you alive, raise you from the dead, and do it all over again! She show no mercy, like she will show me no mercy.”
Vysto shrugged and ignored what Zab'in said to him, and proceeded to go outside. It was no better here. His units were battling those of Zab'in, with some unfortunate Argent Dawn scouts caught in the middle. He saw Klax fighting off a small unit of Ghouls by himself, and walked towards him. “Klax, gather some of your men and meet me at the Southern-Pass. We're getting out of here. I'll find Ser Mercy, however unfitting his name for a walking corpse, and we'll meet you there.”
“M-my lord..? Do we not ssstay and fight..?” Klax asked astounded as he punctured the skull of a charging Ghoul.
“Oh, no! It has been made clear that this enemy is far too strong, and too numerous for us to overcome in these small numbers. Now get to it! Stay safe.” Vysto was about to walk away, when he turned around and asked, “Klax? How did these foes get in the woods?”
“Through.. through the tunnel, massster..”
“Marvelous. I should have ordered you to seal the tunnel earlyer. Oh well, nothing we can do about it now!” And with those words Vysto ran off, in search of Ser Mercy. He proved hard to find in the conflict, and all the skeletons nearly looked alike. “I should have given him proper leader-regalia, or anything to set him apart from his men.”
“MasterVysto,whatbringsyouhere?” a hasty, clacking voice asked.
“Ah, Ser Mercy. I forgot you have never heard of spacing between words.” Vysto said in a snarky way, turning towards his lieutenant.
“No matter, Ser. Gather your men and meet me at the Southern Pass. I will explain everything there. Klax is already on the move.”
“Asyouwish,myliege!”, Ser Mercy saluted and scurried off.
“Skeletons. Very loyal, but when it comes to comprehensiveness, they're almost as thick as their own skull. Now to head for the pass” On his way to the Southern Pass, Vysto flung spells back and forth, aiding his units,which joined him, and to make his trip to the Southern Pass easyer.
“Massster! You made it!” Klax said excited.
“Would you expect otherwise?” Vysto said with a light chuckle. “Now, look back one more time, everyone. It will not be the last time you see the Woods, for we will return. Stronger, more numerous, and most of all overwhelming!”