1,200 words. Kael’thas, Rommath, and Voren’thal. This takes place during Warcraft 3. Wheee yay ELFS.
The sun never quite seemed to set over the red sands of Hellfire Peninsula, the land locked in some strange state of eternal twilight. Kael’thas stood tall, as tall as he could, overlooking a wide road carved through the land. Far ahead, he could see the orc settlements, but they were not his main concern now.
His white hawkstrider shifted nervously as the wind changed, bringing with it a hint of something he could sense but couldn’t quite explain how- arcane magic. He would have to ask the others if he was the only one who sensed it, distant from where they were. He held a white cloth to his mouth, filtering the dust that the wind brought with it.
“Kael.” A deep red hawkstrider crept closer, carrying his trusted advisor, Rommath. They had long since dispensed of polite titles around each other. It was a habit, in Dalaran, that Kael’thas made himself known by his childhood nickname, though he knew that many of the older elves had considered it beneath him to be so familiar with people.
Unfortunately, many of the elders had fallen ill. He was certain, by now, that many had died. “Yes?” He turned back, the realization weighing on him as he watched Rommath carefully. “Have they finished?”
Rommath nodded, a bandana tied around his face. His eyes, bright green now, looked tired. They had been marching for days, following the orders of Lord Illidan and Lady Vashj. Kael trusted them, to a point, but even he was not enough of a fool to think their intentions completely altruistic. Kael turned away, looking back over the road one last time before making a small clicking noise and gesturing with the reigns in his hands. The bird turned toward Rommath, and he nodded.
“Let us rest, for now. Tomorrow, we advance again. I will speak with Voren’thal- please meet us in my tent tonight.”
Rommath nodded. “Of course.” He hesitated for a moment, but said nothing.
Voren’thal had been old when they first arrived in Outland, but the arid air and days with little rest had taken more of a toll on him than the others. He leaned on his staff, pushing aside the heavy cloth flap and looking inside. “Your highness?
“Ah, there you are.” Kael smiled softly- a gesture rarely seen anymore. “I wanted to speak with you and Rommath…” He stepped to the makeshift desk he had assembled to work at. “…about the next steps.” He gestured to a small chair, the verdant orbs that circled him illuminating the tent. “Please, sit.”
Voren’thal nodded, silent, as he settled into place. Something seemed to weigh on him, and though Kael wasn’t as perceptive as Voren’thal was, he was concerned. “What is it?”
“Simply…” He took a deep breath that caught in his lungs and sent him into coughs. Kael stepped closer, furrowing his brows and resting a hand on Voren’thal’s shoulder. It passed quickly, and Voren’thal nodded shakily. “…apologies, my prince. It was simply that…”
“We feel there is more than enough reason to be suspicious of the Naga and this…demon.” Rommath stepped in, untying the cloth from his head and nodding.
“Of course there is.” Kael glanced between the two of them. “I’m not enough of a fool to believe they have only good intent.”
“Then why…” Voren’thal glanced up at him. “We’ve lost two men this week!”
“And their deaths weigh heavily on me.” Kael frowned. “I do not carelessly send my people into danger.” There was something cold welling up within him, that his two most trusted advisors would doubt him.
“Kael.” Rommath glanced down to Voren’thal, and sighed. “We trust you, but we worry.”
“You should.” He nodded, turning back to the papers scattered across the desk. “I know they are using us- it is because of my will alone, my love for my people, that we are not used as mere fodder like the Draenei.”
Voren’thal opened his mouth to speak, gaping for the words. “Your highness, with all due respect…”
Kael was silent, leveling his eyes on Voren’thal. The fel green seemed to burn through him, and the face wasn’t the same prince who he had tutored as a child- or the happy man who had visited from Dalaran only a year prior. His expression was cold, and that was the moment that Voren’thal finally understood how much his prince had changed.
They all had.
“Perhaps…it is best that was trust in our prince.” Rommath glanced down at Voren’thal, who frowned.
Kael nodded softly. “I had meant to speak with you both, regarding the future.”
Rommath nodded, knowing this discussion was coming for some time now, since the three of them had begun to siphon fel energy to sate their need for the arcane. It had been several weeks, and aside from their eyes turning an unnerving shade of green, there had been no other ill effects. Even Voren’thal, old as he was, seemed to be faring better than before. “Our magi and spellbreakers are still very weak.”
“I have gathered crystals to be used. You are both to instruct in their use.” He stood back from the charts and maps they had been following. “Rommath…if…” He shook his head, erasing the doubt from creeping into his voice. “When we defeat Arthas, I will have you return to Quel’thalas. We will need to spread Lord Illidan’s teachings to the rest, if we’re to save them.”
Rommath nodded, but the phrase “Lord Illidan” rang hollow in his ears. No doubt the rest of the Blood Elves would not take to such teachings if they knew their true source…Rommath was enough of a clever politician to know how to correct that.
After all, the elves loved their prince.
Kael hesitated for a moment, and the silence hung over them all. Voren’thal’s doubt, Rommath’s unspoken words, Kael’thas’s willingness to play the fool- no one said a word about them. Later, Rommath would curse that he had said nothing- had not tried to save their prince from selling his soul.
Finally, Kael spoke, and he started with a deep sigh. “I am tired of this place. We all are. But we will do what we must, to ensure our future.”
Voren’thal simply nodded, and Rommath hesitated before speaking. “I will return after this, Kael. But I will send them to you. You will not be forgotten and…I hope that you can find your way away from your present company to return to us, as well.”
He said nothing more, and left the tent, Kael frowned. It was a long while before he finally spoke, stepping back to the desk and resting his hands against it, long, blood red, nails tapping against the maps as he thought.
Finally, when he spoke, he had found the same certainty that he tried to show the rest of his company.
“You will find the crystals behind my tent, covered. See that Rommath helps you.”
Voren’thal nodded, standing from his seat with some difficulty and leaning on his staff.
“…thank you, Voren’thal.”
The seer nodded, sadly. “We trust you.” But his words were awkward when he spoke them. He didn’t truly trust, no, but he had to believe that perhaps this time, his visions were wrong.
After all, the prince would never lead their people astray.