Steel clashed against steel. Battle cries echoed. The sound of cannons going off and the sound of bows’ being bent. People were dying. Everybody were dying. No one was the exception.
The Alliance’s king, Varian Wrynn had met his end and Vol’jin of the Horde carried away wounded by Sylvanas Windrunner.
He was exhausted, but yet, he fought on. The battle was still going on below him, and it was up to him and the dragons of Heartwing to keep the battle in the skies. Heartwing stood unified more than ever. The most reclusive agents called to battle. From the weakest whelp to the strongest wyrm, they all wanted to assure this victory, to fulfill their noble charges. Nobody had been spared. Truly, everybody in Heartwing stood here this day to defend Azeroth against the Burning Legion. It was this unity that brought Aerenstrasz strength, it reinvigorated him to fight with a resilience to stand against the burning shadow.
We were alone, but our objective still remained clear. We were going to shatter the Tomb of Sargeras. We are Azeroth’s last hope and my father heralded this effort.
Even with the world abandoning us, we were winning. The adversaries of the Legion they had sent against us, we dispatched. We ended them, we had stood unified together and nothing could ever shatter our victory until he arrived.
From the sky’s eternal churning felstorm, descended the one dragon, we could not best. The one dragon that was more powerful than any of us, the one that is my traitor-uncle; Helius. The presumed creator of the Felblood Dragonflight, the person not even my grandfather could defeat, and he made sure we would all know, that this day, Heartwing had failed.
But he did not annihilate us. His presence alone was enough to cripple our forces with an unimaginable grip of fear, it was this opening that the Burning Legion needed to reinforce their numbers. With their increased forces, we all fell. Our victory that we saw in front of us was stripped from us before we could reach it.
“Do not falter, dragons of Heartwing! Focus on our objective and we shall be victorious!” – my father words resembled the unity, that fear had almost plunged from us.
He truly was an inspiration to us all. Despite people’s lives coming to an end, their bodies flung helplessly and plummeted with their bodies impaled into the spikes below and subsequently impaling the dragons, my father kept his eye on the battle ahead. Death wouldn’t deter him, he knew what was at stake. Everything was at stake. We still yet had a chance at victory, and we more than anything needed to seize it!
Three drakes supposed to give relief to our frontlines were now surrounded by terrifying maws of enormous demonic bats. My father’s greatest strength; the very ideal that had inspired us all led to what I could see immediately at a glance. I knew what my father would do, but so did Helius. And he had been waiting for it.
My father had walked into the exact trap which Helius had intended. He was now too far away for reinforcements to arrive his aid. Nobody could reach him, nobody but my mother; Aryiastrasza which strafed from demon to demon, once she also realized before even I could, what would happen. But it had been too late. Felblood Dragons had already surrounded my father, they did not intend to end him, but they imprisoned him into a verdant sphere of demonic energies, it sank my father into unconsciousness. My mother dispatched the Felbloods and tried to rip the sphere open. And she did the impossible, only to realize the content of the sphere seeping out now plunged her into the same curse that had befallen my father.
I had lost both of my parents that day.
The blurred vision of Aeren ever so slowly paved their way to sight. His eyes darted hazily from side to side.
Then it arrived. Pain. Agony. Every fiber of Aerenstrasz flared up, telling him that he had to get away. Now he realized where his pain had came from. Aeren’s wrists had both been impaled by crystalline fel. He watched to each side, as he saw his own blood being the only escape from them. Every surge of the crystals gave out a painful cry from the dragon.
So too had his other limbs been impaled by these sickly looking crystals. His collar wrapped in metal with tinier fel crystals adorned on them. Which had made sure also to prevent him from ever changing into his draconic form. His arms and legs wrapped in crude chains that he by it, already was sapping his strength and keeping him in a weakened state.
He was impaled on a pentagon shaped cross, that spread his entire body out to each side. Helius had once captured Aerenstrasz before, but it was done in a hastily matter. Helius had time to prepare both his circumstances, his toolset and most of all, his staff. Aeren was placed atop menacing-looking spire. He looked to the sky and he realized by it, he was no longer on Azeroth. These stars weren’t hers. All he saw was planets cleaved, their debris shattered and orbiting their dead cores. Above him in what looked to be covering the hollow sun was a dark storm adorning fel lightnings. It appeared to be small however.
“Was this to be Azeroth’s fate? The Legion’s crusade has reached too far. The life and sun dying under their endless onslaught.” Aeren thought to himself amidst the encroaching and deep reaching pain. His teeth gritted harshly.
Aeren was high up on the spire itself. He was put on display for the rest of the Legion’s demons. The entire surface was covered by the Legion’s foul demons He was a trophy which Helius intended to boast about. The leader of Heartwing in captivity in one of the Legion’s already hollow worlds, what greater satisfaction could Helius ever possibly desire?
Then he saw it. Five shadows passing through the sky in an speed faster than any dragon. Each were like a storm in itself with constant and rapid green thunder and lightning setting apart their dark demeanor in their crude core. They were heading towards Aeren, spiraling around each other and leaving a dark trail of smoke. The fel-shadows crashed onto the spire’s top, before the shadows dispersed from their being. Five elves walked forward from the shadow. Three males and two females. Aeren recognized the two females.
Vyraestrasza and Veristrasza.
Vyraestrasza was the former consort of Hydrastrasz, she had died and been raised by Helius. Hydra was Aeren’s own twin-brother that had fallen in the Cataclysm by Helius. Vyrae and Aeren never saw eye to eye, Aeren had despised how she in life manipulated her way through it, she manipulated his brother to do whatever she pleased. Her skin was now rotting and peeling off her dead face, a genuine reminder to reflect her cold dead heart, just as it had been in life.
Veristrasza was a former soldier under Aerenstrasz. She had fallen to corruption on his watch. It struck him deeper than any of these crystals had. In her hand, she wielded one of the most powerful weapons that Aerenstrasz had known of in history. Quel’Thera, roughly translated to high struggle. A sister blade to the its brother Quel’Azelios. Aerenstrasz took solace in knowing that it was at least never going to be in the Legion’s hands ever. Veristrasza had betrayed Heartwing in the cruelest way known, she had feigned loyalty to the organization before she drank Helius’ blood in front of them all to claim forcefully Quel’Thera from its stead. Aeren stood helplessly, unable to stop the dragoness from committing the worst mistake, she would ever make.
Each of the four elves reassigned their hands behind and straightened their backs. Aeren peered at them, trying to predict what was to come, albeit it was a hazardous endeavor, the pain pushed Aeren closer to the brink of insanity. He would not let it. All four elves looked up to the dark storm above, it had grown to a tremendous size to the point that Aeren feared it would crash down on him.
Wings expunged from the great storm above, adorned with several long spikes that had fel decorating their tips. The wings bursted and drifted the storm itself apart, before a gargantuan dragon roared itself to life, so much that even the earth, perhaps the entire hollow world shook at his might.
However his menacing appearance slowly began to get smaller before he landed on the spire in front of the four other elves.
The four elves all knelt simultaneously, as their leader descended from the heavens.
He was an elf, however very unlike the others. His appearance looked more demon than elf. He had eight horns impaled onto his skull. Two far reaching, two smaller ones. Four smaller ones reaching backwards in the center. His expression was cold, but yet his eyes burning with green fires. His fingers were wrapped in sharp draconic-like claw gauntlets, along with himself having long grey hair falling down each side. His long cloak followed him closely, dragging by the ground, as he walked closer to the captured dragon, Aeren.
“My brother. How I have waited for you to wake up. After all, none of this would have put a smile on my face, if you hadn’t been.”
His name was Helius. The progenitor of the Felblood Dragonflight, the one who had turned an entire tide of a war by his sheer presence alone. He, who had corrupted noble souls and felled heroes by his whim. He, who had have caused the downfall of an entire family of dragons. He had flicked his oldest brother; Azrael who were launching himself at Helius instantly to the ground, subsequently rupturing all of Azrael’s bones and leaving him dying. Azrael had been the strongest of our family, yet made the weakest in but a moment.
Helius walked closely up to the captured leader of Heartwing, as he spoke his words, each closely weaved, concise and to the point, Helius knew how to weave fear between the lines by his tone. One of his aforementioned sharp gauntlet digits dragged itself down Aeren’s cheek, just below his right eye down to his chin. It drew the thinnest visible line of red blood. Aeren grit his teeth during this, but he knew what stage of Helius’ plan, he was enacting. Fear.
Helius’ most potent and wide reaching weapon in his arsenal had been fear. It had crippled armies, destroyed families and led cities to join him. It was never to deny ever that he did not inspire fear, but Aeren held onto a hope, that Helius saw as a threat and an insult to his being. Aeren’s hope in the past had disrupted Helius’ attempts of causing despair in his soul, it had reached so far, that Aeren managed to buy time for his consort Aryiastrasza and the rest of Heartwing to come and rescue him.
This time however, none would be able to rescue him from this hollow world.
“Your insecurity is showing, Helius.” Aeren spoke out, carefully speaking as to not making the tiny fel crystals puncture his throat.
“You are so desperate to make sure that you were right in making that awful choice so many thousand years ago, that you go to any means to corrupt our family, to lessen your doubt.”
“Concise words. How many months have you spent weaving them, Aeren?” – Helius spoke out, before making a gesture with his hand to one of the four elves still kneeling behind him. Helius let his palm open behind his back, but kept his gaze on Aeren.
One of the male elves having an attire of ice crystals adorned on his robes, but yet with same fiery-like orbs of green fire walked forward, before planting a tool in Helius’ hand, keeping his gaze to the ground and making precise movements not to look at Helius. Once he had completed his order, he retreated back into formation with the rest.
“You can end me. You can torture me, Helius. But I will never ever join you.” – Aeren spoke out with a firm voice.
“You bored me enough of your hope last time, brother. If the way you reinforce your hope is by constantly telling yourself you’re right for withstanding my generous offers, let me relieve you of that ability.”
Helius finished his sentence, before Helius pulled a crude-looking fel object looking alike to that of a wire cutter. “Open wide.” Aeren struggled of what he could, even drawing several wounds on his throat by the tiny fel crystals, trying to prevent Helius with what little power he had. Helius forced the tool into Aeren’s mouth, he carefully took his time in cutting each of the tendons in his tongue.
Aeren was left with blood escaping his mouth, as the act had passed. He had already been weak before of the chains sapping his strength, he had now fallen unconscious by Helius’ torture. The wounds on Aeren’s throat by the tiny fel crystals had been completely healed in an instant.
“Muster as you must, Aerenstrasz. As a generous host, I will make sure you enjoy your stay. If you are to be so bold to relieve yourself of your life, before we finish, as you will surely feel for at some point. Keep in mind, that the very chains holding you in such great display on my pentagon and keeps you weakened will prevent any such futile attempts. Any wounds you inflict upon yourself will be undone by your very blood. How fortunate it is, that your Red Dragonflight blood still running in your veins has the properties of healing. It made my plan even the better.”
Helius had turned to his followers, leaving the dragon shackled and to his torment. But it would not be this easy for Helius.
“Secure the fragment.”
“To love someone deeply gives you strength. But being loved by someone deeply gives you courage.” The words echoed so far into Aeren’s mind. It had been his father’s words, the Father of Dragons; Asherystrasz’ at Aeren’s wedding.
Glimpsing images of Aeren’s past shuffled past his sight.
From the moment of him being but him and his two siblings; Freya and Hydra as whelps smiling happily in a newly blossoming forest. To him standing up to Azrael in front of the entire family. To him who held his sister Freya in his arms, as both her legs and her sight had been taken in the Black Rebellion. To him on his knees learning of his brother Hydra’s death in the war against Deathwing and Helius.
But also to him meeting the love of his life. To him being wed under the ancient oak of Nordrassil. To him being granted the joy of two children, Aerdran and Selina. To him seeing a bustling and joyous family of dragons united under a common cause. To him and Heartwing heralding the end of a terrible war. To him who oversaw the peace of a world of not fearing the sky. To him heralding and raising a new orphaned child named Mayastrasza into the world. To him seeing the daughter of a deceased Zurigosa be smiling among her own kin. To him first ever seeing his older brother Azrael be happy. To him who could still make a blue daughter of Heartwing smile among her own kin despite the terrible fate that had befallen her brother under Helius’ foot.
“Lead, and respect will follow.”
All of which held value to Aeren would be meaningless once he submitted to Helius. There would be no joy and there would be no salvation. Aeren would rather end his life protecting these memories and this family than let Helius use him as a tool to undo everything it stood for.
“Submit.. Submit.. SUBMIT!” The groaned and painful shoutings of one of Helius’ torturers left the splatters of spit on Aeren’s face in the midst of the branding the flesh of the captured dragon with fel-molten steel.
Aeren screamed out in pain. They had broken his bones, snapped his fingers, taken his voice. Yet Aeren had refused the offering of felblood over and over again.
“It is no use. Pain to his body does not deter him.” the familiar voice of the crude leader of the Felblood returned. He sat in his throne of bones and iron, tapping his sharp gauntlet-like fingers against his cheek in a contemplating behavior, with his leg crossed over the other.
“You are quite the taxing one, Aeren. Hurting your body and pride does not matter to you. Most would’ve surrendered by now. But you… You cling onto something I do not comprehend. What is your anchor, Aeren?”
The heavy panting and sweating red dragon looked back into the eyes of the betrayer-dragon. “Something you wouldn’t start to understand.”
“Is it hope?”
“Do you even understand what was shown to me which made me choose the Legion over the dragonflights?”
– “You mean, you were a coward and miscalculated the outcome of a war?”
Helius smirked and gave out a smaller dark hearted chuckle that only lasted but a moment. “The War of the Ancients was but one battle. I didn’t make my decision based on only it. Aeren. When I tell you, there is no hope for the survival of your world, I will show you why. Bring the fragment“
A hovering piece of cloth cloaked a hovering piece of some fragment. Helius sat himself back in his chair, his hand intertwining into his hair, curling the hair tips, before Aeren saw something unlike he had seen in Helius’ demeanor. He shuddered, a single time.
“A fragment of the doom world; Nihilam”
One of Helius’ Felsworns moved forward and ripped the piece of cloth from the hovering fragment. He immediately looked to the ground as to avoid peering into its reflection.
Even some visions were sacred to the demons of the Legion.
Aeren peered into the reflection of the fragment. This was unlike anything they had attempted before. The Legion had tried to implant memories, visions and other falsehoods into Aeren’s mind forcefully. This wasn’t it. Aeren was free to accept what was to come, it wasn’t magic of the Legion. It was something more, it was as if it was part of the cosmos’ order of the universe. Something created to try and order something which was so terribly wrong.
He saw six enormous sized figures. They were beyond the sizes of worlds. Among them were five males and one female. They all faced one equally sized figure. However, he was unlike the rest. This one had been completely broken by fel and appeared more infernal than any other demon. He looked more nefarious than Helius ever could be perceived.
One of them pleaded out to Sargeras to abandon his mad Burning Crusade. Sargeras listened carefully, but his demeanor unchanged. One of the others, one whom seemed fatally wounded laid down his arms and approached the fallen titan. He recounted the tales of their glorious conquests against the demons, reminding Sargeras of his oath to safeguard creation. But it didn’t deter Sargeras. Nothing the Pantheon could say would change his mind.
With a howl of rage and sorrow, Sargeras struck Aggramar down, his ruined fel blade nearly cleaving the titan in two.
Infuriated by this unthinkable murder, the Pantheon launched an all-out assault on Sargeras and his Burning Legion. Stars withered and died as the battle raged across the cosmos, scarring vast stretches of reality. Nihilam, the closest world to the apocalyptic conflict between the cosmic entities became warped and twisted. The titans of the Pantheon wielded powers incomprehensible to mortal minds, yet even they could not overcome Sargeras’ fel-fueled might.
The fallen titan decimated the Pantheon members with fel fire until he had broken their will to fight. To seal their demise, Sargeras summoned a massive fel storm that would consume their bodies and souls alike.
And then it repeated. Reflections showing a different angle everytime. It was different, yet the same.
Sargeras had single-handedly defeated the Pantheon alone. All of them, even Eonar, the mother and creator of the Red Dragonflight was ended in but a naught of an effort.
This horrified Aerenstrasz to his core. This wasn’t faked, too many angles for Helius’ to have forged something that was so concise. Aeren wanted to believe it was a lie, that it was faked. Sargeras’s soulless slaughter of his brothers and sisters was so palpable in that small fragment that he could feel their loss deep within his bones. They were gone.
Helius would usually take joy in Aeren’s horrified screams and anguish. But he didn’t. He sat on his throne, remaining silent, looking down towards the marble, almost as if he too had felt the same Aeren had. He had been there, for the first of times, Helius showed the slightest sign of sympathy towards Aeren.
“Do you understand now, Aeren?”
“I have been promised, Aeren, that in the new order of the cosmos, that death will never exist. It will not be a factor, nobody will have meet death. Life’s greatest fatal flaw will be corrected, but only if we end this old world together.”
Helius walked across the ground, his long cloak dragging along the marble, getting the slightest wavering as it passed over a pebble. Before he reached down on the ground, knelt down in his knees and picked up one of the dropped vessels of felblood that had its content expunged out as Aeren had threw it to the ground. It was empty of its content, Helius raised himself and walked close to Aeren.
“You cannot protect the ones you hold dear from him. If you want to protect your children and your consort not from me; but from him. You need to make him believe you’re on his side. I have tried to protect my family; Aeren. It is time for you to do so as well.”
“In our new order of the cosmos, no more of our family have to die. I only want you to be happy, Aeren and I know you cannot be that without your family. Join your brother and together, we shall correct the cosmos!”
Helius directed his palm forward, while looking on the backside of his arm. His fingers directed up in a grasp. He opened up his snake-like mouth, as his fangs dripping with the remarkable fel venom fell. Two fangs especially long for their size now dug themselves deep into Helius’ wrist. They dug deep before he released his fangs. Felblood escaped heavily from his wrist. Helius pressed in on his palm with his four fingers, hastening the process of the dripping blood into the vessel in his other hand.
“Drink, Aeren. Be the guardian of all those you hold dear.”
Black steam expunged itself from the wound on Helius’ wrist, undoing any wounds Helius would ever receive in his time. It was the sign of immortality that he had been blessed with by the Legion and so dearly feared by his enemies.
Aeren looked completely drained. His face staring into the ground as if everything was being questioned right in this moment. Eonar, the Red Dragonflight, Azeroth. He had viewed everything completely wrong.
Helius tilted his head a single time to one of his servants, as two hastily rushed to Aeren’s shackles on the pentagon. They unshackled the dragon as Aeren fell from it and to his knees in an helpless appearance. His arms sloppily was placed next to his sides.
Helius knelt down again to the devastated Aeren, as he gave his brother a pat on his shoulder in an effort to try and comfort him. Helius then reached the vessel of felblood closer to Aeren. “We can end it, Aeren. I do not intend to make you a slave, I intend for you to keep your promise to your family.”
Aeren looked at the wooden cup of felblood, as he stared at it. Its sickly and vehementing vortexing fluids left a bad taste in anybody’s mouth. His creator was dead, his father was dead, Azrael was dead, Selenistrasza was dead. If this is the only way to save his people…
Aeren took ahold of the wooden cup of felblood. Helius backed away slowly, letting Aeren making the choice.
“Drink, Aeren. Join our perfect universe.”
The vessel slid across the ground, as the content of the cup splattered and spread across the marble floor. “My answer is no.”
Helius lashed out infuriatingly. He had been so patient. Yet Aeren had remained stubborn, set in his ways in a foolish endeavor! “Fool!” – “You must be. For you to think, to refuse me is the wisest decision!”
Aeren looked up to directly face Helius’ losing temperament “What it is that you wouldn’t understand, Helius; That who my people are to me; are the moments we share together. When you see children who had lost their parents to war, yet still despite the darkness around them, manages to break a smile. When you experience a family beyond blood do what everyone else thought impossible; At that time, you will understand why I will always refuse you.”
Helius clashed his hands together as his anger and rage coalesced. One servant took the shackles from the released pentagon and garrotted Aeren by his throat. Helius’ hands glowed with emanating fel powers. Helius was not showing his raw strength, he was showing his unimagible spellweaving. “If you will forever refuse me. I will strip you of everything you’re, Aeren. You will be nothing but a conniving little pet. You will be the strife that led children to be the orphans that ran to your pathetic little orphanage.”
Helius moved forward with his teeth gritted visibly. The servant forced Aeren torso to be tilted up towards Helius. The demon lord plunged his draconic and magically tempered fel emanating hand into the heart of Aeren. His hand passing through his body ethereally. Helius didn’t physically touch his heart, but yet as it passed through; Aeren screamed out in immense agony. “Everything that makes you, you is now forfeit, Aeren. You are now an instrument of my wrath. You are the flame of my purgatory.”
An skyreaching pillar of green light expunged itself from Aeren’s heart until ephemerally it had been done. Aeren’s head collided with the marble floor. Then he rose, Aeren eyes were cold alike to that of Helius. He showed no measure of emotions; he had none to possess. Aeren then turned into his draconic appearance, as he roared to the others on the hollow world.
Aeren was gone.