The heroes still managed to get to Tranquillion. The fire was growing stronger. Heroes entered the city. Rather, what is left of it. The corpses of blood elves were scattered across the street. The ghouls devoured their flesh so eagerly that they were almost not distracted by the living people passing by. But Bolingar could not leave this act of vandalism and, with a sharp unexpected blow, demolished the head of a ghoul who quietly and peacefully devoured the face of a dead elf.
At the same moment, an elf, still alive but badly injured, ran out into the street. He was clad in heavy purple Inquisitor armor. Blood trickled down his mantle. His shoulder pads were designed in the style of an open paladin book. The paladin recognized the outfit. These were very expensive regalia, but completely unsuited to combat. The armor itself was already battered and black with blood.
Bolingar, without even thinking that this elf is an enemy of the alliance, rushed to the rescue. After all, a crowd of hungry creatures also ran after the paladin elf. And the elf himself was no longer able to repulse the enemy.
— You will not penetrate through shields! — turning to the side of the enemy, Elf shouted, creating a thin wall of light between him and the undead army.
— Ahahahhahha! Is that all you can do?! — the death knight shouted laughing. It was undead. Skeleton clad in the armor of an army of darkness. With a sharp wave of his blade, he sent the deathcoil to the barrier of light. The black skull flashed with great speed and broke a thin barrier of light.
— How early are you! — the death knight turned to the heroes. — We did not even have time to burn down the city. But it’s even better! You yourself will see the death of Tranquillion and all this arrogant rabble.
The death knight directed the blade in their direction, and then the army of darkness, standing behind him, rushed into battle. Bolingar clenched the hammer. The battle was to be difficult.
— The light brought you here. Please help us, — the elf said, barely audible in a universal language. His helmet lit up. At the same instant, the whole group was surrounded by a flickering golden light. Bolingar felt incredible power! Although the elf paladin was seriously injured, he was strong. However, giving them his last power, he collapsed unconscious.
— Hold them back! I will help him! Shouted the feral. Without delaying not a second, he went to the wounded paladin and began to cast a spell in a whisper.
Bolingar and Riverey stood in a defensive stance. Soon a crowd of undead surged over them. Bolingar twisted his hammer around him, not letting the vile undead even come close to him. However, the black arrow fired by the skeleton mage took him off balance. Bolingar made a jerk to the side so as not to lose his balance, while simultaneously searching for this magician with his eyes, already preparing a spell in his hand. However, not finding the target, he screamed Exorcism! launched an incinerating undead spell on the first skeleton that came across.
Bolingar almost did not see how the hunter copes there, since at his own the fight was on the verge. There were too many of them, and not all blows could be blocked. Several times the blows also hit the armor. Now Bolingar was happy that he had heavy armor! And the claws of the ghouls will not pierce her!
— Damn, River! I can not hold you and him! — Cried Zverago. The paladin turned for a second. The River things were much worse than his.She expertly defended herself with two swords. But that didn’t save her much. There were so many enemies that parrying all the blows was impossible. The skeleton blades tore through the chain mail with difficulty, leaving bloody wounds on the huntress. However, these wounds were immediately healed. And so it was repeated over and over again. As soon as the Riverey took damage, he was immediately healed by feral magic.
The battle seemed to drag on for ages. However, the ranks of the undead finally began to thin.
— You were not taught to protect the healer?! — Cried Zverago. The paladin looked around again. Now the ghouls got to him too. And he had to not only save the huntress, but also dodge all attacks. Bolingar was shocked by such skill. At the same time, dodging all the blows and also continuously casting spells, he would definitely not be able to. Moreover, the average person needs to concentrate on the spell. And to do this in the heat of battle, also cleverly avoiding blows, while not losing concentration — this is generally on the verge of fantasy.
— Divinity! — Shouted someone’s voice. It was an elf. Rising slowly from the ground and holding on to the hammer, with one powerful spell, he threw all the undead around. However, then again collapsed unconscious.
— You’re still a living, bastard! — with a fierce cry, the knight himself has already entered the battle.
With one jerk, he became close to a barely living paladin and already wanted to wave his blade, as Bolingar knocked him down.
— Oh, you bastard! — Roared the death knight. A battle ensued. Blocking the knight’s blows, Bolingar rated the enemy. The knight was not much superior to him, roughly speaking they were on equal footing in the mastery of two-handed weapons. Suddenly, another hammer came right down the back of the death knight. The blow was so powerful that sparks flew from the plate armor. There was a huge dent in the armor itself, and the knight himself flew off several meters. It was a Riverey. And in her hands she held the golden hammer of the elf.
Riverey slowly approached the death knight, who could not even move. And she was ready to deliver the last blow with a huge hammer, when suddenly he stopped her.
— You have a lot of strength. Hah, But you cannot stand against the Black Beast. Run from here. I know why you are here, Riverey. And the Black Beast knows. She is waiting for you, — the blue eyes of the death knight went out.
Riverey returned to the group. The blood elf came to his senses again, although he had difficulty standing on his feet.
— Thank you for your help. Be so kind, — he said, pointing to his hammer in the hands of the Riverey.
— Yes, of course, — the hunter handed over the hammer to the rightful owner. — What happened at all?
— You have no idea what kind of carnage was here. No one was waiting here for the Scourge. None of the warriors were trained in combat. They are all recruits. And they are all dead, — the paladin abruptly fell silent on these words. — You saved me, thank you. But the one you defeated is just a servant of the Scourge. Their commander walked through Tranquillion like a hurricane, sweeping away everyone in their path, leaving a bloody trail behind them. And this trail leads to the old crypt of Loretal.
He stepped back from the group and examined them.
— What? Seriously want to challenge her? I could not cope with it and fled. Yes. It was not this death knight who inflicted these wounds on me at all, but she. And if I could not cope with it, then you will surely perish. You won this fight. But the next you can not survive! Think it over! You! — The paladin pointed to Bolingar. — human have always been famous for being able to soberly assess the situation. Maybe you can dissuade them from this idea. Your friends are going to certain death right into the clutches of this monster.
But Bolingar only shook his head.
— I’m sorry. It pains me to realize that those who saved me are going to death, and I can not stop it.
However, Riverey did not listen to him. She confidently walked toward the crypt. Bolingar and Zverago did not begin to lag behind her.
The path to the crypt seemed to be saturated with darkness and blood. Well, the most amazing thing is the bloody traces. The Scourge Commander went to the crypt alone. Without any protection. It suits them. Apparently, they will have a hard fight as it is. On the way to the crypt, they met no resistance. Apparently, the commander transferred the Scourge to the death knight in order to destroy Tranquillion or to detain them. The Scourge knew that the heroes would come here. But where from? Looks like they were being watched.
When the group approached the crypt, the paladin shocked this sight. The elven guard was nailed to the stone fence with his own blade. How much power this monster must have in order to drive the blade not only into the flesh, but also into stone. His body was drained, as if someone had drunk all his blood. The most interesting thing is that someone has already taken his helmet.
Bolingar began to recall who likes to do such tricks. That was how Lassara was killed. Is she really here? Then they definitely have no chance. And it would be wiser to turn back. But the Riverey stubbornly continued to walk directly into the trap, knowing full well about it. Entering the crypt of Loretal itself, the torches at the entrance were already lit. When the heroes reached the fork, they were met by three passes, and only about one turn was the torch lit.
— Can we go the other way? Lighting a torch is not so difficult, — Zverago begged. Riverey squinted at him.
— You know everything perfectly. She is waiting for me, and I will come to her.
— Oh, you’re a fool, — the feral almost roared, putting his paw to his face.
The paladin was in agreement with feral. He did not want to go to her at all. The forces are clearly not equal. She will kill all three, even with her eyes closed. And considering that once they were already spared and released, Hassara is unlikely to lower them again. But Riverey was stubborn like a dwarven ram. Although even the latter will yield to her in obstinacy.
Gradually, the passage along which the heroes walked began to expand. Instead of torches, lamps were already hung on the walls, and unlike torches, they did not have to be set on fire several times. Dressed with magic oil, they can shine for several hundred years. On one of the lamps, as if on an hanger, an elven helmet was hung from which blood flowed
Finally their wanderings through the crypt ended, and they went out into the spacious hall. Right in the center was a beautifully decorated stone grave. The arsenal around amazed with its variety: crossbows, guns, bows, halberds, blades, spears. Loretal was an incomparable gunsmith. Some weapons still shimmered with a dull golden color. It was enchanted.
— A good arsenal, — Rivery said. — But alas, Loretal was, hmm … After numerous victories, he began megalomania. He believed that no one was worthy to own his weapons. He was a great hero, but no one suspected that he had already rotted inside for a long time. Soon, a thirst for power overshadowed his mind. He rushed into the most impossible adventures, he did not care about gold. But as soon as a powerful artifact appeared in the ancient book, he immediately advanced in search, and soon another trinket replenished his collection.
She sighed and continued:
— When achieving the goal, he did not disdain dark method. Who could have stopped him? Hung with relics like a Christmas tree, he crushed the heads of the most ferocious beasts and other undead with one blow. And so his thirst for power went so far that he built his own city on the gold he accumulated. And not a little gold has accumulated. Just imagine. He saved up gold to build a personal fortress. By oneself. He designed the fortress too. And the architect turned out to be very good. Further worse. There was little power for him. Greed killed him. His favorite collection lacked a knightly golden helmet. He looked very luxurious. Loreal had no trouble getting it. But the helmet was damned. Slowly but imperceptibly, he drove the his crazy. He was already incredulous, and then completely became paranoid. A powerful curse was placed on each weapon. Anyone who is not of his kind will dare to pick him up … Damn. Honestly, I do not know what will happen to him. But in the traditions it was said that nothing good.
The huntress paused again.
— In the end, he realized that people are not perfect and prone to betrayal. And only the undead will always be submissive to their master. And yet the mind has not yet fallen into darkness. Having spent a lot of time training all sorts of exotic animals, he achieved the result. An animal will not betray its owner without good reason, never. But Loreal did not take into account one unpleasant moment. They may die. When his beloved pet was struck down by the plague, he found no other option but to resurrect it as undead. Then he had an clarity. When he realized that he had wasted time again, Loreal took up necromancy. It was a miracle, but the living dead and the ordinary inhabitants of Arhok, though with difficulty, still got along together. Loreal still held on and kept his mind clean, keeping the undead from getting out of control.
The Riverey continued to glance over this whole treasury. But her gaze was full of disappointment, as if for her all these artifacts were of no value.
— Loretal realized that no matter how powerful a warrior he was, he also needed loyal companions. He went to Northrend to bring a couple of souvenirs from there. And when he sailed on his personal aircraft carrier, the Scarlet Order attacked the Arhok. Surprisingly, the soldiers and undead Arhok fought well. But the Scarlet Order was stronger because they specialized in fighting the undead. All the undead Arhok was instantly destroyed. The living people of Arhok were branded as heretics. The city was completely taken under the control of the Scarlet Orden.
Another sigh of disappointment.
— When he returned, everyone was waiting for a surprise, because no one expected what exactly his souvenirs would be. A lone ship was accompanied by a whole flock of bone dragons. Seeing that he had created the Scarlet Orden with the city, Loretal became furious. He and his dragons destroyed all who served the order. In the battle with the Scarlet Commander, Loretal missed one hit. And the commander’s sword touched his helmet. Some part of the helmet broke off. And then the mind of Loretal cleared up. When the battle was over, he finally realized what he was doing in recent years. Desiring to atone for all his sins, he went on a campaign from which he did not return. Further information is not accurate. But they say he met a powerful opponent, the creator of the helmet. And for the first time in his life, he lost the battle. I heard that the enemy was a powerful necromancer, for in an instant all the bone dragons of Loretal crumbled to dust.
Finally, Riverey finished retelling the story of the Elven hero, gently pushing the coffin lid back. And what she saw there shocked her. Lorethal was still lying in his grave, but his blade … Instead, there was a training wooden two-handed sword. It was not even a sword, but an ordinary stick.
A huge figure suddenly appeared on the crypt’s balcony. She grabbed the blade and threw it up nonchalantly, then to catch it again with disdain. The mysterious figure stood straight. And finally she appeared in the light so that she could be seen.
A huge carcass jumped from the balcony.
It was Tauren. But with a clearly unhinged head. Her eerie laughing helmet perfectly described her spiritual condition. And two huge scythes only added darkness to the already frightening image.
Black Beast abruptly changed the subject.
The Black Beast threw the blade right into the hands of the Riverey. The blade glowed with unholy energy.
With these words, the Black Beast grabbed two huge scythe from behind his shoulders. Only from its kind did the blood run cold.
The first, oddly enough, was attack by Zverago. However, the Black Beast with a sharp movement threw him back like a little kitten. The next one attack the Riverey.
With these words, the Black Beast parried all the attacks of the Riverey and struck a scythe with such force that it was impossible to block it with a blade. The Riverey shuddered at the wound and collapsed to the floor. Blood flowed abundantly over chain mail armor. But the paladin has already entered the battle.
A rapid flurry of blows hit the paladin. The Black Beast fell into a enrage and delivered so destructive blows that the paladin with great difficulty blocked them. Time after time, monstrous scythes fell upon him from all sides. And this onslaught only intensified. It seemed that the horrific scythes themselves rotated in all possible directions, with terrible speed and force, breaking through everything that stood in their way. And the Black Beast only laughed ominously.
Feral again attacked from the back. But with a sharp movement of the Black Beast, he was again thrown back. With a jerk, she closed the distance, grabbed the feral by the throat and lifted it above herself in an attempt to strangle her. But then the paladin struck. But she again instantly reacted. Holding the throat of a feral with one hand, with the other hand she parried all the paladin’s blows with ease. In the end, she simply threw the cat into the paladin, and they both crashed to the floor.
The huntress abruptly carried out a series of swift blows. But they were all again blocked. In the end, the Riverey again slashed across the Black Beast. Both scythes stood in the way of the blade. The longer the confrontation lasted, the hunter plunged into even greater darkness. Her eyes were bloodshot. Fury distorted her face. The huntress bared her fangs, from which her blood flowed. Her onslaught was full of anger and hatred. A pair of sharp lightning attacks. The blade dance seemed so fast that it merged with the surrounding background. But the Riverey last hit was still able to hit the Black Beast. The blow fell right on the unholy helmet. The Black Beast staggered. Nevertheless, she withstood the blow.
The eyes and mouth of the helmet were filled with bloody light. Now he looked even more sinister than before. The Black Beast rumbled into battle again. The Riverey again bared her teeth. She was preparing to meet with dignity the berserker rage. But her anger is nothing before the fury of the Black Beast. With a terrible roar on the River both scythes fell. The huge Beast showed miracles of dexterity, swiftly striking one after another. They were so powerful, so furious that it seemed … No, this madness can not be described in words.
The Riverey held firm, fending off and dodging the blows. But still not enough. The Black Beast reinforced the onslaught. She broke through the defense of the Riverey and her scythes gnawed at the she-wolf body over and over again. In a fit of bloodthirsty rage, the Black Beast brought both scythes for the last blow, for execution. She no longer cared that she had no right to do any harm to Hassara’s sister. Scythes hit the Riverey. But the blow was blocked. Blocked by a shield of pure light.
Suddenly a ghostly figure lit up on the balcony. With a sharp movement, the spirit moved directly to the center. It was a ghost. The ghost of the High Elf. He appeared in scarlet armor decorated with precious stones. In his hands he held a truly great weapon that shook the paladin. It was elegant, perfect, forged from the rarest steel in all of Azeroth and studded with gold.
The Black Beast was clearly surprised by this, and without evading the call. A battle ensued. The ghost of Loretal was so skillful that he easily repulsed all the attacks of the Black Beast, while gracefully delivering his blows. She just wanted to ram the Ghost. She just wanted to ram the ghost. But he did not let her close to him, holding halberds at a distance. The fight dragged on. The Black Beast began to fizzle out, and the ghost was still indefatigable and continued to strike relentlessly, to block which the Black Beast became more and more difficult. It is unclear whether he was generally tangible, but the sounds of the clash of blades were quite real. Realizing that the battle could not be won, Tauren quickly reduced the distance to the exit and ran out of the hall.
The ghost went to the Riverey, which was at death. She was choking in her own blood. Hardly even Zverago could heal such wounds, and Bolingar certainly would not. But the Ghost of Lorethal laid his hands on the Huntress. All her wounds were instantly healed.
— You have nothing more to fear. This cowardly creature has escaped, and will never return here, — the ghost said imperiously. — The Riverey. My heiress. I am so glad that finally one of my heirs came for a second blade.
With these words, he handed the darkness-soaked elven blade into the hands of the Riverey.
— However, he was defiled. Fortunately, the powerful force hidden in the blade cannot be dissipated, only to block. Alas, I can’t remove the spell that blocks the true strength of the blade. But I know who or rather what can. Night elfs. Their sacred well, filled with the pure energy of the goddess Elune. Listen carefully. In Darkshore, from time immemorial, there has been a grove. As far as I remember, she was hidden from prying eyes. Find her. There you will find the moonwell. I hope it has not been destroyed over the years. There you will clear the blade.
The ghost of Loretal turned his gaze to the rest of the hunter’s companions.
— Thank you for your help. I finally realized that no matter how powerful a creature was, no one could hold out for long without the support of true friends. I am grateful to you for helping the Riverey in its difficult journey. And as a reward, you are free to choose any weapon from my arsenal.
Bolingar was thrilled. He did not even dare to hope that someday he would receive a powerful, ancient artifact. But casting a glance at his hammer, he realized that he couldn’t just part with it like that. He seemed to have lived with him his whole life. He was the only support for him when the world collapsed over and over again.
— I see you’re very attached to your weapons, paladin. I know this feeling. Then, with your permission, I will strengthen your weapons with powerful enchant.
The paladin enthusiastically nodded his head. Loretal lightly touched the hammer and whispered a few words in ancient Elven. The hammer shone with a bright blinding light, and now it was not even going to go out. If before it shone so brightly only at critical moments, now this glow will be eternal. Only holding it in his hands, Bolingar now felt an extraordinary surge of strength, as if the light itself continuously gave him strength. It was great.
Zverago was clearly disappointed. He also wanted to touch the beautiful. But alas, he is feral.
— Not scary. In my arsenal there will always be a reward for the hero.
With these words, Loretal pulled out an amulet.
— I know that you are an excellent healer, druid. — You have repeatedly saved others. But there is nobody to take care of you. I will fix it. This amulet contains powerful protective charms. I spent a lot of time on it, combining types of protective magic, in the hope of creating the perfect defense, but failed. However, although I did not achieve the desired result, the strength of the magic shield in this amulet is amazing. A legion of mage is needed to break through this defense.
When Lorethal put on an amulet on Zverago, the feral covered a protective shell. It was a bright golden light. The color lines of each kind of magic pulsed across the shield.
— When I combined all kinds of magic in this amulet, I thought I would create the perfect defense. And so it happened, but my vision of the ideal, alas, did not coincide with reality.
— What about you, Riverey. You already own almost the most powerful weapon I’ve ever created. It remains only to clean it. However, you can take any other weapons for now.
When Riverey chose the right blade, Lorethal nodded approvingly. They both knelt in front of each other, and Loretal laid his hand on her shoulder.
— Listen, River. Hassara is playing a dangerous game. She herself does not realize this, but she is only a pawn in this game. And this pawn should not reach the edge of the board. For the one who is waiting for her at the edge of the board should never wake up. The world has not yet seen such a dangerous enemy. At the cost of my life, I imprisoned this embodiment of darkness deep underground. But it is alive and waiting for it to be finally released. This should not happen. I destroyed any mention of him. I hoped that the world would forget about him forever. But it didn’t work out for me. Samiris did find out about him. And tried to free it when it promised him unlimited power. But it didn’t work out.
— What? Wait. But when Samiris was born, you were already dead. Is not it so? — objected the paladin
— Right. But he also came to me for a sword. It was not in vain that I said that now in the hands of the Rivers is almost the most powerful of the blades I have created.
Bolingar was distracted by the ghost collection when suddenly among the swords he examined a strange plate. Looking closer, he realized that it was a book with a metal cover. He approached it, trying to identify the metal with his eyes. Silver. The silver cover was engraved with the head of a wolf with a crown on its head made of black metal. His eyes were made of precious stones: the right one was made of sapphire, and the left one was made of emerald. There were small rubies at the tips of the crown.
— Ah. The work of my whole life. This book contains all the secrets of my creations. All magic formulas superimposed on each weapon. Secrets of steel processing, lists of the rarest metals, as well as alchemical transmutation of reagents into the desired metal. A detailed description of all blades, all the nuances. All my notes. Now that I have changed my outlook on life, I am happy to give you this collection. For a skilled gunsmith, this book is a relic. I see talent in you. I hope you learn a lot from her. Or at least pass it on to someone who deserves these secrets. No doubt you have potential. But alas, to achieve such skill, human life is not enough.
The ghost sighed heavily.
— I will accompany you to the entrance of the crypt, and then we will have to part. I hope that one day I will see a second heiress.
The paladin did not remember how he reached the exit from the crypt. It seemed that they were walking just one instant while the ghost was telling them about great artifacts. The paladin listened so carefully that he did not even notice how he was at the entrance to the crypt.
— Good-bye, friends. I hope your campaign will end in success, — with these words the ghost waved to them for the last time and, turning back, walked back to his house.