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   Tirion Fordring was an imposing figure. As tall as an elf and covered in gleaming gold armor, he stood out among the battle hardened mercenaries and soldiers surrounding his makeshift platform. To his right stood Varian Wrynn, king of Stormwind and the only human to become a champion as an orc's enslaved gladiator...and live to tell about it. The brutal fire in his ice blue eyes matched his crazed black hair and the terrible scar under his eyes and across the bridge of his nose. Tirion was a sharp contrast to the wild look of his king. Long, grayed hair swept gracefully away from his face, matching a neatly trimmed beard. His wide green eyes were stern and noble. One glance at the paladin and you knew he was a man of honor.

   "This is our final stand," he announced, his hands clasped behind his back. "What happens here will echo through the ages. Regardless of the outcome, they will know that we fought with honor. That we fought for the freedom and safety of our people!"

   Cheers burst from the eager fighters. Saora could feel the excitement and pride building in her gut. Tirion knew how to bring out the best of his troops and today was no exception.

   "The Scourge is not your greatest enemy in these befouled halls. It is fear! Steel your heart and your soul will shine brighter than a thousand suns! The enemy will falter at the sight of you! They will fall as the light of righteousness envelops them!"

   "Your Light holds no power here..."

   The cheers died instantly, a candle’s flame snuffed by a cold wind. That voice, that dark power, hatred and cruelty, seeped from every shadow. Somehow, the room chilled even more. Saora's gasps became puffs that burst from her lips. She saw her old friends bunch together, cursing in their dwarven dialect. She saw her husband edge close and place himself between her and the gaping hallway leading into the Citadel. Everyone knew who spoke, who was waiting for them, watching.

   "ARTHAS!" Tirion stepped toward the hallway, "I swore I would see you dead! I'm going to finish what I started at Light's Hope!"

   The traitor prince's laughter seeped through the stone and metal structure. The entrance to the hall quivered as if a wall of water stood in the way. Dark magic billowed at the floor and slowly climbed to the ceiling, concealing the only way into the Citadel. Saora gulped, reaching for the red gem in her bag. The hallway now looked like a giant portal.

   "You now stand on the hallowed ground of the Scourge. The Light won't protect you and your sheep, paladin. Nothing will protect you."

   A thick leg encased in frozen metal and fur emerged. An arm, draped in similar material, followed. A giant of a man eased from the darkness, power seeping from his huge frame. Skulls frozen in horror decorated his armor. A thick fur cloak shifted in the roaring wind from his broad shoulders. His face couldn't be seen through the horned helmet but his ice eyes burned with an eerie blue power from within the helm's shadow. In his right hand he gripped an enormous sword. Blue runes gleamed in the blade, reaching to the skull at the sword's hilt. Frostmourne.

   "You could have been my greatest champion, Fordring," the Lich King’s voice echoed with power, "a force of darkness that would wash over this world and deliver it into a new age of strife. But that honor is no longer yours. Soon, I will have a new champion."

   Something shimmered above the Lich King's terrible form. It looked like a human, arms and legs spread and bound in iced-over chains. Saora shuddered at the sight of him. His skin was charred and splitting apart, revealing fire shifting underneath. The feeble remains of purple robes desperately clung to his body. The priestess had never seen such extensive burns and thought the man dead until he moaned and rolled his blackened head.

   "The breaking of this one has been taxing, the atrocities I have committed upon his soul. He has resisted for so long, but he will bow before his king soon." The Lich King lifted Frostmourne and gently waved it in front of his prisoner. The man screamed in agony, his body tensing as the fire within him pushed through the cracks in his skin.

   "NEVER!" he cried, the fire bursting from his gaping mouth. "I...I will never...serve...YOU!"

   Saora's knees buckled. Beside her, Verita gasped in horror. They knew that voice.

   "It can't be," Saora heard Guider whisper.

   "In the end," Arthas turned back to the invaders, "you will all serve me."

   The prisoner screamed again. Without thinking, Saora twisted her hands toward her gut. The Light inside her responded and she thrust the healing power at the prisoner. At the same time, Verita yanked her elaborate teal and gold bow from her back and fired. The enchanted arrow soared across the room in the blink of an eye. It was a perfect shot, sliding effortlessly between the small nose slit in her target's helmet...

   ...then harmlessly through the Lich King's head.

   Saora's healing spell did no better. It encircled the prisoner, trying to protect him from more harm. It faded when the Light could find nothing to surround. It was as if someone kicked Saora in her stomach. They were staring at projected images.

   The Lich King roared with laughter, his form fading away. His prisoner hollered obscenities and threats as he too disappeared from view. The portal collapsed and the soul-chilling air became bearable again.

   The armies stared at the hallway. No one moved. Saora shuddered, arms limp at her sides. She'd seen him. She'd stared Arthas in the face and had been powerless. Again.

   "WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU DOING, V?!" Kasino's sharp cry broke Saora from her shock. She blinked at Verita as her friend raced for the hallway, alone.

   The hunter turned, her eyes sharp as the arrow on her bow, "That was Bolivar! We have to save him!" She continued racing head long into a mass of skeletons.

   Muttering elven curses, Kasino raised a wicked, curved blade and roared. Guider answered and the two raced after the hunter. Saora burst into a sprint, forcing Light through her arms and into the red gem in her palm. The Light surrounded it and burst away, forming a golden shaft. She gripped the staff and raised it overhead. At the sight of the legendary Benediction, hope surged through the armies behind her. Their cheers pushed excitement through her and they plowed deeper into the Citadel.

   They had to reach Bolivar Fordragon before it was too late. They had to pull his soul from the Lich King's clutches...and send Arthas into darkness.
Icecrown Citadel was a big deal for me. Finally, after almost a decade of waiting, we were going to do it. We were going to confront Arthas, the Lich King, avenge Terenas Menethil and save Lordaeron from the cold touch of the Scourge. I remember first seeing the confrontation between Tirion and Arthas in the halls of the Citadel. I remember that moment when rumors and whispers turned to fact, and we learned that Bolivar Fordragon was being turned into a minion of the Lich King.

Fordragon was the first major human character I liked (or even could stand). Loved him in vanilla WoW (pre-expansions) and loved him even more during Wrath of the Lich King expansion. He's made appearances in both Saora's Benediction stories and has a major role in Verita's life.

Those that raided in ICC might recognize the dialogue. Much of it I took directly from the game. I wanted to remember that moment exactly as it was. It didn't need anything from me, so I gave it the respect it deserves and left it alone.
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July 8, 2014
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