Report #00024: Witness to Redemption
When I got back from Northrend, I wasn’t expecting much. I’m not a hero, and not part of any trained organization. I went on my own the first time. I wanted to help my brother and look into the rumors I’d heard about arcane disturbances. I got a wee bit sidetracked looking for Brann Bronzebeard himself, listening to the tales Bouldercrag and his men told. The Storm Peaks felt as close to Dun Morogh as I was getting out there. Aye, it’s true I was ordered to Northrend the second time. But they didn’t need Fizzy Stouthammer so much as they were willing to take any able-bodied… well, body.
The point is, I wasn’t looking for any parades when I got back and I haven’t been disappointed to see there aren’t any. All I want is some time to tie up some loose ends in the things I was working on, keep the ghoul guts out of my hair, and prepare myself for heading off to prove to the Wildhammers that Bronzefeather and myself would make an excellent Gryphon Rider team. It takes a bit more than the bloody Scourge to make myself give up on an idea like that! That wee “Future Engineer of Azeroth”, Darren, could drive a soul to do some insane things, though. And I mean just to get away from him for a day or two. So when my brother said he was heading back out to the Plaguelands and he’d like the company… Well, I’ve gotten fairly good at cleaning the bits of rotted flesh from my hair by now, anyhow.
Lord Shadowbreaker at the Cathedral had sent my brother out there, it turns out. All I got out of Friginne on the way was that it had something to do with a horse. I thought that was a wee bit odd, what with how they gave my brother a bloody horse a long time ago and he leaves it in the stable. Having been involved in relocating a horse to a place better suited for it once, I know riding one’s not like being mounted properly on a ram, so I can’t put any blame on him for that. And I suspect it was Serhilde he wanted along, as he seems to have grown fond of her in a way he never has my other animal companions. But you won’t be getting the bear without myself. That’s Seri’s choice, and herself and myself have an understanding about when not to go against each other’s wishes.
It was the Scholomance my brother took us into, and I reminded him again that he’s turned into the biggest bloody git in Khaz Modan. There’s easier ways to get yourself a fine horse, I was thinking. I’ve been in that place more than once and it just keeps filling up with new “students” for that bloody cult. I prefer not to think too much about where they keep getting risen dead from. I may have thought about it once or twice, anyhow, when we were clearing a path for ourselves.
Now, I’m not an uneducated git. Most dwarves aren’t, of course, no matter what the humans or elves might say about us. I’ve had certain advantages in that respect, though, even if they did mostly come from not starting out in life a product of a good dwarven upbringing. I can tell yourself things about arcane energy the Kirin Tor likes to think it takes a lot more training than it really does to figure out. I can greet a person in at least four different languages, read texts in just as many, and I’m not always as confused as I might look when folks start yelling in Orcish in Dalaran. I’ve made an effort to learn as much of the history of all the peoples of the world as I can get my hands on. I have been both a Grand Master Quantum Mechanical Engineer and a Grand Master Tinkerer. I didn’t just fall off the back of a wagonload of murlocs.
I do not understand the Light, though.
My brother has said I have more faith in the Light than some priests he’s known, but I wouldn’t call it faith myself. I know what I’ve seen with my own eyes, and what I’ve felt around myself. I’ve stood in the presence of Naaru. I’ve been healed by priests and paladins who channeled the Light. I’ve fought next to my brother, and I’ve made the mistake of challenging him to a no-holds-barred fight between ourselves a couple of times. I’ve worked with the Crusaders in Northrend. More than once, I’ve heard the tale of how Highlord Fordring and the orc Eitrigg became brothers, and I don’t much doubt it after working with Highlord Fordring myself.
But knowing the Light is real and knowing how it works are two different things. I know the Skybreaker and Orgrim’s Hammer are real, but I don’t understand how they stay in the air. Actually, I suppose I do.
I don’t know how repair bots
How runes are activated for
I don’t understand the Light.
My brother put some sort of artifact or blessed beacon, or some-such bloody thing, on the ground down in the basement. I mostly ended up watching Serihilde run around while I chased after her and my brother channel the Light all over the place while a bunch of bloody spirits floated around. And just when I was starting to think he made up the part about a horse being down here, a Death Knight shows up! I suppose I’ve gotten so used to seeing Knights of the Ebon Blade that I hadn’t thought much about there still being other Death Knights out there. This one was not one of the Knights of the Ebon Blade. If he was, someone should be having a word with their Highlord about that. Either way, that one won’t be showing up anywhere again anytime soon.
That’s when I saw the horse. The Death Knight’s mount had also been killed in the battle. I don’t know if it was that artifact or whatever my brother had, but it wasn’t just the poor beast’s body I saw. The horse’s spirit was standing right there in the basement with us! I’ve seen beasts suffer. I’ve put out traps for protection and then had to put down creatures that wandered into them. The “relocation” of that horse I mentioned I was a part of was to help end the suffering of the beast where he’d been. I rescued Amethyst, a dragonhawk, from felboars when they wounded her. I’ve traveled through Felwood. None of that was enough preparation for what I saw in that horse’s eyes.
I saw a creature that knew everything he’d ever carried his master into battle for. Not just the actions, but the wrongness of them. And worse than having no choice, he was a creature who’d learned to hunger for it. And then to hate himself for that hunger, and for never being filled. A creature that had grown used to knowing that hate and death are all that matter, and that one of them would never happen to himself… never free him from the other one.
I thought of Leonid Barthalomew. I thought of the Forsaken one I met in Dalaran… the one who sometimes hugs myself and stops to try and have a chat now and then. I thought of Thassarian, and the times I’ve worked with him in Northrend. And then I thought of all his fellow Knights of Acherus.
And then I realized I’d come to understand all this and think of all that in less time than I would have expected, only a second or two, and that my brother was still standing there looking at the horse’s spirit. My brother who channels the Light as an instrument of the Light’s fury against the enemies of righteousness. My brother… and his hands starting to glow because the Light was moving through them.
I thought the horse’s spirit might just disappear in a blinding explosion of the Light. What I didn’t expect was that, when my brother stopped, the spirit looked peaceful and almost lively, still being the spirit of a dead horse and all. He moved to my brother and rubbed against him just the way you’d expect a living horse to do. Friginne got some sort of fancy barding out of his bag and the horse became more solid… alive again… when my brother put it on the beast.
What I saw in there, in the basment of a building where things decent folks should never have to think about have happened, was the Light’s mercy and redemption. My brother is a fine dwarf, but I’ve seen rocks gentler than himself. He’s a living weapon, and it’s not smart to stand between Friginne Stouthammer and what or whoever he’s decided needs to be introduced to a wee concept called “justice”. I saw him judge that horse’s soul, and instead of finding it in need of eternal penance he found it to have paid more than it owed for the things it had been part of. He judged it to be blameless and forgiven. To be deserving of another chance.
I don’t understand the Light. I do understand it wasn’t just the horse who was offered redemption in there.