Once a floating symbol of the overwhelming power and horrific conquest of the Scourge. A herald of hopelessness and relentless destruction of all life and purity. A putrid fortress of the most deplorable, vile creatures to be created in the name of the Lich King, spewing forth it’s unholy plague with the goal of total domination of Azeroth.
Naxxramas had been so much, done so much evil that its very name still sent a chill through anyone who heard it and knew of the ancient necropolis…and it’s dark master.
Now, however. Naxxramas lay cradled between the mountains of western Dragonblight. Left there after it had crashed so long ago. The cold foreboding walls now coated in a thick layer of clean, white snow as the storm raged across the high peaks. Inside the abandoned fortress there was nothing, no Ghouls grunting as they dragged their rotting carcasses across the halls which had felt dead and haunted even when they had been occupied, no swarm of chittering spiders crawling up the stone walls, no screams of fury from Death Knights being trained for the sole purpose of murdering and razing everything they had loved in life. The necropolis was silent, truly dead at long last. The only sound was the sharp whistling of the howling wind, a cruel warcry of nature as the snow continued to fall inexorably, as if Northrend itself wished this foul remnant of the past buried and forgotten.
And then something pierced the air. A rasping, strained cry of anguish, a spluttering coughing as of something being allowed to finally breath again after being forced to hold their breath. The sound was echoing, almost ethereal, wraithlike and came from the deepest core of Naxxramas, reverberating across every crevice of the necropolis.
Had anything living or dead been around to hear this gasping, ragged sound calling out to the darkness, they would have heard the eerie resonating voice speak three words, “I..live..again.”
The figure glided through the silent halls, purple robes blowing in a nonexistent wind, chains adorned the skeletal frame, clanging together musically, like ice crystals chiming as they blew in the wind, as a bony hand reached out to pick up a thick, brown leather-bound book that had fallen to the floor in the crash. A substantial layer of dust coated both the book and the floor. Kel’Thuzad mused over how long he had been gone as he mindlessly thumbed through the pages. Journal entries detailing multiple experiments in the Construct wing.
A jagged spear of a finger stroked along one of the tusk like bones protruding from his skull either side of his mouth as he thought aloud, “I am the master of Naxxramas no longer…I failed to guard the necropolis and I failed my king…” Suddenly the crackling, pale blue, arcane orbs that were the Lich’s eyes flared for a moment as a thought stuck him; He no longer heard the voice of the Lich King. Had he been forsaken to rot here for his failure? Why had the Lich King not simply destroyed him? The man who sat upon the Frozen Throne was many things but merciful was the last thing anyone could use to describe him. Kel’Thuzad had seen first hand the wrathful vengeance of the fallen Prince of Lordaeron and knew better then to believe for a moment he had been spared thanks to his years of loyalty.
The book was placed back on the table from which it had fallen, brushing away some of the dust, creating a small choking cloud. Thankfully Kel’Thuzad was unaffected and simply floated away towards the centre of the stronghold. He would go to the Frozen Throne himself to discover what had become of his King. The thought never crossed his mind that perhaps the Argent Crusade, the combined armies of the Alliance and the Horde had done the impossible and claimed victory. He had no time to consider such improbabilities.
The screaming wind echoing through the heart of Naxxramas had led Kel’Thuzad to assume the necropolis was, by now, completely buried beneath the snow and therefore the only way out had been blocked. “Bah. No matter.” He scoffed, raising his clawlike hand and muttering incantations. A small wisp of blue energy faded into existence, as if emerging from a fog and swirled around the Lich’s hand, joined soon by a second strand of energy, this one purple. The magical forces crackled and snapped as they began to pick up speed, spiralling around Kel’Thuzad now. Faster and faster, they grew until they were each as thick as a mans arm. Finally the energy seemed to explode in a brilliant flash of light, consuming the once proud Necromancer and spiriting him away from his dead tomb, which returned to its silent state once more.
Outside, atop the frozen spires the burst of arcane erupted, creating a shockwave which blasted back the untouched snow bank, launching much of itself up to join the merciless downpour of white daggers. The wind whipped at Kel’Thuzad’s robes, biting at his bones yet he felt nothing. He had felt nothing for years, not since his King, then still a living, mortal man of the Light, had brought his righteous hammer down upon him with all the fury and vengeance he would become known for.
As Kel’Thuzad travelled across Dragonblight, the land seemed much changed to how he remembered it. The ground was split open, leaving chasms and fissures scaring the earth all around him. There were signs of a battle, dead Orcs, Humans and Dragons littered the land, steadily being devoured by the same storm Naxxramas had already fallen beneath. The shattered remnants of a Horde airship too, he discovered. Through the dense white curtain shrouding his vision, it was difficult to make out but recognizable nonetheless. He dared not investigate this curious scene further though as the battle seemed to reach its peak at Wyrmrest Temple. The tower, despite the storm, was still visible on the horizon, defiant as ever.
By the time he had made it to the walls of Icecrown the storm had died down. Now able to see clearer, Kel’Thuzad could make out an Argent Crusade patrol. “So, they still stand watch at my masters walls…and yet they stand unopposed, it seems.” This was certainly curious. If he still retained a human body, he might’ve felt a knot in his gut, a sign of anxiety. This did not bode well. The damned Paladins standing watch seemed far too at ease. They did not carry the bearings of men caught in a desperate war against the armies of death itself.
With a wave of his hand, the Lich teleported beyond the wall before he could be seen by the Crusaders. This was all wrong. For the first time since he could remember, Kel’Thuzad felt a flicker of fear somewhere deep inside the twisting, sinister core of whatever remained of his soul. Icecrown was abandoned. He scanned the walkways, the cracked, deep blue, rocky expanse, the skies searching for a Frost Wyrm, a Ghoul, a single, solitary being…Nothing.
And then he ran, or as close to running as he could manage, soaring across the vacant wasteland he hurried to Icecrown Citadel. He would find his answers there for certain. He refused to consider the Lich King had fallen, it was not possible.
As he rounded the corner to the great saronite staircase leading to the immense citadels entrance Kel’Thuzad was stopped dead in his tracks. What lay before him was a gigantic pyre, the burnt out, blackened remains of what had once been, no doubt, a gargantuan inferno. Whoever had created this colossal bonfire had done so long ago, however. All that remained was a charred mound. Gazing at the ruins of an event he had missed, he noticed among the black wooden remnants a hand reaching out to him. A wave of realisation hit him with as much force as the tempest that greeted his escape from Naxxramas had tried and failed to. All confusion was swept away as a dreadful understanding came to him. He had tried to push this possibility out of his mind but this damnable evidence proved it; Icecrown, the centre of the vast, unrelenting, indisputable might of the Scourge…had fallen. The Argent Crusade had gathered every cadaver they could find and burned them to scour the influence of the Lich King from Azeroth forever.
High above Icecrown, towering at the roof of the world sat the Frozen Throne. Still pristine despite the years since its masters death. Kel’Thuzad hovered atop the glacial spire, staring at the throne.
It was not vacant.
Arthas Menethil, the man who was the Lich King, he was dead, Kel’Thuzad could no more deny that fact and yet his eyes beheld someone new. As he glided closer, gazing through the distorting, glassy window of ice, which had been cracked by some unknown fist to come here before him, splintering the image inside, he recognised the black, humanoid, scorched form which now sat in his masters throne. The man who now bore the Helm of Domination was Bolvar Fordragon. The Lich’s mind flashed back to events long passed to memories of a man, a champion of the Alliance. A man who fell at the Battle of the Wrathgate and was tortured by the Lich King personally.
So this was the answer he’d been given. Arthas, the Lich King, was dead and in his place now sat a broken, burned shadow of a man trapped within the ice that had birthed his true king.
The icy winds whirled around Kel’Thuzad in a low dirge, a requiem for all the power he had commanded, the armies the Lich King had marched forth from this very citadel. How close they had been, only to falter. All was lost now.
A pale blue light floated down from Kel’Thuzad’s peripheral. Turning slightly, he beheld a vision of eerie, ethereal beauty. A tall, ghostly angelic figure hovered, flying on great birdlike wings, which despite their size, looks delicate and gossamery. She wore black straps, binding across both her forearms, a large black steel belt and a shining silver breastplate. On her head she bore a helmet with what looked like horns curved upwards and the bulk of the helmet covered her face.
This creature, he knew well. A Val’Kyr. The only other being he had encountered in all of Icecrown. As he turned to face her he noticed several more of her kin flying overhead, coming down to join them. These were the instruments of the Lich King’s truest vengeance, the Val’Kyr were one of the many ways corpses were reanimated to join the Scourge. Greater then the Plague, greater even then himself, Kel’Thuzad was forced to admit, these who were once Vrykul women had the power to raise armies.
The hovering angels watched Kel’Thuzad in silent understanding as every ounce of hopelessness and despair trickled away from the Lich, were he able he would have smiled. A deep, rumbling sound roiled up within his ribcage, throwing his head back he let out a thunderous laugher, his otherworldly echoing voice travelling deep within the deserted halls of the citadel. It was a sinister, disturbing sound that carried with it every scrap of malice the Lich had within him.
Turning back to Bolvar, Kel’Thuzad saw not a Lich King, not even a man. He saw a pathetic creature who had become the very thing he so hated in life, an abhorrent waste of power, power he himself rightfully deserved. This man would not have the stomach to do what he must when he finally awoke. Kel’Thuzad, the Lord of Naxxramas, he would do what he knew the true Lich King would have commanded him to do. His path was so clearly laid out before him he wondered how he had ever faltered in his faith.
He would rebuild the Scourge. He would become the new Lord of the Dead. The new Lich King.