They say the drunkard sleeps as the dead do or so one would think considering how nothing, not even armored footfalls and rustling plate-mail, can rouse Tirien from a booze fueled slumber. The duo of plated men, each color coded to better venerate (and give away) their reverence for The Holy Light, approach him as he shifts to his side to better keep hold of the sack of pilfered liquor. They close in, barely a yard away, with a sense of caution as if expecting Tirien to act like a cornered animal. The older man, Paladin in all but the mud staining his boots, raises his voice and calls out to him, mocking his choice of bed. It’s enough. Tirien is just coming out of a familiar dream anyway. He wakes, startled, and presses his back to the collapsed tower’s stonework, afraid he’s looking at a member of the City Guard but quickly realizes his true affiliation.
“What the Fel do you want, huh?” Tirien hollers.
“I am Stepanos Delacroix, Lord High Commander of the Righteous – “ His introduction is cut short. The moment freezes. He and the man with him are as statues. Even the waves upon the Park’s debris are motionless. This isn’t right and Tirien knows it.
From behind Stepanos strolls a man, robed in dark purple silks embroidered with gold. He looks old. Older than any Human should be, older than most could actually live let alone believe. Sunken eyes, withered frame, and thinned hair contrast an air of energy about him as well as the spry demeanor his posture carries. Mud, grime, dirt, not even the salty air seems to affect him. It’s as if he is an illusion, a shade, yet to Tirien he is as real as the growing rage and contempt roiling in his chest. The old man smiles and folds his arms behind him.
“Tirien. My, my.” A grin, a grin he knows Tirien hates spreads form his smile as he sizes up the haggard man so recently roused from a pleasant dream. His condescension weighs his words as he takes a step out of Stepanos’s shadow.
“Hunter.” Tirien replies as if speaking to a demon. “You have five seconds before I force you back down.” He is serious and Hunter knows it. Tirien has a power over him, a force of will earned after evading his grasp for nearly a decade. His machinations all thwarted, all rent asunder thanks to the pitiful husk of the drunk slowly staggering to his feet before him.
“Tirien, come now,” he weasels, “I’m only here to talk. You used to be so…eager to listen to me before.” Hunter takes another step.
“What changed? Do I still not have your best interests at heart? Do I still not value you above all that I own?”
“You never cared for me, or Michael.” This isn’t the first time Tirien spoke with Hunter this way. The old man’s personality surfaces every now and then and it’s largely the booze that keeps him suppressed.
“All I am to you is the next vessel for yer twisted soul, an’ you only saw Michael as a mistake.” His anger permeates the air. It’s a familiar feeling, one he’s learned to hone to suit his needs.
“Ya failed. Now git.” A surge of will fails to send Hunter back into the recesses of his mind.
Hunter’s grin spreads, “Now Tirien, that’s no way to speak to your father. You were both my offspring and in a way, I succeeded, didn’t I?”
The contrast between moonlight and darkness intensifies as Hunter’s presence shadows Tirien's paltry anger as a hawk’s does a field mouse. Hunter’s soul constantly fights to win dominance since his ritual and something is giving him an edge, something Tirien isn’t sure liquor can help against much longer. He stands his ground.
“What? Don’t you enjoy being reunited with your brother again?” A dark chuckle echoes off the broken tower walls.
That bites deep, deeper than Tirien was expecting. Michael didn’t deserve to lose his life just to complete his father’s twisted schemes. Since then, he holds onto a part of him, some optimistic hope that there’s enough of his personality left to salvage. Though what good would that do?
“Yes, what good would it do?” Hunter repeats the question to Tirien's glare.
“Mm, to sacrifice another just to give your brother a new life? My. That sounds just. Like. Me?” His mock excitement continues, “But no, you don’t want that, do you? You’re content to let him fade away, as if he never lived to begin with.”
Tirien hurls a stone, only for it to pass through him. It freezes in place just before impacting the water and Tirien makes a grab for his rusted dagger resting on a stone.
“If I could say anything that result also sounds just a bit like me as well, don’t you think?” Hunter goads, his words gouging Tirien and spiking his anger.
Dagger in hand, Tirien turns to charge. The old man approaches at a lax pace, fire brimming from his feet to travel up his legs, burning away his old form to reveal a new one. Within arm’s reach, Tirien faces himself.
“You should stop resisting, you know. It’s only a matter of time.” Hunter smiles with demonic fangs, blackened veins running throughout his body. Pockets of pure void reside where Tirien’s dull-gold eyes once belonged. A phantom chorus of laughter resounds, bouncing off the time-frozen debris as Tirien’s vision goes red. He tackles Hunter and tumbles to the water’s edge and plunges his father’s head into the tide as the waves resume their repetitious dance. He still sees his father’s grin, still sees his eyes, and still hears his laughter as the bubbles begin to dwindle until they finally stop.
Tirien finds himself on his knees in the mud along Stormwind Cemetery’s lake, elbow deep in the muck clouded waters. He snarls at his reflection and comes to realize where he is. Calming, he stares at his reflection as the ripples dwindle to subtle shimmers reflecting the pale light of the gas lamps near the main cemetery path. He begins to recall the night’s events.
He had been sleeping just south of the harbor before two men had woken him. They were members of the Church, followers of the Holy Light. They had asked about the plague and put him through a trial by fire to get whatever information out of him they could. A suffusion of the Light set his insides to flame. It felt as if molten Fel would spew from him at any second, but he held fast. He protested flashes of memory from his encounter with the High Elf that morning days ago.
The recollection remains so pure, so undiluted. Even trying to change the memories with force fails. He feels…something. A presence, a pressure in some specific direction, though he is unsure why. It reminds him of the High Elf, though vaguely, as if she is just a mirror for a larger beast behind her. He focuses on the memory, on the feeling until the dark shape fixates all of its attention to him. Terror stricken, he looks back to the water at his reflection, breaking his concentration. He did not remember that happening back then, so what does it mean?
His connection to his father’s power is stronger, that much he is aware of and can understand, but just how much more of it will continue to awaken? Tirien looks toward the harbor and steadies himself before heading back. He has a bottle to drain.