Twice Cursed – A Nice Day

A Death Knight is a study in contradictions. I am both alive and dead. The human in me hates killing innocents – the demon in me craves it, and the beast in me facilitates that craving. If I don’t kill… If I don’t hunt… the pain of this existence becomes unbearable, far too quickly. So I have made a name for myself as a bit of a mercenary. However, I try to do good wherever I can as well, because there’s still that bit of me that’s human. The part that hates all that I am and what I must do – and as much as I must appease the beast within me, I must also appease the human. A study in contradictions – I walk a tightrope line each day between loyalty and insanity.

Sometimes I wish I could just… stop. Just for once, not have to go on. I’ve given my life for the cause I believe in, for the Alliance, for the King, and still I need to fight. Still, I am on the front lines.

But there are good days, too. Days in which I feel… almost alive. Breathing in the cool, crisp air of Howling Fjord, riding strongly atop my skeletal Gryphon, Arcturus… Those are good days. I even find myself helping out those I normally would ignore. I’ve never been particularly fond of Dwarves or Gnomes, but I’m feeling generous when I come across the Explorer’s League camp within the Fjords. They say they need some help gathering items, and would I be so kind? A pristine Shoveltusk hide is all they require.

The beasts are roaming all over the area near where the Dwarf was. I wonder for a moment why he hasn’t just shot one and skinned it himself, and then I notice that they aren’t only roaming – they’re roaming in herds. Groups of docile cows with one hyper-aggressive bull nearby. I figure I’ll take out the bull – his hide looks pretty pristine.

It’s been awhile since I killed – it’s too easy to forget in the beautiful land of Howling Fjord. I get distracted just exploring, and don’t realize I’m neglecting my curse until the first slams of pain rip through my gut and I double over. The nearest small animal usually pays for my self-neglect, before I move on to something more substantial. Today, the Shoveltusk bull will save me from myself – it hasn’t been long enough since my last kill for the pains to set in, and here I am with a condoned death ahead of me. This really is as good as it gets for someone like me… twice cursed, first with the worgen beast, then with the eternity of undeath. But some days, it’s almost nice.

And some days, usually on days that are nice, I sometimes get too confident in my powers as a bringer of death.

I use Death Grip to pull the Shoveltusk bull to me, following up with a quick one-two punch of Icy Touch and Death Coil. Usually, the diseases bring my opponents to their knees and I can finish them with a quick Heart Strike, Death Strike, or Rune Strike. However, this bull is not a normal opponent. He rears back and slams his forehooves into my chest – a blow that would’ve crushed a mortal’s heart. I am knocked back and leap to my feet with a snarl, the scent of blood in my nose and the call of death in the air. I am so focused on the bull that I don’t notice the previously docile cows taking offense to my attack on their herd leader.

Before I can register what’s happening, I’m being pummeled from all sides by sharp hooves and blunt antlers. I cast Blood Boil and draw a burst of runic energy, channeling through my mace, to spread the very essence of Death and Decay over the ground beneath me, so that all of my opponents feel my wrath. Yet, not one of them runs. Instead, their pounding becomes more frenzied. I roar and whirl, slashing away with Heart Strikes, Plague Strikes, Rune Strikes, and Death Strikes… anything I have the power to do. I throw out Icy Touch on each cow I target in turn, and follow that with Pestilence or Death Coil, but there are ten of them, and only one of me. And while a Death Knight can single-handedly massacre a small village, apparently a herd of enraged Shoveltusks is too much.

However, that isn’t to say that I am not doing damage.

The bull falls first beneath one of my Rune Strikes. I raise a nearby corpse to aid me in the fight, and immediately cut off its “life” with a Death Pact, returning its power to me doubled. I use that surge of strength to give my Horn Of Winter howl and boost my strength even further. I throw up my Bone Shield, but I can already feel myself fading. The edges of my vision are darkening, and my already slow beating dead heart is even more sluggish than it should be. Each of my strikes is now taking down an opponent, but I’m almost ready to give up. When I hit the ground, unable to move, there are still two Shoveltusks left standing.

But I do not die. I cannot die. I lay there, my body broken, my heart stopped… and my mind is still aware. This has happened before, though I admit it hasn’t happened in a while. Without a doubt, this is one of the worst parts of my curse as a Death Knight – not only do I never sleep, but I cannot even find solace in the death of my physical body. Instead, it is more like I have simply been overwhelmed and require a moment to reset.

Not even ten non-beats of my heart pass before I inhale sharply, my body repairing itself enough to restart functions. The two surviving Shoveltusks notice me the moment I gasp and charge. Perhaps they think they simply did not actually kill me… I doubt they have any clue the horror I truly am. With that first breath in, I howl my Horn Of Winter again, and as the two survivors reach me, I set their Blood Boiling and spread my Death And Decay again as if I was never out of the fight. These two opponents go down easily, with no more of their brethren to call to their aid.

No sleep, not even true rest in death… This is the curse of the Death Knight, the curse I must live with for, it would seem, the rest of eternity. I stand for a moment, surrounded by the bodies of my slain opponents and ponder that, and then I set about the task of skinning the beasts until I find a single Pristine Shoveltusk Hide among the group.

It was the bull’s.