We quickly ran up the curving steps, mindful that time was of the essence. At the top of the steps was a huge hall with many undead Scourge kneeling in supplication. It appeared they were listening to a large Scourge leader who looked like a particularly overgrown Nerubian overseer speaking. Her words rang out clearly throughout the hall.
“Fix your eyes upon your crude hands! The sinew, the soft meat, the dark blood coursing within! It is a weakness! A crippling flaw! A joke played by the creators upon their own creations! The sooner you come to accept your condition as a defect, the sooner you will find yourselves in a position to transcend it!”
“Through our master all things are possible! His power is without limit, and his will unbending! Those who oppose him will be destroyed utterly! And those who serve, who serve wholly, unquestioningly, with utter devotion of mind and soul? Elevated! To heights beyond your ken!”
“You have found your way here, because you are among the few gifted with true vision in a world cursed with blindness! You can see through the fog that hangs over this world like a shroud and grasp where true power lies!”
Avierra’s eyes narrowed. “She’s standing right in front of that platform. See it rising? That’s our way up to the Skybreaker. We’ll have to get past this hall first. Information?”
Azmuth stared at a milky orb and it began to swirl. He appeared to listen intently for a few moments before shaking his head with a sigh. “This isn’t going to be easy. This hall is called the Oratory of the Damned, for obvious reasons. Getting through the kneeling supplicants won’t be a problem, of course. It’s the big one we have to handle with care.”
“Her name’s Lady Deathwhisper,” Azmuth explained. “She is the supreme overseer of the Cult of the Damned, which is why all those Scourge are listening to her rant. Her position enables her to call upon legions of her minions to keep us occupied. She also has a mana shield which we’ll need to break through before we can even start fighting her directly. She’s able to empower her minions, making them tougher and stronger. SI:7 operatives have noted that she rarely leaves that area of the room.”
“She summons 2 types of minions: fanatics and adherents,” Azmuth continued. “Fanatics are vulnerable to magic, but shrug off physical blows. Adherents are the opposite.”
Avierra nodded her understanding. “Let’s have Mal, Calimdan and Bladewisp on the adherents. Jizal, Azmuth, Jarvisius and myself will be on the fanatics. We’ll need to hit that mana shield of hers after her summoned minions are downed or we’ll be overwhelmed.”
“Be aware that she can empower her minions, so those have to be burned down quickly,” Azmuth reminded everyone.
“Let’s clear these supplicants first,” Mal ventured, already swinging his sword.
Avierra rolled her eyes. “Fine, let’s clear out the supplicants. Brutusk, please do not run toward Lady Deathwhisper. We don’t want a repeat of… well, you know.”
Brutusk seemed offended. “Why, I would never…”
Avierra waved his next words away even as Mal rushed forward to engage the supplicants. We made short work of them and soon, were faced with just Lady Deathwhisper. She seemed not even to notice that all her supplicants were dead. She seemed to be gazing upward adoringly, as if seeing the Lich King himself.
“I think she’s insane,” I whispered.
“Time to put her out of her misery then,” Jizal responded cheerfully.
I quickly nocked an arrow and pulled, cocking an eye at Avierra. She nodded quickly and was moving even before I released the iceblade shaft. It sped straight and true, smashing against an invisible shield that shimmered like a heat wave. My wolf Lobo rushed in to attack as well, ramming himself against the shield.
She seemed to notice us for the first time. “What is this disturbance?! You dare trespass upon this hallowed ground? This shall be your final resting place!”
Three shimmers heralded the arrival of 2 fanatics and an adherent from the alcoves on our left. Mal and Avierra rushed forward to engage, closely followed by the rest of our group. I shot a few more arrows at the shield before switching to engage an adherent.
As her minions fell, she roared in fury. “Take this blessing and show these intruders a taste of our master’s power!”
A fanatic suddenly screamed and grew larger, joints popping grotesquely. “Burn it down!” Azmuth shouted, leaping into the now-empowered fanatic’s path and delivering a powerful blow that would have decapitated a giant. The fanatic simply grinned and reached for the death knight with grasping claws. Azmuth evaded them and spun away, running toward the other side of the room. The empowered fanatic howled and shambled after him. Meanwhile, I had five arrows embedded in its flesh within the blink of an eye. Jizal and Calimdan bashed into the thing from behind. In short order, it was nothing more than a pile of smoking remains.
“On the mana shield! Now!” Avierra instructed.
Everyone turned their attention back to Lady Deathwhisper and unleashed everything they had with steel, claw, spell, and arrow. About 3 seconds later, 3 more figures shimmered into being from the right alcoves, this time it was 2 adherents and a fanatic. I hesitated a bare moment to shoot another arrow into the mana shield before swinging my bow into alignment with an adherent. Within a bare second, I had shot arrows into its chest, throat, and forehead.
Lady Deathwhisper raised both arms. “Arise and exalt in your true form!”
The adherent that should have been downed rose once more, eyes glowing and crackling with raw energy. I shot more arrows into it, aided by Calimdan in cat form who rushed in from the side with flashing claws. Between us, the re-animated adherent went down screaming.
Lady Deathwhisper hissed as she pointed at the fanatic. “I release you from the curse of flesh!”
The fanatic roared in pain as it grew to enormous size, flesh stretching over suddenly-enlarged bones. A fey light entered its eyes as it turned its attention to Avierra. “Burn this one down!” Avierra warned as his Hammer of Righteousness spell slammed into the empowered fanatic, slamming it to the ground. It simply rose again, ponderous, and fixed it eyes on Avierra.
Jarvisius threw fel fireballs into the thing from the side while Jizal and Azmuth hewed with steel and magic. The empowered fanatic went down, but too slowly. Already, 3 more shimmers presaged the entry of another set of adherents and fanatics.
I barely had time to take 3 more shots at Lady Deathwhisper’s mana shield before engaging another adherent. We downed this group faster than the previous ones so we had more time to pound the mana shield. It appeared to be weakening under our assault, winking in and out of existence as our spells and steel slammed into it.
“Hold! We can’t take her and another set of minions at the same time!” Avierra warned.
We stopped our assault even as another 3 shimmers heralded more minions. We killed them hastily, aware that the mana shield was about to go down. “Clear! Take down that shield!”
Spells, arrows, steel, and claws smashed into the mana shield until it winked out with an incongruous pop. Lady Deathwhisper’s eyes widened in shock. “Enough! I see I must take matters into my own hands!”
Avierra and Mal rushed forward to engage, with Calimdan, Azmuth, and Jizal close on their heels. Jarvisius and I hung back, hurling spells and arrows at the now-unshielded Lady Deathwhisper. Ghostly figures materialized from the side alcoves, rushing toward us only to explode on contact. We learned to run away from them on sight. She cast deadly shadow bolts from her hands and we interrupted them with spell and arrow as best we could.
After an interminable time, she seemed to falter. “Burn her down!” Avierra screamed. “For the Light!”
Jizal took up the cry. “For the Light!” He swung his sword with all his might. Azmuth quietly declared, “Hysteria on Jizal.” The sword glowed with a blinding light that seemed to consume the undead monster upon contact.
Lady Deathwhisper crumpled to the ground, a smoking pile of pale dead flesh and torn robes.
Jizal seemed to be panting as he leaned on his sword, still smoking and crackling with holy energy. “That was fun. Do we get to do it again?”