Loyalty [NaNoWriMo]

My liege. My beloved Prince and King.

I was not like you. I did not come from a wealthy family, nor was I born into nobility. My upbringing was a humble one, comprised of running the farm with my parents, planting crops, looking after the livestock. I was an only child, so as I grew older it fell on my shoulders to care for our family.

It was simple, honest work. And I hated it.

I wanted to be strong, vanquish evil, defeat terrible foes with a shining sword and hearty companions at my side! What foolishness. But what boy does not dream the glorious dreams of the righteous?

So when I was little more than a teenager I left the nurturing caress of Tirisfal and set out to make my name in the world as a mercenary for hire. Yes, a farm boy with no training, no armor, and nothing but a dented iron sword, out to conquer the world. It's absurd, really.

I admit now that I was woefully unprepared, and should never have survived my travels. The only thing that kept me from an early grave was sheer, stupid luck. I ended up trying to rob what I assumed was a wealthy merchant, unwisely traveling on his own. My opinion of my victim changed drastically after he disarmed me with but a flick of his hand, and seconds later had me face-down on the ground, my own sword tucked against my throat. My panic only increased when over a dozen bandits and brigands stepped out of the bushes, hailing my opponent as their companion.

I expected to die painfully. Instead, their leader was amused at my courage and guts, and they took me in. They taught and trained me in many different skills: how to swing a blade, shoot a longbow, track a target through the woods, etc. I was not terribly gifted at any one skill in particular, so I trained twice as hard to make up for my lack of talent.

We stole and raided for many years, and finally I discovered what had been missing in my life, what brought me joy. It was the power of wielding life and death over others, of controlling not only my own fate through my actions and decisions, but those of others. I thrived in the adrenaline of the hunt and the exhilaration of cornering an outnumbered foe.

But above all else, nothing compared to the raw, pure sensation of a kill. The hatred that bursts forth from a man like a flame as you slide your blade between his ribs...the spark that ignites your blood and sets your skin tingling, as you stare into his eyes and see, nay, FEEL his life fade and dissipate from this world! And the fear...the overwhelming, palpable terror that exudes from his every pore when he realizes his doom. At that moment, nothing else in the world matters. Not his wife, his children, his faith. Nothing exists but you, the one who holds his life in his hands. The feeling is...unmatched..

Our leader was charismatic and strong, and I was happy to work for him. I had no ambitions of leadership, of command. I was happy simply following in his wake, carrying out his orders. I respected him greatly. However, after almost a decade of thievery and murder, a stray arrow took his life in a failed in a failed raid upon a small outpost from Stromgarde. No one was willing to step up and take charge, so we disbanded. To be honest, I doubt any of us could have controlled such a group of clashing personalities anyway. It takes a special type of person to be a leader of men.

For the second time in my life, I was directionless. I wandered for a bit, but I eventually had to admit to myself that I was useless, helpless on my own. I found I lacked drive and focus without someone to direct my will. After some careful thought, I decided that perhaps a career with the military would fulfill my needs, while still allowing me the occasional dispensing of violence. So I returned home to Lordaeron and joined the army.

You were but an infant at the time, my Prince. I know this because I was appointed as one of the castle's localized soldiers, and saw you quite frequently. As you grew older, I could see that your eyes carried the same dreams as mine had, that you wanted to run and explore, have exciting adventures. But of course, such behavior is not befitting of a prince. Your father would have none of it, and your wild spirit was wasted on books and lessons on courtly etiquette.

I took pity on you, and began regaling you with wild stories of adventure and piracy, of stolen treasures and unfaltering heroism. You devoured such tales, and over the years I saw something within you, an unquenchable thirst for...something. There was something about you that I knew would lead you to greatness, my Prince.

I was intrigued. I wanted to see with my own eyes what you would become, so I approached your father and pledged myself to you, promising to serve you faithfully for all my years as a companion, guardian, and mentor. Already in my short time with the army, I had proven myself to be capable and proactive, not just a brainless buffoon who would stand around burning waiting for the order to put himself out. As such, the King was more than happy to grant my request.

When you joined the Order of the Silver Hand, I was proud of you, as a mentor and friend, and also as a father figure. King Terenas was a good man, but he was also a busy man, who did not have the time to care for you and guide you like a father should. So I did my best to answer your questions, and teach you about the world in the ways the scholars could not. I did not want you to be of fragile mind when you first stepped from the protective sphere of your regal upbringing; no, my Prince, I wanted you to be ready to face what the world would throw in your path.

And you did not disappoint.

A lesser man would have broken and surrendered to anguish when we discovered the citizens of Stratholme had been infected by Mal'Ganis' diseased bread. A lesser man would not had the willpower and resolve to do what needed to be done. I could see you struggling with the decision, my Prince, and what man wouldn't? Such an impossible dilemma for one so young. Barely a boy, yet the incredible burden of command already hung about your shoulders, a unshakable weight - a noose.

Lord Uther and Lady Jaina, your "peers", did not have the courage to stand by your side and lend you their support, and I could see that the plague of doubt was starting to invade your mind. The shock and disappointment of your friends' betrayal was evident on your features. I couldn't just stand by and let you suffer alone. I knew exactly what you needed - the reassurance that what you were doing was right.

"I would rather be hacked into a thousand pieces than turn into one of them undead." I said, simply. At my words, your eyes, which had grown dim with unease, regained their usual flame. Others around us echoed their support and encouragement, and you straightened, resolute, bolstered by our support.

The next few hours were...unique. I killed all who crossed my path, and watched with pride as you did the same, unhesitating, unflinching. However, not all of your men were as strong as us. Many broke down and wept, or collapsed in the streets, crippled by their actions. Some tried to shelter children, hide them in crates so their deaths would not be on their hands. Others tried to flee.

Their cowardice shamed us, shamed your command! You had given us an order, and it was our job to carry out those orders. As your Captain, it fell upon me to maintain discipline even in the most difficult of times, so I borrowed a horse and doubled back. I found the children hidden away. I found the would-be deserters. I found the ones who refused to obey, a soldier's lone responsibility. And I killed them all, for you, my Prince.

I was surprised when the demon revealed that your destiny lay in the faraway land of Northrend, but did not think for a second of abandoning you. The fires that had consumed Stratholme had purged you of fear, has tempered your soul into a weapon of retribution. It was glorious to behold. Before my very eyes, you had transformed from a boy, to a man, to an avenger. You would surely need my arm on your journey.

I was pleased with the new recruits that accompanied us to Northrend. They were very well trained, and unlike in the past, knew full well what they were walking into. I hoped there would be less...rebellion, this time.

Our progress was steady, our pace strong. Countless Scourge fell to our swords as we slowly carved a path into the hostile land. And what fortune that we encountered your dwarf friend, whose troops fought in amazing harmony with our own. His stories about a mythical weapon of untold power captivated us, gave us hope. Things were proceeding perfectly.

But then the emissary from your father arrived, ordering us to return to Lordaeron and abandon the campaign. I am thankful you were away from camp when he arrived, so you were spared the humiliation of being told to heel like an unruly dog in front of your men. I seethed, but this foe was not one I could slay for you. Only you could handle this newest problem. I was in a foul mood when I set off with the men to make our way through the woods to our landing base.

But when we reached the shore, my heart leaped with joy and disbelief when I saw our vessels aflame. Initially, I didn't understand what had happened, just that we would be remaining here to carry out your quest. But when you emerged from the woods like an avenging titan, and ordered the deaths of some paltry rogues milling about the remnants of our ships, I immediately understood. And as we charged, weapons drawn and revenge in our eyes, I did not roar in outrage like so many of my fellows. I smiled.

Once again, you had found the strength within to do what needed to be done. I was so proud, my Prince.

I must admit that, distracted by the recent events, I did not foresee the Scourge launching an attack as we were recovering from the battle. Demoralized, fatigued from the long march, and weakened from the short but violent battle minutes earlier, I did not find the odds encouraging. Nonetheless, I did my best to quickly organize a defense while you decided on our course of action.

I gave you the facts when you appeared. We were surrounded, and while we would likely be able to repel their attacks for a time, eventually their endless numbers - replenished by our own dead - would wear us down and overwhelm us. Things looked grim, and inwardly, I despaired not that I would soon be dead, but that your life, so bright and full of potential, would be snuffed before its proper time.

However, you were one step ahead of me. You revealed that Muradin had managed to locate Frostmourne, and that you and the dwarf would use the distraction of the battle to sneak past the Scourge and retrieve the artifact. You just needed us to buy you enough time.

I nodded and saluted with a grin. You were on the cusp of attaining the greatness that was your destiny. I wasn't about to let some mindless zombies and ghouls hold you back when you were so close.

I had noticed a rocky ledge by the water's edge that would be perfect for my needs. I sprinted over, stringing my bow as I ran. Such an uncommon weapon among the soldiery, but one that had served me well on many occasions. Our troops were half-dead and faltering; they needed courage. They needed someone to inspire them. This wasn't my usual forte, but I would do whatever it took to help you reach your goal.

I crested the ledge and gave a yell that reached the ears of every soldier below. I showered arrows down upon the sea of undead, shouting words of defiance, taunting them to come kill me. My mind churned as I struggled to recall every noble, heroic oath I had heard others use over the years. I kicked myself for never paying much attention to such battle cries, but then again, I never suspected I would be the one shouting them.

"In the name of Lordaeron!" I bellowed, thrusting my hand in the air, silhouetted against the sky. To a man, each soldier, their hopes of returning to their homeland so recently stripped from them, responded in kind. As I continued to scream and curse like a man possessed, I silently congratulated myself. That had been just what the men needed.

We held out for as long as we could, but I saw Mal'Ganis appear on the beach and knew our time was short. But then you appeared, a furious angel of vengeance, and in your hands glittered a fearsome blade that could only have been Frostmourne. I nearly wept as you descended upon the Scourge, their ranks crumbling under your fury. Even the dreadlord could not stand against you in single combat, and I knew as you sliced your hated foe in twain that your hour had arrived. My entire body ached, but my heart throbbed with satisfaction.

As the demon's body fell, its foul blood steaming and melting the snow, you ran off into the dawn's light. I scrambled down from the rock and called out to you, but you were focused and did not hear. I hesitated a moment, then grabbed my sword and set off after you. You would need me on your new journey. I could sense it.

I caught up to you many hours later. You moved with a purpose, a burning urgency, that I had never seen in you before. As I gasped for breath, I saw you silently gazing into Frostmourne's blade...communing with it? I shrugged. It hardly mattered to me.

"Falric, old friend," you said, turning to face me, a new light in your eyes. "I am...more than I have ever been before. And I have great plans for this world, plans that would terrify you if you knew their enormity."

"I know, my Prince, I said, calmly. "I have served you for all these years. I know your heart. It was you that burned the ships, wasn't it?" Faint smiles touched our lips. There was no accusation in my voice, nor was I expecting an answer. We both knew the answer.

"Ah Captain, ever do you continue to prove your worth to me. You once swore fealty to me. To serve me faithfully for all your years. And you have done so loyally and reliably. Were you any other, even Muradin, or Uther...or my father, we would not be having this discussion. But you...you have earned this favor, and my thanks."

My heart pounded. I couldn't speak, but managed a short, curt nod. Though the air was freezing, chilling rivulets of sweat ran down my neck. This was it...

"The journey before me is one of darkness...of pain. It also one of incredible glory and victory. But there are those that would oppose me, challenge my rule. And though the unrivaled power of Frostmourne courses through me, it is just that - power. It is not wisdom, guidance or loyalty. Falric...my friend. Will you continue to provide me with these qualities? Will you accompany me on my dark journey?"

Though your eyes were blazing with wild determination, I looked past them and saw the youth that I had devoted so many of my years to. The youth that, once again, was asking for my support. I took a deep breath, dropped to one knee and bowed my head.

"Of course, my Prince. I am yours to command."

I heard Frostmourne rasp softly as your arm drew back.

"No longer Prince, Captain. From now on...I am King."

The icy blade surged into my chest, freezing my blood and seizing my soul. There was no pain, just a feeling of weightlessness, of...change. I watched my wounds close, felt my fatigue vanish. In moments, I rose to my feet, and found not the aches of age that had been snapping at my heels these last few years. I was reborn, rejuvenated. The first of your new regiment of soldiers. Your first Death Knight.

You charged me with returning to the men and creating more of my kind from the most deserving, a task I greatly enjoyed. I actually did not even have to return to the beach to find the first, as he had come searching for us, worried and concerned. He was one of the new recruits...Thassarian, I believe was his name. He had displayed great courage and ferocity in our time in Northrend, and I decided he would be the first of our new legion.

As I plunged my sword into his chest, thick, unholy energy washed over us both. To my amazement, I could feel, taste his surprise! His surprise, the feelings of anger, of despair...so delicious. I was overwhelmed at the sensation. Never before had I experienced such ecstasy! I threw back my head to the sky and basked in the moment, as Thassarian stiffened and collapsed to the ground. This moment of power...it was bliss. I had never felt so alive. Ironic, isn't it.

I have never regretted vowing myself to serve you. We have accomplished great things together. I was delighted that you had me accompany you back to Lordaeron for the final meeting with your father. Though my task was to murder the throne room guards before they raise an alarm, I could not help but glance over as you threw Terenas to the floor. As Frostmourne ascended, I felt a quiver run through me. So powerful. So unhesitating. I would follow you anywhere.

Even now, you have entrusted me to guard one of the most sacred locations within the Citadel - Frostmourne's sanctum. I know that the forces of Light move against us, try to stop us from attaining our goals. But do not trouble yourself with these insects. Leave it to me, my Prince. I will slaughter all that stand in your way. The citizens of Stratholme, the mercenaries that burned our ships, our own soldiers, I care not. If you wish it, it will be done.

I am yours to command.

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Pertinent Lore:

Falric's entry on WoW Pedia

Death Knight (manga), where we see a little more of Falric

Falric is an interesting character in WoW lore. He's a minor character, but he's had a few very important moments when it comes to Arthas' legacy/path.

I imagine him as a serial killer, with no real purpose or direction in his life, who was completely obsessed with following Arthas' bizarre path, simply out of an insane, morbid curiosity.

In the Arthas novel, Falric is introduced when Arthas is just a boy, and they often hang out. This explains why later on, Arthas trusts Falric's judgement and opinions, and why he trusts Falric with crucial tasks, such as holding the beach while he and Muradin went to find Frostmourne.

Speaking of that battle, Falric's moment in the manga was amazing. He really does leap up onto a ledge and courageously lead by example, showering the Scourge with arrows and inspiring the ground troops. It was one of my favorite moments in the book.

Personality-wise...well, I took some creative liberty there. I wondered just what Falric might have been like in life, and there wasn't much to go off except his quotes when you fight him in Halls of Reflection. His lines are very sadistic and cruel, implying that Falric is actually quite a deviant monster:

"Men, women and children... None were spared the master's wrath. Your death will be no different."
"Despair... so delicious..."
"Fear... so exhilarating..."
"The children of Stratholme fought with more ferocity!"

I think it's safe to say that this is a messed-up dude. So, why not embrace this idea and really make him a murderous psychopath?

The perverse pleasure he seems to derive from others' fear and pain was what sold me on this idea. I figured it would be perfect if, in life, he had been one of those monsters that greatly enjoyed killing, and got almost a sexual, predatory excitement from it.

As to why he was following Arthas, I thought it would work well if Falric wasn't only a lunatic when it comes to murder and killing, but if he also had an insane obsession with Arthas, almost like a stalker. Falric's life and existence was meaningless, but I could imagine him finding "purpose" in helping Arthas attain his goals.

I envision Falric as being completely, unquestionably loyal to Arthas, no matter who had to die or what terrible deed Arthas asked him to do. I think my version of Falric loves Arthas, in a sick, twisted way. Not sexually or romantically, but like a mad dog loves its abusive owner.

Of all the people featured in these letters, I think Falric ended up being the most disturbing.

3 Responses Subscribe to comments

  1. gravatar

    Dude, this is awesome. Probably my favorite wow-fic, though Arthas is my favorite character and I'm biased. XD

    Really gave me a new appreciation for Falric, though. Really well done. :D

    November 10, 2010 at 10:21 AM

  2. gravatar

    Thanks for the comment! If you liked Falric I really recommend you check out the Death Knight manga. He only has a few moments but they are AWESOME. I didn't want to steal his lines from when he leads the troops by example by shooting arrows from the rock ledge, but it's really, really cool. In that one moment, he is SO. BADASS. :D

    November 10, 2010 at 10:25 AM

  3. gravatar

    Your recent posts have made me appreciate the NPCs I never gave a second glance, and even more, they've given me more appreciation for the Wrath of the Lich King expansion.

    Very well written, and I can't wait until the next!

    November 10, 2010 at 9:36 PM