Ruinwen Lachenn is a Sin’dorei sorcerer, thaasophobic adventurer, and ferocious fashionista. She is famously contemptuous of ordinary people, and is rumored to secretly set commoners on fire with her magic when she has nothing pressing to do.
Born into the wealthy and influential Lachenn family — her parents were Grawdagnir, a well-connected Sunreaver sorceror, and Bregedúr, a fearsome, devouring, vicious witch boss and icon of Silvermoon cool — Ruinwen grew up with a deep-seated and sociopathic sense of entitlement. She recognizes neither state nor moral law, but sees them as mere obstacles to be circumvented by manipulating or dominating those around her.
When she was still a child, her father took the family to Splintertree Post in Ashenvale, from which he and a like-minded troll named Zinjo hoped to launch safaris into Darkshore to capture some live moonkin hatchlings in an attempt to discover the secrets of druidical shapeshifting. The hunting expeditions were unsuccessful, but in the meantime Naurvellon, Silvermoon’s advisor to Splintertree Post, took a fancy to Ruinwen, and her parents agreed to marry her to him.
This was a politically advantageous arrangement to all concerned but Ruinwen, who found the much older Naurvellon repulsive, but scheme as she might, she could not wrest herself free of the impending nuptials. Worse, Ruinwen soon detected a pair of night elves (Isilyë and Yarralomë) watching her from afar, and suspected that they might try to abduct her for ransom or even assassinate her in order to prevent the union of Naurvellon and her family.
Worse still, her effort to discourage this by having one of the would-be assassins smitten by a love spell — which she had hoped would end up in one assassin turning against the other — backfired when the other assassin arranged a distraction while the smitten one snuck into Splintertree Post and had his way with Ruinwen, then held her down while the other assassin returned and used the wreckage of Ruinwen’s maidenhead as a gory inkwell to write a taunting message on the wall.
Predictably, the wedding was called off on account of Ruinwen’s compromised virginity. But the justice meted out to the captured assassins — who were in fact there to kill Naurvellon, not Ruinwen — was wholly unsatisfactory to Ruinwen, who wanted them executed for what they had done.
(In fact, the punishment — which involved turning the assassins into breeding pairs of druidical animals and taking their young — had more to do with Grawdagnir’s interest in discovering the secrets of druidical shapeshifting than anything else.)
The incident had repercussions at home as well, where Ruinwen soon found that her social stock had plummeted now that she was no longer a tradable commodity. She was no longer invited to parties or other social functions, for example, and when she was, her parents were loathe to take her. And as she was an only child, her parents, too, found that their bargaining hand had weakened — and were not shy about telling her so.
Resentments built, and eventually Ruinwen’s home life became so intolerable that she drugged and set fire to her parents, may or may not have had something to do with a spate of unexplained deaths about Silvermoon City, then fled to Stonetalon Mountains, where she took up the life of the freebooting adventurer, answerable to no one and nothing beyond her own ambitions and whims.
One day, she vowed, after she had made her fortune and could command the respect (and amnesty) she felt she deserved, she would return to Silvermoon to take her rightful place among the city’s elite — and revenge on all those who had snubbed or otherwise wronged her after her ordeal in Splintertree Post.
The Road to Retribution
During the night elf assassins’ five-year sentence in the wilds of Ashenvale and Darkshore, locating them was easy; as part of the spell that had been cast over them, they were obliged to answer Grawdagnir’s call whenever he returned to collect their progeny. But now that their sentence was over and Grawdagnir dead, Ruinwen found that they were inexplicably impossible to pin down.
Her mission of vengeance was joined by Nasike, a young troll warrior-shaman who also owed the night elf pair a debt of violent retribution. Even among trolls, Nasike was noted for her aggressiveness and barbarous savagery, such that, where she and her family were once persecuted for a crime that the night elves had pinned on her father, now they were most often left alone. The troll had little but mistrust for blood elves, and Ruinwen little but contempt for troll kind, but since both of them were younger and less experienced than the two night elves, they agreed to work together as long as the night elves still drew breath.
When tracking the felonious elves by conventional means proved fruitless, Nasike took Ruinwen to a sympathetic farseer in order to locate the night elves via the spirit world. But even the spirits were unhelpful; they led Ruinwen and Nasike to the moonkin grounds in Darkshore, the one place Ruinwen and Nasike knew the night elves were not at. So much for shamanism, Ruinwen concluded.
Later on, night elves from Auberdine discovered the assassins in a feral state somewhere in Darkshore. As the felonious elves were eating one of their own young at the time of discovery, the event caused such a stir that it became news even among the Horde in Stonetalon, where Ruinwen and Nasike were working at the time. The “Cannibals of Darkshore”, as they became known, were whisked away to Darnassus for rehabilitation and study — well out of Ruinwen and Nasike’s reach. And that, it seemed, was that.
Vengeance and justice, at least as far as the two night elves were concerned, would have to wait.
In the meantime, there was another night elf that needed to be put down.
“Imprisoned for ten thousand years. Banished from my own homeland. And now you dare enter my realm?”
By the time Ruinwen had fought her way to stand face-to-face against Illidan Stormrage — the “Betrayer”, as his own people called him, and the man who had gotten the whole of the blood elf race dependent on soul-corrosive fel magic — memory of the Cannibals of Darkshore seemed distant indeed.
But then, as her eyes wandered over the assembled Alliance forces that had come up the opposite staircase to the top of the Black Temple, all thought of the giant, winged night elf monologuing before her was ripped away by the impossible sight of the two Cannibals standing at the ready, apparently unaware of her.
She nudged Nasike and pointed in their direction, then stepped out from the Horde forces toward the Alliance.
“YARRALOMË AND ISILYË!” she called out, her voice hoarse with forgotten rage and her eyes oblivious to the impending showdown with Illidan. “We have unfinished business!”
Nasike let loose an ear-piercing howl and charged at the night elf pair while Ruinwen began conjuring a massive ball of fire. Neither of the night elves seemed to recognize them, and appeared momentarily befuddled. But before either Nasike or Ruinwen could reach their marks, soldiers from their own ranks tackled them to the ground.
Akama, a former ally of Illidan’s but now leading the “broken draenei” rebellion against him, audibly sighed. “Give us a moment,” he grumbled, glancing back to Illidan.
The Betrayer smiled broadly. “You are not prepared,” he sneered.
Ruinwen and Nasike were brought in chokeholds before the Horde commander, who was making apologetic gestures to Akama and the Alliance commander. “Your unfinished business will kill us all,” he growled angrily. “Illidan now, you understand? Illidan! Or I’ll have you both ripped apart right here!”
Ruinwen and Nasike relented, and ignored as best as they could the taunting presence of the Cannibals while battling the Betrayer.
“Take heart,” offered the tauren that had earlier wrestled Ruinwen to the ground. “It took years, but this Maiev person finally got her man, right?”
“I’m not waiting that long,” Ruinwen retorted bitterly, then jumped onto her dragonhawk and headed back to Shattrath. Now that she knew the Cannibals were back in the world, all her energy and more would be focused on finding and killing them. Preferably before the next world-threatening crisis.
GET YOUR MONEY TOGETHER O HARPY. TODAY FORTUNE SMILES ON BOTH OF US.
The victory at Black Temple, apart from being a huge boon to the Alliance and Horde in general, was also a boon to Ruinwen financially, as she now had sufficient funds to offer a reward for the Cannibals’ whereabouts.
She didn’t have to look far — the very scribe she hired to make the wanted posters not only knew the Cannibals personally, but knew that Yarralomë would be getting married at Light’s Hope Chapel on the coming vernal equinox. To his own daughter/niece, unbeknownst to him — the very one the elves of Auberdine took such pains to hide away when they found him and his sister eating her brother when the Cannibals were first discovered after being turned back into elves.
Ruinwen’s plan was twofold. First, she needed to recruit this scribe — a certain Johann Tetzel — on a permanent basis. Through her own investigation of the recently undead man, she discovered that he had been a mover and shaker when he was alive, an Inquisitor for the Scarlet Crusade, a master manipulator and, perhaps most importantly, a man who knew how to raise a lot of money. Unfortunately, undeath had broken the man, and she needed him whole again — and embracing the monster he had become — though not so whole that she wouldn’t be able to control him.
Luckily, she was a master manipulator herself, she reasoned, and had learned enough about him to literally get inside his head and steer him where she needed him to go.
Second, she would get a hold of the journal Johann’s father Gustaf kept. Gustaf was the speech therapist and a chief rehabilitator for the Cannibals when they were brought to Darnassus, and his journal clearly identified not only Yarralomë and Isilyë as the Cannibals, but Lómion, their daughter, who Yarralomë was about to marry. Ruinwen would have the journal delivered to Yarralomë on his wedding night to destabilize him, then abduct him and torture him for Isilyë’s whereabouts in a way that would make both urination and defecation a painful, messy ordeal for the rest of his life.
Unfortunately, for all her careful preparations, the second part of her plan did not go as well as the first: Yarralomë took the journal’s revelations much harder than she anticipated, killing his bride and himself before Ruinwen could steal him away to exact her own justice.
In the many revenge scenarios Ruinwen played out in her head in the years since Splintertree Post, Yarralomë’s death certainly figured heavily in most of them — but on her terms, as an execution for what he had done to her, not for whatever taboos he might have broken before or after that. This was a bungle, she had to admit. But not the end of the world; she wanted Yarralomë brutally punished, yes — but, she told herself, he wasn’t the real villain here; it was his sister, Isilyë, who had taken advantage of the love spell Ruinwen had cast and put him up to the rape, Isilyë who had sodomized her with a dagger, and ultimately Isilyë who must be made to bear the full fury of Ruinwen’s revenge. And if Yarralomë had escaped what was coming to him, then his sister would be made to pay his debt as well as her own.
The Lich King
“When my work is complete,” the Lich King taunted, “you will beg for mercy — and I will deny you. Your anguished cries will be testament to my unbridled power...”
Tirion Fordring, the Supreme Commander of the Argent Crusade, stood defiant at the head of the assembled Alliance and Horde forces in Icecrown Citadel. They had all come too far and endured too much to turn back now, and too much was at stake. Tirion raised his sword. “So b—”
“May I interject?” rose a voice from the Horde ranks. “I’m bored. And as a member of this elite force, I have a duty to be open and forthright. I think the enemy is being tedious and I’m concerned for the team’s attention span.”
Heads turned and eyebrows rose at the impertinent blood elf mage who seemed strangely unfazed by the gravity and momentousness of the situation.
“RUINWEN!” roared another voice, this time from the Alliance side. A green-skinned, green-haired night elf stepped out from the throng. “Is me, Isilyë!”
Ruinwen’s fingers instinctively began tracing the opening gestures of a fire spell, but her hand was stayed by the Horde commander. “I don’t want a repeat of Black Temple,” he menaced.
“KNOW ME KILL YOU BROTHER!” Isilyë snarled in broken Elvish as she began conjuring the astral ire of Elune to strike Ruinwen where she stood, but now it was she who was tackled and pulled back into her ranks by her own comrades.
(Meanwhile, Ruinwen had always wondered if it was true that Isilyë never fully learned how to speak properly after her “punishments” in Ashenvale and Darkshore. Now she knew.)
Tirion sighed and turned back to the towering figure of the Lich King. “So be it!” he shouted.
Within an hour the entire Alliance-Horde force fought, perished, returned from death’s antechamber, and against all odds conquered. The day was won, but Isilyë was whisked away before Ruinwen or Nasike could settle accounts with her. Instead, a lone night elf death knight strode through the recovering combatants, stopped before Ruinwen, and removed her helmet.
“I think you know who I am,” she said flatly.
“You were Yarralomë’s wife,” Ruinwen said, then added with a sneer, “and daughter. And niece. ‘Lómion’, right?”
“It’s ‘Caranlos’ now,” The death knight corrected, “but I think you know that already”. She bent down slowly so that her face, half purple with postmortem lividity, half dead white with pallor mortis, was but inches from Ruinwen’s. “If I see either of you again,” she said darkly, “I’ll murder you both.” She straightened up then and strode away to the cadaverous Frostbrood drake waiting for her at the edge of the platform.
Tetzel approached from behind, holding a sack filled with his share of the spoils. “What did she want?” he asked.
Ruinwen kept her eyes on the Frostbrood drake as it took wing in the direction of Dalaran. Caranlos was far younger than she or Nasike, but, for the moment, could indeed kill them both on her own.
“We’re going to need another recruit for our cause,” Ruinwen said at last.
“Deathwing” was the nom de guerre of a certain Neltharion, leader of the Black dragonflight and sometime Aspect of Earth before going mad and restyling himself the Aspect of Death. He had wreaked fiery havoc on a seismic scale here and there throughout Azeroth, and now seemed to spend his time incinerating people at random in the more desolate reaches of the world. Annoying.
“Little hand says it’s time to rock and roll!” the Sky Captain shouted. “Everyone into the hole, we’ve got a dragon to kill!”
The end of the world was at hand — again — but all Ruinwen could think about now was how she might sabotage the Sky Captain’s personal parachute without anyone noticing.
For that and similar purposes she now had Wixee, a psychopathically materialistic and impressively stealthy refugee from Kezan that had been stealing clothes and bling from Ruinwen’s Silvermoon home before Ruinwen devised a means to catch her. Instead of handing the foul-mouthed goblin over to the authorities, Ruinwen offered her a job as corporate spy, competition eliminator, and now, parachute saboteur.
It irritated Ruinwen that she had to be discreet at all, as the Sky Captain’s exuberant corniness was such a distraction that it jeopardized them all. “100% pure adrenaline”, he liked to say as if it were a greeting. “It’s not tragic to die doing what you love.” People should be thanking her for putting an end to this at long last.
It was then, while filing into the hold of the Skyfire, that she spotted Isilyë among the battered Alliance crewmen and heroes, noisily and seemingly obliviously biting into a carrot.
Part of her was not surprised — it had become their custom to run into each other only when the end of the world was at hand or other inconvenient times — but as she hadn’t noticed Isilyë in the current campaign until now, she still found herself momentarily startled. Her eyes darted about in search of Nasike or Wixee, hoping to better gauge what her options were, but instead found Caranlos staring blackly back at her.
Ruinwen momentarily found herself frozen in place as the death knight drew her runeblades and strode purposefully toward her, the throng of mixed Horde and Alliance in between them quieting and parting as she advanced.
For a few moments, the ship’s hold was silent but for the metal-on-wood thunks of Caranlos’ footsteps and loud, still oblivious crunches of Isilyë’s carrot.
Totems — the wooden sound of a shaman’s totems hitting the floor, followed by the shuffling of feet as the people standing behind Ruinwen gave way to the savagely baleful-looking troll standing there. “Put your swords away, death knight,” Nasike snarled, “or I’ll be wearing your face when I jump to meet Deathwing.”
This was joined from across the hull by the unmistakable sound of a shotgun racking. “Put yer totems away,” came a woozy growl, “or you won’t have a head to wear it with.” Crewmen hurried out of the way to reveal a dwarf woman training an intimidatingly large gun on Nasike.
Halldis, Ruinwen recognized, the boozier of Isilyë’s growing circle of allies. That was another problem, Ruinwen realized — the night elf’s list of friends willing to fight on her behalf was outpacing her own.
Crunch. Isilyë’s back remained temptingly facing Ruinwen and Nasike.
Out of the corner of her eye, Ruinwen thought she saw a shadow behind Halldis that wasn’t the dwarf’s own. Wixee, she realized, but it wouldn’t be enough; Isilyë also had a draenei and a pair of Gilneans on her side, and all were onboard the Skyfire.
The standoff continued for another beat.
A thunder of boots rushing down the stairs broke the silence, followed by a chorus of rifles cocking as soldiers of the Skyfire deployed in the hold. Frenzied commands to lay down arms ricocheted around the hull, drowning out the sound of Sky Captain Swayze and Ka’anu Reevs stepping leisurely down the stairs.
The Sky Captain made his way through the soldiers, crew, and feuding heroes, stopping in front of Caranlos.
“Back off, ‘Red Snow’,” he commanded. “Seriously.”
Caranlos shot a withering stare at Ruinwen and Nasike, raised her swords over her head — then shoved them into their sheathes on her back. She smiled coldly at the Sky Captain.
The Sky Captain pivoted on his heels to face Nasike and Ruinwen. “I know, you two,” he said, putting a hand on Ruinwen’s shoulder. “I’ve heard. I know you want the Cannibal so bad it’s like acid in your mouth. But, not this time.”
“You got no idea what dis is about,” Nasike growled back at him.
The Sky Captain glanced up at her, his eyes full of empathy, then nodded at one of his lieutenants. A sudden rifle butt to the stomach snapped Nasike and Ruinwen in half, then another to the back of the head knocked them to the ground.
The Sky Captain extended his hand to Nasike. “Peace — through superior firepower,” he said. “Are we cool?”
Nasike brushed his hand aside. “Ya,” she answered.
“Yes,” said Ruinwen.
“This is stimulating,” the Sky Captain declared, “but we’re out of here. It’s go time!”
Swayze and Ka’anu grabbed parachutes from the rack, strapped them on, and leaped out the hatch, followed by the Skyfire soldiers and associated heroes.
“Sex with gods,” grinned the Sky Captain’s lieutenant at Ruinwen as he strapped on a parachute. “You can’t beat that!”
It was only now that Isilyë rose to her feet, though she did so in a slow, relaxed manner, as if Deathwing were not flying within jumping distance of the Skyfire. She glanced over at Ruinwen as she ambled toward the hatch, the carrot still sticking out of her mouth like a cigar. A smug smile may have flickered across her face; Ruinwen couldn’t be sure.
Isilyë leaped out the hatch without a parachute, preferring instead to take the form of a swift-winged bird.
Ruinwen and Nasike strapped on their own parachutes and approached the hatch. They were still massaging their stomachs and heads as they looked down into the abyss.
“I tink we should add da Sky Captain to da list,” Nasike shouted over the rushing wind.
It had been a horrible day already, and was about to get far, far worse, but Ruinwen finally had cause to smile. She grinned and shook her head at Nasike, then jumped out the hatch.
The parachutes the Sky Captain and Ka’anu took off the rack were ones she had already disabled while practicing to disable the Captain and Ka’anu’s own personal parachutes.
Isilyë would likely escape her yet again, she knew, and Deathwing might very well eat her before she ever got her revenge. But at least she wasn’t leaping to her doom without some justice first.
A Meeting with the Black Prince
“Ruinwen!” greeted the Black Prince. “I was beginning to worry that you might not show today.”
The Black Prince — or Wrathion, as he was also known — was a son of the late Deathwing and the last of the black dragonflight (which he himself helped to destroy). He was not insane like his father, he insisted, and, having foreseen the return of the Burning Legion and the destruction of Azeroth, was eager to take up his father’s abandoned charge of protecting it.
But to do that, he believed, there could be no warring factions as there were now; only a single, dominant faction could hope to thwart the coming doom. That faction, Wrathion had decided, should be the Horde, and he had promised Ruinwen all the magical might and support she would need to achieve this.
“I told ya she would be late,” taunted a familiar voice from across the tavern.
“Nasike?!” Ruinwen shot the Black Prince an accusing glare. “What’s she doing here? I thought I was your champion.”
“Oh, you are,” the Black Prince said, raising a reassuring hand.
“What?!” barked Nasike, now rising to her feet. “Dat’s what ya told me!”
The Black Prince raised another hand, as if to keep Nasike at bay as well. “What I mean to say is that you’re both on the short list of candidates,” he explained. “There are others I’m considering, too.”
Both the elf and troll reared their heads at this in indignation. “It’s why I’ve summoned you here today,” the Prince quickly added, “to shorten the list even further. It’s a lot of power I mean to give — a reckless amount of power — and I need to be absolutely certain of who I’m giving it to.”
There was still a glimmer of protest frozen on their faces, but the Prince could see that he had regained control of the room. “To that end: Ruinwen,” he said, shifting his red-eyed gaze to the elf, “do you know the reason they opened the gate to the Vale of Eternal Blossoms?”
“Yes, that’s what most people have heard,” said the Prince dismissively. “But I know the truth of it. It was Anduin and a sometime champion of his — and potentially one of mine. Xuen put the champion through a series of trials to test the champion’s worthiness. The last of these was a sha that manifested as the champion’s archenemy; the champion overcame the sha with such aplomb that Xuen was finally convinced that the foreigners could be trusted to enter the Vale without also letting the sha in.”
“Great story,” Ruinwen offered dryly after a moment of awkward silence. “Was there a point?”
“Yes,” the Prince answered, leaning in toward Ruinwen. “When I heard that report, I realized that neither of you have faced such a test, which concerns me because I also heard that you were nearly overcome by sha soon after you made landfall.”
He was referring to the tendency of people harboring “negative” emotions like hatred, greed, and the like to be transformed into sha-like creatures themselves; Ruinwen, Nasike, and the rest of her crew along with General Nazgrim briefly underwent such a metamorphosis before being snapped out of it by the sudden intervention of Taran Zhu of the Shado-Pan.
“We all underwent extensive training after that incident,” assured Ruinwen. “The problem has been corrected.”
“Has it?” The Black Prince asked, now slowly pacing about her in a circle. “You’ve faced many challenges so far, and many sha along the way, but not the one that matters.” Ruinwen and Nasike regarded him warily as he reached into his double-breasted coat and produced a folded parchment, which he then unfolded and turned round for them to see:
10,000 gold pieces for the capture and delivery of the night elves Isilyë and Yarralomë. 5,000 gold pieces for any information that results in their apprehension. Last seen in the Black Temple....
“Ordinarily something like this wouldn’t come within my notice,” said the Black Prince, refolding the parchment and tucking it back into his coat, “except that Isilyë is one of my potential champions.”
“You said you were going with the Horde,” Ruinwen flatly protested, unhappy but unsurprised now by the Prince’s reneged assurances.
“After the Vale gate report, I’m reconsidering a lot of things,” the Black Prince retorted. “And now, I’m going to give all three of you what you’ve been wanting for years,” he continued, gesturing for them to follow him out of the tavern. “And you, in the end, will give me what I want — a champion.”
In the mist outside the tavern, a humanoid figure was stalking about upside down on its hands. A female figure, clearly — her skirt had slid down over her face, blinding her, and there was no underwear. As Ruinwen and Nasike stepped down the stairs, squinting incredulously at the spectacle, the figure came to an abrupt halt, apparently sensing their approach.
The blood elf and troll stopped, too, having gotten close enough to see the figure clearly: the green skin, the green leather dress, the green antler headdress peaking out from under the skirt.
Nasike threw down her totems.
“Isilyë!” Ruinwen roared.
With catlike grace, the figure flipped itself right side up, revealing a thick, matted mane of green hair that covered much of her face. “Ready me?” she asked.
“Oh yes,” Ruinwen almost whispered, “we ready you.”
“Just a moment,” interjected the Black Prince. “I’m going to even the odds for this. I have another candidate. I don’t know if you have any opinion about her, but she definitely has some strong opinions about you.”
At that moment, a preternatural chill filled the air around them as a tall, armored figure strode toward them from behind the tavern. The eerily glowing blue eyes, the unmistakable stench of death and decay — Ruinwen’s heart sank as she recognized the approaching death knight.
“Caranlos,” she muttered.
“I can feel your disappointment from here,” said Caranlos wryly.
Isilyë convulsed in the disconcerting, maniacal chortle of someone who had not yet learned to laugh normally, drawing quizzical glances from all but Caranlos, who was presumably used to these displays. As this increasingly inappropriate outburst continued, Ruinwen caught glimpses of Isilyë’s childlike glee half-hidden behind her tangled thicket of hair, and it occurred to Ruinwen then that Isilyë’s nicknames “The Wild”, “The Savage”, and “The Insane” were not dusty titles from her earlier days of desperate cannibalism and amnesia — which Ruinwen had long assumed — but current descriptions of a creature who, while childlike and guileless, was nevertheless wild, savage, and clearly very unbalanced; the sharp, shrewd shrew of a woman Ruinwen met at Splintertree Post was nowhere to be found in this oversized feral child.
“This changes nothing,” Ruinwen growled. Her powers had come a long way since she met Caranlos in Icecrown, when the death knight doubtlessly could have killed her, and she and her cohorts had all prepared themselves for this eventuality. “Come at us,” she taunted, throwing up an invisible shield of ice around her, “with everything you have.”
Caranlos outstretched her arms, palms upward, as the ground around her began to rumble and break from the emerging corpses answering her summons; Isilyë assumed the form of an armored moonkin and directed burst after burst of searing lunar fire onto Ruinwen. Nasike and Ruinwen answered with fire of their own, concentrating their fury on Caranlos, who strode toward Ruinwen while the throng of animated corpses bit and clawed at Ruinwen’s ice shield.
Nasike was abruptly suspended in the air by a sudden, cyclone-like wind that Isilyë had invoked, effectively taking the troll out of the fight while the night elves focused on Ruinwen, who had meanwhile set the nearby ground alight to destroy the flailing swarm of undead. Nasike’s removal was inconvenient, but not unexpected; Ruinwen waited for Caranlos to reach her, then froze the ground around her to immobilize the death knight, along with any remaining corpses that still had some fight left in them.
Her plan was to move away to a safe distance to shapeshift Caranlos into a harmless forest creature and then hurl everything she had at Isilyë, but unexpectedly she found herself frozen motionless with her back to Caranlos, whose blades slashed with impunity through the invisible nimbus protecting Ruinwen’s deceptively skimpy armor. Meanwhile, the ground beneath their feet bubbled with necrotic blood and ooze, half-destroyed corpses gnawed at Ruinwen’s feet, and a stinging swarm of flies gushed forth from the gash in the death knight’s throat, joined by a black cloud of devouring locusts summoned by the druid.
Did you two really think it would be this easy? she thought with disdain, then teleported herself away from Caranlos, who was still rooted to the ground. But as Ruinwen turned to face the death knight and change her shape into something benign, a long, thick spike pierced Ruinwen’s cheek, one of many such spikes that were now trapping Ruinwen in the tangle of roots and giant thorns that Isilyë had apparently conjured. A painfully blinding light then descended on her, preventing her from shapeshifting Caranlos or working any other sort of magic.
Ruinwen realized then that the next few moments would be her last.
Footsteps — Caranlos had apparently broken free of the ice, and both she and Isilyë were now approaching at a casual pace. Then — sharp, stabbing pains on either side of Ruinwen as Caranlos ran her through with both swords, twisting them. The blinding light faded then, revealing the night elves standing over her. Isilyë, now back in her usual form, bent over so that her head was now upside down, close to Ruinwen’s. “Tell to Yarralomë hello from us,” she said.
Caranlos extracted her swords, then lifted Ruinwen’s chin with one of them. “Anything quotable before we end this?” she asked.
Ruinwen could feel her lungs filling up with blood. Out of the corner of her eye, she could see Nasike still suspended impotently in the air. Glancing the other way, she could make out the Black Prince, his expression unreadable. How can it end this way? she thought. Two decades ... no justice ... As she glared defiantly into Isilyë’s face, that face that feature-for-feature was identical to the one Ruinwen remembered from Splintertree Post yet somehow seemed like someone else was wearing it, the memory of her ordeal — of Yarralomë hesitantly holding her down while his sister urged him on, of his embarrassed unwillingness to insert a dagger between her legs in order use the blood to write a message on the wall, of Isilyë contemptuously taking the dagger from him and doing it herself — all of it came flooding into her eyes, refocusing them in the tunnel vision of long festering rage. She blinked then, angled her head to better face Isilyë’s still upside down face, and spat a mouthful of blood.
“This is where I kill you all,” she croaked. The voice wasn’t quite her own, she noticed ... and why was the blood she spat black? The night elves apparently noticed this, too, and after a moment’s pause, started backing away. Ruinwen looked down to see exactly what they were staring at, saw her limbs swelling with the swirling chiaroscuro of sha corruption.
I hate this country so much, she thought. Then the corruption reached her brain, and she thought no more.
The night elves, for their part, had not backed away fast enough; a blistering black corruption spread out from Ruinwen in all directions, afflicting even Nasike, still in the air. Caranlos somersaulted away, then pulled Ruinwen closer to her from a distance in the way that death knights are known to do; this momentarily interrupted the corrosive assault. Isilyë recovered herself and, glancing over at Nasike, released her from her aerial prison before turning back to Ruinwen. Nasike, seething with fury, stepped toward Isilyë, whose attention seemed entirely on Ruinwen now. She lifted her bone clubs, howled with a fury that hurt her own throat, and leapt forward for the kill.
“You brought her back?!” Ruinwen heard the Black Prince ask incredulously.
Ruinwen opened her eyes. For reasons she could not recall, she was flat on her back. Nasike, Isilyë, and Caranlos were standing over her warily.
“What happened?” she asked Nasike.
“You lost,” answered the Black Prince from outside her field of view.
Ruinwen pushed herself up to a sitting position. “Then why am I still alive? Why is Nasike alive?” She eyed Isilyë suspiciously. “Why didn’t you finish this?”
“We did finish this, as far as you were concerned,” said Caranlos. “But then you turned sha on all of us. Nasike helped to put you down. Turning on her then would have been uncivil of us. Later, certainly, but not now.”
Ruinwen shot an accusing glance at Nasike. “I did bring you back,” the troll shrugged.
“No, no, no,” the Black Prince interjected. “This is no good. I need a champion who can handle their hatred and anger, which rules you out,” he said, glancing at Ruinwen. “And one who will finish what was started, which rules you three out.” He began pacing about the dirt, stepping around the sha residue. “On the other hand, turning on Nasike probably would have turned you two into shas as well. That shows foresight, which puts you back in the running. On still another hand, it took both of you — all three of you, in the end, to bring Ruinwen down, which puts her back in the running.”
“No ‘take’ three,” Isilyë corrected. “Three just there. Any us could her kill by self.”
Ruinwen jumped to her feet and threw up an ice shield. “Let’s test that theory now,” she hissed.
“Let’s not,” the Black Prince intervened. “The last thing Tong the innkeeper will want is a tavern full of champion-grade shas. I see now that this whole thing had been a bad idea from the start.”
“So that’s it?” Ruinwen asked.
“That’s it for now,” said the Black Prince. “I’ll let you know when I come up with something else.” The Prince then transformed himself back into the black whelpling that was his true form, and flew off, no closer to finding a champion than he was before.
“No believe me what do for new cloak,” Isilyë sighed before turning into a bird and flying off as well.
“Cheer up, Ruinwen,” said Caranlos as she mounted her onyx cloud serpent. “We’ll kill you again the next time we see you.” And then she, too disappeared up through the mist.
Ruinwen had had enough for today. “Two Moons?” she asked Nasike, nearing dejection.
“Ya, sure,” said Nasike. Ruinwen conjured a portal to the Horde capital in Pandaria, and the two of them left this horrible day behind them.
Peace in Our Time
“I am willing to end this bloodshed,” King Varian of Stormwind assured the new Warchief, “but know this: If your Horde fails to uphold honor, as Garrosh did, we will end you.”
The long, bloody Siege of Orgrimmar was over. Garrosh Hellscream, despised and defeated Warchief, was now awaiting trial for warcrimes, and Vol’jin, Chieftain of the Darkspear tribe of trolls and leader of their rebellion against Garrosh, had been made the new Warchief. But as remarkable as his victory and rise to supreme power were, his cooperation with Stormwind during the Siege accomplished something even more unlikely — an uneasy peace with the Alliance.
What this peace meant was hard to say, as members of any of the previously warring factions were apparently still free to attack their former enemies with impunity. But for Nasike’s brother Zen’Kiki, it meant finally solving the mystery of what happened to Lunaclaw, the Darkshore moonkin that had appeared to Zen’Kiki in the Barrens and taught him the secret of transforming into a bear.
Traveling to Darkshore under the banner of the Cenarion Circle, of which he was a member, Zen’Kiki looked for traces of Lunaclaw in the Moonkin Caves east of Auberdine. Not finding any, he sought the aid of a farseer — the same one Ruinwen and Nasike had fruitlessly employed years ago to locate Yarralomë and Isilyë. He found his quarry, and confirmed what he had long suspected — Lunaclaw, longtime teacher of the druids, had been burnt alive along with the rest of the moonkins during Deathwing’s fiery flight over the area.
But when Zen’Kiki asked about the curious star mark on Lunaclaw’s belly, he learned something else: there was a near civil war among the Darkshore moonkins that arose from the insufferable elitism associated with the star-bellied moonkins, forcing the tribe to split into two factions and go their separate ways; moonkin hunters occasionally came by the old caves, but otherwise the Moonkin Caves, as such, had long been abandoned. And the star mark — the source of all the trouble, was introduced by a pair of moonkins who claimed to really be night elves: “Yarralomë” and “Isilyë”, they called themselves. A blood elf’s spell kept them from leaving Darkshore, and so they, too, perished with all the other moonkins.
Zen’Kiki could scant believe what he was hearing. “Show me,” he demanded, and followed the moonkin to a tree. Sure enough, there were two wisps nearby, and within each wisp were the vacant-eyed, half-mad faces of two night elves. Zen’Kiki bent down for a closer look.
“Well?” asked Lunaclaw.
Zen’Kiki took a long time to answer. “Thrall’s balls,” he breathed at last.
Isilyë detected that something was amiss even before she heard footsteps approaching the hot tub.
It had been a long time since she had enjoyed the steaming rapture of the thermal pools of Winterspring, and the hot tub in the back of the Tavern in the Mists was as close to that as she could get while in Pandaria.
“Mind if we join you?” Reluctantly, Isilyë opened her eyes and lifted her head, which had been lying on the edge of the tub. By now she already knew who her visitors were.
“Think me agree us this do in Pandaria bad idea,” she sighed, already tired of this.
Ruinwen stopped a moment to decipher Isilyë’s gibberish, then continued toward the tub with Nasike, both of them flinging off their robes. “Oh, don’t worry, Issy. We’re not here to fight today,” she said cheerfully.
Nasike exhaled loud and long as she settled into the tub. “My bruddah says you do dis in Winterspring,” she said, her eyes half-closed in watery ecstasy. “Now I understand why.”
“Think me no talk you and brother,” Isilyë said warily. So much for trust in Cenarion Circle, she thought with annoyance.
“Oh, we haven’t talked in a long time,” Nasike assured. But her face, smiling as charmingly as was possible for Nasike, turned suddenly grim. “Anyone who works wit our faddah’s killer is no bruddah of mine, you see.”
“If say you,” Isilyë allowed, having no memory of her alleged crimes against Nasike’s family.
“So long story short,” Ruinwen cut in impatiently, “her brother took us to the Moonkin Caves in Darkshore, and showed us a pair of wisps whose names we think you know.”
“We know you know you’re not who you say you are,” Ruinwen continued, “But now we know it, too.” Slowly, deliberately, she lifted her hand from the water and extended it to Isilyë. “So ... peace,” she offered.
Isilyë took the hand warily and shook it. “Peace,” she said.
Nasike then extended her hand as well. “Peace,” she said, still grimly.
“Peace,” Isilyë said, now taking Nasike’s hand.
Ruinwen and Nasike stood up then, stretched, and climbed out of the hot tub. “Of course, we may still have to kill you later as a solider of the Alliance once this truce between Stormwind and Orgrimmar ends, as we both know it will,” Ruinwen warned as she redonned her robes and began fastening the various hooks and buckles of her armor.
“But for now, at least, da war is over,” Nasike added.
Once they were dressed, Ruinwen conjured a portal to the Shrine of Two Moons, and she and Nasike disappeared.
Isilyë remained in the tub, her tranquility shattered. They knew who she was now. They knew where her secret getaway was. Elune alone knows what else they knew. What to do now?
So lost in thought was she that she failed to notice the naked goblin materializing next to her in the tub. Startled, Isilyë instinctively leapt out of the tub and into her armored moonkin form.
“Relax,” said the goblin. “I’m Wixee. We haven’t met, but I’m with them.” She climbed out of the tub, dug through a pile of clothes hidden nearby, and produced a rolled-up parchment.
“I hear you’re an ace leatherworker,” she continued. “Now that we’re friendly and all, this is a list of gear I’ll need by next Friday.” She shoved the rolled work order into Isilyë’s hand, then started to get dressed. “Of course, I can’t pay you for it directly — sanctions and all that — but we can work something out through the Steamwheedle auction house. You know how that works.”
Wixee pulled on her last boot, then strode toward the portal Ruinwen had conjured. “Oh,” she said, glancing back at Isilyë, “some of the materials you’ll need for that are hard to come by, so you’ll need to get on that ASAP. So ... chop-chop!” Then she, too, vanished from sight.
It was a strange, almost treasonous thing to think, Isilyë realized as she stood naked and dripping and holding a work order she never agreed to, but maybe a return to the horrors of war might not be such a bad thing after all. And it would be so easy to make happen...
The R. Lachenn Label
Ruinwen has managed to combine her wanderlust, her sense of fashion, and her deep understanding of the arcane into the “R. Lachenn” brand of fashionable adventure wear and accessories, and publishes periodic catalogs noted for their extravagant prose describing the hard-to-find items:
The malaria was setting in. I groaned feebly and held out my hand against the sun as if I could keep Death away from me. That’s when I saw it: There, wedged into the river delta, was the object of my search. The Tol’Vir river market, fabrics and spices traded under a starlit sky. It was there that I discovered the Bloodthirsty Embersilk Boot.
I’ve taken the iconic boot, cast it in rugged waxed canvas, and partially lined it in my famous cotton chambray — details you won’t find anywhere else. Natural hand stitching. Leather laces with speed hook lacing system. Rust-proof nickel eyelets. Nonmarking rubber sole with grosgrain detail at interior back heel. A collector’s item. Sizes seven H medium through thirteen medium. Price: 140 gold.
Blunt, rude, crude, and supremely secure, Ruinwen Lachenn decided early in life that she would never allow herself to be pushed around, but would do all the pushing herself.
She reacts easily and fearsomely to petty annoyances that interfere with her pleasure or inconvenience her.
She is consciously vicious: she attacks to clear a path for her own selfish interests.
She is occasionally lonely, but prefers loneliness to vulnerability
Ruinwen is a seductive temptress possessed of secret sexual knowledge, but doesn’t much like sex herself. It’s “messy” and “overrated”. She only uses it as a method of control. “A woman hasn’t got true control of a man,” she’s been known to say, “until her hand is on the dumb stick.”
Sometimes that control is for her own security, sometimes for mean-spirited amusement: “There’s nothing I enjoy more,” she says, “than seeing a happy couple and coming between them”.
Another, all too frequent source of amusement: setting things on fire and watching them burn. Especially living things.
Ruinwen used to risk life and limb adventuring for wealth and power. Now that she has both, “I only go adventuring to wear my outfits.”
Her goals in life have been largely distilled to two things: revenge on a certain pair of night elves, the only people who had ever successfully breached the citadel of her integrity, and a career in “designing for gods” — that is, in designing performance-enhancing adventure wear suitable for the field as well as the catwalk.
Also, it’s never enough for her to succeed; others must fail.
- ↑ Adapted from a proposed entry in the J. Peterman catalog from “Seinfeld” and text from an actual J. Crew catalog.
- ↑ Ruinwen was originally conceived as a combination of characters played by actress Lucy Liu, particularly “O-Ren” from Kill Bill and “Ling Woo” from Ally McBeal. The quotes here (eg., the “dumb stick”) are all from Ally McBeal.