Betrayers

Kael’thas Sunstrider saunters into the room, his robes leaving little trails in the dust on the floor. “You wished to see me, Lord Illidan?” he says.

Illidan taps his fingers against the arm of his chair—throne, Kael supposes, if one wished to call it that. “Sit, little prince,” Illidan tells him, gesturing to the nearby, ramshackle bench. “How fares the attack against Shattrath?”

Kael perches on the edge of his seat with some trepidation, fans out his robes as he always does, unthinking. “Their defenses are strong,” he says, “and many of my men have defected to them. Our strategies are severely compromised.”

“Then we shall make new ones, and the traitors will perish with the naaru.” Illidan rises. His wings are tucked, and in the dim light of this makeshift throne room he looks almost like his old self, the one Kael’s seen in the old texts of the War of the Ancients. “How much longer?” he asks.

“This entire move is foolish,” Kael says, “I have told you so from the beginning. They haven’t the strength to resist our forces elsewhere in Outland. We should focus our strength in the North, bolster our forces and cut off those who might become their allies.”

Illidan smiles, moves smoothly to the window, like he’s floating, Kael has seen him do it a hundred times and still cannot figure it out. “Do you know why I wish to destroy that place?” he asks, and as he turns the shadows cast across his face are are terrifying and beautiful. “It is not to destroy a city, little prince, but an idea, the last true bastion of the Light in this land. There is no sacrifice not worth ridding ourselves of that obstacle.”

“My people,” Kael says. “It is my people you would sacrifice for this foolish venture, my men who will die in that forest, or betray me as did Voren’thal.”

“They are my people!” Illidan shouts, and Kael is knocked backward, sprawled across the bench, with Illidan’s hand at his throat. Behind the bandages Kael can see twin green flames burning, flaring in rhythm with the ragged rise and fall of his chest. “They are my people as well,” Illidan repeats, “More than the kaldorei ever were. As are you, Prince Kael’thas. You, too, are mine.”

“I know,” Kael chokes, and Illidan’s grip loosens, and he walks back to the window in disgust. Kael sits, his fingers stroking at the bruises darkening at his neck. “What of my idea, my Lord?”

Illidan scoffs. “The Sunwell,” he says.

“He would have to forgive you if you summoned him into Azeroth,” Kael reasons. He stands, strides over to Illidan, places a hand on his arm. “He cares not for this piece of rock, he would forget his grievances in an instant if you were to deliver him Azeroth on a platter. We could do it, you and I.”

“I would be dead before he’d stepped through the portal,” Illidan says. “Kil’Jaeden does not forgive.”

“Then I’ll do it myself, and negotiate your safety,” Kael barters, “He has no quarrel with me or my people.”

Illidan grips Kael by the wrist. “You would place your trust so easily in our enemies?” he asks. “Where does your loyalty lie, little prince, with the Legion or with me?”

Kael sighs, brushes back the loose hair from Illidan’s brow with his free hand. “With you, my Lord,” he says, and his fingertips linger at the smooth base of Illidan’s horns. He thinks of a demon, locked in a cage, helpless, powerless, and defeated. Illidan grasps Kael’s hand, kisses his palm, and now Kael thinks of a man standing poised to sunder the world. He leans forward, and as their lips meet Kael’thas Sunstrider, servant of Illidan, agent of the Burning Legion, cannot at this moment tell which is the lie.

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