Like a chess board abruptly rattled, the Sunwell shook, darkened and died and all the pieces fell down, all the Elves fell down as Arthas tore the Sun from the city, took the Light out of their chests. Like a shining river dammed, a child ripped from the teat, an engorged tick plucked headless from the host, they hungered and wept for their souls to come back.
A holy man cringed and crumpled, his elder body so woven into the distant fountain ley, like a gem threaded into cloth (like a fly trapped in a web) that even away with the Argents, he felt the lifeline break, a lute string snapping with a jarring twang!
Questions from confused fellows, humans and dwarves who didn't understand, didn't just feel their city die, inundated him. He girded up and refused to bend his knees, to show weakness -- (and a self-devouring hunger that suddenly felt the prickling tingles of all their magic, all their enchanted armor suddenly so much more keenly, each mote of mana like a rabbit under the hawk's eye; his soul wanted to eat their souls) and for just a few seconds he forgot about the Light.
And then he remembered it, and he knew how to ground himself. As he stumbled away to meditate and meet with the other Quel'dorei he realized that none of this surprised him, and he didn't even know what had happened yet. But it was coming all along, they were fat ticks sucking on the blood of the earth and their starvation had been a long time coming. For an elf, it was so easy to forget it had been such a long time already.
An entire family fell down in the fields like wheat abruptly reaped.
The matron, for being the oldest, the most connected to the land, the flow, she was a stone firmly standing in the river that shaped her completely without her notice, a tree whose roots touched on waters and drank from sources she couldn't see.
Her daughter, for what the warlock had done to her, feeding her, stuffing her with mana until she might explode, until she didn't want to escape -- so long ago and still his deeds shone brightly in her eyes, Green long before the Green, hideous delicious jade of Them. She screamed and felt her veins burning with need, the emptiness an acid in her skin, roaring in her brain, demanding to feed.
And the daughter's daughter, for being so sharply attuned to the arcane in her own right, a mage like a delicate flower, not deeply-rooted nor aged but particular in its watering -- she felt it too. They all felt it and they all fell down.
All I knew was that it hurt, how hungry I felt. As if suddenly I hadn't eaten in my entire life, and it all caught up to me just then. I would have done anything to fill that void. Anything to make it stop.
And I did.
She didn't care where it came from. Didn't care. So many of them dead, she didn't care. She saw the black wound laying over the city like a drunken lover, crushing half of his mistress Silvermoon with his cumbersome weight, she smelled the stench (and the almost beautiful burn of necrosis, the black tar water and ichorous scar are seeping with their energy, the shadow that keeps them alive and I want to eat that shadow, I want it to keep me alive) and she didn't care.
A Prince made promises of satiation and she clung to that word and begged for his return from the sky. Come back from the stars with their bounty, Prince! Feed the hungry masses! Steal the stars and feed them to us!
Drawn to the runestones, clawing at the air for their ethereal gift, digging up the bloodthistle and eating it raw. An effervescent mint and cinnamon that sparkled upon the tongue and soul, it was good but not good enough.
Green crystals packed full of the condensed energy of life Beyond, she knew things had died to feed her and she didn't care, after all, lynxes and birds died to put real food on her plate, why not this? Why not this?
So filling, so good and green, stinging, starry jade green of sealed life, so much of it that it was coming out of her eyes and she wouldn't realize until later that the green would never go away, she'd never scrub them out and get back the blue, her eyes were scarred with sin like the forest was scarred by the Scourge.
The Light-wielder returned and found ruination upon the Stead.
Travelling back, he felt the sense of the land-wound grow, the decay of the woods and the bleeding of the well. Coming home, he recalled the ache he'd felt afield, and quelled it. The Light, the Light...
He found his niece and great-niece with green eyes, his sister's, a more vivid, startling blue, the shining lamps of an overfed glowbug, and her husband, dead. Mostly dead, he learned later, Not enough.
They needed to choose, and quickly.
The girls had already taken the Fel, and like the orcs, the green would never die. They'd wear demons on their faces forever. And he knew they could not take the name of Quel'dorei with those emerald specs.
Eversong and the rest of the nation were the Ghostlands and Plaguelands now, just full of ghosts and plague. He could maneuver that landscape alone, the Light bearing him on, but could he take them back?
They'd start drinking from plague cauldrons just to get a touch of magic again. The thistle grows nowhere else. The runestones are nowhere else.
And they can never be Quel'dorei again. There is nowhere to go.
Silvermoon whistled hollowed-out like the discarded cocoon of a butterfly on to bluer skies. And here dwelling in it crawled the disparate, ravenous ants that gnawed on green rocks for a quick fix. With one act, Arthas had made the Wretched. Arthas made the Children of the Blood. Ticks desperate for the blood of the host, but the host was dead and they were dying -- or moved on to retain their dignity, as he had done. As he would have continued to do, if not for family.
Funny how for all the wars and death and plague, nothing Arthas had done so far had been as devastating as denying them dessert.
And I remember when he was a lad, he and the orphan human King and the rest, and look how far they've come. Look how far he's fallen, and he's bringing us all down with him.
He shrouded his still-blue eyes as he sought a dealer. Just enough, just enough for green.
If all of them had died, he would have never come into the city. He hated himself for that brutal thought. He knew he'd be signing under Varian now, back to the Alliance as in the old days (the old days of just a few months ago) but he couldn't take them with him. They had dug their roots in deep, stuck their fangs in deep, and they were here to stay for good or ill. And he had to, had to stay with them.
He accepted the tiny green crystal, felt it buzz and hate in his palm, and hated himself for what he had to do.