[[ Before we start -- please be aware this is not a Wranduin fiction. Wranduin is certainly included, but will never be the focal point of this story. Thank you for understanding! ]]
Sabellian lay himself flat against the dry, dusty ground of Blade’s Edge Mountains, stretched out his scaled legs, and yawned loudly.
It was quiet as he closed his eyes, save for the faint whistling of wind through the jutting rocks in the canyon. The skewered corpses of the black dragons, his own brethren, that Gruul had impaled on those spiked rocks had long since been removed after the gronn’s defeat, cremated in a ritual burning by their living kin under the guidance of Sabellian himself. It had been a somber task – some had been his own children – but it was a relief to set their mangled bodies to rest, and a relief to not be forced to see them hanging and rotting any longer.
He let out a content, full sigh. Since the death of Gruul and the removal of the corpses, Blade’s Edge Mountains had felt somewhat home-like to the scattered remnants of the black dragonflight that remained on the broken planet of Draenor. The lack of activity in the area - and in the entirety of Outland, which seemed to be a place forgotten by the masses in Azeroth - was also a pleasant rest from the nonstop action Sabellian had dealt with for the passed centuries; he’d hardly felt this relaxed since he was a hatchling.
The black dragon rather enjoyed it.
He opened his eyes as he heard a gentle whoosh over his head, and looked up only to see a translucent blue nether drake pass by, leaving streams of spiraling energy in its wake. A black drake followed suit, but not before seeing Sabellian and giving a respectful nod.
The black dragon shook his head, harrumphed quietly, and settled down again. The nether dragons were a … conundrum. They were born by black dragons, but warped into what they were now: half energy, half wyrm. They hardly belonged amongst the black dragonflight, and yet when Neltharaku, the leader of the Netherwing, had approached Sabellian with terms of a wary truce – one that was merely for defensive purposes against any vicious activity against either flight, such as demons or the orcs that enslaved some of Neltharaku’s race - Sabellian had accepted.
No, they hardly belonged, and yet they were allowed in the Blade Edge’s territory. The nether drakes temperaments seemed to vary from hostile to benevolent, and yet they seemed, in Sabellian’s eyes, too… kind, ultimately, to “fit in” amongst the black dragons.
Scoffing, he stretched his wings and looked around again at his desolate pseudo-home. At times, he yearned to return to Azeroth… but quickly thought better of it, for multiple reasons.
For one, he had received news of his father’s return. He had listened calmly to the report, and had, as any good son would have, awaited orders.
But none had come. Sabellian had been his father’s lieutenant beforehand, had helped personally usher in orcs from Ner’zhul’s Horde. He had done all his father had asked loyally…
And yet he had apparently been forgotten in Outland.
At first, he’d be vaguely insulted.
But he had quickly gotten over it.
His father ran rampant, intent on destroying Azeroth at the orders of his chaotic masters, the Old Gods…
Whose whispers which Sabellian no longer heard.
It had been unnerving in the beginning to hear the quiet in his mind when he had settled in Outland. The thick mass of darkness that had clotted the back of his brain, indeed, all of the black dragon’s brains, had been with him since the egg; it had been a constant parasitic companion, swaying him towards chaos and violence and malice, whispering and hissing thoughts of death and destruction, had make his claws twitch, his eyes become alight at the vision of blood.
But when he had come to Outland, the darkness had, like a sludge, slid from his head. Sabellian had never felt more clear-headed, more alert. He still loved a good fight, a snarling battle; he still loved the art of manipulation and power. But no longer did whispers probe him to do something he might have not beforehand; no longer did he wish to kill simply for the sake of killing, or harm for the sake of harming.
It felt… nice.
And so instead of making the whole to-do of uplifting his small regiment of black dragons from the Mountains through the Dark Portal to rejoin his crazed father, Sabellian had simply stayed for his own benefit, and indeed, all their benefit…
And when Deathwing was destroyed, who better to lead the Black Dragonflight but Sabellian, Deathwing’s own son?
No - staying in Outland had been no hard choice at all.
Perhaps, in time, he might return to Azeroth to rule his flight. But for now -
A screech of pain ripped through the quiet air. Sabellian’s head whipped up.
That was a dragon’s scream.
He leaped to his feet with a snarl. The far-off screeches continued furiously; a roar or two of battle joined it. There was a cry of surprise – one that did belong to anything draconic – and the snarls stopped.
“What is going on over there?!” Sabellian demanded, lifting off and heading towards the previous commotion.
The two drakes, nether and black, he had seen flying overhead were cornering something against the rock face. The eldest black drake’s right leg bled profusely from a thick gash. Two other black drakes, younger, had gathered at the noise as well, but hung back when Sabellian arrived.
“This mortal ambushed us, father,” the drake, who was named Talsian, growled. Suraku, the nether drake, nodded in agreement. “Ambushed me, more like.”
Sabellian focused. His limbs shortened and warped comfortably until he stood in his mortal form, a human clothed in brilliant red and orange robes with two snarling plate snake heads whose jaws held glowing fire on his shoulders.
He liked dealing mortals when he was in the guise of a mortal. They seemed to… respond better.
“Move aside,” Baron Sablemane ordered, and the two drakes parted. A blood elf stood before him, garbed in dark leather gear. A black mask covered the lower half of his face, and a shattered red gem was held against his forehead by a thin metal band. When he turned his pale face up to Sablemane, the dragon noted a ripening bruise on he elf’s right eye and the blood dripping from a corner of his mouth; the drakes had not been kind to him. Good.
Sablemane crossed his arms and frowned, raising a thin brow down at the mortal before him.
“You tried to kill my son here,” he said, then nodded his head to the black drake who now sat off to the side, tending to his gash.
The blood elf said nothing and continued to stare with narrowed eyes; Sablemane could practically see him thinking behind the fel-green sheen.
“… Unprovoked, I might add,” the dragon included when the blood elf continued his silence.
Now it was becoming annoying. Sablemane scowled. Of all the blood elves, he had to have the only one that didn’t like to hear himself speak. His silence was also an odd characteristic for mortal adventurers that usually traversed through the mountains; they usually babbled on and on about this and that, such as asking him repeatedly if they could do anything for him for gear or money. It had become obnoxious, but he had become used to it.
This mortal was much different. He would have welcomed this fresh breath of air if the blood elf wasn’t studying him like he was a puzzle to be worked.
“Suraku, tell me where he - ”
The wind shifted. The elf’s scent breezed passed him. Sablemane paused.
There was another smell beneath the mortal’s normal scent. Smoky, ashy.
He would know that scent anywhere. It clung to him, his children, and especially those in the flight that were gifted with magical ability -
Draconic magic. Black draconic magic.
He snapped his head back to the elf, nostrils flaring.
This game had certainly changed.
The blood elf was clearly from Azeroth – his scent was not yet coated over with the stench of nether energies from Outland. He may as well have been fresh from the Dark Portal.
And yet the black dragonflight was – supposedly – extinct on Sablemane’s home planet. He ground his teeth. But no, that was clearly not the case anymore – the draconic magic smell was unmistakable.
Sablemane made a motion with his hands, and Talsian shoved the mortal to his knees.
“Alright, blood elf,” Sablemane grumbled, “who are you? Who sent you here?”
Here the elf’s eyes sparked with attention. Sablemane allowed himself a small, grim smile - good. At least something had caught his ear.
“I serve his Majesty, the last… of his kind,” the blood elf said, giving a cautious look back at the black drake and then to Sablemane.
“Do you?” Sablemane said. “The last of his kind, hm?” He smiled toothily, but with only a fraction of humor. “I suppose my son must have come as quite a shock to you… like I’m very sure I am, as well.”
The blood elf set his mouth in a hard line and glared. What a stubborn little thing.
“Did this ‘last of his kind’ send you here?” Sablemane probed. “I have heard that none of my kin were left on Azeroth thanks to my father’s great madness. My reports were obviously wrong.” He scratched at his shortly cropped goatee and thought for a moment as the blood elf shifted uncomfortably on his knees. “Attempting to kill my drake is an intriguing way of a family greeting from him, wouldn’t you say, blood elf?”
“The elimination of those corrupted was – is – at the utmost importance!” The elf snapped. “Your kind are nothing more than vicious beasts slaved to your insanity!”
“What a lovely speech.” Sablemane chuckled. “And yet this dragon on Azeroth seems to have forgotten he’s a slave to insanity himself, hm?”
“His Majesty is a pure black dragon,” said the blood elf proudly.
Sablemane narrowed his eyes. “Pure. In what way?”
“He is not subject to same insanity the rest of your kin is subject to. He answers to no one but himself.”
Ah, yes, the blood elf’s pride in his master was getting him to brag. What an excellent way to get information.
And interesting information, too. An uncorrupted black dragon? Seemingly impossible.
Sablemane himself no longer heard the whispers of the Old Gods. It was plausible for another black dragon not to. But one on Azeroth, the home of his previous dark masters? It stretched belief.
But if it was true – if this dragon was free of the Old God taint – how did he do it?
Could Sablemane do it? Could he somehow be free and return to his true home?
“And how exactly did he become free?”
The blood elf lapsed back into silence again. A good servant.
Sablemane knelt down to the elf’s level. His amused smile was gone now.
“He eliminated the other corrupted, didn’t he?” He said, a vague growl at the pit of his throat. The blood elf nodded, slowly. “And that is why you were planning to kill my son when you saw him.”
The elf didn’t react now.
“Do you know how many of my children Gruul killed, mortal?” He pointed out towards the jagged rocks of Blade’s Edge Mountain that surrounded them. “Dozens. Their bodies rotted alone amongst the canyon and I could do nothing.” He leaned in closer. “I will not have some dragon an entire world away from us to destroy any of my kin here, either. But I will find out his secret. And perhaps I will pay him a visit.”
“The Black Prince will continue coming after you until you’re dead,” the blood elf said, flatly. “You cannot hide, just as the others could not. He will find you.”
Sablemane laughed humorlessly. “’Prince?’ Then I must be a King.” He shook his head. Ah, this dragon, whoever he was, was riding a very high horse. “But I pose a question to you, friend – how will he come after us if he doesn’t know we’re here?”
The blood elf saw the implication immediately, perhaps in the maliciousness in Sablemane’s tone or the smile on his face.
A gleam of silver appeared swiftly in the elf’s hand and he surged forward with such agility Sablemane immediately knew why the Black Prince had sent this particular individual.
But Sablemane was much faster.
With a swipe of his hand he snatched the elf’s wrist that held the dagger and, before the mortal could pull away, the dragon gave a quick twist and felt the bones, so fragile, break like kindle underneath his hand. The blood elf screamed. He writhed backwards against the pain, yet Sablemane kept him in place, gripping his broken wrist tightly.
Calmly, Sablemane plucked the dagger from the elf’s hand and studied its tip as the assassin continued to struggle.
“That was a fair attempt.” He looked up. “Talsian, lock him away in the prey cave, if you will.”
As the drake came forward and clenched the mortal viciously by the shoulder, Sablemane leveled the elf with a stare. “Thank you for your … enlightening visit.”
The drake lifted off, sweeping down towards the canyon and disappearing. The cave was usually a meat locker of sorts to store food; surely the elf would find the dead flesh good company.
Sablemane straightened and pocketed the dagger in his illustrious robes.
“What now, my lord?” The youngest of the two drakes, Ryxia, still present asked.
“We investigate this ‘Prince,’” Sablemane murmured. “We research what he’s playing at.” He shook his head. “To have killed the rest of my flight - ” the dragon scoffed. “And for what? To call himself the last of his kind? Hah.”
“Do you believe what the elf said?” The other drake asked. “He’s free of the Old Gods?”
The smile fell from Sablemane’s face. He shook his head thoughtfully. “No. It’s impossible. Whoever this dragon is, he is powerful, and is hoping to the most powerful be eliminating others like him. Clearly.”
He did not miss the disappointment flash in the eyes of his youngest drake. Yes, they all yearned for home… but they could never go when the Old Gods waited for them.
“I’ll go!” Ryxia piped up, jumping to all fours from her sitting position. “Please, allow me the honor! I will find out about this traitor!”
“No. We’ll send two nether dragons.”
“If this ‘Black Prince’ is truly as guile as to have hunted down the hidden dragons of our flight in Azeroth, what makes you believe he will not find the ones looking for him?”
Ryxia fell quiet and did not argue further.
“I will volunteer,” Suraku said. “I will find another to go with me.”
Sablemane nodded, glad the drake had taken the bait. Better a nether dragon to go that was hardly apart of his family than a true blood relation.
“Good. Leave at once. Clearly this relative of mine is curious in scouting Outland - ” he flicked his eyes to where the elf had been carried off - “but if he knew we were here, he would have sent more than just a reconnaissance spy. Let us not give him the chance to find out our little secret.”
He snapped his fingers. There was a snarl and a strange ticking metallic sound, and a robotic whelpling appeared in a flurry of smoke to Sablemane’s side. It was a clever little invention, commissioned from the gnomes that had once inhabited Toshley’s Station, that allowed long-distance communication through a similar, twin robotic whelp that Sablemane had stored in his private chambers.
“Take this, and speak through it with the information you gather along the way of the Black Prince. I will hear.”
Suraku took it carefully in his claws.
“What are you waiting for? Go! Now! Get all the information you can find!”
The drake lifted off and swept over their heads, bathing them in inert nether energy. Sablemane watched him go.
It seemed the lull of activity had finally broken… but perhaps for the better.
Baron Sablemane grinned sharply.