Featuring Meridith

Under a perpetually overcast sky, across a rocky landscape the color of slate, the red-robed form of the young mage stood out like a drop of blood against the stone of Darkwind Pass. She moved wearily, sighing as she followed the path between the ruins of the buildings strewn around the base of the tower, still haunted by time-lost shadows of their former occupants. As she drew closer she could feel the same dark, twisted magics around it she had felt the first - and last - time she had come here. Then she had been weakened by overexertion, and the magic had called out to her, begging her to give it form and host again as it hadn't had since the tower's previous tenant, the last Guardian of Tirisfal, had been slain. Then she had pushed the magic away, refused the offers it made her, until finally she left the place and made her friends promise never to let her come back.

This time Meridith welcomed it.

As she reached the doorway to the tower itself she pulled her hood back, revealing a short mop of teal hair, milk-white skin, and eyes that glowed yellow in the gloom of the evening. The undead woman stared up at the massive stone pillar, feeling out the magic of the place, letting her own aura flirt with it. She had come here because she already had one voice in the back of her mind, the voice of the death knight that had once controlled her when she was merely a mindless zombie, after her death but before her freedom and unlife. Even here, nearly a whole continent's distance to the south, she could hear him whisper to her of surrender, threaten her with near-oblivion, and remind her of the things she had done under control of the Scourge. Memories, recent ones, unwillingly played across her mind of her spirit form using the fire magic she had so happily cultivated in unlife to destroy another of her kind who, with companions, had taken up arms against the death knight's nest in Stratholme. The magic here promised her something different entirely, and as she lowered her defenses to it the pictures in her mind changed to what the warped power imagined she wanted: the human kingdom that dared deny her people their right to unlife in flames, besieged by demons, gripped by pain and death and chaos. It was not one of the time-torn visions the tower of Karazhan was known for, not one of the wisps of chronal magic Munio had warned her about, but a fantasy vision contained entirely in her mind, and she lowered herself to the stone stairs and buried her head in her hands to surrender to it.

Meridith sat like that for nearly half an hour under the darkening sky, letting the dark magics there overpower Baron Rivendare's grip on her mind but careful not to let them take hold themselves. Finally she lifted her head, shaking it sharply. Her eyes opened slowly. After her last visit to the place she had returned the to Undercity and done what she usually did when faced with magic she did not comprehend: she found some books on the subject and studied them. She had learned more about the great Magus Medivh, about his conflicted soul, torn between good and evil. Though her own choices were not so dramatic she had taken the story to heart. From her rebirth she had felt pulled between the traces of her humanity and the sensibilities of one who would call herself Forsaken. Eventually this conflict took form, as she found herself in love with one who opposed the monstrosity of the Forsaken even as she deepened her commitment to their Queen's service. It seemed every day she walked a line, using her heart for guidance more than anything else. And now more powers fought to claim her, even as her friends dealt with demons of their own. The offers of ultimate power and utter powerlessness were both tempting. Both could lead her away from the pain she was feeling, both could give her something definitive, either a beginning or an end.

But could this power help her? Could she take on the Scourge with this power, destroy Kel'thuzad and free herself and Silkk and everyone who still sometimes felt that call in their souls? Could she force peace, one way or the other, for her people? Would it be magic enough to protect those she cared about? Or would it warp her as Medivh had been warped, and make her turn on them all for its own ends? Seated on the hard stone steps, she glanced around at the barren landscape, looking for a vision, looking for something that would tell her what decision to make, what path to take. But Karazhan did not offer up any guidance.

The mage sighed, her whole frail frame heaving, and reached for the bag she had left on the steps beside her. She knew she would have to find the answers within herself. She pulled out several books of varying sizes and states of disrepair. With a glance she set aside several brief treatises on demonology and kept in her hands two books, one large with an elaborate cover, one smaller and, to the naked eye, plainly leatherbound. She placed her hand over the stone on the cover of the large volume, closing her eyes for a moment as she felt the presence of the friends who carried its siblings. Then she set it aside and turned her attention to the plain brown book. As she traced a bony finger across the blank cover a glowing rune appeared. Once the shape of the rune was complete she opened the cover, then flipped to a blank page. With the book settled on her lap she fished a pen and a small dish of hardened ink from her bag. Holding the dish in her hand, she summoned a trace of fire to melt the ink, then set it gently on the stone beside her. Frowning thoughtfully, she wet the pen and placed it against the page.

I should not be here.

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