It is the same dream. Like Koril, it was her faithful companion, where-ever she went. War, home, the dream was there, every night. Ever since George died.
She was standing on a large rock, floating in the abyss. There were no clouds, no sky, just some warped crimson background. A few smaller rocks floated round, but all were out of reach.
And as always, he was there upon the sole hill of her platform. The hair, the build, the pistol. George.
Koril's usual warning. So far, she had been, the dream was reach stalemate here, nothing happening and she would be whisked off to somewhere else.
This time was different though. She didn't know why, she couldn't say how it happened, but she took a step forward. Then another. More steps turned into a run.
As she reached the base of the hill, a laugh echoed throughout her reality. She felt Koril's warm embrace comfort her. She would do that, even when she wasn't scared. But this laugh didn't scare her. It worried her.
She looked up at George. She gasped as she saw him roll backwards towards her. She only managed to take a few more steps before his body crashed into hers. She spun him over and looked at his vacant face. The deathly stare.
Another laugh came from the hill. A familiar one this time.
It's time to wake up.
She couldn't leave him though. When he died before, she didn't even have a corpse to grieve over. She needed him.
That isn't your loved one.
Tears flowed out of her eyes. While they were rare in her life, in her dreams they came everytime she saw him. The regret of lose. The sadness of fault.
A flame appeared in his his mouth. She edged back.
We need to leave.
Two more fires appeared in her eyes. More burst out into his palms. She rose and took a step back. George's body was now entirely alight. She held out her hands and tried to extinguish the flames.
They tried to fight back momentarily, however her magic, even in her dreams, was too strong. The flames dispersed and nothing was left. No body, no bones, no ash.
“I knew I chose well.” came a familiar voice from the source of the laugh. It was her voice.
Be careful. Stay calm.
She looked up and saw a worgen leap from the top of the hill over her to land at the location she would start her dream. An unnatural leap for an unnatural world. She slowly walked down until she could get a better look at him. Normally she wouldn't need to, but this worgen gave off no scent. He wasn't really there.
As she got closer she recognised him. In fact there was only male worgen she truly recognised besides her beloved King Greymane. The worgen she had inherited. The benefactor of her curse.
“You are wrong to think of me as Alpha Pyrefang, my chosen Marianna.” he said with her own voice, “This body is merely the image of the previous Alpha, a Gilnean Mage named Simon Aruy. This is the only form of Pyrefang you recognise. Likewise this is the only voice of a Pyrefang you recognise. That of the my current choice, my current Alpha.”
Don't do anything.
“Who are you?” Marianna replied, ignoring Koril's advice. “Why am I dreaming of you?”
“Heh,” he laughed, the hint of a growl coming through, “I am Pyrefang. I am every Alpha that came before you. I am the one who sleeps within all those who bathed in my blood. You see Marianna, you and I are one and the same!”
She took a step back and spun her staff from her back into her hands, holding it out in defence of herself.
“I am the absence of your humanity. I am the beast within. I am your duty, your destiny. I am what you will become. Because I will make it so. I am Pyrefang.”
She made no reply. She just looked away from a moment then quickly conjured a fireball. As usual, Koril added her strength to it and she hurled it at the visage of the former Alpha.
He casually held up his claw and caught it, crushing it into nothingness. He laughed once more in her tone.
“You of all people should know the fire magic won't work on me. Fire is what blessed me all those centuries ago. And now I have this,” he continued, holding up a necklace that just appeared around his neck. “Don't you recognise it? Allow me to explain. It is a fragment of Kyr's Fire, the artifact you used to destroy my pack, you used to hold my army at bay in your feeble attempt to save your county. It the same artifact you went back to try and salvage when you tried to save Koril.”
“How can you have it? You are nothing but a dream?!” she remarked angrily in reply.
Calm down. You mustn't give into your rage.
“As are you here. I told you, we are the same. We both control this dream, and because I was prepared enough to summon it with me, I forbid you from using it's magic in our battle.”
Don't fight him.
“The inner conflict. Your past, versus the future, your future, our future. My future!”
“Very well. If you want to lose, I will gladly be rid of you.”
She spun round her staff calmly and called forth a void of shadow to blast towards her target. The ball appeared at the tip and raced towards Pyrefang. He leapt over her and landed behind her, thrusting his claw at her neck and lifting her up.
“Your shadow magic is part of your past, your human heritage. It won't work on me, I told you, I am your future, nothing you do will surprise me!”
She clawed at his arm holding her, she felt his warm blood on her own claws, but he still didn't let go.
“You are weak Marianna. Perhaps I chose wrong, I should have sacrificed Simon for another Alpha. But the other two were just so...useless. A coward would never work, and the warrior lacked any magical potential to be a true Pyrefang.”
She closed her eyes as she felt her breath slip from her. She wanted to say this wasn't real, but nothing in this reality gave her that indication anymore.
Suddenly there was a roar. She opened her eyes and felt Pyrefang's grip leave her neck and she flew across their rocky platform. She scrambled to her feet to see two figure in front of her, one human, one worgen.
“You will not harm our Alpha. The future of this pack is the future I will make for it as Alpha” Maricila replied, stern and full of anger as always. Marianna breathed a sigh of relief, as much as Maricila hated her and wanted to replace her, she was still her pack-sister, and bound to protect her.
“Mistress, are you alright?” the second figure asked, kneeling beside her and holding her palms just off from Marianna's neck. Miccaela, thoughtful as ever.
Her pack was here, in her dreams. Pyrefang called her the past. If this was her past, then she had a damn good shot.
They aren't real. You just conjured them from your memories.
“So you call forth the coward and the warrior to protect you? The other two candidates. I admit, the warrior caught me off guard, but I still have your memories of her. Every month she would challenge you, every month you would beat her and I would see her combat prowess. Neither of these two can save you.”
“Want to bet you flea-ridden mutt!” Maricila roared back in reply. She rushed at Pyrefang, he claws bared.
“You inspire such loyalty Marianna for an Alpha that killed the uncle of one of your pack-sister, and killed the boyfriend of the other. Maybe it is time you see what rage they have built inside them. How it will destroy them!” Pyrefang replied.
As Maricila reached Pyrefang, the former Alpha held out his claws and roared. As he did, Maricila and Miccaela collapsed to the ground, screaming in agony. Out of their screaming mouths, fire leapt out, before spreading to their eyes and the rest of their body.
Marianna screamed as well too, she tried to catch Miccaela and hold onto her.
They aren't real.
She tried to put the flames that gripped Miccaela, but to no avail. Her magic wasn't working.
“This really is amusing isn't it Marianna.” Pyrefang laughed, holding aloft his necklace of Kyr's Fire again. “Your fire magic won't work. Just like your pack. You have nothing left.”
As Miccaela disappeared, Marianna returned to her feet and wiped away her sole tear.
“So this is who your truly are? The one who thought she could never break because she had lost everyone and everything she cared about, so had nothing left to lose. You do have something to lose don't you. And now you will lose the last thing you hold on to, your future.”
She gritted her teeth and stared at him.
Calm down, he is trying to provoke you.
“What else could you lose, thinking about? What about those humans you've befriended. From Lordaeron no less? I thought you hated that place for not listening to Genn. I thought hated all non-Gilneans.”
She summoned a fireball in her hand, and tossed it around with her claws.
Don't listen to him, calm down.
“What about Michael Starle? Oh wait, you already lost him. Miccaela loved him so much, and you took him away from her. Are you proud of that, you'd rather torture some undead than protect your oldest friend.” Pyrefang continued, taunting her.
She roared at him and took a step forward, summoning another fireball in her other hand.
If you let your rage consume, I can't protect you Marianna.
“A least you can't lose George, you already did that yourself didn't you. Were you ever thankful for him for fulfilling your last request of him? You wanted him to die, so he did.” He finished off by laughing.
She roared once more, and let her fire in her palms race across her body, blazing out with her rage. Her rage fuelled her fires and she let it grow. She felt her anger increase her magic, like an ecstasy.
She didn't even fell Koril's warmth leave her. Her anger was giving her all the warmth she ever needed, all the power she ever needed.
“Well done Marianna, you have finally removed every advantage you have in this conflict. Shall we resume our combat?”
“Let's.” Marianna replied, now looking like a twisted demon more than a worgen.
“If I win, you will accept the full power of the Pyrefang. You previous life will cease to exist. I will be the one and only Marianna, Pack Alpha of Pyrefang.”
“And if I win, you will be removed from my mind. Not even my nightmares will you haunt.”
“As you wish, but know this Marianna. I am Pyrefang, every one that ever existed. If you somehow beat me, I will disappear, you will lose your pack, Pyrefang will never exist. You will be alone once more.
Now then, shall we begin?”