undead: Re-birthday

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Re-Birthday

Hudion had collected half the list of herbs when he came across Lady Sylvanas and her troops. The Dark Lady stopped him, not mentioning the herbs she had sent him for, and instead pointed to a woman afoot who stood beside Lady Sylvanas’ horse. The woman was average height with very short, very dark hair. A pattern of delicate tattoos showed through her peeling gray skin, lacing the edge of her hairline. She stood straight and still as the Dark Lady spoke.

“This one will need a good deal of work, but she is very quick and obedient. She will be a good recruit,” Lady Sylvanas said starkly. “Take her back to the Undercity.”

Hudion bowed his head deeply. “Yes, milady.”

“Take care to see she is trained properly. I would not want to waste one like this.”

“I will, milady.”

Lady Sylvanas reined her horse around and rode off with the rest of her troops, leaving Hudion alone with the solitary woman. He knew by the completely blank look on her face that she was another newly-freed Scourge. The Dark Lady found them wherever she could and sent them back to the Undercity to join her army.

“Have you a name?” he asked.

The woman did not move.

“I said, do you have a name?” he asked, louder this time.

The woman’s head came up with a sudden jerk and her empty eyes met his. “Name? What is a name?”

Hudion sighed. The Dark Lady had not exaggerated when she said this one needed much work. Hudion held one arm down to the woman. He slipped his foot out of the stirrup.

“Come. Ride with me.”

Obediently the woman clasped his arm, reached one foot up to the stirrup, and hauled herself aboard. She settled easily behind him, draping one arm loosely around his thin waist. Hudion turned his horse toward the Undercity. The herbing could wait. The tone in the Dark Lady’s voice had told him he should tend to this new recruit first.

“You must have a name,” he said. “Something we can call you.”

The woman did not respond.

“My name is Hudion,” he spoke again. “Do you know your name?”

“Name?” she echoed.

“Yes. My name is Hudion. The Dark Lady’s name is Sylvanas Windrunner. You know, a name.”

“The Dark Lady.” The woman’s voice was breathy as if the wind were blowing through her larynx as she spoke. “She is a true lady.”

“Yes. And her name is Sylvanas. What is your name?” He turned his head to look over his shoulder. “If you do not remember your name, you can choose one.”

“I love the Dark Lady. She saved me from… from… evil.”

“Yes, she did. And now she wishes you to go to the Undercity to train so you can join her army.”

The woman sighed. “I would give my life for her.” Her voice, though more air than tone, rang with devotion.

Hudion shook his head. “We have a very long way to go with you, don’t we?”

They rode in silence for several minutes before Hudion tried another question. “Have you had any training before?”

She did not reply.

Hudion nudged her with his elbow. “We really must find a name for you so you will know when someone is speaking to you. It is rude to ignore people.”

“Where do I find a name?” she asked.

“Wherever you like. Can you read?”

“Read?”

“Words. Written on paper.” He stopped the horse, reaching into his pocket to take out a small pad of paper and a pencil. He showed her the paper where he had written the list of herbs Lady Sylvanas wished him to retrieve. “Can you read that? Can you write?”

She gave the paper a cursory stare, shrugged, then took the pencil and pad from his hand. Setting the pad against her stringy thigh, she traced some letters on the page. He found it painful to watch as her bony hand moved slowly across the paper, her expression one of great concentration, while she struggled to form a series of extremely wobbly letters. Then she returned the pad and paper to Hudion.  “I cannot read.”

“What is this? ‘G-u-i-n-n-e-y’. Is that a name?”

She stared blankly ahead. “I can write that. But I cannot read.”

“It appears to be a name. Perhaps someone taught you to write your name. I shall call you Guinney, then.”

“Guinney will not answer if you call her,” she said faintly. “She is dead.”

“Then I will not call you Guinney. But you must have a name. You think about it and let me know what you wish to be called.” He put the pad and pencil away and kicked the horse into a walk. “What about training? Have you trained before? As a warrior? A priest? Mage? Warlock? Rogue?”

“Warlocks are very powerful,” she said quickly.

“You were a warlock?”

“Could I be a warlock?” she asked.

“There are trainers in the Undercity who can teach you.”

“Can they teach me a name, too?”

Hudion tried not to sigh. The ignorance of the Forsaken might have made him laugh – if he had not gone through it himself, when he first broke free from the Lich King. But he, at least, had remembered his name and his training. “No. You must pick your own.”

They rode on again in silence for a long time. Then Hudion felt a sharp, repeated poke at his upper arm.

“Excuse me, mister.”

“My name is Hudion. Hee-dee-on.”

“Hee-dee-on,” she repeated. “Hudion, can I be a warlock?”

“You can be a warlock.”

“I can fight for the Dark Lady?”

“You can do that, too.”

“I love the Dark Lady. She saved me from evil.” The nameless woman rested her sharp chin on Hudion’s shoulder. “Can I be a good girl, too? What did you say your name is?”

“I am Hudion. And yes, you can be a good girl. I suppose. I am not sure what you mean by that.”

She exhaled with a slight squeak. “I wish to be good, Hudion. Very good. I do not want to be bad. I wish to be as good as… a goody two-shoes.”

“What,” he asked, “is a goody two-shoes?”

She said nothing.

Hudion nudged her again. “You have to have a name, my dear. I am tired of repeating my questions.”

“Did you speak to me?”

“I asked you what is a goody two-shoes.”

She moved her chin off his shoulder. “I do not know. What is it?”

“Never mind. If you want to be a goody two-shoes – whatever that is – then you can be. Do you want Goody two-shoes as your name?”

“That is a name?”

“It can be if you want it. You can be Goody two-shoes the Forsaken Warlock.”

“What is Forsaken?”

Hudion made a sound under his breath. “It is a long story.”

“Can you tell me?”

“May I call you Goody for short?”

“Goody? Goody the Warlock. Yes. I will be Goody the Warlock.“

“And you will answer when I – or anyone else – calls for Goody or Goodytwoshoes. When you hear that name, it means they wish to talk to you, and you must answer.”

“I am Goody. I am a warlock. But where is my… what is it? The thing that goes with a warlock?”

“Minion,” Hudion supplied. “You will get one in the Undercity. The warlock trainer will teach you.”

“Can we go to this Undercity?”

“We are going there now.”

“And I shall fight for the Dark Lady. I would die for her if I have to.”

Hudion’s patience had reached its limit. “I’ve got news for you, Goody. You already died.”

“I did?” She did not sound at all surprised.

“Yes. That is why you are a Forsaken. You must be dead before you can be Forsaken.”

“So that’s a Forsaken. Did I die for the Dark Lady?”

“No, I don’t think so.”

“That is a shame. Will I die again?”

“Possibly.”

“Then I will die for her next time,” she declared. “I would do anything for the Dark Lady.”

“Yes, fine. Yes. She will be pleased with your devotion.“

“Excuse me, Hudion. What did you say this name is?”

“Your name? Your name is Goodytwoshoes.”

“And you will call me Goody. Yes. Goody the Warlock.” She laced both arms around his waist and repeated her name. “When will we get to the Undercity?”

“It will be a couple of hours, at least.”

“When we get to the Undercity, I will learn to be a Warlock. And get a… a minion.”

“Yes.”

“Goody the Warlock. Forsaken warlock. And a minion. Me and my minion will fight for the Dark Lady.”

For the next hour or so, the new warlock remained silent, aside from whispering her new name every few minutes. Hudion would rather have continued with Lady Sylvanas on her quest to find the disconnected Scourge and help them break free from the Lich King’s control, but if it pleased the Dark Lady for him to personally escort this new recruit, then he would do it. With her background as Ranger-general, Lady Sylvanas plainly knew more of leadership than he did. While he was not as devoted to her as Goody appeared to be, he did owe her a great deal for helping him break free of the Lich King’s evil grasp. Hudion unfortunately did have a few intact memories from the time he spent in the Lich King’s Scourge army, and none of them were pleasant. Often the Forsaken did remember as they gained strength from the Dark Lady’s leadership. But some never did. Hopefully Goody would be lucky and never recall what happened after her death. If it went well for her, her mind would only function from today, from the day she was born as a Forsaken. And nothing else would matter.

“Excuse me, Hudion. What is that?”

“I am not -. “ Hudion did not get to finish the sentence. A guttural yell cut him off short as a flying deadweight knocked him from his horse.

“They’re undead! Kill them both!” a voice shouted.

Hudion identified their attackers as two human males. Raising his hands, he instantly threw an arcane blast at the human who had unhorsed him and hit him a second time with a barrage that knocked him off his feet, never to rise again. Hudion turned to see Goody standing stupidly as the second human threatened her with an axe.

“You will die, you unholy abomination,” the man declared.

“Defend yourself!” Hudion screeched at her.

Goody looked confused as she slapped her leg. “Where is my sword?”

“What is wrong with you?!” the human demanded of Goody. “Fight back!”

“She is unarmed,” Hudion said, slowly approaching the human. “You would attack an unarmed woman?”

The human hesitated. “She is dead! It does not matter.”

Hudion gave the man a wicked smile. “Then do it. Attack, and I shall defend her. You are a brave man attacking an unarmed woman.”

The human glared at Hudion. Suddenly Goody took a long step toward him and slammed her palm into his face. The man stumbled in surprise, losing his grip on his axe as he sat down hard. Blood gushed freely from his nose. As the man wiped one hand across his face, cursing at the sight of his own blood, Hudion brought both hands close together. The human stared. As a greenish ball of light formed between Hudion’s hands, the human scrambled to his feet and ran. But Hudion threw the pulsing ball at him, and it caught him squarely in the back. With a quick puff of smoke, the man disappeared. In his place was a sheep.

The sheep raced in hapless circles for a moment before heading deeper into the forest. Hudion turned to Goody. “Good shot. I believe you broke his nose.”

She shrugged. “Where is my sword?”

“I do not know. It is gone.” Hudion headed toward his horse, which was standing not far to the side of the road. “The warlock trainer will teach you new ways to fight.”

“I will need a weapon.”

“You will get one.” Hudion looped the horse’s reins around a low tree branch, then walked over to the human laying on the ground. Hudion poked the man with his foot. “You will find humans tend to dislike us. You must watch out for them.”

“I can fight. But I need a weapon.”

“And you will get one. Soon.” Hudion knelt down beside the dead man, taking hold of his arm. He investigated the man’s arm, then he looked at Goody. “As a Forsaken, since you are dead, your body cannot make blood. But here. This one is full of good, fresh blood. It will give you strength.”

Goody cocked her head in question.

“Like this.” With a small dagger, Hudion sliced a thin line down the man’s arm. As the blood began to seep out, Hudion put his mouth to the cut and sucked. When he had a mouthful of blood, he pulled back and motioned to Goody. “Here, help yourself. You will find it very nutritious.”

Without hesitation, Goody knelt down beside him, plastering her own mouth to the cut. She drank in the fresh blood for several seconds, then surrendered the dead man’s arm to Hudion, who drained it dry.

Goody wiped her mouth with the back of her hand. “I do feel stronger now.”

Hudion shook his head. He took a kerchief out of his pocket. “You needn’t be a mess about it. Wipe your face.”

Taking the kerchief, Goody swabbed it carefully across her chin, mopping up all the blood. She continued to rub her chin even after it was clean.

“That’s fine,” Hudion said. “You can stop now.”

Taking the kerchief from her face, she studied it intently. After a moment she put the stained cloth in her mouth and began sucking the blood out of it.

“Well, we shall have to work on that, too. Come, let’s get to the Undercity.”

Goody looked back at the dead human. “Are you going to leave him there? You will not raise him to fight with us?”

Hudion frowned. So she did recall something of the Scourge. “I am not the Lich King. I cannot raise the dead. No. We took his blood, the animals in the woods will take the meat. As for his bones, perhaps they will serve as a warning to other humans. Lordaeron belongs to the Forsaken now.”

Goody pulled the kerchief out of her mouth. “And to the Dark Lady?”

“Yes. And the Dark Lady.”

“I belong to her, too.” Goody resumed sucking blood from the kerchief as they both swung aboard the undead horse and continued on towards the Undercity.

Hudion already was looking forward to reaching their destination.  He did not know how much longer he could put up with this one.

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