A Feast of Soulson May 31, 2010 at 5:33 pm
“It is against my judgment that I present you this errand, as it will likely end in your undoing. Ignore my counsel and embark on the endeavor, and I shall provide you with the knowledge and the resources to see it through. You must return to Frostmourne Cavern and recover Light’s Vengeance, Arthas’ discarded hammer. Reformed with saronite and etched with the acidic blood of the Lich King’s abominations, it will provide the foundation for our work,” the ersatz Highlod, Darion Mograine explains, his voice ripe with the agitation of undeath.
A while ago I was given the somewhat unique opportunity to forge Shadow’s Edge, the vessel that will eventually become the soul consuming runeblade, Shadowmourne, and the relative celebrity has been an interesting aside from the usual day to day machinations of running a small raid guild. Support and contempt alike are in no short supply, but it has provided me with the realization of just how interesting a questline and a process the forming of Shadowmourne really is–especially to those that are ineligible to complete the quest on their own, and so I invite you all on a journey with me.
A merging of the sacred and the corrupt will be the foundation for Mograine’s dread weapon, and the embodiment of that ideal is none other than Arthas Menethil’s discarded hammer–a symbol of the Order of the Knights of the Silver Hand that he tossed aside in favor of Frostmourne’s seduction, but acquiring it is no simple task as it seems the Lich King too is aware of Mograine’s ambition. Now, what is interesting here comes in both the Lich King’s actions and his increasingly cliché monologue–first, that the Lich King is aware of Mograine’s intent to use his discarded hammer implies either that he is aware of the Ashen Verdict’s goal in forging a sister blade to the Lich King’s own Frostmourne, or that for some reason he fears the relic of the Silver Hand and his time amongst the living. While both are plausible, I find the former is the more likely of the two, but I say that knowing how the story unfolds.
As I knelt to retrieve Light’s Vengeance, the Lich King left me with a callous reminder of the fate of Alexandros Mograine–his soul sealed within the Ashbringer, a weapon to be wielded by Tirion Fordring. “So predictable,” his voice echoes, hollow and cold. “Did you truly explect to fulfil Mograine’s task unopposed? You shall both suffer as his father does . . . in eternal unrest! Die well, fool!” An army of ghouls is no terrible setback to the would-be champion of the Ashen Verdict, right? Light’s Vengeance in hand, it is time to return to Icecrown Citadel.
Now the relic weapon must be repurposed, and to do so will require the collection of raw saronite and a tempering agent like no other. The primordial blood of Yogg-Saron, however, would prove to be the simpler task of the two, and obtaining the acidic blood of the Lich King’s abominations requires a venture into the Citadel’s perverted plagueworks where Putricide’s demented creations, Rotface and Festergut, must be destroyed.
Darion casts their acidic blood into his forge. “So it has begun,” he says, collecting Light’s Vengeance at the primordial saronite for his forge. “Behold! The binding of sacred and corrupt: the forging of Shadow’s Edge, a weapon of untold potential!” He draws the blade free of the fire and thrusts it forward. “Bend it to your will, and you shall wield unstoppable power! Fail, and your soul shall forever be its slave.” The words are a sobering reminder of the intoxicating power such a weapon commands, and like its sister high above upon the Frozen Throne, the axe grows suddenly hungry, and Darion Mograine continues. “Shadow’s Edge is amongst the greatest weapons a mortal could hope to obtain. Is your lust for power sated?” His gaze is sharp; penetrating. “I thought not. A final warning then . . . you now embark on the most treacherous leg of your quest. Bridle your aspirations, for if your aims are impure then your life, your very soul, is forfeit. The weapon your hold is but an empty husk, a mere shadow of what it may become. Only be devouring a thousand souls shall its potential be unlocked.” He turns away, busying himself with his camp.
Like the Lich King before me, I am expected to wield the souls of the damned . . . and as Shadow’s Edge bites into the soft, rancid flesh of the undead, drinking in its soul but becoming no more sated for the effort, a chilling, familiar voice bites into the mind, though my companions seem unaffected by its taunts. “Take them, mortal. These souls will be mine again soon enough,” the Lich King chides.
The personal attention the Lich King pays to the wielder of Shadow’s Edge creates a connection that bolsters the immersion people like me already feel in plays like Icecrown Citadel, and as the number of souls the axe has fed upon increased steadily, so too did the frequency and urgency of the Lich King’s whispers. Some of my favorites include: “Remember hero: I, too, once sought a weapon of great power . . .” “Bring me your weapon, champion, that I might feed it the soul of its master.” “Come to me, pretender! Feed my blade!” “You stumble about in the darkness. There is no light here. No mercy. Icecrown has claimed the souls of better heroes than you.”
Some of his whispers carry an air of regret, maybe even remorse and fear, while others are steeped in arrogance and sheer power. It paints a chilling picture of the Lich King as the complex character he truly is seated upon the Frozen Throne. What is it the Lich King truly thinks about the creation of Shadowmourne? Does he mean to press its wielder into service? A creature at the right hand of the king wielding a weapon not unlike his own? Or are his whispers that of a nervous ruler? Seated upon his throne in fear of the day that his power is turned against him?
What say you, heroes? Is it arrogance or fear that drives the Lich King’s warnings, urgings, and taunts? What advantage does a soul consuming weapon like Shadowmourne provide in the siege of Icecrown Citadel?
Darion and his Ebon Blade are convinced that the Lich King’s power over souls must be turned against him to defeat him, and next week we infuse the blade with the power of frost, blood, and the unholy!
And for those of you interested, here are all of the whispers from the Lich King to anyone wielding Shadow’s Edge:
Take them, mortal. These souls will be mine again, soon enough.
Soon, mortal, you too shall have a blade for a prison.
Remember hero: I, too, once sought a weapon of great power . . .
I see you too are gathering souls for your own ends. Are we really so different, champion?
Yes, do it! Create your monstrous new weapon. It too will serve me when your soul is mine!
Bring me your weapon, champion, that I might feed it the soul of its master.
Look at you, child, would-be wielder of souls! You cannot fathom the power that lies at my command!
Come to me, pretender! Feed my blade!
My challenges have strengthened you, champion! You shall serve me well!
Never have I had cause to regret sparing your life, mortal. Always, you find ways to amuse me.
The moment is soon at hand, mortal. You shall toil for eternity in a new Azeroth!
More souls, yes, more! You shall find it hard to stop.
The hunger your weapon feels is but a shade of what awaits. Do you want to see real hunger? Real power? Continue onward, hero! I am waiting.
You stumble about in darkness. There is no light here. No mercy. Icecrown has claimed the souls of better heroes than you.
Your heart . . . its incessant drumming disgusts me. I will silence it, as I did my own.