Fiction by Seth Johnson from Warcraft: Magic and Mayhem
(Blizzard Entertainment / Sword and Sorcery, 2004)
“They’re coming!” gasped Isak as he scrabbled away from the cliff’s edge. “Two minutes, tops!”

Bohein shoved the goblin toward the stone door set into the top of the mesa. “Then you have one minute to open that door. If you fail, I want time to enjoy killing you myself.”

Isak tugged his gloves on tighter as he drew thieves’ tools from his pockets. “Magic gloves,” he muttered nervously. “Magic gloves of celeb…celery— ”

“Celerity,” said Bohein, opening the pouch around his neck. He dropped the ring inside into his calloused palm and, for a moment, watched the cold moonlight glint off its silver strands. Then he reached up to slip it over the chipped tip of one horn. From his pack he brought out a glass vial filled with a glowing blue-green liquid. Bohein had won the potion in Bluefen on his first elderquest, and he had carried it unused — uneeded — for many years. Yet if he didn’t use it tonight, there would be no tomorrow. Thumbing open the stopper, he tipped the vial to his muzzle and drank.

The tauren felt the warmth of magical strength flowing into his limbs as Isak shouted, “I’ve got the lock open, but there are traps! Magic traps!” The goblin dug frantically in his pack. “I just need to find that amulet….”

Bohein stepped to the edge of the cliff and looked over. Roiling masses of the undead swarmed at the base of the mesa. An abomination halfway up the rockface reached for a new grip but found instead one of the wards Bohein had cast earlier. The explosion ripped open the abomination’s undead flesh and sent it tumbling back into the darkness, but skeletons to either side continued their climb, undeterred. Bohein turned back to the goblin. “When I return, that door will be open.”

Isak clutched the bronze disc around his neck and sneezed as he waved away a smoky cloud jetting up from the door. “Poison gas! She really didn’t want anyone opening this door. Just a few more seconds!”

Unknotting the leather thongs binding weapon to baldric, Bohein muttered the whistling elven word that released the spells bound into his horn ring. Trusting to the magic, he took a step over the edge and toppled forward — only to plant his hoof firmly against the vertical face of the cliff. Another step forward and he stood a hundred feet above the ground on the side of the mesa. The hordes of undead were a swarm on the distant “wall,” and the skeletons skittering forward pressed themselves tightly to the cliff’s “floor.” Reaching up over his shoulder, Bohein shook loose the wrappings around his weapon and saw them pulled off at an odd angle by gravity he could not feel.

Freed of its rough scabbard, the tauren’s ancient axe roared with rage as the undead approached. Bohein joined his weapon’s cry as he moved from one enemy to the next, chopping off bony limbs and knocking ghouls off the rocks. As he pushed back wave after wave of the enemy, the war chants of his ancestors sang in his mind. For seconds that felt like hours, he let himself swim in the glorious tides of battle. Then, as he felt his ring’s magic wane, he rushed up the face of the cliff and leapt back onto the top.

“The vault’s open!” cried Isak. “I’ve got it!” The tauren ripped the bundle from the goblin’s hands and tore away the leather wrappings. The smell of decay and death bloomed from the book inside, and Bohein felt the powerful magics bound into the tome reach out to shroud the moon in dark clouds. This was it. This was what they had been looking for.

Turning to the skeletons and ghouls clambering over the edge, Bohein held the book high and cried, “In the name of Queen Azshara and with the power of this book, I command death itself! BACK!”

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