Beneath the scaled plate gauntlets Deme's finger tips were white. In places the nails were jagged and torn with drying blood crusting up the plate joints. She scrabbled to get purchase with her feet but there was nothing. Nothing. Below her, if she dared to glance, was ice, snow and the gallumpfing rotting abominations of Icecrown. There were no footholds at the seat of the Lich King, just a rigid ice block and a fatal drop should you fall victim to his machinations.
Her left hand was slipping. Over head, she could hear the battle raging. The taunts of the Lich King playing out, the grim note of death ringing in his thick voice. And then she heard Tirion, a glossy rich baritone next to the Lich King's unearthly tone.
She heard Tirion begin his speech and then saw her lost comrades imbued with the holy light rising above the her and the platform. Fighting to retain her hold on the platform she felt the plate scales skidding on the ice.
"Where is my light Paladin?!" She cried.
"There is no light in you Death Knight. You burned your soul clear of that the moment you killed your old friend in the chapel. There is no light for one as black as you. You are the shadow to the light, and as shadow you must stay."
Deme was raised into the air, high above the platform. For a second she hung in mid-air, a feeling of intense scrutiny filled her, followed by a freezing cold that bit into her bones and stayed there gnawing at her. It felt familiar.
"You are of the shadow!" boomed Tirion, "And back to the shadow you will go!"
The wind was forced from her lungs, her limbs fell in front of her and she was flying through the air of Northrend, ripped from the platform and hurtling back towards Acherus.
Screaming out, Deme shot up in the bed. Sweat trickled down her back and beaded on her top lip. The room around her was dark, the fire having long gone out. From the window she could hear the faint lapping of the lake on the shore and could see a hint of light from the open portals on the island. Beside her, her mate stirred in the bed. She drew the tatty blankets back up round his shoulders and he settled back into slumber.
Deme rose from the bed and took up a robe. Since they'd left the mercenary ways behind them she'd grown used to the feel of cloth on her skin, it had certain advantages that plate armour didn't. The cloth was cool on her skin and she shuddered as it slipped over her body. Walking through the bedroom door her bare feet padded on the floorboards and into the larger, main room of the humble cabin. She paused and picked up a cloak from the chair by the fire and looped it over her shoulders.
The cool night air tickled her hair against her neck and the wet dew on the grass drenched her bare toes. She walked on to the shore of the lake until she felt the water lapping at her ankles. She could see the portals clearer now, their different glows casting an eery light over the island and fighting with the light from the braziers to show the faces of the guards and battle mages who maintained the portals. Faintly she could catch the odd snippet of conversation as they chatted through the night. Every now and then a fresh hero or a battle worn veteran would swoop in from the walls of Stormwind and head off to one of the war fronts.
She knew if she turned around she'd see the tall cold walls of Stormwind behind her. Walls that protected and shielded but they weren't quite tall enough. The spires still climbed higher. The wretched golden spires of the cathedral taunted her and twisted her guts.
"My love?", a soft call, "What are you doing out here?"
"More dreams", she replied, turning to face him. Even in this pale light his strong face showed his concern. This was becoming more and more frequent.
"Perhaps we should do something about this before they get any worse"
Deme frowned. "I know what you are suggesting, but I don't see how going to Hearthglen will help."
He had moved to her now and slipped his arms round her waist. This close with the glow from the portals, it was possible to see the crinkles and faded scars which portrayed his own battle experience. She ran her hand along his forearm and marvelled for the thousandth time how the skinny arms had ever held a shield. But held it they had, and held it well, for they had both survived that fight in Icecrown to stand here together in the night. Standing this close also meant that she couldn't avoid his gaze. The blue of his eyes was warm, alive and real.
She thought over the months since the nightmares began, Raiklev was right, it couldn't carry on. With trepidation, she relented. "Ok, we'll go to Hearthglen."