November 13, 2010

Like Father, Like Son


Hello, father. It's been a long time.

Do you even still recall my face? My actual name? So many years have passed since you left home without warning, never to return. I wonder if the mighty Kel'Thuzad even remembers that he once had a family, before he abandoned them to join his fellow mages in Dalaran and study magic. You loved your arcana more than you loved your own wife and son...

I am curious if you ever thought of your mother and I, during your endless hours of study and research. We waited for you, you know. Mother believed with all her heart that you would come back to us, right up until the day she died. She wrote you dozens of letters, though never once did I see you send a response. I was angry at you, but she told me stories about how intelligent and wise you were, that you were probably busy fighting the green-skinned monsters that had invaded our world. She insisted that I not blame you for your absence.

She loved you so much. And your desertion killed her. I was still young, but I vividly remember how she wasted away, foregoing her own sustenance and comfort to make sure I grew up healthy.

I buried her in a small grave outside our home, next to a small bench where she would spend hours silently gazing down the road, waiting for you to appear. It was a small service, as we had no money. Only our neighbors and your old friend Helcular came to pay their respects. I looked around for you, waiting for you to appear, but as the day stretched on Helcular eventually put a hand on my shoulder and gently said he didn't think you would be coming. I suppose I wasn't really surprised.

I decided to leave Southshore, since there was nothing there for me anymore. I traveled to the kingdom of Lordaeron and adopted a new identity in an attempt to distance myself from your memory and forget about you. My difficult upbringing had deeply affected me, so I decided to devote myself to the Light so that I might be able to help other children who were in similar situations.

I was surprised to find that the vocation suited me perfectly. The Light answered my call and filled the gaping void in my heart that had left me bitter and cold for so many years. For the first time in my life, I was happy.

Over the years, Inigo Montoy became known throughout the land as a bright, personable man whose kindness and caring were unmatched. I made it my mission to look after and educate orphans who were growing up without parents, who began calling me Father Inigo, much to my amusement. I, who had never known the love of a father, was now playing the part for these unfortunate children. The irony is...bittersweet, is it not?

Some time passed, and I had forgotten about you, having made peace with my past. However, one day I overheard some visiting mages discussing the latest gossip from Dalaran. My ears perked up when I heard them mention your name. I was shocked to learn that you had begun dabbling in the foul art of necromancy, and had rebelled against the official mandates of the Kirin Tor. As I eavesdropped, the tale of how you had been caught turning rodents into undead monstrosities sent shivers down my spine.

My fists clenched unconsciously when I heard that Archmage Antonidas had confronted you about your misdeeds and demanded you cease your foul experiments. Rather than acknowledge his wisdom and counsel, you had defected from the Kirin Tor and fled Dalaran, leaving no trace or clue behind as to your whereabouts. You are so stubborn. And you were running away, again.

The Kirin Tor immediately expelled you from their ranks, and began investigating your history. I nervously watched their progress, hoping they would not realize the benevolent Father Montoy was related to such a deviant. Thankfully, none of my old neighbors in Southshore knew what had happened to me, or that I had changed my name upon arriving in Lordaeron. No inquisitive, accusing Kirin Tor came to my door. I had escaped their notice.

However, hearing your name and learning that you still lived wore at my mind. I could not stop thinking about you, about what you might be like, or what you would say to me if we were to meet. The forgotten emotions I had buried years before ripped their way to the surface, and I found myself distracted and preoccupied with thoughts of you.

I hated you for abandoning me, but at the same time, I spent every waking hour preaching the values of forgiveness and love to my parent-less wards. Could I not find it within my heart to listen to my own teachings, and rediscover the love that I once felt towards you?

After much thought and consideration, I slowly realized that I had been lying to myself for years. I didn't actually want to forget you. Nor did I want to hurt you or take revenge for what you had done. No, above all else, I simply wanted my father back.

Being beloved and respected in an entire kingdom has its benefits. With the help of travelers, mages and adventurers, I began following your life from afar. I spoke with your former peers and was surprised at how highly-regarded and respected you had been amongst the Kirin Tor. I could not suppress a slight feeling of pride.

I also learned of your allegiance to the Lich King, that you had sworn your soul to him. My mind reeled at your decision, but I continued to track you, even after your trail suddenly vanished.

As the days became weeks, I became increasingly intent on finding you, on learning everything I could about you. Some would have called it an obsession, but I maintain that I was simply making up for lost time. I began delegating my guardianship duties to my peers - I had nurtured and cared for hundreds of children who missed their parents. Now it was my turn.


Many months later, a trader passing through Lordaeron told me that a mage wearing the colors of the Kirin Tor had visited Southshore recently, and had spent a long time chatting with your old friend Helcular. On a whim, I contacted Dalaran and was told that none of their order had been to Southshore in ages. Could it be true? Had you returned? Soon, rumors of a strange death cult began circulating across the nation, and I knew it was your work.

However, I was not prepared to come find you, for I had nothing to offer you. I suspected compassion did not exist in your veins; if you did not care about me when I was but a child, why would you look upon me with more fondness now? I knew I needed to make myself valuable to your cause, but I did not know how. So I waited, frustrated and impotent.

When Lordaeron soldiers joyously reported your demise at the hands of Prince Arthas, my heart sank. I thought we would never be reunited. But I began looking into your death, and began having suspicions after talking to some of the soldiers who witnessed your fall. The fact that you did not attempt to defend yourself against Arthas' attack. Your dying statement that your death "will make little difference in the long run." And the way your body decomposed into a fetid corpse within mere seconds.

Perhaps Arthas and his men chalked these oddities up to simply freakish behavior expected from those who tampered with the dead, but after years of meticulously following your actions, I knew that you were up to something. I continued to play the part of loving clergyman while I secretly devoured all news and reports of Scourge activity, figuring that I would discover your plan soon enough.

Sure enough, I soon learned of your grand scheme. The world did, really, when Arthas murdered King Terenas and destroyed Lordaeron. My...awareness of the Scourge's activities had alerted me to the threat long before Arthas returned, and before the city fell, I had relocated to the distant Light's Hope Chapel. Guilt wracked my soul, but I could not have warned the kingdom about the impending threat without revealing WHY I knew about it. I had no choice.

My fellow wielders of the Light were outraged at Arthas' crimes, and we began carefully observing the progress of Arthas' army, so we would be able to warn those in his path and save innocent lives. I volunteered to partake in this duty, and while many nodded appreciably at my devotion, in reality I was desperate to see if my suspicions about you had been correct.

My heart pounded as Arthas' forces made their way to Andorhol, where you had met your end. My companions shouted in outrage and fury as we watched Arthas strike down the noble Gavinrad and retrieve your remains, but inwardly, I was overjoyed. Surely this is what you had intended all along!

I watched in amazement as Arthas led his army north, through the pitiful defenses of Quel'Thalas, to the elves' legendary source of power: the Sunwell. Had your research into the dark arts uncovered a method through which the dead could return to life? Not as a shambling zombie or mindless skeleton, but as an actual sentient, undead creature? For the first time, I began to appreciate the scope and power of your obsession with necromancy.

Arthas poured your remnants into the pure, glowing Sunwell, and its majestic glow turned a sickly black hue. Even miles away, watching the events through crystalline scrying orbs, we felt the chill of death fall over us. My peers shivered with dread. I felt a shiver run through me, but it was one of excitement and anticipation. Sure enough, a skeletal, monstrous form rose out of the amber pool, wearing tattered robes decorated with arcane sigils, power virtually exuding from your pale bones. You had not escaped me yet, father.

The living did not hesitate in coordinating defenses to ward off your new minions. When the Argent Dawn formed and announced their mission to destroy the Scourge, especially those filtering from the dread necropolis of Naxxramas, I was among the first to volunteer. My peers commended me for my bravery and willingness to oppose evil, but I was not interested in fighting the undead. I simply wanted to be personally involved in their fight against your forces, so that I might carefully scrutinize your methods. Perhaps with enough study, I could discover a way to prove my worth to you and your dark master.

As the heroes of Light began assaulting your stronghold, my opportunity presented itself. Many years ago in Dalaran, I had managed to locate some of your notes regarding an undead creature called a lich and its creation. They didn't make any sense to me at the time, but I now knew that this was the unholy transformation you had undergone.

In your notes, you wrote that a lich's existence was bound inexorably to a container or receptacle called a phylactery, and that even if the lich's physical body was destroyed, they could be resurrected so long as their phylactery was unharmed. I realized that this was exactly the moment I had been waiting for.

I told our mightiest champions that I suspected an object of great power and corruption lurked within the necropolis' halls, and that if they found such an artifact, to bring it to me immediately. I explained that it might be possible to study such a tool of evil and use the knowledge to develop a powerful weapon that would cleanse the land of the Scourge, much like how the legendary Ashbringer had been created by purifying an evil relic.

And the fools did it. They mustered an army of the land's strongest heroes, invaded Naxxramas, and put an end to you, father. Back at Light's Hope, I tried not to be nervous while we awaited their triumphant return. What if they hadn't found your phylactery? What if the muscle-headed lunks had destroyed it, forever denying me from you?? I nearly pulled my hair out in worry.

However, everything went according to plan, and the simpletons handed over to me the most powerful necromantic artifact known to mankind, and one of the only known links to the Lich King. It was all I could do not to cackle with glee; I think I may have been salivating in excitement.

I deliberated on my next course of action for many days, staring at the ornate, skull-faced urn bearing your soul. I think I knew the road that yawned before me, but I was terrified of actually taking the first steps. Fear was the final hurdle before me, keeping me from everything I had ever wanted.

That fear disintegrated one night when I awoke in a cold sweat, a booming, overwhelming voice in my head: the Lich King.

"Your foresight and ambition is impressive, mortal, but your heart is weak!" he proclaimed to me. "Serve me in life and I will promise to rend the weakness from your soul. To erase it from existence!"

As I lay in bed, shaking with fear and adrenaline, I realized that he was correct, that the hesitation and doubt in my heart was a weakness. As long as I allowed it to fester and grow, never would I attain my goals. Never would I meet my father again.

The next morning, I told my superiors that I'd had a vision in my dreams of serving our cause in Northrend. Secreting your phylactery away in my pack, I began the long trip north. Every night I cradled the urn, feeling your master's wonderful power flow through me.

Upon arriving in Northrend, I wondered how I could contact the Lich King, but my concerns were for naught. No sooner had I stepped off the boat than horrific, skeletal spider creatures burst from the ground, carving their way through the surprised Alliance soldiers and slaughtering dozens. I turned to run, but a bone pincer erupted out of the snow before me and closed around my ankle tightly before dragging me beneath the frozen soil.

I landed hard on an icy ledge, and frantically dug in my pack for a torch. Its light revealed an awful sight. I was surrounded by at least a score of the spider creatures, gnashing their rotting mandibles. Before me stood a gargantuan member of their race with a jagged horn and shimmering carapace.

"Do you have the artifact, human?" rumbled the giant creature. Wordlessly, I nodded, surprised.

"Good. The master awaits it. And you," it said, as it turned and departed down a frozen tunnel. Not knowing what else to do, I picked myself up and followed.

As we walked, I studied it, amazed. I asked it a number of questions about its species and their existence, but the creature did not seem in a conversational mood.

"I am Anub'Arak. That is all you need to know. When we reach the master, all will be made clear to you."

It paused, before releasing a low chuckle that reminded me of iron chains being rattled.

"It appears you are indeed your father's son," it said, a wry note in its voice.

And now the master has finally brought us together again, father. As reward for rescuing your phylactery and returning it to him so that he could raise you anew, he blessed me with immortality and power by turning me into a lich. No longer am I Father Inigo Montoy, the compassionate, the weak. Now I am Thel'zan the Duskbringer. I now wield the power over life and death like yourself, and at our dark lord's request, I shall assist you in preparing this land for the Scourge.

We are both immortal, and just as you have done, I intend to prove myself invaluable to the master, so that I might also earn his eternal grace and favor. Even now, as your mighty necropolis drifts over the ruined fields of Wintergarde Keep, am I dutifully working to further our needs. With the eyes of the living gawking and gaping at the terrible sight lurking in the sky, they do not hear the scraping of bone beneath their feet. They will not notice until it is far too late.

It is no coincidence that I suggested this region be the site of Naxxramas' return; what few know or remember is that there is an enormous crypt below the frozen earth that will supply us with an unlimited reserve of fresh ghouls and corpses for our work. Typical human shortsightedness; they build a tomb, layer it with their dead and either forget about it some short years later or fail to realize what a poor idea this might be when facing NECROMANCERS. Sigh. It makes me glad I have left those shabby days behind me.

I have spent much time examining the mausoleum and have discovered that it is a treasure trove; the number of potential minions is staggering. One of my lackeys estimated it to be "a thousand-thousand." He is an idiot, but there truly is an amazing amount of material waiting for our touch, enough to overrun this entire continent with Scourge!

My spies have caught word that Wintergarde is mustering its forces for a full-on frontal assault on our master's gates, so we must move quickly. Our legions will erupt from the ground and wash over our unsuspecting foes, and we will crush this so-called offensive before it ever truly begins. It is the beginning of the end.

When the master sees the success and destruction we have inflicted upon our enemies, he will realize what a deadly combination we form. We shall be his most powerful and loyal lieutenants, and he will conquer this planet with us at his side.

We will be together always, father. You will never leave me again...



Show/Hide Letter Notes


Pertinent Lore:

Father Inigo Montoy
Inigo's reaction to receiving Kel'Thuzad's phylactery
An End And A Beginning - quest where you discover Thel'zan is Inigo

I have to admit, this letter gave me an incredible amount of frustration, because halfway through I realized my imagined timeline of events was impossible. Originally I was going to present the idea that Kel'Thuzad had abandoned his family when Inigo was just a boy, and that Inigo grew up in an orphanage and that's why no one realized he was KT's son.

But then I took a look at the timeline and realized that only 25 years had passed when the orcs first came to Azeroth to when WoW was released (and Inigo was placed at Light's Hope as an NPC.) And the Inigo Montoy NPC is pretty old looking, with white hair, etc. So I had to scrap the orphanage idea. :(

I eventually settled on the following timeline:

Year 0: Events of Warcraft I. Kel'Thuzad leaves his family to battle the orcs. Inigo is 10.

Year 6: Events of Warcraft II. Inigo is 16.

Year 10: Inigo is 20, which I figured would be a good age for his mom to die and for him to become a priest, because he would have had time to settle into his new life before...

Year 15: Kel'Thuzad splits with the Kirin Tor. Inigo is 25.

Year 20: Events of Warcraft III. In the novel Arthas, Jaina recalls that it's been 5 years since Kel'Thuzad left the Kirin Tor. Arthas culls Stratholme, which according to the Ashbringer comic, takes place at the same time Ashbringer is purified by Mograine. In WoW's Old Hillsbrad, Mograine cleanses Ashbringer at the same time as KT is outside chatting with Helcular. Inigo is 30.

Year 25: Vanilla WoW/Naxxramas is released. Inigo is 35. Considering how old his NPC looks, this was the youngest I could imagine him being.

Yes, I really am that much of a stickler about proper continuity.

I also discovered an error that stymied my progress for a good half hour or so. Arthas kills Kel'Thuzad before he burns Stratholme. Alexandros cleanses the Ashbringer crystal, and afterwards hears of what Arthas has done. BUT, at the same time Mograine is purifying the crystal, Kel'Thuzad is outside with Helcular. Where's my Red Shirt, Blizzard??

Anyways.

I found this storyline REALLY interesting! It's a shame it's Alliance-only. The mystery of Inigo Montoy was one that, apparently, perplexed players for a number of years, since his reaction upon receiving Kel'Thuzad's phylactery is very, very suspicious. It's even more intriguing when you consider the very obvious father connections (his name being a play off the famous Princess Bride character, and his fishing fountain coin).

Is Kel'Thuzad his dad? Or maybe KT killed his father? No one knows. But I thought it'd be a much more believable story this way. Inigo's got some serious daddy issues, willing to do anything it takes to be with his dad again - betray everything he believed in, become a lich, you name it.

Finally, I thought it'd be a nice touch to include a bit of dialogue with Anub'arak too, since the crypt lord was the one who originally greeted Kel'Thuzad and guided the necromancer through Naxxramas. KT peppered Anub'arak with questions as they walked, so I figured it would be some nice symmetry to have the son do the same.

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