Shazadi walked through the quiet halls of what remained of the Umbral Eclipse. This was all that was left, now, after all the rest had fallen away. This was it, the "spire": the original shape of the vessel. It was ancient beyond measure, one of the first of these ships as used by the Burning Legion, one of the prototypes created for those whose task it was to be at the forefront of the Burning Crusade. Or to remain as rearguard against whatever lurked beyond the Outer Gates.
The vessel lurched, and Shazadi braced herself against one of the walls. There was a battle raging above as the Netherbane attempted to put a final end to Sraath and his mad reach for godhood.
Something had breached the hull. She could feel the change in the air and knew that the interior was no longer sealed. Shazadi would have to move quickly to find what she was after before even the spire itself was sent careening to the surface below.
She was in Sraath's personal halls, the ones he let no others, aside from his most trusted, see. She had been allowed in here once, before she began to work against his wishes. She had a feeling that Sraath knew when she had turned against him sooner than even she did. Perhaps it was orchestrating Mifu's release. Perhaps it was coordinating Malfias's rise. She was not certain.
Now, however, she was an intruder--an enemy--and, so, she acted like one. The panel before her required a security code she no longer had, so she smashed it. A pair of doorways barred her passage into the upper sections of the ship, so she blasted them open with a bolt of green-tinged lighting. She made no attempt to be stealthy. There was no one else in here with her, anyway.
After minutes searching the chambers, she finally found the one she was after. Lining the curves of a circular room was a series of large cylinders. Upon each was scribed a glowing rune that pulsed. Closer to the center of this chamber were a series of consoles; one per each cylinder.
"You have come back home, I see," came a harsh female voice from behind her, "Mother."
Shazadi whirled just as a crystalline hammer smashed into her skull. She felt one of her horns snap under the impact, and the room spun as she collapsed to the ground.
"I was told you had come here for something," Rephaia said. Her voice eerily conversational--a contradiction to the rage visible behind her glowing golden eyes. "What is it? Some sort of artifact to power another curse? Some ancient spell scroll to put others under your sway?"
"No..." Shazadi managed to sputter before another hammer blow slammed into her back.
"You compelled them, didn't you?" The anger in Rephaia's voice was rising with each strike. "You put some charm on them so they would bring you back here, to this damnable place, so you could continue with your games."
Shazadi tried to push herself up, dizzy from the sudden injuries. "That is not..." Another hammer blow put her back on the ground.
"You will speak when I allow it, mother." Rephaia's tone broached no argument.
A sudden searing pain washed over Shazadi. It felt as though her skin was burning, as if her nerves were bursting with electrical energy. She wanted to convulse, but her muscles would not allow it.
However, there was something else there, too, a strange sense of peace. The crack in her skull was knitting. The part of her spine that had been struck by her daughter's hammer was healed. When the pain ceased, she could move again. She started to stand.
Another blow broke her spine again and sent her once more to the ground.
"Nor will you move unless I allow it, mother. Do you understand?"
Shazadi nodded and braced herself for another hammer blow, but it did not come.
"What have you done to them? To the demon hunters? What game is it you are playing here?"
"No game," Shazadi muttered. She expected another strike to punish her for speaking, but apparently direct answers were allowed. "No game. We needed to defeat Sraath, and they were the only way left to us."
"By 'us' you mean yourself and the demon lord on that ship?"
Shazadi nodded. "Lord Malfias--"
The crystal hammer head smashed into one of her ribs, and Shazadi cried out.
"You will not exalt him in my presence, mother!"
Shazadi winced, but nodded her reply. "Malfias and I have been trying to remove Sraath from power."
"Are you not the ones who put him in power?"
"We did," Shazadi sighed and coughed. "And so it is our duty to remove him, is it not?"
Rephaia paused for a moment and frowned at the figure on the floor. "Why are you here? In this ship, and not up there fighting him with the others? What betrayal do you have planned here?"
"No betrayal, daughter," Shazadi grunted. "I swear it."
Rephaia's frown deepened.
"Let me prove it to you," Shazadi coughed again. "Please. We are right here..."
Another searing blast of Holy Light enveloped Shazadi, and she screamed. Yet, again, her injuries healed.
"Get up," Rephaia spat. "Show me."
Shazadi returned to her hooves, her knees somewhat shaky. She placed her hand on one of the consoles nearby, using it as leverage to stand. Though she had been healed, there was still a dull ache where the hammer had struck. Shazadi believed that Rephaia had left some of the injury on purpose.
"Do you know where your sister is, my daughter?" Shazadi asked, manipulating the controls on the console carefully.
"What does Saaira have to do with any of this?" Rephaia growled.
"Please, just answer."
Rephaia sighed in frustration. "No. She no longer speaks to me. She stopped responding to me months ago."
"Did you ever think to check on her? To soothe your frightened twin in her new state?" Shazadi knew that her tone would likely invite another injury, but she pushed ahead anyway. "Or did you simply run off to your war on the side of the Light--leaving her to cower in her undeath? Alone."
Rephaia raised her hammer.
"Answer me, daughter," Shazadi infused her voice with all the authority she could muster. Apparently, it was enough.
Rephaia paused and turned away. "She did not wish me around, mother! There was nothing I could do for her. You took her from me. You were the one who raised her into undeath!"
"You were the one who killed her, Rephaia," Shazadi countered. "Neither of our hands are clean."
"You corrupted her!" The Lightforged paladin spun. Wings of pure Light erupted from her back, and both her hammer and her shield began to glow a bright gold. Rephaia's eye shimmered with holy power.
Shazadi brought her hands up to shield her own eyes, but made no other move to defend herself. "I convinced her, my daughter, that there was more to existence than what she had known. More than just that Holy Light of yours."
Rephaia roared in defiance and charged at the eredar sorceress.
Shazadi slapped her hand down on one of the controls on the console. The metallic cylinder behind her slid upwards with a hiss, revealing a glass canister large enough for an adult eredar.
Or, rather, in this case: an adult draenei. There, Saaira hung, suspended and unmoving, in a vat of strange clear liquid.
Rephaia skidded to a halt, her gilded hooves scraping along the deck plating. She stared at the canister in confusion as she lowered her weapon. They dimmed at the same time her wings evaporated.
"What is the meaning of this?"
Shazadi turned to look at the canister as well, an expression of sorrow crossing her face. "She was to be harvested. A punishment meant for me, but enacted upon her. He was," Shazadi paused. "holding her. For the right moment."
"It is always you, mother," Rephaia's voice was low, almost a whisper. "Everything in our lives that we loved has been taken from us, and it is because of you. Our homes. Saaira. Seruun. You even seek to take our very souls!"
"NO!" The paladin spun and slammed her hammer into Shazadi's stomach. The sorceress crumpled. "It is always you. I am done chasing you, mother. I am done living beneath the shadow you have cast over our lives. I am done!"
Shazadi looked up just in time to see the crystalline hammer come down upon her.
* * *
As the Netherbane gained their hard-fought victory over the Lord of the Eclipse, unbeknownst to any of them, there sat a lone Lightforged draenei cradling the body of her undead twin in the vessel upon which they stood. Sitting alone and in the heart of the ancient vessel, the two sisters met each other once again, no longer under the shadow of their mother.