He can't remember anything but the cold. Northrend's unrelenting chill seeps into his memories with such ease, it's as if it had always been that way. Gone are the days of eternal spring. He can never return there now, so why hold onto the thoughts? He’s been reforged into this new icy vessel of hunger with only the dead to keep him company, searching as they all are for the warmth of another being.
This dual hunger is nothing like the cravings of his past. Less of a physical need and more of an intense emotional longing. His heart yearns to feel but it never will again. He thinks of times long past; gatherings of friends around a fire, his parents' proud smiles beneath the golden canopy, bonfires scorching his delicate face as he stands mesmerised by the blaze.
Now he wakes up in a grim mockery. The silks and satins of the bedsheets are not so different at first glance, but he knows the dull sensation on his skin could be unbearable to a living elf and he would never notice. The walls are grey saronite, decoration sparse, built in an unfamiliar manner around a room far too large for comfort. There are no windows here and the ceiling is impossibly high. He is alone.
The other flavour of desire claws at his mind, incessant in its demands. Blood. He cannot tell if he truly wants it, truly enjoys it, or if it's the product of the curse rendered upon his corrupted body. One thing he does know is that he craves the warmth. Blood from long dead bodies does not satisfy, it must be fresh, boiling under the skin when he draws it forth. Breaths taken sharply, sensation numbed from adrenaline, grim acceptance taking over the eyes. The victims feel no pain, it is a mercy compared to most. A blissful embrace as he plucks yet another soul from its body and safely into himself. No fear, for there is nothing to be afraid of. Warmth blooms beneath his hands and down his throat, filling him with the thing he desires most. The hunger is not satisfied, only sated, but in that moment it all goes away. No memories, no pain, no fear, no grim realisation of what he has become. He imagines it feels like love, in a way. To be joined so intimately. There is no greater pleasure.
But reality does not disappear forever. Once more he must wake up in the cold, surrounded by cold corpses and cold walls. His siblings in suffering are not kind, and why should they be? It's hard to feel anything but apathy. Some of them lay together, clinging to old ideals and emotions, or perhaps just physical expectation and habit. He can never bring himself to join them.
It's so easy just to follow. They have princes, a queen. Another jest laid at their feet by their true king. A race so mired in tradition, so easy to manipulate. Commanders of the scourge, he calls them, as if it would ever mean anything in the face of his own rule.
He follows them into battle time and time again. It all blurs together. He connects time and memory with a kiss from each of those he drains, each one burned into his mind in shapes of grim roses and sickly carnations. They are with him forever, eternal companions through the hazy nights he no longer remembers.
The end comes for everyone eventually, even the corpses that death forgot. Their queen vanquished, the princes slain, his distant comrades scattered and left truly still upon the steps of the citadel. He doesn’t feel fear when he sees the kin of those he'd fed on run through the halls, only longing. For death, maybe, or perhaps just for a taste of heat on his tongue.
He is spared the mercy. One of the adventurers looks at him with such pity it almost summons a feeling in his chest other than desire. Briefly, he sees Quel’Thalas. Great trees covering the sun and dappling the fresh grass in gleaming light, blood sitting lightly on the blades as fires burn high into the leaves. Giant green skinned people with terrifying war paint and tusks sharp enough to tear an elf apart, the bloody chunks boiled to perfection in spices with a culinary mastery no other race could hope to attain. Nightmares given flesh.
"Lookin' awful lonely dere little mon."
This one is blue skinned with a shock of magenta hair in a braid. White markings follow the curves of its face and it's large tusks point dangerously upwards. He looks up helplessly, numbly. The main body of the storm of adventurers and mercenaries has long passed, he's not sure how they missed him, but he'd also made no move to stop them. Instead he is cornered by this troll, and he thinks of how ironic it is that even so far away from home, his nightmares had followed him. A poetic death. Though he knows his body is too vile for even crows at this point, perhaps the maggots are all he will have left to live through. He thinks forlornly for all those he'd killed, and laments that they too would suffer his undignified fate, when his spirit is not here to carry them.
"What's da matter with you? Dead already?"
"Is that not plain to see?" The heat is so close now, he can feel it radiating off the troll's huge body.
"Deader than ya already are, I meant." The troll chuckles, in that husky carefree way many of them tend to.
"Not gonna defend ya people?"
"Cold, elf. Thought ya kind cared about each other somethin' fierce."
"I'm dead. What do you want from me?"
"Ya king gonna be dead soon enough too. What ya gonna do then?"
He doesn't respond, giving the troll a withering look instead. He's almost too tired to care about the blood on the troll's spear, but not enough to stop himself from staring at it.
"Sit here an' waste away, by the look of it." The troll stops to consider something for a second, taking a deep piercing look at him. Assessing him.
"What a waste. An' it ain't our way to be wasteful."
It proffers out the spear. The tip lies close to his face and he can see the darkened blood on its blade is more like black ichor, bled from dead san'layn. He wonders about the living creatures it had once been a part of and cannot control the urge to rest his face against the blade, inhaling the foul scent of stale congealed blood and lapping at it daintily, so absorbed in the fantasy of living creatures he forgets the one standing in front of him, holding the weapon. The troll laughs.
"Ya make a pretty pet, dat's for sure. Maybe I take ya home with me."
He looks up through his lashes, lost in the haze of imagined feeding, at the thing-... the person looking down at him.
"Fill ya full of blood and take ya hunting with me. Do ya like the sound of that, little leech? Or are ya still yearnin' for ya true death?"
The blade is long clean.
"Will you keep me warm?"
The troll looks taken off guard for a second. "Ya a curious thing, Lau can keep ya cozy. What's ya name?"
"Dal'falor... Stareye." He reaches out past the spear and onto Lau's leg. The warmth under his hand makes him sigh longingly, his breath is not ever used for much else. He moves his head forward to rest with his hand, but Lau's hand catches his cheek before it can touch. The heat is almost more than he can bear. It's one thing to drape yourself over a dying person, but nothing could ever compare to this. A willing touch. His fangs ache.
"Save the hero worship for later, let's get outta here."