Asphyxiation, thought Grace, was definitely a harsh way of dying.
Sure, we all know death is not final, the Spirit Healer will call your soul and guide it back to your body. Even the vague idea that haunts at the back of the mind about that uncertain point in the future when the soul wouldn’t hear the call or wouldn’t want to hear it and instead move on is not terrifying but rather too oblique to be seriously given thought. Having been trained in the art of calling the soul back, most priests lose their initial reverence of death and instead regard it as something almost mundane. But the ways to die…
She and Rauma were sipping tea in the Beer Garden in Dalaran, reliving the night before when an Immortalis raiding party had ventured into Sindragosa’s lair and slain the dragon – not without trouble. Both of them being healers, it was the trouble they were discussing.
“I couldn’t take my eyes off my lord Zelcandor, lady Grace”, Rauma said. “One second I see him wrapped in a transparent protective shield and poof! The next second the shield vanishes and you can’t see his face and helm from all the ice! I was so afraid his face would freeze in that grim expression he had then and never change again!”
Grace lowered her eyes and stretched out her hands to feel the sun, shuddering at the memory of ice gripping her very bones.
“And you, madame! I did see you die in one of those horrible iceblocks!”
“Not one but four times.” Grace said matter-of-factly. “But I saw you die in one of them too, so you know how it felt.”
Rauma’s expression grew dark and she nodded slightly.
It really felt like nothing experienced before, Grace thought. The first few seconds nothing happened and you just stood timidly, pressed tightly by the ice surrounding you, waiting. And then came the slow and painful suffocation – tick, tick, tick. Like one of those clocks humans placed on their town halls to check the time.
The very last of those four times she knew she’d remember vividly for life. Sindragosa’s sleek and frosty skin was already covered with bruises, arcane burns and arrows and her frost breath seemed deadlier than ever before. But she was dying, one could see she was dying, that’s why she fought even more ferociously than before. And then the feeling of impending ice touching the core of her soul – she must move, she must protect those around her by not being near them. With a malicious and yet intelligent flicker in her eye Sindragosa turned her into a column of ice, grotesque and strangely serene at the same time. The sounds of battle around her got muffled in an instant but for a single sentence penetrating the silence of the tomb – Newenna yelling, “Ignore the iceblocks! KIIIIIILL HEEEEEEER!”
The very moments seemed frozen by Sindragosa’s unrelenting grip on life. And then Grace felt it – both the tiny flicker in her heart, signifying that the great dragon was falling, falling down, down at Zelcandor’s feet and the realization that it was too late to save her, that the breath she was drawing was the last one. Secure in the thought that this won’t be the end, she said silently and to no-one in particular “Thank… you… for this”, and breathed out.