Yesterday, the final content patch of Wrath dropped. While the rest of the blogosphere will address the loot and lore of the patch, here at WTTRP, Wednesday is devoted to looking at the first push on Icecrown: The Wrathgate.
The Riders have gathered and prepped for this fight. Their leader gave an impassioned speech. Allies have shown up to fight next to them. They’ve fired the first shots. Now the Scourge is pushing towards the line. At the Front, Jolstraer Taborwynn is holding the line. Elsewhere on the battlefield, Dravir–who was not yet a Rider–is fighting for something else entirely.
The mass of ghouls and geists roared down the pass, those with jaws slavering for flesh, those without churning the snow and ice to a froth with their effort. A hungering mass, with the weight behind them of a humanoid horde, but the voracity of an inhuman legion. A thousand yards. Nine hundred.
“STEADAH!” Jol called out, eye unwavering under the thick titanium of his helm. He and the line of battle-hardened Riders stood unflinching, swords and shields and axes and hammers all glinting in the fiercely cold light.
Eight hundred. Seven. The jabbering sounds coming from the undead onslaught was a mindless cackle, deep-throated and bearing a tinge of the Bloody Prince’s own edge. Six hundred. Five.
Four hundred yards. Bricu’s shout called out over the descending horde, and ballistae, arrow, bullet and torrents of magic rained down from behind the line of mercenaries. The first ranks of undead disappeared in a rolling fog of blood and gore, and silence reigned as the advance paused, wavering for that tentative moment. Another volley split the air, and the surging ranks were bit into again. This time the silence did not follow, and the undead kept coming. Three hundred. Two.
Jol’s hammer raised high in the air then, and adrenaline coarsed through him as the floodgates were opened. “STEADAH!” he sounded again, sounding wild and angry and born for the brink of battle. A final crack of ballista and gunpowder, and gore splattered onto the front ranks from those undead who had surged farthest forward. One hundred yards.
“FOOOORRRRRR LORRRRRDAEEEEEEEROOOOONNNNNN!” he bellowed wildly, and the hammer led the charge as his legs propelled him forward. To either side he heard more battle shouts, and the line advanced as only a band of mercenaries, a band of brothers and sisters, could: full of emotion.
The two lines crossed at twenty yards, and golden Light flashed and brimmed alongside sprays of blood. Jolly’s shield slammed into the first rank of ghouls, splintering one carcass with its brimming light as his hammer came down to tear right through a second. Into the mix they were all flung, weapons swung with years of expertise and all the rage and pure fight they could muster. Around and through the shambling swings of the much-reviled dead, Jol’s hammer was left in the first ghoul, sword flashing out and dismembering another corpse before taking the head to finish the job. Parries, ripostes and precision attacks were long forgotten – here it was the mad slash and hack of a brutal, methodical man. One ghoul severed from neck to hip, another’s head split down to the chest. Legs taken out of another while shield caved in another unrighteous form. Gold and white light brimmed around him in holy fury, as it did in another pocket nearby.
Jolly looked up as a geist flung through the air towards him, and time felt as if it slowed. The geist’s form stretched out in the air, and Jolly’s shield was down, his sword buried in the belly of another ghoul. All he could do was watch…
Until a massive sword cleaved the thing in two, right over his head. Time snapped back to reality, and Jol looked up…and up…and up to the massive form standing over and behind him, wielding a shield as big as a barn door and a sword that would do as a serrated lance for anyone but the massive Tauren wielding it.
“Looks like you could use a hand, human!” the ox bellowed, and shouldered in beside the paladin, hacking at the bodies throwing themselves at the line.
“Yeh’ll dae, yeh great ox!” Jolly called out with a massive grin hidden under his faceguard, and slung himself back into the mix, sword and shield flashing. A hole was torn into the lines to his right, and pure Light-wielding Death punched through. Varenna’s shield and sword swung into the undead, and they withered as she struck.
“WALL! WALL! ON THA TAUREN!” Jolly bellowed over the din, and he and Varenna bracketed Linedan and formed a wall of onslaught to stand against the undead.
For the Riders and their front, the battle was well and truly begun.
Horns. Why were horns blowing? Light damn them all, he was trying to sleep!
“Dravir! Wake or die, yeh pasty sack o’ monkey shite!” Sugnar managed to bellow a warning this morning before planting a wakeup boot in his stomach. “Thar be nay time fer yer swaggling aboot in yer sleep, yeh damned pus bucket! Time tah fight!”
Oh. Right. The siege.
Rolling out of his cot, he began a hurried strapping of plate and pulling on of mail. The horns kept blowing, and now there were other noises, the pounding of feet and the shouts of officers. On went the breastplate, shouler pauldrons, bracers, gauntlets. Off came the eyepatch, on went the spiky hat. The new eye was slowly getting better, enough so that he could see where he had lain his axe the past night.
Oh. That was probably a bad sign.
Something crashed nearby, the wet squelch of flesh and bone being crushed to an unrecognizable mess. He dove out of his tent, the cold, dim light of the day shining off of uncountable figures in armour, all on the move. In the distance, but closing fast, a shambling wave of bone and rot and putrescence moaned its masters anger at this intrusion. In the next camp over, a large stone had crashed through the tents. No one knew which side had fired it, and really, it did not matter. The game was on.
“Good morning, human. I am glad you got out in time to act as a fleshy shield while I pick off the Scourge today. Looks a bit target rich.” Tavris was already in his little trench, surrounded by his arrows and a few sharp blades. Behind him, Sugnar was assembling some sort of rifle cannon, measuring out grains of powder into paper cartridges.
“Right, crew. Gotta big fight coming. Horde and Alliance have the front, but we’ll still have lots to melt. Going to be a lucrative day!” Odurd chuckled, rubbing his hands together. His plain travel clothes replaced with expensive robes, he hoisted a small amulet in the air and began to chant, waving and gesturing at the oncoming mass of flesh. Whorls of light twisted in the air around him, as whatever ritual he worked began to take shape. All around, witch-light and sheet lighting began to crackle, as the various magi and other channelers of power began to focus their strength.
“Bah! Yer muthers were pasty one-eyed Dark Iron whores, yeh buggering undead flower sniffers!” screamed Sugnar, waggling in the general direction of the Scourge. “I got a big boomstick for yeh righ’ here, and a rifle too! Come get some!”
Spitting on the ground, Dravir raised his axe, breathing deeply and drawing on the Light within. The hiss of Tavris’ arrows met the thunderous crash of Sugnar’s rifle, joining the symphonic clatter as the marksmen in the irregulars found their range. A hundred paces now lay between the two forces.
With a wordless snarl, Dravir leapt into the first survivors, hewing down the fodder with short strokes and channeled blasts of light. He had to keep them off the boss for a while yet.
Time to earn my pay.