Last week, we read the Italics post that provided the ground rules for the next batch of actions by the Wildfire Riders. The forces of the Lich King push back from the initial charge. This is where the fighting truly begins.
Today we have two examples of how the fighting is done. Yva, Genise and Davien are combining their powers for an arcane torrent. Just in front of them, working the Ballistae, is the opportunistic rogue–and Northerner–Isi. Down in the midst of the fighting is Chryste Kaleigh: A warrior who, by some estimation, is too pretty to die.
The circles had been laid long before they’d even arrived. They were equal sized and equal spaced, all of them networked into a center line that was – thanks to the runes running down the hill – fed from a ley line to the south. Yva eyed her work, inordinately pleased with her efforts. The only place she’d seen a ley line better controlled was in the Nexus by Malygos’s own brood.
“I am so good at this,” she murmured, shouldering out of her shawl.
She’d filled the lines connecting the circles with integrating sigils. Each circle would feed the sister circles: arcane would power fire, fire would power ice, ice would power arcane. The beauty of the magic was neither of the other magis had to do anything to their circles if they didn’t want to. They could simply cast and their spell work would be absorbed into the flow. The flow would act as a catalyst, a battery, and an amplifier for every other ritual performed.
It was, in her less than humble estimation, bloody brilliant.
The tent had grown hot despite the snow. Genise sat cross-legged, a spellbook in her lap, her head bent low over the text as fire flitted across her fingers, almost dancing in time to her page turns. Davien was using silver paints on her arms, sing-songing an incantation as she covered every bit of bare skin in old arcane symbols Yva hadn’t seen since her study of the highbornes.
Naughty Davien, what have you been up to?
Yva smiled, running her dagger across her palms and ruining the flesh. Warmth seeped down her fingers and she began to touch things within her circle, starting her ritual. Dusky purple haze settled onto her skin when the soulstones flared to life. The tendrils of ice appeared a moment later, thick cords that wrapped themselves around her bare arms.
They could hear something break outside. There were roars, shouts, and things exploding apart as Arthas opened his gates and unleashed his wicked day. The magis lifted their heads to peer at the tent flaps, each wearing her own frown.
“When are we supposed to go help them?” Genise asked, allowing the book to snap shut. She reached up to tie her hair back with a ribbon, a lock of red glued to her neck by sweat.
“Tarquin will call for us. He said to wait for word.”
There was a scream and a thud from outside. Yva hissed. Jak was guarding the hill and that sound meant someone – or something – had come near enough to warrant his ministrations.
“Ice and fire and wind,” she muttered.
She could feel the weight of Davien’s stare.
“Are ‘ee all right?”
But she wasn’t fine, hadn’t been fine since she’d opened the portal to Dalaran, sending Lawrence to wait for her in her Dalaran apartments. She worried about Jak, she worried about the Riders, she worried about what this day could have meant for the stable boy and what it would mean for so many others. She wasn’t cracking along the seams, but she was worried, and now it was showing.
This was easier when you didn’t care about anyone but yourself.
“I’m quite fine,” she repeated, turning back to her circle. With a half snarl, she shucked the safer magic she’d been working with and called forth her strength. It was thick and rich and full of flavor – her flavor – and it slammed into her sigils, causing them to flare to life. There was a sizzle as the power bled into Genise’s circle, and then Davien’s. She watched the feedback loop, watched as her magics coursed into the other magi through the ley line, making their skin glow as dusky as hers.
Genise squeaked. The flits of flames around her fingers surged into small infernos. She blinked at them before breaking into girlish giggles. The symbols on Davien’s arms blazed to life, too, so bright that trying to look at them was like trying to look straight at the sun.
“Ah, now that’s pretty, Sweetling.”
Yva’s back arched like a stretching feline. Her eyes narrowed and she began to pant, a string of song bubbling from her throat.
“We came here to do magic. Now let’s bloody do it right.”
There was a pause, and then there were twin smiles on Genise and Davien’s faces as they grasped how the circles worked, how connected each of them truly were. Each woman opened herself up to Yva’s power, and then fed their own into it. The flood gates crashed opened, magic pouring forth. The air was so thick it had grown hard to breathe. It surged outside, creating white, blue and red swirls of arcane laced frostfire.
And above the tent, something dark churned. As magic amassed inside, it amassed above, too. Winds grew strong, snowflakes danced upon the air. A maelstrom had begun, ominous and threatening, waiting to be unleashed.
Waiting for ap’Danwyrith’s word.
Isi and Chryste
A volley of bolts launched from the wave of ballistae along the way, whistling through the air and clean on their mark; the giant colossus of an abomination that began it’s forward march upon the Riders’ camp. It stumbled back and bellowed our a ferocious roar as the weaponry pierced and tore through the massive beast. One was batted aside by a swinging arm, and the rest slammed point-down into the snow as they left the back end of it’s body.
Chanting rose from below – the necromancers at it’s flank infusing it with dark magics that mended and fixed the destroyed patches of flesh, urging it to continue forward to reap death upon their foes.
“Fek me…” Isi Underhill whispered from her spot behind one of the siege engines. She clicked a knob on her goggles and set back to taking aim as the machine was reloaded.
“Give ‘at tosser anotha round ‘en!” Another cry of northern heritage shouted out. “An’ get th’ feks at ‘is feet too!”
The second volley wasn’t much more successful. Most of the bolts hit home to no real avail, and aiming such a weapon to target single humanoids wasn’t going to bring much success. Down below, the crowd of oncoming scourge was simply too thick to get to the hill and assist as well. Abandoning them would only allow the camp to be overran. A few arrows pelted the area with minor success – the support was still simply out of reach.
“Take out th’ knees.” Ap Danwyrith’s voice commanded as he disappeared towards the creepy, billowing tent at the back of the camp.
As the ballista reloaded and began to take aim, the Riders in the battle below slowly waded through the attack below. A long path was before them as the army closed in around the much smaller force. Arrows and bullets reigned in from above, and the magic of the Light was gleaming with supremacy – one had to ask if, despite the giant closing in from the hill, if they were even in much trouble to begin with?
Of course they were.
Bone and steel deflected from Varenna’s shield as she pressed forward, holy Light flaring around her and consecrating the ground, grinding said bone to dust beneath her feet – silent, no shouts or battlecries, just pure will and determination.
A shadow from overhead flitted past in time with a whirling strike from Illithias that shattered no less than eight of the densely-packed scourge into uselessness. There was a loud, hissing screech, and moments later, the skeletal body of a headless frost wyrm crashed into the large wave of scourge several yards ahead, taking out a good few with it.
A few seconds later, the head toppled to the ground next to it, inciting the ghouls and what not to press forward at a more aggressive pace!
Isi clicked a few notches on her goggles, zooming in the sights upon the abomination’s knees with the other Riders mounting their weapons as well. “Wait fer it…” A voice commanded, Bricu Bittertongue raising two fingers into the air. Isi suddenly blinked her eyes shut, water pooling as the air before her blurred and twisted, distorting the horizon as if it were imploding.
“Jus’ a bit longah!” The command followed the last, and a deep, bass-filled humming took over the air. Something along the lines of a small pop and ringing in the ears came over those present – and suddenly, the sky before the ballistae exploded, forming a wall of fire and frost, wavering, translucent and ready…
The sleek, black Netherdrake dove from the sky where the headless wyrm fell, screeching sharply, it’s cry mixing with the battlecry of Chryste Kaleigh – strapped down with weapons and hanging on tight. Claws extended, Rhas cut his way deep into the scourge ranks, barreling aside a trench into the wave as Chryste, teeth gritted, cut down what she could at such a speed!
“Strewth… Shoot th’ fekkin’ tosser!” Bricu commanded with wide eyes, and the siege weapons let loose! Bolts passed through the field of frostfire and ignited, taking on the semblance of comets as they struck home. The knees of the colossus were torn away and it fell to all fours amidst exploding bolts that did their work to also set a good portion of it’s support aflame! Cheers rose up from the Riders and morale rose; they began pushing harder through the scourge down below.
Chryste jerked back on the reigns, and Rhas rose sharply, leaving the scourge with a parting kiss in the form of netherbreath, melting and destroying a small pocket at the back line – before climbing high into the sky. Chryste drew her trademark Troll-sword from the clip on her back, and held it aside, allowing the blade to pass through the frostfire field.
These moments where adrenaline and lack of self-preservation take over are what she exists for…
She shouted and pulled the reigns again – and Rhas went into a steep dive towards the felled colossus! Spotting her incoming, it rose from hits prone position and rested on destroyed knees, arms lifting and fists clenching in preperation. Chryste slipped to her feet in the saddle and held the reigns, shouting again to spur Rhas forward faster.
“Not your brightest idea, darling.” He expressed his opinion, before screeching once more. He spiralled around a flailing arm and let loose a distracting spray of netherbreath into the giant’s eyes, clipping it’s shoulder with claws and tearing away a patch of flesh! A bolt of shadow barely missed from the necromancers below, and Chryste let loose of the reigns, flipping back from the bolts and landing at the base of the massive foe’s neck!
A shortsword came loose from her belt, and was flung far below, striking home in the chest of the offending necromancer. Rhas himself took one up in his claws, a cute young lady – probably in over her head – and disappeared into the cloudy sky, screeches drowning out her protesting shouts. How far up he’d fly, and whether he’d count the time it took to hit bottom would be a mystery to all but himself.
Chryste clutched the flaming sword in both hands and stomped her boot into the head of the abomination. It flailed and bellowed, tilting it’s massive gaze aside to view the troublesome gnat.
“Let’s play a little game of Who’s the Badder Abomination, yeah?” She grinned that trademark wonky grin, before hacking the sword down hard against it’s skull!
The colossus howled and flailed, large arms having trouble finding a mark so close to it’s bulky form. As the right arm slapped the left shoulder, and leapt across to the right, and hacked again, flames searing the rotted flesh as she quite literally began to take it’s head off!
A shadowbolt nearly missed her once again from below, knocking her out of timing to avoid the incoming arm of the colossus. Gritting teeth and leaping forward, she brought the sword overhead and hacked – screaming in triumph as bone shattered and the hand severed at the wrist, twirling to the snow down below! She quickly turned back and began to hack away again!
The beast roared once again, causing Chryste to squint, and suddenly lose balance as it flailed and twisted, sending her sprawling down it’s massive back! She grabbed on mid-way down to a chain, and quickly found her footing. Eyeing herself in the target of a necromancer down below, she whirled her sword free from hands, striking the half-dead and sending it flying through the air behind the weight of the sword!
Drawing the second her two-handed weapons from her back, Chryste took the large axe in hand and screamed, taking a quite massive chunk of the abomination’s spine in a single chop! It arched back, and howled again, but this time, it was filled with the flaming bolts of several ballista, many striking home as others passed through, exploding and ripping away the half-severed arm and head!
Cheers rose briefly from the Riders’ camp, but bets would be settled at a later time, as there was still more scourge to fight. Chryste drew her axe back and took a second chop from the spine, determined to make it useless to any field repairs at a later date. The axe raised for a third strike, and suddenly, her skin grayed for a brief instant. A shadowbolt struck home to her armored chest and sent her flying from the massive corpse, axe in a completely different direction on their paths to the Cultist-littered ground below.
She grunted and started to her feet, only to find herself in the hold of several arms, clawing and pulling; attempting to subdue their victim. A dagger pierced hard into her breast – but only shattered feebly against the armor. She retaliated with a steel kick to the cultists face, and a follow up kick to another.
“Thisss, issss a lively one…” One cultist hissed, no doubt a tool with a fake serpent-lisp for some self-appreciated sense of being frightening. “Take her to the bo-urk…”
A cloud of purple smoke rose behind the man, and a short sword ripped through his chest, sending a spray of blood across the small crowd! Bloodstreaked pink hair whirled and as Ilanna Stomrunner spun away, unleashing a fan of knives into the crowd and impaling as many of them as possible. Chryste grinned, overpowering the two at her arms and flinging them off, before driving the spiked elbow of her armor into another, and settling with her lover into the fray.
“You’re all going to die!” Chryste shouted, retrieving her sword from the dead cultist nearby, and hacking into another one – to which Ilanna added, with a batty giggle, “Again!”
It was a good day to not die…