Welcome to Wrathgate Wednesday, the public retelling of the Wrathgate Cinematic by the Wildfire Riders of Feathermooon (US). Let’s review:
Tarquin ap Danwyrth and his merry band of miscreants signed up to fight the Lich King (known by Northerners as The Bloody Prince) and agreed to man a ballistae post over looking the battlefield. Tarq even agreed to send one of his own, Aely, down to the field as a combat healer. The brilliant plan is ruined by a tunneling Crypt Fiend, who has ruined the ballistae post. Thus far, it is supposed to be an orderly retreat back to the rendezvous point. During this retreat, Yva, Genise and Davien unleash a torrent of magical energy (Ice, Fire and Arcane) as Aely attends the wounded on the field of battle. Back at the post, Ulthanon returns his attention to the line, trying to clear a path for the orderly retreat.
Yva, Genise, Davien
Sandaled feet smoothly paced across the unforgiving earth. With each touch of a long, wooden heel to stone, the snow within a foot-wide radius melted at instant, small wisps of steam rising around shapely legs. The lacey robes of many bright hues whipped around her as the wind atop the valley screamed amidst the sounds of battle. Long, painted nails sparked with fire as fists clenched, soon becoming engulfed by the elemental flames…
And the bright blue gaze of Genise Crownsilver narrowed upon her enemy as the last retreating Rider passed them by. A sudden smack on her backside made her yelp – but she didn’t dare turn to scold the criminal; she had other things on her mind.
Her teeth gritted, and her arms raised – and with a shout of foreign words, she let loose a volley of channeled flames, empowered by the ley lines, and harnessing pure destruction. The first of the three vrykul coming over the ledge simply melted, their gooey remains flopping to the snow and pouring back down into the valley. The first behind them? Sent sprawling through the air to a broken death as a ball of magical flame slammed into its chest!
Genise cackled with glee, the surge of power dominating her; such a high to any caster, no matter their knowledge or power.
Line by line, the scourge followed, coming over the ledge and closing in on the camp. Genise kept calm, composed, and didn’t move. Patience would reward her in the moments to come, and as the unbearable stench of her foes grew stronger with their closing steps, she calmly reached for the sword on her back, and whispered a soft cantation.
As the first of the scourge lunge, she draws her sword and shouts. A shield of fire explodes in an instant before her, knocking the beast back and setting it aflame! She turns quickly and brings the sword down across the chest of a rushing vrykul – causing a second, minor explosion, but every bit powerful enough to send it into the air, over her head, and crashing into its comrades.
She giggles brightly and turns, eyeing the mindless horde of ghouls around her, growing larger in numbers and slowly surrounding. Ravenous screams and gibbering as they practically tear each other apart to get to the lovely meal. Closer and closer, but she still does nothing to defend. Her smile creeps wider and higher, and her eyes narrow devilishly.
“Come on now, be mindless like you were made to be and pounce…”
And so they do. hundreds of pounds of death, decay, and disease all leap, closing in around the young woman, ripping and tearing in an attempt to have that first bite, the second, or even the last.
Shame to see, then, that they only manage to land upon the block of ice she encased herself in. A vrykul howls, bringing his axe around, taking out three of his comrades and barely chipping the block in his effort. The lessers continue to claw and gibber, knowing that eventually, they’ll make it to her. They have all the time in the world.
Her eyes close within the icy prison, and she whispers softly. A wave of heat suddenly washes over the area, and the block shatters, exploding in all directions! Flames wave out all about her form, crackling and exploding; sending all scourge in the area up and back, set aflame and mangled beyond uselessness.
A bubble of flame encases her, crackling and licking at the earth and remains at her feet. She floats roughly two feet above the ground, and she cackles wildly as she eyes the carnedge about her.
This feeling of power was beyond anything she’d ever felt – and she had thousands upon thousands of scourge to test it upon.
She knew somewhere in the back of her mind that she’d left the tent with two other women, but she couldn’t seem to remember their faces or their names. She knew the man she loved was around, but she hadn’t the faintest idea where, because all she could concentrate on was the thrum of magic searing her from the inside. Never before had this kind of power branded her soul. Never before had she felt this absolutely gorged on her craft.
There was the shriek of geists coming from her left, and she swiveled her head, the motion feeling slow and languid. They ran at her, their spindly arms raised, mouths gaping open to reveal the glint of fangs. Yva tilted her head back and laughed, her arms spreading wide.
The first ice stalagmite erupted from the ground. One geist was impaled outright, its middle tearing open as the pinnacle split it from chest to guts. The others found themselves trapped, tethered to the ground as ice worked itself over their feet to climb in cords up to their knees, and then their thighs. Yva’s giggles faded as the song bubbled forth.
My love is ice and fire and wind.
The ice was around their waists now, and it began to tremble. Smaller tendrils snaked around too, creating a network of spider webs. It climbed, and climbed, until the things were swathed to their necks in her quaking magics.
The rush of the river.
Another stalagmite and then another erupted in front of her, each one acting as both a spear and an anchor, holding the writhing masses in icy grips. She walked forward, feet leaving tiny prints in the snow. She never felt the cold, she never registered the screams of the geists behind her as the last of her spell made spikes erupt from the cords, impaling each of them on a thousand shards.
The lark that sings.
She worked her way onto the field of battle, the ground opening up at her command, the terrain glittering thanks to the enormous jags protruding from it. An abomination screeched before her, its legs held strong by her power. She watched it try to chop the spell away with its axes, and she laughed and danced, swaying as the shadows erupted from her fingertips to tear through its tattered skin.
It fell back in a steaming heap, the light fading from its eyes.
Her lips moved, but no words came. In her mind, though, her song gave way to the skipping rhymes of her youth, and she smiled, rolling her head around on her shoulders with a gleeful shriek.
They wear the face of friend not foe,
Smile of light, but eye of crow
A brand of death upon the skin
Wearing their sin, Wearing their sin
The demon’s soul, and lo beware
Turned to stone with but a stare
A witch to live, a witch to die
Oh wicked brand, the end is nigh.
She opened her palms and let her magic fly.
They’d said, so very long ago in Ambermill, that magic was addictive. That every spell you cast made it harder and harder to resist casting the next. That it would change you, corrupt you (and there was no “perhaps” or “might” about it; only the inevitable “will”), make you crave it the way the drunk craves his flask. That there were dark, dangerous things out there, waiting for the foolhardy to slip up and let them in to wreak havoc upon the world.
She’d been cautious once, watching for the signs of those things because her teachers had told her she should be afraid. The evidence of their predecessors’ arrogance was written in history’s pages and in the scars of the world itself.
She’d been cautious, but then the priestess Mirandella had been shattered by the woman who now walked at her side, destroyed by a power whose opposite Davien knew it was within her to wield.
She’d been cautious, but then Yva had come and begged a promise from her, had asked her to be a boon, a bane, a balm.
She’d been cautious, but then the shadows had come and shown her what was, what might be, and what must never be again.
And for those things, for all those things and so very many more, she’d left caution behind at last, stealing into Eldre’thalas and pulling musty tomes from where they’d lain forgotten so that she might glean the knowledge of the Highborne. She’d collected stories all these years, not merely for entertainment, but because, when you dug down into the meat of a story — when you opened up its bones and sucked out the marrow, when you stuck your fingers in its chest and touched its very heart — there, beneath all the layers, you found truth.
Find enough truths, and find power beyond imagining.
When Sylvanas made her pact with Sin’dorei, Davien cajoled her way into the restricted areas of Silvermoon’s libraries. The clearing behind her cottage in Moonglade became her practice ground, the earth scorched with runes, sigils carved into tree trunks.
All a rehearsal, it seemed — not for the murder of Yva Darrows, not anymore (not yet; let’s not be foolish. Not YET) — but instead for the taking of a life that had done even greater damage.
Regicide, that’s what this was.
They were here to destroy a Prince, and the power to do it sang within her.
The witches emerged from the tent into the biting cold of Northrend, and everything seemed tinged in white as the arcane pulsed through her. She could pull down the mountains if she knew their Names. Perhaps she did; there were stories older than this place. She could pull down the very stars with this much power, or at least one or two. There were several of those whose Names she’d known since she was a girl in Westfall.
Shadows tinged the edges of her vision, clamoring to blind her. She forced them back, until the world was keenly edged with white once more. Y’ve no need t’protect me, she thought at them, certain they could feel what she felt. I’m doin’ as ‘ee bid me, long ago. “Never again,” y’said, remember?
Never again. Just as the Riders had roared this morning, their voices carrying into the tent and making the runes shiver against her skin.
Never again. The shadows subsided, and the witches strode through the snow.
The Riders returning to the top of the hill gave the women a wide berth. Among them were other forms she recognized, not of the Black and Red, but of the Eye. Stubborn, she thought, as she passed her own. Though they probably think the same o’me. Linedan looked as though he might pluck her up off the path, and set her down so Rashona could make good on her threat to sit on her. Pill looked as though she’d gladly help. Her heart swelled with love for them, but there was no time for more than a nod and a smile.
There was work to be done.
As the last men and women passed them by, the magi stepped out into the gap between the camp and the scourge. The abominations had followed ap Danwyrith’s force partway up the slope, ghouls and geists gibbering and capering at the thought of easy prey. Their cacophany lapsed for a heartbeat as they took in the three coming down to meet them.
One of them laughed, an empty, raspy sound from a jawless mouth, and its commander found his voice once more. “KILL THEM!” he thundered, a skeletal hand flinging forth to point, in case any of his squad’s brains were too rotted to be sure.
They keened as they surged forward, a battle-cry filled with madness. The hunters on the hill weren’t taking any chances; gunshots boomed behind them. Arrows whistled past, punching into decaying flesh. Davien grinned wildly as the wind from one stirred her hair. She tied the arcane to its tip as it flew by; the ghoul’s heart exploded in a ball of white as the arrow slammed home.
Then came the tug from the runes that tied her to her sisters. Fire and ice flared as Genise and Yva drew on the ley lines that ran deep beneath the snows. Davien pulled on it, too, and the world slowed to a crawl.
She whispered a word in a forgotten tongue, one that meant corpse and revenant and another that meant puppet and tied them together with a rune at her wrist, made them a new word.
Then she sent those words forth in a streak of purple and white, a barrage veined with thin ribbons of ebony, and let death tear them a path through the scourge.
Hearing her name, the paladin turned, saw nothing, and looked back towards Angrathar.
Fordragon’s shouting stopped, and a chill whisper like the sound of death responded.
She hopped down, trying to find the voice among the swirls of snow, ghoul parts, and wounded men. “Ayeh, I hear ye – who are ye, an’ where?”
“I’m here. Under the wagon, please Aely.”
Running back and pulling loose another set of linen bandages, she found him. His side had been split open from ribcage to hip, and he was breathing blood as much as air.
A horrified gasp and shudder went through the armies gathered around the Wrathgate.
“Sweet Ligh’, Bert… I… ” and she set to bandaging his wounds. “I’ve nowt left bu’ bandages, I cannae fin’ anneh Ligh’ here now…” She bustled. He stopped her.
“Don’t. Please. I’ve died once, and dying now to know that you live and are well… is better than the first time. This life is not one that I want, nor care to keep – I want peace. Please. Peace, and rest…”
From somewhere high above, a booming voice, and the creaking squeak of siege engines.
A crash, and screaming. More crashes.
She looked out from behind the splintered wood, and fear sunk back into her stomach with all the delicacy of lead and rotten fish. Green gas, everywhere – and men screaming until their lungs filled with the choking fumes and their lives ended, drowning in open air.
A wafting wall of death floated towards them.
His voice rasped, with the rattle she knew the meaning of but didn’t want to believe. He reached for his pocket and handed her something. “You made this once, have it again. Now /run/.” Half a dozen steps and she looked back to see the wagon disappear under the oncoming wave – and there was no sound from underneath.
She ran as the screaming behind her died to a choking whisper, and as dragon and felfire blazed from the sky. She ran as breath caught in her throat and the wound in her arm grew numb. She ran, without looking back, until she collapsed in the snow, chest heaving with exhaustion and pain and cold.
In her hand, blue-purple against the pale, twilight lit snow, was a knotted cord of prayer beads.
Ulthanon had settled into his groove, wordlessly working his way through boxes and boxes of ammunition. His task was not so exciting as the front line’s; where they would engage each enemy in a unique and individual circumstance, someone relegated to providing covering fire simply took down the targets that the front line didn’t have an opportunity to. He’d come to find, over the years, that it meant he was doing his job best when his compatriots took his services as a given. That meant that they had absolute trust in his continued accuracy and judgement.
Most of the displays of his better marksmanship didn’t even register in his mind as noteworthy anymore- he didn’t have time to brag. Any more time wasted than the second it took to pull the bolt of his gun back again, and he risked someone’s life down on the front. For at least three-quarters of the shots he was taking he had less than half a second to aim, but thus far he had not missed a single target. Some of the bigger creatures took a little more attention, but it was an attention he was more than happy to give.
Even from up on his hill, with the din of his own gun and Beltar’s beside him, he heard the call for a general retreat sound from the melee below. This meant little for him; he still had to rain death with the same level of accuracy, and its not like he had to move anywhere. It just meant that the people who would be returning to the camp might be a little more distracted than they should be.
From the corner of his eye, a distinct movement registered in the back of his mind. It was only from the periphery that the figure caught his attention, but it was moving quickly and towards one of the Paladins from the left- probably Jolstraer, from the way the armored figure moved. Still, there were five other targets lined up in his mind, most of whom were around Tarquin and Tirith, so this new creature would have to wait its turn.
Blam!ka-chick.Blam!ka-chick. Two down, both headshots. He realigned his aim a few degrees to the left, allowing better view of the creature- a Vykrul. So a body-shot wouldn’t be enough to bring it down… that’s fine.
Blam!ka-chick. He realigned to the left again after catching a leaping Giest mid-air, wholly halting its trajectory and sending it whirling into the snow. It was a Vykrul after all, but its weapon was smaller than normal. Looked like a throwing axe. The creature started to wind up its good arm.
Blam!ka-chick.Blam!ka-chick. Another two bullets found home in a pair of Necromancers that had started eyeing up a Tauren, and they crumpled as their heads were reduced to a fine red mist. He doubted whether or not the two could have really harmed the enormous bull, but he’d noticed the Hordesman helping a few Riders now and again, so he had figured he’d repay the favor. Still, that left the axe-thrower…
…and from the right, now, another one of the northern giant-men loomed out of the crowd, and began to heft its hammer. Left alone, it might catch Tirith unawares.
Oh, fuck me.
What happened next took place over the span of maybe three seconds.
Ulthanon’s eyes snapped left to the Vykrul to see that the axe was already leaving it’s hand. Shooting the monster now wouldn’t save anyone from that whirling blade, which was probably four feet long and a hundred pounds of honed Northern death. From the right, the second of the pair had now fully lifted his weapon, and still stood a few feet diagonally behind where Tirith was casting his spells. From the speed he was moving at, he’d be on the Rogue-turned-Mage in about a second and a half… the axe would hit Jolstraer in less than that.
Ulthanon’s aim snapped back to the right, halfway between the Vykrul and Jolstraer’s position, to a point where there was a gap in the fighting. Without a hesitation, he squeezed the trigger.
The bullet shrieked down the length of the hill, fully ready to bore into a snowbank. As it approached it’s intended spot in the plane, however, the axe whirled into view, and the marksman’s shell found home on the flat of the blade. The axe, whose flight had now been acted upon, deflected a mere degree or two to it’s left- but it was enough. It sailed past Jolstraer (Ulthanon wasn’t even sure if the Northman even knew the axe ever existed) and found a new home in the forehead of the Vykrul advancing on Tirith. The hammer-wielding madman stopped in his charge and fell backwards, massive gavel falling to its final rest on his chest with a light squelch.
Blam!ka-chick. A seventh bullet, this time fired for a direct effect, dispatched the axe-thrower without further incident.
Out of the corner of his eye, Ulthanon caught sight of something about seventy degrees to his right…