Welcome to Wrathgate Wednesday: The collaborative fiction of The Wildfire Riders on US Feathermoon on their role in the Battle of Wrathgate. Currently, the Riders are starting to pull back from the Field. Some, like Bellesta, are letting their base instincts take over. Others, an ally like Aleros, are continuing to heal the wounded. Most Riders are in between. While the battle rages, the Wrathgate opens and the Lich King appears, setting the stage for the next phase of the writing project.
Art by Bellesta
The battlefield had become such chaos, that a single animal barreling through the undead into the thick wasn’t catching as much eye as it should.
Bellesta pounded into the ground with her paws, muscles burning and jaw hanging lazily open. She forced her way past ghoul and solder alike, hesitating only when the former had to die for her to continue. A mixture of snow, bile, and blood stuck to her fur where her armor did not cover. She swung her massive head around, trinkets hanging from her mane swaying. The snow was too thick, she could no longer see the company in which she had arrived with.
Bellesta suddenly caught movement out of the corner of her eye, twisting away just in time for an axe of a Vykrul to clang off of the bark she wore on her shoulder. She dropped open her jaw and bellowed a roar. It was drowned out by the battle that raged around her. This enemy, one of many who were closing in to the stationary druid, would be the first.
Twisting and rolling about, she looked like a mass for fur, bark, and muscle. The axe of the Vykrul came down to hit snow again, spraying white powder. Forcing herself back onto her feet, Bellesta swung the waterskin around her neck up, catching it in her jaws and popping it like a plump berry. Green liquid sprayed over her teeth and face, two massive gulps of it sliding down her throat.
The fight was silent. Suddenly all she could see was a mass of moving shapes, and one creature clearer than ever before. The Vykrul’s movements came so slow, so clumsy. Bellesta easily sidestepped as the axe came down again, one paw lifting to catch an arm. Flesh was so delicate… so smooth. The spray of blood and resulting howl of pain were like music as the massive humanoid toppled before her. Teeth moved to carefully behind the throat, as if she were about to lift a cub.
The resulting yank was not so gentle. With a surge of physical power granted only by the drug she so cherished, the lifted the Vykrul and slammed him sideways, bludgeoning something else moving until it stopped.
The battle raged to new heights. Instead of a slow trickle of undead and an overwhelming force of Alliance, Aleros now looked across a battlefield of mingled armies. Horde, alliance, and Arthas’s army now fought together. If one thing heartened the druid it was that the horde and alliance worked together. Too long had the petty squabbles of the two forces hindered real progress towards eliminating true threats. It was surely a good sign that they were working together.
For most of the battle so far very few injuries had come in to his care. Some of the ones that did come were severe, but he never found himself overwhelmed healing the wounded. He treated both horde and alliance, although at his current position he received very few that donned the horde’s red tabard.
One of the younger men of the alliance army had received a nasty wound from one of the vicious blades of the undead, and it had festered terribly. The man must have been no older than 19.
“They sent me up here from my station down in Booty Bay. Nice place it is. A bit rough.” He groaned as Aleros worked on bringing the infection under control. He wouldn’t be sealing the wound before then. He used alchemical potions as well as magic to control and remove it.
“I had a shack down there.” Aleros gave the man a quick smile before returning his gaze and attention to the wound, it smelled like rotting fruit. “My daughter also frequents it, but she doesn’t go into the Bay all that often.”
“That-” he winced, “That so? What I’d give to be down there right now, not up in this frozen hell hole. She… she pretty?”
That’s an odd question. He stopped for a moment, then considered that the man might need some comforting conversation right now. “Yes. Yes she is. Long blue hair, a big smile. Very smart, although she doesn’t act it. She’s with someone. She’s with someone but I could … I could get you a drink with her. When you get back to the Bay.” He looked up at the man’s face again. It did seem to give him some relief to think about somewhere warmer again.
“I’m Maynard Wilson.”
“Aleros, Aleros Crescentwing.”
“If you don’t mind me asking… what’s… what’s her name?”
“Skyborne, most just call her Sky.”
“Skyborne Crescentwing…” His gaze wandered off.
“Oh, no. She’s just what you’d call my daughter in law.”
“Oh.” Maynard became silent after that. His silence made Aleros feel almost uneasy.
“You will – you can still meet her.”
Maynard smiled at that, but still said nothing. That was enough for Aleros. He successfully removed all traces of the infection and began to close the wound as he noticed five men coming down one of the slopes towards him. Two of them were carrying one man, and one of the others was carrying…
“We seek aid, we’re a scouting party from the pass over,” he indicated over the hill they’d just come from “There. We were ambushed.” All of the men were somewhat torn up and bleeding in various places, but the worst was the one they carried. “Our commander, he needs your healing the most.” One of the men held out a detached foot. The man they had now set down on a stretcher was indeed without one of his feet.
Aleros applied an elixir to Maynard’s wound, which had almost finished healing, and went over to begin trying to piece their commander back together.
The man who carried nothing down the hill and had yet to speak, spoke. “We need this done in less than half an hour, and everyone back in fighting condition.”
Aleros felt a twinge at the tone in the man’s voice. “This can’t be done in half an hour, let alone getting him into fighting condition.”
“We need it done in that amount of time. The pass cannot go unguarded.”
“I am telling you that no magic will have him back in fighting condition in any less time than a day.” He tried to keep his voice calm, despite the impatient and annoyed tones that the man was rapidly developing.
“Then we shall have to take him to someone more suited to his injuries, a brother of the light, not some hippie healer.”
Aleros’s face muscles twitched. “I told you, no magic can reattach this man’s foot and heal all the wounds he has in that amount of time.” He continued to not look at the man, but rather desperately concentrated on keeping that Commander’s life in him.
“This is an order. Druid.”
“I don’t work for your Stormwind army, and I don’t take orders from the likes of you.” He was now genuinely annoyed with him, and still trying to keep his focus.
One of the other men interjected, “Kessler, maybe you should just let him do his job.”
“Liutenant Commander Kessler to you! I know what his job is, and our job is to make sure no undead get over that pass, do you hear me? I’m second in command with Jex here incapacitated! Don’t back talk me again Corporal or I’ll have you–”
“Kessler,” the commander, who up til now appeared to be unconscious, interrupted. “Shut the fuck up.”
Maynard had a hard time stifling a laugh.
They came down from the hills by the thousands, heralded by the baying of wolves and the brassy shriek of warhorns. Hooves and claws flung gobbets of snow that iron-shod tramped into muck. The golden knights of Quel’thalas raised their lances and charged beside the bright-plumed mounts of savage Darkspear raiders; the grim-faced Deathguard of New Lordaeron lowered their iron masks and trampled the hillside in the wake of totem-bearing Bloodhoof braves. Raising his father’s axe, their Mag’har commander bellowed an ancient orcish war cry, and when his troops roared it back, the very mountains trembled. The Kor’kron punched into the flank of the great Scourge army, fangs and blades rending, staining Dragonblight anew. In the space of minutes, the Legion was relieved, and Saurfang the Younger and Bolvar Fodragon clapsed hands before turning back to the day’s bloody work.
The Scourge fared no better on the flanks, the irregulars responding to the rhythmic unison of the Bloody Prince’s assault with their own reserves, taking a brutal toll on the swarms of undead. And nowhere was the devastation greater than the broken hill, where three women raised their voices in words that pitched into the weave beneath the world and brought back shining death. Ice and fire and wind swirling about them, they walked into the face of the enemy – and where their eyes turned, they left sacks of charred meat, fragments of glass-frail bone, empty and ruined husks. They made a charnel pit of the valley, and the heroes on the hill raised a ragged cheer, exhorting them on.
When the hellish storm died, corpses were heaped to the hundred, barely recognizable as things that could have aspired to humanity. The great hulk of the behemoth was reduced to bone and char, the cultists that had been cowering behind it nearly obliterated. The field was clear, the three women alone in the ashes, drained and tottering. They looked at their handiwork with unseeing eyes, otherworldly power still coloring the paper of their flesh. They smiled as one.
The sound started as a whistle in the smoke, a patter against the broken edges of dread Icecrown, swelling in the fallow silence. Like maggots they crept out of the mountains, myrmidon swarms, lurching, leering cutthroats ranked to the horizon. The earth itself disgorged the Scourge in rank disgust, and as they heaved the rotten scaffolding of their bodies into the light of day, they raised their disused voices in praise. Fleshless champions thumped the hafts of their weapons on the pocked ground; gape-jawed ghouls shrieked and tore at their own flesh; the thanes and necromancers of the Vrykul keened in their meat-chopping language.
And there they stayed, ranged across the mountains in the thousands, the baleful points of their eyes turned to the heavens. Even the dead knew joy. Even the Scourge could exult – and so they did, while their mortal foes watched in dawning horror.
The hero of the Alliance stood before the gates of Angrathar, calling the Enemy by name, demanding justice. And in the gullies and passes, the Scourge echoed him, moaning and roaring and whispering with voices that defied nature by their very speech.
“ARTHAS!” they called. “ARTHAS!”