Welcome to Wrathgate Wednesday, where we post the collaborative RP of the Wildfire Riders of US Feathermoon. Arthas has appeared on the field of battle, and the will of the siege is beginning to break. Bricu is rallying the troops, Jak begins to waver and Linedan, an ally from Noxilite, begins to pray…
The wind carried the sounds of battle to the ballistae perch. Bricu’s gnomish glass was dented and useless, but he did not need the gadget to see how the battle in the valley was turning. He could see the battle standards from the Horde joining Highlord Bolvar’s forces, their war horns and drums adding to the cacophony of the fight. But if the war in the the valley below was loud, the fight down the path was deafening. His friends–his family–were fighting on the line, giving more time the Sorceresses tent behind him. Orders and curses were being shouted in at least three different languages.
Tarq went to the Riders–and the Noxies–on the line, at Bricu’s suggestion. Now he had to prepare to support their arrival.
“Belt! Ulth! Have Squealer an’ that godsdamned cat harry the geist lines. Concentrate yer fire on the tall bastard. Give Renna’ an Jolly enough time t’group up. Balthasar, help me get that one Ballistae in position. Lanna, Isi, scavenge more bolts. Private!” Bricu turned back to his wife. She was the vision of a professional solider–with a pregnant belly–but her saw the anger behind her mein. “Prepare t’recieve the wounded.”
“Yes sir!” she shouted.
I’ll be hearin’ ’bout the deal. When we get out o’here… Bricu allowed himself the thought as he helped the younger Ebon Knight pull the salvageable ballistae back into position.
“Sergeant, how many shots do you expect to get with this thing?”
“One, maybe two. Enough t’give the ladies a shot at whatever the hell they’re doin.” Bricu strained every muscle tugging and eventually pushing the siege weapon onto safe ground. Jakob Balthasar didn’t seem to have nearly the same difficultly.
“Oi, Jak. When the time comes, we’re gonna need ta help at the line. The stones’ll make it difficult for the taller rotters, but the geists an’ scarabs’ll just scale ‘em then fight o’er ‘em. Ready for it?”
“Looking forward to it.”
“Remember that when we back t’back, surrounded by death an’ snow. Now get movin’!”
The Balistae and Balthasar in position, Bricu watched as his wife took to her healers duties. She didn’t look up. Bricu didn’t tarry.
“Larra, take aim at their fuckin’ runecaster in the back. I want that tosser’s head t’fly all the way t’Dalaran.”
The Enemy hadn’t spoken to him.
Jakob stood on the crest of the hill, running a whetstone down the edge of his axe. The dead Nerubian had put a notch in it, and that could be very dangerous in a proper melee. So with time enough to breathe, he smoothed out his weapons, collected himself, and wondered what had just happened. Ordinarily, embracing a monster’s visage and power had its price, and that was the demanding, all-consuming voice of its author. His Master’s voice, for a short time, and again if they failed. Here, on the border of the Lich King’s own home and hearth, Jak had prepared himself for the worst, and so prepared, had done what was necessary.
But there had been nothing. No whispers, no accusations, no commands. That hollow, hateful voice, tinged with the petulance and bitterness of its component entities, had been completely silent. He had taken note of it at the time and continued on with the slaughter that had commanded his transformation. Only now, with the mosaic of his soul – his self – returning to overlay his body’s sparse architecture, could Jakob consider it. Why hadn’t the Lich King spoken to him? If anywhere, it should be here.
He cast incurious eyes over the battlefield below. Yva and her companions had done their work well, he was manifestly unsurprised to recount. The canyon was a blasted waste of slush, char, and fragments of bone. Even the body of the colossus was mostly reduced to cracked coal. Yva, Davien, and the Crownsilver woman were in the center of it, slowly making their way back towards the hill. He could see their exhaustion from here. I ought to go down, he realized, and turned to tell Bricu of his intentions.
That was when it started – with the scraping of claw and boot, the guttural workings of broken and rotten lungs. And as the dead came up from the earth and began their mindless evocation, chanted the name that was stamped across every fiber of their pale and bloody existence, Jakob heard something else. Felt it, more, a thumping susurrus in his tendons. The chill embraced him like a stern but loving father.
“No,” he mustered, his tongue numb and wooden. “Not now.”
He knew now why the Enemy had not spoken to him before. It was the same reason a captain would not bother sending a messenger to his own guard when he could simply walk outside his tent and tell them.
Arthas was here.
Linedan stood and watched the Kor’kron pour down the hill from their encampment, slamming into the flank of the Scourge forces in an unstoppable wave of blood-colored tabards. He felt a fierce pride and a fierce longing.
The pride was obvious, as he watched the elite of the Kor’kron overwhelm the ranks of the undead. Thrall’s Horde, the true Horde. Orcs, freed from demonic possession; the Darkspear, the most civilized of the troll tribes; the Shu’halo, fighting so that the Earthmother’s chosen land would never know the taint of plague; the Forsaken, here to exact their most deserved revenge; and the Sin’dorei, bloodied but unbowed, killing with the names of their dead families on their lips. They, too, had suffered at the hands of the Scourge…and they were here today, the hammer of the Warchief and the arrow of the Dark Lady, to strike at the heart of the Lich King.
The longing was just as obvious. Linedan lifted his eyes across the pass, to the area around the Vanguard. There stood a great crowd of fellow Horde, cheering on the Kor’kron. Increasing numbers were streaming down to join them as the battle raged. That, thought Linedan, is where I should be. Not here, on the wrong side of the lines, fighting among…
He looked around, at the men and women surrounding him on this hillside. They had fought bravely, no doubt. Their stand here was worthy of an orcish warsong, or of a tale told around a campfire when Her eyes rose into the night sky, and he had done his part. But they were not his people. They would never be his people. To him, they looked no different than the ones who had razed Tarren Mill, who had killed the young in Bloodhoof Village, whose king had tried to kill the Warchief in the bloody wreck of the Royal Quarter in Undercity. He did not know if he could trust them…would he feel a knife in his back after his purpose here was served? It had happened before, with such as these.
He’d lost track of where Rashona and Corspilla had gone. The only friendly face he saw was Davien Stonemantle’s, far behind, still joined with the two human cows in the magical ritual that had rained devastation upon so many of Arthas’ minions. I should protect her, he thought. We must stay together.
But before he could move, the undead began to rise again from the ground. Linedan sighed, and tightened his grip on his shield. He felt the rage rise within him as he prepared to defend himself yet again. And the thought idly flashed through his mind as he did…given how the rest of his life had gone, perhaps it was appropriate that he might die on an icy hillside, so far from home, surrounded not by clan, but by pinkskins who would probably just as soon see him dead.
Earthmother, he silently prayed, at least let me die fighting.