Welcome to another edition of Wrathgate Wednesday, the collaborative fiction of the Wildfire Riders of US Feathermoon. There are 10 posts left before the end of the experiment. These last posts focus on Bricu, Varenna, Threnn, Uthas, Yva and Jak. We’ll learn more about why that is while we break down the experiment… For now, all we need to remember is: The Riders went to Wrathgate, ready for war. They worked their way into the 7th Legion’s plans and for a bright, shining minute it looked like they would actually win the battle.
Then the Lich King appeared and everything went to hell. This is how the Riders fled the battle of Wrathgate.
Surrounded by the sickly green mists of the Forsaken, The Bloody Prince faltered. Briefly. His legions, from reanimated skeletons to the vargul runecasters, howled with His fury. Even the Vrykul who fought at the line held by the Wildfire Riders screamed and bellowed in sympathy with his pain. Their Lord’s pain only served to fuel their anger. As Arthas disappeared back into his citadel, His discipline, the control he held over the Vrykul broke. The primitive tactics they had shown, the formations they had held fled. There was no finesse in their attack, no graceful sword play to distract and impress opponents. They sang no war songs, but they screamed with His anger. They swung their heavy axes, swords and maces with a single purpose: To shatter those before them.
Varenna Sungale held the line. Both arms burned with fatigue. Her shield arm ached from the swarm of Vrykul that landed blow after blow. Her sword grew heavier with each parry, thrust and riposte. The Light came to her, easing her fatigue. The Light flowed through her sword arm, giving her the speed to not just riposte, but to counter attack. She pushed through the Vyrkul who stood before her, taunting them to close with her. She became a beacon of brilliance, holding the line against the Bloody Prince’s monsters. Down the line, she could hear Jolstraer scream and curse at the the Vyrkul swarming him. Between them, Linedan stood toe to toe with the Vyrkul, exchanging blow for blow. Where Jolstraer screamed, Linedan was silent. His axe spoke volumes.
But the Vyrkul kept coming. One would falter, or die, and two more would fill his fallen comrade’s place. Even those who suffered terrible wounds at the hands of any of the Riders–or Linedan–would claw their way back to the front, ready to die for the Lich King. Fighting them was as pointless as fighting the rising tides.
The three stood, and fought, but the tide of Vrykul was too much. Varenna, Jolstraer and Linedan were islands in a sea of berserking Vrykul. The line broke, and the tide of Vyrkul rushed up the hill. Jolstraer and Linedan rallied, pulling some of the Vyrkul back to fight. Varenna started to call upon the light to do the same when she saw Illithias, axes draw, rushing over the corpses of nerubians, Vyrkul and unlucky irregulars. Varenna saw the young elf leap into the scourge, swinging her axes in the same fashion as the Vyrkul that surrounded her: wildly,with abandon and to die in battle. Varenna looked back towards the hill, watching the vrykul rush towards her friends. She said a quick prayer for them before she called on the Light, and chased after Illithias.
From their spot on the hill, Bricu could see the disaster unfold. The plague mists filled the valley to the north. Worse still, the Vyrkul pushing past the line. It looked like Jolly and the Bull were attempting to rally, but Sunshine was headed into the melee below. Her wonky idea not withstanding, Bricu still had to get enough control of the hill to organize a retreat. He started to bark an order to Beltar and Ulthanon, “Clear the path,” but the he found himself face first in snows. His axe was knocked clear from his hand, spinning into debris of the He had heard the arcane explosions behind him, at the witches tent, as Genise, Darrows and Stonemantle each responded to some an attack, but, for a moment, he thought it came from the Bloody Princes gargolyes. The weight on his back, the impossibly strong hands around his neck, told him otherwise. Geists. Where there was one close, a legion would be nearby. In that instant, Bricu knew they were broken. There could not be an orderly retreat. They would have to abandon their posts and flee. One thought burned brighter than the others: Threnn had to escape.
Cursing under his breath, Bricu called up on the light. The geist, dazed but not defeated, fell to its back. Pushing himself up as fast as he could, Bricu squared himself in front of the scourgling and slammed his gauntlet where the geists nose should be. It crumpled to the ground, but he knew it would not belong before it was crawling after him. He scanned the battlefield, his eyes rested on the ballistae perch. The geists swarmed ever aspect of the field. There were four more geists around him, all dazed. He couldn’t see Tarquin or Balthazar. Steam, smoke and debris launched from the Witches Tent. Threnn was beset by five geists. One was already crumpled at her feet, but neither she nor the bastards had noticed. Threnn swung her sword at each geist, pushing them back with each solid hit, but she was slowing down with each successive swing. The geists did not tire.
Bricu scrambled back to his axe. He shouted, “OI!” as he stood up, calling the giests around Threnn to him. Bricu looked past the all of the geists and watched as Threnn struck the head off a second geist. He held the axe with both hands, and waited for them to rush to him.
He didn’t wait long. The giests lept towards him, landing all around him. Bricu swung out, connecting with one’s chest. He brought his axe down on the head of one that landed in front of him. He pulled his axe up to block the talons of the others, but he was not fast enough to block each and every swipe they made. There was no swordplay here, no delicate parries or ripostes. His axework was functional, life–or undead–ending work. Every word uttered was one part prayer, one part curse, calling upon the light to shield him from their claws, to guide his axe to end their unnatural existence or to keep the giests blood thirsty attention on him. One giest lept at him, trying to land on his back. Bricu stepped quickly to the right, letting the geist land where he was. The gore from its sackcloth covered body stained his tabard. Through the melee, Bricu glimpsed his wife. Threnn was surrounded by a soft golden halo as she was channeling the light into him, healing his wounds as he received then. The Light dimmed only when she took a breath to say another prayer. Bricu kept hacking away at the giests, carving a path back to his wife. The geists pushed back, fighting as a pack. They pushed, pulled, clawed and snapped at Bricu from all directions. One by one, the geists fell. As he spun on the last giest, he watched the Light from Threnn’s prayers burn the giest into cinders. The path cleared, the two ran down the path to the rest of the Riders.
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