Welcome to Wrathgate Wednesday! As we reach the last of the fiction, I need to confess: One of the main purposes of the Wildfire Rider Wrathgate event was to reintroduce Uthas to Feathermoon. He’s been around in the posts: Showing up with the remnants of the Eye–his own personal army–to aid in the final assault, dodging ballistae bolts, yet those posts were to remind the Riders that Uthas has been in Northend long before any of the PCs set foot on that frozen continent. The ending of Wrathgate, which was conceived of at the last Feathermeet, was designed to add another level of complexity to the Uthas question; namely, what the hell do we do with him?
To recap: Bricu and Threnn have been ambushed by geists, and while both were fighting valiantly, they were also loosing. The calvary has appeared–mounted on a war bear.
by Uthas, age DEATHKNIGHT
Threnn gasped at the cold air, pulling with all of her might to draw it in and fill the void in her chest. The muscles in her chest were on the edge of giving up, and within her she could feel the pounding of not one, but two hearts in panic. The jagged and bent bits of her armor bit into the ice, halting her slide, and she awkwardly rolled onto her side, shielding her swollen belly from the geists as she struggled to her feet. Once she had her boots under her, the strangling fear did not end. There was no sign of Bricu, only a mix of dark raggety bodies hissing and leaping. She wanted to shout for him, to scream to the Light and deliver its judgement on those hiding him from her, but, her lungs just wouldn’t seem to fill. Sharp pains lanced up her side, and she struggled with the straps to loosen her breastplate. A flash of burnished gold in the sunlight told her where her husband lay, covered in beasts tearing at the metal to find the warm flesh beneath. Threnn found her breath and screamed.
It was not the Light that answered her plea. Death came again for the once dead in the form of a huge armoured bear. The beast’s fur was snowy white where it showed through the coating of dark red and black blood and ichor, and atop it rode the dark reflection of the prayers Threnn had shouted. The voice that had stirred thousands, that had led Azeroth to the brink of hope and the pinnacle of despair before falling years silent now rose again, this time in wrath. The roar coming from the black, shadowed helmet seemed a thousand voices wailing from a place so far away it could only be found in the small places within Threnn, those places that existed where her soul wasn’t quite large enough to fill the space it had been alloted, the empty place of her spirit. And the scream was answered by others, maybe six, seven in number, Threnn couldn’t tell in the confusion. Others that brought a dark tide of their own with them, a wave of cold empty death that rode under the banner of the Unblinking Eye.
The geists were blasted away by these dark riders, six of whom streamed past Threnn, leaving her shaken and nearly alone on a suddenly quiet field of snow. One other remained behind, off of his warbear now, kneeling down over Bricu. Threnn yanked her shield up out of the snow and staggered over to the fallen paladin. As she passed the bear it snarled once and sniffed at her. Uthas straightened and stepped away, letting Threnn slide into his place literally as her legs gave out on the ice. The deathknight spoke, voice a mass of icy tendrils that burrowed into her mind. “He will live.”
Threnn cradled Bricu’s head in her lap, shielding his face from the sun with her shield. Blood covered his face, coming from a large gash in his forehead, and he’d never grow a completely full beard again with the slice along his jaw, but he was breathing. She looked up at the black armoured figured, and then spat at his feet, more blood that spittle. “If you think this changes anything, you’re wrong. Riding in to save the day in one big swoop changes nothing. We know what you are, what you do. You hurt him more than anyone, more than even that damned bloody Prince down there. You’ll never hurt him again! This changes NOTHING! This changes no-”
Threnn stared at her bloody left arm, wondering where her shield had gone. Everything was quiet around her. No shouting, no screams of the dying, no sounds of battle at all. Only a distant ringing in her ears. Her breath steamed out of her mouth in front of her eyes, obscuring the blood dripping from her arm. An immense shadow crept across the snow beside her, covering Threnn and Bricu in darkness. She looked up to find out where the sun had gone, and saw the abomination towering over her. She blinked once, long and hard. There was something about this, something she was supposed to do, some way she should react, but nothing made sense. The remnants of her shield dangled from the chained hook twirling in the beast’s hand. It grinned at her, and she smiled back unconsciously. There was something sweet in its eyes. The eyes of a child. A child. Her hands moved to her belly as the abomination raised its other arm, holding an enormous cleaver. Threnn gasped as the world rushed back to her. The meathook descended.
And was caught by a gauntleted hand. The immensity of the abomination spoke of an unstoppable force, its enormity crushing all its path. And yet, the small man now standing over Threnn and Bricu held its strength in check, one hand to one hand. It was ridiculous in a way. Threnn herself towered over Uthas by nearly half a foot. But, rather than caving in front of the hulking brutality of the fleshforged creature, the deathknight forced it back, slowly but surely. He stepped in to grab the arm holding the chain, and the true test of might began. Threnn watched in horrid fascination, not daring to make a move and end the contest either way. Neither opponent could gain a vantage over the other. The abomination had the size and leverage, but it was as if the deathknight had the will of a thousand men. The struggle was a deadly stalemate of stasis.
“You know the prayer of Brother Cadvan?” Threnn was surprised. Uthas’s voice didn’t sound strained. There was no inflection or emotion in it at all, almost as if the deathknight were holding up a board for a friend to nail onto something, instead of wrestling with an unholy nightmare. Threnn sputtered out an affirmative. “Use it while I hold him in place.” She nodded in affirmation, then realized he couldn’t see her, and then realized she didn’t care. She began the chant, and almost immediately felt the Light answer, like it had been waiting on the edges of the field for this chance to rush in. The golden energy pooled in her, filling her bones and flesh with a liquid fire. The snow around her began to melt, and Bricu moaned, but she was so deeply in the force of the prayer that she could not break out even if she had wanted to try. Threnn raised her bloody arm and pointed it at the abomination, watching as a droplet of blood detached from her arm and vanished in a golden spark before it touched the snow. With a final word she released the power.
There was no light. No hammer of fire from the heavens. No bolt of divine justice that leaped from her fingers. Instead, after a moment, both of the combatants simply started burning. It started as smoke, pouring from the skin and metal of the enmeshed fighters. It rose in streams from cracks and bends in their flesh, followed by small spurts of yellow flame. The abomination began trembling now, and great fat baby tears began running down its face. Uthas forced its arms back until there was a cracking of bone, and the beast screamed as a great bonfire seemed to erupt from its mouth and Uthas’s helmet. Its scream trailed off as the fire consumed its throat and the head. It collapsed into a pile ashes, the armoured knight falling through it, flames still dancing around his armour.
Threnn sat quietly, holding Bricu and staring at the pile of ashes and metal. A lone geist crested a mound of snow near her, but as it prepared to leap the shot of a rifle tore through its head, felling it. The paladin couldn’t see who had fired, but she guessed Ulthanon or Beltar. She couldn’t seem to tear her eyes from the smoking remnants of the struggle. When the armour started moving it was all she could do not to laugh. Of course. Uthas stood and began to walk toward the great warbear still waiting for him. He staggered at first, one leg seemingly twisted under him, but as she watched it seemed to straighten and strengthen with each step. He swung up onto his bear and ushered it toward her. “Tell him that is now six meals he owes me.”
She watched his back as he rode away, toward the banner of the Eye. She spoke quiet words. “This changes nothing.” Even she could hear the doubt in her voice.
Warmth spread from the center of his chest down to the tips of his fingers and toes. It jolted him awake, and Bricu saw Threnn smiling over him. For a moment, Bricu forgot the war going on around him. The Death Knight on the snarling white warbear, riding back to the line reminded him of where they were. Threnn’s eyes went back to the Knight. Bricu followed them, and he knew which member of the Eye it was. He started to sit up, grinding his teeth as he reached for his axe. Threnn helped him to his feet, shaking her head. “Not now love. We have to go. All of us.” Bricu hesitated, watching Uthas ride back to the rest of the Eye, holding open a gap that would let the Riders flee to saftey.
Bricu said nothing. He left his axe in the snow, and took Threnn’s hands as she helped him to his feet. Standing, Bricu looked back towards the ruin that was their ballistae perch. There were more bodies of the scourge behind them. The tent used by Genise, Yva and Davien couldn’t be seen anymore. Closer to where they now stood was another mound of scourge, the geists that had separated them. Their bodies were both slashed and burned. Bricu could only imagine what had occurred while he was unconscious.
“Love,” Threnn said, “We have to get moving. Now.”
“Aye.” Bricu said with a nod. He picked up his axe and shouldered it before running down the hill.