Bloodwen: Part XVEdit
The Alliance and Horde rarely worked together. There were far too many differences that divided them, too long of a history that set them at odds. Most times they cooperated ended in disaster, hatred and repressed rage spreading amongst them like a cancer. Only in times of great strife, when the entirety of Azeroth was threatened, had they managed to set aside their petty arguments.
Only then for a short time. Once the calamity ended, they rattled their swords at one another. All aspects of camaraderie evaporated as soon as the threat ended, despite the best efforts of the pacifists among them.
Blight’s Shadow rested under the ancient Path of the Titans, shielded from the Scourge and denizens of the frozen wastes. Though they worked together and often shared information, the Horde and Alliance huts were set on opposite sides of the Shadow. A disgruntled truce ran taut between them. They shared little beyond that which was necessary, sometimes dining while their allies went hungry. Each knew, once this war was finished with the Lich King, they would be at one another’s throats for control of Blight’s Shadow.
Had they predicted the dangers that would befall them this day, they might have lived their last precious months differently.
Now the two factions blended together, fueled by panic and terror. They half listened to the orders from either commander, stationing themselves as time would allow. Some made it to the pair of vessels that bobbed at either dock, manning the single cannon aboard each. It was a pitiful defense, and one that would ultimately fail.
They had no way of knowing this.
There were two entrances to Blight’s Shadow, one to the west and one to the east. The soldiers swarmed toward the western entry, for Falais and his gathered Forgotten marched down the hill to block any retreat. A smattering of civilians they sent to the eastern road, friends, lovers, and vendors running or riding for freedom. Once at the top they would disperse, spreading to the other villages in the Dragonblight. Those on the ships not manning the cannon were preparing for departure, throwing off lines and readying sails for a swift retreat. Whatever men survived holding off the Scourge threat would make their way here.
Corporeal weapons would do little good against the Forgotten. Paladins and priests stood at the fore, bringing their holy might to bear. The dwarves, as usual, were rash, leaping into the approaching fray with bellowing cries. One by one the Forgotten fell, for any wounds sustained by the valiant defenders were soon healed by the priests and druids held behind the line. It seemed they might drive away the Scourge.
Then the Forgotten, as if nothing had happened, rose from where they fell.
Teake grabbed Sutera’s hand, pulling her toward the eastern road. She did not try to fight him, but he saw hopeless frustration in her golden eyes. He felt the same, watching as the fighters fell under the onslaught. The dead would rise in an endless cycle of rebirth. The Horde and Alliance could only resist for so long.
“Is there nothing we can do?” she asked as they joined the fleeing mob.
I am afraid not. Teake moved to the side as a trio of riders galloped up the hill, the men taking little notice of those they might trample. Panic held the reins.
The horses made it halfway up the trail before they stopped, rearing up on their hind legs in fear. The rushing throng did not notice, so eager were they to escape, but Teake and Sutera stopped, a numbing, creeping sensation stealing their breath.
The ground trembled beneath the horses’ hooves. One rider fell to the snow, the wind knocked from him. Before he could move, an emaciated hand exploded through the icy mud, reaching around to pin him down. Other hands soon joined in, the earth crumbling as ghouls rose from their shallow graves. All manner of creatures were among their number, including a few that were unrecognizable.
The unthinking mob of civilians, unable to slow in time, plowed right into the trap. Those at the western edge of Blight’s Shadow, holding off the Forgotten’s advance, faltered as their terrified cries reached them. It was all the hesitation Falais needed, breaking through their line to swarm over them.
The soldiers on the boats watched in horror as both the entrances to the Shadow were overrun. Those manning the cannons would point first one way with the weapon then the other, but no shot ever presented itself, so intermingled were the attackers and defenders. They decided the Shadow was lost, throwing the remainder of the lines to the dock to shove off. Better some survived than none at all.
That was when they were both rocked with a violent blow. Men and women sprawled across the deck, one of the cannons rolling clear across to smash through the railing and into the sea. More bone-jarring jolts followed, and those below began screaming about holes in the hull. They were taking on water, and fast. Had they enough time, they might have been able to save one ship.
Tridents and harpoons lanced into them as the dragon turtles rose from the depths.
Go! Go! Teake ordered, shoving Sutera forward. We will take whoever we can with us!
They plunged into the mass of ghouls as Shyv spotted them from the waters. He ordered his men forward, ignoring Falais and his Forgotten as they smashed through the remainder of the fighters. The naga could take their prisoners and disappear into the sea, safe from any influence or power Falais may have gained.
Sutera and Teake threw themselves against the undead, side by side. Her sword cut limbs from bodies, heads from torsos, as his moonfire smacked a number of them into the ground in a jumbled mass of flesh and bone. Other escapees found their way to them, for whenever they neared the druid they felt a wave of rejuvenating energy wash through them.
One of the ghouls grabbed the arm of a young woman, yanking her towards its open mouth. The foul stench of disease wafted through the air. Teake stepped from Sutera, moonfiring those around him. The ghoul gibbered, dragging her away by her hair now, the kicking, screaming girl trying to tear herself free. The druid growled, lowering his shoulder to bowl aside any standing between them. The ghoul turned just in time to see a metal fist smash into its face. It staggered backward, releasing its hold for a moment, only to have a ball of green energy plow through its chest. Standing for a second, its upper half pitched backwards while its legs crumbled.
Though Teake was away from her side for only a second, the undead clambered through the ice and snow to surround Sutera. Srymmner clawed through them, his single, golden eye lighting her way. She followed, her blade seeming to take a mind of its own as it sheared through their putrid bodies. The elf dodged one strike, whirling to score a blow on her attacker. As she fought longer against them, she felt a burning energy well up inside.
The club of a zombie magnataur flattened the group in front of her, sending a wash of blood and snow over the rest. It swung at her, catching her in the chest and almost knocking her from the path. As it was she teetered on the edge, glancing at the sharp rocks of the shore below. Teake, fresh from one rescue, attempted to intervene, standing between the Scourge and his charge with a menacing expression.
It knocked him into the hillside, leaving him dazed and bruised.
Sutera did not know whether it was anger or something more that flooded her, sword gripped tight as she stalked toward the creature. The dead army sensed it, backing away with what appeared to be fright. Down went the club, angling for her head. She raised her blade, an unknown strength possessing her, and blocked the blow. Pushing the zombie off, she then slashed out with her sword.
A golden ball of energy leapt from the weapon’s tip, blasting a hole through the magnataur’s midsection and lighting its body in holy flames. It howled, lurching backward, but only succeeded in falling among its comrades. The flames consumed them as well, leaving the bulk of their attacking force a macabre dance of engulfed bodies.
“Go!” she screamed to the stunned onlookers. This was their chance, before Falais understood what happened and summoned more of the creatures. The civilians listened, darting to the exit and into the Dragonblight, Teake and Sutera taking up the rear to fight off any pursuers.
Shyv and his naga were on shore, writhing their way towards them.
“We can’t take them where we are going,” Sutera told Teake, torn between pursuing the answers to her questions and leading the refugees to safety.
It is unwise to stay with them anyway, Teake pointed out as they rushed onward. We would only attract more danger and keep Falais and Shyv on their heels. It is better we break off and head in the opposite direction.
Their predicament was solved for them, for a leather-clad woman broke from the group as they slowed. “Moa’ki Harbor lies just to the west. The Kalu’ak will take us in until we can send word to our leaders. You are welcome to join us.”
Sutera shook her head. “We ride elsewhere. Luck be with you.”
The pair waited just long enough to watch the group head off, skirting the edge of the cliff before crossing the shattered Path of the Titans. She then led Teake to the east, angling to avoid the steep drop-off into the Green Dragonshrine. The trees were the only signs of vegetative life in the wastes, protected by an ancient magic. A dragon skeleton guarded the path leading into the canyon. Teake climbed atop this to survey the road behind.
Shyv gained the top of the hill with his men. Behind them, the Scourge followed.
The druid concentrated, his form collapsing onto itself until all that remained was a large, grey spotted white cat. Srymmner seemed pleased with the transformation, padding over to touch noses with him. He and her pet might be able to draw some of them away from her, giving her enough of a lead to make it to the dragon’s location.
He need not have worried.
Dark energies surrounded Sutera as she weaved her hands together. Her face was at once a mask of fear and revulsion as some realization came to her. She knew they needed a fast escape, the spell leaping unbidden into her mind. Sickened by the knowledge it brought, she summoned forth the darkness, wishing, praying, that whatever stepped through the void would negate her self-loathing.
When the purple and black smoke cleared, a deathcharger pawed the ground.
- Bloodwen: Part XVI: Frejya/Bloodwen_PartXVI
- Bloodwen: Part XVII: Frejya/Bloodwen_PartXVII
- Bloodwen: Part XVIII - Finale: Frejya/Bloodwen_PartXVIII