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Calling the Banners

Posted: Tue Jun 01, 2010 8:22 pm
by Tarq
He was snatched rudely from the soothing grasp of a dream by a cacophonous pounding on his door, laced with undertones of cursing and the jangling of several locks. There was a knife beside his pillow, and then in his hand as he rolled from the bed and pressed himself against the wall. First he'd yank the intruder's head back by the hair (or failing the presence of hair, ear), and then, planting his foot on the man or woman's instep, lay the blade along the hollow of their throat so as to crease their windpipe with the slightly tensing of his wrist. He stilled his breathing and glanced at the dim crevice of dawn in the window.

"Oi! Open up, boss!" More banging. With a disgusted groan, Tarquin flung his knife onto the scattered coverlets and attended to the locks. Soon enough, the door swung open to admit Bricu Bittertongue, looking downright dapper by comparison to his friend - sickeningly so for this hour, Tarquin opined. It probably helped that Bricu was wearing pants.

"The fuck is it?" There was a cottony stickiness in Tarquin's mouth when he spoke. He swirled his cupped hand in his washbasin and delivered water to his mouth, then more across his sleep-slackened face.

"Well, it's - would yeh put on some trousers?" It was but a facet of Bricu's unique gift, having invaded Tarquin's bedchamber at an unholy hour with the tact of a naval fusillade, to imply that to be confronted with the pale and calamitous spectacle of Tarquin ap Danwyrith in his drawers was somehow the latter's fault. "Yer all...flesh-colored an' scrawny. It's fuckin' ghoulish."

"...right, fuck off," was all that the bleary-minded thief could muster on a moment's notice.

"Lucky fer yeh, I just lost me appetite entirely," Bricu continued, his smiling teeth glinting mercilessly. "So when auld Reese's done scrapin' me breakfast together, it's all yers. Through the charity o' yer mates an' the Light's Grace, we'll deliver yeh from this awful famine."

"Came yeh ben anly ta mother me, Bric? Cos' s'awful fuckin' early fir yeh ta be 'bout thit." Tarquin sat down on the edge of his bed, almost planting his arse on the discarded dagger. "Ta say naught ay the embarrassment yeh risk, wis I no' alone. 'Funny story, Threnny, I jus' saw yir sister naked. So, tea?'"

Bricu contemplated that for a moment. "Faced with the choice between her an' yerself, mate, think I'd tempt the wrath o' the Al'Cairs. They're awful fond o' me, lovable bloke that I am."

"It ivir comes relevant, I'll be sure an' let Annie ken the depths ay yir depravity. 'Til then, piss oaf, I'm back ta sleep." Tarquin swung his lanky ("scrawny" was a bit harsh) legs over the bed and reached for the disheveled blankets, wondering if he'd ever actually manage to get back to sleep.

"Oi, Tarq."

"Fuckin' what?!"

There was a pause long enough to give Tarquin a renewed certainty that the world's worst paladin was just fucking with him. He was ready to call Bricu on it when he apprehended the sudden gravity of the other man's face. "It's time," said the Bittertongue. He jammed his hands into the pockets of his breeches and regarded Tarquin with studied and fragile calm. "The wall's ours, Tarq. Fordring's callin' the banners."

Half-propped on his elbow, still tenuously clinging to the inviting realm of sleep, the Oathbreaker felt the fatal lurch of an old oak, gnawed and worried by the machinations of lesser beats, finally pulling free and toppling. Fear and relief surged up in equal measure, and he nodded once before rolling from the bed and snatching up discarded trousers. "Aright. Wha' hae we up north?"

"Not many. Aely's on the front. Darrows an' Balthasar. The new lass, Kost, been up a lot." Bricu, a man who knew the score, kept focused on the details. Worry about what they mean later.

"Get word, then. Darrows an' Thornwood thit end, Geny an' Duugvilder this." Tarquin flung the door open and bellowed up the stairs. "Och, Reese! Let's hae some coffee, then!" The answering should was indecipherable but sounded affirmative.

"Portals up, then." Bricu nodded. "Wee bit risky, but aye quicker."

"Wir no' ridin' in any fuckin' second wave, mate." Tarquin chuckled raspily as he located his boots, and wondered for a moment how they'd ended up on opposite sides of the room. "How long ta get air people?"

Bricu got a faraway look for a moment. "Threnny's gettin' the word out. Say noon, an' a couple more hours fer the stragglers. Laz an' Bellesta an' so forth."

"An' rousin' the rest? Rosies an' Sticks an' the school?"

"Like as not they're movin' on their own. Try an' bring 'em in with us, might take longer." Bricu shrugged. "I'll look fer Mugs, send Wat down ta the long yeh want ta wait?"

Boots, shirt, vest, hat...he had war gear waiting in Dalaran. Right on the Enemy's doorstep. Perfect place for it. "Six this eve, we close the portals. I want us campin' wi' the vanguard by night. Aely'll see us provisioned, so travel light." He made sure the entire sum of his travel clothing was either on his body or tucked under his arm, and turned to Bricu, who was holding himself with the military posture that always returned to him when he became the Sergeant again. "We ready fir this yin, mate?"

There were a dozen possible responses, ranging well along the scale of affirmation and all true to some extent. In the end, though, Bricu Bittertongue gave the only answer that mattered. "Never again, mate. After this one, never again."

"Right, then." Tarquin smiled wolfishly, shoved the door open with his foot, and ducked through taking the steps three at a time. "Awey wi' yeh, mate," he called over his shoulder, "Rouse me the fuckin' rabble!" It was a drink, a meal, and then off to war.

Re: Calling the Banners

Posted: Tue Jun 22, 2010 6:29 pm
by Tarq
Tarquin ap Danwyrith, Captain of Irregulars in the Grand Army of Stormwind. Recorded for the Royal Archives on the eve of the Battle of Icecrown Citadel, and translated from the Lordaerii Hills dialect by Maldur Warwick, Annalist-Lieutenant of the Fourth Legion.

I'd speak to you on war. On the moment, in any war, that everything turns, and all that comes hinges on that moment. A banner falls, and then rises again. A crown clatters to the cobbles. A lie comes clear with the mist. And in these moments, the will of a man, and then a regiment, and then an army, and then a people - the will breaks. That's how wars are won and lost, in that turning moment. All the blood and misery is just putting a seal on it.

We faced that moment. Down beyond the mountains, a great man died, and a great many lies came clear. Black a day as ever we say, when we looked on the face of the Enemy and saw the breaking of the wolrd. But we did not break. There was blood, aye, and a great misery, but my knees didn't bend. Your faces never went to the floor. And when we fled, it was with our weapons in our hands and curses on our lips. So back we've come - our knees unbent. Our backs unbowed. Our eyes raised to look bold on the man who would be king.

Because what it comes to, my lads and lasses, is this - atop that great bloody edifice to poxy madness there is a man, used to be named Arthas Menethil, who's wronged us. And so all he is, is a bad and ugly end, waiting for us to write the story. Because that is what we do. We are professionals, and that's the job.

We had songs last time, you'll recall. Songs and wine and whiskey, tents rustling in the night, a pretty speech in the morning where I said we'd teach the Bloody - teach Arthas to fear. "Show them what comes of it," and all that. So I'll have no songs tonight. This is work. You'll have your tasks in the morning, as there's all manner of heinous fuckery between us and the dead man. Take the night with your people. Fix their faces in your mind, for there's some might not be here this time tomorrow - but we'll drink their memory, and when they sail to that far shore, it'll be smiling like you can only smile for a job well done.

Get some sleep, Riders. We've got work to do.