The Wrath Gate

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The Wrath Gate

Postby Tarq » Thu Jan 22, 2009 1:39 am

"Absolutely not," snapped Commander Fyodor Galliwick, the cords of his patience wearing thin. He glared daggers at the trio in front of him, summoned up the full weight of his station and experience. "It's out of the Light-damned question and you should well know that."

The red-haired man sucked back a lungful of smoke, blinking at him. "Well, guess I'm an ignorant man then, Commander, cos' I sure as hell can't quite see why yeh'd not want thirty or forty hard bastards with yeh in this fight. Seems like a fairly good deal as it goes - we're even workin' fer free." There was a smirk playing about the edges of his face, the kind that Fyodor gave the idea that this particular Northman had a hard time ever not smirking.

It was a bit angering, truth be told.

"Commander Galliwick," said the woman at his side - the officer had to admit, she was as handsome as he'd heard, even with the telltale bulge at her stomach - "We're not here to peddle influence, or stir up trouble, or seek some advantage. We're here to fight a bloody war, same as you. Give us a post, give us a designate from the command tent, and wash your hands of us." The woman, by comparison, gave every impression of being used to talking reasonably and forthrightly to very unreasonable people.

It was quite irritating being lumped in with the unreasonable.

When he stayed silent for a moment longer, the third one broke in - the least night elven night elf he'd ever seen, who'd not be out of place doing fittings and measurements in his mother's drawing room. "Commander, we do understand your difficulty. We'll make no apologies for our regiment's history and...improprieties. And we don't think to wash them away with a few days of service on the front. All we want is to do our part."

It wasn't so much what the Kaldorei said as how he said it that annoyed him.

Fyodor drew himself up and clasped his hands behind his back, the sort of posture he'd most often used as a lawyer before his military career. Armored as he was, with the snowy peaks of Dragonblight at his back, he no doubt presented an impressive picture. "Your part. Tailor, I am disappointed that your companions failed to explain to you certain aspects of military life - most particularly, the necessity for troops to obey their general, and a soldier to trust his comrades. Clearly, neither of these things are in evidence."

He raised one finger. "You put your company forward to serve at the great battle of our time, expecting to waltz in, pull some great caper - fodder for the newspapers I don't doubt - and cover yourselves in glory. Maybe even wash out some of that blood?" He spat, and was relieved that no strand of spittle dangled from his lip or something embarrassing like that. "This is war. We don't need murderers."

It hung in the air for a moment while the elf folded his arms and the couple looked at each other. Bricu Bittertongue's voice, when he spoke, had the careful civility of a man to whom such policy did not come easily. "Seems ta me, Commander, that this'd be th'only place yeh do need 'em." He plucked the cigarette from his mouth and let twin jets of smoke trail from his nose. "An' as far as war goes, mate, we're old friends. Yeh need us. It's a fuckin' pisser, aright, but yeh need us."

"No." The words were beautiful to say - legal training or not, Fyodor was a soldier and being blunt was his calling. "We don't. We're better off without you, and I mean that in every way possible." He turned his back. "Get out of here, and take the rest of your murderers' circus with you."

"This is fucking ridiculous." That actually halted him. Those words, in the voice of Threnn Bittertongue, had more weight than a whole shipful of uncouth sailors. "Commander Galliwick, I'm from Stormwind. I know what the Seventh Legion's honor is worth. I know what that banner means - victory, wherever it travels. And I know, as do you, that it's your duty to Stormwind to fight this battle with every weapon at your command." He turned to face the woman, who went on evenly despite the slight angry flush on her face. "Well, you'll not find a better weapon than the Riders anywhere in reach, not for this fight. Ask anyone who was there on the Longest Night."

"Anyone who was there." Fyodor clenched his fist with a scraping of plate. There was reason in those words, somewhere, but it was a place he couldn't see through the red haze. "Anyone but myself, hm, is that what you mean? Shall I ask the brothers I lost?"

Threnn looked at him strangely. "Commander, that's not at all what I-"

"Anyone who was there?" Bile boiled at the back of his throat as he snarled at her. "Oh, certainly you did your part, while the Legion bled and died in the North! Doing your part for the years people like you missed in the Outlands, for the lives you stole! I'll bloody well ask around, woman, but I'll get no answers from corpses!" He pointed an accusing finger at the three of them, no stagecraft this but a fury he'd not let himself feel for months. "Get out! Go back to the monsters whose colors you wear and tell them the Seventh Legion will never sell our souls to gain the world!"

The words were pure in his throat, hard and bright as thorium with rage. He felt clean. He felt - he felt like a man who was not being listened to. Or even being watched; all three Riders were looking past him, at a point behind and above him, standing ramrod straight and in the woman's case saluting...Fydor turned to look into the weary, almost amused gaze of his and damn near everyone's commanding officer, standing not two paces away with four knights of his personal guard impassive at his flanks. He instantly saluted, instinct putting the iron on his spine. "My lord!" he barked out, really quite too loud.

"At ease." Bolvar Fordragon's voice was surprisingly soft in conversation, but then, he was just saving his volume for when he needed it. "What seems to be the problem here, Commander Galliwick?"

"Criminals, m'lord," he replied, rallying himself to reason - however pure-forged the feeling, Highlord Fordragon had little patience for theatrics. "Attempting to wedge their way into the glory of-"

"Criminals?" Threnn had the sheer effrontery to interrupt him. "Excuse me, Commander - my Lord, none of us here have ever stood trial in Stormwind, let alone been convicted. And if any of my-"

"You're the bloody Wildfire Riders!" he burst out. So much for dignity. "Woman, there's more blood on Bittertongue's hands alone-"

"Sergeant Bittertongue." The Northman's tone would brook no further interruption. "And she's Missus Bittertongue ta yerself, mate." Fyodor was calm enough now to wonder how he had missed the fury in the infamous Lordaeroner's eyes.

The Highlord coughed gently. Just once. "That would be Commander Galliwick, Sergeant. Decorum. Even in hell." He looked at Threnn. "Something I'm certain your mother would remind him as well, Missus Bittertongue." A smile twitched in the depths of his field-shaggy beard as Threnn blinked at him and managed to drop a curtsy. "You're here to fight, then."

It was the elf, pale and patient, who answered with surprising equilibrium. "With the Scourge, preferably, your Lordship, but I suppose one takes what one can get."

The Highlord made the snorting noise of a man with no more laughter left in him. "I'm surprised to see you in such good humor in this place, Master Oreweave. My daughters might be even moreso, but I believe they're too jubilant over the dresses I ordered for them to notice. Certainly not anything as small as a northern war or a missing father."

Delion lowered his head respectfully, not fast enough to cover the twitch of a smile. "You have excellent taste, your Lordship. I hope to send another pair back home with you when this is over."

"Aye," replied Lord Bolvar, "when it's over." He turned to the Bittertongues, who looked themselves about as flabbergasted as Fyodor felt; for himself, the commander had given up all hope of a sane universe. "Your people are all here?" Bricu simply nodded. "All here?"

"Close enough, m'lord," said Bittertongue roughly. "Meanin' aye, the ap Danwyriths too." A smirk crossed his handsome, only slightly battered face. "But fear no', m'lord, we brought Geny too. Kept things respectable."

"Hnh." Nobody was really sure what that meant; a man with a beard like Bolvar Fordragon's could keep a very impressive poker face. "Take me to them, then. Commander Galliwick, attend me." Fyodor saluted automatically and fell into line as quickly as his well-trained feet could carry him, his mind whirling with possibilities - gallows on the front? Treachery in the heat of battle? Pardons for the gallery of murderers? It seemed, as he trudged off to the outskirts of Fordragon Hold with the Highlord of Stormwind, the great man's guard, and three notoriously proscribed mercenaries, that damn near anything was possible.
Now hang me by this golden noose
'Cause I never been nothin' but your golden goose
Silver tongue don't fail me now
And I'll make my way back to you somehow

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Re: The Wrath Gate

Postby Tarq » Thu Jan 22, 2009 1:39 am

They were camped in front of a cave about a quarter-mile out, an inward-facing ring of tents around a single central cookfire. Their menagerie of mounts was stabled in the mouth of the cave, and that was their only physical barrier. Who, after all, would want to trouble them?

A single sentry hailed them from a hilltop, a broad-shouldered man in heavy leathers. When he saw who led them, he swept back his hood and saluted. Even from this distance, Fyodor could see the fierce grin on his face and the pointed tips of his ears extending from his crudely cut hair. Half-breed. Where else could such as him find? As they crossed under the man's position, Bittertongue called up. "Oi, Lans! Get yer arse down here, I'm callin' an assembly!" The half-elf's response was mostly lost in the wind, but he picked his way down the hill quick enough.

On went Fyodor Galliwick, into the belly of the beast. A brawny young dwarf in incongruous monk's garb glanced up from the sword he was sharpening with ice-chip eyes, that warmed only slightly as he nodded a greeting to the assembly. A shocked gasp rang out as a dark young woman, the gold of her armor muted by the snowfall, clanked to her feet and stood at rapt attention. An incredulous smile split the face of a slim blond fellow in well-used plate, who got to his feet as they passed and turned to call into the tent behind him. He'd seen mercenary camps not much different before, and wondered at the beasts that lurked within the hearts of those spilt blood for no cause but coin. This time, he didn't have to wonder.

Bricu was speaking to nearly everyone they passed, grinning and glad-handing, directing the Riders over towards the clearing between the central fire and the largest tent; by the time they reached there, the eight of them had gathered twenty or thirty followers, or at least people moving in the same direction. In front of the tent, three people were seated on a fallen log, cloaked against the cold - no, two were cloaked. The third appeared to be wearing little more than an evening gown, as comfortable as if she were sitting in some lordling's parlor; as they approached, she rose to her feet, smiling beatifically. Rosy lips, even teeth, and a penetrating gaze behind wire-frame spectacles - yes, that was the famous Genise Crownsilver. Fyodor blinked. She did not look like a whoremongering mistress to criminal scum. More like a minor deity of some sort.

"Bolvar, dear!" she exclaimed. "And here I thought to never see you again." She glided forward, tottering slightly as her foot was caught in - was she wearing high-heeled shoes? Fyodor blinked, mystified, as the magistrix curtsied low before his patiently smiling commanding officer. "I'm sorry we don't have proper accomodations for you here, but of course, simply seeing you here's as good as four stout walls and a pile of cushions..." Commander Galliwick managed to shut out Crownsilver's prattling as he looked at the other two. One of them could only be Kaleigh, dark and wiry and as beautiful as a housefire. He met her black eyes and looked away almost immediately. The third person seated on the log, of course, needed no introduction; the smirk on his face as he caught Fyodor's gaze and rolled his eyes at Genise was identification enough. The commander's guts began to churn.

"And you're here for an interview, of course!" concluded Genise, stepping back and taking one of Lord Bolvar's massive hands. "Well, then, here's our Fearless Leader. Tarq, darling, pretend to be a civilized person." The Oathbreaker unspooled his lanky frame with what Fyodor thought to be deliberate sluggishness, and his bow had more than a touch of the grandiose to it. "I said a civilized person, Tarq, not a peacock."

Highlord Fordragon was not smiling now. "ap Danwyrith."

"M'laird." Tarquin dipped his lupine head in respect. "Standin' ready fir orders, as'm sure Del an' the Bittertongues telt yeh."

"You'd take your place in the ranks of the Alliance here, then? Die for king and country?" There was no missing the ironic twist to Bolvar Fordragon's mouth, no matter how long it had been since he last had a real shave.

"Wir here fir ta fight the Bloody Prince, m'laird, an' do air duty by the world entire. Yeh goat here first, so it'd be right impertinent ay us t'ask yeh ta join up under air flag." He caught a warning glance from Crownsilver and modulated his grin. "We'll follow orders. Put us where yeh need us."

"And if I said I did not need you?" Bolvar stepped away from the red-haired woman and folded gauntleted fists before his torso. "That your Riders are anathema to discipline, to morality, and to the spirit that my men will need to survive that which lies before them?"

ap Danwyrith shrugged his narrow shoulders, sheltered beneath an absurd tartan cloak. "Then it'll be a lonely fight fir us, m'laird, an' yeh'll be the poorer fir it. Bricu, Del an' Threnny spake thir pieces aready, an' I widna think ta tell the Highlord ay Stormwind how fir ta fight a war. Yir lads' honor agin air steel an' spellcraft. Simple as thit."

"Simple as that," echoed Fordragon thoughtfully. He looked to his sides. "I was told that all your Riders were here. Are you hiding her from me, ap Danwyrith?"

"I was on patrol, sir." That voice, velvet wrapped around thorns, was enough to make Fyodor's fist clench near the hilt of his sword. She stepped up from the side, shadowed by a hulking young man with a stone slab for a jaw and heavily ornamented armor. "I never hide from what I've done. Only for what I'm about to do." The smile on her face pulled thoughts to the front of Commander Galliwick's mind - camps of thousands, chanting masses, sick and dying by the hundreds, riots and fires and blood. He stared at her single hateful eye while a name thundered in his soul.

"Nightfury." Bolvar turned to face the elfwoman, quite a bit taller than her and much bulkier. "What are you about to do?"

"Kill the Scourge," said Ceil carelessly. "Until it takes. And it's ap Danwyrith now, m'lord."

"Many people say I should have hanged you." Bolvar stared at the elfwoman, who wouldn't quite meet his gaze. "They'd say I should hang you right now, in fact, and damn what comes next. That what you did is the same monstrosity we're fighting against here, and that evil is evil no matter where you find it." The young paladin behind Nightfury folded his arms and lowered his head, a strange mix of defiance and allegiance. "They'd have me hang your husband with you, traitor that he is, and any others who refuse to forswear you."

Fyodor looked around nervously, saw gazes savage and sly and fearful and even amused. The Highlord's guards had their hands on their weapons, though not a one of the Riders had moved. But Bolvar Fordragon did not look away from the woman in front of him, who answered with slow deliberation. "Those as say so, m'lord, aren't here. So I imagine I ought to be more concerned with what you care to do." She lifted her chin, still not looking him in the eye, the tattoo on her neck plain for all to see. The air felt like it oft did before a storm, thick and almost humid despite the biting cold.

"I should have hanged you." Fordragon's voice hung in the air like a stone. "I should have done a great many things. But here we are, and whatever sort of monster you may be, you aren't the Lich King. Nobody is. So I'll forswear all talk of nooses until the war is won."

"Thankyeh, m'laird," said the other ap Danwyrith, for once unsmiling. Ceil made no reply, but lowered her head again and stepped over to her husband's side, still watching Bolvar without meeting his eyes. The great man turned his gaze to Tarquin.

"There are mountain passes about Angrathar," he said slowly, and Fyodor's heart tumbled. "Spines through the rock. The Scourge will come, in splinters, seeking our heart. I'll deploy you about one, likely to the west, with our other irregulars. How many are you?"

"Some thirty-odd Riders," answered Tarquin, "an' likely anither dozen'r twa in mates comin' by. Yir fightin' a popular war, m'laird."

"It'll server. You'll have ballistae, if you can make use of them. Commander Galliwick will be your attache to me." Fyodor's slowly falling heart abruptly spasmed and ran screaming off a cliff. "He'll come back to you within the hour with my instructions." Bolvar looked over at him, and he stood at attention, doing his best to ignore the rotting canker taking up the periphery of his gaze. "This is your world too, Wildfire Riders. You cannot fail it." He turned away from the leadership and walked about the sullen fire, and Fyodor caught the bitter twist to his lips as he passed through the wide path left for him by the mercenaries. The commander looked up and saw the smiles passing between the Riders, hope blooming on their faces. What made him angriest was that in this place, at this moment, such a thing as a chance to go and bleed the foe was cause for them to hope.

The battle was coming, and it'd all be simpler. He turned and followed his commanding officer, like a good soldier.
Now hang me by this golden noose
'Cause I never been nothin' but your golden goose
Silver tongue don't fail me now
And I'll make my way back to you somehow

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Old Horses...

Postby Jolstraer » Mon Feb 02, 2009 10:53 pm

The camp around Fordragon Hold bustled with steady craft work of a world of war. The old man who plowed through the throng of run-of-the-mill soldiers and 7th Legion elitist knew it well. His path could be easily traced by the effrontery and cursing of men and women half his age, who thought themselves twice his better. The shield that hung from his back quieted a few in the crowd here and there, and made some sneer more. He didn't pay them much mind; hell, he had more important things to worry about. His armor was strapped down tight, fitted with spikes and stained with old blood and new, and spatters of gore here and there. The pain in his side had seemed to lessen from a constant throbbing into a dull ache that he had taught himself to ignore. His one eye would flicker amongst the other warriors in camp and dismiss them quickly. Three feet of steel on his hip shied off those who might think to confront him for his ooks, or his attitude, or the simple manner in which he didn't give a damn about most of the folk around him.

Striding up the hill, leading Soarer by the reigns, Jol Taborwynn made his way through the camp.

"Hey, look at this one Lem. Oy, old man, the pensioner's quarters are in Stormwind, you daft old bat!"

Jol stopped in his tracks. The look on his face widened the circle around him by a fraction. With a slow, wolfish grin, Jol turned and regarded the pack of four that were heckling him with sneers and caterwauling. One was short and overtly fat, his armor greasy in spots and not doing a good job of covering him. Next to him was a lanky lad with too much nose and too little hair on his chin to be more than just a lad. The other two...well now, they were the real fun.

'Lem' had to be the one on the left, with the brutal glimmer in his eye and the look of someone used to a blade. Jol took note of him, but made as to dismiss him immediately. The old paladin was rewarded with a sneer he was hoping for.

"'Scuse mah?" was all the Lordaeron-born said.

"See Roj? Old folks can't hear so good," Lem sneered, spitting at Jol's feet. 'Roj' was exactly what Jol expected - the chiseled prettyboy with a Knight-Lieutenant's sword emblazoned on his shoulder. Jol was going to enjoy this all too much.

"S'raight. Ol' folks ten' tae tune out arrogan' pricks 'et shouldnae be off'n 'ere momma's teats."

The crowd went silent, and four hands went to swords. Jol just kept his grin, unlimbering his shield and driving its base into the snow, as to make it stand on its own. The crest of Lordaeron seemed to shimmer for a moment before his hand moved away from it, unbuckling his sword belt and tossing scabbarded sword into the snow.

The four looked between themselves in confusion as the old man tugged of his steel backed gloves. They didn't say a word, but each of them begrudgingly let go of sword hilts and hastily unbuckled them. They were still working on getting off their gauntlets when Jol hit.

The fat one went down like a sack of potatoes from the full-on punch Jol threw; folks that watched had to have been amazed at the old man's speed to cross the meager distance and deck him in a near blink of an eye. The lanky one's knees buckled as Jol's spinning backhand broke his nose, and he was out of it before Jol had moved onto the third.

Roj and Lem moved far more quickly than their hangers-on, diving apart to divide Jol's attention, but not doing a very good job. Roj's hair - shoulder length and flopped to one side like some noble poof - was caught in one big paw, and he yanked back hard to jerk the young man's neck and stun him to a hat. Lem came in at Jo swinging, but Jol caught the blows with his arm and shoved his armored shoulder into the fighter's gut. Turning his attention back to Roj, he yanked on the hair again and was rewarded with a girlish shriek, before slamming the man's face into Jol's upright shield. A thump and a crack was the reward, thanks to the shield's refusal to budge. Letting go of Roj's hair, Jol turned to Lem and regarded him coolly as the man was crouched low, considering his best chance of attack.

"Yeh 'ave anah idear who'n tha feck ah am!?" Jol roared at the man, sending him back a step. Lem shook his head faintly, and seemed a little surprised at managing even that for an answer. Jol strode toward him purposefully, and the man hunkered down before lunging in a strike. Jol twisted, catching the man awkwardly before headbutting him square between the eyes. Lem's eyes rolled up in his head as he crumpled to the snow.

Four arrogant Stormwind guards were sprawled out around him. Jol, turned and surveyed them with a grimace as more guards pushed through the watching throng and seized him by the arms.

"..the hell is going on here!?" Commander Galliwick demanded as he stormed up, red faced. "What in the hell happened?"

"Commander, this man here attacked these four without provocation--"

"Feck 'at," Jol grumbled. "Fecker d'served 'et."

Galliwick looked as if he were about to burst a blood vessel. "What in the hell is your problem!?" he all but railed at Jol. "Who in the hell do you think you are!?"

"Ah'm Jol feckin'--"

"To hell with it! I don't care! Of all the damn days, I care less today! Clap him in irons and get him out of here!"


Galliwick visibly winced, squeezing his eyes shut. His face went through enough shades of red and purple to color a quilt. Why, Jol had no clue, but he knew the other voice as sure as he knew his own. It was then one of the few Southerners Jol had respect for moved through the widening throng.

"More trouble today, Commander?" Bolvar Fordragon asked in a calm and even tone.

"This man--this Rider," Galliwick spat for emphasis, noting Jol's tabard displayed proudly, "Attacked and harmed four soldiers without provocation. Sir, as if a mutinous ruckus weren't enough, he attacked Knight-Lieutenant Roj Haermon--"

"Haermon usually finds trouble on his own, trouble does not find him," Bolvar cut off, surveying Jol's handiwork of the four with a faint glimmer of a smirk. "I don't care who his father is, he wasn't supposed to be this far up on the front in the first place." Bolvar turned his piercing look back on the old paladin, taking him in from head to two. "Northman, by the look of that stubborn set to your jaw. What's your name, man?"

Jol straightened a little taller, a defiant look on his craggy face. "Jol Taborwynn."

Bolvar nodded briefly. "You've been in the wars, then," he said, not asking.

"Fifth Lordaeron. Stag o'Stratholme." A few murmurs passed through the crowd, and Bolvar's brief glance shushed them.

"Those aren't Lordaeron colors I see you wearing," Bolvar said casually, though there was a weighing look about him.

"Me 'ome's tha Ridahs, Haighlohd. Ah'm heah tae beat sommat doen. If'n 'et's young fools in tha stocks 'er 'em Scourge monstrositahs, 'et dunnae mattah tae mah. But ah aim tae carve me feckin' name in some Scourge ches' but good. Fer Lordaeron."

"Light remember Lordaeron," Bolvar murmured, and it breathed through the crowd at a whisper. "Your fellows are camped in the mountain passes, with a few other irregulars. Best see to getting yourself there."

"My lord--!" Galliwick gasped.

"After, Commander. There will be plenty of time for settling debts after."

Jol nodded casually to the Highlord. "Ah always keep me debts. M'lohd." Picking up his shield and sword from the snow, he buckled them back on before retrieving his gauntlets. Moving on up into the passes with Soarer in tow, Jol didn't need to push through the crowd.
"I left my home where the dead never rose
But the streets of gold i've yet to find
And at the end of the day all you can do is pray
Without hope well you might as well be blind, yeah be blind
Tomorrow comes a day too soon"

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Re: The Wrath Gate

Postby Ulthanon » Wed Feb 04, 2009 2:56 am

Ulthanon rubbed his eyes, leaning forward in his chair as he regarded the scene in front of him. From his perch at the top of the hill, he could see parts of Fordragon Hold, the entire Horde encampment, and the Wrathgate itself. His fellows had made camp down below in the cave at the base of the hill, some... seventy feet down? Eighty? It was hard to guage distance when most everything around him was the same shade of white, but it had been a decent hike through the snowdrifts, so he figured eighty feet in straight vertical height and probably not more.
He didn't mind this sort of watch duty. If anything was out of place, one of the other hundred or two scounts and sharp-eyes would call it to their fellows as well. Between the army proper and the mercinary groups that had made their way to the roof of the world, there wasn't an inch of snow, sea or sky that wasn't being watched by at least two men, all the way out to the horizon.

This being the case, Ulthanon Kaidos had decided to take up a slightly more leisurely watch position than his typical lying prone or bunched up in a tree. The army camp had been rife with Stormwind officers who were far too soft for such an encampment- and with them had come comforts from home. Elwynn River-Chairs, made of smooth maple that folded for easy moving and extended out into a slight natural reclining position, complete with a hole in the armrest for a drink, perfect for passing time fishing. Thick, luxurious goose-down blankets from Alterac, with holes for the head and arms, so one's body could be kept warm as if in bed while allowing freedom of movement. And smaller things, too- sheeps' wool earmuffs. All of these things had somehow found their way onto official army transport ships, through a manipulation of the books or some under-the-table coin or some other minor shenaniganery.

Shenaniganery? Shenanigans... issitude?
No matter.
He cleared his head and refocused on the airspace just to the west of the Gate, taking a sip from the drink in his armrest.

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Re: The Wrath Gate

Postby Threnn » Wed Feb 04, 2009 11:34 pm

Fin peeked into the tent, eyes alight with news of the strange procession making its way through the Riders' camp. "Anna, come quick. Lord Bolvar's returned with them." His forehead creased with concern when he saw the mortar and pestle in her hands again, churning, churning. She'd been at it for days, grinding sackfuls of the same plant into paste, and from there distilling it into an elixir whose purpose she refused to divulge. "Anna?"

She glanced up and offered a tired smile. "I'll be along in a minute. You go on ahead."

He wavered, half-in and half-out of the tent. "Come with me," he said softly. "Don't you want to hear what he'll say to the boss?"

"You can fill me in on whatever I miss."

"Anna." He said it softly, turning her name into a plea.

The pestle worked within the bowl, the grinding of stone on stone the only sound in the tent as the couple stared at one another. Outside, someone passed by, pushing the cold air inside past Fin. Anna shivered and set her concoction down with a sigh. "All right, all right," she said. "Help me with my cloak. My fingers are all stiff."

Fingold leaned in close when she approached him, settling the heavy wool about her shoulders and working the clasp. When he finished, he tilted her face up and stole a kiss; whatever he was looking for in her response didn't drive the concern from his eyes as he pulled away. "I wish you'd tell me what you're brewing so much of."

"I will. Soon. But not just yet." She gave him a gentle push to get him moving and tried not to think about falling behind.


Three weeks before.

The hourglass glowed and spun, the sands within falling down, then up, then sideways, swirling about like a desert storm inside the thick glass. Anna watched, fascinated, until a shadow moved at the corner of her vision. She spun, ready to protect the bauble from whatever wanted to destroy it, but her hands fell to her sides, uncertain.

The woman standing before her... was her.

"Yeah, it's as weird as it seems," said her mirror image, pulling the shadows close. "Defend now, talk after."

Then the dragonkin were upon them, coming in waves, and there was no time to argue. Black wyrmblood tinged the sands, turning the ground beneath the priestesses' feet into dark, slick mud. They flung the shadows about, making the Infinites roar, until the hourglass did its trick, the skies opening above them to reveal Nozdormu hovering above. If he noticed them beneath him, or if he cared, he didn't show it.

All at once the wyrmkin were gone, and Annalea was alone with herself.

They let the shadows go at the same time, visages coming clear once more. Anna peered at the woman before her -- not so very much older, she didn't think; the face was still youthful, though there was a twist of grey in the other's hair, and something haunted about those slate-grey eyes.


"Hush," said her older self. "There isn't much time." She held out a flower, tiny purple leaves crowding the stem. "You need this. A lot of it. A whole field of it."

Anna backed away, her hands clasped behind her, head shaking. "That's dreamfoil. No. You know better than that, if you're really me. I don't use it. I won't."

"That's a load of bullshit." The other woman advanced on her.

"It's dangerous. I don't like it. I substitute in other ingredients..."

"But you've built up a nice little immunity by now, though, haven't you?"

The shock of it made her trip over her own feet. She went sprawling on her ass, only to spring back up again when her hand sank into a puddle of wyrm ichor. "What are you--"

"Your potions. My potions. Our potions. One batch for everyone else you've been handing them out to, another for yourself. Stronger. Because you've put it back in. And you've had to add more of late, to keep the dreams from bleeding through." She tsked. "What if Fin drinks the wrong one, hmm? What then?"

Her older self might as well have punched her in the stomach. She'd never even thought of that. "Oh gods, does he? Is that what's going to happen?"

"No. Because I've scared you enough that you'll go home, pour that whole batch out and switch back to the one that's good enough for everyone else. Now, for the love of Elune, shut the fuck up and listen to me."

Anna shut the fuck up and listened.



They caught up to the rest of the Riders, gathered in close to hear the leaders' parlay. Threnny was towards the front; the firelight caught her in profile. She looked almost serene, a soldier at heart, ready to receive orders from two men she held in high regard: one a Highlord of the Alliance, the other a prince of scoundrels. Her face shone with the pride of it. Bricu stood beside her, eyes flicking between Tarquin and Ceil, Fordragon and Galliwick, a smirk playing about his lips every time Galliwick scowled.

They all looked so eager, so ready to throw themselves at the Scourge, at Arthas and his legions, when Elune only knew who'd return from the fight alive. She wanted to scream at them all, take them by their collars and shake them. It won't rebuild Lordaeron. It won't save the North. It won't bring back the dead, and it won't heal the wounds the plague left on us all. Why can't anyone see that? How many were here to take a stand against what threatened the world and how many merely wanted to strike out, achieve some kind of vengeance for what they'd lost?

Did it matter? Was there even a difference?

And who was she, to declare one reason valid and the other foolhardy? She stole a glance at Threnny and Bricu. Saying she was there for them was a lie. Fingold touched her arm and she chided herself as her heartbeat quickened; love for him and the fear of losing him here in this frozen waste made her gasp for air. How was that for a fool's reason? Chasing a man to the North, as though she had any control over whether he lived or died by being near him. She looked at the Northerners' faces -- Fin, Bricu, Chryste, Tarq... so many of them, here for far better reasons than her own, and she felt ashamed.

Vengeance, loyalty, love. It didn't matter. They were here. It was enough.

Anna shoved her hands deep into the pockets of her cloak to stave off the cold. Her fingers closed around the dried sprig of dreamfoil, felt the flowers crumble beneath her touch.

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Re: The Wrath Gate

Postby Nykkolaia » Thu Feb 12, 2009 12:30 am

((Hope it's all right if I join in...))

The wind was blowing as Nykkolaia made her way into the encampment, or more appropriately said the encampments.

Nykk's hood was pulled close around her face. It was a blue cloak, made of a fine Lordaeron wool; the only other thing to go into that cellar that came back out. The back trailed over the rump of her horse - a lovely and even-tempered grey named Halliah; the edges flickered quietly on the breeze as the horse moved forward through the crowds; scattered outcroppings at first that became more congested the further in she went, eventually forcing her to dismount and lead Halliah onward on foot.

She wasn't entirely sure why she had come. Yes, the news not just whispered on the wind but seemingly screamed for blood; at least for those who knew how to listen, and listening was something that she was good at.

There was no one here that she had alliance to. Nykkolaia Zeran was not a woman of alliances. Yes, perhaps she was working to change this, but nothing had happened yet. She was still on her own, and she was alone in coming here as well... even without allegiance, she was here. She would fight, like everyone else and do her part... for whatever it was, in the end, she was doing her part for.


There it was. She had known that someone was going to notice her one at some point. A hooded figure gliding through the crowds, bearing no colors of allegiance and not looking like she was moving towards any one group, was bound to be noticed. She pulled herself to a stop. Halliah whickered softly and the mage could sense her horse's discontent with the number of people around them. They were both used to less populated areas.

Nykk turned her head towards the voice. From within the shadows of her cowl, she could see a young soldier. Perhaps older than she by the count of the land's years, but she saw his youth in his eyes.

"Name?" The young soldier had a ledger book of some sort.

"Nykkolaia Zeran," she replied smoothly. She didn't move. She waited on the soldier with the patience that death waited for them all.

Finally, he frowned and lifted his head from his reading of the ledger. "Who are you with?"

Now there was the next part. Who was she with? "No one," she replied. The emptiness within whispered loudly. "Ah'm heah on mah own, tae do what Ah can," she added, although she wasn't sure why she said it. That was obvious, wasn't it?

For a few moments, the soldier eyed her. "Remove your hood," he said, suspiciously.

"A'right," she replied, turning her body to face him and straightening to her not-exceptional height. She knew that she didn't look like a soldier. Her hands rose and dropped her hood away from her face. Her mouth curved into a slight smile upon seeing his expression. "Nae tha face yeh were expectin', eh lad?" she asked.

He stumbled for a moment, but then gathered himself. "What's your occupation?"

"Mage," she replied.

Looking her over, he seemed to accept this as a likely truth and nodded. "All right," he said. He nodded in a vague direction. "Set yourself up with the other irregulars, there's some making camp that way." With that, he turned back to his ledger, writing down important things and heading off on new important business. Idly, she watched him go and then clicked softly to Hallia, leading her in the direction the boy had nodded.

Wha' are yeh doin' heah, girl? she asked herself. Yeh know no one. Yeh have nae frien's. Yeh have nae familah. Yeh have... nothin'. Sae wha' are yeh doin' heah? Fightin' some fight tha' be nae yer own? Wha' group are yeh goin' tae fight wit'? Who will watch yer back an' make sure tha' a blade ain' stuck through 'et?

Nae one. Sae wha' good in tha bloodeh feckin' 'ell d'yeh thank yer gonna do here?

The viscous little inner voice was ignored. As were the people who looked at her strangely on her way through. There weren't many, really, because everyone had their own business to worry about. In crowds like this, her scars - while unique in shape - weren't cause for staring like in 'civilized' society. It was the ones there in battle-scarred and hardened armor that looked at her with the 'what do you think *you'll* do here' look.

As she drew closer to the group of other 'peripheral' soldiers, as she inferred them to be considered, she realized that she recognized a few faces from some recent visit to the Pig. She realized, suddenly, that the Wildfire Riders were here...

Strangely, she felt a skip to the beat of her heart inside the cool space of her chest. She didn't entirely comprehend the cause of it. Her steps paused for a moment and then she kept walking up to where the rest were, and set herself up near where the Riders were camped. Nykk didn't presume to invade their staked out turf, but even for how little she knew them, they were still probably the closest something to... anything she had here.
"It ain't about how hard you can hit, but how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward; how much you can take and keep moving forward." ['Rocky Balboa']

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Re: The Wrath Gate

Postby Chrystenise » Wed Mar 25, 2009 1:25 pm

An unspecified amount of years earlier; North Hill - Duskwallow Marsh...

Bodies lay strewn along the makeshift road leading up to the half-constructed watchtower. Several of them bludgeoned and gashed, some with what seemed to be burnmarks upon their flesh and armor. Armor signifying the men as members of Jaina Proudmoore's loyal followers.

Towers were being constructed along the road, allowing the Theramore military a strategic advantage against any would-be invaders in this new and strange land of Kalimdor.

What fear should one have of invaders, however, when the natives were the ones on the offensive?

The North Hill Massacre is a quiet story in the fortress port. It's not often told, and when it is, one in the service at the time shall quickly quiet the speaker of the tale.

The tale of a Demon Witch; a heart as cold as the north, and the beauty of a Stranglethorn sunset; and how she rained down hell upon twenty of Theramore's best for tresspassing upon forbidden lands. Of how she drained them of their life and crushed their souls within her palm...

Superstition is a powerful motivator for exaggeration. Though the brutality of the story might not be so far off...

The last of the twenty men scurried away on the ground. Trying in vain to stand upright, he simply could not get his body to rise. He clutched at mud and stone - the sight of a sword and shield on the ground before him was salvation - and if he was going to die this day, this murderous harlot was going to come with him.

Grapsing the armaments, the man rolled onto his back to make sure his aggressor was not on the attack. She had, after all, been slowly following behind him for several yards now, taunting him with her steps, torturing him with the knowledge that he was the last of his comrades to die.

His gaze stuck as it landed upon her. This was no demon - nor was it even a full-grown woman. Seventeen at best, and well beyond her age in beauty, she slowly continued to approach, looming over the frightened soldier. Blackened dagger in one hand, and crackling warhammer in the other, she paused her scantily-leather-clad body over his. A massive longcloak whipping in the wind of the impending storm and crystalline eyes glowing like a fire, the raven-haired murderess twirled the dagger in her fingers. She was toying with him...

Whatever words the man screamed in protest were lost to the crackle of thunder, and quickly interrupted as she reached for him. Somewhere deep down, he had found his resolve, and rolled aside, staggering to his feet. He readied sword and shield, only to find the former useless as the murderess set upon him, bringing the warhammer down against his shield with deceptive strength, sending the man stumbling back and regaining his footing with a more well-trained stance.

Again and again, she battered the shield with the hammer; she moved at an unreal pace - her fury was absolutely blinding. She never seemed to tire, and her blows only grew stronger.

She reared back and brought the hammer down a last time, shouting a word of unknown origin in it's arc. As the weapon connected with the shield, the burnmarks of the deceased became readily apparent; sparks flew into the air and an arc of lightning passed through the shield and along the body of the brave young man. He screamed in his last breath and crumpled to the ground; the last of the men had fallen.

Mavalos would be pleased. The first of her missions was more successful than he could have hoped.

Tearing her gaze away from the deceased, she turned to stare upon the blazing wagon of supplies, a smile of pure malice upon her lips.


She stared upon the roaring blaze from her seat on the log, hood covering most of her head, and thick cloak protecting her from the frozen climate of the Dragonblight. Stray strands of hair settled before her face, and the length of everything else on either side came down to two braided tails that rested short upon her shoulders. A veteran of many battles, and the killer of many men; the blank expression upon her face was entirely too uncaring for anyone with a shred of humanity in their heart.

Her hands clutched tight to the menacing axe that stretched across her lap. It's obsidian-black blade glowed an eerie orange in the light of the fire, almost making it seem as if the weapon itself were ablaze.

There was still many things she never told those of her 'family'. Many horrors and crimes that haunted her dreams. Every time she fought, she would see those soldiers at Witch Hill.

After seeing the Journal of Mavalos the Black, Jaina saw no need to fault Chrystal. The Black Butcher was dead, and Kaleigh no longer under his sway. She was free to be her own woman now.

It didn't mean much to Chrystal.

Mavalos' will be damned, it was still her hands, saw through whatever eyes Mavalos gave her - they were hers now. And they saw every last detail of the slaughter.

Her gaze lowered from the fire to the ground, and the plated boots that covered her feet. Soon after, she pulled her cloak tight and curled up on the log she sat, closing her eyes and resting her head on the flat of the axe's blade, attempting to sleep.

She came to Northrend, not only for her family; she came to Northrend for that One Great Deed that would make those men rest in peace.

The blood of The Lich King would suffice.

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Re: The Wrath Gate

Postby Sonya » Tue Mar 31, 2009 7:40 pm

“I still wonder why you’re so adamant on this,” Crono called across the room. He watched as his sister prepared diligently, gathering her few possessions. “Not to say I question your motivation, but rather your reasons for having it.”

The man took a finger across his forehead, brushing aside his well-kept blond bangs to perceive her closer. He refused to follow up with another statement, simply waiting for her response. She was busy examining a long, thin dagger resting in the open palm of her hand. As she pulled it up to candle-light her eyes filtered over as they inspected for even the smallest of flaws. When content at last with its condition, the girl pilfered it away into her sleeve, snapping it into its place on the brace on her arm.

“My reasons for going to them? I’m not sure I understand what you’re trying to imply, Crono.” She did not offer him the slightest of glances as she began work examining the next blade to add to her repertoire.

Crono sighed gently, a hand palming itself over his face in frustration. He knew better than to argue too stubbornly with her, as many times she’d argue because of the way an argument was presented. “I know you’re a bit hard on yourself, sister, but I just believe you’re above this approach to the conflict.”

“I’m above dirtying my hands against the Prince?” she looked at him this time, pausing.

“N-no, I just mean… look. I just don’t understand your motivation for offering to join with these Riders. You’ve no stake in them, and I think you could be put to a far better role than whatever off-shot camp I’m sure they’ll be thrown to.” He was blunt, at least.

Sonya snickered, quirking a brow at her brother. “I don’t understand you. You constantly tell me I need to be more assertive with others, and yet when I finally act upon my own wishes, you give me the impression as though my own wishes are not worth my own effort.”

He was beginning to lose his footing, and they both knew it. She even turned from him once more, now moving to retrieve her belt, laying it flat across her work bench. “I’m just concerned, sis, and you know that. You’re going to offer yourself to a bunch of perceived scoundrels. Amidst the fanatics willing to step to the front lines, who knows how the Riders stand will be perceived. The Absolution still sits in the public’s memory, of that I’m sure you’re aware.”

Despite her work being rather stand-still as it was, the shift from her active efforts to a dead freeze were apparent to Crono even in this dim light. Her tone became deathly cold, colder than she’d ever been to her brother, well-intentioned or not. “You dare? You speak of this event as though you perceived it firsthand.”

“Of course not, but th-,“ but he was quickly stopped dead in his tracks as Sonya’s fist pounded upon the table.

“Funny that!” she up roared, “Neither was I! Nor was I there for Tarquin’s retrieval from the Scarlets! Nor was I there when the Rider’s were founded. Nor was I blade for them when they began their campaigns of the Outlands. Nor was I there on the Longest Night when the Scourge themselves invaded their home, just as it did ours, just as they did everyone’s!” She paused, only briefly, “And I was not even beside them, any of them, as they came here, as they came North, despite having told myself night after night that I would not let another opportunity slip by.”

Crono had nothing to say at this.

Her guilt was apparent now, a hushed sniff giving it away even as she hid her face from him. “I cannot be naive enough to say I could stand for all of them or that I am even anything to half of them, but that of itself it my fault. My oldest friends alive after our years of conflict are amongst them, Crono. Light forgive me for being so cowardly that I cannot even tell Tarquin of my thoughts as I’ve watched him grow, my eyes and ears always hidden in the shadows, but Light damn me if I let this opportunity slip by to let my actions speak for these feelings. I’m going to stand with them.”

Her brother spun on his heel, trying to alleviate his gaze from wearing her down any further. A sudden realization ran over him painfully in that moment. A couple years with Sonya had not given him the right to hold her back, had not even given him the reputation in her eyes to convince her to stand with him instead of them.

The truth stung him. But he let the petty feeling slide.

To his ultimate surprise, however, he felt a pair of grateful arms sling over his shoulders as a head rested itself upon his back. “I know what you’re thinking, and I ask you not to think it. You’re my brother, you took me in when you could have let me be, you’ve protected me and defended me with your very life even in the moments I’ve been the most stubborn of all – even though there is no blood between us. For that I thank you, I owe you the world and more.”

They sat there silently, a minute could have passed, an hour could have passed, but they did not move. It was the first time in a while Crono admitted himself to feeling comfortable. “It’s selfish of me, Crono, but I ask you this one last favor before I repay this world to you. Let me repay it to them – to him. Let me go to Tarquin and his Riders. To my sister, Ceil. To all of them.”

Crono snickered, “You speak of this man like he is your king,” his tone light-hearted.

Sonya considered this claim as she finally pulled away. She realized it was a depressingly appropriate comparison as she thought on it, thinking of how far she’d allowed herself to drift. The girl as of now was little more than a ‘concerned associate’, having let her position with him slide away to little more than a follower in his wake, believing in the path he set for those around him. “And so he may be.”

Crono watched his sister for the rest of the evening as she scampered about; looking as though she intended to gather anything and everything all at once to take with her to battle. As she finally strapped the last piece of her leathers together and hid away one more blade on her person, he stopped her with a hand on her shoulder as she moved to go out the door.

“I think this time is appropriate as any, no? Why don’t you take those?” He grinned to her knowingly, thumbing over to a long, thin chest, closer to six feet than five. It was locked with such quality under the satisfaction that even Sonya herself could not hope to open it without the proper key.

“Yes,” she said with a knowing grin, “yes I suppose it is.”

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Re: The Wrath Gate

Postby Yva » Wed Apr 01, 2009 10:50 am

Death in large numbers. My specialty.

She drew another line in the circle, connecting the glyphs with red chalk and music. No, not music, humming. A song. The song, her song.

“Great magic is needed. Greater still if I can . . . “

She thrust the chalk away and stretched. It was growing hot in here, it always grew hot in her ritual rooms, and the office which had once been fine carpets, a finer desk, and shelves of books had been stripped for her work. The rugs were rolled, the desk was now in the master bedroom, placed in front of the cathedral windows to overlook Dalaran. The books were on other shelves in other rooms. She'd made this place a sanctum. The walls were covered in runes and wards, each meticulously placed to optimize the flow of her magics and to keep her safe. Relics and oddities occupied the rest of the space. She peered at a Faceless One's tentacle, a bone from a frost wyrm, the tusk of a troll shaman, the pendant of a Winterfall High Chief.

“No, no, no, and no.” It needed to be something else, something greater than small trinkets and old, tired foci. She reached instead for her ritual dagger, one she'd taken from a vrykul witch. Its ruby hilt gleamed in the gaslight. She peered at her reflection in the steel – all of her reflections actually. The way the blade was cut, she could see three of her own self in its gleam.

“Jak, darling?”

She lodged the dagger into the wall at eye height and walked into the living room, sweeping her heavy hair to the side. “Would you help me undo this?”

“Hmmm?” He looked up at her from the chair by the fireplace. His feet were propped on an ottoman. His chest was bare, his legs were covered in comfortable pajama bottoms almost the same blue hue as his eyes. A snoring felhound was wedged in the space between chair and footrest, beneath his knees, though he didn't seem to pay it much mind.

“This bloody dress. Would you free me, please?”

“I suppose.” He put his book aside and padded across the room, taking his time with the intricate laces. His fingers brushed over every patch of exposed skin. “Whenever you wear this I have to help you out of it. Such a chore, really.”

“Laborious, I know. But there's work to do, so you'll just have to suffer.”

“Oh? What have you wrought his time?” He let go of the robe, pressing his lips to her bare shoulder. It fell to the floor and she kicked it aside, now wearing nothing save for a black slip that flitted around her knees.

She led him into the room to show him the new circle on the floor, with its red and purple and white lines. There were tiny glyphs in each segment, drawn and colored with painstaking care. She stepped across the outer band and into the center of it. Her fingers flitted and a soulstone appeared, the cold glass a solid weight in her palm. She placed it in the middle.

“Hand me the dagger, would you love?”

He nodded, jerking it from the wall and handing it to her hilt first. As she turned it over in her hands, the blade aimed towards her palm, he frowned.

“Have a care, would you?”

“Of course. It's just a little blood, Jak. Honestly.”

“Mmm.” He eyed the runework, his mouth forming the old, arcane names of the shapes he recognized. Some he'd helped her craft during Jolstraer's ritual, and he smiled at the artful weaving of his ways and hers. “All frost work this time?”

“Yes. Looking for a maelstrom, a storm. A witch storm for the Wrathgate.” She pulled the blade over her palm, watching it flay her skin open, all pink and red and white on the inside. Blood filled the wound and then trickled down, slithering over her fingers to drip onto the steel.

One drop became three in the reflection.

Witch storm of ice, three fold the power of a blizzard. Imagine what you could do with fire and arcane. A storm of that proportion would be beautiful, nigh unstoppable.

“Possible,” she rasped, watching the blood on the blade. “So very possible.”

“What is?”

She dropped to her knees, an enormous grin splitting her face. One bloody palm touched the trigger sigil, and the circle began to glow as she fed power into it. She amassed her magic, and with a few carefully uttered words of an incantation, it flared to life, so bright it was hard to look upon.

“Imagine,” she licked her lips, beginning to laugh. Magic flowed up her arms and over her chest, casting dancing lights against the pale porcelain of her flesh. Her back arched as it sizzled along her spine. “This circle integrated with one of fire and one of arcane. Imagine it, the storm and what it could do. Imagine that magic.” The feedback from the circle surged into her, and she collapsed forward, now on her hands and knees, her breathing ragged.

“I imagine that would be impressive, but how?” She swung her eyes up at him, and they were glazed and unfocused. The purple haze swathing her body became blue and white swirls as the shadows gave way to frost and winter.

“Stonemantle and Crownsilver,” she managed, crawling across the circle to him, her bloody palm leaving smears on the wooden floor. “We could do it, we could . . . it'd be . . . “ He helped her stand, and when her knees began to quake from the magic drowning her, he swung an arm around her waist and held her upright against him.

“It'd be what,” he said, sweeping a lock of hair from her forehead.

She pressed her hands to his cheeks, forgetting her bloody palm, forgetting everything but the magic and the possibilities and the man standing in front of her. “Amazing,” she said against his mouth a moment later. “Bloody amazing.
Last edited by Yva on Thu Apr 02, 2009 1:13 pm, edited 1 time in total.
So if you meet me have some courtesy, have some sympathy and some taste. Use all your well-learned politesse or I'll lay your soul to waste.

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Re: The Wrath Gate

Postby Bellesta » Wed Apr 01, 2009 2:20 pm

"Eh. Help me here, will you? It's not easy to do this alone." Feliche grumbled, twisting about to try and connect ties on the side of his armor, shifting in the empty space. The metal shuffled and clanked, hanging loose over a warm fur covering.

"This is why I had my armor made with all the ties in the front, Fel." Bellesta grumbled, reaching to tighten down the metal coverings over his chest and back with practiced ease. The dark blue metal was battered in several places, but despite it's desperate need for repair it would last one more fight.

One fight. The first of many. To Bellesta, it felt as if this was truly the beginning of the war and all before had simply led up to this point. She had not been called by the Alliance army, given her lack of standing with them. Despite this, she would march onto the battlefield to preserve the world for her future... for Omen's future.

"It's almost time to leave. It's going to be a bit of a walk, perhaps a couple hours across the snows. You should get into your armor." Feliche remarked, adjusting the scabbard over his shoulder that held his weapons in place.

"I am anxious to get this over with." Bellesta grunted, slipping a waterskin around her neck. It hung somewhere around her stomach, the strap sized to fit her neck in an animal form. Feliche glanced sidelong over his metal shoulderpads, twisting his wrists before slipping them into the protective gloves. "Expecting to have enough downtime to drink there?"

It's Firewater.

"It's healing drought." Bellesta said, lips twitching with a lie, unseen by the other elf. "For when I need it."

He nodded, turning his gaze to the snowstorms that swirled across the Dragonblight. The fields looked unnaturally empty, dotted only by a few roaming Magataur and the vast shadows of whatever beasts currently ruled the skies. Bellesta could only hope those beasts were alive. A metal-plated hand slid up her back, coaxing her to turn. Feliche leaned in and pressed his forehead to hers, whispering in the elven tongue. "Tonight we will celebrate victory, my love."

"Omen guard us both, in the fight ahead. It shall not be an easy one." She whispered back, turning her head into a kiss. The touch was brief, but emotion undoubtedly genuine. With that, Bellesta slipped back away from him, falling onto all fours. Her body rippled with fur and muscle, inhaling sharply with the sudden warmth of her girth. She swung her massive head around before turning, plodding over to a rock where wooden armor was propped up. Shoving her nose between the armor and the rock, she bounced it up onto her back, where it lay crooked over her form. A few shakes of her large neck and it settled down over her face and back, fitting around her features. Cloth of black and red hung from either shoulder, whipping around in the light draft.

Omen, Twin Deadkeeper, He of Life and Death. Bless this day and this fight, for it is fought in your name.

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