The Wrath Gate

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Laurus
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Re: The Wrath Gate

Postby Laurus » Tue May 05, 2009 8:00 pm

To the east, the mountain veered upward steeply in a solid wall of white. On their left, the slope was more gentle, descending in a smooth arc for perhaps forty feet before straightening itself out and framing the southeast quarter of the battle line. This corner was barren, save several snow drifts ahead which currently served as a method of crude cover. Their crests reached perhaps to Laurus' elbows when standing tall; useful for obscuring vision but not much else.

He had picked this spot because it was, in his estimation, the most remote end of the field. The relative openness of the area couldn't be avoided, but he was sufficiently distant enough to whip up jets of angry fire on the enemy host at minimal personal risk. Haemon had remained at his side, intently focused on the unfolding drama playing out below. Spell after spell blossomed in the broad, four fingered hands of a treant. The druid's bark seemed entirely impervious to the cold. Laurus almost fancied he saw him sweating from exertion, although he was not sure that was possible in his current form. For his own part, Drachmas had to rely on his black robes and repeated cantrips of warmth to stave off the wintry air.

Laurus had never seen anything quite like this in his lifetime. The brutal scope of the event, the cacophony of screams and the waxing tide of blood was all very overwhelming. Somehow, he also thought it oddly euphoric: an easy fallacy for an observer far from the fray. He stood at ease, signature staff drawn and planted into a small circle where the snow had melted, casually conjuring death like some child might stomp on insects. A savage cackle echoed off the mountainside as another bright flash lit up the snow.

"Enjoying yourself?", muttered Haemon dryly.

"Heh, hah! What, aren't you?" His attention was squarely forward, still giggling with girlish glee as he watched a ring of smoldering undead clear the recent blast area.

"A healer's job is to keep people alive, and in a conflict like this, I am bound to fail at some point. It is a rather depressing state, and as I am not given to the sorts of dramatic displays of power you are, people will only know I am here when I do fail."

"Depressing? Stop being so bloody sentimental." Laurus snorted derisively in reply and dropped his arms. "There's no room for being depressed out here. Far as I can tell, everyone that matters is still alive. More importantly, we still are, and we haven't even--"

No sooner than this did the ground commence a violent quake. Laurus lost his balance and stumbled to his knees, narrowly saved from falling prone by a single hand bracing against the earth. Haemon, stuck in a much more steadfast form, merely sighed. "See, this is what happens when you open your big fat mouth. You prove me right."

"I didn't even finish! What have you got to be right about?!" None of his jocular anger was lost despite the altered state of affairs. Nevertheless, Laurus began to mentally roll over the incantation of invisibility. More so an act of comfort than a consideration; he held on to the vague hope that if all the world died on this battlefield, he might still survive. The escape wouldn't do much good for Haemon if he had to use it, of course, but there were no heroes here. It didn't matter much to him if that idiot druid bought it, no more than anyone else.

Only moments after he spoke, what could only be described as a gateway to the abyss burst open atop the central hill. The spiders, lords of the underworld, reached up their hand and pulled down the pinnacle of the mound, leaving a gaping black void in its passing. One of their Kings emerged, a chittering bulk of horror made manifest. "Looks like company is coming," commented Haemon as a destabilized siege engine disappeared forever into the darkness below. Shad muttered something sharp in Darnassian that echoed of explicatives. Laurus followed his gaze and immediately understood."Geists too," continued Haemon, "they will be overrun if it is not just a few. Anything you can do to plug that hole?"

War cries distracted Laurus from the impending disaster and shifted his focus to the bowelless horde which had appeared on cue to the north."I'm working on it! Vrykul incoming!"

Laurus focused his energy on a single charging warrior to the rear of the pack and merely snapped his fingers. They could not see what he'd done to him, a sudden convergence of writhing flows which threw themselves on the target like starved leeches. He tried to imagine what the creature might start to feel as its body boiled and burst from the inside out, and vaguely wondered if there'd be any friendlies nearby when it happened. There was no time to spare anything else on the half-giants: if unaddressed, that breach could allow a enfilade of the whole line. He considered his options another half second. That was a truly massive hole, and he was utterly incapable of moving so much rock. The best he could do was cut off any further reinforcements.

The air above the hill's mouth trembled like some crouched, eager beast before the pounce and then whipped itself into a frenzy, razorblades of ice dancing like motes amidst larger cousins which impaled the ground with thundering force, then dissipated like mist. Those that managed to escape the icestorm unscathed galloped about in a frantic search for its source. Geists are, as a rule, keen scouts. Many yellowed eyes found the pair hidden away on the slope and bounded away with lithe rapidity.

"Oh, shit, shit, shit!" The blizzard immediately ceased, leaving only confused, fluttering snowflakes. Laurus reflexively snapped on his mana shield. With the breach clear again, a second wave was already making its way for what was now the most obvious tactical choice. In response, Haemon melded into his elven form and reached for the sky. "Acting as a distraction helps, I suppose. I am curious, Laurus. If I bring the storm, what kind of blizzard can you get out of that?" Despite the frigid air, a downpour had already begun from the gathering clouds locally overhead. Growling with mounting impatience, Laurus estimated the seconds before the skirmishers would be upon them. "Hurry up with the lightning!"

"I am working on it, and thank you ever so much for your collaboration." Then came the first blinding streak and the smell of burnt meat. Laurus' next blizzard overlapped partially with the druid's fury, lashing to pieces the few geists which didn't burn or collapse in spasms from the powerful bolts. Grudgingly, he had to admit there was a certain beautiful synergy to it. In just a scant few seconds, the geists were no more.

Both hands rested on his thighs as the noble panted, much like some fatigued mongrel on a hot day. Casting spells of that magnitude was a strain both mentally and physically. Haemon slapped Laurus on the back and hit him with an Innervate which struck like its own bolt of lightning. "All right," he said, "Now I am having fun."

"Heh...heh...Glad to hear it, druid." Laurus stood up and wiped at his mouth when he felt the sweet rush of power course through his veins. He swallowed. A scream cut the air, and he wasn't sure if it was his or not. All of it happened at once. Pounding undead fists impacted like hammerstrikes on his shield. There was no indication where the geist could have come from, and Laurus found himself stumbling back in panic. The lone attacker was followed by more howls which echoed in all directions, and the enemy was upon them.

Coherency evaded the magus entirely. The only thing he could do to hold on to sanity was keep screaming. Where did these ones even come from? It'd be a gruesome death if the geists did them in, torn apart handful by handful, organs yanked out in front of their eyes. For the first time since the Battle of Angrathar began, Laurus truly felt fear.

"Laurus, here!" A branch stretched out to yank the magus under as much cover as he could provide. "I'll keep them off, you get rid of them!"

Instinct commanded that he listen to his companion. Drachmas threw himself against the protective bark and refreshed his shield, then blew his assailant's arm off with an explosion of searing heat. It didn't stop the monster. He didn't even bleed, although a bone caked with old blood marked his stump. The other hand continued to lash furiously as three more undead found the pair's flanks. Laurus' shield vanished without so much as a sound. Next thing he knew, hot blood sprayed over his lips and burning pain shot down his spine. Their claws had landed on his arm and chest, leaving behind oozing trails of red. It was impossible to frighten him any further now. The insane perspicacity of war finally clicked into place, that heedless will to survive that all beings, all living beings possess.

Haemon immediately wrapped himself as much around his ward as he could, a constant stream of elven consonants marking the breaks between pieces of every mending spell he could think of. None were for himself, despite the claws raking bark from his back. Even as the wounds were healing, Laurus was coming around and gnashing his teeth like some enraged animal. "Die! Die, die, die, die, die..."

Freezing air suddenly took on the shimmering haze of the desert. Two geists to his front fell back in charred heaps as he leered forward, unleashing a cone of unquenchable flame. Crackling lightning surrounded them at once, blast after blast of frenzied arcane force expanding outward in a bright lavender bloom, crushing bones and snapping limbs off like twigs. His litany had by no means ended. It only grew louder as the rage consumed him. Another geist sprung into the air and was tossed aside mid-leap by a swirling vortex of glacial frost. His squadmate's simultaneous attempt smashed against solid ice. There was a hiss of steam as it melted away in the flash fire of a blast wave which roared and shook the ground.

"Die, die, bastards, die...

Laurus whipped his head around a split second in the thick of it all. He couldn't resist a fiendish grin in Haemon's direction. When the chips were down, Laurus was glad as hell to be at his side. Haemon smirked as he closed his eyes for another round of rejuvenation."We need a breather," Shad gasped, "Retreat, or finish them?"

"Can your wooden legs keep up with me?" It did not strike Laurus as odd that he'd ask; it simply wouldn't do if that idiot druid died while he was away.

"Not if you blink all the time," he purred. "Otherwise, yes."

At the soonest possible lull, Laurus spun around with that typical shit-eating grin. It flickered and split into four identical copies, just as real and infuriating. The central one disappeared in a pulse of light and started running down the hill into the nexus of the crisis. The pair had a Crypt Lord to kill.
Last edited by Laurus on Wed May 06, 2009 8:39 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Shad
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Re: The Wrath Gate

Postby Shad » Wed May 06, 2009 2:20 am

((I finally finished.))

Haemon was sweating. Sure, it was cold, but that wasn't what made it weird; he was concentrating on the well being of no less than fifteen people at once, after all, so there was ample reason for it. The odd part was that he was managing it through bark. He hadn't even known he had sweat glands in this form. There wasn't really time to muse on it at the moment. He had a unit's strength to buoy. He concentrated mostly on the battle nearby, sparing only occasional thought for the mage at his side. The front lines needed the support now. He'd funneled rejuvenating blessings to each of the plated warriors as they faced down wave after oncoming wave. They were what epic tales were made of. He just kept them that way.

Laurus, on the other hand, was more along the lines of an arcane horror story. Or perhaps, the elf reflected as another maniacal cackle echoed off the snow, a comic poem. "Enjoying yourself?" he muttered sarcastically as he focused on the berzerker elf in the center of the fray. Illi probably wasn't about to tire, but she could stand to have a few of those little cuts knit up, and the big ones diminished.

"Heh, hah! What, aren't you?" the mage replied with his own brand of innocence.

The tree sighed. "A healer's job is to keep people alive, and in a conflict like this, I am bound to fail at some point." Not that point precisely. No, Jolly's ankle was not about to give out, surprise, ghoul. Bet you thought you had him. "It is a rather depressing state of things, and as I am not given to the sorts of dramatic displays of power you are, people will only know I am here when I do fail." His branches moved smoothly, as though he were conducting nature's orchestra. A little accent there with the lifebloom. "So...nnno."

"Depressing? Stop being so bloody sentimental." The mage snorted. "Far as I can tell, everyone that matters is still alive. More importantly, we still are, and we haven't even--"

Murphy and his dratted Law promptly cut Laurus's confident announcement off and began a wicked scheme to invalidate it. The human lost his balance in the earthquake and quite nearly fell on his face. Haemon, having stabilized himself with a limited root system, shrugged the tremor off. "See, this is what happens when you open your big fat mouth. You prove me right." He peered down to the ballistae and counted living heads. One, two, three, four, five... Well, one almost fell...

Laurus rose, invisible, to squawk indignantly. "I didn't even finish! What have you got to be right about?!" Fate answered with the collapse of a good portion of the hill on which the Rider ballistae were balanced, followed immediately by the first two legs of something that probably had too many.

"Looks like company is coming," the druid noted calmly before the crypt lord's full form was in view. Then it was time for a bit more tree sweat. "Oh sweet assfucking Elune," he spat in his native tongue, "I hope that thing doesn't come up up here." Laurus probably wouldn't catch all of that, and thankfully the emerging crypt lord didn't either. "Geists," he announced in Common as the tiny springy abominations began to worm out of the hole. "They will be overrun if it is not just a few. Anything you can do to plug that hole?"

"I'm working on it!" Drachmas protested, snapping his fingers at a charging Vrykul and bringing it to its knees, face contorted with pain. He moved again, pelting the tunnel's maw with shards of ice. While it did slow the advance somewhat, it also drew the attention of quite a few pairs of sharp, glowing eyes attached to sharp, glinting claws. There were people over there. People were notably tasty. It was worth their time for four or five of them to spring that way. "Shit, shit, shit!" Smug, confident Laurus naturally folded at the first sign of danger; his blizzard fizzled in favor of a bubble of mana, allowing the next wave of geists, now chilled and irritated, to seek out their attacker. On the up side, at least they weren't immediately leaping for, say, the dangling ap Danwyrith.

"Acting as a distraction helps, I suppose." As usual, Haemon had to take care of things himself. He slipped into his own form--by Elune it was fucking cold--and thrust a hand up to call to the clouds. "I am curious, Laurus," he mused. "If I bring the storm, what kind of blizzard can you get out of that?" A proper storm took time, and this wasn't going to be one, but it might be enough to answer that ponderance. How well -could- mage and druid spells mix?

Given that his mage on hand was recoiling in panic still, he'd probably have to wait to get his answer. "Do I look like a forecaster? Hurry up with the lightning!"

"I am working on it." The falling rain, liquid despite the cold, had begun to slicken the mountainside leading to them and send some of the dead things back from where they came, scrabbling for footholds. "And thank you ever so much for your collaboration." Tendrils of electricity shot out from the makeshift cloud to properly charged assailants, cooking them from within. Those without a charge who made it past the gauntlet of icy slope and well-done comrade bomb were taken out by thick, heavy bolts of ice, Laurus's power getting a boost from the druid's storm.

Breathing in the moment's peace after the storms ceased, Haemon slapped Laurus on the back and offered him a well deserved shock of innervation. "All right," he mused, slightly worn but pleased. "Now I am having fun."

The relative quiet was shattered by a scream. A glance around for the source only revealed an incoming cadre of geists, seemingly from several directions. Ignoring the elf, they dove straight for the shielded mage, who predictably panicked.

He was not alone. The scream that erupted inside Haemon's head ("HOW DOES THIS EVEN HAPPEN?") was not precisely panic, but clearly the panther spirit was disturbed. It lay with the elf proper to take a breath, shift to vegetable form, and make sure no one stole his pleasure of ripping Laurus's head off. "Laurus, here!" He extended a branch and jerked the mage into the relative safety of his trunk. "I'll keep them off, you get rid of them!" It was apparently simple, inoffensive, and necessary enough a command that Laurus did not protest or even sneer at being bossed around. He obediently backed into the bark and fired an ineffective spell at the geist pushing him back.

As the undead circled around, preparing to feed, Haemon wrapped himself around his mostly useless ward and began to murmur an unbroken stream of ancient elven tones. "Come on you fucker, fight, strength of the leaf restore unto you your body and mind that you shall not fail..." He was not a fighter himself, not like that, but he was fairly stuck. He'd be vulnerable as an elf, and thick bear hide would only leave him unable to heal. Nothing the monsters could do to him surpassed what pain would be waiting with Fells should Laurus not return unscathed. "Drink from the geyser of unending life under the protection of the seed, come on, wake up and fight..." Despite the claws raking bark for his back, he spared no thought for himself. Laurus needed all the help he could get, especially when the bubble finally broke.

The spray of blood that sprinkled Haemon's leaves with scarlet served to rouse the mage from his stupor. He growled and began casting in a whirl, screaming death as his companion whispered life. Slowly, the druid released him and turned to face the attackers behind. Lacking the ability to go all that much on the offensive, he did what any proper ent would do: he threw people. Still focused on Laurus's health, he roared and blindly grabbed forward, catching one in the mouth, or maybe its mouth caught him. It mattered little, as he wouldn't feel the pain until later, and the toothy grip only made it that much easier for him to pitch the beast over his head and down into Laurus's blast of flame.

Valiant and violent though their efforts were, they weren't exactly winning. The action was beginning to take its toll on Haemon's concentration, and he wasn't so quick to parry the next incoming claw. There was a perfectly calm moment, as he removed the pointy things from what might otherwise have been his cheek, during which he decided shifting back to flesh would be a bad idea anytime soon. Absence of bark, after all, meant absence of skin. That they had begun to chip away at his trunk proper meant that he would be in very real danger of immediate death should he shift. "We need a breather," he gasped, shoving the claws and the geist attached over the edge of the embankment. It would only be right back. "Retreat, or finish them?"

"Can your wooden legs keep up with me?" Laurus asked, surprisingly considerately.

"Not if you blink all the time," the druid purred. "Otherwise, yes."

Naturally, the first thing Laurus did after summoning four very accurate and very irritating copies of himself was to blink away. Fortunately, the copies were also irritating to the geists, who lost all interest in the vegetation and immediately followed the normal, sensible instinct of attempting to destroy Laurus Drachmas.

"It is good to know some things never change," Shad muttered to himself as he skidded down the hill.
Last edited by Shad on Wed Nov 11, 2009 6:52 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Bricu
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Re: The Wrath Gate

Postby Bricu » Thu May 07, 2009 7:01 pm

Bricu dropped his gnomish glass and gripped his axe with both hands. With his cigarette still clenched in his teeth, he barked out orders, his voice angry but still steady. "Beltar, Ulth. Shoot the fuckin' insect!" He'd sounded much the same ordering someone thrown out of the Pig. He watched as his friends peppered the Nerubian's hide with gunfire. The gun's reports echoed through the valley. Each bullet clattered against the scourge-thing's carapace, drilling deep holes into its chitin. It clacked its mandibles together, laughing away the newest scars. It hissed something in its dead langauge, and the ground erupted into scourgling beetles. Ferocious, tiny beetles that could shear flesh off of bone in seconds.

Cool and collected, Beltar recocked his ornate firearm and did something that made the gun clack and creak like a toppling house. When he pulled the trigger again, bullets hailed down on the beetles in short sprays, driving the madly chittering beasts down into the snow and here and there cracking a shell or bursting a vulnerable face. Further up the hill, Ulthanon spat a continuous stream of elven curses as he fired shot after shot into the slowed insects, dropping them one at a time, as fast as he could keep up with the swarm. They scuttled up the hill towards the two marksmen.

Freed from the hail of bullets, the crypt lord dragged its ponderous bulk forward, glittering black eyes fixed on Bricu. "Veteran," it gurgled, and improbably, dipped its horned head in some form of respect. "It is Anub-Kayet, Prince of Seven Maws, who gives your life to the Majesty. I am honored."

"The fuck?" Bittertongue stared at the creature from under brows drawn down in anger. Bricu gripped his axe with both hands and glared at the Nerubian in front of him. "Yeh want t'explain yer self 'for I cut yeh in 'alf?"

"You bear the marks of His first conquest, Veteran." A leer in the Nerubian's voice, an inescapable hunger in the hunch of its bestial frame. "To bring such a soul to Him, to feast on such flesh...ah, northman, you will taste of glory!"

Bricu planted his feet in the turf and spat, the chittering of the locusts and the curses and grunts of his comrades echoing in his ears. "The name's Bittertongue, yeh fucker." He hefted his axe as his comrades circled the Crypt Lord, stalking, hungry shadows with knives close to hand. Somewhere back by the tent, a wash of heat erupted, but he couldn't worry about that right now. "An' sorry ta disappoint yeh, but after years o' picklin', I taste like arse."

Threnn moved to Bricu's shoulder, mace in hand and shield covering their child.

"Threnny, off the line!" He shouted.

"Like. Fuck." She said calmly. "Nowhere is safe, so we stand here, remember?"

"Bloody..."

Anub-Kayet clacked its mandibles with glee, interupting the Bittertongues. "A child! A spawn! And yet unborn! Ah, if you could but know the bliss-" Anub-Kayet's boast was cut short by a lance of violet shadow. The beetle reared on the back pair of its six legs, hissing in pain. A spinning ball of the same purple and blue shadows broke off the lance and shimmered in front of Bricu and Threnn, and coalesced into the elegantly curved frame of Ilarra Stormrunner.

"Oh pooh." She giggled, "What about me? I want to play too!"

"Yeh lot get behind the bloke in the metal suit!" Bricu shouted.

"Too bloody late now!" Threnn shouted back. She was whispering a prayer of healing as Anub-Kayet crashed to the ground. Two of its six eyes seemed to focus on the priestess.

"Back to the shadows with you, fractured one." Anub-Kayet's mandibles split apart as a spout of vile green ichor shot towards her. Stormrunner tried to shift to the shadows, but the ichor was too fast. Ilarra was covered in the substance before she could flee. Threnn changed her prayer, cleansing the poison from her system. Bricu watched as Illarra fell to the frozen ground. At first, he thought she was sobbing in pain. It took half a second to realize she was still giggling.

While Threnn cleansed Illarra, Bricu ran towards Anub-Kayet, swinging his Axe upward into the Nerubian's mandibles. "Spit this way, yeh fuckin' tosser!" he shouted. Bricu pulled his axe up and out of the Nerubian's still clattering jaws. Anub-Kayet lunged forward, but Bricu took another step forward and brought his axe down on the Nerubian's left front leg. Chitin shattered and the monster shrieked like a steam engine, lashing out with its other claw; the air shimmered golden in front of Bricu's face, and he and Threnn exchanged a grim smile as the thing's talon skidded off of nothing. Tarquin darted in, with tottering, graceless speed, and rammed the point of his knife home in the joint of one buzzing wing; ichor sprayed the air, and the northman skipped back, nearly falling on his arse in the snow.

"Hit an' run, that's the way!" Bricu slammed the haft of his axe into Anub-Kayet's forelimb, prizing himself some distance from dripping mandibles. Now it was Isi Underhill, shrieking a stream of obscenities as she sprinted forward and bolted onto the thing's hunched back. With a revolting splintering noise, she hacked a rent in the many-scarred hide and drove her blades into it, over and over. The Crypt Lord's screams were a cacophony, a thousand whining arrows, a hundred burning beehives. Tarquin approached again, circling to stay behind the thrashing monster, and Ilarra, still giggling in spurts, dragged herself to her feet.

"Ek'fani kazai ashkur ashkeia thruk-" Seething, the Nerubian bit back its curses, hunching into itself. "Enough, vermin. My amusement ends." With a shuddering effort, the thing flapped its crippled wings, and with terrifying speed hurled itself into the air. Flexing its boneless body, it whirled, sending Isi flying into Ilarra, one of her swords still standing in the monster's flesh. Another stream of poison studdered from its parted jaws, and Tarquin dove for the snow, steam hissing from his cloak where the venom made contact. Laughing, chittering, drooling, Anub-Kayet succumbed to the pull of gravity on its immense bulk and thundered to the earth directly before Bricu, its lashing forearms knocking him sprawling.


"Feast!" it shrieked, the cracked coals of its eyes settling on the lonely figure of Threnn Bittertongue, all its cultivated manner gone. "Praise! Feast!" Dragging the ruined hulk of its body across the bloody snow, whining and drooling and bubbling laughter, the Prince of Seven Maws enveloped Threnn and the hope growing in her belly in its shadow. "My worship," it burbled. "My glory..."

Bricu, still on his back, reached for his axe. "Tarquin, don't yeh dare fuck this up! Do it now!" Bricu screamed. Tarquin ap Danwyrith rolled to his feet, tugging the ruined mess of his cloak from around his neck - and Anub'Kayet turned to Bricu, a fathomless hunger in its eyes. "Come on, tosser!" grunted the Veteran, his eyes flickering between his wife, his friend, and his likely end. Tarquin crouched to spring, a knife in one hand, his face an agony of indecision. Threnn stared at him, her eyes narrowing, and then took a step forward and opened her mouth...
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Tarq
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Re: The Wrath Gate

Postby Tarq » Thu May 07, 2009 7:14 pm

Somewhere, there was a battle, itself a side note to a far greater one; somewhere, men and women he might have called comrades were struggling for their lives against fathomless ranks of his eternal enemies. His old allies. Behind him, the woman he loved was pitching what little life the world had left her into the cauldron of her magics, with regard for little but pyrotechnic results. It was all a deal too much to have on one's mind when the world had dwindled to a screen of pummeling limbs and gibbering masks.

The geists were everywhere, at least a dozen if not a score, less the four or five inanimate corpses in the snow. Those bodies had taught them caution, and they were damnably fast learners; they flanked him and clawed at his sides, dragged down his limbs with the weight of their slimy flesh and brittle bones, leapt and struck and danced away. Jakob didn't know whether help was on the way from the famously self-interested mercenaries he had pitched his lot with, or if he would fight his way clear only to be greeted by the slavering mandibles of a Crypt Lord.

He heard the niggling whisper at the back of his mind as another leathern fist slammed into his side, impact felt through his armor. No. Not here. He jammed the hilt of his axe backward, felt the impact of flesh. Another came in on his left, too slow, and his sword plunged upwards into the soft flesh below its chin. It fell, squealing, but another replaced it, clawing at his arm, the runeblade nearly falling from his grasp. He growled two words in a dead language, gathering the soothing cold from their flesh, leaving a boiling blood in its wake. The flesh of the one on his arm erupted in black spots, and it joined its fellows in a chorus of agony - but they were still on him.

And the cold was in him now.

Desperately, Jakob twisted and thrashed, whispered another word and the snow erupted and dragged down a geist that was attempting to wrench the helm from his head. His axe tore through flesh and bone, dropping a forearm to the snow, but the jagged stump behind it punched into his pauldron and tore a scratch. Another impact, behind him, buckled his left knee. It was only a matter of time. He struck blindly, hearing the shrieks. Strange how they sounded more like joy than pain. There was likely a reason for that. Down on one knee now, his left vambrace crushed to his arm. The world seemed nothing but a horror of writhing flesh, an orgy of punishing monsters. It was time.

He lowered his head and breathed in the cold, drew the Northrend winter into his lungs. He opened himself to the voice that murmured and threatened in the cellar of his mind. As he did, light bloomed across the corners of his vision. The pressure slackened, released momentarily. When he looked up, a great invisible hand was tracing an inferno across his foes, scattering fire like a bridesmaid's petals. Geists staggered back, thrashing and clutching. A voice, a human voice, was shouting at him, telling him to rise. Ordering, in fact, and insultingly so. It seemed help had come at last.

Jakob Balthasar looked on the fire swirling towards him, and felt no heat. Under his helm, his lips tugged up into a smile, pulling away from the flesh of his face, and as his eyes sank back into the sockets around them he closed his thinning lids, and opened them to -

-beauty. Fire dances across his foes, and while fire is no friend to him, carnage was ever his love. The maggot-men squirm and squeal, with the voices of naughty children, and he does not doubt their faces are curled to dismay at this, their punishment. They ought to know better, he thinks. I am beloved of the winter. He rises. One of them, scorched to gristle, is still clinging to his back; he barely felt its weight. He plunges his sword into a staggering geist, and when it turns from minion to meat, leaves the blade standing in its flesh, reaches up, and pulls the misbehaving thing from his back. He holds it at arm's length, laughing when it flails at his face.

The Voice is silent, he realizes. It was not immediately obvious, so compelling was this world of slaughter, but his Lord's Voice was not waiting for him on the other side of the wall of being. And here, so close to His home - there must be a reason, but the knight will not question it. He is free to do as he will, and so he does, laughing again and dropping the writhing geist to the snow and blinking when its head is suddenly in two pieces. How light the axe, how swift the blow! He barely remembers it, and grieves.

A cough, air expectorated from lungs with inhuman tones. He whirls to see the strangest of sights. A tree has grown here in the snow, a smallish tree of odd shape, and it has in turn grown itself two blinking eyes. One of its limbs stirs. Almost like a mortal man, reaching for him. Green washes over his vision, and the earth's hand tickles his flesh beneath the cold iron. He knows that this is meant to soothe him as it does its work, but the repair of his battered flesh simply itches. The tree seems to notice it too, so much so that it speaks.
"What are you-" He laughs a third time, and louder at the expression on its face, for he has never been such a horror as to cause the very trees to grow features and voices to startle at him. It is a good day.

"Fucking come on!" There is another one, a tall man with hair the vibrant orange-red of funeral pyres, with a face stark with panic and ornate black robes dusted darker with soot and rent here and there. "He's on his feet, druid, there's still that - that!" One outstretched finger, indicating a many-legged enormity pitching from side to side as it strikes at the tiny figures of living foes. For a moment the scene is meaningless; he idly catches another burning geist as it tumbles past, inspects it for the moment of a breath, and then his axe tears the spine from its body.

"I already took care of them, Balthasar!" The man, even in his obvious anxious rage, found time to be smug. He remembered him now. A lord among the living, such as it went. "Quit fucking around, that thing's coming for us next!" More memories. A Crypt Lord, the chosen zealots of his Lord, forever blathering about their worship and their high status.

"Good," he croaks, and both of them stare at him for a moment. He reaches down and plucks his sword from a corpse he barely recollects making, feels it in his hand. The weapons have no weight, but this, this has a presence. Like a lover's breast, and this stirs some other memories that he shoves aside before the cold can reach them too. Perhaps later, but this is not the time. He raises axe and sword for a moment, then lowers them both and whispers a secret to the blade, a secret that excites it and makes it shine. "In fact," he adds, remembering now humor, "I'll hurry him along."

Man and tree stare at each other now, with the strangely identical expressions of those who find themselves among the mad. He sympathizes with them, as much as he can. It must be difficult, he muses as the runes grow brighter, and he prepares his challenge, to be a sane man.

After all, this is the land of winter. Those poor souls have no place here.
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 Bricu » Thu May 07, 2009 11:23 pm

Whatever she would have said, whatever Tarquin would have chosen, hung between them for a flickering moment before another voice interrupted it, a grim and creaking call with the bite of command. "Anub-Kayet! You are summoned!" Too fast for its size, the Crypt Lord jerked its dripping face about to the location of an armored figure, faceless in an iron helm, bile and ichor and blood drenching his dented armor. A frayed-looking man with red hair and a sneer on his soot-blackened face, and improbably, a pond-still tree with a vaguely human shape, flanked him, surrounded by the ruined tatters of a swarm of geists.

Jakob Balthasar levelled his sword, the runes scribed along its surface burning white. "Kneel, cur. Come to me and kneel."

"Arrogance!" The Nerubian's laughter had a new note to it - a note, oddly, much like Ilarra's cracking giggle when the poison had seethed across her skin. "I am Prince of Seven Maws! You will shriek for years, nameless little prey."

"Do you require my name?" The death knight raised his visor and let the thing see his fleshless face, his rictus smile, the deep-set pools of his eyes. "No. You need only hear your master's voice." He slammed his sword point-down into the snow, its glow nearly blinding, and lashed his voice through the cold air. "To me, drone! Bow your head!"

It was if cables had been hooked into the wings and joints of Anub-Kayet's body, tugged by a dozen strong men. Chittering and growling, it was heaved forward a dozen yards, soaring improbably through the air, and crashing to the earth at Sir Balthasar's feet. For a moment, its head dropped; for a heartbeat, it did obesiance before a Knight of the Ebon Blade. Then it raised up, shrieking fury in its dead tongue. Jakob dropped his visor back down over his pitted face, pulled his sword from the snow, and hefted his axe in his other hand. "Better," he said hollowly, as the Riders coalesced around Anub-Kayet's flanks. "We'll make a proper soldier of you yet."

A buzzing howl was the Nerubian's only answer, and then the shriek of steel as they charged and struck. Two shots rang out on the hill, Ulthnaon and Beltar, surrounded by the corpses of the locust swarm - load, cock, fire, repeat, with dogged repetition. Isi Underhill circled Anub-Kayet, her blades striking each new scar and divot in his carapace; beside her, Tarquin stepped in, his knives digging for joints and wrenching open wounds, and then tearing free as he darted back. Laurus took a few hasty steps back, but fire was already springing from his fingers, lashing and licking along the beast's hide. Threnn called upon the light as she swung her blade and put another crack in the Nerubian's carapace. A soft, golden light spread from the fracture, illuminating Anub-Kayet. Bricu pulled himself to his feet and grabbed his axe.

But the Prince of Seven Maws ignored them all for the mortal who had exposed him as nothing but a servant. He lunged and lashed, gibbering incomprehensibly at Sir Balthasar, who turned aside half the crazed blows and scorned the ones that broke through his guard and hammered against his armor. Green light washed over him, Haemon's limbs moving like he was conducting an orchestra. "Discipline," Jakob said, tearing a line along one pummeling limb with his sword, "would have saved you."

"Not from the fury o' the northman!" Bricu screamed, his voice cracking from his anger. He called upon the light as he swung his massive axe. Instead of a soft warm glow, Bricu's prayer called on the wings of an avenging celestial, and when he made contact the crack sounded nearly as loud as a shot of Beltar's rifle. Fragments of chitin scattered; ichor and unwoken scarabs stained the ground. Anub-Kayet half-turned towards Bricu, and paid for it when the death knight's runeblade plunged into the joists of its neck. Holding the sword steady, Balthasar brought his axe in a sweeping arc and sheared away a set of mandibles.

"Six Maws, now." Jakob's contempt was obvious even in the creaking echo of his voice. "Does that knock you down to Duke?"

There was nothing of the Nerubian's condescension left, none of the mockery of mercy - just pain, and hate, and an overwhelming hunger in its wails. It lunged again at the Ebon Knight, babbling with what seemed like a dozen different voices. Jak drew up both blades and caught the descending blow, straining against the monster's bulk. Venomous drool spattered off his pauldrons as Anub'Kayet forced his guard down by inches - and then its force slackened, and its shrieks went paper-soft. The Nerubian was engulfued in shadows, the soft purple and blues obscuring its form, wreathing and clutching about it. There were shapes in the veils, clutching hands, smiling lips, and things better left unnamed.

Ilarra Stormrunner walked towards Anub'Kayet, her feet a yard off the ground, studying the twitching monstrosity through her half-moon spectacles. "Fractured, I might be, sweet pea," she murmured, her voice soft but perfectly audible, "But at least I can fake it." She clapped her hands together and Anub-Kayet's struggles halted; its face was turned to the sky in something that might almost have been ecstacy. "Was that all you had for me? Bad form to keep a lady waiting for more." She giggled and opened her hands, and with the slithering sound of falling sand, the Crypt Lord came apart, husk dropping from its ruined, squeezed-in meat.

There was an uncanny silence, the sound of battle below nearly a constant backdrop. Bricu surveyed the scene. One of the ballistae had sunk halfway into the snow, leaning over on the edge of the Crypt Lord's tunnel; the other two had vanished into it. Ulthanon was cursing and digging himself free of the corpses of uncountable scarab-servants; Beltar seemed perfectly content where he was, chuckling to himself and reloading. He caught Threnn's eye; she had one hand on her stomach and the other still hefting her sword, giving him a look with a certain weight to it. Slowly, she turned it on Tarquin.

A particularly loud scream from below galvanized them. "Aright, dinna shite it oafay the bug!" Tarquin barked, half-hysterical, his grin balanced on the tenous edge between panic and celebration. "Balthasar, put yir fuckin' face on an' get those lassies in the tent goin!"

"Gotta pull back the troops." Bricu's voice had an edge of weariness to it; he seemed to hear himself and scowled and spat in the snow before trying again. "Less yeh wanna just set the lot on fire an' throw 'em at the fuckin' deaders."

The boss wouldn't stop smiling. Maybe couldn't. "Maybe the cows!" he called, already loping down the hill, stumbling in the deep snow. "I'll get the lot back, yeh mind the hill!" Cursing and laughing, he made his precarious way down the slope, one gaunt figure plunging towards the madness of battle below.

"Speakin' o 'settin' things on fire," said Bricu, his gaze falling on the ruined Crypt Lord's bulk. The snow steamed beneath it as poisonous ichor dripped from its wounds. "Oi. Laz. Light this fucker up. Burn all that shite off so we ain't breathin' it in. Nothin' left but ashes, aye?" Laurus moved swiftly, flames already dancing at his fingertips. Bricu nodded and clapped him on the shoulder as he passed. "Threnny."

"Sergeant."

He ignored the inflection in her tone, the one that said she was about to give him ten kinds of shit. She wants ta call me "sergeant," I'll give her a fuckin' order.. "When he's done, I want yeh ta consecrate the ground, in case his royal fuckin' Majesty wants ta try piecin' his servant back tagether." There was a beat where he was certain she was going to argue, but then she saluted and without another word, followed after Laurus.

He longed to pause and roll a cigarette, but the damage the Anub'Kayet had done needed sorting out before whatever would be hurtling up the hill next. "Right. Ulth, Belt, come give me a hand gettin' this ballista back up. Rest o'yeh lot, straighten' up! Battle's far from over."
I drink to keep you pretty
--
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Yva
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Re: The Wrath Gate

Postby Yva » Fri May 08, 2009 1:24 am

Yva rolled on the floor and laughed, her skin covered in tendrils of purple magic that writhed like snakes. Her hands stroked down the curves of her body, to her hips, and she gasped. Everything tingled. Beneath her skin, a mighty power churned, waiting for its release. It felt good – amazing – heavenly, almost like the moments before orgasm, when you climbed and climbed and climbed until your head swam among the clouds.

But she hadn't peaked. Not yet.

Soon, love. Soon.

She hissed, and ice pooled beneath her. She lifted her hand above her head, and the blood from her palms dripped down, coursing warm over her skin. She smeared it there, tilting her head back like her lover was drizzling kisses along the column of her neck.

“Divine.”

And it was.

Behind her, Genise incanted, fire as red as her hair dancing along her arms. She waved her hands, watching the trails of flame with an inordinate amount of glee. Giggles spilled from her lips as the temperature inside of the tent rose another degree. Sweat had plastered her gown to her frame, highlighting the perfection of that statuesque body

Davien stared at the tent side, her lips moving, but no sound came. She rocked to a music only she could hear. There was a presence upon the air around her – something heavy, something near tangible and yet not. When she moved, it was like she was trying to wade against a tide. Over time, her bun had come unraveled, black locks swaying with each of her movements. The silver sigils on her arms sparkled like diamonds. With her high cheekbones and fine features, she seemed a thing of alabaster.

They'd wrought a great beast – something beautiful and wicked that slept inside of a runic cage. The ley line, the witches, the spell work fed it, but it was not enough. Soon it would be unleashed upon whatever hapless thing fell in its path, and it would feast.

There was a noise outside, a clanging of plate armor. When the tent flap lifted, a great breeze swept in, but none of them moved from their positions. The only indication that they registered Jakob Balthasar's presence was the movement of their eyes.

“Ap'Danwyrith says come,” he said. Though he looked a human man, the mask of death had robbed him during its tenure. An unusual coarseness clutched at his words.

Above his sword, his fingers flexed inside of their gauntlets.

“My darling Jak.”

He looked down to the ground, where the woman who shared his bed peered up at him, as languid as a cat in sunlight. He crouched by her side, cupping her chin to peer into her glassy eyes. She raised a blood crusted hand to his cheek.

“Yva . . . “

“It's time, Love,” she said.

“But do you even know for what?”

“To wake the storm and make the rain come.”

They moved then, like one entity. Yva rose from the ground, a blooded girl in a plain white dress, the red of her lips stark against her porcelain skin. Genise flitted like the fire upon her fingers, like a candle flame caressed by the wind. Davien gathered her skirts about her, a glinting thing of unparalleled poise and grace.

Jak peered at them and then past them, at the ritual circles swarming with red, white and blue lights. When he heard Yva hum, when she reached her fingers up to trail them across his bottom lip, he snatched her hand in his own and flipped it over, pressing a kiss to her palm.

She smiled, and then she laughed, and then she walked forward, her sisters at her sides.

Jak had no choice but to step aside.

The latch was sprung and the beast woke from its slumber, spilling from its cage with the uneasy stillness of a hunter stalking its prey.

It was time.
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 Threnn » Fri May 08, 2009 2:55 pm

Maiden

The hillside came tumbling down upon her. There was an ungodly sound above them, a shriek and the chittering of scarabs, but before she could even finish turning to see what had emerged from far beneath the snow, the world went white.

It was everywhere, everywhere, and she went tumbling with it -- snow and ice and rocks, clods of hard dirt that hadn't seen daylight for a hundred years. She drew magic from the air and pulled it around herself, but it lasted only a heartbeat, battered away by the force carrying her along its inexorable path.

Ice shards went down the back of her robes, found their way into her boots. Don't open your mouth, don't open it, don't-- She landed hard on her back and the wind rushed out of her. The first searing breath she dragged back into aching lungs was filled with snow. Annalea began to choke. Her throat burned with the cold.

Push it away, slow breaths It was part of her training, ignoring pain, but that was far easier said than done. Stars swam in her vision. The edges of the white world turned black. She imagined she felt a clawed hand around her neck and tried to scream.

Then there were real hands grabbing at her, clamping onto her arms and yanking her from the snow. She kicked and flailed, certain that Fane had her, that he was here on the hill, come to finish the job... until one hand let go of her and she felt heat flare inches from her nose.

"None o'that, chickie." Pill waited until her eyes focused and she stopped struggling, then began brushing the snow off of the priestess' shoulders. "Hit them, not me." She pointed at the line of destruction that continued down the hill. The avalanche's path was relatively thin; a quick glance around confirmed that Anna was the only one who'd gone under, at least from the Riders' contingent. I must have been on the edge of it, got spit out early. Further down, though, there was a gap in the Scourge line where the raging snows had plowed through.

Only, the Scourge didn't need anyone to pull them out. Rotted arms and legs, presumably still attached to rotted bodies, were even now poking through the crust and working their way out.

Satisfied that Anna wasn't going to lash out again, Pill gave her a pat on the head and began gathering a ball of fire to hurl at the ghouls. She paused at a shout from behind them.

Tarquin came staggering down from above, calling the retreat.


Mother

Laurus kept his fire neat. The Crypt Lord went up in an acrid column of flame and smoke, but not a single fleck of ash left the spinning cylinder of the nobleman's spell. He looked quite proud of his work, teeth flashing in a self-satisfied grin as he let the burning stop and the pieces drift back to the ground.

Threnn waited for his nod, then drove the point of her sword down into the frozen ground. Odd how it was still packed this hard despite the mage's fire that had burned atop it moments ago. It should be churned up and muddy, but it's still tundra beneath. This place doesn't let go once it's taken hold, does it?

She wrapped her hands around the hilt, feeling the cold radiating along the blade. Her voice dropped to a whisper as she opened herself to the Light. It gathered around her, warm and golden, but there was no time to take comfort from its presence. The Light slammed into the ground at her will, radiating out as she directed it. There was a bit of anger behind the prayer -- That thing tried to kill him. -- but tenacity was a virtue. Tenacity: the act of holding things together, cohesiveness.

Threnn Bittertongue would hold onto her family. Surely the Light would approve of that.

The glow faded into the dirt before Threnn realized she was on her knees. Laz stood beside her and, more gently than she'd believed him capable, helped her to her feet.

"I have to say, that was a fine job, there. Did you see how much heat there was? A proper inferno! Ha!" He stopped short of actually patting his own back, and his wild grin slipped a notch. "Kind of like old times, eh?"

They'd done this once before, or something like it. She remembered an abandoned cart in Stromgarde, filled with plague-tainted goods: Laurus' fire to burn away the disease, Threnn's prayers to burn out any evil that remained. "Guess we're getting to be old pros at this."

"The boss does call us professionals." He preened, as much as someone dishevelled from a morning of fighting the Scourge could. "Are you all right here? I should go see where your husband wants me."

"Go on, Laz. I'm fine."

When he was gone, she stared at the circle of newly-hallowed ground and wished there was a piece left to kick. It almost took him away from me. It could have killed us both. The words Bricu had screamed while the Nerubian chittered above him still rang in her ears: Tarquin, don't yeh dare fuck this up! And the look on Tarquin's face, as though torn between two tragedies...

One of them would talk, when this was all over, and tell her precisely what the fuck that was about. She just had to figure out which one to press.

But that was for later, when everyone was home and safe. They weren't there yet, not even close. She squared her shoulders, pulled her sword from the ground, and made her way back to the center.

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Lansiron
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Re: The Wrath Gate

Postby Lansiron » Sat May 23, 2009 6:53 pm

((Reserved spot. Turns out I still need to think of something cool for Lans to do, though it's easy enough to imagine him just mixing it up in the company of the rest of the Riders. Here, shall be posted Ebon Blade buttkicking.))
Last edited by Lansiron on Wed May 27, 2009 2:19 am, edited 2 times in total.

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Re: The Wrath Gate

Postby Tarq » Sat May 23, 2009 10:17 pm

Tarquin pitched down the slope like a falling ash, tottering from step to step, kept aloft by sheer momentum and exhilaration. Snow puffed with every impact of his feet, occasionally digging tracks in the drifts as he skidded for a few yards. It was all very simple - if he tried to slow down, he'd be more likely to stumble, and so increase the odds of ending the Battle of Angrathar as a broken-necked, limp bag of bones at the bottom of a hill. Posterity recalls Tarquin ap Danwyrith, mercenary captain and career criminal, dead at the Bloody Prince's doorstep on account of tripping and falling. Sodding embarassing, really. So, he just couldn't afford to stop.

A few lines of potential news-scrip flashed through his head, and he snorted laughter and bit his tongue doing so. The Tribune would have a fucking field day, and those poor sods at the Clarion would have no place to show their heads. Lucky for the lot of them he wasn't willing to sacrifice his life to the tender mercies of that all-consuming bitch, Irony. He still had work to do, after all. Here and now. He leapt a shattered tangle of limbs that had probably been some sort of deader, waved his arms for balance on the landing, and managed to save himself with a mad sidewards lean. The sounds of battle were growing closer now, an indecipherable mass of voices and material contact, the many-throated growl of a single hungry animal.

It was, he was not much ashamed to say, fucking terrifying.

He skidded another few lengths of hillside, the rear ranks of the Scourge looming in view. The corpse of the behemoth was still there, of course, great gobbets of flesh torn from it by the ripping passage of its fellows. And just like most carrion, it had attracted crows - necromancers, their black cultic robes flapping about them as they launched salvos of entropy and padded the ranks of their minions. Clever bastards, really, and efficient to boot. With cover like that, and a bit of height if they needed, it'd be easy to take their time with their shots. Like, say, if you were one particular cultist, with a keen enough eye to spot one skinny sod scarpering down the hillside wide out in the open. You'd have all the time in the world to drill him with some soul-wrenching evocation.

"Ah, fuck."

Tarquin picked up speed and hurled himself flat, diving into the snow as death crackled past him. The initial shock of the cold hit like a hammer, with that soothing promise of warmth and rest lurking behind it. He scrambled for purchase, feet slipping out from under him, and then the inconvenient laws of reality kicked in and he was skidding down the last yards of the hill. At least this made him a very difficult target. Got many a reason to be cheerful, don't I? Could be a corpse in the muck, easy. He was aware he was smiling, and there was snow in his teeth, and it hurt like a bastard. And a few seconds later, he was aware of something that loomed above him though it was down the slope, blotted out the gray half-light, and felt like a stone wall when he slammed into it.

Most stone walls, though, didn't have the courtesy to yank you out of the snow after you'd made their acquaintance. Tarquin found himself looking up at eight feet and change of Tauren, with blood and pus splashed across his pitted iron armor like he'd taken a bath in dead ghouls. Under his helm, the Horde soldier's face was slack with what Tarquin took for bemusement. It wasn't every day, Tarquin supposed, that the Oathbreaker careened down a hillside and ran into your chest. "Cheers, mate," he huffed breathlessly, bracing a hand against one of the giant's pauldrons while he got his legs under him. "Linedan, innit?"

Linedan made a sort of volcanic rumbling noise that the rogue eventually realized was Orcish for "Yes," followed by a string of glottal consonants that he couldn't properly follow, but smacked of a certain dry humor. Tarquin nodded enthusiastically and tried to remember his Orcish. "Back," he attempted. "Going back." Linedan just stared. "Up, back. Ha'the orcs even go' a word fir 'retreat'? Shite. Uh..." Inspiration struck. He pointed up the hill, and then described a long arc in the air with his hand, ending with a reasonable somatic expression of an apocalyptic explosion. "Davien," he finished.

The Tauren's eyes widened in comprehension. Tarquin clapped his hands together and nodded again. "Universal fuckin' language, mate. Thanks again. Loktar Ogar an' all thit." He jogged in the direction of the fracas, Linedan turning about to follow in his wake, bellowing out to his comrades. And he had comrades, the northman saw as he got closer; a handful of forms in the chaos wearing Noxilite colors. He wondered if Bricu had arranged that one.

The Riders were hammered back into their makeshift line of stakes, the line collapsed to a tight knot in a wave of corpses, some of which had finally had the decency to lie down and be dead. "Toe tae th' line!" Jolstraer was bellowing, bare-headed in the tumult. "Refoahm, an' toe tae th'line!" He saw Feliche and Bellesta, out ahead of the stakes; bear-mounted, Feliche was big enough to look a Vrykul champion in the eyes as he planted his axe between them. They were holding, as far as that went.

"Tarq!" Ceil was there, blessedly, stepping back from the swirl of combat about the stakes. They looked at each other for a silent moment, confirming the other's presence, pulse, and wholeness in all their particulars, and he saw his own gratitude reflected in her eye. After that, she was all business. "We can't do this much longer, even with the Horde here."

"We're pullin' back. Get thim out, up the hill. Genise an' the dead lasses are bringin' it down." He jerked his head towards the front line. "Anyin out oan the flanks, get 'em. I'm fir tellin' Jolly!" Ceil spun wordlessly and darted out to the right, where Chryste was making herself a mound of corpses. Tarquin headed into the madness, quietly cursing himself as he scrabbled for his sword. Fourteen fucking years, and you're still getting into the type of trouble requires an otherwise reasonable man to use a fucking sword. There were a pair of geists skulking around the stake line, maybe heading for the back. That was more like it; he had his knives to hand in no more time than it took him to think about it. One collapsed instantly, a cobalt point punching through leather and the thin skein of flesh under its ear into the spoiled meat of its brain. The other spun and shrieked as he opened its stomach; he stepped aside from its ineffectual flailing and buried a dagger in its vapid eye.

So alright, then, maybe he could manage something useful here.

Knives disappearing again, Tarquin ap Danwyrith waded manfully into the madness of battle. From the rear. Tirith was kneeling in the back, exhausted, gulping from a water skin and wiping soot from his strained face; Tarquin clapped him on the shoulder as he passed, yelling for Jolstraer. The de facto captain of the front line was amid the broken stakes, finishing off a Vrykul with three human skulls braided into her rust-orange hair. Tarquin slipped up beside the old paladin as his sword ripped through the giantess's neck. "Get 'em back," he shouted over the noise of battle, waving his sword in the direction of the Scourge. "Wir callin' the fire, get 'em all back."

Jolstraer looked over at him; beneath its mask of someone's blood, the old paladin looked haggard and wolfish, his weariness second to his hunger. A smile split his face. "Yeh gonnah use tha'thing, Boss, oah jus' flop it like a limp cod?" Before Tarquin could answer, the knight was turning away, bulling into another Vrykul. "RETREAT!" he roared as his shield smashed into the giant's leering face. "TAIGHT OAHDAH NOW, GIT TAE THE STONE-LINE!"

Tarquin leaned forward and jabbed experimentally at the Vrykul's side as it rained blows down on Taborwynn's shield. His sword sank in, and the Scourge soldier grunted, teetered, and swiped at him with an axe that looked about the size of a small pony. He hurled himself backwards, a nasty breeze whistling by his face. Jolstraer took the opportunity to shift his bulk to the side and bring his sword backhand into the back of the Vrykul's head, pitching it lifeless to the snow. "RETREAT TAE TH'STONES!" he repeated, and down the line, Ceil keened out the same call.

Before them, the snow whipped from the ground, swirling in the air, coalescing into hard and deadly shards that lacerated the flesh of the Scourge army. Tirith was back on his feet, beside the scarred mage Nykkolaia, calling down the blizzard that was one of the trademarks of their profession. It always gave Tarquin a little twinge of regret to see Tirith practicing the arcane - a thought of what might have been - but at the moment, in the boss's estimation, the boy was right where he needed to be - covering their bloody retreat.

A phlegmatic cackle brought his attention forward, where a Vrykul with streamers of rotted meat hanging from its skeletal face was lurking forward, a primitive sword held over its head. Tarquin scrambled to his feet, added his voice to the chorus calling for retreat, and started doing so. But the thing came on, and not far behind him were the mages who really couldn't afford a little distraction like a rampaging Vargul with a chipped-together falchion.

So he planted his feet, slipped a knife into his offhand, and forced a grin onto his face as the general retreat crept far too slowly towards his position. Next time this happens, I'm sending Laz to the front.
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 Aelflaed » Sat May 23, 2009 10:53 pm

Aely lost track of time - between fighting off the stragglers that made it over to Fordragon's flanks, rushing water and bandages to those on the field, and keeping her own feet in the din, she didn't know if it had been moments or hours or days.

A pair of ghouls broke through the line to her right, yelling gibberish and flailing towards the makeshift area that the better equipped healers were using. "OI! FECKIN' TOSSERS!" She screamed, slamming one of them in the face with a shock of Holy Energy, and crashing full force into the second. A whirling mass of greatsword, holy light, and angry, red-headed vengeance completed the job, leaving two sets of shredded body parts back underfoot. She went to get an elven archer back on his feet, catching her breath.

The snow fell thick over the battlefield, the newly dead falling alongside the reanimated, but still they pressed forward. She flung Holy Light at everything she could reach, friend and foe, knowing it would warm and heal the men but burn and kill the undead. Her voice was harsh, raw with yelling and ragged breath. Her arms ached from supporting the wounded off the fields only to turn and have to fight her way back. Still, she went on, slashing her way through the straggling ghouls and skeletons to find another wounded soldier. A drop of water against the tide.

"Death Knights - hold your ground!"

A coarse shout rang out from an Alliance commander - and a resounding yell surged from the soldiers on that flank. Aely paused, waiting to hear the expected horror usually wrought by Arthas' chosen, only to have shouts of surprise instead.

"The Ebon Blade - Give room!" "Give room, and assist!" "Fall in behind and keep moving!"

She whispered a prayer, knowing that Bertrand was likely among them - fearing for the hollow look in his face. But his fate was his own, between him and whatever afterlife awaited those who were neither living nor dead. She didn't have time for more than a passing hope as she knelt to close the eyes of a young woman, grimacing at the head wound that had taken her life.

Without warning, pain seared through her consciousness.

She fell.

Bandages, greatsword, and concentration toppled with her as she sprawled forward into the snow, blood rushing in her ears. She rolled, praying it was away from the attacker and watching as the axe sunk into the ground beside her head. A gruff yell, and the skeleton's chest cavity crumpled from behind, followed quickly by a sickening crunch as its arm was wrenched out of socket, useless.

A scruffy, russet beard, followed quickly by a grinning Dwarven face came into view. "Watch nae, lass, or ye'll be joinin' em - cannae focus on healin' an' lose sight th' battle!"

She sat up. Blood was welled up through the soft space between her gorget and shoulder armor, warm against her skin. She pulled off the armor, binding her shoulder with bandages and a prayer, her left arm tingling as she closed the wound and flexed her fingers.

"Yeh'll be alright?" The Dwarf offered her a hand.

"Ayeh, jus' need a moment." She strapped the damaged spaulders back on, and then took his hand and leveraged herself back to standing.

Wrapping her fingers around her necklace, she closed her eyes - By the Grace of the Light, may your brethren be healed; By the Strength of the Light, may your enemies be undone. And may the Light bring you Peace. - took a deep breath and opened them again, heard the cries of someone wounded, and went back out onto the field, cradling her arm.

So the battle raged up to the doors of Angrathar, and the undead were pushed back. Even the great legions of Ymirjar warriors fell before the onslaught of Alliance and Horde.

And then there was silence again. Somewhere a man was shouting, and Aely recognized Highlord Fordragon. She was far to one side, and his words were indistinct, but the challenge in his voice rang clear. She stood on a broken wagon to get a better look. Someone called for a medic, but her eye caught another red and white baldric heading that way. Then nearer...

"Aely?"
[5.OOC] Beltar: Hammer of What The Fuck Were You Thinking


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