The Wrath Gate

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Threnn
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Re: The Wrath Gate

Postby Threnn » Mon Aug 03, 2009 10:13 pm

Maiden

The wind whipped around her, through her, making her teeth chatter like a Hallow's End skeleton. Annalea pulled her cloak closer and craned her neck, trying to make sense out of the darkness within Angrathar's maw. There was fear there, yes, the anticipation of a nightmare about to walk into the light of day. But how could any of them look away from it?

When there was a monster in the dark, you lit a candle and its power weakened, turned it back into to a pile of clothes on a chair. When something slithered and rustled out in the night, you gave it a silly name, and diminished the hold it would have over you.

That was what magic was -- gaining dominion over a thing by naming the unnamed, by making the hidden visible. It was how you controlled magic, and how you controlled fear. The two things were, in that respect, one and the same.

So why, then, was the dread only growing? Why did she not want to see the Lich King step out from that darkness? Shouldn't they be able to look upon him and say "he's not so fearsome," or, "he is that fearsome, but here's what we'll do?"

Shouldn't the presence of their friends bolster their courage?

We'll be all right. There's no one I trust more than the Riders to make it through this.

(Trust is your weakness.)

Shut up.


Down below, the Lich King strode forth at last, Frostmourne at his side. She could feel its hunger even from here, far above the main force of the battle. Her knees went weak as his voice boomed out over the hills. It was only the knowledge of the distance separating this hill and Arthas' sword that kept her bladder from letting go as well. A small dignity, but she'd take what she could get, right then.

Then, as though he'd sensed that bit of self-congratulation, his gaze swept up, up, up to where the Riders stood in their little knot of bravado. It was all Anna could do not to shrink behind Fingold, to hide herself in the folds of his cloak and peek out from behind him like a frightened child.

She forced her feet to hold their place, and looked down into the Lich King's eyes.

Daylight didn't diminish the monster. It only made him so much worse.

And who was going to make a grand plan now? The witches -- whose destruction had cheered them all, whose names they'd been shouting in wild victory moments before -- had withered under his gaze. One was on hands and knees in the snow, the other weeping. Some were muttering prayers into the frozen air, others stood with their fingers clasped loosely around sword hilts, but she didn't think they had the strength of will to draw them. Brave words might rally some of them from their collective stupors, but even Tarquin -- who had drawn lusty cries of Never again from every throat -- was bent double, retching into the snow.

Movement below, as the orc general took advantage of Arthas' averted gaze. With a cry that should have heartened them all, should have had every sword rattling upon its shield, he charged.

The Lich King turned and parried in the same smooth move, and shattered Saurfang's great axe. Then Frostmourne dipped, and the armies below sighed, a soughing of despair expanding out like ripples on a pond, as they realized what had been done.

The runeblade had taken his soul into itself. It had fed on him, just as it would soon feed upon them all. Its hunger was palpable, endless.

It will come for us, too

(They are coming for you.)

Shut UP.


Her already-aching fingers cramped with the cold; she realized she'd clamped them together sometime after Arthas had emerged and squeezed tight enough to turn her fingertips an angry shade of purple. She pushed them into the pockets of her cloak, searching for whatever warmth she could get.

Her fingers found the sprig of dreamfoil, dried and forgotten. Her eyes went wide as she looked from the greedy glow of Frostmourne to her family gathered on the hill.

"You need this. A lot of it. A whole field of it."

She'd done her future self's bidding, never knowing who all the dreamfoil was for. Because if she'd told me... If I'd told myself... I would have refused. All these people -- the ones she cared about most in the world, the ones she loved, they'd all fall. They'd get up again in Arthas' service, that was bad enough, but...

But how much worse will it be if they feed his blade? I could make them take the dreamfoil. I could hand out the vials and tell them it was for warmth, or strength, or any bloody fucking thing I wanted, and they'd drink it to a man. Then they'd sleep. Better than dying screaming, or feeling your soul pulled into a demon-sword, isn't it?

Isn't it?


She glanced at Fingold standing beside her, his eyes wide. His gauntleted hands flexed on the grip of his mace, his lips uttering a silent prayer. At the others: Jolstraer, staring grimly down at his former prince. At the Stormrunner sisters, their ever-ready giggles silenced. At Ulthanon, his cigarette smoldering forgotten on dry lips, gun lowered to his side.

At Bricu, staring across the hilltop at her sister with despair in his eyes.

At Threnny.

She stood there, awkward in her altered plate, skin gone white not with cold but with fear. The tip of her sword trembled in her grasp, making jagged lines in the snow. Anna stared at the swell of her sister's belly and felt a phantom pain in her own. That's how they started with me, Fane and Hartwell. Feeding me dreamfoil.

I can't do this. I can't.

(You will be alone in the end.)

No. Nonononono.


She'd live through this. She knew it; seeing some future version of herself was proof enough. And when she'd asked about Fin... Her future self had declined to answer.

Because I kill him. Because today, I kill them all.

I won't.


Wouldn't she? Hadn't fate pretty much dictated that she would?

To hell with fate. With all of it. I won't do it. The wind gusted, and she backed up a step. From there it was easy enough to back up another, and another, then easier still to turn away and run.

She didn't know where she was going. All that mattered was away, as far as she could flee. Her terror carried her behind the Riders' line, to the place where the hill fell away into nothingness. She knew the drop was coming, but suddenly, she didn't care. It would, after all, solve the problem quite neatly.

(There is no escape... not in this life... not in the next...)

Twenty few more steps and she'd be out over the chasm, weightless for a moment before the fall. Ten I'm sorry, Threnny. I'm too afraid. She closed her eyes, stretched out her arms, waited for the ground to fall out from under her.

The moment never came. One moment she was running, fleet-footed towards the drop. The next, it felt like she'd been hit in the back with a siege engine. For the second time that day, she lost her breath and found herself tumbling arse over teakettle through the snow. When she finally stopped moving, the world took its sweet time righting itself. Now, the siege engine lay across her chest.

No, not a siege engine.

Fin.

"Don't, Anna. Please, don't." His breath came in harsh gasps as his panicked eyes met hers. How much it must have taken out of him, to catch up to her wearing all that plate.

She wriggled one of her arms free from where it was pinned between them, meaning to put it around him. It waved around in empty air and she drew it back, shocked. They were right on the edge. Fin followed her gaze, misinterpreting her expression. "No. I won't let you."

She realized that she didn't want to, not anymore. The weight of what she'd been about to do struck with full force. Her face crumpled. "I can't do it, Fin." But whether she meant the dreamfoil or the drop, she couldn't say. She buried her face in his neck and sobbed, the tears the first warm thing she could remember feeling in a long time.

Then she began to laugh, sobs becoming giggles, becoming an outright belly laugh. Fin pulled back, searching her face to see if she'd gone mad.

"It's okay!" she said, when she could suck in a breath. "That's not what it's for. It can't be!"

"I... don't know what you're saying, Anna."

She reached up and touched his cheek, kissed him full on the mouth despite their close proximity to the precipice, and the Lich King down below. "You don't have to understand it. Something I thought I had to do, but I don't after all. Because I forgot something: Threnny lives. You see?"

"No, I --"

"No, of course you don't. Stonemantle saw the baby, which means Threnny gets out of here, which means the dreamfoil's not for you lot." She was babbling, and she didn't care. She was alive. Alive, and in the arms of the (very confused, and not quite sure he could be relieved just yet) man who loved her. "I don't know who it is for, but I don't care. Because it's not for y--"

The ground shook. By instinct, Fin held her and rolled them both away from the edge, down the bit of slope she'd come sprinting up moments before. When they came to a stop once more, he disentangled himself and helped her to her feet. They turned as one towards the Riders' line, and saw a new kind of dismay written on the faces of those gathered.

---

Mother

Brother Paxton had once said there was a prayer for everything under the Light. Threnn had been sent to him for penance more than once over the course of her early training, often with either Kaven or Tarelyn at her side. The Abbey's librarian never seemed ruffled or outraged by their transgressions, merely asked them to recite the specifics and disappeared off into the stacks to find the appropriate prayers to say while sitting vigil.

Threnn wondered what prayers there were for this, when your family was gathered on a high place, caught in the hate-filled gaze of a man who once was a beloved prince of a beloved country. What words did you chant when a dead king had you in his sights?

Naiara gave her a kick, one Threnn recognized as the baby looking for reassurance when her mother was upset. It was an almost furtive movement, one she could usually quell by rubbing her belly and murmuring softly to her daughter.

Problem was, she couldn't even summon the courage to lift her hand. If I move, he'll see it. She didn't want that dread glare to light upon her. Logic and reason said it was unlikely he was truly looking at this particular spot. Stormwind's finest were down below, all the heroes of Horde and Alliance, looking for glory on the front lines. This ragtag band on a hill couldn't mean nearly as much to him as the prizes on the field before him. It was a trick, it had to be. Some kind of intimidation tactic, or an enchantment of some sort, meant to scare them.

But no matter what the logical parts of her mind said, it felt all too real.

Naiara kicked, harder, then kicked again.

The longer the Bloody Prince stared, the heavier her limbs grew. It could only have been a few heartbeats, but she wanted to lay down, right there in the snow. Lay down, close her eyes, and wait for the world to end. It was going to, that much was clear. We can't fight him. We can't win this.

She tried turning her head to find Bricu and tell him she was sorry, that they should have stayed home after all.

Then he was there, beside her, surrounding her with the Light while he whispered his plan in her ear -- he always had a plan; how could she have ever doubted that? -- and she was able to move at last. She slipped a hand beneath her breastplate to calm the baby, and reached for Bricu with the other.

That was when the explosions began.

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Ulthanon
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Re: The Wrath Gate

Postby Ulthanon » Sun Aug 09, 2009 1:14 pm

The dead men rose from the rocks and the snow, from the very heart of the mountains they clamored into the freezing Northrend air, sending showers of stones and snow down the hills that belched them forth. Wholly unconcerned with the fate of the necromantic legion that had come before it, even these shambling masses were a drop in the bucket of Arthas' dread army. Their rotting mouths chanting the same word, over and over and over again, Ulthanon tried to keep himself from being distracted. Whatever comes next is going to need bullets put into it, he told himself, Keep focused, and you'll get out of this alive. Fear is their greatest weapon, and your greatest enemy. Fear is the mind-killer. I will permit it to pass over me and through me...

Then, the gates of Angrathar shuddered and heaved, and were pulled apart like monstrous Saronite teeth, and out stepped...

The air around him, already painfully cold, now stood so still that he thought he might suffocate in it. We wanted to move, to reach up and strip off his helmet; to gasp in the air that cut at you like razors, but his arms were lead. His very mind slowed to a grinding halt in the presence of that one, horrible being, yet in the back of his head, a single line of thoughts managed to keep moving.

We've built our fortresses on the backs of the damned. The entire continent is under his will, built of the bones and sewn of the skin of dead men. Our greatest machines are as pebbles to him. We thought ourselves great beyond measure to raise a city from the ground; he has raised a continent.

I will show you the justice of the grave...

Ulthanon fell backwards, landing hard. Without realizing it, he started scuttling backwards, trying in vain to escape from the Great Enemy.

...and the true meaning... of fear.

Ulthanon's soul screamed out for a fire; a light in the darkness. Some sliver of hope that could hold them through the storm that strode out of the gate.
He found none.
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Itanya_blade
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Re: The Wrath Gate

Postby Itanya_blade » Tue Aug 11, 2009 1:47 pm

The moment she saw him, heard him, Pill turned her face away. Most of her gibbered with fear. Whispers and whispers of whispers crowded her. “Don’t look, Elena. Don’t you look.” She hissed to herself as she crept, low to the ground. “You don’t need to see.”

She had left Rashona some place in the snow and bodies. The druidess would be okay, the mage told herself. Rashona was a practical cow, stolid. She wasn’t Raga to turn to booze. She would be okay. Lies! Arguing with herself, she must be crazy. Coward, creeping off, scared.

“Course, I’m scared. You’re scared too!” And crazy. Crazy mage arguing with cowardly little girl. Cowardly little girl that wanted to go hide in a corner. But Pill wasn’t looking for a corner, even as she gave a whimper.

The blood and snow stained everything, would have chilled her skin had she still be alive. The battlefield had grown deathly still, with only HIS demanding, commanding voice to echo over it all. Despite it all, cowardly in her fear, she did not turn to look where she saw all the faces around her looking. She cowered, back to the one who stood outside his horrible gate. Instead she looked at the people who did not see her at all. All of them, eyes wide with horror.

I should be mocking them. Only now seeing what there really is there.

“Oh you hush, Elena. You was scared too. Scared when momma fell asleep, scared more when she woke up.” She passed by rider after rider, transfixed with horror, as they should be. She was scared with them, for them.

We should have looked for him harder in the army. Golden armor, shining ever in the sun, even in the dim sun of plagued lands. Stupid little girl dreams. She didn't need them any more. She had let him go, let him slip back in with the living, with a blessing. A fond farewell. It was time to let that go. Papa, Jest she corrected herself ever so quickly, could not save her then, he would not have kept the fear away now. Look at all the shiny light wielders here. Faithful and not, brave and not. All were afraid. Darkness, she was afraid, hearing his voice, feeling his voice. Whispers, always.

She contined creeping, keep low and she would escape notice. No one paid attentionto Pill. Silly crazy little mage. No one important. She heard a voice, familiar in sound, though the sobs were not so familiar.

“No, we have who we need.”

Davien was right there in front of her, crying. Davien was scared too and that made it easier to bear. With a strangled cry, Pill curled herself around Davien’s legs. She still didn’t look , didn’t dare look. But she would hold Davien up. The smallest act of defiance against the dark, made out of pure cowardice.

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Threnn
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Re: The Wrath Gate

Postby Threnn » Fri Aug 14, 2009 10:23 am

It was almost a wonder no one heard the creaking and clanking of their slow-moving carts, packed in tight with barrels of liquid death. Liquid, of course, for a short time only. Once the catapults that lumbered behind the carts were in place, they'd let the vats fly, and the valley below would be filled with clouds of Putress' plague as the fragile glass shattered and sent its contents splashing up and out.

Apothecary Seemah smiled to herself beneath her heavy mask. The glory of it! The sheer exultation! The choked-off screams of the dying would be the sweetest dirge.

As their be-goggled battalion paused at the top of the rise, the battlefield spread out below them and they saw what, precisely, had masked the terrible thunder of their own approach: Arthas Menethil himself, holding armies of Horde and Alliance alike in thrall in front of his dread citadel.

One of her companions snickered. "They think they're frightened
now."

Seemah grunted in acknowledgement and looked down below. For her, there was no fear. There was only hatred. Hatred for those below who -- for a few more minutes anyway -- still had the gift of living flesh. Hatred for the Forsaken who had accepted this hideous state but not
embraced it, the ones who fought beneath Thrall's banner before deigning to carry the Dark Lady's, the ones who still clung to fantasies of being welcomed by the living if only they atoned enough for their terrible rotted state.

But most of all -- MOST of all -- hatred for Him. The Lich King. Arthas fucking Menethil, who had
made them all this way.

No, wait. Something else did share a room with hatred in the mansions of her mind:

Vengeance.

And she was here to be its Hand.

---

The Lich King's gaze passed from them. The cold remained, and the terror, but as he turned his attention back to Fordragon, the irregulars on the hill felt their wills seeping back. The fear was still there, but there was more to the world than consuming terror and despair; in the absence of Arthas's pummelling hate, there was room for hope. And Fordragon's words lifted to them, hurled at the Lich King, but heartening all who could hear.

Surely, Arthas had a retort, but whatever he had to say to Bolvar was upstaged by a ground-shaking roar, one that rocked even the Riders' line, and sent a few of them sprawling.

The screech of ungreased wheels and peals of malicious laughter drew all eyes to another rise, as the Apothecaries revealed themselves. They stood, faces covered in masks and goggles, loading barrels into the buckets of their catapults. One of them -- the laughing one -- stepped to the edge of the precipice. "Did you think we had forgotten? Did you think we had
forgiven? Behold, now, the terrible vengeance of the Forsaken! Death to the Scourge! And death to the living!"

They could only stand and watch as the catapults were loosed. Tiny projectiles flung out over the field, and where they fell to earth, where they smashed open upon the ground, a sickly green gas began to rise. The screams that carried to the Riders weren't merely panic. They were death-cries, torn from throats that rotted even as the sounds left their mouths. Those who could draw breath for a second only drew the sickness in deeper, hastening on the effects. They could only stare as the order came echoing through the smoke.

"Fall baaaaack!"

But there was nowhere to go, and what strength they had drained swiftly away. The gas rose, thick and roiling. From their vantage point on high, the Riders could no longer see Fordragon in the fog. But they could see Arthas, still, and the sweep of his cloak as he retreated into his citadel, Frostmourne howling at his side. The maw of Angrathar closed behind him, the Apothecary's victorious declaration echoing off its clenched saronite teeth: "Now, all can see. This... is the hour of the Forsaken."

The gas was rising, slow and sure, but they soon discovered it was the least of their problems.

They stared, stricken, at the carnage below, barely registering the Apothecaries' retreat. Then the hollow clang of Angrathar's gates reverberated in their bones, and hell was loosed a second time, right on top of them.

The Scourge, who had been content to chant their master's name and tear at their own flesh, broke upon them like a wave of putrid water. They lost all coordination; whatever ranks they'd formed before no longer mattered. Now, rotted things swarmed like frenzied rats, scrabbling at -- and, sometimes, through -- their allies to get at the living. Abominations swung massive maces, scattering the ghouls that raced past them. Skeletons scaled the cultists who'd held them at bay, tearing the skin from their commanders' outstretched arms as though trying to make them all the
same.

Geists appeared, peeking over the edge of the sheer cliff wall, chattering excitedly. Someone kicked at them, sent a few of them plummetting, but the gap was filled in a heartbeat.

The Val'kyr and Vargul of Ymirjar saw the chance to garner further favor with their King, and charged the line as well, trampling any Scourge that got in their way as their boots churned the ground. Having their faces shoved into the dirt didn't deter the ghouls; they followed in the Vrykul's wake.

The line was broken. No amount of shouting or chivvying or rallying could get it back. The only thing there was left to do, while the narrowest of gaps still remained, was retreat.

No, retreat was too ordered a word.

Flee.

The gas wormed its inexorable way towards them, forcing them in the opposite direction. On every other side, the Scourge closed in.

And in the distance, beneath the chattering of the walking corpses and the screams of the dying, came the beating of leathery wings.

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Re: The Wrath Gate

Postby Bricu » Sat Aug 15, 2009 8:21 pm

Surrounded by the sickly green mists of the Forsaken, The Bloody Prince faltered. Briefly. His legions, from reanimated skeletons to the vargul runecasters, howled with His fury. Even the Vrykul who fought at the line held by the Wildfire Riders screamed and bellowed in sympathy with his pain. Their Lord's pain only served to fuel their anger. As Arthas disappeared back into his citadel, His discipline, the control he held over the Vrykul broke. The primitive tactics they had shown, the formations they had held fled. There was no finesse in their attack, no graceful sword play to distract and impress opponents. They sang no war songs, but they screamed with His anger. They swung their heavy axes, swords and maces with a single purpose: To shatter those before them.

Varenna Sungale held the line. Both arms burned with fatigue. Her shield arm ached from the swarm of Vrykul that landed blow after blow. Her sword grew heavier with each parry, thrust and riposte. The Light came to her, easing her fatigue. The Light flowed through her sword arm, giving her the speed to not just riposte, but to counter attack. She pushed through the Vyrkul who stood before her, taunting them to close with her. She became a beacon of brilliance, holding the line against the Bloody Prince's monsters. Down the line, she could hear Jolstraer scream and curse at the the Vyrkul swarming him. Between them, Linedan stood toe to toe with the Vyrkul, exchanging blow for blow. Where Jolstraer screamed, Linedan was silent. His axe spoke volumes.

But the Vyrkul kept coming. One would falter, or die, and two more would fill his fallen comrade's place. Even those who suffered terrible wounds at the hands of any of the Riders--or Linedan--would claw their way back to the front, ready to die for the Lich King. Fighting them was as pointless as fighting the rising tides.

The three stood, and fought, but the tide of Vrykul was too much. Varenna, Jolstraer and Linedan were islands in a sea of berserking Vrykul. The line broke, and the tide of Vyrkul rushed up the hill. Jolstraer and Linedan rallied, pulling some of the Vyrkul back to fight. Varenna started to call upon the light to do the same when she saw Illithias, axes draw, rushing over the corpses of nerubians, Vyrkul and unlucky irregulars. Varenna saw the young elf leap into the scourge, swinging her axes in the same fashion as the Vyrkul that surrounded her: wildly,with abandon and to die in battle. Varenna looked back towards the hill, watching the vrykul rush towards her friends. She said a quick prayer for them before she called on the Light, and chased after Illithias.
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Threnn
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Re: The Wrath Gate

Postby Threnn » Mon Aug 17, 2009 8:46 am

((/jumps on the placeholding bandwagon.))

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Lansiron
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Re: The Wrath Gate

Postby Lansiron » Mon Aug 17, 2009 1:21 pm

((All the cool kids are doing it. I swear I'll fill these in. Snark from Norvallen and incoherent shouting from Lans incoming.))

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Beltar
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Re: The Wrath Gate

Postby Beltar » Mon Aug 17, 2009 1:24 pm

((Me too even though I still have to fill in my placeholder at the top of page 11. Sigh.))

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Jolstraer
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Re: The Wrath Gate

Postby Jolstraer » Wed Aug 19, 2009 10:07 pm

Beltar wrote:((Me too even though I still have to fill in my placeholder at the top of page 11. Sigh.))


((What he said.))
"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 Laurus » Thu Aug 27, 2009 6:17 pm

((Placeholder.))
"Power, it isn't something you put on or take off like a jacket. It's something you just ARE." -Xykon


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