Page 9 of 12

Re: The Wrath Gate

Posted: Tue Jul 21, 2009 11:50 am
by Bricu
The wind carried the sounds of battle to the ballistae perch. Bricu's gnomish glass was dented and useless, but he did not need the gadget to see how the battle in the valley was turning. He could see the battle standards from the Horde joining Highlord Bolvar's forces, their war horns and drums adding to the cacophony of the fight. But if the war in the the valley below was loud, the fight down the path was deafening. His friends--his family--were fighting on the line, giving more time the Sorceresses tent behind him. Orders and curses were being shouted in at least three different languages.

Tarq went to the Riders--and the Noxies--on the line, at Bricu's suggestion. Now he had to prepare to support their arrival.

"Belt! Ulth! Have Squealer an' that godsdamned cat harry the geist lines. Concentrate yer fire on the tall bastard. Give Renna' an Jolly enough time t'group up. Balthasar, help me get that one Ballistae in position. Lanna, Isi, scavenge more bolts. Private!" Bricu turned back to his wife. She was the vision of a professional solider--with a pregnant belly--but her saw the anger behind her mein. "Prepare t'recieve the wounded."

"Yes sir!" she shouted.

I'll be hearin' 'bout the deal. When we get out o'here... Bricu allowed himself the thought as he helped the younger Ebon Knight pull the salvageable ballistae back into position.

"Sergeant, how many shots do you expect to get with this thing?"

"One, maybe two. Enough t'give the ladies a shot at whatever the hell they're doin." Bricu strained every muscle tugging and eventually pushing the siege weapon onto safe ground. Jakob Balthasar didn't seem to have nearly the same difficultly.

"Oi, Jak. When the time comes, we're gonna need ta help at the line. The stones'll make it difficult for the taller rotters, but the geists an' scarabs'll just scale 'em then fight o'er 'em. Ready for it?"

"Looking forward to it."

"Remember that when we back t'back, surrounded by death an' snow. Now get movin'!"

The Balistae and Balthasar in position, Bricu watched as his wife took to her healers duties. She didn't look up. Bricu didn't tarry.

"Larra, take aim at their fuckin' runecaster in the back. I want that tosser's head t'fly all the way t'Dalaran."

Re: The Wrath Gate

Posted: Tue Jul 21, 2009 12:13 pm
by Ulthanon

Re: The Wrath Gate

Posted: Tue Jul 21, 2009 9:17 pm
by Jolstraer

Re: The Wrath Gate

Posted: Wed Jul 22, 2009 7:32 am
by Tarq
The Enemy hadn't spoken to him.

Jakob stood on the crest of the hill, running a whetstone down the edge of his axe. The dead Nerubian had put a notch in it, and that could be very dangerous in a proper melee. So with time enough to breathe, he smoothed out his weapons, collected himself, and wondered what had just happened. Ordinarily, embracing a monster's visage and power had its price, and that was the demanding, all-consuming voice of its author. His Master's voice, for a short time, and again if they failed. Here, on the border of the Lich King's own home and hearth, Jak had prepared himself for the worst, and so prepared, had done what was necessary.

But there had been nothing. No whispers, no accusations, no commands. That hollow, hateful voice, tinged with the petulance and bitterness of its component entities, had been completely silent. He had taken note of it at the time and continued on with the slaughter that had commanded his transformation. Only now, with the mosaic of his soul - his self - returning to overlay his body's sparse architecture, could Jakob consider it. Why hadn't the Lich King spoken to him? If anywhere, it should be here.

He cast incurious eyes over the battlefield below. Yva and her companions had done their work well, he was manifestly unsurprised to recount. The canyon was a blasted waste of slush, char, and fragments of bone. Even the body of the colossus was mostly reduced to cracked coal. Yva, Davien, and the Crownsilver woman were in the center of it, slowly making their way back towards the hill. He could see their exhaustion from here. I ought to go down, he realized, and turned to tell Bricu of his intentions.

That was when it started - with the scraping of claw and boot, the guttural workings of broken and rotten lungs. And as the dead came up from the earth and began their mindless evocation, chanted the name that was stamped across every fiber of their pale and bloody existence, Jakob heard something else. Felt it, more, a thumping susurrus in his tendons. The chill embraced him like a stern but loving father.

"No," he mustered, his tongue numb and wooden. "Not now."

He knew now why the Enemy had not spoken to him before. It was the same reason a captain would not bother sending a messenger to his own guard when he could simply walk outside his tent and tell them.

Arthas was here.

Re: The Wrath Gate

Posted: Wed Jul 22, 2009 3:14 pm
by Beltar
Linedan stood and watched the Kor'kron pour down the hill from their encampment, slamming into the flank of the Scourge forces in an unstoppable wave of blood-colored tabards. He felt a fierce pride and a fierce longing.

The pride was obvious, as he watched the elite of the Kor'kron overwhelm the ranks of the undead. Thrall's Horde, the true Horde. Orcs, freed from demonic possession; the Darkspear, the most civilized of the troll tribes; the Shu'halo, fighting so that the Earthmother's chosen land would never know the taint of plague; the Forsaken, here to exact their most deserved revenge; and the Sin'dorei, bloodied but unbowed, killing with the names of their dead families on their lips. They, too, had suffered at the hands of the Scourge...and they were here today, the hammer of the Warchief and the arrow of the Dark Lady, to strike at the heart of the Lich King.

The longing was just as obvious. Linedan lifted his eyes across the pass, to the area around the Vanguard. There stood a great crowd of fellow Horde, cheering on the Kor'kron. Increasing numbers were streaming down to join them as the battle raged. That, thought Linedan, is where I should be. Not here, on the wrong side of the lines, fighting among...

He looked around, at the men and women surrounding him on this hillside. They had fought bravely, no doubt. Their stand here was worthy of an orcish warsong, or of a tale told around a campfire when Her eyes rose into the night sky, and he had done his part. But they were not his people. They would never be his people. To him, they looked no different than the ones who had razed Tarren Mill, who had killed the young in Bloodhoof Village, whose king had tried to kill the Warchief in the bloody wreck of the Royal Quarter in Undercity. He did not know if he could trust them...would he feel a knife in his back after his purpose here was served? It had happened before, with such as these.

He'd lost track of where Rashona and Corspilla had gone. The only friendly face he saw was Davien Stonemantle's, far behind, still joined with the two human cows in the magical ritual that had rained devastation upon so many of Arthas' minions. I should protect her, he thought. We must stay together.

But before he could move, the undead began to rise again from the ground. Linedan sighed, and tightened his grip on his shield. He felt the rage rise within him as he prepared to defend himself yet again. And the thought idly flashed through his mind as he did...given how the rest of his life had gone, perhaps it was appropriate that he might die on an icy hillside, so far from home, surrounded not by clan, but by pinkskins who would probably just as soon see him dead.

Earthmother, he silently prayed, at least let me die fighting.

Re: The Wrath Gate

Posted: Wed Jul 22, 2009 7:44 pm
by Threnn
His name reverberated through the hills, echoed off cliffs of ice and stone, the Bloody Prince's name become a prayer shouted from rotting throats. Beneath it, the Highlord's voice carried still, a condemnation running counterpoint to worship.

Then they hushed. Then they
all hushed, the silence falling swift and heavy, like an executioner's axe.

The maw of Angrathar was opening once more.

Before, it had parted just enough to let the Vrykul surge through the gaps between its jagged teeth of saronite and stone, like venom dripping from the mouth of a poisonous beast. Now, though, now
(oh gods oh Light oh Elune oh Makers NOW), metal screamed on metal as, within, chains pulled taut on their winches and opened wide the jaws of the Lich King's fortress.

Were there words trapped in those metallic screeches? Did something
whisper within the saronite?

(All that you know will fade. Give in to your fear.

It WAS your fault.)

The scourge let up a cry, ululating shrieks climbing to the skies in anticipation of their master's appearance. Abominations lifted their own chains in clumsy, corpse-pale fingers and rattled them, mimicking the sound of the gates. Ghouls fell to their hands and knees, rolling and writhing in the snow. They slammed already-ruined faces against the ground, splitting putrescent skin open on jagged bits of ice and anointing their foreheads with whatever ichor leaked from the wounds.

On the hill, silence reigned. The irregulars tore their gazes from Fordragon and Saurfang the Younger, tore them away from the maddened scourge, and stared into the darkness that pooled deep within the gate to Icecrown Citadel. Leather creaked as hands tightened on blades, as fingers numb with cold checked the straps on shields. Someone whispered a prayer, half-heartedly, but even that fell away.

Footsteps in the dark, ringing out across the hills. The scourge went quiet again, trembling with the nearness of their master.

Step. And step. And step. The only sound that might have been louder came from within -- the slamming of their hearts in their ears.

A tinge of palest blue, coalescing around a sword -- keen-edged, demon-forged. (And did they yearn towards it, even just a bit? Even from this distance? The power, oh, to wield even the slightest --


The Bloody Prince -- The Lich King --
Arthas -- stepped forth from the darkness, scattering all thoughts of the sword.

Scattering all

Once, years ago, the Light itself had bathed him in its radiance and his people had lined the streets to beg a blessing from the prince in his shining armor. Now it was blue rather than gold that swirled about him, and Lordaeron's colors had been replaced with plate the color of ash, adorned with skull and spike and claw. Wisps of pale, bone-white hair escaped from his many-horned helm. Shadows covered his face, all of it, except for the glowing azure pinpoints that were his eyes.

Even from so far away, the Lich King

"You speak of justice? Of cowardice?" His voice carried to them, high on their hill. It was the voice of the sepulchre, of moonless nights in ancient tombs, and frozen winds tearing through graveyards in the dead of winter.

The cold reached them, then -- not on a breeze, not in a sudden gust, without even with the slightest stirring of air to herald its advance. Where they had been warm from battle -- from the heat of swinging swords and staves, from darting in and out of enemy lines with knives and spells, from loading and reloading their bows and guns and ballistae -- they were suddenly chilled to the bone. The last heat from Crownsilver's conjured fire, the flare that had turned tundra into so much mud and char, even that was gone.

They hissed and wrapped their arms around themselves, stamped feet that felt like blocks of ice in their boots, breathed into cupped hands to cajole feeling back into their fingers.

But still the cold remained. Biting, stinging, so
complete they were certain they might shatter.

The voice came again. "I will show you the justice of the grave..." The helm turned, as Arthas surveyed the field spread out before him, tens of thousands gathered on his doorstep. The horned head took an eternity to sweep its gaze across the legions, but the Lich King had all the time in the world. That cold blue gaze cast out along the valley, from low to high, and at last, it passed over the hill where the irregulars stood, unable to look away. "...and the true meaning of fear."

The Lich King's glare was a weight on every shoulder. It was as though the air had suddenly grown dense, too thick to breathe. Some of them gasped, the air fleeing their lungs and refusing to return. Some staggered back a step, two, under its harsh gravity. Others were pressed to their knees, drawing ragged, choking breaths, certain he'd seen them, he'd seen them, he'd seen -- into their hearts, into their darkest memories. Into the places where they hid their secrets, even from themselves.

And he knew.

The gibbering returned, and there were those who were unsure whether it was the mindless voices of the scourge, or whether it was the terror escaping their own throats.

(There is no escape... not in this life... not in the next...
You will be alone in the end.
This kingdom shall fall.

Give in to your fear.
Give in to your fear.
Give in.)

Re: The Wrath Gate

Posted: Wed Jul 22, 2009 8:41 pm
by Bricu
There was a part of Bricu's heart, safely nestled underneath enchanted steel, battle ready muscles and a thick core of cynicism that wanted to bark out orders to aim and fire. Every other aspect of his being told him to flee. He tried to move, to lift his legs and run to Threnn, but he was frozen in place. Even his guts were tied into a knot. One thought slipped through--Threnn. He was able to turn his head and see her, stock still, held by the same fear he was. Threnn, and the baby, held in place by the Lich King. Guilt brought another thought--he had brought his family to die here. Bricu, Threnn and their child would die here...

Bricu managed to force his thoughts to his service dagger. Straight Stratholme steel, a holdover from a just before the Bloody Prince earned his name. He could use it to cut the armor straps free--Threnn's greaves, leg plates and spaulders--and run. Get her and the wee one out of the Hi's grasp. He tried to reach for the dagger, tried to will his legs to move, tried to move. With all his will, all he could do was look at his wife and grind his teeth in worry.

Bricu tried to call upon the Light to free himself, Threnn or anyone near her. It couldn't answer his call. It didn't break through the gloom.

Even the Light is scared to tread here now.

Watching Threnn, he saw something move in the snow behind her. Something small--insignificant--but something. It was white, with small, pointy ears and a long snout that ended in a coal black spot. It was hard to see with snow and ice, but there she was. A Fox. Bricu knew this was his vixen. She ran towards Threnn, her bushy tail up and out of the snow. She glanced at up at Threnn then back to Bricu. The two locked eyes for a heartbeat. The vixen darted off towards the tent where Genise, Yva and Davien had prepared their spell.

Bricu prayed once more, one that he barely remembered from his youth. The Light came to him briefly, just enough to free him from his fear, and he sprinted towards Threnn. He called upon Fox to steal enough Light to keep her safe, and Bricu saw her armor shine with the Light's protective glow. Bricu pulled out his service dagger. He told Threnn what he was going to do, but the first explosion interrupted him, and sent him to the ground. As he reached for his service dagger, Bricu saw the sickly green mist begin to fill the valley below...

Re: The Wrath Gate

Posted: Thu Jul 23, 2009 1:12 pm
by uthas

Re: The Wrath Gate

Posted: Thu Jul 23, 2009 1:25 pm
by Tarq
He shouldn't have been surprised when it happened. In the weighing-out of things, Tarquin was a man who made his living on lies - to his victims, to his enemies, to the powerful who could blot out his little world like a wine stain if they felt it worth the effort. Even, when he needed to, to his own. The world was an engine that ran on deceit. What d'yeh expect?, he'd said, called a liar to his smiling face. Honesty'd hardly rate a virtue if iv'ry bloke wis ta take it ta bed. Even here, at the world's frozen edge, he'd brought his lies with him, dressed up in a little suit called Hope and trotted out to be adored. He hadn't expected to believe them too, was the problem; hadn't expected them to have that uncomfortable ring of truth.

And you don't get attached to a lie. Sooner or later, they all get found out.

"Thir fuckin' well losin' it!" he cackled over the bowel-loosening chants and moans. "Yelpin' thon name like wir ta shite it oafay some...menacin' syllables. As well chant Turnips! Turnips!" There was a bit of scattered repartee from the Riders on the ground, no more. Tarquin pressed on; he didn't know much about tactics, but he knew the efficiacy of bullshit as a weapon. "Let's gang an' drag the witches oan back here, they've had thir fun." He turned to Jolstraer to have that translated to Military, and that was when the silence fell. That was when the Wrath Gate screeched open, and something walked out.

Tarquin didn't credit it at first, the form of the Enemy, even with the footsteps ringing for miles and the sword pale with horror. It didn't seem real. Just another convenient lie, a return stroke in the battle of who would break first. He needed some words, some scheme, something to counter this dread. The hell did it come from?

When the cold found him, he understood. His bones felt brittle as glass; when he took a breath, his throat burned like he'd swallowed Nifflevar snow, and the spit dried in his mouth and tasted of iron. His knives were useless weights strung to a fragile , and as for the sword in his hand, that was a comic prop, a weapon wielded by a man who couldn't use it against a foe who wouldn't feel it. He would have laughed, but the cold reached into him and killed the giggle in its birth throes. The Enemy was speaking, but words in that mouth didn't have any meaning. all he heard was a death-rattle in hope's throat.

The Enemy looked at him, then. Looked across the field, his eyes sweeping across miles of mountains. The Riders had to be ants to him, like all the others, but still his eyes found them, one by one, and ten thousand others. Tarquin had pictured facing the Bloody Prince before, of course, and imagined the thing beneath his helm. It'd either pissed and moaned, with Arthas Menethil's famed petulance, or looked at the Riders with distant, alien eyes; so far beyond them it couldn't be bothered. But this was neither.

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

The look that sent him stumbling back, turning away, dropping his sword in the unforgiving snow, was heavy with hatred he couldn't hope to match. Arthas Menethil begrudged the world his failures, Ner'Zhul blamed them for his torments, but the Lich King hated everything that had the teremity to live. Every step taken, every word uttered, without his bitter will driving it, stabbed like knives. "Pride" was the wrong word; the Lich King was no more proud than mountains were. This was inevitability.

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

Bile surged up from the back of Tarquin's throat, and he retched in the bloody snow. This morning, he'd promised that they would remind the Bloody Prince of fear. He'd told another pretty lie, and told it so well he'd believed it too. Arthas knew fear perfectly well. Knew it like a lover's caress, like a father's hand, like the taste of his own spit in his mouth. It was his weapon and his companion. Tarquin had led the Riders here to wield that very weapon, and it did all the good of drowning the ocean in pebbles.

Frostmourne howled below, and a rustling gasp crossed the valley. Someone is dead. The dead were shrieking again, their master's name swelling to encompass the entire world, the million-throated entity that was the insatiable Scourge. The Oathbreaker hung his head, the taste of vomit in his mouth, his limbs leaden and useless in the consuming cold. Never again, he thought, the irony puncturing even his dread. Of course, never again. This is how it ends.

Re: The Wrath Gate

Posted: Thu Jul 23, 2009 1:50 pm
by Yva
Dead, dragging herself from a mass tomb where a name was a faded memory sewn into the tapestry that was a human life. Her tapestry had unraveled, its seams splitting apart. The faces were distorted and cracked, the dyes had run black. The scenes left upon the loom were twisted and wrong and so very sad.

You didn't know fear then.

Mad, hunting a man that loved her across the world as his songs bought him nights in inns, nights of sweat and the musty stink of love with other daughters of other men. Finding him in Southshore, singing HER song to a girl with dewdrop eyes and a cherry mouth. The guards came, tried to hurt her, tried to kill that which had already suffered the indignities of a plagued death.

You didn't know fear then.

Free, allowing herself to love again, finding solace from madness in the arms of a tall man with a black hat. Hearing promises and soft words to sooth her troubled mind. Forever, he'd said, but then the morning came where he was gone. Waiting until dust settled on her shoulders, until cobwebs rested upon her hair like a bride's veil. Such a fool, Yva Darrows. Realization, understanding, and sorrow that forever had come and gone, she fell into the deep waters of the northern oceans, allowing the abyss to take her.

You didn't know fear then.

Awake, crawling to the shores, stumbling to Winterspring with nothing but her song and her ice, having men and killing them for the sin of making her acquaintance. Forgetting much but remembering a child, one given to her by a man who wanted to hurt her. She reclaimed the babe, the babe and more, and ushered them back to her home beneath the snows. And then the hunt began. They came for her in droves, trying to discover her ice laden kingdom, to shatter it, but it was Wueten who unearthed her, who took her children but would not take her life.

You didn't know fear then.

Reborn, repaying her debts to humankind by clearing their streets of unsavories, marking the passage of time by the corpses left in her wake. Befriending the Riders, aiding them as best she can, all the while stomaching their distrust and fear. Jakob Balthasar seeking her, asking her to the north on a mission too convoluted to succeed. Friends then, and only friends until that one fateful night, but then he was taken, taken and dismantled by the lich, his identity ripped apart and remolded in Arthas's fashion. She'd returned to Azeroth alone but undeterred. She would not abandon another to death when she had the power to stop it.

You didn't know fear then.

Content, discovering Jak alive and well, a solid comfort by her side. Wrestling his sister away from the twisting path and nearly dying in the process, her own ice magics used to split her chest apart. Worth it, some said, when Mara walked free of her bindings. The wounds healed, Threnn had seen to that, and Jak had stayed by her side even when Mara had wandered away. She swallowed her excuses and allowed him into her heart, trying once again for that elusive happiness. She believed his promises, ones so like Melciah's that it was almost eerie at times, and she knew she was either fortune's own child or an utter fool.

You didn't know fear then.

Exhausted, dismantling the droves of undead before her thanks to a magical tie so tight, it constricted her chest and held her voice hostage. Feeling them, Stonemantle and Crownsilver, feeling their burning and pulsing and throbbing as if it were her own, magic soaring inside of her until it would pour from her eyes and ears in a sparkling wash of power. Ice and shadows flickering over her skin, sweeping over the land like a swarm of angry stinging bees with the singular purpose of destruction. Success then at this dark hour, until He'd arrived. The gates opened, the dark lord stepped through and surveyed the carnage before him, his glowing eyes coming to rest upon the women mid field, the armies surrounding them, and the people on the ballistae. He raised his sword and the dead screeched their adoration, their voices a horrific orgy of sound that echoed through the valley and over the snow capped hills.

Tired, drained of her magics and their terrible potential, she fell to her knees, her hands splaying before her in the snow.

Now, now you know fear.