The Angel of Death

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Loreli
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The Angel of Death

Postby Loreli » Fri Apr 30, 2010 8:29 pm

Cross posted from my blog, this takes place roughly four months ago-ish before Lore came back to Stormwind. It's long.. >.>

It’s too late to turn back now
It’s too loud to hear a sound;
I’m so lost I can’t be found;
It’s too late to turn back now
-Too Late - Dead by Sunrise


Tucked back in the snowy foothills of Icecrown was a small camp. It numbered no more than eight tents in all, doing a fair job of blending into the terrain. They flew their flags in Alliance-blue low which could only be spotted from a few short yards away. The flags did not sport the lion of Stormwind. In fact, today, they weren’t even ‘flying’ so much as hanging limply from their poles in the deathly still air. Normally SI:7 didn't bother flying colors at all but there was an Alliance regiment elsewhere in the area. While the likelihood of them stumbling upon the small camp was slim to none, Jaylen Sunshade didn’t want to take the chance that either party would shoot first and ask questions later.

It was early morning, Jaylen sat in his tent, drumming his fingertips lightly against the small table. He was a handsome kaldorei, with long, straight hair, dark blue, often worn in a braid. He wore a mix of leathers and furs without any marking of rank or allegiance and he wore them well. He was frowning as Loreli pushed back the tent flap and stepped inside. Jaylen still recalled the first night he’d seen her and how it hadn’t been long before he was talking to Shaw about her joining SI:7. Jaylen had found his way into Loreli’s good graces swiftly enough but their personal relationship had suffered slightly during her marriage. After the divorce, when Loreli went running back to 7 to escape and forget, Jaylen had been ready and waiting to provide comfort.

Jaylen noted that Loreli looked better than she had in recent days, but there were still dark circles under her eyes and it appeared she'd merely raked fingers through her hair rather than any actual attempt at order. It had been two months since Channi—Loreli’s daughter through adoption—had been reported MIA. Loreli had shortly thereafter ended her relationship with Jaylen, stating that it was unfair to him when she had nothing left to give. Nothing he’d said had convinced her she needed him now more than ever and she’d been avoiding him ever since. That was fine, she could fool herself for now, but he’d get her back.

Jaylen’s tent was sparsely appointed, as he preferred to give the semblance of having no more than those he commanded. What it did have in abundance were maps. They were strewn across the table surface but Jaylen ignored them. His irritation was solely for the kaldorei woman in his entryway.

Loreli couldn’t blame him. It had been at least a couple of hours since she’d gotten word of his summons. She knew she should care. She knew she should apologize. She should make an effort to conduct herself as a proper SI:7 agent. Without Channi, none of it mattered.

“You wanted to see me, Sir?” She asked.

“Ages ago, Tymara. I know the events of the last two months have been hard on you. However, that doesn’t mean you may use it as a crutch, or bank on certain aspects of our relationship, former or otherwise.”

Loreli began to form an outraged protest but the words died unspoken. She made no excuses, she had no desire to justify her actions. At this point in her life, stuck in this snowy piece of hell, she cared less and less if she lived or died.

Jaylen’s expression softened slightly, but his words carried no less weight, “If you continue to be a hindrance to this unit, I’m fully prepared to ship you back to Stormwind. Forcefully if needed.”

Stormwind was the very last place she wanted to go. She could always allow herself to be discharged and hop a ship to Darnassus, but what would she do there? Dodge Lyas forever? At least out here, there was a chance her death could serve some purpose. If Lyas killed her, no one would know and no one would care. Jaylen had her full attention now. “That wont be necessary, Sir.”

Jaylen heaved a sigh, knowing that was the best he was going to get out of the rogue. “I’ve got an assignment for you.” He stood up and spun one of the maps around to face her, “There's a company moving supplies from a staging camp here, up to this northern quadrant here.” He indicated the locations on the map of Icecrown.

Loreli raised an eyebrow, "So far from the Citadel?"

Jaylen shrugged, "Way I hear it, the leadership is getting ready for something big. Some sort of friendship forging, bond building trial by combat, or some such nonsense." He looked at her pointedly, “They’ve requested one of our scouts to accompany them. I’d like to give them our best, but I’m not sure she’s with us anymore.”

The words stung. They shouldn’t have, but they did. She stepped forward, noting the points he’d marked. She was quiet a moment, eyeing the terrain, pondering the safest yet most expedient route. There was an area of low-lying foothills towards the end of the trek, an area she wasn’t sure of. She’d recommend to the Captain in charge they skirt around them as best they could.

“You’ll meet them here at dawn.” Jaylen indicated another spot on the map about two miles from the supply caravan’s noted origin. She looked askance at him and he replied, “There’s a contingent of Ebon Blade stationed here. The caravan shouldn't meet trouble before they rendezvous with you."

Loreli made a crisp salute, almost too much so, "Sir." She turned to leave, not waiting for a dismissal.

"Lore..." Jaylen said. It was soft, barely above a whisper but she heard.

She paused, glancing over her shoulder at him, "Hm?"

"Be careful."

She nodded and dropped the tent flap behind her.

***

Loreli blew into her hands and rubbed them together vigorously. The morning had broken colder than normal with a bite to the air. The rogue kept a vigilant eye on the road, expecting the caravan at any moment. It was difficult to tell time in Icecrown. The scourge seemed to have corrupted everything, including the sky. It constantly felt like twilight here. Loreli didn’t mind the darkness; it was just always so bloody cold.

Figures started to emerge out of the distance. Loreli drew back into the snow covered rock formation. As they came closer, she identified the blue standards and the lion tabard. She jogged out to meet them, relishing the feeling of getting her limbs moving again. As the night elf approached, a draenei stepped forward, bearing shield and mace in challenge. It was a woman with dark skin and dark hair in ringlets around her shoulders. A large grey bear growled from the challenger's right. Bandits in Icecrown were rare, but there was also the Scarlet Crusade and the Cult of the Damned to worry about. Dressed as she was, in nondescript leathers and furs, face covered, Loreli could have been either.

The rogue was staring at the Draenei. Her raiment suggested shaman and so far she appeared to be quite well versed in the use of both mace and shield. As Loreli drew closer it became apparent that the large bear was a druid and she knew them both. "Arliece? Gin?"

The Draenei blinked and her face split into a grin, “Loreli! I heard you and Channi were in Dragonblight with SI:7. You’re our scout escort?” She stepped forward to grasp the rogue's hand but was blocked when a large shape stepped between the two women. The bear had shifted back to his elvish form and grabbed Loreli in an almost bone-crushing hug. Loreli chuckled and stumbled slightly as he let go.

"Hey Gin, how're you? Keeping her out of trouble?" Loreli asked, as she rolled her shoulders. Ginawa nodded and made a few quick hand gestures at Loreli. The rogue laughed and nodded. "Well, we can't all be as charming as you, Gin."

A much younger, higher pitched voice carried from somewhere within the crown. A few soldiers stepped aside. A young mage with her pale red hair bound in a pony-tail and a smattering of freckles on her face, emerged.

“Lore?! I heard Lore’s name. Lore can’t be here, she…” The mage girl stopped when she spotted the night elf woman, “Loreli!” She squealed, throwing herself at the rogue. Loreli couldn’t help but grin.

“Hey, Menley. They’re being good to you?” Loreli asked, indicating Arliece and Ginawa.

Menley giggled then nodded, “They do a good job of looking out for me.”

“Not that she needs it.” The Draenei grinned.

Menley continued, unperturbed, “It’s so great to see you! How are you? Those goons at SI:7 treating you okay? You look thin! Are you eating?”

Loreli and Arliece shook their heads, laughing. Ginawa smiled and watched the woman as they talked.

“I’ve missed you!” Menley said.

Loreli ruffled Menley’s hair, “Me too, kiddo.”

Menley pursed her lips and glanced past Loreli as if expecting something to come out of the snow behind her. "Channi back at the SI:7 camp?"

The rogue's expression was suddenly somber. She was aware of three pairs of eyes focusing on her, "We... lost Channi... two months ago." She mumbled.

Menley knit her brows together. She frowned and chewed on her lower lip, "Oh..."

Ginawa placed a comforting hand on Loreli's shoulder as Arliece gave the rogue a sympathetic look, "Oh Lore... I'm so sorry." She said.

“What in the nether is going on here?! Why are we stopped?” a third voice, this one male, demanded from the back of the caravan.

Loreli felt something twist in her stomach. That voice was all too familiar; especially raised in annoyance as it was. There was another disturbance amongst the soldiers. The clank of plate armor growing louder as the wearer approached.

“Oh no…” Loreli breathed, suddenly feeling nauseous. She swore harshly under her breath, causing Menley to blink in surprise.

A human male shoved his way to the front. He didn’t appear to be old, but his hair was graying at the temples. A bandage was wrapped around his head, covering one eye. The scarring peeking from under the gauze suggested, however, that it was a new injury.

“It’s the SI:7 escort, Sir.” Arliece said.

The man stood at the front of the line of soldiers, grumbling about the shady dealings of SI:7 and choice words about particular members. Loreli was fairly certain she caught her name amongst the tirade. He spotted the night elf rogue and swore.

“Nice to see you too, Laeth.” Loreli said. She managed to hold back the vast majority of sarcasm, even going so far as to offer a smile.

“Captain Weslock, to you.” He scowled, crossing his arms, “We don’t need a scout. Especially not an SI:7 spy. Go back to your whoremaster.”

“Gladly.” Loreli said, and meaning it. “Except, I have orders you can’t override.” She resisted the urge to slap him; refused to let him get to her.

“And so do we, Sir.” Arliece interjected, ignoring the scowl turned on her by the Captain.

Laeth turned his attention back to Loreli, the stare he gave her expressing a greater amount of displeasure than any words could manage. Loreli returned the look, cool and mostly untroubled.

Menley took an involuntary step back, as if afraid to be caught in the crossfire. “You two know each other?” she hazarded.

Loreli folded her arms across her chest. “Oh, we know each other, alright; unless Laeth wants to deny it.” Without another word, or even sparing another look for Laeth, she turned. “We’re heading out. Move!” She called. The soldiers in the front began to mobilize the others. Laeth’s scowl deepened, he raised his hand, halting them.

“Master Sergeant Tymara,” the Captain said with particular emphasis on her rank, “I’m in command. I give the orders.” He eyed her.

“Then give the order to move. I’m going.”

The rogue and the Captain glared at each other, neither willing to back down. Puzzle pieces started to fall into place in Arliece’s mind.

“Oh!” She exclaimed quietly, “Oh...”

Ginawa looked at Arliece, miming something. Arliece nodded with a frown. Menely was looking between them in confusion. “What?” The mage girl asked.

Arliece shook her head, putting a finger to her lips. The Draenei then stepped up behind the Captain and placed a cautious hand on his pauldron. “Sir, do we need to get moving or we'll fall behind schedule.”

Laeth shook her off and turned to the soldiers, “Move out!”

Arliece gave the rogue another look of sympathy. Loreli had been getting a lot of those lately; she was getting rather tired of it.

***

Menley and Arliece whispered back and forth quietly while Ginawa would make hand gestures. Though Menley was getting better at reading them, occasionally she had to look to Arliece for a translations. Loreli had borrowed one of the extra horses and currently rode out ahead of the group. Laeth’s scowl followed her and never left his face. Every so often the rogue would gallop off, disappearing into the distance, only to return a short time later. She’d exchange as few words with Laeth as possible before trotting out ahead of the group again.

“What’s the deal?” Menley whispered, stepping closer to Arliece, “They really seem to despise each other. I don’t think I’ve ever seen anyone rattle Lore so easily.”

Arliece shook her head sadly, “I’m pretty certain they used to be married." Ginawa mimed putting a ringer on his finger. Arliece nodded at him and continued, "I don’t know what happened, but I know it broke Loreli up pretty badly.”

Menley frowned and shot a glare at Laeth, “That’s awful.”

Arliece patted her young friend on the shoulder, “Now now. We don’t know the whole story. I find in these things one side is rarely the only to blame.”

Ginawa tilted his head at Arliece, glanced at Laeth, then glanced back. His expression was skeptical.

Menely jutted out her lower lip, she knew Arliece was right, “But… he’s such an asshole. I bet he cheated on her!” Her voice rose shrilly at the end. Laeth glance back at her in askance. The young mage girl turned bright right and bowed her head in apology.

Arliece blinked looking perplexed, “Who would turn Lore away from their bed?”

Menley eyed the shaman then stifled a giggle, “You’d take Lore to bed?” Ginawa grinned waggling his eyebrows at Arliece.

Arliece stopped, staring at Menley. One of the soldiers in formation behind them almost ran into her. Arliece mumbled apologies as Ginawa drew her out of the way. They started moving again as Menely burst into a fit of giggles.

“Well, not exactly. But I can appreciate why someone would want to!” Arliece was blushing slightly causing Menely to giggle harder.

“Maenestries!” Laeth’s voice carried back to them. Arliece stood up straight, saluting. Menley immediately sobered up and stood at attention.

“Lest you forget, this is hostile territory. I’ll thank you two to keep it down instead of bringing the scourge on us from all sides!” The Captain snapped.

“Then why are you shouting, ass?” The voice was quiet, meant only for Arliece, Menley and Ginawa to hear. Apparently Loreli had circled around and come up through the back ranks. Pulling the borrowed horse up alongside Arliece, she spared a grin for her friends.

“We should stop for the night.” The rogue said, more to herself than anyone else. She turned a look of distaste on Laeth and spurred the horse to a trot, pulling up along the Captain.

“It’s getting late. We should considering making camp.” Loreli told him.

“There’s a basin up ahead. We should camp there.” He replied, not looking at her.

Loreli blinked. She'd just returned from scouting that basin. There was only one path negotiable for their band in from the south and only one viable way out in the north. The west side sported high rocky cliffs. The east side was made up of only slightly more forgiving hillsides. The area above them was treacherous, riddled with deep snow drifts likely to snap a horse's ankle or break a wagon axle. They could go through the basin, but she'd prefer to do it in daylight. If they had to keep going tonight, the best route would be to the west side. There were points where the trail thinned considerably and it was a quite drop into the valley ringing Icecrown's center. It'd be much slower going but if they were careful it was easier to avoid the dangers.

“We’ll be sitting ducks.” She insisted, trying to remain calm.

“We’ll have the tactical advantage of being able to bottleneck anyone coming in.” He said, through gritted teeth.

Loreli folded her arms, “What about an aerial attack?”

“The basin is low enough. Visibility is so bad here at night and we’ll have enough ground cover. We shouldn’t be spotted from above.” He finally turned his irritated scowl on her.

“Are you daft?” She snapped, “We should camp at the head of the trail leading down. This group can mobilize fast enough, we can make a run for it if we get overwhelmed then use the bottleneck to our advantage. I think it’s idiotic to cripple us by blinding us on all sides.”

“I thought that’s what we were stuck with you for? Or are you incapable of even that much? I didn’t think they'd teach petty sneak-thieves and second-rate assassins proper tactics. I guess I was right.” Laeth sneered. He tugged on the reins and his horse came to a halt. He watched her, waiting for a reply.

Loreli’s expression fell and her shoulders slumped, “So we’re back to that again, are we?” She asked quietly, “Down talking me?" She shook her head, "You want to call me a whore next? You know how I love that one. Oh, wait. You pretty much already did.”

“Perhaps if you’d conduct yourself in a more respectable fashion the truth wouldn’t sting so badly.”

Loreli felt heat rise to her cheeks, her hands itched to strike out more than ever. “Funny, you didn’t seem to have an issue with my conduct when you MARRIED ME!” She had let him do exactly what she swore she wouldn’t. She was riled up now, hurt and angry, dredging through old memories she’d finally forgotten.

The rest of the company was watching them now. Her voice had carried to them but she paid no heed. Let them hear as the dirty laundry was aired out. Loreli knew she wasn’t entirely innocent in the collapse of her marriage to Leath. She did however know she was not wholly to blame.

“A mistake I think I rectified rather efficiently.” He hissed, leaning towards her. She caught his wary glance at the watching soldiers.

“A mistake?!” She demanded, “What’s the matter? Afraid your loyal followers will find out what an uncaring jerk you are? Well, I’ve got news for you! THEY ALREADY KNOW!”

“DON’T RAISE YOUR VOICE AT ME, WOMAN!”

“WHAT?! NOT USED TO PEOPLE FIGHTING BACK, ARE YOU?!”

Menely started as Arliece stepped forward.

“Where are you going?!” The young mage asked.

“To put a stop to this before they kill each other.”

Ginawa looked at Menley. He linked his fingers together before his chest and made a show of violently ripping his hands away from each other. He them hit his knuckles together, showing Menley the connection would no longer hold.

Menely nodded sadly, "You're right, Gin. Some things once broken can never be repaired."

***

Arliece argued with Laeth as fervently as she dared. The Captain refused to listen, intent instead, on flinging more insults at Loreli.

Soon camp was set up at the bottom of the basin, near the trail leading out on its northern edge. That left a whole lot of open space to the south. Loreli made mention to Laeth that she was not comfortable with their positioning. He made no effort to hide how annoyed he was as he assigned a patrol to the area. He then ordered Loreli not to worry about it.

"Now, go do something useful." He told her.

***

Loreli finished her perimeter sweep but did not return to Laeth’s tent to make her report. She was too worried she’d end up strangling him before she was done. Instead, she climbed to the top of one of the higher hills ringing the small basin they were camped in. There she sat staring out into the snowy, barren wasteland of Icecrown wondering if perhaps she should have to turned around and told Jaylen she was refusing the assignment the moment she saw Laeth. She felt as if her heart were breaking all over again and she didn’t even have Channi’s bright, reassuring smile to keep her going.

He’s right, you know? You’re worthless; nothing more than a petty thief,a poor excuse for an assassin and a cheap whore. Lyas would have gutted you by now if you’d stayed. The only thing you do well is lie. Maybe if you’d given a shit about someone beside yourself, Channi’d be alive. That’s right, you know she’s dead, why bother trying to convince yourself otherwise? That should have been you. You should have been there with her. Why weren’t you there?

Movement in the dim light off to her left caught her attention breaking her from the vicious mental circle she’d been running. The sounds of shuffling in the snowy darkness made her freeze, ears straining to hear. The smell of death and decay assailed her nose and she bit back a curse. Quickly she got to her feet drawing her daggers but she was too slow, a blade leveled itself at her and she stared up into the cold blue eyes of a death knight, well aware that this was no freed servant of the Ebon Blade. The chill emanating from the dark plated figure before her cut straight to the bone, scourged ghouls assembled behind him en-masse.

There was nowhere to run. She was surrounded by scourge on all sides with no clue how many she actually faced. Stepping back, she’d be met with an almost sheer rock face, dangerous to traverse even in daylight. If she were lucky, maybe they didn’t know the camp was there. All the fires were out and the bottom of the basin was black as pitch. She could attempt to cut a swath through the scourge lining the cliff and lead them away from the caravan resting below. It was assuredly suicide but her death was a small price in exchange for her friends and the soldiers below. This was her fault anyway.

Without a word or a glance spared for the death knight she dropped to the ground, rolling precariously close to the ledge. One leg came up knocking the rune-blade away, though the death knight maintained a grip on his weapon. Rising to her feet, she laid into the scourge blocking her way to the left and away from the trail leading downward. The mindless ghouls closed in around her, the death knight cutting a path through them heedless of their waste, trying to get to her as well. She was almost clear of the scourge blockade. Loreli risked a glance backward, the death knight had broken off his pursuit. He gestured and the endless wall of scourge began to scramble over the edges of the cliff, freefalling into the basin below.

Loreli paused, stunned. The full weight of the threat began to come clear. The first round of scourge into the bowl may be immobile but the other going in after that would have a considerable cushion. Any not smashed into a fine bone powder could be raised again at the bottom. She needed to sound the alarm.

“SCOURGE! SCOURGE! TO ARMS!” Loreli called into the darkness, with no clue if anyone heard or not. Her festering barricade was closing in tighter around her. She'd lost all the headway she'd made and still no response signal from the camp below. She flipped a dagger, tucking the blade against her forearm, digging in one of the many pockets on her gear. Her other hand still slashed at the scourge, though the gesture was futile. Pulling the flare from her pocket she popped the end causing it to ignite almost blinding in the darkness. Loreli had barely a moment to fling the beacon into the sky before the ghouls swarmed her over the edge of the cliff.

Loreli barely registered the sensation of falling. She knew even if she didn't die on impact with the ground, she was as good as dead anyway. She'd be in no condition to fight back. The scourge would kill her and raise her and send her against her companions. Well, she had lantern fluid and she had flint and tinder, she just hoped her hands were in good enough condition to use them if it came to it. THUD!

Loreli heard a sickening crack come from somewhere, stars exploded before her vision and pain lanced up her left arm. It took a good few moments for her to register what had happened. Surely as the scourge were cushioning the fall of their forces, they'd done the same for her. Except, she was pretty sure her arm was broken and thus useless. One good arm with a dagger was not enough to ward off an army of ghouls but she had to move. Pain thudded harshly against her skull but she forced herself to get up and stumble towards the camp. The scourge were mobilizing, slowly, but mobilizing they were.

There were lanterns being lit up ahead, winking to life in the darkness. Either the camp had seen her flare or the first wave of scourge had hit. She prayed to the Light, to Elune, to anyone who would listen that it was the former. Upon entering the camp she was immediately met with a cross-bow bolt shoved menacingly in her face.

"For the love of Elune, don't shoot!" Loreli raised her good arm, leveling a half glossed gaze at the soldier. "Where's Captain Weslock?" She asked.

"How do I know you're not scourged?" The young soldier demanded. Behind him the camp was organized chaos. Soldiers were running back and forth, readying weapons, relaying and carrying out orders. Loreli spotted the back of Menley's head congregating with the other spell casters, but Arliece wasn't among them and neither was Ginawa.

"I may be shambling like one, but I assure you, I am not scourged." Loreli snapped in no mood to have this argument.

"Let her through!" The young soldier immediately retrained his cross-bow elsewhere upon Laeth's barked order.

“That was a hell of a stunt you pulled up there, Lore.” He scowled, “You have my thanks…”

Loreli blinked in surprise just as a high-pitched scream rang above the clash of weapons. “Menley!” The rogue dashed through the combatants, finally reaching the spot where the arcane group had been gathering. One or more of them had dropped a death knight but he’d managed to run Menley through with his sword.

"She was trying to save me..." Someone nearby said, though Loreli didn't pay attention to whom.

Loreli looked around frantically. “Medic! Where’s Arliece?!” She demanded.

“Sir!,” one of the other mages—a gnome—acknowledged Laeth as he came up behind Loreli. “The north edge of the camp has been overrun. Maenestries and the druid were with them.”

Loreli looked up, kneeling, she was eye to eye with the gnome, “What about the other healers?” She asked.

There were screams ranging from around the camp now. A few of the tents had caught fire and most of the soldiers were too busy defending their lives to do anything about it. Loreli glanced over her shoulder at Laeth who was staring at her left arm.

"Gods Lore, your...!"

"I'll be fine!" She insisted, getting to her feet. To the gnome she said, "Stay with her. I'm going over there."

"Lore! You can't..." Laeth began to protest but she was already gone. With a curse he turned to one of the soldiers, "Round up as my of the healers as you can find and bring them back here. The rest of you, hold ground! We'll need for reform if we're to survive this." He waited just long enough to receive salutes then went off in search of Loreli.

The northern edge of the camp was ablaze, smoke rising into the dark sky above. It was also completely overrun by scourge. There weren't any Alliance troops in sight, there weren't even any corpses, meaning the victims had either been raised by the enemy or the bodies had been disposed of to keep them from doing just that. If Arliece and Ginawa were numbered among those lost already Loreli would never find the pair and she knew the druid wouldn't have let Arliece out of his sight. If they died, they died together.

Her head was pounding harder and the pain in her arm was lancing through her shoulders. She needed to get back to others so they could regroup.

"LORE! MOVE!" Laeth slammed into her from the right. They went down, lading hard in the blood soaked snow. Loreli cried out as she landed on her broken arm, which turned to surprise as she felt the energy and heard the sizzle of magic. Laeth lay unmoving on the ground next to her. She struggled to turn him in the heavy plate armor, knowing that whoever cast that would be along shortly to finish the job. Laeth's eyes were glassy as they stared up at her, there was a smoking hole in his breast plate. He'd taken the blast meant for her full-on.

"Sweet light of Elune! You stupid STUPID man! I'm no leader! Who's going to get us out of this now?!" She demanded, feeling tears of frustration forming. True, she and Laeth didn't get along in the end, were cruel and bitter towards one another but she had never wished anything like this on him, especially not in her place.

"Lore..." His voice barely carried over the sounds of combat, "I'm... sorry... for how... it ended."

"Shut up!" She snapped, "Just..." Her voice softened, "Just shut up and die with some dignity, you ass." But he was already gone. Choking back a sob she pulled his sword from his hand and grabbed a piece of burning debris. Loreli pulled the small bottle of lantern oil and poured it over the body. She dropped the make-shift torch and only hung around long enough to ensure that it lit before she turned and headed back towards the other end of camp.

Menley had died in the short time Loreli had been gone. The soldier tasked with locating the healers reported in a shaking voice that the scourge had had the same idea. He found them, just in time to watch them be slaughtered. He could not confirm if Arliece had been among them and no one could say they'd seen Ginawa either.

Loreli looked around. There were so few of them left; a couple of heavy fighters, a warlock, the gnome mage and herself. She looked between them, feeling helpless. She pulled another flare from her pocket.

"Are you insane?" The warlock asked incredulously, "That'll bring even more of them down us."

"In case you hadn't noticed, we're dead anyway. This might bring help. I'm willing to risk it." Loreli looked around at the others who nodded their accession. She swallowed hard, broke the end and nodded to the warlock, "If you would." She threw it as high as she could. The warlock shot a bolt of energy at it, knocking it higher into the sky and causing it to burn brighter.

"Now, we fight... and pray." Loreli said.

They lasted longer than she expected. The melee fighters in plate went down first, as they'd formed up trying to protect Loreli and the spell casters. The gnome fell next. Loreli bit her lip, fumbling in her pockets for the rest of the lantern oil. She glanced briefly at the warlock, even as exhausted and haggard as the human woman appeared, Loreli could tell she was beautiful.

"What's your name?" Loreli asked.

"Verlyas. Yours?"

"Loreli. It was a pleasure fighting along side you, Verlyas. I'm sorry I failed."

The woman shook her head, giving Loreli a sympathetic look, "We never stood a chance."

The scourge closed in around them, Loreli heard Verlyas' body hit the snow. She was still fumbling for the bottle of lantern oil when something traced a line like fire across her back. She was barely aware of the wet heat spreading out from the contact point, her voice crying out as she fell. The ground was cold, so cold. It ripped all the warmth from her body. She stared up into the smoke filled sky. A face swam in her vision, a girl in her late teens, black hair pulled back into a pony-tail. Her eyes were the blue glow of the death knight, but that was wrong.

They should be green, was her last thought.
"A little extra DPS never killed anyon... Oh wait."
"Still alive, I see. Clearly you're not trying hard enough."

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