The Captain

“Pitched battles are the worst kind,” Captain Raymond Stonemason was told by his commander, General Williamson. “Neither side can back down; else the loss is twice as bad. You must win by slaughter, not by tactics.” The general let out a sigh and peered over the field of battle. Unphased by the sounds of ballistae firing or the cracks of landing boulders he looks again at his trusted Captain. “Enough of this, time to remind them we’re here. Raymond, get me Elryck and any soldier that will follow him.”

Raymond sped off toward the aid station set up far to the rear and out of sight of the battle. Stretchers were laid out over a large area. The ground was red from their wounds, and the smell of decay was as strong as the field of battle. In this place, however, there was hope. Priests, Druids, and Paladins attended wounded each offering the comforts of their magic as they could. As Raymond approached, a few looked up. His grim look told them all why he came. “Elryck, where is Elryck? The General has called him up.” “We need his skills here, tell the General he has to find another!” demanded one of the druids.

“No. I’ll attend the General. I need a moment though, to finish my work.”

“He wants you there…”

“I will go when I am ready and not a moment sooner!” Elryck wandered away for a moment, and began healing groups at once; each step of the way draining his power and taxing his spirit. He approached the high priestess and nodded at her. She argued for a moment, but relented. She spoke a short enchantment and Elryck was reborn. He turned and even the light near him seemed to dim slightly. “I’m ready.”

The two trotted back to the general. On their way a number of soldier noticed and most became very busy suddenly, but a few mostly those with no hope in their eyes, formed ranks. The General’s record keeper stood and began writing down the names of those who fell in ranks behind. “50 gold coins to each of their families, not a copper less, and 10 more for each of their children.”

“… and 25 more for their mothers from me.” Elryck added, “Where?” he looked to the General for an order.

“Rip a path through the east flank and draw their infantry there. Raymond, take the 3rd cavalry down the path behind them when they give chase, then turn in to take the graveyard. I want to end this fast. We can not afford these heavy losses any longer. The Abbey will advance when they turn to defend. The light shine on you both and luck favor the brave. Elryck turned to his newly formed unit and opened his mouth as if to speak but no words came out. Instead he pointed to a weapons cache and the men all ran over. They stripped their armor down to a breastplate and helm only, and picked up a small sword for each hand. Elryck began the process of giving them all prayers and protections. HE called over every officer available who did the same. Again he turned to the group to speak. His face twisted and the shadows overtook him, “We. Do. Not. Stop.” Without another word he turned and the group walked toward the lines.

“General, the slaughter has moved in.”

“Raymond, go.” The sound of hooves was the only reply.

“Do you think he’ll make it?”

The General didn’t respond. He turned to another in his command tent, “We need a replacement and more for the aid station -- priests if possible. Get them here yesterday.”

A message arrived in the Chapel of the Light, “Please send as many healers as you can spare. -General Williamson.

“Seven, I have a task for you. Please attend the aid station at chillwind. There is a griffon waiting for you.

Raymond’s unit rode through the line and deep into Scorge territory before they met any resistance. Once they reached the graveyard, however, eruptions of rock and bone came from the ground as though birthed in an unholy ceremony. Demons and Skeletons ripped rider from horse and limb from body, limbs asunder. The unit fought hard, but the battle was loosing till Raymond noticed a group of warlocks behind the caretakers shack and sped toward them. With only a few carefully targeted swings he was able to fell most but his selection of target was not ideal. The most powerful was left to finish their incantation and called a massive stone guardian. Raymond was lifted from the ground and smashed back then pounded like a pile into the ground. By the time his soldiers noticed what was happening and slew the warlock, Raymond was unconscious and bleeding fast.

The sergeant called out, “corporal, strap him to his horse and ride it back to the aid station.”

“Make way!” the corporal called as he cantered through the camp. “Raymond has been wounded.”

Very heavy lids lifted from Raymond, exposing a red drenched world. The blood in his eyes came from within, like the blood he coughed up. Seven approached and immediately applied the best healing she had to over. A moment passed. “I’m sorry, the damage to his body is too great to heal.” “What?!? No, I can hear you!” Raymond tried to shout. “I’m not dead, help me, please! I have wife and children. Please don’t let me…”

Seven walked away, deeply troubled by the wounds that came back from the field.

“Please help me!” Raymond silently cried out. His will to live still drove him, but his body could not comply. What was left of him was twisted, misshapen from being crushed and unable to support life.

Seven’s sleep was troubled. That battle seemed an eternity ago, but every year the poltergeists of that time return. She decided to go for a walk through the quite autumn streets of Stormwind. A dim moon, behind dark clouds cast of the city. A patchwork of shadows cast from oil lamps and the glowing embers of fires burning out. An eerie silence enveloped the city. Times were still troubled, but the raging wars were largely over. Her thoughts dwelled from current events to the past. To that soldier they called a hero while he lay there dieing. He saved many men that day. A chill came over her suddenly, but not from the still air. A murder of crows took off from their perches and flew off.

“I found another,” hissed one worker as he dug. “A captain it looks like, buried with his belongings even. This will please the master.”

“What do you have for me today?” .. “An officer? Good, good, bring it here. I will proceed tonight.”

Raymond felt a tug, then the pain of rebirth. She screamed out, “Don’t let me die, Seven! Please don’t…” his cry trailed off. Silence.

“Yes, of course. It’s so clear now. I was never really alive. Now, I know life, pure unadulterated life – undeath. Where am I?”

“That is not important, what is important is who you serve. I am…”

Raymond’s sword sliced easily through the main’s rotting neck.

“I serve myself and my own purpose. I have some business to attend. Anyone else care to join me?” The remaining undead in the room still agape at their master being slain did not respond. Raymond left the room, already plotting…

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