The End of Sigmar Vaughan
- -by Sigmar
((Thanks to Trafalgar, Halorin, and Sivanis for use of their characters, and more thanks to the old members of the Templars of Lordaeron. This piece of fiction is dedicated to you.))
Two years ago… Edit
A younger Sigmar Vaughan entered his guild’s hall in the Trade District of Stormwind, and was surprised to see the room empty. He set his rough, steel hammer against the wall and called out, hoping that someone was there; his only answer was an echo. Again, he called, and again, he was returned with his own words.
The paladin ran a hand over his bald head, and then played with a corner of his light brown mustache. “Odd,” the forty-five-year-old man mumbled to himself. The Templars always met in the empty building of the Trade District, once each week. For nearly a year, the assembly of dedicated followers heeded Templar Rederic’s words and dreamed of the day when they would retake Lordaeron from the undead claw.
Sigmar wandered to the speaking ledge, heaved himself upon it, and stood to gaze around the room. No one. Not a soul apart from himself.
As Sigmar lept down from the ledge, footsteps announced the presence of another individual. He turned toward the doorway and saw Trafalgar enter, a hammer much like Sigmar’s own strapped to his back. Trafalgar was a paladin as well, the Light’s hand upon the battlefield.
Sigmar moved in his direction. Though not related, he addressed him as such. “Brother Trafalgar! Where…” he paused for a moment, noticing the other paladin’s grave expression. “Where are the other Templars of Lordaeron?”
Trafalgar gave a sigh and removed his own maul, leaning it against a wooden chair which he then took residence in. He looked up. “Sir Rederic disbanded the Templars earlier this week,” he answered simply.
At the news, Sigmar was stunned. A slight spell of panic gripped his chest as he sought words. “I… why would he…”
“The continual deterioration of the officer body was his reason. When Sivanis was called away by the surviving lords of Dalaran, we lost a good leader. And there was Cyon’s death…” Trafalgar’s voice trailed off and he gazed towards the ceiling. After a few moments, he seemed to recover, and looked at Sigmar. “Attempting to keep the order together after such losses was nigh impossible.”
Sigmar nodded silently and his expression became similar to his friend’s. He closed his eyes and muttered a silent prayer for the safety of his former guildmates. Opening them again, he spoke. “What will you do now?”
Trafalgar shrugged. “I will continue on, fighting where the Light needs me. Perhaps another guild will accept me into their ranks.” He stood. “I pray you will do the same.” Trafalgar held out a hand to Sigmar. “Be safe, brother. Perhaps our paths will cross again.”
Sigmar stared at him for a long while, and then finally grasped Trafalgar’s hand tightly with his own. “With luck, they will. Goodbye, and may the Light guide you.”
“And you.” Trafalgar broke the grip to retrieve his weapon, but paused. The man glanced about the empty hall and shook his head. He picked up the mace and stepped outside. Sigmar watched his friend until he turned a corner out of sight. He then stared deeply into the empty recesses of the building. An idea formed in his mind, an idea that was born from the ashes of the old order. With steadfast resolution, the paladin vowed to see that idea unfold into reality. Then he, too, grasped the haft of his war hammer, set it across his shoulder, and exited.
Many years from that day Edit
Sigmar’s enchanted hammer swung and smashed into a Forsaken’s helmet. The blow sent the undead to the ground, where its back was broken in by a vicious kick from a booted foot. Another Forsaken rushed blindly towards Sigmar. The paladin held an outstretched hand in the direction of the new attacker and muttered a word. A blast of holy energy tore the being asunder, and Sigmar moved forward, smashing the head from its body with a skillfully placed blow. Able to take a moment, his brown eyes looked about.
The Forsaken had pushed back their human attackers. Not good. He thrust his hammer into the air and yelled out, barely audible above the din of battle, “To me! To me! Rally and fight!” Sigmar let his arm loosen and used the falling momentum to swing the hammer in a half-circle, crashing into the chest of yet another undead minion.
Around the veteran, a diverse group of comrades was engaged in the swirling melee. There were warriors, paladins, mages, priests, and others; disciples of wildly varying styles of combat, members of the different races of the Alliance. Yet they all had one thing in common: their tabard. Though they battled under the command of Sigmar, they did not fight only for him. They fought for their order’s ideal. They fought as the Templars of Lordaeron, the order revived after so many years of dormancy. They fought to free their homeland from the undead heathens, and would gladly give their lives to see this goal come closer to fruition. They were seasoned fighters, the elite of the Templars, and today they would see their nation restored, or die trying.
Sigmar knew that the army of the Alliance was pushing from the west as well as the east, and could only hope that they were doing as well as his own forces, if not better. The march of the army had been swift, so that the militaries of Kailimdor would not have time to aid their undead allies. Even so, a few skilled fighters of the Orcs, Tauren, and Trolls happened to be in the Undercity at the commencement of the siege. As Sigmar banished another Forsaken, he turned to see one of those fighters standing not ten feet away and staring into his own eyes: an Orc. The beast was clad in beaten, but still formidable, plate armor and wielded a menacing war axe: obviously a veteran of many a battle. It was even more obvious that this was a challenge.
Sigmar spoke roughly in the Orcish tongue. “I have no quarrel with you, Orc, but you fight alongside my enemy. You will die today, by my hand or another’s.”
The Orc brought his axe up and roared in defiance. He charged and swung the axe in a storm of weaving death. Sigmar switched hands on his weapon and waited. A split second before the warriors met, Sigmar leapt to the side and aimed a swing at his foe’s back. However, the Orc proved to be surprisingly agile and dodged the attack. The axe moved with lightning speed and, in a brutal arc, attempted to hit Sigmar in the chest. The paladin was quick, but not quite quick enough. The blade sheared off his right shoulder plate and pierced the armor underneath, producing a deep, bloody gash and forcing the human back. Without stopping, the beast charged once again, holding his weapon high over his head.
Sigmar stood and let loose a battle cry, the adrenaline allowing him to ignore his wound. He charged in return. Axe blade met haft of hammer, and the combatants’ running force flowed into each weapon. They stood, locked, unable to make a move. Sweat glistened on Sigmar’s brow. He could feel the Orc’s breath on his own face as he glared into its black eyes. Sigmar knew that his enemy’s superior strength was beginning to tell, and indeed, the paladin’s foot started to slip backwards, ever so slowly. Soon, he was forced to one knee, teeth gritting and sweat pouring. But in one last, desperate move, he drew on his last bit of strength, prayed to the Light in his mind, and poured everything into pushing this enemy away. With a roar, the Orc fell backwards and landed on his side. Before it could recover, Sigmar swung his enchanted war hammer about and smashed it into the Orc’s face.
As the combat ended, the paladin fell to his knees and agony flooded in from his right arm. He cried out in pain, but managed to look up and survey the battle. The soldiers of Stormwind surrounded him, seemingly oblivious to his presence. A splash of white in the grey and blue marked the Templars’ location; they had pushed into the throne room of Lordaeron and were now leading the siege. Wincing, Sigmar retrieved his hammer and slowly stood, intent on reaching his Templars once again.
Suddenly, the torture in his arm gave way to a new one in his back. Sigmar felt cold steed plunge straight through his armor plates and deep into his flesh, piercing his heart. He fell to his knees once more, and as the blade withdrew, craned his neck to look at the attacker.
A Forsaken, clad in black leather armor. The mask about the figure’s excuse for a face obscured most of its features. Sigmar detected no emotion in the undead being’s expression as it turned and melded into the shadows, newly bloodied sword clutched in a bony hand.
Sigmar looked up at the ruined towers of Lordaeron, and in his mind’s eye, he relived its betrayal by the damned prince, and the destruction of the beautiful city. He saw the charge of Lord Lothar himself, riding with an army of the Alliance to liberate Khaz Modan. He saw the burning of the first Stormwind Keep by the Orcs. He saw the raiding party that slew Medivh in his tower. He saw the sorcerer’s opening of the Dark Portal. He saw more, so much more, as the history of all existence raced by. The Night Elves, the Legion, the Titans. Back to the dawn of time itself. And yet one memory stood out above all.
He saw his family, waving from their farm in Elwynn, as if to bid Sigmar welcome at the end of another day.
A whisper escaped his lips.
“Fight on…fight on…”
The ground rushed to meet him.
The sun’s rays spilled onto the fields of Tirisfal, revealing grass stained red with the blood of the fallen. Every member of the Forsaken within fifty leagues was either dead or on the run. Hundreds, thousands of Alliance and Horde lay upon the ground, slain. The cost had been high. Very high.
And yet victory was theirs.
A young man trudged from the ruins of Lordaeron. His tabard, armor, and hammer were all tainted red with blood. He looked about the dead, and his expression turned to one of sadness. The young paladin, by the name of Halorin, had known many of these men and women, especially the ones that wore a tabard like his own. Though the exact number was still hazy, about half of the Templars that had come to the battle had perished over its course. Most of the survivors had taken at least some injury. Halorin himself came out of the conflict with a leg that would never fully heal.
The paladin spotted yellow among the dead near the entrance of the city. Dread filled him as he limped towards the gates, and he slowed when he reached them. His heart sank as he correctly identified the body of Templar Lord Sigmar Vaughan, laying on his front, enchanted hammer not a yard away. Halorin dropped his mace and knelt.
Another figure emerged from around the outer walls. Halorin looked up to see a man clad in black plate and red robes. He walked forward and stood opposite Halorin, looking down at Sigmar’s body.
“I feared the worst when I could not find him.”
Halorin simply nodded in response, and stood. He looked at the other man but could not find any words.
The older one smiled beneath his lined features. “We shouldn’t become too sorrowed. It was a good death for him, fulfilling his dream whilst in the melee of battle. I doubt there could have been a better end for Sir Vaughan.”
Halorin nodded again. “I suppose.”
A long silence filled the air, as the two were lost in their own thoughts. Then Halorin spoke. “What will become of us?”
The man shrugged. “The Templars will live on, once again. I only regret that I never rejoined you.” He gave Halorin a sidelong glance, “You must lead them now. You know this.”
Halorin’s eyes widened, but then returned to normal as he understood. He knelt, and grasped the handle of the glowing hammer. The touch filled him with a power and confidence that he had not experienced before. Standing, he held the hammer in two hands. “I shall.”
The younger paladin stood there, his gaze transfixed upon the body of his dead Lord. The older one turned to look to the east. He looked towards the dawn, towards the rising sun. In the gleaming light, Trafalgar saw a bright future. And he smiled.