Focus Shall Not Fail Part III

- by Saidivh Bedwyr

Part III: The DepartureEdit

He was in Hearthglen, the bodies of the deceased lay about him in droves. He stood alone. All was still and silent, the only other noise besides his beating heart and breath was the wind blowing past him. The dead bore the faces of those he once knew. The militia he fought with there, the knights who saved them, the undead who attacked them, the other footmen from the party. Everyone. Dead. He wandered the streets, looking at the destruction that had been wrought. The buildings were aflame, the towers knocked down, everything was in ruin. Till he turned a corner...And saw the herald. "Milord." He called after him, making Saidivh quirk an eyebrow at him. "Milord?" he said again, drawing Saidivh from his queer dream. He rubbed the sand from his eyes as he looked up "Yes?" He responded groggily "What is it, herald?"

"The nobles, and most of the garrison are preparing for the withdrawal," He spoke, "as was decided at the meeting, Milord."

Saidivh rubbed his eyes again. "Very well, I shall make ready to see them off." The herald bowed, and left Saidivh to his devices. For a while, he sat at the edge of the bed, watching the last of the fire’s embers die out, just barely making out the remains of the letter. He walked to his desk, and took an apple from a bowl of fruit that had been placed there while he had been sleeping. He took a knife, and cut off a sizeable slice, taking a bite out of it. He leaned against the desk and chewed, trying to get the dream’s images out of his head. He swallowed the fruit, and cleared his throat, and set off to prepare for the day. He washed his face and hands in a bowl of water, having a little more breakfast besides the apple, and a quick cleaning and maintenance of his weapons and other gear. He put on his chain mail, his tabard, and slung the shield over his shoulder in its usual place, as well as wearing his sword at his side, as usual. He also wore the cloak from the previous night, as it was now dry.

Now came the mental preparation. He sat and stared, again, but this time at the wall. He sat on the bed and rubbed his face, taking a deep breath. He kept thinking. Memories of Menethil kept ringing within his mind. The first time he met Tai, and Mira, and Kennia, and Felena, and all the others there in Menethil. He thought to himself "I must survive this if I am to return to them," the words rang in his mind "My shield must not fail, and my spear must stand true."

"My Faith will be my shield, it will keep me safe."

He looked to the cross on the wall, they were in just about every room in the Bastion, even the privy, and dropped to his knees to pray.

"Light guide me in the hour of need," he prayed "Grant me and the soldiers your protection against the evil tide that encroaches on us right now. Grant us the strength to endure the unending assault, I will repay you whatever price you would desire tenfold. This I pledge to thee, my guidance and savior." He rose, and stood vigilant to face the day. He took a deep breath, and stepped outside into the daylight.

He found the Bastion abustle with activity. Mograine saw to the raising of a thick oaken door-shaped shield casted with bronze on the southern porticullus, while servants, soldiers, and even a few of the nobles themselves preparing for the withdrawal to Hearthglen and Tyr’s Hand. "I see you took your time this morning," Mograine called to Saidivh as he made his way to where he was. "I thought you were always the one to make haste." Saidivh chuckled, clapping his friend on the back. "If I have learned anything, it is that rushing something can end disasterously, as can being too patient with some things." Mograine nodded, as a rope snapped, bringing the oaken shield to stand on one corner, almost taking off a footman’s head. "Careful! Don’t rush it!"

He sighed, turning back to Saidivh "Well there is one thing: you always had perfect timing." He nodded to the shield "Have you heard how many troops will be staying with us here in the Bastion?"

Saidivh shook his head "I only heard that most of the garrison would be leaving with the leadership. Still no exact numbers to my knowledge."

"Then we will have to make due." He withdrew a map from a pouch in his belt, unveiling it to Saidivh "With the southern porticullus blocked, there appears to be only one way into the Bastion, unless the Scourge grow wings." He nodded to the tunnel, "There. We can station marksmen here, in the courtyard, and open fire should they break through the first barricade. Wherein we can take refuge here in the Hall of Light, and regroup for a counter attack."

"If we have Marksmen to station," Saidivh replied "Here’s hoping they don’t all leave with the wagon train."

Mograine cleared his throat, and Said appologized "Anywho, we will undoubtedly have a few medics at least, and they can heal the wounded in the Hall of Light." He looked up at Saidivh "Light save us if they break both barricades. The only thing to save us now is the strength of our warriors."

"Perhaps that, and a miracle. Light only knows." Saidivh replied.

A few good hours of preparation passed, and a train of wagons was created, formed under heavy guard in the courtyard, and ending at the entrance of the tunnel on the far side from the Bastion. The Crimson Captain who had escorted Saidivh through Stratholme took charge of leading the expedition. "Alright, lads, let’s move out!" he yelled at the top of his lungs, giving the signal for the caravan to start moving. They lurched forward in unison, moving at a semi-slow crawl for the service door towards the back of the city. That way they would have clear countryside to cross, rather than having to fight their way through the Plaguewoods. The soldiers marched on foot, forming between the wagons in their respected platoons, while the men of higher stature rode on horseback at the head of the procession.

Saidivh watched them from where the tunnel opened into the darkened streets of the city, at the very beginning of the train. He watched the trains and companies of troops march steadily forward, till an aged man on horseback came cantering up. "You have my respect for taking up this endeavor, along with the commander Mograine. I only pray your courage and strength of arms can stemy the dark tide that comes against you, Lord Bedwyr."

"We will hold them for as long as we can." Saidivh replied, "Thank you for your blessing."

"The battle will be perilous, and the road to victory will be long." The old man rattled on, "If you are truly blessed by the Light, then you shall survive. If not, then allow me to deliver your eulogy."

Saidivh smirked at this, something he rarely does, thinking 'So much for having faith in us.’

"You have my thanks. Of all the people that come to these meetings, there are few who have common sense, or any sense at all for that matter." Saidivh said, "You, my lord Guy, are among those with much sense. Light protect you on your journey."

"Light protect you as well," He said, cantering off back to the head of the train, as Mograine walked to join him.

"I have a full troop count," he said, "Things are looking somewhat better for us."
"How many troops will be staying?" Saidivh asked, with hope in his eyes.

"A good fifty altogether, that’s counting medics, a few marksmen, and hardy fighters." Mograine calculated "I’d say about forty of them are trained warriors, then half and half are marksmen and medics."

"I thought we’d be much worse off," Saidivh replied "It seems the nobles are feeling adventurous...How long do you figure we have until the Enemy strikes?"

"We have until tomorrow." Mograine said plainly.

"What?!" Saidivh blurted out, loud enough for several others to hear. "How can you be so sure?"

"Our scouts have seen the Necropolises looming over the plaguelands, in Plaguewood to be more precise. They were seen dropping battalions of ghouls and specters around strange glowing shards." Mograine reported "Our holding here in Stratholme will surely be their first target, that is, if they haven’t seen our leadership leaving for more secure lands."

Saidivh took a moment to process this.

"A sizeable force was seen mobilizing and coming this way already. Chances are they will attack under cover of nightfall...Tonight."

"We should allow the men a hearty meal in the great hall before the day is done, in that case."

"Why? Wont we be depleting our supplies and resources by doing so?"

"You said it yourself, commander, they will not wait for us to starve, they will bear on us like water on rocks. The men need their strength." Saidivh said "And besides, who can fight on an empty stomach?"

And thus, a second banquet was had for the fighting men and women of the Crusade. The rowdy bunch ate their fills heartily, all while telling stories of home, jokes, humerous tales, and song. Saidivh joined them there, perhaps the company could ease his mind. They would be the closest thing to Menethil he would see in a long while.

He called them all to silence, that he may speak to them. When the hall was silent, he finally spoke. "I commend you all for staying with us this day, myself and commander Mograine, wether you had choice or not." He spoke, his voice echoing the halls like a siren’s song. "Without doubt, the odds are against us. But still we must fight, all of us, it is our duty as Scarlet Crusaders." The fighters listened to his words "With each story I hear of your bravery and valor, I gain more hope that we will succeed, succeed in defending the Bastion and restoring Lordaeron to it’s former glory, I am truly amongst heroes this day."

"The pitiless undead feel no pain, their will is not their own. It is only the will of others that they fight us. We will bury them, and show their masters what a man fighting for a righteous cause is capable of. Will you stand and fight, and show them what you are capable of?" He asked the crowd, speaking vigorously.

"Aye! We will!" they called out, several raising their mugs to him.

"Then let us smite them, and banish them to the Nether. For the Crusade!" He drew his sword, and thrust it into the air, the other fighters rose and cheered, doing the same with their own weaponry. The called "For the Crusade!" as their captain did, and the hall echoed with cheers and taunts of the undead.

The last wagon leaving through the service door heard them, and the old man driving it turned pale with fear. "They have attacked..." he said,wide eyed. "The attack has begun!" He dare not say anything to his masters, he didn’t want to see any undead anytime soon.

Back at the Bastion, night watches were set, and intervals of time where watches would trade shifts were set as well. The troops lay themselves to rest for the coming battle. Sleeping on a full stomach is a simple task, but with the anxiety of a coming battle where it is almost a certainty where you will fail and die, few found sleeping so simple...

End of Focus Shall Not Fail Part III
[<---Part II] [Part IV--->]

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