Focus Shall Not Fail Part IV
- - by Saidivh Bedwyr
Part IV: The First BlowEdit
In battle, the worst thing is the calm before the storm, waiting for the first blow to be struck. It is hardest for the sentries of the night watch, them being depraved of their night’s sleep to guard against an assault in the dark. Hardest for these sentries of the Bastion, especially tonight, for they guard against a foe that feels no pain, no fear, one that steps silently in the night and makes little sound.
Even harder for one sentry in particular, Ethranir, one of the greener soldiers, for his post was on the light-forsaken, both literally and metaphorically, rooftop outlying the Bastion. He had no torch to bring light, only a small lantern, which was inadequate at best. That only added to his fear and paranoia, his mind played merciless tricks on him, he heard sounds of which there was no source: Gurgling, rocks kicked, feet on the creaky floorboards of the rooftop, he saw eyes on the other faraway rooftops, which were merely smoldering flames, he heard mice that didn’t sound like mice.
He was near the brink of wetting himself in fear, when he heard the sound. He heard the sound of a ghoul, and it was close. Ethranir drew his mace, tears welling up in his eyes, beginning to trickle down his cheek in fear. "Show yourself!" he cried, mustering the courage to challenge the threat. When there was no reply to his call, he sighed with relief, and took up his lantern to survey the rooftop. He found his previous hopes to be crushed like so many beetles. A ghoul scout stand staring at him, only a few feet away. Ethranir yelped, and backpedaled, drawing his mace and dropping his lantern while the fel creature charged him. They moved too fast to be stopped, and they both toppled over the ledge with a fury. The sentry’s scream alerted his comrades to his demise, and crashed with a sickening crunch of metal and flesh on the cobblestone pavement. Ethranir broke the ghoul’s fall, and he got up to attack his brothers in arms, until a faster markswoman shot him where he stood over Ethranir. "Undead in the Bastion!" the one-eyed woman yelled "To Arms!"
The sounds of gunfire and the cries of the wounded and dying, amid the clash of steel on steel awoke Saidivh from a fitful sleep. Realizing what was going on outside, he was glad he went to sleep prepared: He wore a thick leather tunic to bed that night, with a pair of baggy trousers on, and his sword nearby. He leapt from bed, slid on his boots, and drew his sword. He burst through the door of his quarters and rushed outside to face the first comer, which his smote with a mighty overhead chop. The next comer, a skeletal warrior, attacked him, swinging overhand like Saidivh did. The blow was parried, and the Crusader turned, and thrust his blade into the skeleton’s midsection, following up with a slice behind his knee, and a baseball bat-like swing to behead him.
Around him the battle raged, marksmen fired their rifles into the undeads’ midst from windows in the Bastion, while the fighters, along with Saidivh and Mograine, fought them in the courtyard.
Mograine was found already in the battle, coming fully armed and armored as soon as the call was raised. He swung his mighty mace, Mograine’s Might, into the undeads’ midst, cleaving them, and sending them toppling backwards from the force of the blows. He chopped a skeleton with a mighty overhand swing, crushing it’s skull and helmet ultimately, then raised the great club yet again, to spin and swing it into his next comer’s face.
"For the Crusade!" He yelled his battle cry into the night, lifting Mograine’s Might towards the heavens. The warriors who still had the strength to fight, both wounded and unscathed, both joined in the cry, some even joined in with their dieing breaths.
Kailien, Saidivh’s usual messenger, which some may recognize as the messenger in the scarlet cloak, fought near the tunnel opening. He fought florentine, or dual wield, using a sword, and a dagger. Clad in the same type of tunic as Saidivh, and his scarlet cloak, as usual, he moved gracefully and acrobatically. He parried a slash, and countered with one of his own, which the wily ghoul dodged, and countered with an overhead chop, which was parried as well. Kailien ran the beast through with his dagger, getting into the very face of the monster, throwing it against the wall, and slitting its throat, spilling the tainted blood.
Kailien had just thrown the dead beast to the ground, before he saw a fellow crusader, a comrade, cast to the ground, almost fatally wounded, by a very burly ghoulish creature, that would not be very well represented by calling it a mere 'ghoul’. It raised its massive battle axe, it’s intention to finish off the fallen fighter below it. Kailien rushed forward, cutting off another foe at the knees while he ran over.
He would not make it, he had to think fast. And he had an idea, he looked around, and found a fallen markswoman, the same who had originally raised the call. He took up her rifle, telling the wounded woman his thanks as he did so, and took careful aim. The axe came down, and Kailien pulled the trigger. The axe went veering off it’s course, and crashed harmlessly into the cobblestone pavement. Next came a thrown dagger right into the fel beast’s eye. It howled in pain, dropping its weapon completely, as Kailien ran in to finish it off, with a few brutish chops of his scimitar into its midsection.
He rose from his latest kill out of breath, soon as the beast stopped breathing, and turned to the fallen crusader, seeing him still somewhat alright. "I’ll get ya outta here, don’t worry. You’ll be alright soon." Kailien reassured him, as he dragged him to the gateway to the Hall of Light. He pounded on the door with the pommel of his sword "We’ve got wounded! Get your asses out here and help them!" He yelled at the medics who, though unbeknownst to Kailien, were busy with plenty of wounded already. "We are moving as fast as we can, sir!" One replied "We have our hands filled!" Kailien cursed, and left the wounded man by the door "I’ve got some more soldiers to save, mate, I’ll be back."
Kailien picked up a discarded sword, seeing how he never recovered his dagger, and begun spinning in a flurry of blades, slaughtering all comers, and those who were unfortunate enough to be caught in his sword’s crossfire, so to speak. He roared with bestial fury, as his swords chopped into an Enemy’s skull.
Meanwhile, Saidivh didn’t fare quite as well, he fought valiantly, having picked up a spear from a dead guardsman, discarding his sword. He fought in the thick of the battle, where the most fighters fell, both living and otherwise, which was near the entrance to the tunnel leading to the burning half of Stratholme. He jabbed, slashed, hacked, and checked the enemy with his spear, making sure each strike proved fatal, that his allies not need to deal with another foe. His strikes were not as graceful and deadly as Kailien’s, nor did they pack as much power as Mograine’s, but still he proved capable of killing a few Scourge warriors.
At last they gained leeway, the foe was falling back, their leaders finding the loss of life too great if they were to stand an attack in the morning. The Crusaders fought and killed those who became separated from the main group, and formed a shield wall to protect against the pot shots that a few of the more aggressive undead threw at them still, even as they fell out of the Bastion. A few keen spearmen, Saidivh included, managed to pick off a few more even as the battle died down.
The Crusaders stood breathing heavily amid the dead and dieing, looking down and around at the destruction one strike had done to them. Saidivh took the initiative "Get the wounded to the Medics in the Hall of Light..." He frowned "...Burn the dead." He gained questioning looks from the fighters "Burn them?" he heard one mutter. "Disease will finish us in two days if we do not." Saidivh argued, still not winning over the hearts of the worn warriors. "Do as he says, you all know what he says is true." Mograine intervened "See that it is done immeadiately."
That night there was a great bonfire, as 100 dead fighters, both Crusader and otherwise, burned, their ashes flying to heaven where their souls now resided. Each man gathered by the fire to watch their comrades ascend to heaven, as one played them a requiem on a Arathi Hornpipe, an instrument consisting of several parts from Highland raptors and spiders. Each fighter prayed for their fallen comrades, still covered in the gore of battle, wearing their armor, and carrying their weapons. Saidivh and Mograine stood together, watching the grimacing faces of the warriors they had just feasted with turned to ash before them. "How many did we lose?" Saidivh asked
"Twenty seven are still capable of fighting, thirteen are dead, and twelve are wounded."
"Will the wounded be able to fight by morning?"
"A few will, the others will more than likely be out of commission till aid arrives in a week’s time." Mograine said "At this rate, we will surely be felled by our foes."
"It is only the first day, Mograine," Saidivh said, "After all, a lot of things may happen in a week."
Saidivh clapped his back, as he walked away, heading towards Kailien, who was thanking the markswoman again for letting him use her rifle. "Kailien, we must speak."
He looked up, and told the markswoman that he would only be a moment. "What is it, sir?" he asked, once they were out of earshot of the others.
"In the morning, I want you to deliver this letter to the woman it is addressed to. She resides in Stormwind to the south, you can likely inquire at the Cathedral about her, and be able to find her as thus." He briefed "I will cover your escape from Stratholme, I want you to take the service door, as the caravan did. If you are lucky, you may catch up with them, and be able to take refuge among them till you can get to Chillwind point."
"As you wish, milord." Kailien said
The two saluted each other, and took their leave, Kailien to his bonny markswoman, and Saidivh to his quarters, to bathe, and return to sleep once again. He found sleep more difficult than before, as the faces of those he had seen killed, and who he had killed, plagued his sleep, tormenting him....
End of Focus Shall Not Fail Part IV