Wednesday, November 24, 2010

The Shattering: Stormwind

Five Years Later ....

My feet were on the floor before the first clang of the churchbell had finished ringing. No time to look for the key to the padlock on the wardrobe - one solid yank on the doors and the lock popped off. Throwing off my nightshirt, I began to don my armor while the bell continued to toll, going by feel and memory as much as by the pale moonlight. Thick wool padding, followed by the heavy plate - titansteel and saronite, reinforced and strengthened with runes and magics - paid for with sweat and blood long ago in the frozen North. In the distance I could hear the peals of other bells, sounding the alarm in the small towns scattered throughout Elwynn Forest. By now David was awake and coherent enough to help me strap my shoulderplates on.

"What do you think it could be?" he asked.

"Got to be Cho'gall. The Twilight Hammer's been trying to destroy Stormwind for a year now, and they must finally have enough strength to be making an all-out assault." I took a deep breath. "I just pray to the Light they got the warning out in time."

Even in the dim light, David looked nervous. Hells, I was nervous. This could be damn serious. I took his head in my hands and pulled his face down to mine. "I want you to promise me something, David Jeremiah Shellworth. If this goes badly, if Stormwind falls, I want you to take the cache and get to Booty Bay, just like we've talked about. You can wait three days for me, but no more. Revilgaz is a crook and a pirate, but he's an honorable pirate, and for that much gold he'll get you to Ratchet. From there you can get to Ratter's place, which should be as safe as anywhere."

He hesitated, said nothing.

"David," I pleaded. "I'll need to know that our baby is safe, so that I can do my job."

"All right," he whispered. "I- I'll stay here, and run if I need to. I promise. Just... you make sure I don't have to, okay? You come back to us."

I smiled at him. And lied. "All right. I promise I'll come back." I climbed up into the loft, where little Bolvar was sleeping. I brushed the hair from his face, and kissed his forhead, and told him I loved him. Three years old; would the world survive for him to be four? I climbed down the ladder, and went to do what had to be done.

The Nowhereshire militia was assembling in the village commons. Boys and girls, with ragtag armor and woodsman's axes. I knew them, had helped Sergeant Alcott train them, had inspired them with my stories of Northrend. But tonight, they looked so young, and I just wanted to tell them all to go home to their mothers. I took a deep breath, and said a few words about how the cult wanted to destroy our capital, our nation, our world, and it was up to us to stop them. Again, I lied. "Remember your training, and they will not be able to defeat you!" I raised my hand, and they all bowed their heads. I asked the Light to bestow the ancient Blessing of Kings upon them, and It did. I also asked It to keep them all safe, and It was silent.

I rode for Stormwind, my strong charger tearing up the narrow dirt trails, quickly leaving the militia behind. I reached the city just as dawn was breaking. I saw no signs of fighting, but the city guards where frantically trying to evacuate the civilian population. I rode up to Justine Demalier and asked her for a quick briefing.

"The Earthen Ring warned us last night that something goddam big was coming. Like, a big chunk of the goddam Elemental Plane had broken loose and was heading right for us. They goddam couldn't tell us exactly what, but they think we're gonna get a goddam crapton of elementals in a few more hours. Goddam glad you're here, Kinna - gonna need every swinging dick we can goddam get."

I grabbed some sandbags and started helping erect barricades. We were still preparing when they hit us. The Earthen Ring shamans had been right. It was big.

Air and water elementals. Hundreds of them, throught the city. The initial onslaught rocked us back, and nearly shattered our defenses. But we held and slowly, ever so slowly, began to beat them back. Block by block, house by house, we cleared the city and shut down the rifts they were using to enter our world.

Goodbye, Archie Winstead. My the Light look after your soul. I will tell your mother you fought bravely, and died saving the lives of your comrades.

After all, what is one more lie on a day like this?

It was very tough fighting. The elementals were filled with raw anger and hate, and sought to lash out at whatever they could reach. How had the Twilight's Hammer managed to grow so strong, to be able to launch this? Was someone helping them, someone we didn't know about yet?

The hours went by. The sun climbed  high in the sky, then descended toward the horizon. Still they kept coming.

In the end, we won. The elementals were destroyed, the rifts sealed, and Stormwind was still standing. We were weary, we were bloodied, but we were victorious. Then the call came out - volunteers were needed for a counterattack. The shamans had tracked down the powerful beings who had helped open the rifts into the world, and we would open our own portals to them. I wanted to go home. I wanted to see my family, and assure them that I was okay. I wanted to put down my axe and my shield and take off my armor and crawl into bed with my husband. I wanted no more pain or violence or death.

But I was a Soldier of the Light. And I had a duty.

It was over. Cho'gall had eluded us, but his attack was broken, his forces scattered, his allies slain. I trudged slowly up the road toward the city as the sun rose yet again. Just like it always had. I was going to retrieve my charger, and then I was going to go home. And then, there he was.

Oh blessed Light preserve us.

I should run. Everyone else is running away, why don't I? I want to run. But I can't. I am a Soldier of the Light. It is my job to stand against the darkness, even if only to buy what time I can for others. I am sorry, David. Tell Bolvar his mother loved him, and keep him safe. All right, Kinna, it's just another dragon. You've faced dragons before. Cyanigosa, poor Keristrasza, Malygos the insane, even Onyxia. They're gone, you're still here. So you can do this. Deep breath. Don't let him see your knees shake. Don't let him know you're afraid. Don't be afraid. Don't be afraid. Don't be afraid. Be...... angry.

"Get off my city or I'm a-gonna break your Iron! Frickin'! Jaw!"

And then the world exploded into flame.


Steve Hall said...

Powerful stuff, my friend. Great stuff. Very, very well done.


Kay said...

ohhh, Kinna... from the first to the very last!

Well done!

Tracey said...

Shiver! Scary, scary world we're entering...

Kusamoto said...

but...Booty Bay is going to be under 6 cubic miles of wa....

Changrey said...

Wonderful writing, as usual ratters. Wish I was that good. The Shattering hasn't actually happened here in europe yet so we're still waiting. Will be interesting to see how it pans out in the end and if it is everything it's supposed to be.

Chawa said...

Seriously moving stuff you've created here. Very well done. I'm caught - I'm looking forward to more already.

Jezrael said...

Oh my! Love the way you have been crafting tales around the in game events. Love the characters you've created and we've come to love :)