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 [story] The last stand [Timeline: 4]

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Kadris
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Posts : 10
Join date : 2009-11-15
Age : 45

PostSubject: [story] The last stand [Timeline: 4]   Sun Nov 15, 2009 6:04 pm

A dark hooded shadow, Lord Fathius Archnazg Magnark, Dark Lord of Queen Sylvanas' Royal House, sat at a large antique oak desk poring over a map under the faint glow of a small candle. A fire burning furiously in the grand stone fireplace did little to warm the chill air of the Hall, only lending its golden flickering light to brightening the dimness somewhat. Jeanie, the housekeeper would no doubt chastise him yet again for sitting in darkness but she was not his concern. The whereabouts of his first death knight however, was.

Lord Dawnrunner had taken it into his head to explore the reportedly abandoned Naxxramas following Archnazg's announcement at the House dinner party. With a small contingent of Dreadguards he had set off many days ago and had still not reported back. With his soul safely in Archnazg's care he knew the reckless fool had not met his end, but the mind link between them was tenuous. Naxxramas was a place of dark magics and thus interfered with their connection. He also sensed a level of beligerant stuborness coming from the death knight and suspected it was not -all- down to his location. The Dark Lord sighed and looked up to watch his shadow dance fitfully against the ancient stone wall. They would have to go and retrieve him.

The shadow vanished momentarily as the door to the Hall swung open. Dazzling light from the multitude of candles ensconced in the corridor poured in, banishing the darkness. Archnazg squinted slightly in the deep confines of his hood. Two black silouettes clanked through the doorway in the light's wake. One tall and bulky, muscular and strong. One smaller and femininely slender in comparison. Both obviously elves. Or were once upon a time. The door creaked shut behind them, returning the room's dark sanctity. The pair strode forward, cold, silent but for the creaking of leather and armour. Metal ricocheted off of metal as the two bowed and saluted him, fists to hearts.
"Ah, my death knights." Archnazg's dry, authorative tone was tinged with warmth as he looked them over, nodding first to the larger, then to the smaller.
"Dark Patriarch, Lady Heartsbane. We head to Naxxramas."

Dark Patriarch Dracanos raised his eyebrows as he spoke, his deep voice carried an edge of cold death.
"M'Lord. Arcturas has not returned?"Archnazg's black hood lowered as he returned his gaze to the map.
"No. Worry not however, he is unharmed... For the moment. I sense he is reluctant to return. He has been evading my summons and thus we will go and bring him back. I cannot tolerate such disobedience." Despite his words, Archnazg smirked in tolerant amusement deep within his hood.
"Assemble a Dreadsquad and supplies, we leave in an hour."The death knights bowed and saluted again in perfect unison, the timbre of their voices very different yet complimenting each other as they responded.
"As you wish."

----

The draw and slam of blades being tested in scabards, the creak and clank of armour and the clatter of hooves on cobbles all added to the clamour of preparations that rattled around the courtyard of Fenris Keep. Yet despite the noise an eerie atmosphere hung over the gathering. Not one man spoke. Not one mount snorted with impatient need to move. Not one living thing was counted amongst their number. The last of the Forsaken batallion mounted and formed a column, eight long and two deep, two death knights at the head.
Silent as death.

A dark leather-clad, hooded figure sat atop a horned skeletal mount off to the side, a haze of Shadow drifting around him, from him. Most striking about him, was the large skeletal longbow nestled in his black gloved grip. Boney spines creeping out from the shaft like fleshless claws. He watched the gathering force. His long tapered ears twitched as the doors to the Keep swung open once again and a stooped figure in heavy midnight robes, adorned with ancient gunmetal grey pauldrons swept through and swiftly mounted his waiting dreadsteed. Archnazg reached down, taking his staff from a liveried servant. He raised his head, back as straight as it ever had been in life and maneuvered to the front of the column, his gaze falling upon the dark hooded figure and holding the return stare a moment.

The dark ranger inclined his head and rode forward, taking position just behind and to the left of Lady Heartsbane.Archnazg's voice echoed around the courtyard though he did not shout.

"Sons and Daughters of Sylvanas, brothers and sisters. We go to Naxxramas."His deathcharger screamed a chill cry and reared, sending a responsive wave down the column before they set off at a gallop leaving a billowing cloud of dust and unholy vapour to settle over the sudden silence.

Two figures, elf and Forsaken, strolled out onto the ramparts watching the column as it was ferried across the black waters of Lake Lordamere and galloped off into the distance. Their comfortable silence lasted a brief while then was broken as alarm bells clanged into life from the rear lookout post of the keep, a dry shout punched above the cacophony.

"Scourge!! Scourge approach from the north!! To arms!!"The two rushed to the north watch, staring out at the approaching horde of Scourge in grim disquiet. Already some twenty or so on the small isle's beach, many more jerkily paddling their way to the shore. Diener muttered under his breath,
"Dark Lady preserve us..."

Reinforcements rallied at the main gate of the keep, which stood open, still undergoing repairs from their lost battle against the ravages of time. The hellish roar of grinding rock and metal churned the air as warlocks summoned infernals, the first line of defense, before falling back behind the blades ready to rain fire and brimstone upon the invaders. Warriors and paladins bolstered the second line, archers, mages and priests in the ramparts looking down over the killing field. Living and undead alike, they waited. The first wave of mindless corpses struck. The infernals waded into the first rank of zombies and ghouls bashing and grinding them, flinging their broken bodies back beyond the gates like ragdolls.

Then the skies opened and Hell rained down, exploding and scorching the invaders accompanied by the savage cheers of the elves and Forsaken defending. The rain of fire continued blasting the invaders until nothing but the infernals still moved. A heavy silence again descended upon the courtyard but for the muffled yet joyful exclamations of a few of the less seasoned combatants. The rest held their battle stances, knowing full well the first strike had just been a test.

The stench of them struck first. Seasoned veterans as well as green recruits found themselves either losing the contents of their stomachs to the cobblestones, or just barely managing to hold firm. A sea of putrid rotting flesh poured in through the gates, infernals lashed and clobbered unable to stem the tide as it flowed around them at alarming speed. These were comparatively faster than the first. The sheer weight of bodies brought the massive destructors crashing down. Still they fought, pounding about them with great rock fists. Arrows darted down in droves from above.

A deep voice bellowed defiantly to the heavens.
"For Sylvanas!"The owner of the voice, an unusually large blood elf clad in heavy gothic plate armour raised his blade aloft. He launched himself at the first Scourge to reach their line followed instantly by a great savage roar as his comrades joined his charge.

The battle for Fenris Keep began.

----

Light's Hope Chapel, a small outpost in the bleak Scourge infested land. The Argent Dawn staging post for many excursions around the ravaged corruption that was the Plaguelands. Set back away from the main road behind a large rock escarpment, the group had passed it a short time ago. Rather than having the hassle of finding enough bats to fly their number there Archnazg had opted to ride. They were in no rush in any case and the impressive spectacle they had made cantering in formation through Silverpine and Tirisfal suited his mood.

Sight urged his mount ahead to Archnazg's side, his voice, smooth silk.
"M'Lord, a rider approaches from the rear."The front four turned in their saddles to look. A mounted figure hailed them with a raised arm as she drew closer at a dead run. The column slowed to a halt. A regal, armour clad blood elf bowed in he saddle to Archnazg. Her forehead glistened with sweat and dirt, her jaw length raven hair stuck to her face, the rest of her was spattered with blood.

Her warhorse foamed and panted, its plate armoured tack creaking and chinking as it pranced in excited agitation.
"Lady Duskraven... What brings you here?" Archnazg questionned as he eyed her battleweary state.
"M'Lord. Fenris Keep has been assaulted. Scourge, sir." The column stirred in surprise. Celiena quickly added,
"We were victorious, however." Archnazg nodded before turning back to the column. He sighed. He directed his gaze to the dark hooded ranger.
"That is grave news... Sight, stay with me. The rest of you carry on. I believe you will know where to find him. I must return to the Keep."

The two death knights nodded, bowing in their saddles as Archnazg, Sight and Celiena set off towards Light's Hope. Dracanos signalled the column forward.
The terrain rose around them in strange stunted hills as they followed the road, their visibility narrowing. They slowed to a trot, sensing their quarry nearby. The wet spongy thud of blade hacking flesh and the breathless groans of Scourge echoed about on the wind. As they rounded a bend Arcturas and his small band came into view. They stood engaged with a pack of Scourge twice their number. Without a word the entire column leapt from their mounts, the beasts crumbling to dust. Drawing their blades they charged into the fray, their numbers making short work of the shambling undead.

While the two groups of Dreadguard greeted each other Kadris and Dracanos picked their way over the corpses towards Arcturas. The first of the Dark Lord's death knights. Like them, he was heavily armoured though his face was gaunt and his imposing physique becoming wasted. Time and undeath had begun to take its toll upon the older elf. He regarded them with an expression of mock hurt.
"Now that was hardly fair. Come to spoil my sport, have you?" he grinned at them as he bowed. They smiled and returned his bow. Kadris spoke, her velvet tone tainted with black ice.
"Lord Magnark has been requesting your return. Why have you not attended his wishes?"

Arcturas looked between the two, his eyebrows raised in surprise.
"He has? I have not heard him for some three days now... I was unable to access Naxxramas." The three stood in troubled silence a moment.
"There has been a steady stream of Scourge filth to keep me occupied out here. Each time I make a move to leave, more stumble into my path." Arcturas grinned and surveyed the surrounding carnage. "Not that I am complaining, of course."
Dracanos chuckled.
"Well, we should return now. Fenris Keep has been attacked. We will be needed there." Arcturas growled at the news.
"So now they attack our home. That bastard must pay." He glanced back in the direction of Naxxramas.

As one, the three death knight's heads jerked up in alarm. Kadris' velvet tone became a chill hiss,
"More come..." Her searching gaze fell upon two black robed figures standing atop one of the hilly mounds as Dracanos bellowed orders, his voice commanding and sharp.
"Form up! We have incoming! All around us!"
Arcturas followed Kadris' gaze as the large group of Forsaken formed up in a defensive circle.
"This is new..." Arcturas' voice trailed off as a rotting mass of Scourge heaved into sight ahead and behind them on the narrow road. He bellowed his next defiant words at the robed figures.
"This paultry river of filth cannot harm us! We will carve through them as nothing but the dead meat they are!"
The robed figures raised their arms into the air then gestured with a sudden swooping forward motion. As one the army of Scourge sprung into a sprint, a tsunami of teeth and talons bearing down upon the group of roaring Forsaken. The air about the defenders misted red with blood, blades glinted in the hazy sunlight as they rose and fell hacking into Scourge flesh. Death knights and Dreadguards carved relentlessly into the onslaught, the bodies of Scourge began piling higher, solid footing becoming scarce. The defenders began losing ground, slowly, step by step.

----

The trio had nearly cleared the odd hilly rock formations into open air when the whole world around them exploded in a heart-stopping thud. The impact threw them roughly from their mounts stunning them before they had even hit the ground. Archnazg groaned as he fought to clear the maddening spots from his vision. A low whining growl off behind and to his right was Sight. Celiena made no sound above the roaring in his ears. He carefully pushed himself upright, a wave of nausea washing over him momentarily as he did so. Clarity arrived a second too late as he suddenly felt himself yanked into the air, his arms and legs spread out to the sides.
He blinked to clear his vision. Five black robed figures stood before him, he could not tell which of them held him suspended in space. One of them spoke, his dry voice crackled from the darkness of his hood.
"Well, well, well... If my eyes do not deceive me, I believe we have 'The Dark Lord' in our grasp."
"Yes, yes, for now. What do you want? I do not have all day to gad about with the likes of you." Archnazg said as he cast a bored yet withering scowl along their line. He reached out with his mind. Silence.
"Ah, your trusted knights... They will not be charging to your aid. I'm afraid they will not hear you either." His tone was amused. "Unless we wish it..."
Archnazg's eyes narrowed. His mind worked furiously. He turned his head to find Celiena and Sight similarly helpless, though Celiena was only just regaining consciousness.The center figure spoke again.

"Shall we see how your knights are getting on? Yes I believe you would like that very much." The small group turned, heading deeper into the plagued lands, Archnazg and his servants helplessly suspended in the air, towed along behind. After some time they heard the clamour of battle. Rounding a stunted hill a view of carnage confronted them. His death knights and perhaps twelve of the Dreadguard stood holding thier ground against an insurmountable number of clawing Scourge. They stumbled over the fallen from both sides as they fought desperately. The hated voice within the hood cackled.
"My, they have done well, have they not?" his crackling voice became a hiss. "That just will not do."

Hackles rose at the sound that then blasted forth. Its timbre the deep bass of something immense, yet the wailing screech of something chillingly vile. Its head appeared over the hill ahead of the battling Forsaken, the broken bodies of zombies and ghouls flew in all directions slamming into each other as it drove its way, battering indiscriminately through friend to reach foe.

Time seemed to stop for a moment as all present paused to stare at the enormous creature, a slavering piecemeal of rotting giant body parts roughly stitched together. The large rusty axe it held rising high as it bore down on the death knights.
Arcturas cackled insanely as he barged past Scourge and leaped ahead to intercept it. Occasionally stumbling slightly as bodies underfoot gave way, his runeblade raised above his head he reached the behemoth. He stood before it, feet planted and roared. The air whistled as the great axe swept down, Arcturas ducked, leapt and spun swinging his own blade at the behemoth's hand, biting deeply. It roared its anger. Two ghouls launched themselves at him, he brought his blade to bear, slicing one in half as the other attempted to sink its teeth and claws through his armour.
Whistling.

The monstrous axe gouged down through its head, the rest of the ghoul's body flopped to the spongy corpse-littered ground with a squelch. Arcturas' body jerked as the axe was dislodged from him. He looked down at himself, stunned. His shoulder and arm hung weirdly away from him, his innards glistened darkly at him from within his rent armour as his blood oozed thickly from it. He grunted and disappeared from sight as he was taken down, a handful of ghouls tearing at the feast before them.

Archnazg flinched, suddenly able to feel his knights once again. Feel their agony, their grim terror. A hooded figure chuckled. The behemoth crashed forward.
Kadris and Dracanos stood back to back, all that was left of the defenders, helpless to aid their fallen brother as they hacked gracelessly through Scourge. Dracanos watched the hulking creature's lumbering approach with burning resolve as his blade chewed into more Scourge flesh. Kadris flicked looks over her shoulder catching its position in her peripheral vision as she cleaved through limbs that sought to shred them both. It was then her eyes found Archnazg, suspended spreadeagle in mid-air amongst robed figures like the ones upon the hilltop.

He felt her cold fury pulse across the mind link, Dracanos glanced quickly behind him as her anger filled his mind. Her eyes boiled with Shadow, midnight sparks popping and fizzing into the air as an icey rasping hiss escaped her lips. Dracanos added his fury to hers, took hers into him as her attacks grew in power and ferocity.
Step by unsteady step she pushed closer to Archnazg, cleaving anything between them. Dracanos, black eyes to match hers, hacked into the attacks from behind and to the sides keeping at her back. More Scourge filled the space between them and Archnazg, the behemoth was nearly upon them. Dracanos' hand darted to her shoulder, yanking her down and sideways as a flailing ghoul was slapped at them, gargling brokenly as it shot over them and crashed into the main assault.
Before they had time to rise the axe whistled past overhead. In the brief respite the two leapt up to face the behemoth, runeblades held aloft and staggered forwards over the sodden corpses underfoot. Talonned hands found purchase on Kadris' armour, first two, then four, she felt herself dragged back. More claws found her, found the gaps in her platemail and sunk deep into her flesh. She roared in agony. Pain and terror exploded in Archnazg's mind.
Daughter...
Dracanos ducked again, the great rusty axe barely missed him but slammed into the swarm of Scourge upon Kadris, catapulting them one and all into a solid rockface with a sickening crunch.
Her scream cut off abruptly.

A long, keening howl echoed around the battlefield.
Dracanos barely registered it as he lashed out with his runeblade at Scourge claws raking at his armour trying to find purchase. The wind was pounded from his lungs as he found himself whisked up from the ground, the meaty fist of the behemoth crushing him in its grip. He felt more than saw the skull of a ghoul tangled up with him pop under the immense pressure. Bone and rotten brain matter spattered his helm, obscuring his vision in one eye.
His armour began digging into his flesh as it succumbed, followed shortly by his ribs cracking. A deep shuddering cry forced itself from his lips until all of his breath was squeezed from him. Thick, dark blood sprayed out from his helm, his head dropped limply forward. The behemoth threw him forcefully to its feet. He watched distantly as the ground rushed up at him.
Blackness engulfed him.

Archnazg felt sick. He had watched his knights, his adopted kin slaughtered. Sight howling like some desperate, mourning beast and Celiena’s incoherent mumbling as her condition worstened had left him feeling unnerved. There had to be a way out of this. He would not allow it to end like this. His head bowed he watched from the corner of his eye as the behemoth was lead from the field, the masses of Scourge slowly rambled away. He raised his head to look out at the carnage. It was near impossible to pick out the Forsaken from the Scourge dead. He began to gather his power, ready to summon his knights to rise and return to his side.
The crackling voice dug into his consciousness.

“Ah, yes. I am afraid that cannot be allowed either.” Three of the robed figures stepped forward, producing clear crystal shards from their sleeves. Before Archnazg could utter a word their hands were raised in clawlike gestures at him, the shards held back and slightly above their heads. They began chanting rhythmically under their breath. Each round rising in volume and pitch until reaching a level that grated upon the ears of any nearby. Black billowing tendrils shot forth from their clawed hands and into Archnazg’s body, he arched his back as he fought them, sheer force of will all he had left. Waves pulsed into him, battering his mind, then, in a sharp wrenching motion the hands jerked back. Archnazg screamed involuntarily in abject agony.

Three darkly glowing flames of Shadow were sucked from him. The crystal shards sank into darkness, each one absorbing a soul.
The soul-takers turned and left, their prizes carefully tucked back into their sleeves. The crackling voice chuckled mockingly at Archnazg.
“It was just a matter of time before your ego lead your House to ruin… Now you, and they, will spend an eternity serving as a minion to our Lord. I must admit however, I had thought you smarter than that.”

Archnazg watched him, seemingly broken. He spoke wearily,
“It surprises me that you have not read of the great strain on power that sustaining death knights has upon a man.”

Archnazg surged with power that was no longer being taken by his death knights. A chest-pounding thump pulsed out from him, knocking the remaining two robed figures from their feet, their energy forced from their bodies. Archnazg, Celiena and Sight dropped to the ground. All but Celiena landed on their feet. She hit the ground with a grunt, drifting in and out of consciousness. Blood trickled from her scalp. A few remaining Scourge looked up from their feast of Forsaken and screamed. Down the road more turned their heads at the noise. Archnazg’s voice reverberated powerfully.
“Sight, get her out of here.” Sight crouched staring off in the direction that Kadris had fallen. Archnazg barked sharply.
“Now!”
Sight grit his teeth and hoisted Celiena up against him as he summoned his mount. The distant angry whinnying of horses drifted from the area as two horned, skeletal mounts materialised from the dirt. Holding Celiena by the scruff he leapt up into the saddle and pulled her up over his lap. Archnazg waited atop his mount.

They fled to Light’s Hope.
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