Rise of Silverpine chapter 2
I do not own Warcraft or A song of Ice and Fire.
The small procession of thirty riders moved north through the dense ancient forest at a quickened pace as they rushed towards the northern border of the small kingdom. Most of the riders were men, guards of the sole fortress in the land, on a mission to escort their two queens. All of them wore dark-brown leather armors with wide tassets and single pauldron with a faint wolf head engraved into it. Some held short glaives, while others carried rapiers and flintlock pistols, their faces hidden either beneath hoods or large-rimmed fedoras.
At their head, with two enormous wolves running alongside the horses, were the twin queens of Silverpine, contrasting as night and day. Whether as the unquestionably fairer and older one, Sansa, was wearing what a lady would usually do, a deep dark blue dress with scarlet-red outlines, a black corset and equally dark elbow-length gloves to further add to her lady-like appearance, all of that covered by a scarlet cloak. Her sister, Arya, was wearing on the other hand black riding breaches and boots, leather armor hidden beneath the long dark-brown, almost black leather coat that she wore, a belt standing fastened over the coat with her new sword hanging on it. Her trusted bow and a hefty quiver of arrows strapped behind the horse saddle. Leather fingerless gloves with silver outlines, similar motives running along the edges of the coat and shoulder-cape were the final touches to her appearance, sealing the deal of just how one queen was running the country, while the other was protecting its borders.
They have been riding for two days, the silhouette of the wall just now peeking through the dense forest up ahead along with the small village near the main and only gate north. The wall, a structure of stone and wood, was just ten meters high on the southern side, but using the natural river bed to the north, the actual high was close to twenty. For the entire length of the wall, there were only 6 towers. Two at the gate, one at each end and two in between. A total of no more than two hundred men manned the wall at all times, them and their families spread out in five villages near each tower on the wall. The men were even jokingly referring to the towers as Gards, a word usually used in reference to large castles.
As they neared the newly-build village, the wall extending south to encircle it as well, the wooden gate was swung open, a sentry atop of it having spotted them coming from the road.
Entering the fortified settlement, the group wasted no time stopping for any reason, even with all the women and children gathering along the main road to see their queens. With a small Horde host just outside the gate, most of the guards spent their entire time standing watch.
So close to their destination, both girls suddenly began feeling their age, or rather, lack of. They were only twelve and fourteen respectively, with only Sansa having but a fraction of an idea how to run a castle. Yet now they both had to rule and above all else, protect a kingdom of thousands. Never having a meeting with a leader of a faction, be it allied or enemy, both girls were entering unknown waters.
Dismounting, Sansa pulled her cloak and hood tighter around herself, if anything to hide her features from the sight of the people around them. As they began moving to the gate, a woman came down from the ramparts. She was probably in her late thirties, wrinkles beginning to appear on her pale face framed by dark hair pulled into a bun. She was wearing dark-blue leather armor with brown boots and the Stark Tabard over it, a saber on her hip and a matchlock on her back held by a strap over her chest.
"Levi McGonagall, at your service!" saluted the woman before the two queens, almost making Sansa jump.
'Don't show weakness, don't show weakness.' The redhead was chanting in her head. She was happy beyond reason when Arya stepped forth to speak with the woman, Sansa barely catching the number eight hundred.
"Open the gate!" a shout from the woman rang across the small village, probably carrying beyond the wall.
The usually slow process of lifting the portcullis and lowering the drawbridge happened way too fast for the frightened queen, the girl barely noticing the four men taking position behind them, two carrying short glaives and two - muskets.
Sansa casted a look at her sister from beneath the rim of her hood, noticing the glare that marred Arya's features, the lower half of silver-eyed girl's face hidden from sight by the high collar of the long coat that she wore. As the thud of the drawbridge been fully lower resonated through the perfectly still village, Sansa reassuringly buried her gloved fingers in Lady's fur before reluctantly letting go.
Gathering all her determination, both she and her sister-queen marched beneath the arch and onto the drawbridge, the two direwolves at their sides. They noticed the deep red banners with black markings on them, standing tall over a well-defended camp. Massive, brutally armored soldiers stood guard, their armor covered in spikes, massive horns adoring their helmets. They stood hunched over, yet even like that, they were a good three heads taller than any of the two girls.
Reaching the end of the drawbridge, Sansa hesitated for a second, yet seeing her sister boldly keep going forward, so did she, despite her fear. It has always been Arya to deal with enemies. In fact, the only undead that Sansa had seen was the assassin on their second day here, Orcs and the like were completely unknown to her.
Finally stopping a good distance from the Horde camp, Sansa was yet to remove her hood, distracting herself by watching the wolves. Whereas Lady sat on her hinge legs, proud and unmoving, Nymeria was pacing between the group and the enemy, her golden eyes trained on the enemy soldiers. As movement filled the enemy camp and five figures began making their way towards them, Arya called her wolf:
"Nymeria. Sit." The wolf turned to look at her mistress, yet obeyed nonetheless, mirroring Lady's position and stance on Arya's side.
Remaining as still as possible, Sansa began examining what she assumed would be the Warchief. Looking at him, Sansa saw her first look at an orc without the view been obstructed by armor. His face was human enough, yet with immense jaw and protruding teeth. His green skin was a weak contrast to his blue eyes and the black hair let loose around his shoulder, going behind his black and gold armor.
The orc on the left, on the other hand, had brown skin and looked like he did not want to be here, making it very clear with the way he glared at the two queens, almost making Sansa take a step back. Almost.
The final person besides the two Horde soldiers was a slender woman, just the chest armor been able to be seen from beneath the large purple hood that she wore, yet her glowing red eyes were clearly seen nonetheless.
As the group stopped a few meters away from the twin queens, silence descended upon the forest, nothing but glares been exchanged. It was the green skinned orc that spoke up first.
"Lok'tar, friends. I am Thrall, Warchief of the Horde. This is the chief of the Warsong clan, Garrosh Hellscream and Sylvanas Windrunner, queen of the Forsaken." The last name instantly gathered a glare from Arya and somehow Sansa felt that her sister was put a step away from trying to kill the now named Sylvanas right there and then.
Seeing that her sister to be more likely to commit murder rather than diplomacy, despite her fear, Sansa stepped forth, removing her hood.
"My name is Sansa Stark and this is my sister, Arya. We protect the lands behind that wall." She finished, the girl genuinely surprised that she did not stutter.
Thrall took note of her wording, a ghost of a smile creeping at the edges of his brutish face while looking at the two children before him.
"Bah, Thrall, I did not wait for a whole week in this damned forest to listen to you speak pleasantly with pink-skinned children!" grunted out Garrosh, causing the two wolves to barren their teeth.
"Mind your tongue, Garrosh. They proved that they are not mere children by just forming this kingdom. Defeating out Forsaken allies only further proved that." Said Thrall, an edge to his voice as he looked at the brown-skinned orc.
"Speaking of that victory, would you mind explaining what you did at Tarren Mill, Sylvanas?!" suddenly spoke up Arya, spatting out the banshee queen's name, glaring directly into the deep-red pools that were the former elf's eyes.
Thrall turned to look at the dark ranger, seeing her glare locked with the one of the silver-eyed girl. Before he could ask what this all was about, Garrosh once again made himself known.
"Hahaha, you've never seen dead bodies before, little girl? Better run along with your dog before something happens to you!"
"Garro-!" Thrall, now angry at his old friend's son was just about to scold him before the petite queen across from them exploded.
"It's not that, you idiot! I am talking about all the people that she and her kind did experiments on! Corpses stitched together into massive abominations, horrific creatures made of hundreds of human parts. People remaining alive even after been gutted, flayed and dismembered through dark magic! How can you explain that, Sylvanas?" finished Arya, her eyes ablaze as her fists were clutched so hard, her knuckles were turning white.
The petite girl's shout had rung far across the silent forest, everyone, from the sentries atop of the wall to the horde soldiers in the camp having heard her clearly. All eyes were trained on Sylvanas, Thrall bearing a look of disbelief before morphing into suspicion as Garrosh remained silent, his face twisted into disgust as his glare found a new target.
"Is there truth to her words, Sylvanas?" asked Thrall, fully turning towards his ally.
"Of course not, Warchief. Arthas would have done that, not me. Don't ever compare me to that man!" said Sylvanas, speaking for the first time.
"Liar!" shouted Arya, putting a hand on her new rapier, ready to draw it before suddenly Sansa put her hand on her sister's arm. Up to now, her Sansa was trying to understand just what her sister was saying. She was spared the details of what Tarren Mill looked like after the Undead were pushed back, but thankfully, she came around just in time to stop her sister from starting a battle.
"Why you called us here, Warchief?" asked Sansa, her voice calm after having restrained her younger sister.
Thrall glared at Sylvanas for a while longer before turning back forth.
"A truce, a temporary peace, if you will." both Sylvanas and Garrosh were outraged, but green orc managed to silence them quickly.
"With the campaign in Northrend started, we are stretched ever thinner. We cannot make good progress without the Forsaken, nor can we maintain good supply routes with a third of our fleet blockading Southshore. We need this truce, and I believe, as do you." spoke Thrall, looking at Sansa, finding her the more reasonable of the two, blue eyes meeting blue eyes.
"And just forget about Tarren Mill?" spat out Arya "Where is the justice?" she asked, tearing her glare away from Sylvanas to look at Thrall.
"I will send some of my men to this town you go so on about. If there is truth to what you say, justice will be met. Infact, if you would allow it, they might go with you through Silverpine."
"They will find nothing. I ordered the town burned. A burial in the old ways…" said Arya, her last words coming in a whisper.
"Foolish little girl, you come accusing me of crimes, yet bring no evidence. Ha!" laughed Sylvanas.
Arya tried to look confident, but she knew that she had played her cards wrong. It was Thrall that once again spoke up.
"So what you say of this truce?"
Sansa remained silent for a while, deep in thought. She was unsure of how the other alliance leaders would react to her breaking a truce with their prime enemy and yet, at the same time, the support from the south has been minimal at best. A couple of shipments of dwarven weapons were a long shot from enough. Finally deciding, she spoke:
"Will you uphold your end?"
"By the honor of the Horde, the blockade will be lifted and no Horde soldier will pass south of Alterac or the Wall."
"Then we shall have a truce, Warchief." And without another word, Sansa turned and began walking back towards the wall, leaving an almost stunned Arya behind. The silver-eyed queen quickly composed herself and went to follow her sister, but not before glaring at Sylvanas for a good measure. She could have sworn at that moment that she saw the banshee queen smirk.
Finally on the southern side of the wall, the two queens found themselves in a room in one of the barracks, Sansa writing on a parchment as Arya was shouting at her:
"How can you agree so easily to this?! What about Hillsbrad? The people? WHAT ABOUT JUSTICE?!"
"Arya, it is a truce, not peace. War will resume and justice will be served. Right now, we must look to securing the kingdom. Hillsbrad is too big to simply build a massive wall. We don't have the time or resources.
"So that's it? Buying time?"
"Yes, Arya. The moment Tarren Mill was sacked I looked into the possibility of building a second wall on the border between Silverpine and Hillsbrad, should you fail. With you winning and this truce, the plan changes."
"Building a fortress in Hillsbrad. Durnholde is too out of the way to be effective, should it be restored. I am writing to king Magni if he can lend us good stonemasons, architects, and above all - stone."
Silence descended upon the room, Arya genuinely surprised at her sister's forth sight.
"I still don't like it."
"Neither do I, Arya, be we don't have a choice." Said Sansa, not looking up from the letter she was writing.
"Father would have known what to do…" mumbled out Arya, yet loud enough for her sister to hear, the quill stopping its movement along the parchment.
'Father, we need you.' were Sansa's final thoughts as she folded the letter.
Thank you for reading.