Chapter 6: The Pale Shadow
Liana Bleakwind was never someone to make rash decisions. Ever since she watched her sister die in battle against the new horde, she'd been very cautious – planning everything beforehand and reevaluating said plans a hundred times to make sure they would be flawless. It had been a simple plan overall: Launch a lightning attack on a group of Blood Elves on a mission, steal whatever items they had, and run back to Forest Song to rendezvous with the other members of their party. Liana, ever confident in her plan, took only five junior members with her; thinking that it was just another routine raid. Unfortunately, her plan just blew up in her face.
It all started so well; the blood elves never detected them and their plans were all going incredibly smoothly until something unexpected happened. Scratch that: what happened next was something that not even the greatest general in the Horde or Alliance could've predicted. A gold-clad warrior broke out of the trees and threw some sort of explosive fire magic at their hiding spot, instantly alerting the Blood Elves. But then, the warrior who had previously attacked them summoned some sort of lightning spear from his hands and threw said spear towards the group of blood elves.
"What the fuck!?" She heard someone yell, but wasn't sure from which side.
Then it all went to hell.
The Blood Elves started firing spells towards their location and towards whomever it was that attacked both their groups. Unfortunately for everyone present, the figure was faster than all of them and, like Liana's group, only came for the Blood Elves' loot. The Blood Elves, now angry and lootless, turned their attention to Liana's group and began attacking them with every spell they could possibly muster. Meanwhile, the gold armored warrior simply vanished back into the forest. With the Blood Elves outnumbering their group 4:1, Liana was forced to order a retreat, but luck was not on her side.
One of the Blood Elves fired an arrow at her leg and it connected, effectively preventing her from escaping as the arrow had hindered her movement – nevermind the pain it brought. As her allies all retreated back into the bushes, narrowly escaping the advance of the Blood Elves, Liana was left there with a bleeding leg; the worst part was that the blood elves probably thought it was her group that stole the treasure they'd found.
'I am so dead…..' Liana drew her dagger as she waited for the coming Blood Elves.
In most cases, Leandros wouldn't even think about taking anything from the people who lived in this world. He had a powerful weapon, a nearly-indestructible armor and the advantage of never having to consume anything for survival. Whatever treasures these people had was useless to him, they simply had nothing he could possibly desire – and even he knew not what he desired at this point.
It started out as a simple quest of curiosity he'd personally taken. Leandros had heard of a group called the Twilight's Hammer, and that there were particularly high ransoms for the heads of its members – he even assigned his subjects to claim the ransoms if they could – so he decided to collect the bounty from said heads. It took him some time to track down these Twilight cultists, but he did eventually find a small group of the beasts lurking in some cave near the coast; completely hidden from the eyes of the Alliance and the Horde.
Despite his armor, Leandros was actually incredibly silent during his approach towards the cave entrance, where he knew the beasts to be lurking just out of sight, but an undead did not need eyes to find the living. Due to their need to feast on souls, a living being – quite rare in Lordran – was like a beacon to them, shining brightly with their living souls. Because of this, Leandros was already made aware of their positions long before he approached the cave. There were at least a hundred of these beasts, and each of them was armed to the teeth with various weapons. He could kill them all instantly of course, but the method for such results would simply erase his needed evidence to collect the ransom.
At about fifty or so yards away from the mouth of the cave, Leandros was patiently waiting behind a bush – thinking on the many possible ways he could approach the situation. The most simple way would be to rush in, spear drawn, and just proceed to massacre every living thing inside the cave. Unfortunately, that plan was just too reckless and he might end up getting seriously injured like that one other time with the 'elves'. The second possible approach was to summon his Darkwraith servants and have them rush in there and kill everything. The bad part about this plan was that he would be summoning a large force that would be quite susceptible to witnesses and suspicion, how could such a large force suddenly appear out of thin air and vanish as quickly as they did?
He'd already seen some of these 'Warlocks' summoning demons, but never on the same numeric scale as he could summon the Darkwraiths. Now that he thought about it he never really tested how many Darkwraiths he could summon, he'd have to test that sometime.
The third plan was to find a way to alert either the Horde or Alliance, have them send in a party in there, join said party, and then kill them all when no one's looking. It wasn't a very good plan considering his 'path-of-least-violence' promise to Elune, which he'd probably already broken so now he mentally changed it to just 'don't kill as many people as you normally would' policy.
The heavy sound of a footstep quickly alerted Leandros to the presence of several other beings in the immediate vicinity – just far enough that he couldn't smell their living souls, but near enough for him to hear their footsteps. There were at least 70 people, each of them were heavily armed and poised for battle.
'They must be here to exterminate the Twilight cultists…..' He thought, now backing away to blend in with the darkness of the woods. There would be heavy fighting soon, and he need not be a part of any of it. True, he could initiate plan number 3, but Elune would not be so happy if he did – angering any of the gods here was not a part of his immediate plan.
With his mind set, Leandros turned to leave, but a familiar presence inside the cave stopped him dead on his tracks. It was this same feeling he received upon being near this particular presence – a strange and yet soothing caress that kept him from going insane back in Lordran. This was the presence that had once represented a beacon of hope in the darkness that was the land of the undead; one of a few lanterns that danced in an eternal darkness. Because of this, Leandros was instantly on his feet – lurking in the darkness but slowly making his way towards the cave. He couldn't deal with all of them right now, he could if he wanted to, but that would be crazy suicidal and incredibly stupid.
Soon, the sounds of clashing metal and crashing bones started to roar around the night. Death hung heavily in the air, Leandros felt it. The attackers were winning, despite their disadvantage in quantity, and the Twilight's hammer orcs were slowly being whittled away by the superior Blood elven force. As the battle raged on at the entrance of the cave where the opposing forces were bottlenecked, Leandros slowly made his way to a high ground near the entrance, but was obscured by a small pocket of trees.
Shae Sunhallow sighed with exhaustion as he felled another Twilight orc. The battle had raged on for at least an hour now, and he was sure that his forces would win eventually, but at what cost? Of the original 80 warriors he brought with him, 40 had already been either killed or seriously injured. The orcs would all die of course since they had no way of escaping, but many good people would end up paying the price for the recovery of a supposedly powerful 'ancient artifact' that the Twilight cultists had recovered.
From what their leader had told them, the artifact was said to have been from a time even before the war of the ancients. What power it held, they did not know, but they'd rather not have the Twilight cultists be in possession of it; which was why they were here now, a Blood Elven host out to prove their loyalty to the Horde.
"KILL THEM ALL!" He bellowed, diving headlong into the lines of orcs and slaying as many as he could. His fellow warriors, now inspired by his courage, all charged with even more vigor than they had before. The Twilight cultists would not last long, but they would definitely put up a good fight. The battle was intense, the orcs were fanatical and unrelenting in their defense of the cave. He himself was almost bested by a particularly large orc that seemingly did not care for its own safety as it didn't bother defending itself properly, thus Shae was saved by the timely volley of archer fire. Still, they were fearless and brutal without a doubt, and even his best veterans were struggling against the unrelenting, but undisciplined orcish fighters. Little by little, the Blood elves slew the raging monsters. Each Blood elven warrior would take at least 3 orcs before he himself perished by the overwhelming orcs.
Just when they'd finally pushed back the orcs, just when victory was nearly at hand, just when they'd finally be victorious, something happened that no one could've predicted. The remaining 25 men, with their captain Shae Sunhallow, were finally about to exterminate the last of the orcs, about 30 of them now remained with broken morale. An incredibly bright flash of gold from the sky stole the attention of both forces, and for a brief instant, the night sky was illuminated by a strange power, until it coalesced into a single globe of golden energy. In the seconds that followed, all who stayed at the mouth of the cave experienced the briefest of flashbacks to their lives before. The golden energy cackled and unleashed a bolt of golden lightning so powerful that the earth itself seemed to shake and all those near the cave entrance were instantly vaporized.
All that remained of the 80 warriors were now just 6, and the orcs were all dead.
The remnants of the Blood elven force quickly moved into the cave to recover the artifact. They were dazed, confused and broken, but they were soldiers – the mission comes first, they would mourn later. The Blood Elves entered the cave, all of them broken in spirit from their earlier battle – a pyrrhic victory was no victory at all. Still, they ventured deep into the caves, discovering the bones of the long dead and treasures that these Twilight cultists had horded. They eventually found the artifact that they'd been told to recover.
It was a rusty short sword with a strange burning point, incredibly old; even the design of the sword showed its age if not for the rust, which was so think on it that it could even be said that the entire blade was just rust in the form of a sword. Still, the Blood Elves, with their natural affinity to magical powers, felt the great power that this artifact held. It was strange and utterly alien, it was magical in nature, but it was unlike any magic they'd ever felt before – this magic felt almost pure, magic in its most basic form.
"Many of my kin died to retrieve you" One of the remaining Blood elves spoke as he reached for the rusty artifact and took it into his hands. "I hope it was worth it"
They then placed the artifact inside an arcane container that masked the strange aura of the ancient sword. With their mission now half-way over, the remnants of the Blood elves' assault group began their long trek to Orgrimmar.
"YOU!" Liana heard one of the Blood Elves enraged scream as her face was kicked to the ground again. Then she was pulled up and kicked down again. "MY BROTHER DIED TO RETRIEVE THAT THING AND YOU JUST STEAL IT!"
Liana was once kicked, this time on her stomach – forcing out the air from her body. In a final act of fury, one of the Blood elves ripped off the arrow that had been lodged in her thigh, causing her to scream in pain at the top of her lungs. Thankfully, the arrow had not hit a major artery, but she wouldn't be walking for quite some time if she survived this, which, judging from the angry faces of her captors, wasn't going to happen.
'I guess I'll never get to eat fish n chips again huh?' That was the only thought that ran through her mind as the world went absolutely dark.
Leandros' grin was out of control. Really. He couldn't stop himself from grinning behind his helmet even if he had to face Gwynn again. What was now imbedded on the ground in front of him was a bonfire, which he himself had kindled after retrieving the bonfire sword from those elves. With this, he could finally change his armor and weapons; even access the items he'd once had but could no longer use since he'd been without a bonfire for quite some time. How did those green beasts find something like this? An artifact from his own world was something he did not expect to find here.
Nevertheless, he was thankful and very happy. Although, he himself had to admit that this bonfire was quite strange in comparison to what he'd grown accustomed to. Truly, this was the only bonfire that could be dislodged from the ground and be taken elsewhere. Obviously, it wasn't the bad kind of strange.
With a flick of his wrist, his Dragonslayer spear was instantly gone, and in its place was the weapon he rarely used and for good reason, it was as dangerous for him as it was for his enemies, the Lifehunt Scythe. As Leandros gripped the accursed weapon's handle, he felt his mind drift back to the times where he used this weapon and remembered the scars it bore into his soul each time he used it to kill someone. The weapon was meant to kill the user after it's killed, his state of undeath made him immune to the weapon's curse, but each time he killed with it he felt a piece of his own soul die. Yet even he couldn't deny the weapon's power, and in this world, he needed his most powerful weapons.
He strapped the Lifehunt Scythe to his back and summoned the Dark Silver Tracer from the bonfire. Now with two weapons on him, fighting was going to be a lot easier, and he suspected that there would be a lot of fighting going on in the future with how chaotic this world seemed. With that thought in mind, Leandros immediately reached for the bonfire and restored his humanity, reverting him a more human-like state of being, which would now allow him to remove his helmet without looking like a moving bacon.
Leandros stood up and immediately removed the blade from the soil, the fire at the tip of the blade instantly died down and he no longer felt the bonfire's own aura, but he could recreate it at any time he wished. For a brief moment, a shadow seemed to creep up beside him; Leandros turned to it and, from the shadow, emerged a Darkwraith. He couldn't carry the bonfire blade with him at all times; doing so would risk its destruction or loss. The Darkwraith held out its hands and received the rusty blade from Leandros before disappearing back into the shadows from whence it came, taking the sword with it.
Liana was forcibly brought back to the land of consciousness when she felt cold water splashing against her face. Coughing and still very disoriented, Liana nonetheless did her best to stay awake. Still, she'd really thought that she'd be killed back there – those Blood Elves looked very angry.
"What do you know of the artifact?" She heard a girl's voice ask, it was husky and heavy, but a woman's voice nonetheless. Liana, to her credit, really did try to stay awake, but she simply fell back unconscious. The would-be interrogators watched the human girl they'd captured simply went limp once again. Maybe she'd been kicked in the head a lot? One of the interrogators, a female orc named Tishka, held back a sigh of frustration as she signaled for another bucket of cold water. It took only a few minutes before another bucket of cold water was handed to her, and she simply splashed it on the unconscious prisoner once again.
This time, Liana was immediately wide awake and, to the orcs' dismay, completely fearless.
"My sister's vagina is scarier than you shits!" She yelled, earning her punch to the cheek by one of the many orcs present in the room. Liana simply turned her head to where that orc was and spat on his feet, which earned her another punch.
"Enough!" Tishka finally said, signaling the other orcs to stand behind her. She then grabbed a chair and sat in front of Liana, who was somehow able to hold her gaze without faltering. Tishka had to give it to her, this woman was brave and foolish, but mostly brave, and that earned her a small bit of respect from her. Still, they were enemies and she had a job to do for the Horde. "Why did you steal from us?"
"Listen….I won't lie, that's exactly what I had planned: Steal from you guys and then run away." Liana said in a deadpan tone. "But those Blood elves should've told you about a gold-armored warrior right? Yeah, that's the one you're looking for. The man – or at least I think it was a man – just came out of fucking nowhere and started throwing exploding things at both groups before he made out with the treasure."
"Do you know what the 'treasure' was?" The orcish woman asked. Liana raised an eyebrow at her question. No info was given on what was exactly inside the casket, just that it was loot from a recent Horde raid into a Twilight's hammer hideout. The intel even specified that it would be an easy catch since the Blood elves would've been exhausted from their earlier raid. Now that she thought about it: Who HAD given her that intel? Oh yes, she remembered now. Back at the tavern in Astranaar, a Kaldorei by the name of Arein Shadowleaf had informed her of unusual Horde activity near Talrendis point Northeast of Orgrimmar. After that it was just a matter of investigating what she'd been told.
"No, I don't know what was inside that box." She began. "But I do know that it was probably in our best interests that it didn't reach your people."
"If a Blood elf was here, they'd probably have killed you." Tishka retorted, sighing softly as she recalled the group of Blood elves who had returned. They were all shocked, her included, at the great loss they'd experienced. The death of 74 soldiers was nothing to scoff at, and it was all for naught because the artifact they'd been sent to find was stolen from them. Well, the world was cruel like that, but it didn't mean she had to like it. "74 good men and women died to retrieve that artifact. They were not my kin, but still they were a part of the horde."
"Look lady I'm sorry for that, but we're technically at war and there are bound to be deaths"
Tishka said nothing and simply stood up and walked away. She was immediately followed by the other orcs within the room, leaving Liana alone on the chair – tied up.
It wasn't long until the search for this 'Gold armored' warrior became one of the many quests given out to the adventurers of both the Alliance and the Horde. Leandros, of course, knew this, but he really didn't care too much since it wasn't that big of a deal for now. His underlings reported that, while there was a bounty out for him, it wasn't really that big of a bounty. Really, the only thing that remotely worried him – not really – was the possible revenge of those Blood elves, but then he also didn't care about them.
He was currently walking westwards to reach his personal Island, where his fort would no undoubtedly be finished if no one interfered. It took him at least several days before he finally reached the coastline. Just as he was about to start swimming – he was undead so water wasn't really much of an obstacle – a strange winged shadow suddenly soared passed him.
Leandros looked up and gaped.
There was a huge pale dragon flying right above him.
Sorry for the long update life just caught it with me and now I have a baby daughter! Still, now that I have some free time from paternity leave I will be writing whenever the little one is sleeping! So maybe the next update will be next month