The waves crashed along the sides of the hull. The vast ocean hadn't been kind to them throughout their journey, but today was the pinnacle of a sailor's nightmare. The winds roared along side the currents, bashing to and fro on all sides. The creaking ship rocked along the waves, groaning with each hitting wave. The mast had to be taken down as the wind swirled around them early on in their journey. As it was, it was a dangerous journey to a place even more ruthless than the elements they battled with.
The tauren sat below deck, listening to the cries of the wind and complaints of the ship. He knew he should have been worried about the ruckus of his surroundings, but he had been here too many times in his dreams before to think twice about it.
The dreams, like the one had two weeks ago, had only continued to worsen. Sometimes he would die in the ship, drowning as he watched felfire fall towards the ocean. Other times, he was battling demonic hordes until they swarmed his fellow soldiers and cut them down one by one. However, the most disturbing dream had to be when he charged towards a demon only to be slaughtered in front of the others.
He didn't know why that one had hurt as much as it had, especially since it was less gruesome and horrific. Somehow, it just seemed more real. Real in the sense that he was watching a past hologram or listening to a tale of ages long since past, not in that it was going to happen.
The tauren tried to rid himself of these thoughts, focusing on the rush of the winds and water. In vain, he tried yet failed.
A screeching voice called out from above the deck. "Ready yourselves for land!"
"To arms!" This was a different voice. It was much harsher, carrying a sense of urgency to it that the tauren knew could only belong to his commander.
He sighed as he lifted his spear off the ground. It was a beauty, this spear of his. With a handle around three feet long and bronze blade half that length, it was a pride his family had carried with them for ages. The tales of his ancestors were carved along the wooden base, detailing victories against fare opponents of nature and man. Today, the spear would be going against an enemy it had never faced, but the tauren was sure that with the spirit's guidance he would return home to his family. That the spear would pass on to his own son, from his old hands to eager youthful ones.
The tauren caught himself smiling at the distracted thought. No, he thought to himself, you can't get too ahead of yourself. Just focus on winning this battle. For the tribe. For the Horde. For the Earthmother.
He made his way up to the deck. Most of the troops had already lined up, standing at arms ready to storm the stores. Waves still crashed along the deck, washing over the floor and slipping those unfortunate to be off guard. The tauren made his way to his position near the front row, standing tall and proud as a Brave ought to.
The commander stood in front of them all, slouching under the heavy plate he wore. His axe at his side, he paced around the soldiers as he called out final reminders. He tried to listen, but was distracted the land mass he could see up ahead.
It was a small island, unassuming to the eye until he saw the large green structure in the middle. The black metal along with the green felfire stood firmly in the ground, centered by smaller but similar structures. Demons of all shapes and sizes, colors and styles, marched towards the shore readying to meet them. He knew he could only see the front lines, that even this mass of demons wasn't anywhere near the total amount. It seemed hopeless, but he was sure that the forces of Azeroth would triumph over the Legion. They had to.
The ship landed along the jagged shore, with the tides calling inwards still as it rose higher and higher. It battered those who landed, but the soldiers ignored it. The demons were waiting along the edges, weapons raised and ready to kill.
The commander walked with a swagger in his step as he called out once more why they fought alongside one another against the Legion. He scolded those who would mutter under their breaths their reasons for fighting.
"You don't fight for your family. You don't fight for the Horde, your organizations, your friends. You don't fight for the Light or ancestors or nature. You don't fight for honor or glory." The orc rambled as he glanced across the various faces of his troops. "No, today you fight for Azeroth. Nothing more, nothing less. Do you understand?"
"Yes sir!" The group yelled back, not willing to disagree right before battle.
With that, the orc signaled the troops off the boat towards the various demons. The soldiers raised their weapons and shouted battle cries and prayers as they began to charge. They were one with each other as they forced their way to the front lines. The tauren, with his Brave brethren, were close behind as they followed their comrades.
The tauren huffed as he ran. He had scanned over the various demons, but he simply ran straight towards a particularly nasty looking one.
He was a tall fellow, with purple scales across his body and glowing green eyes like they were infused with chaos itself. It only wore armor below its waist, glistening with metals and jewels unknown to the tauren. The weapon he recognized though. It was a long polearm, around two to three wide long with its handle and a blade that looked nearly twice that amount. It glistened with dried blood, as if the demon had slaughtered an entire world and had forgotten to clean the blade.
The demon smirked as the tauren ran towards him. The tauren didn't notice, but he had gained enough speed to be among the first soldiers to attack the demons. The tauren raised his weapon defensively over his chest as he pounced towards the demon.
The two fought for a while, trading blows and screaming in pain inflicted among each other. The air around them carried their cries and imbued them those of his fellow soldiers. Screams of agony called from all around the tauren. It was horrible, so much worse that he had ever heard before. He tried to ignore their pain, focus on his own battle.
That is until he heard a small child cry out.
The tauren widened his eyes, despite his attempts to conceal his surprise. Was that-?
"Help me papa!"
No, he couldn't be here. His son was at home, safe and sound with his mother.
Oh ancestors, don't let it be him. Anyone but him.
"They gotta me papa! Papa!"
He could hear the boy's agony as he cried for his aid. He tried tuning it out, but he couldn't. He turned around, sprinting to reach the source of his son's calls.
"No! Papa, help me! Help me!"
The tauren looked about. He couldn't see him, but where was he?
He began to take a step forward when he felt something pierce through his abdomen. Through his stomach, there was a large bloodied blade straight through him. He didn't feel the wound at first, all he could sense was the shock of seeing himself impaled. After a few eerie seconds, he felt a sensation of pain, of agony, but he couldn't get himself to call out for help. This was the type of pain that he didn't know existed and the tauren had a feeling it was the type of pain he could recover from. But he had to come back for them. He had to live.
The voice began to fade away. Oh no, not him. He came to defend him. He couldn't have failed.
"M-ma…" The tauren began to whimper. He was desperate for more sound, more volume, but it hurt every time he took a breath.
The demon laughed, the sound rung out in the tauren's ears.
He was losing his sight. The colors began to fade away as he began to lose consciousness. He could hear screaming and laughter, but he couldn't get himself to care about his surroundings. Even looking around him, he could see his environment fading out into a dark abyss.
"Mali….." His voice echoed out, calling for his son. Yet he saw nothing but the light of a small figure. He couldn't make out anything from the figure, just its presence. "Please…."
Yet it wasn't his son. "Come with me, you will be safe."
It looked like….what would he call it? How would he describe it? Well, he couldn't. It was like he had never seen before, with its brilliant light surrounding it, appearing as an aura. Perhaps a spirit?
No, it couldn't be a spirit. That would mean he's dying and he's not dying. It was an illusion. It had to be.
"Please, come with me. You'll be safe." The...apparition said, offering its light as it came closer to the tauren. "Come with me."
The ground under the tauren was shaking. No, he was shaking. His limbs were giving out on him, the blood from his wound spewing out too quickly for anyone to be able to fix it. Everything was fading. He couldn't hold out for much longer, not without accepting the spirit's aid.
The light was getting closer and closer to him. He couldn't leave, he had so much left. He had to return to her. He had to protect...
The tauren tried to find his voice once more. "Mali….k-"
"He will be safe. Trust me and come along." The apparition pleaded. "We must go."
He turned to look at his surroundings one last time. He could faintly see one of the Braves running towards him, mouthing something as though he was shouting something the tauren couldn't hear.
He looked towards that brilliant light that promised him so much. It seemed so tempting, even necessary. He had to. He didn't want to, but he had to accept the spirit for what it was.
It drew near the tauren. However, he accepted it. He fell on his knees and waited for the spirit to finally get to him. He would leave with the spirit, but what about-?
Author's Note-Well, that's the end of this two shot! This is connected with my stories on the Stonestriders, but I think it stands on its own fairly well. Let me know what you thought of this story and have a wonderful life!