It was a long journey from the capital. Arthas had raised up no more than ten men, each carefully handpicked, with the help of his childhood friend and captain of the guards, Falric. They would soon march upon the camp of the mighty Uther the Lightbringer. Uther was Arthas' mentor, friend, uncle figure, the one where you'd always yearn for his arrival because he had the sort of warmth and kindness that could soothe you for ages. Normally, Arthas would love the opportunity for him and Uther to bond but not under these circumstances.
For the past month or so, the orcs had been riled up and driven to new heights of fury. It was as if something had awakened the passion and bloodlust within them and reignited the fiery passion they had for conquest. Though, Arthas knew, they were nothing more than just a shadow of their once mighty behemoth of an army. Uther had been hunting the new Warchief who led this "new Horde" as the Warchief had proclaimed but surprisingly, had failed. The new Warchief is quite adept at hiding his tracks Arthas thought, impressed against his will. These orcs were clever but sooner or later, he'd hunt them all down and put them to the sword.
They had finally arrived at the camp. Men were shouting commands, barrels were being rolled down, and a squire had come to take all their horses. Arthas inquired as to Uther's whereabouts and the squire pointed at the large tent at the middle. Arthas thanked him and went on his way. Once he entered, Uther saw him at once and greeted him, "Welcome, Prince Arthas! The men and I are honored by your presence." Uther sank down low with a bow along with all of his men in the tent. This made Arthas suddenly feeling embarrassed. He had never known how to react to such formalities. "Can the formalities, Uther. I'm not king yet." he replied, sheepishly. Uther laughed, heartily and Arthas did so as well.
"It's good to see you, Uther." he said.
"You, too, lad. I'm pleased that King Terenas sent you to help me." Uther beamed at him.
Arthas pulled up a chair and sat at the table and Uther and his men did the same. "Father still hopes that your patience and experience might rub off on me." he said.
"Well, it is a father's right to dream, isn't it?" Uther said, prompting a chuckle from both men.
However, the situation did not allow them time for glibs and humor for long, Arthas unrolled a map and pointed at it. "Look, here's where we stand. Our scouts have confirmed that there is a hidden orc encampment hidden somewhere over the next ridge."
Uther frowned. "As I suspected..."
"It gets worse." Arthas pointed now to the dot which represented a village on the map. "They're preparing to attack the nearby village of Strahnbrad. As far as we know, the village is completely defenseless." Uther contemplated for a moment then promptly said, "I need to move against the orcs' base immediately. Can you handle Strahnbrad's defense on your own?" Arthas gave a half-smile and nodded. "Of course, Uther. Don't worry about me."
Uther beamed at him. "Good. Meet me at the orc camp once you've saved the village." He then put one hand on Arthas's shoulder. "Be careful, Arthas." Then, he gave the command to his own men to move out. Uther knew the risk and still gave me the command, he thought. It had not been a secret between the two that he was a bit (Well, maybe more than a bit) rash when given action. This was the chance to finally prove Uther he had controlled his emotions.
He quickly gave the order for his own men to move out as well and soon enough, they were now marching to Strahnbrad to defend the village from any orcish incursion. Along the way, they passed down villages, hamlets, and the local townsfolk, some of whom, began greeting him as soon as they saw him. He gave a nod and smile as befits the royal heir of Lordaeron. Some of the women began to fawn on him and he could only muster a weak smile before returning to his thoughts. He was not vain but he could not deny he had the beauty that could capture the hearts of women. But only one woman captured his. Jaina, he thought. He thought of the young sorceress whom he had courted when he was younger. The daughter of Admiral Daelin Proudmoore, heir to the Kul Tiras, and apprentice of Lord Antonidas. It would have seemed they were poised for marriage but life was crueler than it seemed. He had been forced to focus on his royal duties as Crown Prince and paladin while she would also indulge in her studies as an archmage of the Kirin Tor.
Arthas was promptly shaken from his thoughts when his captain called him. "Sire, look! There's smoke on the horizon." the captain pointed out. Smoke. When there's smoke, there's fire. Just beyond this road would be Strahnbrad. Arthas could only gape in realization as he called out, "All men, advance! We have to get to Strahnbrad now!". He reared his horse to full speed towards the village. They finally made it outside the gates when he saw the corpse of a man with an axe embedded on his back.
"Damn! The attack has already begun! To arms, my brothers!" Arthas bellowed and he raced inside the village to quell the orcs. He rode down one orc who was near the gate, the orc did not have time to shout as his head was smashed by his hammer. The other was promptly slain by one of his men with a slash to the belly. He looked at the square to see one orc riding a horse trampling villagers while a group of orcs saw them and approached them with bloodlust in their eyes. He roared and did battle with the beasts. He smashed his warhammer towards the orcs and parried most of their attacks. One of them almost managed to cut him down but was saved by one of his men who stabbed the orc with his sword. He saw the orc riding the horse barking orders at the edge of town. They had managed to cut through the trees and brought the village wall down to access the village.
"Haul these wretches off with the rest of them!" said the horse-riding orc. They put the captured villagers in single file and moved them towards the path they had used to access the village. He led his men towards the remaining orcs and confronted the horse-rider. "You'll never take them, paladin!" the orc roared. "You think so, savage?" he roared back and with the reflexes of a fine warrior, he brought his hammer down but was blocked by the orc's mace. He knocked the mace with lightning speed from the orc's hand and buried his hammer deep towards the beast's chest. The orc cried out and was no more. The remaining orcs were slain either by his men or Arthas himself.
The survivors were all gathered at the town square where Arthas provided healing and comfort to the injured. The townsfolk all thanked him and his men for their efforts in saving them. A child, no older than ten, approached him however, and asked, "But what about the others who were taken away?". Arthas knelt and looked at the child and smiled, "Don't worry, son. We'll find them and bring them home safe." he reassured the young lad. The child beamed up at him and he patted the boy's head.
"Prince Arthas!" a voice cried and Arthas spun around to see a knight whose emblem bore the sigil of the Silver Hand approach him. "Lord Uther needs you at the orc encampment immediately!" he said. Arthas could only give a half-smile and turned to the boy. "Never a dull moment." he shrugged and said. The boy grinned at that. He shouted at his men and said, "Let's get moving!". Throughout the journey towards the encampment, the boy's smile was all Arthas could think of. That was the smile of a boy who believed in me. That was the smile of his people.
He thought of all the people he had helped as well as the people he, unfortunately, could not save. Like Invincible, he thought sadly. He would do anything to protect his own people from harm. They were the reason that he would strive to be a good prince and a king-to-be. He would ensure that all of his people would not suffer under his rule. He would gladly bear anything to do so. Even if it cost his soul.