Through his memories, we see . . . Enjoy!

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2: Memories in the Past

"Ma, Kayla, I'm home," Danthor announced, opening the door to their little cottage and stepping inside.

He looked around and saw no one in the living room. Shrugging to himself, Danthor closed the door behind him and moved further in. He produced a handkerchief from the back of his pants pocket and wiped his dirt-covered face. Danthor was in his early twenties, but every evening he stepped into his house after working, he looked at least twice the age.

"Hello?" he said, walking into the kitchen. "Ma, Kayla, you guys—"


Danthor looked to his right to see his teenaged sister sitting at the kitchen table, reading a rather large tome by candlelight. Danthor grinned at this sight and ventured closer to the table, peeking over at the book.

"Hey there, sis. Whatcha reading to—"

Kayla Kurock slammed the book shut and looked up at her brother. "How much do you know about the history of Gilneas?"

"Oh, you mean those shut-ins who walled themselves off from the rest of the world because they didn't like what was going on around them?" Danthor asked with a sly smirk. "All I know is that they're snobbish and rude."

"They are not!" Kayla said, outraged. "They're a refined and intelligent people who had the common sense to not involve themselves in conflicts that would end their kingdom. Besides, there's much more to them than that wall, and I intend to find out what it is one day!"

"Yeah, yeah, I know," Danthor said, dropping in an open seat at the table with an audible sigh of relief. "You'll be the first person to get inside the city since Greymane Wall was put up. You should try living in the day-to-day a bit more."

Kayla made a mocking face at Danthor. "There's no reason to hate me just because I'm thinking in the long-term. You should take a page from my book and start planning ahead. Then again, I was the child blessed with intelligence, so I guess I'm asking too much of a simple farmer."

There was silence for a second, then both Danthor and Kayla burst out laughing at the same time. When it died down, Danthor asked, "So where's Ma?"

"Out back," Kayla answered. "She's making dinner. By the looks of you I bet you can eat the whole meal by yourself."

Danthor shrugged, then leaned back a little deeper in his chair. He gave Kayla a sly grin and said, "Maybe, maybe not. If I were you, though, I'd watch my plate when I'm nearby."

"As if a simpleton such as yourself could devise a plan to steal my food without detection," Kayla shot back almost immediately.

Another fresh bout of laughter erupted from the two. The door from the kitchen opened amidst this, and Marsha Kurock stepped with a bucket of water. "If you laughed any louder our neighbors would think we've all gone mad!"

"What neighbors?" Danthor asked, turning around to look at his mother as she placed the bucket of water on the kitchen counter. "There's no one around us, and even if they could hear, who cares what the Germaines or Warrens think of us?"

Marsha just shook her head, then inspected Danthor from head to toe. "Hard day, I take it?"

"You always had a knack for picking up on subtle clues, Ma," Danthor said, slumping a bit further into his chair.

He was promptly smacked in the back of his head with a dishcloth. "I certainly didn't raise my children to be sarcastic," she said. She gave Danthor an overly-wicked smile. "I did teach them, however, to go and get washed up before they start lounging at the dinner table."

"Alright," Danthor said with an audible sigh, getting up from his seat and moving towards the door leading to the back. "I get it, I get it."

"And come back inside with a new attitude," Marsha said with the same wickedly-joyful grin, hitting Danthor once more with the dishcloth for good measure.

When he closed the door behind him, Kayla looked up at her mother and showed her hands, saying, "I'm all washed up, Ma, look."

"You are," Marsha said, setting her sights on Kayla, "but you have a nasty habit of leaving your books scattered all around the kitchen table." She motioned to the clutter of books around where Kayla was sitting. "So unless you want to suffer the same fate as your brother, I suggest you take all those books back up to your room!"

Marsha raised up her dishcloth threateningly, prompting Kayla to shoot herself up from her chair and frantically start collecting her books.

— — —

The Kurock family didn't have running water going through their house, so they had to get all of it from a water pump in the back. As the sun was beginning to set, Danthor stood at the pump and began washing his hands with the water. When his hands were clean, he closed his eyes and scrubbed his face with his wet hands to get the grime off of it.

It was the rustling sound that caused his eyes to shoot open. He stood there for a second, washing off his now-dirtied hands, straining to see if he could hear anything else. The rustling sound came again, and Danthor was able to pinpoint where the sound came from. Looking to his left he saw movement through the bushes just past the boundaries of his house.

Squinting, Danthor only caught one good glimpse of what was moving, and it was enough to make his blood run cold. Without a doubt he caught a glimpse of a group of undead making their way around his home. What was even worse was that they looked armored. Not your garden-variety mindless Scourge, that's for sure.

Not wasting any time, Danthor ran back into the kitchen to find his mother preparing their meal. He burst in with such suddenness that it caused Marsha to look up and ask, "Dan, what's wrong?"

Danthor scanned the room and found no sign of his sister. "Where's Kayla?"

"She's putting her books back in her room," Marsha replied. "What's going on?"

"Run upstairs and find her. Lock yourself in your room as soon as you have her."

Marsha's eyes widened. "Is it another attack?"

"I fear so. Now go!"

Marsha, all too familiar with how dangerous these attacks could be (the attack that prompted her husband to join up with the militia was particularly clear in her mind), didn't hesitate and went past Danthor and up the stairs.

"I'm counting on you to take care of your ma and sister for me," his father's voice said in Danthor's mind as he moved towards the front door and grabbed his father's sword and wooden shield.

He took a quick second to inspect what he had to defend himself. The blade was rusting and looked blunt, while the shield had cracks running down it from previous uses. Gotta go with what you have, Danthor thought, opening the door open a crack to see outside.

With a single glance his worst fears were confirmed. Standing out in front of the house were around five undead. They all wore tabards showing their affiliation with the Forsaken, and they all stood in a straight line at attention while one of them (presumably the commanding officer) had his back turned to Danthor and talking to his men.

He strained his ears, but could only pick up faint traces of Gutterspeak coming from the leader.

("what neighbors?" Danthor asked, turning around to look at his mother as she placed the bucket of water on the kitchen counter. "there's no one around us . . .")

If only there were people around to see that they needed help. Well, it is what it is, and Danthor knew the defense all fell down to him. Drawing in a shaky breath, he opened the door and boldly stepped out, catching the attention of the entire force.

"What are you doing in front of my house?" he asked in a booming voice.

The leader turned around and looked at Danthor with his yellow eyes. His head was bald, save for the one patch of hair on the back of his head fashioned into a ponytail, while his cheeks were hollowed and rotting. He had a sword strapped to one hip with a dagger strapped to the other.

"You're the owner of this land then, I assume," he said, speaking in Common. Danthor had no doubt that if his lips hadn't rotted away, he would be smiling. "We come as emissaries of the Dark Lady and wish to let you know that this land is being retaken by the Forsaken to further our war against the Scourge and Crusade."

Danthor grimaced. "I'm afraid I can't let you do that. This is my home, and I would appreciate it if you got off of my property."

There was some speaking from the leader in Gutterspeak, then he spoke to Danthor in Common. "Impossible, you see. Our Lady's word is law, and we can't return empty handed. So sorry, but your home is now property of the Forsaken!"

He spoke something to the four men behind him, and immediately they raised their crossbows and fired towards Danthor. He was able to duck in time, letting the arrows hit the house harmlessly.

"Stop!" the human yelled, standing up and charging towards them.

The leader drew his two weapons and rushed towards him. With a cry of battle, Danthor raised his sword and brought it down, only to have it parried by the leader's blade. With a roar of glee, he used the dagger in his other hand to thrust towards his enemy. Danthor moved fast to raised up his wooden shield, blocking the dagger and actually burying it slightly into the frame.

The leader hissed as he pried his dagger free. It was at that point that Danthor noticed both his weapons were coated in a glistening poison. Before he could do anything else, the leader knocked Danthor's sword aside and booted him in his exposed chest. Danthor hit the floor with a thud.

The leader motioned for the men to move past him towards the house. "No! Don't!" pleaded Danthor as the four undead moved past him.

He quickly leapt up and moved towards one of the Forsaken, but was intercepted by the leader, who raised brought his dagger down towards Danthor. Luckily, he brought his shield up in time to let it harmlessly clatter off. That didn't stop the leader from swinging the sword in his free hand down.

The blow struck Danthor diagonally across his entire chest, causing blood to spurt out almost immediately. He coughed a little and staggered forward slightly before falling face-first onto the ground. The leader let out a baleful laugh and started moving slowly forward.

"The poison on my weapons are slow-acting," he said. "It'll eat up your senses bit by bit, but not before we burn this house to the ground—it's only the land we care about, you know."

Danthor tried to say something, but could only open his mouth and utter a small sound. His body was starting to grow tingly.

The leader let out another laugh and said, "My name's Garomaw Grimhand, by the way, and it was a pleasure meeting you, human."

Danthor could hear the sound of glass shattering and the thud of the wooden door being kicked in. These sounds persisted for a while, and all the time Danthor was thinking, Get up, dammit! This is your home—your family! You can't fail in the duties Pa has given to you! Get the hell up!

His body wouldn't listen or react to anything he tried. It was like his mind was departed from his body and watching it from far away. Then, the sounds of screams rose from the house. It was followed by something being yelled in Gutterspeak, but the screaming continued for a good minute afterwards.

No, no, no, no! Please, by the Light, just let them be safe! Then, as the poison moved deeper into his system, his distant mind thought aimlessly, Doesn't matter . . . we couldn't have been happy, even if we tried our best . . .

He knew not how much time had passed once the screaming stopped. To Danthor, it was like the world itself had ceased its turning, and he only remembered patches of gray and black. All he knew was that once he was able to gain control of his body and force himself up, the Forsaken were gone and his house was burned to the ground.

The image was stunning, and at first he didn't want to believe it. Then, despite his wobbliness, he forced his body to run towards the house as fast as he could, yelling, "Kayla, Ma, can you hear me?"

He collided with a partially standing wall at the front of the smoldering wreckage, and quickly moved inside, kicking aside blackened furniture and yelling his mother and sister's name over and over. Running up the stairs, he found them both in Marsha's room. He doubled over upon seeing them and threw up. His knees were buckling so badly that he dropped onto them. He saw blood in his vomit, and touched his chest wound, finding that even though the bleeding had stopped, it was clearly not getting any better.

Still, he pressed onwards, despite the tingling sensation in his body continuing and his movements getting slower and slower. He picked up both of their bodies and stumbled into the backyard, where the water pump was still standing, untouched.

Danthor carefully laid them down and then pumped some water into his hands attempting to wash his bloodied chest with it, but it didn't do any good. Letting out an unstable breath, he threw water into his face, as if trying to wake up from a bad dream. Another shot of pain rang through his body, bringing Danthor back down to his knees. And it was there that even the water on his face couldn't hide the tears he was shedding as he whispered, "Kayla . . . Ma, I'm so sorry."

He dug their graves there in the backyard. It was long, painful work, as his body kept getting weaker and weaker. Still, he was able to finish the job, gently laying his mother and sister down into their eternal resting places. He didn't have any markers, but he thought the water pump—standing defiantly despite the wreckage around it—was enough.

When the work was done, he coughed and inspected his hand. There was blood on it. Feeling incredibly weak, he once again dropped onto his knees. He was going to die, he just knew it. After all, it was what he deserved for being unable to protect his mother and Kayla. Just thinking of them brought a fresh bout of tears flowing from his eyes, as he slumped to the ground, slamming his fist onto the dirt.

When he cried all that he could, Danthor looked up towards the sky and saw a tower in the distance. On top of the tower, a large banner stood defiantly against the undead. It was the banner of the Scarlet Crusade. Regaining his composure, Danthor left the smoking wreck of what he once called home and moved towards that tower.

Against all odds, he was able to make it; bloodied and shaking, but he made it and was alive. He could only let out a few words of his intention to join the Crusade to before collapsing right in front of the two crusaders standing guard. One of them kneeled down and began shaking him.

"Hey, are you

— — —


Danthor jerked back into reality and looked at the man to his right who was shaking him. He was put on a cargo run from Tyr's Hand to the Scarlet Monastery (stopping at Hearthglen first to pick up more recruits), where he would officially begin his training. With him were about thirty other recruits, all who no doubt went through the same "screening process" as himself.

He looked to the recruit at his right, the one who shook him awake. He looked at Danthor quizzically and asked, "You alright there? You've been zoned out the entire trip."

"Yeah, I'm fine," Danthor said, readjusting his sitting position. "I was just thinking, that's all."

"Ah," the man said, leaning back and looking up towards the sky. "There's nothing wrong with that. You just had this look on your face where it seemed like you were in deep concentration. Were you thinking about anything in particular?"

Danthor shook his head, saying, "Just memories, that's all."

The man let out a little whistle. "Everyone here's got those—usually ones that aren't too pleasant. It's what brings us all to the Crusade, I suppose." He turned towards Danthor and held out his hand. "The name's Jonas Merrigan."

Danthor shook his hand. He remembered him boarding when the group stopped at Hearthglen—another Scarlet stronghold—in theWestern Plaguelands. The man looked to be in his late twenties, well-built, and had straight, chin-length black hair complimented by a moustache and small beard on his chin.

"Danthor Kurock. Nice to meet you."

"And you as well," Jonas said. He looked back towards the front and said, "Well it looks like your daydreamin' got you throughout this long and depressing trip. The monastery's right up ahead."

Danthor looked ahead and could see the outline of the Scarlet Monastery, right at the border of Tirisfal Glades.

It was there, Danthor knew, that his destiny awaited him.

So it begins.

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