Post by Morec0
(( Gilnean Moon (Part 14)
In just a little more than a day the Forsaken forces marched. At the very front of the group were warriors with massive kite shields and short swords and behind them were more warriors holding a variety of different weapons. This pattern continued for three rows back in each group before it simply became line after line of warriors armed with anything from axes to maces. Along the sides from the front to the back of each group were riders mounted upon skeletal steeds, and behind the final row was a line of catapults manned by at least three soldiers.
And there were dozens of these battalions, all marching row after row towards the King’s Gate. Ivan ran to his pack laying on ground and roughly stuffed it in before picking up the bag and throwing it over his shoulder. “Soldiers! Up and at arms, the undead are on the move.” The soldiers were already starting to wake up, and upon hearing the urgency in their commander’s voice quickened the speed of their actions. “We have less than an hour before they reach the gate, the King must be warned.”
The eldest Lord Jeret climbed into the saddle of his steed, waiting for his fellow soldiers to do the same with their mounts. It took another minute but the moment the last of them was ready he yanked the reigns of his horse to face the animal westward and spurred the steed forward. The other soldiers followed in suit, racing at top speed to reach the Gilnean camp.
Ivan gritted his teeth and went over as many possible courses of action as possible. There would be no way to mount a defense at the gate, to try and box them into what had been the Duskhaven valley. There was a chance they could use the marshlands to their advantage, but only for so long and doing so would be dangerous for the civilians. Even Hailwood’s worgen population absent, the marshes were still home to a number of creatures that were just as deadly. Their best option would be to flee northward, to Gilneas City. The city had been abandoned to worgen but if the beasts had vanished from the marshes maybe they had vanished from the city as well. It was a long shot, but it was their best hope.
There was always Stormglen to the south, and the coastal village would make for a decent means of escape as well. Ships, both Gilnean and other, had been moored at the docks located at the bottom of the cliffs Stormglen overlooked when the Greymane wall had been sealed. It would be impossible for the entire population of Gilneas to flee, yes, but if it came to that then at least they could use the ships to get as many civilians as possible to safety outside of Gilneas.
The thought left him sour. Outside of Gilneas, they would be abandoning their country, their homeland. Gilneas had constructed a wall to keep the horrors of the undead at bay and their homes safe, but now that wall failed them, and because of it they might have to flee the only place so many of them knew. If it had to be done it would have to be done, but…
!” cried out one of the soldiers in his squad. Ivan jerked his head to the side to look at the horror over his shoulder. At least seven soldiers were dead; from what he could see snipers had pierced their throats so they could not scream a warning for their fellow soldiers. If one of them had not looked over their shoulder they would likely all be dead. But that was not the worst of it; barreling down on them was a full company of undead; archers in the back, foot soldiers charging them, and riders on undead-horseback already mere meters away.
Ivan pulled his sword from its sheath and raised it high. There was no chance of escape for all of them, they would simply be run down and torn apart by the tireless corpses; no, their best option was to send one lone rider alone to warn the King while the rest of them slowed down this force for as long as they could. He singled the soldier closest to him to keep riding while he charged back towards the advancing undead. “For Gilneas!” he yelled as loud as he could manage, and the nineteen soldiers still with him followed in his example.
They met the undead riders head on. Three of the living reacted too slowly to defend themselves and were cut down by the undead; the rest not only managed to protect themselves from the rotted rider’s attacks but struck back with extreme prejudice, slaying those they went up again. Both living and dead rider then turned and went back for a second run. This time no living died, only the Forsaken riders. Those that were left fell into a retreat to preserve their numbers while the archers fired more arrows at the living, reducing the numbers that were already down by four to a mere twelve.
Then the undead soldiers on foot reached them, forcing all of the Gilneans off of their mounts and butchering two more of them. The ten remaining soldiers – Ivan, of course, amongst them – fought fiercely to gain their ground and strike back. The corpses were frail compared to the tough and meaty bodies of living Gilneans, and broke after the living had dealt them enough damage.
How had they gotten here? No undead had passed through either gate and could any force, especially one of this size, manage to scale the cliff face to sneak behind them that way, nor had any tried. Did that mean more ships had landed in Northern Gilneas? Could Keel Bay be overrun with these monsters as well? And if so; what did that bode for Gilneas City?
He put his sword up through the jaw of an axe-wielding undead soldier, and pulled it out to imbed the ichor-dripping blade in the left side of another’s head. He pulled it out and spun around, putting as much force behind the swing as he could to cut through the rotted vertebrae to collapse their bodies to the ground, unholy slime spilling from the wounds. At the end of the spin he glared at the nearest undead he could find and snarled before stabbing his weapon through its eye socket. There he left the weapon, swinging his clenched-together fists to brain another undead next to him.
He was seeing red now. The world to him was a bluff of violence and rage. These Forsaken, these monsters, were in his county, his home, his land
! Trespassers! Murders! He would kill. Them. ALL
He punched his fist straight through the skull of another Forsaken, shattering the bones in his hand. But he didn’t notice the pain in his appendage or skull; he was far too caught up in the battle, in the slaughter, in the gore of it all to notice any pain that he or the undead afflicted upon him.
But the Forsaken noticed, noticed the change in the Gilnean warrior, the sudden and somewhat frightening leap he had taken from calm and collected warrior battling against them to a savage killer, ignoring even the cries of his fellow soldiers as they died while tearing through their ranks with his bare hands… No… Not hands:Claws
The transformation was happening steadily, as it always did, but instead of being crippled by pain Ivan seemed to be thriving in it. He was more alive now, faster, and stronger, none of these things he himself noticed but those he fought against did, mere seconds before they perished quick and messy deaths.
Bones cracked and reset themselves, along with his already broken hand. Flesh and muscles tensed and stretched, and teeth fell out to be replaced by fangs. Fur grew all over his body as it grew in size, tugging against the restraints of his armor before breaking them altogether, sending the scaled breastplate falling to the ground, the now stretched-to-the-brink scale leggings he wore held up only by their sheer stubbornness and his leather belt.
As his face contorted he buried it deep into the neck of the undead, ripping out a rotten and meaty chuck on flesh that sent the rotted neck of the zombie tilting to the side – for the few seconds the transforming worgen’s claws let it remain there.
With pair of sweeping attacks the transforming beast cleared a two-foot space between him and the remaining undead. The Forsaken actually backed up, readying their shields and weapons to approach this battle more tactfully. As they did, the final bones and tendons moved themselves into place. Lastly, his eyes dilated into those of a feral wolf.
The worgen raised his muzzle to the sky and let loose and blood-curdling howl.
The lone rider had been seen a distance away and was met by Blaine – still in human form (to the non-present Krista’s relief) – and two more soldiers halfway. “Where is the rest of your force?” the youngest Jeret sibling asked hastily, throwing any kind of formality to the wind. Only two forces had been sent out; and only one of them was comprised of armored soldiers. Dear Light
, he prayed silently, let Ivan be alright
“Forsaken… Sneak attack…” He rider said, choking out all the important words he could think of as he gasped for breath and held his heart, having been physically exhausted by his sheer panic. “Jeret… Other soldier… Stayed… Undead… Moving.”
Blaine scowled. Looking over his shoulder he said to one of the Gilnean soldiers that had accompanied him. “Gather thirty men, we’re going to help them.”
“Milord,” the soldier said, swallowing hard as he tried to think of a way to delicately explain the facts to the Gilnean Lord, “if they were ambushed by as large a force as I think, you’re brother is… he has-.”
“AND I DON’T GIVE A DAMN
IF HE HAS!” Blaine barked back at the soldier, turning his horse to snarl at him. “WE’RE GOING TO HELP HIM! AND IF WE CAN’T, THEN WE ARE GOING TO COLLECT HIS BODY! DO I MAKE MYSELF CLEAR?” He took a sharp breath and held his head, a mild migraine setting in.
The soldier, pale-faced with surprise, nodded slowly at the youngest Jeret sibling.
Blaine spurred his steed and quickly rode back towards the civilian camp as fast as he could, determination hardening his face.
Two. Four. Five. The undead fell, torn to shreds by the worgen’s claws and fangs. He was not untouched; he was bleeding from the mouth and had three spears that entered his body and exited the other side as well as a fourth that got stuck in him halfway. Cuts and gashes three-to-five inches deep lined his upper and lower torso, all bleeding profusely.
How was it possible? How could this one animal, this one monster? Be fighting off a full Forsaken force? Hell, how could he even stand
with all of his wounds?
The worgen backhanded a Forsaken that came charging at him with a battleaxe raised, taking off his entire upper body with the single blow. The undead did not falter, did not slow their assault, but they still were failing to take the creature down. It was impossible, and yet it was happening.
Another pair of lances pierced the worgen’s body, one of them impaling the ground as well to try and immobilize it. It failed, the worgen growled and pulled himself sideways and broke the shaft of the spear, then took the remaining half of it stuck into his body, pulled it free, and used it as a crude club to smash the undead’s head open with.
But the undead’s death was not in vain, with the distraction his gory demise three more undead managed to attack the worgen, sinking their swords and axes into his body. The beast howled in a mix of pain and rage and then fell to the ground. With its wolfish but human-green eyes it looked up at the corpses surrounding it, snarling viciously in defiance of their victory and continuing to struggle to fight them, even though his muscles were quickly and finally beginning to give out from lack of oxygen. Before the undead could move in to quickly finish the worgen they heard a resolute battle-cry: “For Gilneas!”
As they turned their heads towards the source of the sound they were assaulted by mounted Gilnean soldiers. Under the iron hooves of their horses the undead were trampled, or beheaded by the blades wielded by their riders. Thirty soldiers were all that was necessary to crush the undead back into the ground where they belonged.
Then came the business of shifting through the corpses to retrieve their own soldiers. The ordeal was both disgusting and alarming to each of the soldiers, and Blaine – although the Lord focused more on finding his brother than anyone else. The undead themselves were hideous and putrid, but what they had done to the Gilneans while they were slaying them… such acts of… such atrocities of the… there were no words to describe it. None to give proper detail to the horrors the Forsaken had inflicted upon their living victims.
As they continued to search through the crumpled and rotting corpses Blaine noticed the bodies at one spot starting to rise. “Soldiers!” he yelled, and the Gilneans turned in response. Immediately upon seeing the moving bodies they pulled out their blades and readied their shields.
The worgen broke free of the entwined and broken bodies, shrugging them off to fall to the ground where they were still and lifeless.
This did not cause the guard of the living to lower but instead hardened their resolve to defend themselves that much more. Even Blaine reached for his daggers when he saw the worgen rise from the bodies. How did it get here? Then a thought crossed his mind; Ivan
The worgen turned his gaze towards the humans, and breathed deep of the air three times. The soldiers saw this and prepared themselves for the animal to charge, and even Blaine was convinced it was going to attack – despite his belief that it was Ivan.
Then worgen fully turned itself towards the humans.
,” is said, slowly, carefully, as if speaking for the first time.
It was not a question, not an acknowledgement, just a statement. But Blaine overlooked what could have potentially been a warning sign and relaxed his guard with a smile and a nod. “Good to see you’re alright, Ivan.”
Ivan’s worgen was silent for a minute, and then returned the nod. “It is,” he said slowly.