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Vilmah

The Ruin of Ruins

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"Warchief.. why?"

The voice was frail, and then it was gone. Vilmah stood on the ramparts looking down, following the voices toward the sound of chaos and calamity that erupted outside of the city walls. Down in the field, spreading among the already yellow grass and weeds, a green gas was billowing toward the Alliance. In its wake, bodies were falling.

It can't be, Vilmah thought to herself, watching the large bodies hit the ground, horns and antlers of the tauren digging into the dirt. The orcs stumbled a few feet, and fell on their faces. The trolls pinned themselves with their tusks. The goblins fell so quickly, like flies almost, and the elves in all their bravery reached for the sky for a few final words she could not hear.

But those orcs were loud, and even as they died they asked; "Warchief, why?" Until the breath left them and the plague continued to cover their corpses, which grew thin and frail as flesh appeared to melt from their bones. Vilmah watched in horror as soldiers of the Horde stumbled, died, and fell apart. The yellowish bones of their corpses lay like stones among the armor and weapons. There wasn't even any blood, really. Just the swift decay of muscle and organs, falling to the earth in graying clumps that disappeared into the dirt.

How did she even witness such a thing? 

She heard the call to arms. Ridan spoke to her through the hearthstone, hours before. "Undercity is under attack!"

With Nika and Einar, the three snuck into Undercity disguised as Forsaken. It was chaotic inside, and the Alliance's SI:7 assassins had already stolen into the deepest parts of Lordaeron's crypts. Their mission was simple; rescue Steinburg as Infection rallied to defend their city. Nika and Einar proved a capable duo, and led the Warboss down toward Infection's guildhall. They were briefly intercepted by a priest, though Vilmah's shouting managed to stave off whatever mind control she was capable of. 

Then he arrived.

The High Warlord of Infection. 

Vilmah had known Keraph since she was old enough to enlist. He saw most orcs as filthy creatures unfit to live on his world and treated Vilmah with only the barest of respect. Back then, they drank together. Traded insults. She called him 'old man', and never considered that someday they might be on sides so opposed that they would actually face one another in battle. Yet here he was, approaching her with a massive axe that seemed almost too big for his bony hands. Nika and Einar were already on their way to getting Steinburg released.

"I'll hold him off!" Vilmah had told them. "Don't wait for me!"

Nika wanted to argue, but gave Vilmah some smoke bombs instead. It was all she could do when Vilmah was that serious and wanted no argument, but Keraph wasn't going to be distracted by a few smoke bombs. Sanctuary was breaking into his home and retrieving one of his "guests", and that would not stand.

"Bloodborne!" He shouted, snarling with yellow decaying teeth. "You traitorous green mongrel!! Have you truly abandoned the Horde so thoroughly as to betray the Warchief while we are under attack!?"

"I'm not betraying anyone, Keraph," Vilmah argued, her sword drawn. It was long and thin, nothing compared to Keraph's axe but fluid in Vilmah's slender hands. "I'm just picking up a friend. You can get in my way or you can let me take him home, but I don't think you want to be dealing with me while the Alliance attacks from the outside."

The rage in Keraph's face was readable, even from behind his helmet. The Warlord's mouth twisted into a deep frown, the wrinkles and flaking skin of decay contorting with rage. "If you do this there will be no peace for you, or Sanctuary! Do you hear me, Vilmah?" He shouted, using her name now. 

What did that mean?

"You and your little group are going to pay. You will suffer. These are not empty threats, little girl."

Her eyes narrowed. The last time someone called her little girls was...

"I'm not letting you bully me and my men, Keraph!" The orcess shouted, moving into an offensive stance. Left arm forward, right arm back; Vilmah's thin blade was poised to slash and her knees bent, ready to spring. She and Keraph were both warriors, but their disciplines were different, and hers was fairly new. 

How long has she been training like that? He thought, raising his axe.

"The Alliance has marched forward! their siege weapons are attacking the gates!!" Shouted a voice nearby. 

Both Keraph and Vilmah's attention were stolen. The Warboss felt a buzzing in her pocket, heard the familiar voice of Nika from afar. We have Steinburg, Warboss! We're going home!

Mission complete, Vilmah thought, but Keraph still glared at her. A decision was being made.

"Watch yourself, Vilmah," he said finally, through rotting teeth. "The end of your days grows near. You, Sanctuary, and all you hold dear. The Dark Lady will not accept failure, and I will not accept this--"

"The boy king has arrived!!"

Keraph pursed his crusted lips and pointed the axe at Vilmah. "Soon."

And then he was gone. Vilmah stood in position, waiting. Part of her wondered if this was some sort of trick, but that wasn't possible. Keraph's home was being attacked from the outside, surely he wanted nothing more than to cut through the Alliance more than defend his honor against Vilmah. Then again, what honor does he have?

She watched him go and ran in another direction, through the sewers, sheathing her blade on the way. The splashing of putrid liquid at her boots was something that no longer reviled her, nor did the smell. She followed the sewers to a secret entrance, one that brought back so many memories. The Alliance attacked from there, once. Led by an ally. A shaman.

Outside of the crypts, the Undercity was much louder. The cries of battle were loud and told the tale of a battle still raging. She wanted to help her allies, but from where? Scrambling to the broken bricks and stones of Lordaeron's past, Vilmah climbed up as high as her hands and feet would allow her. Once she climbed high enough to see what was happening outside, Vilmah crouched down and looked for an opportunity to join the Horde in the defense of their city. To join her brothers and sisters as they defended their home.

What she saw was poisoned orcs, trolls, tauren and elves. Goblins, too. As she leaned forward to understand, they all fell like sacks of meat, flesh falling from their bones to hit the ground like liquid.

"Warchief.. why?"

Vilmah hesitated. If she joined them, she too would die. Heart pounding in her chest, she reached for her blade and heard a voice telling her to stop. 

Be safe, and try to stay out of trouble ha'rega.

Clenching her teeth, she made a pained sound and let the sword slide back into it's sheath as a dark presence made itself known. Near the wall, she watched as Sylvanas, their own Warchief, cast what looked like some strange spell. Vilmah was too distracted by Sylvanas to notice that beneath her, bones were stirring. A chattering sound, like the tiny tapping of seashells rattling caught her attention only when it grew so loud that it mimicked a strange music. Turning toward the unsettling noise, her hazel eyes widened in horror at the sight unfolding before her.

The soldiers she saw fall in battle were standing. Gone was their flesh, and any semblance of life. They were skeletal, gnarled and twisted, and walked forward with a singular purpose.

..has she killed them just to raise them? Did she become everything she hated about the Lich King?

Battle waged below, and Vilmah knew she couldn't stay. She would either enter the fray with the blight at her feet, or escape. Neither seemed both intelligent and honorable. Which to choose?

Be safe...

"Oh... fine," the orcess muttered, looking into the courtyard. Clenching her jaw, she climbed back down the ramparts and made her way into what looked like a gathering of Horde soldiers. Some of them gave her a curious look, but that look was forgotten when a nearby explosion drew their attention.

"They're inside!!" Vilmah shouted, finally drawing her blade.

The Alliance was flooding in from the outside. She caught sight of some strange faces in the fray, but was thrown from her concentration as a human soldier caught her attention. He attacked her with a massive broadsword, and while she could defend herself, Vilmah wondered just how much she actually wanted to defeat him. After everything they had done, after watching the war machines torch Teldrassil, why was she fighting for Sylvanas' broken kingdom?

Because it was still the Horde. Because Steinburg worked so hard to make it a home, and was nearly killed for it. Because years ago, she came to Undercity as a child, and was welcomed as a friend. Without considering these things outright, Vilmah fought. She was accompanied by other Horde military, but there went enough to hold them all off. She went blow to blow with the human before her, an overhead swing meeting an underhand thrust, steel against steel, honorable combat between two living beings.

She swung her blade forward and bit into armor, then flesh. It was a well placed blow and pierced the surface, ripping through muscle to open the human's throat. There was no time to consider this though, and soon enough she was engaged in combat with another human. Then another. Then another. Vilmah was small, but she was experienced. The foot soldiers didn't know what to make of the blademaster in her skant armor, and made the mistake of aiming for her bare torso. Surely it would be easy to slay her by piercing the orcess' stomach, chest, neck. Anything.

But they never came close enough. She was fast, and she was willing to accept an injury in exchange for a kill. A few cuts to her shoulder or side were nothing compared to the way her sword slid into someone's lungs. Blood flowed, the smell intoxicating and almost enough to overpower the stench of rot. After an exhausting fight, Vilmah stood among a pile of bodies covered in cuts, her mind cloudy with blood loss.

Then she heard the horn.

Behind the human she was fighting, a morningstar struck his skull. The human went down in a heap and Vilmah looked into the eyes of her assistance, a Forsaken woman in plate armor. One quick salute and she was gone. Vilmah looked toward the horn and saw that the Horde was retreating. Baine waved his massive arms, calling the remaining Horde soldiers to follow. Without questioning why, Vilmah followed the call to a goblin airship, praying that there were more on the way.

But there were no more ships. Huddled among the Horde soldiers gathered by Baine, Vilmah watched as below them, the Undercity became engulfed in green smoke. She knew what that smoke would do to anyone nearby; orc, tauren, goblin, elf, it didn't matter. They all died, and without Sylvanas to  raise them, they all remained dead. Still breathing heavily, her wounds began to sting. The adrenaline was fading and the reality of what happened slowly crept into her thoughts.

She killed them.. she killed them and raised them, and for what? Undercity is gone..

Undercity is gone.

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