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Feldspar

Origins

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ORIGINS by Dougal Feldspar

1. CRUX

Lieutenant Borislav McFeegle viewed the battlefield with mixed feelings of satisfaction and dismay. To his right, he noticed Master Sergeant Wyldflower walking among the wounded, healing those who were in dire need of attention. From broken bones, to lacerations to full blown amputations, Wyldflower plied her much touted healing abilities with ease and grace, all the while whispering quietly into the ear of the Crimson Badger she administered to, easing their suffering with words, as well as prayer. To his left, Borislav spied Dougal Feldspar, his Intelligence Officer, creeping among the Horde wounded. Feldspar would quietly assess the wounded enemy, search it for any usable intelligence, be that parchment or guild insignia, pocket any gold he found, and then callously slit the horde member’s throat. Borislav’s eyes crinkled in disgust as a jugular let loose with a jet of brackish spray from a dying Orc warrior. Yes, he knew Feldspar to be an efficient and capable Intel officer, but he also knew well the rogue’s complete disregard for the suffering of others.

Borislav’s pet Shadow Cat, Nakita whined softly and licked her master’s hand, trying to comfort the Dwarven hunter. The battle had been long and fierce, with both sides giving and taking ground time and time again. Arathi Basin was, on a good day, a quagmire of running battles, flanking maneuvers and fortunes turned on a dime. Borislav was covered in the grime and gruel of Horde blood mixed with the offal of the stables and the dust from running up that thrice-cursed slope to the lumber mill. His side still ached from the axe of a Tauren Warrior and the gash on his face had yet to be tended to by Wyldflower. Today, however, the Ironforge Regiment had won true and had sent the Horde mob running for the nexus gate. Though the supplies he secured here would aid the Alliance in its war against the Horde, it was a short-lived victory and one he would perform again many, many times.

His heightened sense of awareness informed him of the arrival of two more humanoids on the edges of his hunter’s perception. Further concentration revealed them to be dwarves and after a moment, those dwarves resolved into his corporals, Thorion and Belgan. Belgan’s armor had a huge dent in the chestplate where a mace of some sort had found a way past his defenses. His axe still dripped blood and gore and his helmet hung at an odd angle, as if he had dropped it, or maybe had fallen a great distance with it still on. He also favored his right leg and was leaning heavily on Thorion for support. Thorion, on the other hand, was bright eyed and on the verge of bouncing. He was just as dirty and bloody as the rest of the group, but the odd glint in his eye and the bounce in his step suggested he was ready for another run down the slope to the gold mine. When they came within ten paces of him, Borislav’s practiced, alchemical eye noted the telltale signs of a potion of healing in Thorion’s movements. Well, at least somebody is chipper, he thought.

“Howdy”, he greeted.

Both dwarves walked up to Borislav and gave the Regimental salute. Thorion scratched Nakita behind the ear and produced a piece of meat from his pouch.

“Here you are little one,” he said. Nakita eagerly gobbled the meat and sniffed around Thorion’s pouch for more of the tasty treat. Realizing that one was all she would get, she sniffed disdainfully and settled down on her haunches beside her master.

“Well lads,” began Borislav, “what be the butcher’s bill today?”

The warriors glanced at each other, hoping the other would go first. Grinning ruefully, they both started to speak and then with silent consent, Belgan went first…

“Ser, we lost a few o the Regiment tae backstabs from some wily rogues. I canna explain hoo they gae inside our perimeter, but there ye have it noontheless. We were able tae dispatch the wretches, but in the process we lost Gorhammer and Forhean, they bled out before we could gae bandages on the wounds. I’m sorry, ser….we let ye down.” Belgan eyes were downcast, a solemn look on his face.

Borislav turned to Thorion, “and your report?”

Thorion sighed deeply, “Aye ser, we lost a few as well. None ‘o the Regiment, bu’ the mage and warlock we hired from Stormwind both succumbed tae the mob. The lads simply didna knoo how tae protect ‘em. We thought they’d be fine with their spells and daemons, but we just haven’t had the time tae train with those who are nae part o the Regiment. Ye know how it be when unknowns ge’ thrown inta tha fray.”

Borislav sighed as well. He was painfully aware of the difficulties of having to hire magic users, instead of allowing them into the guild. The Ironforge Regiment was one of King Magni’s best and brightest defenders, but their exclusion of all races that could be mages or warlocks was a shortcoming that spoke ill of future endeavors. It was one thing to form temporary alliances with other guilds, but with all politics in Azeroth, especially Alliance politics, they might as well be shooting at dragons with a spit gun. They needed mages and warlocks and everybody knew it….but the Regiment was strict in its policies and despite this shortcoming, excelled at defending Magni and the “Forge.

“A’right lads, thank ye fer the report. Get some ale in ye and I’ll se ye back here fer 8 Bells.”

Thorion and Belgan saluted their commander and walked further up the hill to the command tent that had been hastily constructed near the stables.

Thorion asked softly,” Well Bel, wha do ye think is on the Cap’ns mind?”

Belgan replied,”I dinna noo Thor….that battle was a tough one and we woulda lost hae it not been fer the mage and that warlock. Did ye see the mage freeze those undead in their tracks? Gahh, I rushed em and hacked fer at least ten seconds before they came out o the cold!”

“Can ye imagine what it would be like to have a whole platoon ‘o those crazy buggers?” Belgan asked wistfully. “Would be a right sight tae see.”

“Aye, but let’s tae the keg fer now laddie,” said Thorion, as he clapped his companion on his shoulders. “There be ale fer drinkin and tae wash away the foul Horde stench what sticks in me craw!”

2. NEUROSIS

Back on the battlefield, Feldspar was finishing with the last of the Horde wounded. Ignoring the groan that came from the brutalized Troll Shaman, the rogue roughly flipped it over and searched the beltpouch that had lodged underneath it as it fell. The beltpouch was a beaded affair with hand stitching and scrollwork etched along the edges, probably Tauren made. Being a leatherworker himself, Feldspar recognized magical threading and eagerly opened the pouch, hoping for gold or trinkets. Smiling, he eased his hand deep into the pouch, until his gloved fist was in up to the wrist. Though the pouch appeared shallow from the outside, its magical nature exposed itself when his arm went in up to the elbow. Fishing around, Feldspar cocked his head to the side, squinting as he rooted about for the contents. Abruptly, his eyes widened and he yanked his arm clear, yelping in pain. Attached to his hand was a baby dragonling, its jaws clamped firmly on Feldspar’s gauntleted finger. The smell that wafted up from the pouch, though not unpleasant, brought tears to his eyes and made him cough in spasms and the rogue fell backward as he tried to flip the creature off of his hand, but instead tripped over the mortally wounded Troll.

Growling, Feldspar dashed the dragonling against the Troll’s helmet. He heard and felt its small bones crack and with a cry, it released its hold on the dwarf’s finger. Taking his skinning knife out of its sheath, Feldspar leaned down and whispered in the Troll’s ear.

”Your pet will make for a nice sheath, you foul piece of excrement”.

The Troll’s hands fluttered in protest, but with a stamp of his boot, Feldspar crushed the dragonling’s skull. As its gossamer wings slowly wilted, he knelt by the Troll and looked into its alien eyes. Sneering, he drew his blade slowly across its neck, angling the edge so that the foul blood spurted away from him and toward the dying faerie. As the light of life slowly faded from the Troll’s eyes, he whispered the only Troll words he knew. “Throk garak nachsa gach’ne durow, fee!” (may your spirit never be one with your ancestors, pig). A single tear traveled down the Troll’s roughened cheek, to fall hopelessly upon the ground. The dwarven rogue turned to the creature and swiftly skinned it, cutting loose the wings and spreading them out to dry on the Troll’s chestplate. He sprinkled a pinch of refined deeprock salt onto the bloodied pieces and blew softly, igniting the magical heat imbedded in the salt. Swiftly the pieces began to cure and in a few minutes, Feldspar had a soft, supple piece of dragonling skin ready for the leather tool. Pocketing the skin, he stood and turned, searching the field for his commander. Spying Borislav across the field, he broke into a trot, mentally forming his after action report as he ran.

3. SOOTHSENSE

Wyldflower stood and stretched, her back aching from repositioning bones and bodies. The butcher’s bill was bad, but could have been much worse. She had been busy the majority of the battle with healing prayers and some offensive action, but for the most part she served in a defensive manner while workers carried box after box of resources through the nexus point. During the course of battle, she had personally witnessed the bravery of the human mage as he cast a final spell before being taken in the chest by a horde arrow. He had never flinched, had never faltered and despite grievous wounds, had completed his casting, knowing full well the Tauren hunter had him in its sights. The curse of prayer was that she had just started a healing aura for the group around her and could not help the mage. The amazing thing was, he had known this, and despite that knowledge, had placed himself in mortal danger anyway.

She expected this of fellow dwarves and especially the Regiment, but to see that behavior from a mage made her wonder about the group in general and whether or not her views might be askew. She had always labored under the belief that all mages were power-hungry, selfish individuals who craved nothing but more ability and would sacrifice any who could help them to that cause. After all, magic of that type was not granted by faith in the Gods but by gold and sacrifice. If magical ability was granted in that manner, than what would a mage need with faith or prayer? The only change in her philosophy had come at the hands of a gnome mage by the name of Bajjim. She and Borislav had shared a few pints of ale with the diminutive mage back at Ironforge, and though he spoke in a strange singsong manner, they had both discussed inviting him to share in some of their assignments.

Bending once more to the task at hand, Wyldflower gently turned over the wounded dwarven warrior and repositioned his leg, so that the bones would knit clean and true. The young warrior’s face was waxen beneath a veil of blood and sweat and he was biting his lip to keep from shaming himself by crying out. Humming a nameless lullaby, Wyldflower stroked the warrior’s brow to calm him and then reached deep inside herself, summoning forth the healing gift from within. Suddenly, she could see the manner in which the bones were broken, as well as the path she needed to take to reknit the shattered pieces. Following the flow of magic, Wyldflower eased the ruined shards back together and infused them with the love and peace of the Gods. Easing her way out of the wound, she softly mended the torn flesh where the bones had poked through and smoothed the skin until it regained its youthful luster. The young warrior slumped in a peaceful exhaustion, but rallied once more and stood, saluting his healer with the Regiment oath…Axe High!!

As she stood and returned the salute warmly, Wyldflower spotted Feldspar’s antics and shook her head sadly. She had known the rogue for many years now and still did not understand him. She knew he had been tortured by the Horde and had grown up an orphan on the streets of Stormwind, but she harbored hoped that his tenure with the Regiment would help him understand what means to be a dwarf and above all, gain a sense of honor and morality.

She heard the clarion call of the battle horn sound Muster and helped the wounded make their way back to the command post. The triage she had learned in Theramor served her well and all wounded that were ambulatory made their way back to the rally point. Standing there, brooding as always, was her commander, Borislav. As each wounded warrior, paladin and hunter walked past, he offered a quick word and a clasp on the shoulder, ensuring that none were missed. This above all else made him their leader. Not how far he could shoot or how long he could run, but the fact that he cared about his people and that they knew it. There may be more skilled battle generals in the Alliance, but none cared so passionately for their troops.

As the Badgers formed up, the Gnomish Talkbox on Borislav’s hip gave a squawk and a diminutive voice squeaked out of the faceplate.

“Lieutenant Borislav, this is General FoamBeard, do you read me?”, came the unmistakable voice of the leader of Ironforge Regiment.

“Aye ser,” replied Borislav, “I read ye”.

“And how did the battle fair Lieutenant”?

“Well and good ser, we have secured the objective and are loading the last of the resources now. I estimate we have enough lumber, gold and horses to fund the effort for quite a while.”

“Excellent work Lieutenant. And our casualties?”

All eyes were on Borislav, awaiting his reply…

“Aye ser, we suffered some casualties. We lost two o’ the Regiment, Gorhammer and Forhean and we lost both the mage and the warlock from Stormwind.”

There was silence on the gnomish talkbox, save a slight hiss of static.

“Ach, my heart greaves fer the loss o such fine dwarves. I’ll be sure tae notify their families of the tragedy. Anything else tae report?”

At this Borislav glanced at his troops. He saw the incredulous looks as the soldiers realized Foambeard had neglected to mention the magic users. He also knew that each warrior standing before him had witnessed the awful sacrifice made by the two gallant humans and he began to wonder where this omission would lead.

“Umm, no ser, not at this time. We’ll be mobilizing shortly and will return tae the “Forge for a complete report, Borislav out.”

“Foambeard out.”

Borislav heard the beginnings of muttering.

“BADGERS,” he yelled.” Dismissed! Get some ale and some food in ye, that’s an order! I want the Rabid Badgers formed and ready to march by 8 Bells!”

Turning, he spoke up, “I want Wyldflower, Feldspar, Thorion and Belgan in my tent, now!”

With Nakita trailing behind him, Borislav stalked into the command tent.

4. TURNING POINT

Feldspar was the last of the group to enter the tent. He sauntered in, concentrating on using a leather awl to thread a piece of dragonskin leather in his hands. His shaved upper lip, so unlike the majority of dwarves in Ironforge, bespoke his determination to remain separate from his brethren and currently it was curled into a sardonic grin as he surveyed those around him. His hard eyes noted the two warriors, Belgan and Thorion, and he nodded to them in curt, informal greetings. They in turn, barley moved as they displayed their contempt for the rogue and his nefarious ways. Turning to Wyldflower, Feldspar placed one hand on his chest and bowed slightly, his eyes on the ground in front of the priestess. She in turn, nodded to him with a soft, thoughtful expression. Stepping up to the command desk, Feldspar fished a string of lumpy material out of his beltpouch and threw them on the desk in front of Borislav.

“Thought ye might like a souvenir or four, ser”, he growled in a voice forced from stone.

“Yer late,” Borislav responded. “I said immediately and I meant it Feld. Dinna disobey me orders lad, ye know better. And I’ll have none o yer ear collectin today. We must needs honor our dead, not sully their sacrifice by defiling our enemies!”

Scowling, Feldspar swept the string of ears off the desk and retired to a corner chair. Sitting down heavily, he pulled the leatherette and awl from his pouch and resumed his work, seemingly oblivious of the stares thrown his way.

“I wanted tae speak with ye four aboot something tha has crossed me mind an I wanted ye tae hear it straight from me, and not aboot the bandicoot…” He began.

“err, bandicoot, ser?” asked Feldspar.

“Ach, ye know what I be sayin, the scallynoog, the kegstand, the bloody grapevine!!”

“Ahhh, understood then ser,” replied Feldspar.

“Anyhoo, it occurs tae me tha we be havin some leave time comin our way, and I mean fer us all tae take it”

At this the whole room became sharply focused. Leave time? In the middle of the war? What was he thinking?

“Lads…and lass…we barely survived today and it was all due to two humans who were hired like a couple o daytime trollops! I’ve been thinking long and hard on this an I dinnae think it be right. By our Accord, the dead magic users willna be remembered in the Hall of Heroes, they willna be remembered by the Lore Scribes o the Regiment! Nay, they were simply buried in shallow unmarked graves, near a blacksmith tha willna be remembered next week!”

His fist pounded upon the table so hard it sent maps and pens flying in all directions.

“I called ye in here ‘cause I know tha all yer enlistments are due in the next few weeks and I have a proposition fer ye…if ye’ll hear me out”

Intrigued, the group nodded as one. Even Feldspar had put away his leather project and was eyeing Borislav with something close to humor and idle speculation.

“Wyldflower and I have spoken a few times with a gnome mage by the name o Bajjim. He’s a good fella, as gnomes go, and it set my mind tae thinking. He had asked me aboot joinin the Regiment, and I had tae tell him tha we dinna take ought but dwarves. He responded tae the tune of, didna tha limit our ability in the field ‘gainst a large Horde foe. Well, I replied tha it did, ‘specially after the fiasco tha was Tarren Mill…and ye all remember tha…

Each person in the room grimaced and nodded in consent. They all remembered the disastrous raid an Tarren Mill…

“So I got tae thinking that it might be a good idea tae form an auxiliary unit within the Regiment tha allows those not of the Breed. Aye, actually I must qualify tha….meself and Wyldflower hae discussed the idea on many occasions, jus not with the Badgers. It was tried with the Academy and that was a dismal failure…”

“Only now, after so many battles where magic users hae proven tae be boon companions, I’m o the mind tha maybe what we need is a separate Guild, one that is made up of all Alliance members and tha can still work with the Regiment, but is not so focused on its racial purity.”

“I have fought with all o ye…heh…so many times tha I lost count. I have traveled the far lands with all o ye and have been in more pinches than I care tae admit….and we ha’ always came oot fer the better. I ask ye tae consider wha’ I’m askin, an take some time tae think aboot it. Noo, in no way is this a slight at our beloved general Foambeard. That great dwarf has his hands full with running campaign order at the behest o’ Magni hisself. ‘Tis Magni’s idea to maintain the all-dwarf Regiment.”

In a strange, quiet voice, Wyldflower asked,” And what would we call ourselves?”

“Tha be the question lass”, answered Borislav. “We need tae form a charter in order tae be recognized by the Alliance, and tae start that, we need a name. I have a few, but I want us all tae decide, if tha be the way we want tae go.”

As if on cue, the room exploded with words. Belgan wanted to know how long Borislav had been thinking about this, Thorion wanted to know if they could help design the tabard and Feldspar wanted to know if they could be hung for mutiny. All three began to argue with each other, the pent up frustrations of the previous battle coming to a head. Wyldflower was yelling for everybody to calm down and Nakita was growling ferociously, not knowing what was going on but determined to protect her master. The anger in the room was rising along with the noise level and the air was tinged with the violence of action.

Suddenly, Belgan struck Feldspar across the face with a mailed fist. Unprepared for the blow, Feldspar went flying across the tent and crashed heavily onto the chair he was sitting on earlier.

“Ye bloody rogue!” shouted Belgan. “Ye’ll not make another remark aboot me family…they died a’ tha hands o’ Horde scum AND YE KNOW IT!!”

There was silence, as everybody tensed for what was sure to come….

Feldspar stood and wiped the blood from the gash in his cheek. He examined the bright red smear on his black leather gauntlet and then inhaled the heady aroma of blood and leather, his eyes closing in perverse pleasure. Then slowly, he opened them, glancing about the room at all the faces. Wyldflower was tensed, prepared to cast a prayer that would ensure nobody in the room would attack each other. Borislav was wary, his hand on his blunderbuss, while Nakita was baring her fangs, saliva dripping from her growling muzzle. Thorion was wide-eyed, caught unawares by the drama that suddenly erupted between Belgan and Feldspar. Belgan had drawn his axe and stood ready for anything Feldspar brought against him, a look of determination on his face.

”I suggest,” began Feldspar, “that we adjourn at this point. Any further discussion would prove to be fruitless and I believe this matter too weighty of import to be discussed hot on the heels of battle. I bid you farewell. Have you need of me, please contact SI:7 in Stormwind, I am sure they will know my whereabouts. As to the matter at hand…consider me a part of…well…whatever we call ourselves.”

Feldspar departed swiftly, much to the surprise of those left in the room. AS the tent flap closed behind him, a weighty pressure seemed to dissipate and the battle weary veterans each breathed deeply, happy to have the threat of violence gone from the air. Then, as if on silent agreement, they set about gathering their belongings and discussing assignments for the swift departure from the Basin.

Borislav spoke up,” Well, its not how I wanted the meetin tae end, but you all know what I am aboot. Take yer time, make yer decisions, then let me know wha ye think.”

The group departed from the tent, into the bright sunshine of Arathi Basin. The wind carried with it a hint of rain and along with that, a hint of change.

THE SGIAN DUBH

“Black is the color of the grave, where we shall send the enemies of the Alliance.

Black is to show that we no longer fear death, that we have seen the beyond and returned to fight again.

And foremost, Black goes with everything.”

-Borislav McFeegle

OOC

My first post...more to come...no need to be gentle :wink:

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