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"I’m no longer the man I used to be. Perhaps one day Shaeya will understand this and know why I left and why she needs to know that my fault is not her own. At the moment I am two sides of a coin, unable to identify to either despite my efforts to do otherwise. When I embrace the wolf I lament that I am no longer a man, when I am a man the beast inside yearns to break free again. For someone who has so much control over her curse I do not believe that Shaeya could ever understand these daily struggles. It has come that I can no longer see myself being comfortable in my own skin again, wishing that this curse had never been brought on me. Stormwind has been calling for additional volunteers to combat the orcs still fighting for footholds in the Highlands and where before I might have remained at home I have now made the decision to sign on. Forgive me Shaeya for not choosing to say goodbye, It would only have been more difficult for us both and you deserve far better than me for a mate. The only certainty I know anymore is fighting."

  -The journal of Mavis Audrapel

 

It had taken less than an hour for Audrapel to decide he hated flying. It was thje lack of ground that bothered him, the overwhelming stench of fuselage and exhaust making it all worse.

 

“You going to be okay Wolf?”

Mavis’  hand went subconsciously to the iron collar around his neck. Before the band had been an indication of his curse, establishing him as the first Worgen allowed to serve in the city guard and singling him out  as a beast but with the military it was just easier for identification on the battlefield. The military was practical that way and it became a strange comfort to realize over time that he was just another weapon in the toolbox rather than some cursed monstrosity. He liked his Captain too, all business and little sentiment, though this being a double edged sword it also meant he would get no sympathy that his beast was railing against the discomfort of an airship and the overpowering scent of the fuselage.

“Just a little green in the gills Captain. I’ll be fine”

There was an audible grunt from his Captain. “You better, this ain’t no walk in the park. All right girls listen up!” The change in tone was a direct signal that it was time to get down to business. “Our priority one mission is to drop down and locate The White Pawn, everything else and everyone else is second down on that list. Captain Taylor’s final message puts the ship’s last known location here!”

The Captain’s fist hit ocean squarely between the southern ends of Kalimdor and the Eastern Kingdoms. “Now don’t let those head in the ass cartographers  blow any smoke up your ass, our initial scouters located landfall and it’s a hell of a lot more than a piddly ass island you’re seein here so I want you alert and on the lookout for local fauna and vegetation. You get eaten by some drunken god’s walking flower it’s on your head! Second, spotters say we got some fine ass structures looking like a local color so be aware of hostile natives and watch your ass for Horde. We’re dropping you down by parachute so don’t piss it up and pancake! Let’s Move!”

 

His brief foray into the Highlands did little to prepare for the gut-wrenching experience of falling several hundred feet onto solid ground and Audrapel barely remembered to pull his chute out in time before becoming a splatter. The horde had arrived in full force, making it to the new continent at roughly the same time the airship had landed if not sooner and the ground was choked with goblin artillery and orc grunt troops. There was so much green Audrapel caught himself wondering why they even bothered to wear colors at all.

He shook off the confusion and dropped down to all fours, bracing against the brief pain of transformation before taking off in full force to his first orc, not even bothering with swords as he brought the full force of his weight down and tore through the throat. He used the corpse to throw at a sawblade before goring two goblins with his claws. Someone had tried to land a bland he tore the arm holding it clean off, beating the orc with it before knocking him down with his other claw. The beast reveled in the violence, this was its territory and  now that it had every excuse it unleashed it’s savagery in raw primal fury. He briefly remembered an explosion going off in his face before gutting the enterprising goblin who did it and then Mavis dropped back and let the beast go.

“ENOUGH!”

The words resounded into his ears and through his skull, the human woke up. He caught a brief glance of a two toned bear walking past him before he became aware of the blood soaking into his fur and the sharp metallic taste of more that had found its way into his mouth. Through blurred vision he saw a ghastly skeletal creature that had started clawing at him and drawing forth the remainder of his awareness he drew his sword for the first time and sunk his sword into the strange ethereal creature. There was blood all around him, bodies of orcs and goblins had been savaged all around him. The beast had been sated.

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She looks like me. Maybe I’m only seeing something I want to but so help me she has my eyes.

The gentleman who has brought the infant was less than impressed, I can only guess that he was the husband and that he arrived in the finery of coaches and escorts only shows how much the curse affected all Gilneans. Lady Anderly I was told had been a regular at court before she became infected.

When I questioned Lord Anderly how he knew it was mine the man publicly disclosed the compromising activities I had been participating in at the moment of my capture. I would be a raving lunatic if I didn’t guess he was trying to humiliate me and a damned fool for not understanding why.

I know Lord Anderly must have wanted nothing more than to drown the baby at birth and I can only guess that it must have been the remaining shreds of his Gilnean honor that he chose instead to pass her onto the father and be rid of the responsibility there.

I know of no other incidents such as mine and can only assume that while what a fuming lord told me was the truth, these circumstances must be too rare to even document. Though the child appears human now I have no idea if the curse will manifest later and the uncertainty terrifies me.  For not the first time in several months I’m at a loss over what to do, I know close to nothing about children, let alone how to raise one. By the gods I hope she is normal.

-The Journal of Mavis Audrapel

 

 

The writing quill tapped out a metronome on the parchment as he tried to hammer out his letter, not knowing where to start. There was a lot to write home about but he’d been told in no uncertain terms what the meaning of the word ‘classified’ was and his pool of sharable experiences had become limited as a result. Mavis covered his letter as Admiral Taylor approached, though he knew the notice hadn’t escaped the man.

“At ease soldier, you’re not the first man in the world to send letters from the front and I’m sure you have some explaining to do after turning down your leave for this mission. Dedicated men have families too son.”

Mavis removed his hand  and began to fold the letter. “Just eager to get to work sir.”

The Admiral put his hand on Mavis’ shoulder. “Good man, shorthanded as we are it’s all the help we can get.”

The familiarity was unusual for him even among other soldiers. Worgen troops were always given a wide berth due to their complex history. The acceptance of his commander raised some boldness in him.

“Sir, with all due respect I don’t think it’s right for us to arm these villagers-”

 “-youre saying we should leave them defenseless?”

“No sir, it’s just-“

“We’re fighting the horde here Corporal! Don’t forget what those monsters did to Gilneas.”

“I’m from Lakeshire Sir.”

“You have family in Lakeshire don’t you? Remember what those monsters do if you give them an inch and then ask again why we’re helping these villagers.”

Some primal instinct in the back of his mind caused Mavis to shrink back from the Admiral. “My mistake sir.”

“Admiral Taylor shook his head. “It’s alright son. Anyway it turns out SI:7 has a job for you. Think you can use that Worgen nose of yours to track a scent?”

Mavis’ eyes drifted to the remnant of clothing the Admiral held in his hand. “Who am I tracking?”

“We still need to locate the White Pawn before we’re knee deep in this war.”

The smell of the object Admiral Taylor held stunk of salt water, dirt and human sweat mixed with area plant life. He didn’t even have to ask who he was looking for. He stood up and pocketed his letter then let his breastplate drop to the ground along with most of his armor. Admiral Taylor didn’t appear surprised, likely it wasn’t new to him. The more recent designs and enchantments on Worgen armor conformed to the body between shifting forms but it was still heavy to work with when one needed to move quickly through difficult terrain and not sound like a clattering caravan.

He heard his bones make a sickening pop as they bent and stretched but the contortions had become less painful over time due to the frequency and he was certain his threshold for pain had increased with it, he could still feel the burning underneath his skin as his body tried to adapt to the physical changes.

The smells in his altered state overwhelmed him and Mavis fought to control the beast as it trembled eagerly to explore the new scents of this strange land. He was far more eager for the hunt than he was willing to admit to the Admiral, the beast clawing its way up at the chance and challenging his control. Mavis was able to hold this in for long enough to grab another scent of the remnant and then allowed the beast to take off, a wild howl escaping his throat. His Captain had once said about Worgen that Gilneans probably enjoyed the curse more than they let on and it was hard to disagree even now but he felt that this continent was having an effect on him more than he knew, that the beast was being drawn out against his will by the very soil he was running on. A significant part of him enjoyed the feral nature of the beast for more than he was willing to let on though, there was a freedom to it that few could understand and as his paws touched the ground and sprung forth again he felt himself becoming lost in the hunt.

Had he not been so caught up he might have noticed it sooner, probably avoiding the ambush altogether, in the end he was too focused on the scent though to realize he had run right into it. It was only by the second Hozen dropping on his back when he regained most of his clarity and he realized he was in trouble. Wishing he had the mind to take his weapons along Mavis resorted to tooth and claw, trying to reach his head around to snap at the native on his back just as a bullet pierced his skin. Bullet? Hozen don’t have firearms. There wasn’t time to think about it as more climbed out of hiding, no longer seeing the reason for it. He slapped one aside as another bullet pierced his back and a large green mass charged into him and hammered him into a tree. This wasn’t good, he’d be killed here if he didn’t do something. His vision focused on the orc coming towards him through the Hozen and with a low growl, released the remainder of his control to the beast and gave in to its violent nature.

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Your mother and I appreciate you taking the time to write us. Your mother worries about you daily, after your brother I think she’s afraid of getting the wrong letter and I think some days her only distraction is the baby. Emily is doing well. You asked me in your last letter if I noticed anything unusual about the girl and I can say with confidence that she is better behaved than you were at her age, whoever the mother is she must take after her in that way.

Your sister is also expecting a child come spring. Susan was disappointed that you couldn’t make the wedding but we all understand that the Military has bigger demands these days, though your mother recently threw a fit that they will not even allow you leave to see family.

The whole town turned out to see the “kite” you sent, your mother has been able to keep it aloft the longest but yours truly is close on her heels and is going to catch up to her any day now.

I know it’s up to your leaders there, but try to get some time off to come home. Your mother and I love Emily but that’s not going to replace her father and take it from me, the first moments are precious. Regardless of how she came into the world there’s a responsibility to becoming a father. In the Meantime your mother sends her love.

 

-Dad

He awoke peacefully to the noise of water trickling outside and a steady hollow thunk that was unfamiliar to him. The thick smell of mud and leaves filled his nostrils, this being reminiscent of the healing plants the Night Elves were known to use in their medical treatments and the salves mother made to treat the occasional bruises and scrapes during childhood. He became aware as he woke that he was still laying prone in his worgen form and without thought began his return to human.

The shift was painful as the changes in his form caused still fresh injuries to break open and bones to unset. He wasn’t able to withhold the scream from the shock and clutched his body in order to steady himself. Through blinding pain he felt a large paw touch his shoulder and the same sharp odor of mud and leaves coupled with the familiar smell he’d come to associate with the Pandarin. The paws worked steadily as bandages were re-applied and the bones set back into place, the last of them finally causing him to black out again from the pain.

When he awoke later that evening he nearly jumped out of his skin as he came to face with a tiger. The large cat stared him back then yawned out a roar, head turned to the door. The Pandarin fell in a step behind, patiently dismissing the tiger as he approached Audrapel.  “Forgive my friend, you were so rushed to change your shape. I thought it better for the bandages that you did not decide to change it again.”

The paws worked to check the bandages, lifting his arm and poking his still tender ribs, Audrapel winced as his injuries were examined. “Who are you?”

“I am Cho. I’m the one who found you.”

He allowed himself to be moved onto his stomach as Cho began to inspect the bullet wounds. “What happened to the Orc?”

“Orc? What is an orc?”

“The Hozen?”

“There was no one. Only you.”

Cho carefully rolled him onto his back again. “It was an ambush . I should be dead.”

“Oh? Are you a fortune teller?”

“No.” He winced “I mean, why didn’t they kill me?”

Cho nodded slowly. “Oh. This. When I found you I thought very clearly. ‘This wolf creature is dead’ But with good fortune you still lived, so I carried you back to my home and fixed your wounds. Then you became something new and opened them again. It’s possible the Hozen thought the same, but they are not always so clever, they are often too rushed to look.”

“I need to get back to my mission…”

A paw came down onto his chest and gently held him there. “I suspect that you are also rushed” He checked the second bullet wound. “And it appears your wounds are rushed to heal. Your condition has become significantly upgraded.”

“I heal fast.”

“Yes. Perhaps when you feel well enough you will join me for breakfast?”

He managed to get in a nod before drifting off to sleep again.

Breakfast according to Cho was a meal of fresh noodles in broth served with plump chewy white grains that Mavis had to check if they were larva first, amusing his host.  In a stroke of luck Lorewalker Cho lived around the area and had come upon the aftermath of the ambush before the scavengers. He hadn’t known what to make of Audrapel but on discovering he was still alive, carried him home and treated his injuries. Initially believing that healing would take longer he had also sent word for a healer to come by later in the week and apologized in advance for an awkward meeting when the healer was due to arrive. He expressed concerns about the growing militaristic actions of the Hozen and the Jinyu upon the arrival of foreigners and admitted that he did not think it would end well for either.

“It is a long conflict that has now been escalated, but it is difficult to stop two charging beasts by standing between them.”

“What about the other Pandarin? Can they put a stop to them?”

“No, This only stops in two ways and I do not have high hopes for the better course. You mentioned you were seeking someone, perhaps that is your answer.”

Mavis shook his head. “I lost the trail by now, it’s hard to pick up a trail if I don’t remember the scent and it’s been…two..”

“Three days” Cho held up three fingers to show this.

“You’re kidding.”

“You do sleep very well. But you heal quickly.”

“Yeah well, I don’t know if anything is going to stop the Admiral from his choices and it certainly won’t be me. I’m surprised he even trusted me to track someone so important.”

“Surprised?”

“People with my condition don’t often get trusted by others.”

Cho considered this carefully, then set his tea down in reflection. “There is conflict within you, a dual nature that is out of balance.”

Mavis shook his head. “I took the ritual, That’s what it’s supposed to do, put them in balance.”

“You regained control, but some would say true balance comes from reflection and deep thought.  Your affliction may manifest physically but everyone has a dual nature, two opposing forces that seek to undermine the other.  When harmony is achieved, they work together to reach the same goal.”

“The harmony part, it doesn’t come easy for me.”

“All good things take time. Except your healing perhaps. If you are better tomorrow perhaps you might join me in a few chores? It will still take some time before you are able to recall that form without creating new injuries to fix.”

“I’d be happy to lend a hand where you need.”

The chores Cho had planned were wholly different from Mavis’ expectations and the first day he struggled to understand why the Lorewalker needed the hedges trimmed when they weren’t threatening overgrowth or even why they were ignoring the weeds. The second day  he stopped questioning the reasons and just went along with the Pandarin’s wishes. It was comforting  doing these mundane things and as the days passed and his body healed Mavis began to feel a rare peace fall on him that had eluded him since landing on the continent.

That was until cymbal went off near his face.

“You know It would be easier to meditate if you weren’t banging on those things while I did it.”

Chol looked at the two large plates on his paws as if he’d just noticed them. “Oh, I’m sorry. So many things need dusting today.”

“Well, what about the gong?” He nodded to the large instrument that had only recently been rolled out to face him.

The Lorewalker feigned innocence. “Oh. Some things also need polished today.”

“You were going to bang that in my face weren’t you?”

“Hm? Oh look, we have a visitor.”

Mavis began to marvel how easily Cho avoided answering a direct question as he stood up and followed the Lorewalker towards the visitor.

Admiral Taylor must have been working overtime getting the Jinyu ready for combat, this one was fitted in full military regalia and had the posture of one who’d been conditioned for service. He caught himself remembering his brother and not first time wondered how he had looked just before going off to his last battle. The Jinyu saluted like a toy soldier before noticing Audrapel, saluting him and presenting him with a scroll. “Sir. Admiral Taylor requests your return to the front.”

Audrapel recovered from the shock of the salute, took the scroll and read it, they were formal orders, including a request to be briefed on the status of his search. He didn’t think the Admiral was going to like his answer. Sighing he looked back to Cho, who was starting to show a deep concern. “I need to go back. He’s not going to be happy as it is.”

“I understand. “ He shoved a small bag into Mavis’ hand “Tea leaves, they have medicinal properties, or so I am told.”

He tucked them in his robe. “Thanks.”

Cho looked like he was no longer paying attention. “A shame, it does not appear the gong needs dusting after all.”

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Admiral Taylor-

Regarding your questions about Corporal Audrapel I can say that as long as he has been in my company the man has been a loyal Soldier and his decision to not flaunt his curse has led to respect if not full acceptance by his unit as long as he has been under my command. In reference to prior incidents I found no previous record of insubordination during his years as a guard with the exception of a long-term unexcused absence prior to the Cataclysm which was most certainly attributed to his affliction. Otherwise I haven’t seen a record this clean in my entire ten years of service and  I can vouch myself that Corporal Audrapel is an honest man.

I’m not certain what caused the Corporal to challenge your orders in this situation but I don’t believe there’s cause for alarm, I’ve never known him not to follow an order that I myself have given. As for his continued state of well being I’ve not seen any flags to cause alarm but that does not say I don’t watch for it. Corporal Audrapel is a good man and it is rare that good men survive war well, its scars burn deeper for them. If I had a guess at all I would say that the war is starting to catch up to him, my advice is to allow him time to adjust and he should manage to brush it off and bounce back.

-Captain Songcraft

 

Mavis stared with growing uncertainty at the fully armored Jinyu around him. The Admiral had everyone in a full march to meet the horde who’d been spotted from the opposite direction. Mainly due to his injuries no one had chosen to punish him for his earlier absence but Admiral Taylor’s familiarity with him had frozen over and he guessed that it would be a long time before the man thawed. Looking back he had probably made a poor decision on questioning the man about the morals of bringing them into the fight. It was stupid.

“Company Halt!”

The entire force stopped in unison, the Jinyu drilled and taking to the Alliance method of warfare like eager children. He could see the Horde ahead, half expecting to see the normal grouping of orcs and goblins he was surprised to note that the forces were almost entirely made up of Hozen. Not for the first time he felt a lingering doubt about their involvement on this continent.

The beast could smell the promise of violence as Mavis drew his swords, two massive two handed weapons that added additional blow to his Worgen form. The man didn’t want to fight, a large part of him knew this was wrong and it screamed at him to end this. He couldn’t, the Admiral had made the consequences of treason clear, people didn’t get court martials in times of war.  He allowed the beast to move up, letting the shift come naturally as he retreated and then the battle began.

The swords hadn’t dropped instantly but they lasted only briefly enough for the worgen to leap into battle and eviscerate the Hozen unlucky enough to be standing nearby, it dropped the swords soon after to take a run towards another at full charge. Razor sharp teeth bit cleanly through the creature’s neck and he shook it free, swallowing the remainder of flesh that was still in his mouth. Feral green eyes then targeted the orc commander and the feeble remnants of his human mind told him what to do as he charged.  The orc was far more experienced than Hozen recruits, he hit him with the broadside of his axe and re-directed the leap into a shrine that cracked on impact. The Worgen recovered and shook his head, his nose catching a whiff of fear as the battle was fought. Growling he located the scent and turned a massive head to a nearby stone, approaching the creature’s hiding place with the promise of an easy kill.

The human mind pulled back with an internal shout and the awareness quickly returned. The Pandarin was terrified, wide-eyed and too stunned to move. Looking at the edges of the shrine and near the stream he saw others, ones who had been too stunned or too stubborn to leave when the two armies arrived at the statue. He stood upright and started at the enemies locked in combat and then his eyes looked up and he noticed something strange. Explosions had been happening from both sides, but they often missed and hit the pillar, as a result it had started to crack more and more during the fight and as black mist began to billow out of the cracks it had slowly begun to tip. The statue was going to fall.

“LOOK OUT!”

He didn’t think they heard him even if it hadn’t been too late, the statue was already falling as Mavis started to run towards it, thinking if maybe he could hold on and stop it from falling. He had gotten as far as six feet away when the noise of shattering jade and stone exploded in his ears and the shockwave of impact blew him off his feet and knocked him cold.

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Without exception the Worgen Affliction remains unique to all known cures and diseases. At the moment of infection the curse begins to alter the victim’s physiology, coating vital organic material as it prepares the body for the final stage of transformation, this can take a few hours to a few weeks on rare cases (Treatment during this initial stage is vital to preventing the curse from taking hold and if caught early can reverse its effects completely).

The transformation process is where the Worgen Curse begins to deviate from many others, while the Undead Plague and even the Polymorph Enchantment remains targeted at the original victim, those afflicted with the Worgen condition are capable of transferring their curse to others and behaving as a form of virus hybrid.

After the transformation the human mind remains in a suppressed state, overcome by the instincts and savage mentality of the wolf and stimulating the violent primitive aspects of the human mind. Most worgen succumb to this feral state quickly as the instinctual desires of the wolf become a permanent part of their minds, instilling a desire to hunt that can never be fully ignored. Treatments for this final stage are limited and have been met with varying stages of success. The first and most common treatment for an afflicted is a serum brewed with the essence of mandrake root and peace blossoms, heavy doses of which have been known to push back the feral mind and allow the human to regain control. The success rate for this serum remains steady  at a 90 percent success rate within the first week of changing and becomes progressively worse  as the length of time the victim has been infected increases, treatments of the serum must be continued for a period of time determined by length of infection to prevent the victim from reverting back to their feral state.

The second treatment comes courtesy of the elves and though knowingly more difficult to come by it has been known to bring further balance to the worgen and human aspects, granting the victim recovery of their human form to limited use.

Commonly both these treatments are used in concert but are dependant on the control of the afflicted in continuing to manage their nature or risk succumbing to a relapse. Treatment for relapses remains common with primary infections but maintains a limited success rate of 20 percent, further research is needed to improve these numbers.

 

 

-Alchemist’s Journal -Krennan Aranas

 

 

 

 Admiral Taylor he found was hard to read on a good day, more so after the disaster in the Jade Forest. He never mentioned it to anyone else but he had a guess that Cho had gotten them to the relative safety of Binan Village, his smell was everywhere.  Mavis wanted to believe that the man felt guilt over involving the Jinyu in the war but he didn’t think that he cared beyond losing the men and their foothold. The Yaungal Invasion had also provided a distraction for both forces who were now focused more on fighting them than each other.  He waited at the tent’s entrance, seething with barely controlled rage at his commander’s carelessness as he waited for the Admiral to finish his meeting.

“You can enter Sergeant.”

Mavis took a deep breath, calling upon the calming exercises he had been taught in Darnassus and approached the Admiral. “Yes sir.”

The Admiral beckoned him over, he had rolled out a scroll that Mavis suspected had been given to him by one of the Pandaren recruits, it depicted in stylish detail a map of the region with their current location marked with a pin.

“Thanks to the work you did on those Yaungol invaders we have a decent foothold here but it still isn’t going to do us any good if they decide to join the Horde. I’d like you to help us build up some more good will.”

Audrapel took another measured breath. “I’m not sure I understand sir.”

The Admiral looked Mavis directly in the eyes. “You look like them.” He held up his hand to prevent any protest. “Not like them, you’re familiar. In case you haven’t noticed fur is a working theme here; Humans, orcs, elves…We’re the strange ones. That beast form of yours is actually relatable and it won’t hurt pressing our advantage.”

He lowered his eyes, the beast didn’t like direct eye contact, it challenged him. “I’m not an ambassador sir.”

“You’re as good as we’re gonna get out here. Anyway what about that native you befriended.” He snapped his fingers in an attempt to recall the memory. “Po?”

“Cho.” He felt himself growl. “And that’s different, he saved my life.”

“Well if it’s any ease on your nerves you won’t be doing a lot of talking.” He placed another pin in the map and tied a sting between them. “Some of our recruits informed us that the Shado-Pan is having trouble pushing back an invasion force by the Yaungols. If you can get in there and lend a hand it’ll go a long way towards getting us some allies.”

“What happens if I fail sir?”

“Son, I’ve seen you fight ten to one and still come out kicking. You won’t fail.” He added. “But if you do, they still know we’re trying to help.”

“Yes sir.” He gave the admiral a restrained salute and started looking for some privacy, which was difficult with the camp flooded with recruits and barely enough tents to go around. He finally found a private spot near some supply shipments and began the shift.  He had barely been able to hold it in facing the admiral and now when he allowed the process to start the transformation came on so quickly he felt the pain. Holding back a scream Mavis steadied himself, bracing against the boxes as he tried to steady himself. Not for the first time he recalled with anger the events that led  to his infection, furious that he’d been stupid enough to go into that cell and try to settle things down.  His claws struck a supply crate in rage before he knew what was happening and fresh tabards spilled out onto the ground.  As the bright blue and gold fabric scattered at his feet he recalled his senses again, dropping to all fours and taking off before anyone came to check on the noise.

He felt better running, it cooled his head and brought a sense of calmness that he hadn’t felt for weeks now. Enough sightings had occurred now that the Prince was no longer priority one and instead the conflict had shifted to a tit for tat in the early stages of a resource war.

The Shado-Pan base  was in chaos when he arrived, the ground cracked by glowing fissures as the same strange malevolent spirits he recalled from his arrival dragged themselves across. The Shado-Pan were holding their own but it was clear that they were nearly overwhelmed by the endless throng of Yaungols charging at the door. His fury still seething he located the first Yaungol within range and charged. The Yaungol gave as good as they got and Mavis found himself matching strength for strength with the warrior. He growled as they locked blades and then brought his second sword down through the invader’s head.  The second was easier, he dispatched that one quickly but the others by then had taken notice and were now coming at him in pairs. Mavis snarled.

He could feel the rage of the beast clawing to get out, promising more strength as he released his control. A dim part of his mind realized that something had gone wrong but his rage by now had become too powerful to ignore, crushing the last of his resistance and suppressing the human completely. There was a sickening laughter that echoed through his mind as the last of the bonds were released and the beast’s feral rage overpowered him.

He shook his head, confused. He couldn’t see his pack, couldn’t remember if he had one. Deep inside his head he could hear screaming but was too enraged to care about its source or if it was even coming from him. The smell of thick smoke brought a sense of urgency to the moment and he shook it off, growling at the challenger who dared to approach his territory and using his confusion to push the pointy thing he held into his chest. He flexed his claws and struck the other, confused why he was using the metal ones instead of his own. Through the smoke he could see other creatures, ones he would need to deal with later after the first threat was dealt with.

The cackling and screaming created a dual symphony in his head with every new kill, throwing him into further confusion , the promise of fresh blood offering an end to the noises and failing to deliver every time. Hungry and confused he tore into another challenger with renewed fervor, bringing down his prey and tearing into the flesh with an eagerness to sate his hunger. Dimly he heard a voice in the distance and growled in warning. His kill. He would rip the throat out of anyone who tried to steal it.

“MAVIS!”

The voice called out with renewed urgency and he looked up, a small voice in his head calling him back even as his rage turned to face the interloper. His attention diverted he felt a square impact to his back, the force causing him to catch the air before he impacted with the ground. He growled, interrupted from his meal and turned his attention to what struck him, the smaller creatures from before had chosen now to attack. He felt another impact, this one to his chest and he howled as the fist withdrew, a gasp escaping from his body and pulling a layer off his mind. He could hear the cackling from outside now as he collapsed, his awareness returning just as  the larger of the spectres was crushed by a nearby Pandaren. He heard the sound of running and focused on Mishka approaching from the east, anything to avoid looking at the last corpse he’d left, fully aware of what he had done even through the unchecked rage of the beast.  Trying to focus on something else he instead began searching for the voice he’d heard, remembering its owner. “Admiral?”

“I’m right here Sergeant. You just rest.”

Edited by Mavis Audrapel
edited to adjust for ranks
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This new continent has things we hadn’t prepared for, ghosts that possess your mind and feed on our emotions. The Pandaren call it the Sha and it’s already infected some of my men. Our last incident nearly came to a close call, our Worgen started raging in the middle of a fight and damn near killed a Pandaren native. With respect I’ll skip the details of what he did to the Yaungol before we got there.  As for the Worgen’s condition now the Shado-Pan managed to purge out the sha infecting him, he’s gotten himself shooken up over the incident but a day’s rest and he should be ready for active duty again.

The troops that aren’t remaining behind have all received their orders for Operation Shieldwall and getting ready to move out. Once I’ve secured final operations here I and the rest of my unit will be joining him and we’ll meet the horde offensive on the shores to break their invasion. Once we’ve halted the primary attack it should make it difficult to gain more of a foothold on this continent.

-Admiral Taylor, Final Report on Westwind rest

 

  Mavis chafed in his own skin, feeling obvious discomfort as they prepared for a landing on the beach. He had shifted pre-emptively for battle, this marking the first time since Kun-Lai that he had used his Worgen form. He wanted to believe he could control it here but while he had not been solely responsible for the Sha’s actions on his mind he still remembered every detail as if he had.

Admiral Taylor had already sent him and others on ahead to secure the beach, putting him under command of Marshal Troteman and a full contingent of Elite mages, druids and royal soldiers. The sound of cannon fire was already ringing in his ears as Alliance and Horde raced to beat each other to shore, shaking his already frayed nerves.

“Suck it up Soldier. We need everyone on point for this.”

“Yes sir.”

He avoided looking at the Marshal out of concern that he could somehow read his doubts. He might have been able to insist on a longer period of recuperation had the alliance not insisted on every able body to devote to this offensive. The Word was the King was due to arrive, hence the additional boosting of force.

The Marshal’s commanding shout broke through his thoughts as they reached the shore and soldiers jumped from the boat and covered the remaining distance at full charge. Druids rushed to the fore, beginning to lay down growth of heavy vines to their right flank while members of the royal guard formed a phalanx to the west. Mavis dropped to the ground aware of his roll and began to run past both, drawing his swords and sinking both into the chest of a dire wolf, bringing it down with the rider. Marshall Troteman had made his orders clear, keep the horde from reaching the landing by any means necessary.

He growled as he caught the brunt of a priest’s whispered attack and turned to face the enemy before re-directing his attack when he saw one of the battle mages taking care of the problem with an icy blast.  He roared a challenge and took down another rider just as others were running to meet him. He showed his blades, taking a readied stance and let them come.  The beast hadn’t calmed since Kun-Lai , screaming its desire to use teeth and claw to rend flesh and it took an additional surge of strength to push it down again and maintain focus. The internal struggle distracted him from the outer one and he barely avoided an orcish axe coming at his head. The blade took out a piece of ear instead and the beast raged at the pain, bringing a rampage of blows down on the  orc until he fell to the sand in meaty chunks. He then turned to the others and growled. Mavis quickly fought to wrest control, gripping the blades tighter out of fear for letting them go and brought them with force at the next challenger.  He faced another trying to attack from behind and gutted him, shutting the beast down as it smelled the scent of meat spilling onto the sand then turned back around again to come to blows with the next one. It was a half a second before he realized there wasn’t anyone else coming, the allies were already running forward to set up the rest of the baracades to ensure the defense points remained firm.

He felt a hand slap him on the back. “Good work holding the line soldier, now we can get to work.”

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Master Cho,

It is my hope this letter finds you well as I am well aware our presence had left an impact which will certainly carry deep scars. I’m sorry

It is my hope this letter finds you well, I cannot say the same

Help me, help me please

It is my hope this letter finds you well, due to the impact left on the Jade Forest I could no longer be certain. The campaign is near to over as both sides begin to gather up the remaining shreds of our lives. There remains one final push against Garrosh Hellscream but this is a duty I had not been chosen for.

I have done my best to find something comparable to the teas you had given me but have been met with failure. Unable to locate other means of peace I sought to repeat the chores from my stay, learning only that father thought me mad for trimming the bushes and one had nearly died from my efforts. Part of me desires a return to the front for a chance to fight again as it has been my discovery that even returning home peace escapes me.  The wolf is far more difficult to control since the days when I had first become infected and it challenges me daily for dominance, sometimes it is all I can do to take it hunting and try to avoid the sheep.

I think the last time I have truly known peace was during my days spent in your home. I think it is only your help that cam save me, the only one that can help me silence the screaming.

-The letter remains at the bottom of a small box of keepsakes, still unsent.

 

 

She was screaming again, it just wouldn’t stop. Hurridly Mavis tried to fumble for the bottle only to have it shoved out of his hand by tiny fingers. “Dad”

Uncertain he tried bouncing the child, only succeeding in shakey sobs as the hands reached out behind him in a babble of nonsense. “Moooom?”

He called out with greater urgency, the wailing causing the beast to claw its way up and demand an instinctual response for one of two extremes. Frantic for a response that didn’t include violence or abandonment Mavis reached for the bottle again, waving it in front of the child’s face as it continued to wail. “Daaad?”

A measure of panic slipped into his voice as the child continued to push the bottle away, the beast was roaring to escape as Mavis started to feel his grip slipping. He was about to lose all hope when a weathered hand snatched the bottle away.

“For Lightsake Mavis she’s not an infant anymore.”

He stood helplessly as a crudely made doll was pushed into the child’s hands. The screaming abruptly stopped. “If we’re not using the bottle why do we have it out?”

“We have it out so we don’t have to use it.” Mavis stood useless as Emily was promptly picked out of his arms and set onto the floor where the child immediately took off for the set of toys layed near the hearth.

“That doesn’t make sense mom.”

Ellaine Audrapel sighed in the familiar tone when she thought her children weren’t paying attention. “She kept grabbing for the bottle so we set it out until she got bored with it. You would know that if you had come home once or twice after leaving her here.”

He spared a glance at the toddler who was currently fixated by the flowerpot on the window before he chose to follow his mother to the kitchen. “I was fighting a war mom.”

Not one to ignore chores Ellaine continued her dusting with greater ferocity. “So was your brother, but he at least came home for Winter Veil.”

He felt a tug on his leg paired with a string of babble where he could make out daddy but the beast wasn’t listening, directing all its focus on Ellaine, it refused to submit to her challenge even as Mavis forced down his instincts. “Don’t ever compare me to Gavin!”

“Daddy”

His mother stared him down and the beast began pacing in his mind, ready to answer the challenge as it ignored the repetitious cries heard dimly from the tugging on his leg.

“Why shouldn’t I Mavis? We were facing an invasion of undead and he still found the time to come home. Your father had to write to the recruiting office before we found out you were deliberately avoiding us. The only reason you even came home was because they made you. Your daughter barely knows you and all you’ve done in four months is run off into the woods at night so you can come back home and sleep half the day! Oh don’t you dare give me that Worgen line, don’t even think I didn’t question every Gilnean trader who came down the road.  She is your daughter, the very least you could do for her is set an example.”

“That’s Enough!”

He could feel his clothing stretch, his face begun to contort and only after he had lost his temper did he realize he was snarling as the beast instinctively tried to assert its dominance. Silence followed.

He forced the beast back  and looked down at Emily who had stopped tugging on his leg and was now staring wide eyed and near tears up at him. She began to wail just as his mother picked her up to comfort the child, at the same time she gave Mavis a look that was heavy as stone. “Maybe you should go out and help your father.”

Helpless and Horrified by his outburst he complied, slipping out as quietly as he could while Emily continued to wail.

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Veridan Anderly

Worgen Rights Commission

8 Cathedral Square

Stormwind

 

Let us state the obvious that I am less than pleased by your attempts to contact me, more so that your chosen method of reaching me was by sending your letter to my public offices.  It is only by my own interest that you never contact me again for why I have chosen to respond to your appeals.

In answer to your first question, (for the second time I might add) yes, I am certain my wife was not a whore. If you wish to confirm the paternity however I am confident in the abilities of several alchemists as well as no less than three druids, I will include methods of contact below on the confidence that our connection remains private. I do not make mistakes.

Our choice not to terminate the pregnancy outright was a mutual choice by me and my wife at the time, we were told the difficulty of conceiving with her affliction was of such astronomical odds that we might never have the opportunity again for children. Against my better judgement I was prepared to accept a bastard as my own.

My wife and I both travelled in the inner circles of Gilnean nobility, my wife in particular was well respected in high society.  While most of our finances had been lost on the evacuation we were still more than capable of affording a comfortable lifestyle in Stormwind where our wealth gave us no more protection from Gilnean prejudice than the common folk.  My wife was advised against changing forms at any frequency during her pregnancy for fear of endangering the child but she endured despite the whispers and gossip, all which merely increased as her belly swelled. Many were well aware of the timing and though none of us spoke of it I suspect they knew.

My dear Pollina was valiant to the end and if you take nothing else from this letter I wish for you to know that. Even as she bled out, as the healers tried to save her, after all you had done to us my darling endured with the dignity and grace you may never know.

In answer to your final question, I have no want for the child. The decision to keep the infant had been our choice together, with my wife gone I see no point in raising the reminder of what was done to her. It is out of my love for her that I did not drop the creature at the nearest doorstep, thinking instead the true father might accept the responsibility. If you do not wish to accept her, it is not my interest to ease your conscience by allowing you to foist her off to me. I have done my duty.

-Lord Varidan Anderly

Worgen Rights Commission

 

 

Mavis heard the door slam shortly after exiting the home, he briefly considered looking back to make sure the doo hadn’t fallen from the hinges but memory of his mother’s look stopped him from taking any action that didn’t involve him creating more distance between her. He found his father at the far end of the field, the posts laid at his feet near a sack of nails as he hammered new boards into place.

“Gnolls again?”

Lucas Audrapel finished hammering the last nail into a board and with Mavis’ help lifted another post. “Gnolls haven’t come down lately with you around. Just good to keep the maintenance up.”

His cheeks flushed. “Yeah, sorry about that.”

His father grunted as he pushed the new post into place. “Don’t be. Damn things are pests. Just long as you don’t leave anything you eat near the farm you can hunt the little bastards all damn day far as I’m concerned.”

“Dad please.”

His father rested his arm on the post and looked at Mavis. “What I’m not supposed to know my son eats what he hunts? How stupid do you think I am?” Tucking the hammer under his arm he grabbed another board and several nails. “She kick you out again?”

When Mavis nodded Lucas just shook his head. “Shouldn’t have sent that letter,  it just made her angrier.”

Mavis moved around to help with the board as his father hammered it into place. “It wasn’t her letter to read.”

“Maybe, but she’s got a right to be upset. You left her with us and if you had your doubts you should have taken your actiions the first time she was handed over to you. What you tried to do wasn’t being fair to anyone.”

“I’m sorry.”

“No son, you’re not sorry. You’re just sorry you got caught.”

Mavis reached down to grab another board and a handful of nails, he couldn’t trust himself to do anything else at the moment, and shaking at the realization his father was right. “So I guess you’re waiting to yell at me too?”

Lucas stopped hammering, deep in thought as he rested both arms on the post.  “No Mavis, I’m not, it wouldn’t be fair to you either.” He seemed to note the confusion on his son’s face and sat down to take a break, withdrawing a water flask from near his tools. “Do you remember Flynn Seamus?”

Mavis gave his father a strange look before sitting down beside him. “The old town drunk?”

Lucas nodded and took a drink. “That’s him.” He held the flask out, a distant look in his eyes as he recalled the memory. “We were overrun;  the orcs came through the dark portal and cut a swath of destruction, rolling over anything in their path. This was before any of us knew what an orc was and we had no idea what we were dealing with.  Some of us managed to escape the ransack of Lakeshire and ran up the mountain to Stonewatch Keep.  The horde followed us, it didn’t matter we were mostly farm folk and children, they didn’t care.

The Horde started shelling as soon as they could get the catapults up there and when they ran out of stones they started using the village, when they ran out of village they started throwing our dead.” He took another drink.

“Stonewatch stood for hundreds of years against so many wars. Cliffs on all sides, a steep hill and a bridge, with the right resources it was good enough to hold off any invasion, but we had nothing. We didn’t even have enough food to last a prolonged siege, so at the time it was a roll of dice if we would die by starvation or they’d bring down the walls first. Well after a while they got bored of shelling us and most of their army moved on save for about a dozen they left behind to finish the job. By then we were so damn hungry we’d started to look at our dead. Eventually, we all made a choice.

The plan was that some of us would go out front and draw their attention while the rest tried slipping out on what remained of the bridge. We ended up with five volunteers; Mayor Ramsey Dougal, Susan Hansen the skinner,  Mavis Kerner  who was the only guard to survive,  A local hedge wizard named Hedrick Groves and Flynn Seamus who was our blacksmith at the time. These were all good people who had volunteered for what was known to be suicide.

Even orcs had to sleep, but we couldn’t see the bridge safely in the dark so we had to time our escape perfectly and right at sunrise we moved. We could hear the screams behind us but we were told to never look back, we all had to keep moving and hope the dying wasn’t our people and if it was that their death was quick. The volunteers were just told to keep killing as many orcs as they could and not stop for anything.”

“How many did they end up killing?”

Lucas shrugged. “It was a suicide mission, as far as I know they killed them all. We managed to make it to Stormwind and boarded the last of the evacuation ships just as they were leaving the port. I joined up with the Alliance as soon as they started asking for recruits and met up with Flynn again during my second battle, cutting through orcs like they were butter. According to him they had all survived the keep and had been fighting their way all up through the Eastern Kingdoms but Flynn was the only one I ever saw alive, no one ever asked him what happened to the others.

Flynn continued to fight out the rest of the war without stopping and he was the most decorated soldier to come out of Redridge and Westfall combined. After the war was over we all went back home to rebuild and Flynn crawled inside a bottle and never came out. Heroes never survive the war Mavis, sometimes they don’t even survive the battle.”

Mavis stared at his father for several minutes in stunned silence. “you never told me this story before.”

“I never told anyone this story before. You’re the first. It probably won’t make much sense to you now but you’re going to remember this story and at some point you’re going to remember why I told it to you. Don’t go looking for solace at the bottom of a bottle son.”

There were a million questions running through his mind but he didn’t feel like he could ask a single one of them. He knew his father well enough to be aware when he wasn’t going to get anywhere. His father finally broke the silence again. “Are you heading out to hunt?”

“Actually I was planning to finish helping you out.”

Lucas shook his head. “No, I got this. You’ll be helping if you brought something back tonight for dinner. The Redmonds are going to be coming over.”

“I didn’t think we knew the Redmonds that well.”

“Their son is getting married to one of those Panda folk and they want someone to relate to.”

Mavis looked down and pressed his nose between index and thumb. “They know it’s not the same thing right?”

Lucas gave his son a levelled look. “Be polite and let them feel like they’re being accepting. They’ll probably assume you caught the meal anyway so it will be easier to make sure they’re not embarrassed.”

Edited by Mavis Audrapel
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FOR   THE   HORDE!!!

 

 

 

He never liked to admit he enjoyed the hunt but since the change it had been one of the few things he never denied the beast. During times when he was forced to go weeks without chasing prey he had nearly gone wild with madness, the beast needed to hunt and when it was refused it simply became that much harder to control. It was easier that this was the one activity where he was in harmony with his feral side it was exhilarating to locate his prey and give chase, it required no thought, he didn’t need to reflect or remember and all he had to do was just let the wolf run. His father seemed to know this and never said a word when his son came home with nettles in his hair, his mother did bring it up but usually in part because he needed to clean himself up and furious that he might have just spoiled his dinner.

 

The beast was a selfish creature and didn’t like sharing his food but once he satisfied it with a small kill it was more amicable to bringing something home. His mother preferred venison but boars had always been easier to find in the rocky terrain of the mountains and his last efforts at catching deer had run him afoul of some local guards in Elwynn, who regarded his efforts as poaching. He sniffed the air and was able to locate at least three boar nearby, mulling it over he considered his mother’s rage, she would be furious for a long time but he reasoned that fresh venison might go a long way toward mending things if he could find it.

 

He looked to the old keep. If he was lucky he might be able to locate a deer behind the old path, if he didn’t mind the additional distance to carry it home. Changing direction Mavis turned from the hills and went full run in the direction of the old keep. Once he was able to find cover he tried to stay downwind, sniffing the air as he continued to search for his quarry. He found the creature quickly enough by sight alone, a young doe that had darted out of the brush in a panic. His muscles tensed as he crouched down, preparing to spring on the panicked deer and reminding the beast to hold back, it’s instinct was to go for the throat and tear open the jugular but if he wanted to have any hope of bringing it back to prepare he had to make the kill bloodless.

Reminding the beast of what was needed he sprung forward, the strength and speed of his lupine form easily catching up with the terrified animal and bringing it down in seconds. He pressed his paw in the deer’s neck and forced it to snap, killing the creature. As Mavis lifted the prey to carry home a thought struck him, the deer had been running from something else prior to his discovery. Curious he sniffed the air, attempting to locate the animal whose prey he had stolen.  He’d been expecting to smell wolf but the scent that prevailed was orc. It wasn’t unusual for the area, after all the Blackrock orcs had squatted here for several years until finally being cleared out and it still carried their scent, but strangely this one was fresh and smelled of smoke, iron and machinery. He smelled a lot of smoke.

 

Instinct made him swing the deer around and come to blows with an orcish war axe that sliced it through. Mavis threw the remaining half at the orc and destroying the advantage of the surprise. This allowed him to also move away from striking distance and free up the use of his claws. He snarled, challenging the orc as it sized him up and went in for another strike. Mavis caught the first overhand blade between his claws, the beast was spoiling for a fight, ready to rend whoever had come between him and the hunt but the man was confused, at first he had suspected this to be a holdout from the Blackrock Clan. The problem with his theory though was that Blackrocks were green like most orcs and this one was the color of earth. The orc’s armor wasn’t the hastily slung together bits of salvaged armor that the Blackrocks had been forced to use near the end but freshly forged and smelled…clean, free from the traces of fell energy that still tainted orcs to this day.

 

Mavis yelped as the second axe cut into his side while he was distracted and in retaliation he ripped the first axe free from the hand that held it. The orc gripped his last remaining axe with both hands and took a defensive posture, but the man was in control and was not about to charge mindless into the end of a blade. He bared his teeth and roared, as soon as he caught the orc start to shift his weight he took the charge to him. The orc had a powerful swing, but the arms of a worgen had a longer reach and the beast allowed itself to take the lesser hit of the axe blow just so it could pull the orc up by his skull and open him up underneath the armor with his other claw. The orc twitched as its fluids evacuated through the opening and then went still.

Mavis dropped the orc, glancing over to the deer and knowing that his mother wouldn’t be happy about losing dinner. A cold realization hit him then as he realized what he had smelled earlier, not a singular orc but many, travelling with the creak of heavy machinery in the noise of a throng…a horde. His gut dropped as he realized with the Horde being this far in, there could be only one direction they were going and he knew exactly what lay in their path.

 

Dropping to all fours he released all presumption of control over the beast and let it run. As he neared the town he could hear the warning bell clanging in frantic cries until it was abruptly silenced by who knew what. Ignoring all other distractions he raced back home, despite many numerous attempts the Horde was unable to slow him, the Worgen form had speeds unmatched by most and with claws to the earth he was far more maneuverable, able to anchor to the ground and change direction at will.

 

Once he reached home he could easily see the orcs had already found their way and panicked,  all Mavis could do was hope that he hadn’t arrived too late. With all the strength the wolf allowed him he rushed the first orc through the door, long razor claws digging into earthen flesh before the orc even knew what to do. His eyes went straight to the second, who had now turned to face Mavis with a bloodied sword, the man might have hesitated but the beast was in control and the beast didn’t care but for the violence. He attacked with dangerous ferocity, slapping both orc and sword against the hearth with enough force to crumble the brick. He then lifted the orc up again and bent the head at an unnatural angle until there was an audible snap.

 

A quick sniff of the air confirmed no more orcs inside but the beast was still on edge, it had smelled human blood. Still in lupine form he immediately began to search for its source, discovering it to be the strongest near his mother’s hope chest. He turned his head and forced himself to look at the two large chunks of meat more closely, orcish steel had cut clean through, causing the blood to spill and coat the body, the effect had made immediate identification difficult but it was his mother’s smell and his mother’s eyes and his mother’s horrified face.

 

Mavis covered his face with a paw, not wishing to face the reality. Dimly he thought if he could fit the pieces more together somehow, a healer could fix the rest. He forced himself to reason his madness and distraught, let out an anguished roar.

 

His roar seemed to summon his father, the older man was covered in blood as he burst through the rear door, although as far as Mavis could tell he hadn’t been injured. At some point he had gotten a sword, now held in his hand and clearly of orcish make. Lucas immediately assessed his son and then looked behind to his wife, visible anguish on his face that he seemed to force down before turning back to Mavis. “Where’s Emily?”

 

Mavis’ heart froze in his chest as the name stirred his panic again. Franticly he began searching around the remains of his mother, both relieved and terrified that he could find nothing. “Emily?”

He tore the door off the bedroom and flipped the bed, nothing…room to room and nothing.

 

“Emily!”

 

He started shaking, briefly halting from his destructive search to regain his composure. In his silence his ears picked up a faint whimper and Mavis rushed back to the hearth with renewed vigor. It was difficult to smell anything among the blood but the quiet sobbing continued and immediately pointed him to the chest. He threw open the lid and cast eyes upon the toddler, unhurt and unbloodied. His mother must have hidden the child inside when she saw the orcs coming. The child stopped sobbing and stared up at her father, then she screamed in terror. Mavis stumbled backward at the suddenness of his daughter’s scream as his father scooped Emily into his arms. Lucas Audrapel looked at his wife again, then the dead orcs before turning his attention to Mavis. “Get to the town. Don’t you dare let them get past Lakeshire.”

 

 

The words stunned him, sounding more like the order of a seasoned veteran than the man he had known his entire life. Without argument Mavis obeyed, summoning his energy to race at breakneck speed for the town below. The state of Lakeshire had become far worse than his earlier pass, the screaming having been reduced town to a few pockets as the majority of the population had run for safety, were in open combat with the Horde or now lay dead by orc hands. Even now orcs were still flooding down in small pockets and Mavis realized that this was just their fastest runners, the ones who were not held back by machinery or heavy armor. He caught sight of old Flynn, out of the pub and defending himself against a team of orcs with a craftsman’s hammer and fists, his face twisted into a mad rage,  it was the most sober he’d ever seen the old man. He caught sight of others, the innkeeper and town master holding their own as best they could, Lakeshire was no stranger to trouble, they had stood alone against Gnolls and Blackrock stragglers for years, the people here were a tough breed, but the onslaught was immeasurable and they had to know they were only buying time until the inevitable.

 

He remembered his father’s words and steeled himself for combat, no matter what the Horde could not be allowed past Lakeshire, no matter what. Summoning the full strength of his form he charged at the nearest orc he could seem bearing down on him and using his jaws to rip its arm free before swatting the warrior aside with his claws. He brought down a second near Flynn just before it brought down it’s blade and tore its throat out, swallowing the flesh before lifting another off its feet and into the stone brick of the burning Town Hall. By now the others had come to realize the threat the worgen posed and began to converge on him. The beast snarled its challenge. There was only a brief hesitation by the orcs and he took full advantage of it, attacking with all the savagery and bloodlust the wolf provided him. He slipped back, allowing the beast to do the work as it gutted its opponents, briefly aware of the sharp sting of cold steel that occasionally pierced his flesh.

 

There was a loud crack and pain exploded from his back, he yelped in surprise and turned angry at the marksman, scaling the building to reach him on the roof just as the Orc was starting to reload. He leapt and brought his canines over the marksman’s head before he was able to squeeze the trigger again, biting down a grip and swinging him onto the pavement. He leapt down after, bringing to ground another and swinging his claws in blow after blow until he was striking pavement. A large calloused hand rested on his shoulder, bringing Mavis back. At a glance it looked like they had won, a small team of hardy villagers against the horde, but that was only if you weren’t looking west. He could see them cresting the hill, their numbers swelled beyond the brief skirmish of invaders they had faced previously. The main force of the Horde was fast approaching.

 

Looking to the others Mavis saw that all of them were seeing the same thing and not a single defender still standing moved, instead taking defensive stances and preparing for the new onslaught. Lakeshire was their home and defense was to the last man.

 

As the Horde neared Mavis took a breath and silently apologized to his father for not fulfilling his command as he prepared to die.  So prepared for the end he was surprised at first when he saw arcane crystals forming in the air above, blinking into existence like stars and committing themselves to the earth as they rained down upon the front lines of the horde and exploded. The onslaught of magic continued in a torrent as the Horde were then forced to maneuver around the attack  and abandon their fallen brethren, which was when he became aware of the additional forces of Stormwind’s elite charging in from behind them to meet the Horde head on. He looked back and was stunned to see the aged man on the bridge, raising his hand to the heavens as he called on another blast of arcane energy while the reinforcements flooded in. Khadgar. Khadgar was here.

 

The Boost of reinforcements had made short work of the invasion, the last of the blitz being put to the sword as soon as they reached the first watchtower. Still prepared for another fight Mavis remained shifted, still haunted by the memory of  his daughter’s scream and his mother’s corpse.

 

“Mavis Audrapel!”

 

He turned in surprise at hearing his name, very few could pick out the identity of a worgen by sight alone unless they were very familiar with the man and the voice sounded like so many ages ago that he felt it shouldn’t have been possible. His eyes finally pinpointed one of the royal guards, still mounted in phalanx formation, ostensibly charged to protect Khadgar who never seemed like he’d ever be in any real danger.  The guard removed his helmet and Mavis fully realized where he had placed the voice, though he hadn’t seen the man since he had left the City Guard. “…Michael? How….”

 

“Yeah, Worgen in Redridge?  Wasn’t too hard to figure out, plus I heard your dad briefing Khadgar…” Michael pointed to his father who was strangely speaking with some familiarity to the old wizard.  “It’s damn lucky we got here when we did. There were a lot of reports flying in from the portal, we were already mounting a force when we heard the warning bell clamoring away. Lucky too, we weren’t prepared for them to move this quick or this…heavy.” He noted the siege weapons lying broken on the road.  “They could have rolled over Stormwind in minutes.” The guard hesitated. “I’m sorry about your mother.”

 

Mavis suppressed a growl, curling his claws into fists. “We lost a lot of good people.”

 

“If it helps, your stand probably ended up saving a lot more. “ He leaned forward over his horse.

“We’re going to be heading out from here and get a cap on the portal so we can stop these bastards from blitzing through again, we’re sending word to recall some forces from Pandaria and whatever we can scramble from other outposts. They won’t do this to us again.”

Mavis felt a twinge of pain as he referred to Lakeshire, even now the dead still remained laying on the stones, waiting to be claimed by the living, he didn’t even want to think about his…..he shut it out and swallowed his pain. “Do you need a hand?”

This brought confusion to Michael. “What? Uh…” He glanced over at Khadgar, at a loss for how to respond. “Well, yes but…are you sure? Don’t you need to be here?“

“This is more important right now.” It needed to be.

“No.”

Both men turned to the source of protest as Lucas Audrapel approached, evidently having heard their exchange. “You need to be here Mavis. Your mother….she isn’t even…” He choked on the words.

“What if they come back? We won’t stand a chance, you know that.”

“They don’t need you!”

“They need everyone dad, you out of anyone should understand.”

“That’s different.”

“It’s exactly the same!” He roared in his outburst, drawing the attention of even Khadgar, aware of the audience, Mavis lowered his head, trying his best to quiet the beast. “Please, dad…I have to do this. I need to make sure they won’t come back.”

Lucas looked at his son’s eyes in silence then glanced his eyes over at the company, without a word he located one of the horses still roaming freely and thrust the reins into his son’s claws.

The horse remained skittish so near the worgen but part of it may have also been due to the fate of its rider, Mavis hadn’t failed to note the blood on the saddle. “I can run.” He didn’t want to have to think anymore, not after all that had happened, a part of him just wanted to fall into the wolf and never turn back.

 

“Take the horse son.”

 

Mavis looked at his father’s weary face, growling as he handed the reigns back and attempted  to assert himself again. “I don’t need a horse.”

 

“MAVIS EUGENE AUDRAPEL! Take- The- Light-Damned- Horse.” His father, usually so level-headed, shoved the reigns back at him with barely controlled rage as Mavis could feel every eye upon him. Cowed, he took the reins of the horse and began the controlled shift back into human form, fully aware he was doing this on display of the whole town, a legendary mage and the entire retinue of soldiers.

 

He tried to keep his eyes focused on the task as he mounted the animal and gathered the reins. He took one last look at his father and felt a twinge of regret, he looked worn and older than he had ever seen him. He was about to speak when someone passed a sword up to him, finely crafted but worn from years of fighting before being followed by decades of dust. The great sword was clearly one that had been meant to be held by both hands and normally might not have been easy to lift, but Mavis took it in one. He looked down as the former blacksmith released his hold on the sword, never saying a word as he walked back into the pub and disappeared.

Edited by Mavis Audrapel
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Lord Fordragon,

Many years ago I served with your father under the Alliance of Lordaeron as we fought to push back the Horde.  Together we saw the liberation of Tol Barad and the Battle of Crestfall. Under his command the soldiers of Lakeshire stood firm at Blackrock Spire, never faltering to our duty. Now my sons come to you to serve proudly under the banner and take upon themselves the honor of Stormwind.

My sons are good men; proud, loyal, my oldest Gavin has proven more than capable in the face of combat. You would do well to accept either among your ranks, but I must ask that on behalf of the shared history of your father and I, that you refuse my youngest.

Please understand that my request is not for lack of ability, Mavis is brave and readily able and his commitment to his duty is unmatched , but there is a kindness in him that I have seen in few men, a sense of right that is uncommon for his age. I have seen war destroy men like him and it is for this reason that I ask you to deny him, for I fear the reality of war will ruin him.

If you cannot refuse him outright I ask only that you not allow him to be carried across the sea or through that damned portal. Mavis has the makings of a good man and I believe that if nothing else he might serve well as a guardsman, he has that temperament. All I ask is to never allow him to face a war.

-Captain Lucas Audrapel

                                Lakeshire

 

The hand flexed slowly as its owner tried to get a feel for the muscles. On its own the hand seemed normal, perhaps longer but otherwise human, and it wasn’t until one saw the other hand that cradled it when the differences became more pronounced. The longer fingers on the right hand appeared fused together in some places, the tips curving into claws that were hardened flesh-colored bone. The entire structure of the hand was off, bone and muscle that should have been shorter by human standards were unnaturally elongated.

Mavis stared down at the offending palm as if it were eye contact alone that would cause it to obey his will, the hour passed into the length of eternity. He took a measured breath and concentrated again, trying to calm his nerves as he focused on his hand. Slowly the bone and muscle began to shift, shrinking down and separating his fingers as it worked to match the left again. He exhaled, flexing the hand again to make sure everything appeared normal, starting to breath more steadily as he rested himself against the hastily constructed wall that surrounded Lunarfall.

One Month. It had been one month of fighting through horde infested territory after stranding themselves on the other side of the portal. That they had been surrounded on all sides by legends might have been the only reason they survived long enough to reach Shadowmoon and even then they faced skirmishes against the clan of the same name. With luck and what Mavis suspected to be divine intervention Khadgar had been able to open a temporary portal home, but its use was limited and had to be used to bring additional resources rather than to travel home, he guessed that it would take far longer to create something more permanent.  Taking another measured breath Mavis rose back to his feet, spending one final moment to glance at his hand before returning to the Barracks.

He found Michael waiting at the square before he could get within ten feet, when he saw Mavis the former guard crossed the remaining distance to meet him. “Keep wandering off like that and it’s going to be orcs or the Commander. Where were you?”

“Hunting.”  It had been more than difficult to seek out prey, he didn’t have enough of a grasp of Draenor to know which creatures were likely to kill him until he found them and it had left him so far with numerous close calls. The alternative was to wait until his understanding of the wildlife was better and seemed the safer course of action, but that would have meant ignoring the beast, which had been on edge since passing through the portal. He dared not sleep in the crowded barracks at two to a bunk while the wolf was in a mood.

Michael remained ignorant of this and simply shrugged off the answer despite misgivings, clearly not wanting to breach the privacy of his statement. “Well, the Commander did want to see you but I at least don’t think it’s about the hunting.”

They walked together toward the keep, currently a serviceable wooden longhouse until more permanent arrangements could be made, further indicating that the company planned to be here for a while and dispelling any remaining assumptions that the primary focus of their mission had ended. The Commander had been hunched over reports when he entered, engaged in low conversation with Lieutenant Thorn. He had heard that the Lieutenant was a worgen but while her smell confirmed this he never brought it up, Mavis did not easily feel comfortable in engaging with others like him.

The Commander spoke a few final words to Thorn before turning direction to Mavis, nodding briefly to Michael. “You’re excused Captain.” Having done his duty Michael saluted and left him alone.

The Commander turned back toward Mavis and though noting the state of his clothing didn’t say anything. “We’re going to be heading out again. Scouts have located Iron Horde sightings out in Gorgrond and spies indicate what we’re looking at a massive fortress being built there. Problem  is the whole blasted region makes Sholazar look like a park.”

“Sholazar Commander?”

“Stranglethorn then, have you ever been to Stranglethorn?”

“No Commander, heard stories.”

He heard the Commander sigh. “Well Sholazar or Stranglethorn what we’re looking at is a jungle of hell, we won’t be able to get through with a large force like we did the portal, the Dark Irons have had some luck with tunneling but at this point I’m convinced that’s all it is, luck. We can’t risk the Iron Horde regaining their foothold and opening up another portal. I’ve spoken with some of the Rangari and they’re already preparing a small force to make an incursion and clear the way, the Lieutenant here agrees we should send a few of our people along for support. This isn’t an order but I was hoping you would agree to head along with Captain Wellsley and help shore up the group he’s put together.”

“Seems it would be easier to make it an order ma’am.”

“I don’t order people on missions I don’t think they’ll survive and the Captain has…issues when people are ordered into his squad. The way I see it you can go with him and let that wolf out or you can stay here in those cramped barracks, because if I hear you headed out alone again I’ll most certainly see that you get a court martial.”

 Mavis let escape a growl at the ultimatum, Lieutenant Thorn looked up sharply and he forced the beast back down. He couldn’t afford to lose control, which would be a certainty if he wasn’t allowed to hunt. He was aware of a third option, to hunt with the Gilneans and satisfy both problems, but he just couldn’t.  “I suppose I’ll be going to find Captain Wellsley ma’am.”

“No need.” The voice sounded hollow, like an echo from the void that seemed disturbingly unnatural. A chill ran down his spine as he could feel the beast raising its hackles at the stranger. The knight stood in the doorway, acting as if he’d always been there even if Mavis knew he hadn’t, he would have smelled the decay long before if that were the case. The Captain took two more steps toward Mavis, clearly sizing up his strength. “Welcome to the our little group of Misfit Toys Sargent.”

Edited by Mavis Audrapel
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It has become more difficult of late to send word to you about my well-being out need to move further inland has forced us to move beyond Valiance Keep and has provided us little opportunity for correspondence as the result. For all its beauty Northrend remains a goliath of untamed land for which Dragons seem the only able stewards. You would be stunned to know how many dragons  I have seen.

Lord Bolvar is, as expected, and able commander and I believe were it anyone else we could not have made it so far inland with so few casualties. I consider my life being owed to the man more than once. With luck and skill we intend to reach Dragonblight within half a Fortnight, from there we will attempt to face the scourge at the Wrath Gate and bring an end to this war. With some regret I cannot help but to feel at ease that Mavis was denied his part in this campaign. I believe that fighting together would have caused an additional burden on both of us should one of us not survive this continent.

Please  give him and Susan my love and let mother know I am taking care of myself and eating well, I’m certain she’s asked about that more than once.

 

-Gavin Audrapel

 

The beast crept through the underbrush careful not to alert others to his presence. There was very little he could do with the plant life but at least the botoni did not appear as fully aware of their voices as he had known druids to be, likely if they had he would not have made it this far.  He slipped back, crouching down again at the sign of movement ahead, not dropping his guard even as an orc, covered in green and dazed by the plant life emerging from its body stumbled through the growth.  Sniffing he could curiously smell only foliage and fertilizer from the creature, barely a hint of its former existed remaining in the twisted vegetation, it did not bode well for his quarry. Carefully he crept forward, low to the ground and sniffing the area for a mere hint of what he searched for, finally catching a whiff ahead and heading towards that direction.

He found what he was looking for near one of the pools, though bloated and now overcome by new plant life it was still easy to make out the dwarf that lay dead before him. Growling low he searched the corpse, locating a small waterproof satchel that the Botani had either failed to take or didn’t care. Taking care to check its contents he slipped the satchel over his shoulder and was about to move again when his ears twitched to a familiar sound of pain near one of the other pools. He could smell blood.

Making sure the dwarf didn’t have anything more Mavis slipped back, moving around a patrolling Botani with ease as he moved toward the direction of the sound. The elf had managed to drag himself into the foliage but it had clearly been painful; still it was likely what kept him from initially being noticed by the local flora. Checking for anyone who might be crossing their path he carefully removed the great sword from his back and set it aside to access the emergency kit secured beneath. The blood red armor the elf wore did nothing to hide the deep gashes that crossed the abdomen and it there was no mistaking the horde scout would have bled out soon enough without aid. Carefully Mavis lifted the elf up and hastily wrapped two rolls of bandages around the injuries, securing them into place and then making certain the wounded soldier was better concealed before dashing away.

He stopped at a tree and forced the shift back to human before re-entering the camp, Captain Wellsley appeared to be standing in the same position from when he’d left and for all Mavis knew he just hadn’t bothered to move out of expediency. His own predatory eyes shifted to the others present, eight in all. Privately Mavis might have assumed they were all bandits if all of them did not carry the Alliance Insignia in some form on their clothing. Wellsley’s squad was capable and loyal, but it took a special kind of character to be willing to serve under a Death Knight. The unnerving echo sounded from the Captain’s helmet. “Did you find them?”

Mavis shook his head in regret. “Not alive, just able to confirm they’re deaths. They must have gotten turned around tunneling and ended up in the wrong spot. I did find the one we needed though.” He indicated the satchel containing the missives.

“Let’s have it then.”

Well aware how little the Captain liked to be kept waiting he removed his Great Sword again to access the satchel, having been the first object he had secured after ministering the elf it had now by proxy become the most difficult to access. This had not escaped the notice of at least one of the crew as the night elf Illani vocalized the concern. “Did you see any trouble leaving Pel?”

Momentarily distracted, Mavis nearly missed handing the satchel over to Wellsley, who was now also taking an interest. “I ran into an elf on the way back here, I think he had a bad run in with one of those giant bugs. I thought it was too much of a risk to carry him back on my own so I did my best to patch him.”

The mention of an elf generated additional interest. “One of ours?”

Mavis shook his head. “Blood elf I thought if we sent word to-“

The echo came almost instantly. “Where?”

There was a hesitation this time, he could smell something was wrong. “Just back there past the tree..”

“Sheehan, take care of it.”

The rogue nodded and slipped out a dagger, generating additional shock as he headed in the direction Mavis indicated. “You can’t be serious.”

The Captain stood completely still. “I don’t often make jokes, we can’t give away our position.”

“Sir, he’s injured, I don’t think he even saw me.”

“I don’t take chances Sergeant.”

Mavis looked at the others for defense, no one moved, no one even said a word. “Sir this is cruel.”

The hand reached out and grasped air, Mavis felt a sudden chill of ice coalesce around his neck before he was lifted into the air. The beast, sensing an imminent threat, recalled its form unbidden as his claws reached up to find some way to pry the strangling air away.  “ NO! Cruel was giving him some notion of survival. As a reminder if you have forgotten, we are at war. Every single one of us is strictly here as a soldier. In case I must explain to you, we are not ministers of mercy, we are not emissaries and we do not provide aid to the enemy. We are here specifically to find the target, do as much damage as we are reasonably able and punch a hole big enough for our main forces. Tipping a hand to our enemies with alliance bandages is, as far as I know, not part of that requirement.” The Captain released his hand, dropping Mavis while he was still gasping for breath. “Is that clear?!”

Mavis choked out a reply that was instantly drowned out by a deafening roar and snapping of wood . The large hulking beast crushed the tree easily underneath its hoof formed of earthen rock and seemingly held together by forge fire that emanated from the cracks.  It balanced itself on two giant fists with three stubbed digits that ended in claws while one large singular eye focused  downward.

Captain Wellsley looked up, almost giving no indication of the threat everyone else had confirmed the giant to be before uttering his response. “Oh great.”

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I want you to know that I’m alive, I know this has become clear now by the reception of my letter but I know these are the words you needed to hear. Highlord Bolvar is dead, as are most of the men we came with. The blasted undead squatting in Undercity betrayed us and their Horde allies for some vile weapon of which we were only spared by the aid of Dragons.

That we now speak of dragons so casually seems a testament to how much this war has gotten out of hand and how dangerous the scourge must be to grant us such allies and create friends from enemies. Little good this does us now, the Horde lost as many men yet our leaders will still cry foul and no doubt before the start of Winter Veil we will be at war with them again too.

With our Captain now dead at the Wrath Gate I’ve found myself under a promotion and my ambition aside I consider it the worst possible scenario to achieve this outcome. I fear that I am not fit to lead these men.

Please tell Mavis to watch his back, give mother my love and as always keep an eye out for that Werner boy, I saw him skulking around Susan last time I was home and caught them more than once trying to wander off alone. You have been warned dad.

-Gavin Audrapel

 

Mavis admired Yrel’s conviction, but he didn’t have the same confidence an artifact was capable of turning the tide of battle. It had seemed that Wellsley had felt the same as when he looked at his Captain his arms were crossed in the usual manner that suggested disappointment.  His mood might have also been in part due to the news from Lunarfall, indicating that all the reinforcements they were going to get were already here.

“Well at least the commander made it.” Was the response from Coggleswatt, though it was difficult to tell half the time if the gnome was being sincere. As it had been explained to him Coggleswatt served as their re-usable cannon ball, in the sense that was how he usually liked to enter a fight. The plated armor on the gnome consisted of several sharp spikes that when he tucked under fit together perfectly, making him even more deadly when you factored in that most cannonballs couldn’t change direction or carry a sword.

Mavis caught Illani roll her eyes. “She can probably hear you gnome.”

“And I’m still surprised you can Illani…how does a Night Elf decide to work with explosives?”

“The usual joke is very carefully.”

“That’s enough you two.” The Captain’s hollow voice echoed as he approached and Mavis thought he saw the gnome shudder a bit at the effect, no matter how long you’d been working for the Death Knight he didn’t think it could be easy to get over the way his voice carried like the cold chill of damned men. “Illana you think you can hand Sheehan those timed blasts? Our best option is to soften them up enough for a full front assault and hope the Dranei’s relic doesn’t bollocks it up.  Cogglsewatt how much damage do you think you can take?”

The gnome stood proudly on the munitions barrel. “As much as you need Captain.”

Wellsley nodded. “We’re going to get you padded down with enough explosives to take down one of those iron tanks, I’ll make sure Chi Dang keeps you as her top focus when they go off. If we cause enough damage early on it saves us the problem of dealing with a prolonged fight that we’d never win.” He turned to Mavis. “How much control?”

Mavis swallowed, it was a valid question but as far as he remembered it had been the first time anyone asked him that was looking for a genuine response. “I can pull it back if it gets too caught up.”

“Don’t. Just make sure you’re far enough ahead of anyone else in your way and let it loose. Chi Dang won’t be able to help you but we can tell  Brewtotem to keep an eye out for a quick mend once his offense is up. Where’s your armor?”

“With all due respect sir, if you want me to let the wolf out it’s going to be better if he’s not burdened.”

The Death Knight let out a sigh that sounded like exhasperation. “Light…Fine, your job is to stay alive and kill as many orcs as you can. Does that work for you?”

Mavis nodded slowly, feeling exposed by the attention. “Yes sir.”

“Good.” His echo resounded across the camp. “Move out!”

Wellsley had asked Mavis how much control he had before telling him to let the wolf go when the brought the attack, he hadn’t told his Captain but the reality was that it was far more impossible to keep the beast in, the wolf grew restless as soon as it smelled a chance to fight and refused to settle until it got what it wanted. The plan had been to wait for Sheehan to slip in and set the explosives but the full scheme meant that once they brought open the gate to start attacking and never let up. Since he needed to run so far ahead of everything Mavis just had to hope that he didn’t run into Sheehan on the way out and risk bringing the man down if he lost too much control over what he was doing.

Gorgrond was in the mere beginnings of the fortresses they’d encountered at the portal but it was still formidable in its own right, that its gate consisted of an open space between two iron walls said more about their confidence to repel an attack rather than folly.  Yrel seemed to have confidence that the artifact would be their best weapon, Captain Wellsley had made his own.

Sheehan had gone on ahead but as far as the Commander Gar was aware it was the exploding cannonball that first came within range and by sheer luck alone it landed in a barrel and blew it apart, the gnome didn’t seem to miss a step, a holy light surrounding him as he leapt into the fray and started taking out kneecaps. Taking his queue from the chaos Mavis dropped and took full run for the gate, the beast didn’t even waste time taking over the fight and though his first instinct was to hold the wolf back at some small measure he obeyed Wellsley and let it run.

He felt so free.

The monster lunged for the first thing it saw and though it couldn’t quite manage to bend the iron it was able to break the thing inside it. It three the remains at the next challenge and roared its defiance, flexing its claws as it began to use that to damage anything in its way. Claws shredded anything within reach, only managing to get caught once as it became lodged in the bone of what it remembered to be someone’s head, shaking the nuisance free it moved on, releasing its fury as a great lumbering beast five times its size galloped towards the fortress and swatted any enemy that was inside its view.  The monster didn’t care enough about the strange creature to move on it, the beast was not a threat and until it was he continued to lunge at the tusk-jawed creatures that lay ahead.  So focused he was on finding new prey that he didn’t see the  broad end of a steel axe until it was finished crashing into his skull.

He woke up with head throbbing, a growl escaping from his throat at the pressure as it continued to bare down at him even after the initial impact had long since gone. He suppressed the beast’s anger about being awoken to the pain and tried to rise, only then realizing that he had been pinned. Eyes searched the area to locate the source of his immobile state and noted a pulsating totem  laying just out of reach.

“Captain!” The noise felt more painful than it should have been as it called out. “He’s awake.”

Mavis heard footsteps approach before he saw the haunting stare of two glowing pale blue eyes beneath the helm. “Are we going to have a problem?”

Mavis flexed his claws, it was all he could do with the totem up. “No sir.”

The Death Knight seemed to nod. “Release him Brewtotem.”

Mavis felt the pressure release, allowing him to sit up again. Taking several measured breaths he braced himself against the ground and began the slow forced shift back to his human form.  He exhaled, rubbing his now human wrists. “Did we win?”

“If we hadn’t you would be dead then wouldn’t you?”

It was a fair point and a stupid question. Mavis rubbed his face and began to look around, he saw a lot of dead orcs with relatively minimal casualties on their end, he only noticed one other prone form that seemed like it would be human by its shape. “Who..”

“Sheehan.” It seemed strange somehow that he could hear a measure of regret in the dead echo. “ It would seem he was caught before we even got started.”

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The dead are endless, I cannot think how this place could contain so many bones with which to raise so many numbers. It grows far worse when our men fall and immediately become new adversaries that turn mindlessly towards their former comrades. By way of griffon we’ve managed to gain a foothold in Icecrown for a temporary base of operations but with the dead assaulting us almost hourly we have been forced to take shifts and my men have grown weary from the exhaustion. Our orders are to establish a launch point for which to continue operations but as we wait for re-enforcements I am forced to consider the reality of our situation.

Faced with low morale and little in the way of options I have given my word that no one will be left to rot here, that not a single man will need face the corpse of their fallen brothers. It is a promise I am not confident I am capable of fulfilling but it is most certainly one that I will not abandon.

Should I fall here I wish for you to know that above anything I must have died well and for what was important. Please do not allow Susan to shed too many tears, nor allow Mavis to become meloncholy for my passing. Most of all do not let mother think for a moment that I died for nothing, both you and I know the value of this cause far outweighs the loss.

-Gavin Audrapel

 

 

 

Mavis stared at the reflection in the water as he ran his fingers over the long canine teeth still set into his mouth, he moved his hand slowly up to his nose, still feeling the unusual texture of the skin around the area as mouth and nose remained fused together. Quickly he glanced back towards the camp to make sure no one was approaching and once he confirmed he was completely alone he turned back towards his reflection and tried to focus. His claws dug into the soil as he forced the canines to shrink and flatten, nose and mouth separating as fresh new skin grew to replace. His grip on the soil loosened as  his claws shrunk back and Mavis slumped, taking several ragged breaths as he tried to recover.

He stared at his reflection in the river and rubbed a palm over his face, making sure that everything was normal again before pushing himself up and heading back towards the direction of the massive temple.

His return was met by an older looking human clad in full leathers, a large silver cat fell in step behind and seemed to be making a go at escorting Mavis until he reached his master who was waiting up ahead. As soon as the man saw him a hand cupped around his mouth and called behind him. “He’s alive!”

There were several groans that originated from the camp followed by what Mavis noticed as an exchange of coin. His lip tightened, he didn’t like being called attention to and he was less thrilled that bets were being made on his survival, he didn’t want to know who had bet on him falling to a demon or some other unknown beast in the forest. By virtue of being nearest Owen seemed to notice his mood as he continued to count out his winnings. “Come on, it’s harmless fun. Anyway you have to expect this going off alone around demon territory. Just because Captain don’t say no it don’t mean he’s giving his blessing. I told you that me and Remora wouldn’t see no problem coming along on a hunt.” He nodded to the large cat.

Mavis shrugged uncomfortably “it’s just easier.”

“Easier maybe.” Came the hollow voice. “..but not safer. Let’s try to avoid the hunting until we’re out of demon country. We need to at least attempt to keep this location private for our new friends.”

Mavis looked at the formation of Draenei troops further ahead, it didn’t look like a large force, not enough to hold off an assault on the Auchindon, but nearly to a man these were their paladins and if he’d seen one Paladin take on a small army he couldn’t begin to imagine what thirty would do if given a chance. He mumbled a yes sir that seemed to satisfy the Captain. “Owen go find Illani and Enuuan. Without Sheehan we’re going to need everyone to step out of their usual roles.”

“Yes sir.” The hunter gave Captain Wellsley a salute and whistled to his cat, both heading further into the camp.

Once they were out of range the Death Knight turned to Mavis. “How long?”

Confusion registered in his face. “What?”

Wellsley nodded to Mavis’ left hand, still covered with an unusual amount of fur and fingers that possessed the barest hint of claws. Despite knowing that both had seen it panic made him cover his hand with the other, in his rush to return to camp he must have forgotten to check. “It’s nothing.”

“Don’t you dare try to lie to me, your brother was better at it and I could still tell when he was doing it to my face. You’ve been struggling. The worgen I’ve seen shift like nothing, but you struggle every time. I’m willing to bet that half the time you’re off hunting you’re trying to shift before you get back to camp. My guess is this was happening even before you joined us, so How Long?””

Mavis lowered his hands as his head dipped slightly in submission. “Since the portal…maybe a little after.”

The captain listened without giving an indication of his opinion, simply taking the information and processing it. “Is anyone in danger?”

“No, I don’t think so.”

“You think or you know sergeant? I will not put this crew in danger with a feral beast.”

“I’m still in control.” He answered hastily.

The dead hollow eyes focused on Mavis, judging his sincerity. It didn’t escape his notice that Wellsley’s hand had been near to his weapon since the beginning of the conversation. The beast was ready to fight it out, Mavis held it back, he knew the Captain was faster. Finally after several long moments the hand relaxed and moved away from the weapon. “We can’t afford to send you away from the front and wait until you get it together. Whatever problems you have you deal with them right here on your own. I have no issues with putting you down If I need to, remember that.”

Mavis swallowed, he doubted the Captain was one that made idle promises. “Yes sir.”

His answer must have satisfied the Death Knight, who nodded at Mavis. “Don’t bother putting it right now, you’re going out again. The Draenei have a crystal in Telmor they use to hide the city, we’re going to move it from there and bring it here to conceal our forces.

“What about Telmor?”

“Well that’s what evacuation orders are for aren’t they? Nobundo’s orders, get it done.”

“Yes sir.” He hesitated at his next words, so uncertain that the Captain was nearly out of range when he spoke. “What was my brother like? As a soldier?”

Captain Wellsley halted, still as the grave while he processed the question. The words sounded broken when he spoke, a measure of regret inside the haunting echo. “He was a hero.”

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It is with a heavy heart and most sincere regret that I should inform you your son; Captain Gavin Audrapel, perished  in battle near the outpost of Crown Rock. I know if may be of little consolation but your son fought bravely against the scourge in the face of insurmountable odds, his death the result of saving others from a far worse fate. Please know that your son will be remembered as a hero.

If it is some comfort to you know that his remains have been recovered and once consecrated shall be returned to you for traditional funerary rights in honor of his wishes.

With deep regret,

Highlord Tirion Fordring

 

“They came in from the sea and started to overrun the city, the survivors got lucky and most of the managed to make it out before being completely overrun.”

The cold voice came. “Garrosh is becoming known for his Blitz”

“You’d think, but it’s Blackhand running this assault.”

“It’s foolish to think Garrosh doesn’t have a single hand of influence in this attack.”

The Death Knight glanced over to Khadgar who was currently in conversation with the commander and at least three others Mavis had recognized leading the charge through the portal. He was learning to accept small blessings with the knowledge that despite the destruction that had been wrought on Shattrath so far they were spared from the kinds of horror that had been witnessed at Telmor. Remembering the corpses Mavis hurried to block the images from his mind, shunting them aside in the usual place to become fodder for his own nightmares.

A hollow sigh echoed from the Captain’s helmet. “We can take the square with enough force on the ground but it won’t mean anything if we can’t bring down those ships.”

Illani rested her chin against her hand as she surveyed the destruction. “We’re not exactly stockpiled with siege weapons. You don’t think the old mage figured out how to get a fleet through a portal do you?”

“Doubtful, though knowing Khadgar he has something in mind.” The pale glowing eyes gazed over to the docks. “And you don’t need to build siege weapons when you can just steal the enemy’s.”

Brewtotem laughed. “Soundin’ like a good plan as any.”

Captain Wellsley nodded. “Cobbleswatt, think you can take control of one of those Iron Stars?

The gnome saluted. “Piece of Pie sir!”

“Good. Illani I need you to take care of the munitions. Starve them out of their ammo, the less we have to deal with the better.  Owen, make sure she doesn’t get sniped in the middle. Brewtotem, take protection.”

“Aye.” Replied the dwarf. “And who be I protectin?”

“Chi Dang. We’re going to need to push forward fast, I don’t want our priest going down in the first twenty seconds by an opportunist blaster. Enuuan I’m throwing you in to back Cobbleswatt up, they won’t let go of those tanks without a fight.”

“Yes, it Vill be done!”

Captain Wellsley nodded at the Draenei in affirmation then turned. “Mavis, Beld, you two see if we can’t secure a few cannons. I’ll see about keeping the the big ones off everyone’s backs.”

Mavis stared down into the city, searching for what they needed.  Whatever could the horde had it seemed they had gathered it here and nearly at full strength.  He looked back and noted the army, what could be spared from Fort Wrynn had been marched out in force, paired uncomfortably with other native orcs that had travelled down with Thrall. While he saw little animosity from the orcs, Mavis could smell the controlled bitterness from the militia and regular horde forces. The iron Horde had strangely brought them together, but he doubted the cooperation would last.

His eyes scanned the length of the front lines, noting many of those who had first broken through the portal were, not surprisingly still alive, it seemed they had the same idea too, having brought in an Iron Star of their own for early in the assault. Cobbleswatt shouted in protest. “What? That’s my tank!”

“There are enough tanks down there.” The hollow voice snapped, his attention elsewhere as he kept his focus on Khadgar. Finally the archmage raised his hand, shouting a battle cry that was lost in the din. “That’s our signal. MOVE!”

The Draenei reached down and pulled the gnome onto his back as they began to run. “Come little varrior, ve vill find a better tank for you!”

Mavis felt the change before he even finished thinking about it, the minimal armor he did wear straining or snapping completely from the alteration in size and girth. The Captain was ahead before anyone could breathe, the rest left to follow in behind as he cut a path toward the harbor. Mavis looked at Beld and the two took off in opposite directions, fanning out to carry through with the Captain’s orders as the battle began to rage.

His first instinct was to use his nose to smell out the cannons but that proved to be impossible as the explosions began to ring in his ears and the air became thick with the scent of gunpowder. He skidded to a halt, bracing his legs as he now used his eyes to focus on the target. The sight of the first cannon was immediate, assisted in discovery by the fire that exploded from its mouth. Growling Mavis drew his Great Sword and brought it through an orc who’d though he’d had an opportunity, then he began to fight his way to the cannon.

He could see the captain easily despite everone else having become lost in the chaos, the Death Knight created an imposing image as he cut through the square with deadly blows that breathed ice from his sword. Mavis steadied himself as another explosion nearly threw him, then continued to make his way to the cannon that was already beginning to turn into the collective armies of Horde and Alliance.

Growling with impatience he snapped at the nearest of his foes and leapt, twisting the sword around until it skewered the first orc in his way, using that to anchor himself as he landed with the blade still hin hand.  Given the opportunity the gunner might have been able to moutn a defense, but it was easy to underestimate the speed allotted to a worgen despite their size and the gunner was barely able to aim his weapon before a massive claw knocked him against the iron barrel of his own cannon.

He roared a challenge at anyone that dared come near and raised his sword and then began to search for Beld, locating another cannon swarmed by orcs and assuming the other warrior must be in the center of it. The ground nearby was rocked by another explostion and Mavis turned to see fire explode in short bursts from the harbor, one of the Iron Stars exploded, sending shredded metal in every direction. Mavis ducked as he attempted to avoid a larger shard sailing toward his position and was barely spared from an axe to his skull by a frozen steel sword that blocked the blow from reaching its intended target. Mavis looked  as the captain delivered the killing blow, met his gaze and then turned his blade onto another orc, still shouting commands and pointing in the direction of the ships. “Get those cannons turned to the harbor!”

Mavis looked toward the ships, trying to judge the distance. The weight of the cannon was such that alone the effort to turn it full around was unimaginable for a single person, it would take a dual effort to move. He looked at Captain Wellsley and after noting that the Death Knight was holding position he sheathed his sword and bounded to where he had judged Beld to be. The warrior was already trying to push the cannon but with its weight and the continuing onslaught he had made little progress in budging it. Mavis used his momentum to tackle the nearest to the cannon, using his claws to rend another and clearing enough breathing room to allow the two to focus full effort on turning the cannon around.

He looked Beld in the eye and nodded his head to the other cannon before taking off, fighting with increasing ferocity as he made his way back to the Captain. Another volley from the ships nearly took him off his feet and he stopped for what seemed like an eternity until forcing himself forward until he had reached the other cannon.  He gripped the cannon by the barrel and put all his strength into moving the weapon around. The cannon budged by inches, meant to be carried by several men it resisted the strength of one. With a second push the cannon moved further and Mavis became aware of the second set of hands that now gripped the cannon. He nodded to the Captain as together they were able to move the cannon fully around towards the sea, just as the allied signal called to fire.

Several other Cannon’s including Beld’s went off at once, answering the final volley from the ships as they crashed into the iron hull, igniting before another round was able to be fired.

Mavis had decided since early on that he never liked the end of a battle, the descending calm made every final kill audible as pockets of fighting continued for a few minutes longer. He tried to ignore most of it as he stood guard at the cannon and focused on his shift, waiting for the Captain to return after checking on the others. He had just finished examining his hand a second time when the familiar scent of cold death grew nearer, Mavis immediately stood at attention facing the Captain.

“At ease.” Came the hollow sigh, followed by the wet thunk of a salvaged gunny sack as it was dropped near his feet. “Confirmation.”

The smell of blood and gunpowder filled his nose, but it wasn’t impossible to detect the identity of the contents, he wanted to hate his nose for that. “Cobbleswatt?”

“Just what I could find. Illani is half deaf but she’ll recover, the rest have minor injuries but Beld won’t be growing that leg back.”

Mavis swallowed the bile in his throat, he moved his eyes upward to avoid looking at Cobbleswatt. “So we’re down two?”

“Three” The hollow voice sounded irritated, tired even. “Chi Dang will be heading back with the Garrison, they need her with the wounded.”

Mavis slowly nodded, forcing himself to look down again. “What about Cobbleswatt?”

“Burn the remains and hope his family doesn’t count the ashes.”

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To Whome it may concern,

I have recently been informed that you write a newspaper article exposing the secrets lying within the walls of our great city. I have recently found a very BIG secret. There are Worgen, among the Guard. There are filthy BEASTS hiding within the city's protection force. How can we know our children are safe from the horrors of the night when we let one such horror prance around the city like they own the place!

I write to tell you of a specific Guardsman, a man revered among the citizentry, but if they knew the truth this would surely change. The Officer's information will be written below.

Name: Mavis Audrapel

Date of Birth: A couple years before the second war.

Date of Affliction: Not known for sure, but there is documentation of an attack on october 17th of last year in which mavis claimed the assailant became a beast and clawed him.

Occupation: Officer of the Stormwind Guard. Sworn to uphold the peace and what not. Has yet to be seen arresting a Worgen by this investigator.

Of note as well is the fact that this supposed 'Officer of the Law' has been seen running around outside the city in his feral form. He spends a couple hours hunting and killing with his bare hands.

A Very good point, Citizen! We are not safe with these creatures free to walk around, nor infiltrate our government! Dear Stormwind, I have told you time and time again the dangers of these creatures and of their conspiracy to turn us all into these creatures! And I have been doing my research further on this subject. That is why, Citizen, this had to wait.

You see, this Disease, Virus, Curse, whatever you decide to call it is Highly contagious. We all know it is spread by bite—if you survive, that is—but did you know there is a much more dangerous way? Consuming Any Amount of Worgen Blood. Knowingly or not. This may not seem that shocking, who would want to drink the stuff anyways, right? But any exchange of their fluid to you puts you at risk!

Well, what if a Worgen chef gets cut preparing your food? Or what if a sanitation worker has an accident while working on our drinking water? What if you get some on your hand healing a wounded Worgen and you have a cut on your hand? What if their blood lingers on your currency? What if your Lover is infected? Wet nursing? That kid is now a Worgen. My people, they are a threat to Humanity. And they MUST be dealt with!

What to do if you’re infected you ask?

1. Find either a Truesilver Blade or make a Truesilver Bullet, these work better than conventional weapons

2. Find a reclusive area, such as the burning steppes. Far away from any human civilization, your blood is toxic now

3. Kill yourself. Better dead than to your humanity lost as a Worgen.

Do not consider me heartless, Stormwind, but this Must be done. You thought the Plague was scary? For that you had to eat infected grain, which is much easier to avoid. We now have health and sanitation codes to protect us from such. The Worgen Epidemic is much more contagious and as dangerous. We are all at risk.

Watching out for Humanity,

The Voice of the Lion

Jon Ableham

 

 

Thumb and forefinger felt along the edges of the tiny shaped steel, idly running along the texture of the raised golden lion while the other hand brought the drink to his lips. His hands closed around the medal, squeezing it tighter, rivulets of blood trickling down as he tried to crush the object and be done with it. Failing that he raised the tiny shield up and prepared to hurl it at the fireplace, stopped by an icy hand that slowly brought it down again. “That’s not made of magic, it won’t bring anyone back.”

Mavis let out a long drawn out sigh and stuffed the medal away, burying it down in his pockets for hope that he would never have to see it again and set his drink aside. “So what do you do with yours?”

“I threw them all into Icecrown years ago, Cobblesbolt used to have them re-forged into toys and Illani blows them up.”

“What about Beld?”

Wellsley shook his head. “He wore them.”

“I never saw him-“

“Into his armor.”

“Oh.”

“Finish your drink, we’re headed out.”

Mavis downed the rest of his mug and stood up, learning early on it was better not to keep the Captain waiting. “Do we have new orders?”

“No” Came the hollow voice. “New recruits. Even the Commander knows we’re short-handed, it’s our luck we make useful cannons. We’ll be meeting Admiral Taylor out at his garrison, the man has a few problems he won’t be missing if they get a mind to join up.”

Mavis swallowed, recalling old memories of the Admiral, few of them pleasant. He admitted it hadn’t actually been the Admiral’s fault at the time, the Sha being responsible for half the animosity and a difference of opinion for the other but he was never certain if the Admiral felt the same way or even cared.  The Captain had a general look of impatience about him as this went through Mavis’ mind. “Is there a problem Sergeant?”

Mavis forced his apprehension down. “No sir, just eager to hit the road.

Captain Wellsley studied him carefully, giving Mavis an icy stare. “You’re still a terrible liar.”

He didn’t say anything further as they headed out of Southport, likely the Captain knew full well what Mavis’ nerves were about and didn’t care to bring it up. Small blessings,  Illani’s hearing had returned but little conversation had taken place since, the mood of the crew having gone somber after two deaths  and one maiming. He’d heard by word of mouth the crew was not known for a high rate of survival due to their role but Mavis doubted that they didn’t feel it every time someone paid for the risks they took.

 Admiral Taylor’s Garrison had been established only a few miles east of Southport and from what he’d heard was a prime defensible location that was surrounded by mountain on all sides and only had one entry point. From what he knew of the Admiral it made sense, as much as he disagreed with the man he couldn’t deny his military brilliance. It was as they approached the entrance that Owen first began to grow weary, seemingly picking up on the tense  behavior his cat was exhibiting. “I don’t like this, something feels too damn off…like the hair on the back of your neck is standin at attention.”

Captain Wellsley shot a look at the Hunter and began to slow his movement, from the helmet came a wary echo. “I’m starting to agree with you…Mavis.”

Mavis sniffed in the direction of the garrison, intent on finding  anything that could be lurking in the shadows. He didn’t want to admit it, but the beast was feeling on edge too, alert to a wrongness that wasn’t immediately discernable. He shifted, trying a second time to sniff out any potential threats before backing off. “I don’t smell anything…”

Brewtotem spat. “Aye, probably the land be playin tricks on ye both.”

“No.” Mavis shook his head. “I mean I don’t smell anything, not people, not horses, not even a forge.”

Captain Wellsley shot him a look and immediately drew his sword. “Owen. Scout ahead.”

The hunter nodded and clucked to his cat, which to Mavis seemed a little more resistant then usual to Owen’s commands. He couldn’t blame either as he now noticed his fur was standing on end, the beast far more aware of the wrongness that seemed to surround the garrison. Not one to be idle Wellsley queued Enuuan and Illani to draw their weapons, signaling by hand for Brewtotem to prepare defenses as they followed behind the cat.

It was quiet...no, that wasn’t true. His ears easily picked up sound, but they were like hollow distant echoes  that pierced through the soul. The echo was familiar to him, it struck him as a recent memory and he looked at the captain in attempt to confirm. Enuuan was the first to, Owen having stopped entirely without so much as a word. “Prophet’s saint….”

The hollow sound that Mavis had first heard had been the empty echo of chopping wood, men and women toiling endlessly for lumber. The reason for the hollow echo had been the result of the same familiar sound he often heard from the captain, it was the same empty echo of the dead, there was no life from these woodsmen, and their ghostly images confirmed that.  An undiscernible hollow noise emitted from Wellsley  as he held up his hand to stop the others, everyone had gone tense, fanning out to confront the potential danger that had resulted in these ghostly images.

“Be careful. Do not think for a second they can’t harm you. Enuuan! Protection. Everyone move in close.”

Enuuan’s hammer glowed with a holy light as Mavis moved in closer along with everyone else, a slow growl escaped his lips, unbidden and drawn out by the wrongness of the area. Still the laborers continued to work, mindless of their situation.  Through the continuing echoes of the chopping lumber his ears picked up another familiar sound approaching at a gradual pace around the Garrison walls, soon joined by its equal from the other side.  Without thought he attempted to sniff out the danger, only to be reminded of the lack of scent the spirits carried. He looked to the others, noting that they had heard the sound too and were now facing in the direction of the echoing hoof beats.

“Soldiers.” Brewtotem confirmed the echo for them all before the first rider came into view. At sight the spectres both charged, emitting a battle cry as they turned on what they now considered intruders. Enuuan stepped out in front, bashing the first aside with his glowing hammer before turning it around and bringing it upon the second.

“Ve should move. See Vhat Ve shall see.” 

Wellsley nodded to the paladin, the hollow voice sounded strangely at home . “Agreed, but stay close. We don’t know what this is yet.”

“What about the Admiral?” It wasn’t until then did Mavis realize that he was becoming increasingly concerned for his former commander.

“That is one thing we’ll need to find that out.” The voice was short, silencing any further comment. “Move in.”

The sight of the garrison became increasingly disturbing as they pressed further in. In a reality where fighting corpses seemed  common, striking down the spectral remains of former comrades felt unsettling in brand new ways, his mind continuing to scream that this shouldn’t be normal.

He turned at the sight of ghostly laughter, staring with disbelief at the spirits in oblivious revelry and shuddered.  Owen followed his gaze and paused for a moment longer as he muttered to himself. “This ain’t right.”

“Notice anything?” The hollow voice of the captain pointed ahead, directing their attention towards the overturned boats and wagons with ghostly cannoneers standing guard.

“They were waiting for something “

“But they never closed the main gate.”  The death knight reached out and grasped one of the cannoneers, cluching the spectre in his icy grip until it finally faded, Mavis didn’t want to know what had happened to it, moving behind the Captain in silence as they marched towards the hall.  

Owen jumped in surprise, muttering as he sidestepped a rat crossing the floor. “well at least we found survivors.”

“Quiet.” Wellsley snapped, he had stopped  suddenly at the main hall, dead eyes focused on what Mavis recognized to be Taylor’s steward. With regret Mavis realized that Donal had not escaped whatever curse had befallen the rest of garrison, his spectre continuing to pace the length of the hall with his brow furrowed in perpetual concern. “Mavis!”

Mavis immediately stood at attention, pulled back from his shock at seeing the spectral ghost as Wellsley drew his focus. “Yes sir.”

“Do you know if Taylor kept a journal?”

Mavis nodded slowly. “He kept it locked up though.”

“Enuuan, take the chest.”

The captain had noticed it far earlier then Mavis had, his eyes must have gone directly to it while he’d been focused on the steward, likely the only reason the death knight had asked about it was to save the trouble of breaking it open. Enuuan brought the hammer down and struck the lock with a firm blow, reaching in to retrieve a small worn book once the lid was opened. The paladin handed the book over to Wellsley with little ceremony.

Mavis could see the Captains mood growing increasingly sour as he flipped through the pages of the book. “Mutiny.” He snapped the book shut and turned to Illani, directing her to the waiting paperwork left on the table. “Check the books. We need to know where Ephial’s quarters are NOW.”

“No need sir.” His voice shook as he realized it, his nose finally beginning to pick out a scent as the Captain stared impatiently. “I can smell the fel magic.”  He couldn’t admit it just yet, but that wasn’t all he smelled, as they neared the rear of the Garrison he could smell the lingering aroma of an approaching death.

 

((opening text Courtesy of Voice of the Lion. Link to full story here: http://wow-tng.org/forums/topic/20204-voice-of-the-lion/?page=2#comment-362222))

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Incident Report: Admiral Taylor’s Garrison

 

It is by my own insistence that my crew as well as those others who found themselves witness to the events of the Taylor Garrison remain entirely blameless for its downfall. In relating our business we had suffered significant losses at the liberation of Shattrath and while the Toy Squad does not ascribe success to numbers,  it remains in our interest to maintain our staff levels or risk committing ourselves to heavier losses.  It was due to this intent that we came upon Taylor’s Garrison  with the desire to collect additional recruits of whom we had been informed of prior to our arrival.

 

As protocol we had expected to be received on our arrival and taken to the main hall to meet with the Admiral and it was there where we first saw the dead, most of whom became hostile at the sight of us. The need to exorcise and in some cases destroy their spirits entirely became a necessity that should no way be considered malice. It was soon to our discovery that the Garrison had fallen victim to a mutiny and though the details remain unclear,  the Admiral’s journal and the detailed reports of the state of the Garrison by others present help to confirm my conclusion.

 

We traced the man responsible to a farm out back, only to discover the suspect known as Ephial midway through a ritual and in the process of pulling Admiral Taylor’s soul out of his body by force. The creation of the monster described lower in my report was immediate, I will not go into detail of its dispatchment. Rather than expose ourselves to further risk I made the decision to destroy Ephial immediately, the condition of Ephial’s corpse as you know I consider an act of self-defense by Sergeant Audrapel. It is my firm belief that Sergeant Audrapel did not act with unnecessary force as by personal experience many dark sorcerers have been known to become dangerous even immediately after death. Knowing there would be a wish to examine the remains for further investigation me and my crew took the effort to gather the suspect’s remains, the loss of these remains I can only regret as an error due to transport issues as the risk of attracting predators became too great to suffer keeping the evidence intact. Due yo the complex scenario described I can only state firmly that it was not in our best interest to dispose of the remains as Lieutenant Roger had earlier claimed no doubt a full recovery of Ephial’s corpse would have supported this.

 

Captain Edison Wellsley

 

 

 

 

The smell of the burning wagon mixed with the reek of death and filled his nose with the memory, not  even at a distance did he fail to mistake the odor. He shut his eyes, looking away from the corpses of the ruined caravan and instead turned to focus on his claw again, renewing his concentration as his ears picked up on the conversation ahead.

“I’m saying it’s weird.  He hasn’t even…do you think he likes being that way?”

“It is not our vill to judge vhat our friend is comfortable with.”

“Yeah but, it’s like its different now.”

“That’s not exactly any of your business now is it Illani?” The hollow echo was clear and firm, though Mavis wasted little time to appreciate it, focusing with greater effort than usual only to  retract the minute hairs on his palm as the footsteps approached. He didn’t look up as death knight kneeled down next to him but he could feel the air turn colder around him. “Still nothing?”

Mavis sighed and relaxed his claw, grateful at least for the break after exerting so much effort. “Some hairs, I think I got a few fangs to shrink back…” a frustrated growl escaped his lips. “Still nothing.”

“Give it time, It’s been a rough few days for everyone.”

He covered his faces with his paw, pushing back the thick mane of fur as he tried to think. “What if I can’t?”

“Doesn’t matter.” The hollow echo responded. “You can still fight.” Wellsley seemed to note the knee-jerk reaction of surprise from Mavis and continued with a sigh.  “If the war ends and you still feel like a monster I can end your life myself.”

The casual nature of the offer confused Mavis. “Does that happen a lot with you?”

The Captain gave a small shrug with another hollow sigh. “After the Lich King was ended, many like me chose death instead of continuing to suffer through our un-life.”

“But you didn’t so-“

“It’s not in me to die by my own hand, So I fight for others and hope the light will see fit to grant me mercy.” The Death Knight stood. “Help get what’s left in the wagon ready, we’ll take the remaining supply to Yrel’s forces on foot and meet up with the main army there. With us being so close to Garrosh’s encampment we’ll need everything we have to we have to subdue the Warsong and take the fight to him.”

Captain Wellsley had put Mavis and the remaining squad on a forced march to Lok-Rath fortress and Yrel’s watch, determined to reach the battleground in time to lend aid but from what Mavis could see as they neared the fortress he needn’t have bothered.  Already the encampment had been surrounded by alliance soldiers, not fighting but instead standing guard at the entrances .  The soldiers saluted as they approached and immediately  Wellsley turned his gaze to the nearest, the hollow voice echoing in clear disbelief. “You can’t be serious.”

The soldier allowed a grin to escape his lips. “Was hardly a fight sir. Came in and rolled right over without a man lost. My guess is Shattrath took most of the fight out of them.”

The Death Knight gazed over the fortress and the captured soldiers within. “No orc would give up this easily.”

“See for yourself.” The guard pointed his thumb in the direction of the main hut. “Lieutenant Lee has got Foecleaver in chains and under guard.”

A slow grumble escaped the Captain’s throat as he pushed past the soldiers and further into the camp. The confusion was evident, other units had come in to support the attack but now found themselves with nothing to face. Forced with overwhelming numbers and no discernable threat they had taken to idle conversation with the first wave.  Wellsley stopped just short of entering the hut he had been directed to, signaling the remains of his squad to wait as he crossed the threshold to examine the situation, leaving the crew to their own devices as they waited outside. Left with nothing but a peaceful occupation Brewtotem’s mood had already begun to sour. “T’aint fair.”

Enuuan looked with some confusion at the dwarf. “Vould you have been more comfortable fighting a long battle?”

“Yes!”

Owen sighed, adopting the same image of subdued annoyance Mavis had seen the Captain adopt many times before.  “Okay look, maybe one of those guards will let you watch their prisoner, would that help you feel better?”

“Now yer talkin my language!”  The dwarf shouldered his axe and waved down a guard near the river, though Mavis still suspected he wouldn’t be happy until there was another opportunity to fight, from his experience it never seemed right to dwarves when they missed out on a battle.

Though he wasn’t ready to admit it the ease of the battle didn’t sit right for Mavis either, though for different reasons. He’d been a guard for years before being worgen and then soldier, the combined experience had left him with an instinct that twisted inside his gut when something didn’t feel right. The beast echoed his concern and every muscle tensed as he began to sniff out the flaws in their own victory.  He was still uneasy when the captain returned, looking more dour than usual. “Foecleaver is locked down I’ll say that. Lee is just having the commander take a look.” Noticing Mavis’ posture he then re-directed his attention. “What is it?”

Mavis held up a paw, moving to be more downwind to have a better sniff at the atmosphere. “Orcs”

Illani covered her face with her palm. “Of course there are. Captain, are you sure he hasn’t gone blind?”

He turned back to Wellsley, firm in his conviction. “There’s a lot more. They’re not..” He struggled to explain the scent. “They’re not surrendered.”

The Captain eyed Mavis carefully and then began to study the camp, appearing to come to the same conclusion as he drew his sword. “It’s a trap. Get Brewtotem back here!”

“WARSONG ATTACK!!”

No sooner had the others drawn their weapons when the Warsong emerged, more numerous than what had been originally counted. Many of those who had been guarding the orcs perished immediately on the ambush, run through by additional warriors who had been hiding until their moment. Wellsley cursed in several colors, pointing toward the battle.  “Make light damn sure they don’t reach those war machines, I don’t care what you have to do! Hold the damn fort!”

The orders were immediate and direct, with no argument as the squad fanned out. Mavis dropped to all fours, making a barreling dash toward the nearest orc, drawing his great sword in one swift motion and cutting him down without slowing. The second was a cannoneer, which he leapt on without a thought of where the weapon was aimed, distantly he recalled a shot going past his ear as he brought down the foe with his full weight and brought the orc hard against the iron of the war machine until his skull cracked.

The war machine itself was more difficult, but he was able to have the sense of mind to pinpoint the wood among the iron which went down with a few swift slashes with his claws and fell apart. He swung his blade around, watching other war machines crash around him as others reached their mark and he roared, now turning to the orcs themselves. He released his rage and attacked, throwing himself into the chaos and using his blade as an extension of his claw. The beast was ready, attacking without a conscious thought that Mavis struggled to direct, turning it first to the soldiers struggling to overpower their adversaries before re-directing to the wolf riders, leaping at the master’s throat before then bringing down the wolf with his claws.  Despite the ambush they were succeeding, the Warsong falling as the numbers of alliance soldiers stood their ground and gave as good as they got. He could see Illani take out another war machine as Enuuan stood to guard, Owen and Remora working in sync to flank another wolf rider while the Captain stood in direct challenge, cutting his way through the horde with barely a thought. It was Brewtotem that drew his focus though, prone near the river with the dead on both sides. He couldn’t tell when it had happened, likely it had occured early on but it was impossible to consider the dwarf could ever be caught off guard.

“Mavis?”

His stomach twisted as he neared the dwarf, stunned that he was still alive despite his injuries.  Recalling his field training he reached for his emergency kit, frozen momentarily as Brewtotem coughed  his own blood. “You should hold still.”

“Can’t do nothing but. Can’t even move. I be done for. It’s either dyin slow or dyin a cripple. I want a clean death, it be a good dwarf death ta be dyin’ in battle. I be askin you ta help me wolf.”

Mavis covered his face in anguish.

Edited by Mavis Audrapel
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I know it continues to be difficult to write home, communications between portals being what it is I have little knowledge of your well-being but as I’ve not received any letter confirming otherwise I can only assume that you are alive and safe.  We’ve finished the last of putting the town back to rights and save for a small memorial near the town hall everything is business as usual. Emily grows stronger daily and has developed a healthy fascination with bugs that your mother would have found appalling.I have tried to teach her the better place for bugs is in the garden but she is taking to the concept far more stubbornly than you ever did and I have been  forced into the role of a small building contractor around the house to avoid a pest problem. Susan is expecting her second and both her and Jacob are confident it will be another boy, young Gavin is getting but looks absolutely nothing like his uncle. Your mother’s anniversary came and went as you know, bringing us into mourning once again for the memory. I know it’s not easy writing home these days but I hope you will try, I think even Susan misses your letters. Don’t let the world get you down son. Come home safe.

Love,

Your Father

 

 

Were there really so few of them left? Mavis stared in disbelief at the remaining squad, only five of them still stood including the Captain, he had to wonder if they were even still a force. Mavis forced his resolve and gripped his great sword tighter. It was almost over though, beyond the gates of Grommashar they had Garrosh Hellscream pinned, the assault certain to hasten his demise and end this and every other nightmare that continued to visit him while he slept.  The siege engines were ready, the army was prepared, all they had to do was open the gates.

The hollow voice echoed to the remains of his squad. “Your orders are not to die. You think you can follow that?”

He wasn’t allowed the opportunity to respond as the gates were blown wide open by a final blast from the siege engines, Yrel calling out the charge as they rushed forward. The entire force broke through the gate like a wave crashing onto shore, rolling over the initial defenders with ease. Mavis moved forward at a full run, skirting the edges of the canyon and bringing his sword down when he could and using claws when there proved no room to swing.

Their charge was briefly halted by the doors of a secondary gate before Yrel called in a flanking maneuver with  archers remaining to protect the main force as they raced down a small pit and up, briefly exposing themselves to the enemy on the other side until they were able to overwhelm them. He caught sight of a flaming arrow as it flew past his head and landed its mark on Remora who miraculously still moved at full strength.  They banked around left and Mavis growled as they encountered the wolf pen, attacking with full savagery as they swarmed on the invasion force. He tore through the throat of another wolf and searched as the forces moved right, trying to locate his squad and only finding the Captain as he started to run to past the dens, choking the life from the first wolf tamer he encountered.

The wolves leaving the dens seemed endless, but small favors for mages as they rushed to seal the dens with a wall of ice, securing the path once it became safe enough to do so. He could hear Garrosh’s war cry as they neared the top of the hill and Mavis sheathed the great sword and gave the beast what it wanted, relinquishing control for the savage bloodlust of the hunt. He glanced over as one orc tried to stop the Captain’s path with what seemed like a spell to no effect, though it’s success proved far more effective in Illani, who had been stopped in her tracks as she struggled to breathe. Altering his path Mavis  moved with increased ferocity toward the night elf, claws tearing through the neck of the shaman that held her and leaving only threads of muscle to prevent full separation of the head as the body dropped lifeless to the ground.  He saw Remora just ahead, standing guard over Owen as he pressed his hands over his bloodied face. He drew his sword and cut down two Warsong Skirmishers who had been closest to the hunter with barely a passing thought and continued forward, falling further into the routine of battle as they progressed through the fortress.

The shouts ahead confirmed a new threat further driven home as three alliance soldiers were thrown carelessly over the walls with a deafening roar, Garrosh had captured a Gronn. The commander pressed the charge and Mavis went full speed, finding purchase with his claws into the flesh of the monster and climbing onto its back, holding on as he tore away the flesh piece by piece until the combined might of the assault brought the massive beast down with a thunderous crash. It was only Garrosh now, nothing else could stand in their way. The final gates exploded open.

It was the first he’d ever seen the former horde leader, an imposing presence that wore legends as much as he was one. The beast growled with the memory of the chaos he had wrought and rage boiled in his blood. It was all him, Garrosh had been responsible for everything. Later no one could say who made the first attack but once the battle began chaos erupted.  Mavis was focused, losing all pretense he made his way for Garrosh even as the Warsong stood in his way. Ahead he could see Yrel and even the commander as they engaged with legend, his howling blade crying with every strike. Furious, Mavis raked two of the Skirmishers with his claws and pressed forward, prevented again from meeting the legendary orc by more Warsong that filled the gap, forcing him to attack with greater savagery. No matter how many foes were engaged with Garrosh he seemed to fight with calculated ease and as much as he hated it there was a certain amount of respect the beast held for the orc. He saw his opening and moved in for a frontal assault, ducking beneath the screaming blade and coming back up to strike at Garrosh’s unprotected chest. The orc moved back instinctively, bringing Gorehowl back around to cleave the worgen in two. Mavis pushed back, narrowly avoiding the full force of the strike as the blade cut into his skin and flung him aside, a second blow from the screaming axe blocked by the searing frost of his captain’s sword and re-directing Garrosh’s focus.  Mavis growled, ignoring the pain as he used Garrosh’s distraction to attack from behind, attempting to repeat the success with the Gronn, but Garrosh was a skilled warrior and he fought on experience as well as instinct. The hand snatched him by the neck before he was able to react and began to squeeze, he released a choked yelp as the fist began to close in on his windpipe before swinging him aside as a weapon into another soldier. Mavis felt the smaller alliance blade pierce his back and come out the other side, blood beginning to matt his fur. The blade retracted and he felt himself being shoved aside as the wielder moved away and the blood flowed more freely. He saw the battle distantly, still raging as Garrosh continued to fight with an unending ferocity as the corpses littered the ground. His eyes focused on the nearest one, a familiar set of blacked armor and a chilled blade whose frozen fire was slowly fading.  He could see the head a few feet away, the deathly pale eyes strangely at peace as they made eye contact with Mavis and as the glow faded from the milky white pupils, so did he.

His first thoughts upon awakening was that he was dead, it was too quiet. His ears twitched as they tried to listen for the sounds of battle and hearing none he sought to investigate his situation further.  The smell of antiseptic herbs, sepsis and medicines filled his nostrils though it wasn’t until he became aware of the bedding beneath him that he realized where he was and that he must have had the bandages for days at least.  He smelled the Gilnean before she reached him and was sitting up before she got the chance to tell him not to. Slowly his eyes began to focus, first on the rows of occupied beds and then the table near his own, noting a small circular medallion with a gold grasping fist at its center, a silver star with golden filigree, a small tarnished shield with a golden lion and two letters.

“Good afternoon Captain, welcome back to the world of the living.”

The nurse sat down and slowly began the process of checking his bandages while Mavis tried to register the title.  “Where…the captain.”

The nurse frowned sadly. “Well I don’t know who else you were assigned with but Mister Owen is right over there.” She nodded to the bed on the opposite wall, his hair had grown out more but he still recognized Owen. The hunter appeared to be focusing straight ahead but didn’t seem attentive to anything in particular, it was impossible to tell though by the bandages wrapped over the man’s eyes.  He couldn’t see Remora anywhere. “Would you like me to let him know you’re awake?”

Mavis lowered his eyes and his voice along with it. “No, that’s okay.”

 

The sword had narrowly missed hitting any vital organs, a stroke of luck that had nearly reversed itself due to an infection caused by the damage Garrosh’s blade had done.  He knew even before they told him that the Captain had perished but the news of Enuuan came as a blow, the Draenei apparently having been one of the first victims of Durn the Hungerer’s projectile soldiers. Illani had gone home soon after without a word to anyone.  He’d learned in the end no one had managed to defeat Garrosh, instead being brought down by Thrall after everyone else had failed. In a way the revelation made him feel worse, the sacrifices of others made meaningless by a single grudge match fought by two former warchiefs.

 

Mavis stared at the medals, moving them around on the table as he tried to think over what to do with them. He looked across the room at the empty bed with regret, wishing he had said something to Owen before he’d been led home, but nothing he could think of felt right. He stared down at his claws with increasing frustration, forcing himself to focus human by sheer will alone until he became exhausted from the strain. He covered his head in defeat as he attempted to come to terms with his situation, still believing something else was wrong despite what he’d been told.

He removed his claws from his face as the scent of lavender soap, metal and velvet neared, rewarded with the sight of a small medallion, a golden flame set against a blue surface and bordered in gold. He followed the hand up to the commander, noting the full military regalia that indicated official business. “What’s this for?”  

“Lothar medal of Sacrifice, it’s for going through the portal. It took time to get them all made so there was some delay.”

Mavis rubbed his face. “Does it bring people back to life?”

“No.”

“I don’t want it then.”

The commander sighed. “It’s not a choice. Take it and you can do what you want.” Mavis growled and snatched the box from the commander’s grip, dropping it without fanfare with the other medals. The commander didn’t say a word, instead presenting him with another envelope. “It’s your discharge orders. You’re being sent home Captain.”

 

He felt exposed as he walked from the portal, only speaking to the officer to hand over his papers and keeping his head down as he left the city. A few distant thoughts recalled the memory of where he could rent a horse or the best shortcut, but he didn’t feel like doing anything that would bring him home faster. He just walked. With methodical intent he avoided three corners, not fully knowing why until he reached the edge of the forest on the outskirts of Lakeshire. He stood there waiting, staring at the small cottage just on the edge, trying to gather his courage to take those last few steps. The door flung open and he nearly bolted there, stopping just behind a tree.  A small girl of four with raven colored hair ran into the garden and his heart skipped a beat.  He watched for a moment as she played, noticing his father just inside the door with a soft smile on his lips and he realized that they were happy.

Mavis gripped the tree, his claws digging into the bark as he watched his child play, cognizant of his own monstrous features. Panic slowly began to rise within him as he remembered the screaming and he began to retreat back into the forest before he was fully aware of it.  He’d reached Duskwood before he knew where he was going and had travelled a mile more before he’d realized what he’d done. Somehow it felt right though, some dark distant thought insisting that she would be happier and everyone would be better off. He gradually started divesting himself of his armor as he walked, taking the majority of it and stuffing it into an old foxhole behind a rock before retreating fully into the woods to disappear.

 

missing poster.jpg

 

                                                               The End

 

Edited by Mavis Audrapel
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