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The Fog of War

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The drowned morass beyond the ruins of Tideskorn Harbor clamored with the sound of battle. A warband of mortal warriors had descended from the Valarjar post of Valdisdall to cull the Kvaldir which perpetually amassed throughout the fog ridden marsh. They had waded deeply from the cliffs and toward the mire until the tower from whence they had come was lost to sight within the mist. The Kvaldir were not long to emerge. The fighting was brutal and swift with the tide turning in favor of Helya's foul servants. The formation of the warriors had broken, and retreat was sounded. However, not all could answer or follow suit with how scattered their band had become...

One such left behind was a Knight, Rorrek Therrien, bearing Valarjar armaments of bronze and gold. Within his gauntlets were held apart immense cleavers which were wielded with peculiar ease that was belied by their size. The runes and stones upon his weaponry shone fiercely through the chilling fog. His sabatons waded through the water in silence whilst he kept wary watch upon his surroundings through the restricting view of his helm. His course was clearly made toward the cliff face beneath Valdisdall as to regroup, but this was not to be. Looming shadows within the fog soon halted his steps. The Kvaldir were closing in on his position and soon would have him surrounded. He was forced then to retreat further into the marsh in the hopes of evading the marauders, lest he be caught alone.

The warrior eventually came to an outcropping of stone jutting from the water and mud. With effort he hefted himself atop this formation, thereafter surveying the fog downward and around the rocks. He could faintly still hear the sound of far off blades clattering from distant skirmishes. He was not the only one that was unable to follow the retreat, and yet such echoes were quite far from where he stood now... He waited and considered his options.

The fog was dense and brutally cold. It had a way of seeping into one's skin, through clothes, through armor. Without either, it bit into flesh and hung there with dripping moisture. It would be easy to lose grip of a weapon in the dense fog, but fortunately for Vilmah Bloodborne, her plate mail covered gauntlets were padded enough to keep hold of the enormous Valarjar sword she used to fight off the Kvaldir around her.

She'd been sent to help thin Helya's servants, along with many others from the Horde who fought for coin and glory alike. Clad in what most would have considered an indecent amount of armor, the orcess splashed through the foul seawater and fought with the speed and ferocity of the Blademaster she trained with. She wore only plate covered pants, boots, and gauntlets. Her left arm, mechanical from mid-bicep, was held to her body with a series of leather straps across her chest and back. Her torso was, for the most part, completely bare save for the fabric wrapped around her chest. Like most Blademasters, she would forgo upper body armor. Unlike most Blademasters, however, she was female.

Quick though she was, the Kvaldir soon outnumbered her. Vilmah sped between them, hacking at their bodies with her weapon and taking down enough to clear a path toward what looked like a decent place to lick her wounds. Sinking her sword into the meat of a Kvaldir's shoulder, she kicked him into the water and ducked through the mist to make her escape. There were a few wounds on her side and shoulder that she could bandage, though she cursed the fog and its tendency to make everything wet. Moist bandages were even more uncomfortable than wet boots.

Rorrek crouched low as he heard the distant sounds of combat resume, his sight honing in upon the direction from whence came the splashing and hurried approach. His muscles grew taut beneath his armor whilst he stared piercingly to glimpse any impending silhouettes nearing his position. The outcropping of stone he had found purchase upon afforded him both the high ground and cover should he desire. The footfalls hastened and soon a shadow emerged. The Knight immediately dropped from sight, concealing himself by the angle of the rocks opposite to this impending presence. The footsteps were not as heavy as any Kvaldir he had encountered. He pondered for a fleeting moment if it was another that had been caught within the mists, severed from any possible retreat.

He slowly began to rise until he stood atop the stones and in view once more. His stance was bent, cleavers held at the ready, should he need initiate the attack with urgency. However, the sight beneath him led to a wary pause. Through his helm the man watched warily the orcess in silence, observing every facet of their person as to glean all that he could. She was not among the warband of mortal Valarjar that he had accompanied. Her garbs seemed to be vaguely familiar to him, but Rorrek could not place exactly that she resembled.

He stood wordlessly while poised for battle should they prove foe and waited for them to take notice of his person above them.

Vilmah caught sight of a rock formation in the water. Somewhere dry to dump the water from her boots and bandage her wounds seemed almost too good to be true. She glanced back to make sure that the Kvaldir behind her were gone, and ran for the tallest of the rocks to climb. She was a small orc, smaller than many humans, though her green skin and tusks were a dead giveaway for her race. Using her good arm for most of the work, she grabbed hold of the cold rocks and scrambled her way from the water. Once finally done splashing, she took stock of her situation; momentarily safe and hidden behind the fog, but for the most part, surrounded by Kvaldir.

Muttering to herself, she slid off her boots and emptied them of the water she'd collected while running. A fish fell out of one and splashed gratefully back toward its home. Vilmah wasted no time and went about bandaging herself, though the wet air dampened the thin strips of fabric almost immediately. They weren't deep cuts, but they would eventually scar. Additions to her growing collection, which covered most of her bare torso and cris-crossed her throat.

"Well this isn't the afternoon I expected," she said to herself in Orcish.

The Knight, seeing as he had emerged upon the higher stones whilst Vilmah began tending herself, remained unnoticed. He continued to patiently observe downward as his brow furrowed in thought as to translate the brief muttering of Orcish. Rorrek did not relinquish his prepared stance or guard in spite of the orcess' vulnerable state. Eventually, after piecing through the foreign words, he responded aloud in a measured tone in common. "Yes... unexpected."

Vilmah jumped at the sound of another voice, slipping precariously close to the edge of her rock. She managed to catch herself before splashing after the fish, and hanging on with her mechanical arm just long enough to regain her balance. Carefully, she approached the origins of the sound. Your typical orcess may not have understood Common, but Vilmah had enough experience in her short lifetime to understand and communicate a few words. Looking at the Knight, she raised her eyebrows in surprise and gave a careful wave. "Sorry," she said carefully in Common, the rest of her words somewhat muddled and broken. "Not know there. Kvaldir run. Wet. Bad."

He made certain that there remained a respectable distance between them as he judged Vilmah's person. The sudden amount of surprise the orcess displayed was certainly not expected. Rorrek straightened himself as combat did not seem imminent, lowering slowly his great cleaving blades. He turned the handles within his gauntlets so to hold the weapons downward and rest their curved ends against the stone. Yet, his plated hands did not rest against the pommels and instead remained gripped as to indicate the ability to immediately return to action if need be.

After a short time of contemplating an answer again came from his otherwise statuesque form. "Surrounded," he spoke simply. His hidden eyes then glanced toward their large sword for a moment. "Foe?" he inquired toward them now that they stood face to face. His knuckles shifted atop where he gripped his blades should the answer be unsavory.

Vilmah blinked, searching through her vocabulary as he spoke in simple terms. The Knight's body language certainly helped. Shaking her head quickly, she lowered her own sword in a show of good faith. Time would tell how foolish a move it would be, but she was used to being wrong. "No. No foe," she replied, using her mechanical hand to hold the sword as her good hand pointed toward her own face. "Vilmah. Sanc-ury. No foe, All-ance. Honor."

Rorrek's helm tilted slightly to the side as his thoughts caught upon one word within their broken speech. "Sanctuary?" he spoke clearly and with gradual enunciation. There was a shift in the atmosphere about him as if the orcess was then regarded much differently. However, this subtle change did not dispel the apparent wariness which girded him. "Twilight Empire," he stated. He did not return his name.

Vilmah blinked and digested the words. They were familiar, but unknown to her. She gave a helpless shrug and shook her head, smiling in spite of the situation. Despite her scarred and somewhat dischevelled appearance, the orcess seemed even more young as her tusks helping to deepen the dimples in her cheeks. "Okay, Twi-li. You okay fight?" She asked, nodding toward the mists, where the Kvaldir could still be heard a short distance away. "Find here, very bad," she attempted to explain, using her good hand to illustrate the situation by sliding her thumb across her scarred throat.

The Knight understood. He shifted the cleavers within his hand from their resting and unto a more readied position at his sides. His person indicated no injury as of yet, though the grand armaments were riddled with shallow cuts and indentations. Yet, he did not seem to agree with her explanation. He lifted one cleaver in the direction he assumed Valdisdall to be. "The way is shut," he affirmed. The cleaver was moved to gesture as well toward the mist around them. "Surrounded," Rorrek repeated. He then tapped the end of the cleaver against the stone beneath them. "High ground. Wait."

Vilmah cocked her head as she attempted to decipher the meaning of his words. He didn't seem to be in any rush to move, which she understood as his signal that they shouldn't attempt to fight their way to freedom just yet. Nodding, she tapped her sword against the rock and pointed down. "Wait," she repeated, rolling her eyes and smiling as if to suggest that she did not enjoy waiting. "Wait cold. Wet. No good," she explained, indicating toward her bare torso, shoulders, chest and arm. "Blademaster bad clothes pick."

The warrior could not relate, fully armored as he was, nor had he any articles to offer the orcess. The softly smoldering runes which were engraved throughout his armor and cleavers seemed to further attest to his person being far more suited to venture unto the unforgiving cold. He shrugged his pauldrons with brief sympathies as naught could be done. Rorrek made to speak again, but he then abruptly ceased his words and listened. A slow tide of shuffling could be heard approaching from all sides of the outcropping of rock. Intermingled therein could also be heard the clattering of chains and the dragging of nets. "Kvaldir," he spat under his breath. He crouched slighty once more and stared out into the mists.

"Blademaster, hrm?" He pondered aloud. "...Good."

Vilmah's ear twitched at the sound of nearby water being disturbed. It was followed by deep voices, which she quickly recognized. With her back to the rock formation, she crouched down low and held her sword in an angle above her head. The lack of armor allowed her to move in such a way that she could position herself close to the stones, making her small body even smaller within the rock's crevices. Turning her hazel eyes to the human, she flashed him a grin with almost impossibly white teeth and tusks. "Good," she repeated.

Rorrek glanced back toward the jutting stone where he had concealed himself briefly before, though the musing was dismissed as soon as it had come. His gaze craned upward to the farthest end of the outcropping. The stones were steep and tall, enough to perhaps halt the Kvaldir entirely from approaching from behind. The Knight's armaments did not afford him likewise usage of the rocks as Vilmah displayed and so he stepped forward and prepared himself for that to come.

The shapes slowly emerged in a semi-circle before where the two had made their stand. Yet more silhouettes shifted in the fog toward the farther sides and back of the stones. The Kvaldir grinned as their brackish line formed with cruel instruments kept in hand. However, they halted in the distance and did not immediately approach. Their prey held the high ground and with two present it would be difficult to overwhelm either at once. None of the cowardly drowned men were eager to be cut down as the vanguard assuredly would be.

Vilmah looked toward Rorrek and pointed toward the human before she slammed her fist against her chest, a gesture she hoped that he could translate. Larger and more covered than she was, he would be able to take the brunt of their attacks while she picked off the Kvaldir individually. "You go," she mouthed silently, then pointed at the approaching enemy, then dragged a thumb across her throat. "I kill."

Rorrek watched Vilmah's gesturing and understood at once. Yet, the Knight again found himself at odds with her reasoning and instead but stared with eyes that shone of disagreement through the opening of his helm. It was in that moment that he began to regret his former words as he remembered exactly why so few Blademasters remained. Admittedly that she proposed called to his heated blood as to cleave unto foe despised, striding boldly forth with wrath in hand; however, his experience combating the Kvaldir reined him back to his senses.

He remained firmly where he stood, refusing to surrender the high ground and wade unto the marsh just to be overwhelmed at the hand of giants. It was this hesitation that provoked the Kvaldir as they saw their opportunity. A frail sounding horn was blown and the coral encrusted vrykul surged forward. Though, some purposefully fell behind in the pace of the charge as to allow others advance before them.

Rorrek cursed beneath his breath as the splashing figures forced his attention forward again. He lifted one cleaver forward and pointed it toward the incoming enemies. The other immense blade was held near the hilt of the former with ease in spite of the length, attesting to the enchantments therein. He waited for the foremost Kvaldir to begin his ascent upon the stone outcropping and leveled his swords at the vrykul's eyes. It was then that the warrior struck along the edge of the former sword with the latter as one would strike flint. An eruption of flame ensued as the oils which coated the cleavers ignited. A cascade of embers were thrown forward, blinding the Kvaldir which formed the front of their advance and forcing it to stumble back into the water below. The others gave way and stepped back before the display and shower of flames. The air became suffused with the pungent scent of blazegrease that emanated from his weapons, an odor perhaps familiar to Vilmah as the tactic originated from the Blademasters themselves.

Edited by Vilmah

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Vilmah's face was a mixture of surprise and delight. The knight's blades illuminated her grin, which she wore even as she sprung forth from the rocks in an explosion of blinding speed. With Rorrek's distraction of light, she was able to speed past him undetected. Small and wiry, the orcess ran for one of the Kvaldir, her own sword held in front at an angle to sweep through the humanoid's enormous body. In an instant, the water was clouded with entrails that tumbled from his belly. Shock clouded his judgment and he attempted to hold on to them, intestines coiling in his hands before falling into the water below. He splashed along with them soon after, but Vilmah had already made her way to the next one. In her haste to make an end to the enemy, she was an example of orcish ferocity, if not orcish arrogance.

The Knight was dazed in turn for several moments as he came to register the sheer audacity of the orcess. Rorrek could hardly comprehend the recklessness in spite of how his temperament had changed since coming to the Broken Isles. A tremor ran through his form as the sounds of battle once more caused his blood to rise. His visage hosted a fierce grimace as the contrast in tactics left the foul taste of perceived complacency within his mouth. Nonetheless, he knew better than to throw himself unto the throng as well. The situation was far from his liking, but an opportunity had arisen from Vilmah's deftness.

The Kvaldir were still momentarily caught in disarray. This brief chaos would not last forever and soon the wiry orcess would be fell upon and overwhelmed. And so, Rorrek sought to prolong the air of confusion. He descended the ramp of stone partially with his cleavers lifted overheard before stomping firmly and swinging them in unison in a vicious downward arc. The Kvaldir chosen had lifted their rot encased spear too slowly to prevent the blow from striking true. The cleavers dug unto the giant's shoulders, growing suddenly in weight as to bite deeper of their black blood and brine. Rorrek knew well now how to compensate his stance for this strange shift in heft, stepping to the side and back with his farthest foot whilst pulling the cleavers free. The wide serrations ensured that the wound would be widened upon departure. The peculiar steel grew light once more as soon as flesh could no longer be tasted.

Rorrek then quickly stepped back upon the rise of stone while holding his still flaming weapons widely apart. "Valarjar!" he shouted furiously, the name of the Kvaldir's despised foes ringing from his lips as a battle cry. His voice drowned out the cries of anguish from his recently maimed opponent that could no longer lift their arms. In all the maneuver and shout encompassed but fleeting seconds after Vilmah had asserted herself among the Kvaldir ranks. His intentions succeeded as their enemy stood divided. Now several were enraged and well focused upon him while the others farther back were seeking the swift intruder among them.

One of Vilmah's ears twitched at the sudden sound of a battle cry. "Valarjar!" She heard him cry, a deep masculine voice that in some ways reminded her of the orcs who taught her. The smell of blood and burning oil filled her nostrils, an intoxicating smell that kept the orcess smiling as she ran between the three Kvaldir looking for her. They were dazed by her speed, but not enough that they could not raise their arms against her. With both hands, mechanical and flesh, she held on tightly to her sword and allowed its weight to carry her as she spun in a circle that hit all three of them at once. Surprised by her recklessness, the attack caught one in the side, giving Vilmah the opportunity to kick him with a massive boot. Down, but not dead, she leapt into the air and came crashing down to stomp his skull into the rocks beneath the water.

Behind her, the other two were already attacking. A spear went in for her bare midriff, slicing into the meat of her side before she had time to dodge. Snarling, Vilmah turned her sword in her hands to stab backwards, catching the spear wielding Kvaldir in the thigh. This, however, left her open to the third, who swept down upon her with a scimitar-looking weapon who's edge boasted jagged notches that could easily saw through bone. Ducking, Vilmah rolled forward into the water, plunging headfirst to disappear between the Kvaldir's legs, her sword strangely left behind. The two Kvaldir looked around, confused, one of them struggling to remove Vilmah's sword from his leg. In the time it took him to yank it out, Vilmah was already up and behind him. A huge rock was hurled toward his skull, breaking it on impact to send him splashing forward.

Vilmah retrieved her sword. One left.

Again that frail and sickly horn sounded from the mist, the call seeming to embolden the Kvaldir which remained. The burning oil atop his blades had dissipated some of the all encompassing fog as to reveal their number further. Six faced the outcropping where Rorrek stood atop whilst two others turned about from the middle toward where Vilmah still contested the final straggler at their rear. He cast a wary glance briefly upon the surrounding mists to see if others aided their odd dozen. The distant signal heralded the second charge. The Kvaldir which had been blinded and forced back initially seized his agonized comrade that could no longer hoist their arms upward by the strappings of his chest. The wounded Kvaldir was thrown forward upward the incline as the former advanced from behind with a rusted cutlass raised. A guttural war cry tore from his brackish throat which resounded among the other giants that sought to overwhelm the stones in their sudden surge.

Their advance was inevitable, but there was no moment to ponder these grim thoughts. The Knight side-stepped the injured Kvaldir thrown towards him whilst dragging the blades of his cleavers against the giant's stomach as he passed. The long rotted bowels spilled forth before the whole of the Kvaldir's body dispersed into sea water and weeds, this spilling over his armored form. The Valarjar vestments smote with heat as the runes and stones throughout glowed as hearth coals. The motions of his burning swords mirrored this appearance as he meted a dirge of flaming steel before him. Hewn was the upraised arm of the Kvaldir which led the charge by the elbow pit, their dilapidated cutlass and severed limb clattering against the rocks. The maneuver was followed through with a horizontal swing of the opposite cleaver which saw the foe decapitated thereafter. Again came the wash of brine and water as but leather and coral remained.

Rorrek maintained his position in spite of the high ground growing then more slick, viciously striking out at all that approached. He was forced to dart to and fro as to ward the remaining four from rising. He would be overtaken. This knowing urged his body onward into a zealous frenzy, one particular flurry of fire and metal sundering the fingers of one Kvaldir's reaching hands unevenly. Inwardly he thanked the forge of the Skyhold for these miraculous weapons as their length and weightlessness were all that now stood between him and a watery grave. He needed to hold long enough for the orcess to perhaps cleave her way through the two that waded toward her and the final quarry she kept. Then the remaining four before him might be flanked and caught betwixt them...

Seven remained.

"Patience," Vilmah said to herself, watching the Kvaldir in front of her as he charged. It was a tricky thing to have when outnumbered, especially in circumstances where one's enemy knew the terrain so well. With the fury of an animal, the Kvaldir charged and Vilmah remembered Blademaster Ronokada's lesson; patience. Watch for an opportunity. Do not allow the enemy's fear to become yours. Switching hands with her sword, she ducked low and waited for the Kvaldir to strike with his cutlass. It was an overhead blow, one she expected, and she had enough time to raise her sword to keep it from biting into her shoulder. What she did not notice, however, was the knee rising toward her bare sternum. The Kvaldir caught Vilmah with his surprise, sending her splashing back into the water, a stone jutting forth catching her at a kidney.

The Kvaldir took only a few steps toward her to finish the job, only to find himself staggering. Looking down he saw the culprit; a knife, small and vicious, deep in the largest vein of his inner thigh. It was the sort of wound that bled like a geyser, spraying all over Vilmah as he approached. The Kvaldir took two more steps and raised his cutlass, then fell on his face beside her.

There was no time to gloat. In an instant, two more Kvaldir closed in on the orcess and opened their mouths to scream in her face, an act of rage and intimidation. Vilmah smirked through her blood-soaked face and answered their scream with her own, a high pitched shout that caught the Kvaldir off guard just long enough for Vilmah to swing her sword in a wide arc. "So many for just us two!" She yelled in orcish, laughing to herself. "You Kvaldir don't like to fight fair, do you?" Another wide slash, dodged by the two Kvaldir who both raised their swords at once. "Well lucky for me," Vilmah said to herself, crouching low. "I'm used to it."

A burst of speed and she was off, bounding between the two Kvaldir to hack and slash at their bodies, pausing only to meet their attacks and dodge them both. She was smaller, and faster, an advantage she was used to. Their large hulking bodies splashed enough water around that she could almost make herself invisible through the spray and mist as she waited for an opening. Finally, she found one; as the Kvaldir faced one another, with Vilmah between them, she ducked low and dove through their legs just as one slashed down and the other slashed to the side. Instead of killing the orc, the two found themselves injuring one another. Vilmah, scrambling to her feet behind one of them, buried her sword into his back. He fell forward on top of the other, who struggled for a few moments before the water aided in his rapid blood loss.

With the back of her hand, Vilmah wiped blood and matted hair from her eyes. She turned to the knight, her eyes widening at the sight. Four against one.

"Four against two," she said to herself, running for them. "Better odds."

Rorrek could not notice the impending charge of the Blademaster while staring down such dire straits. He was a ghastly sight, covered in putrid water and arterial spray. The largest of the four Kvaldir before him stormed the steep incline with unexpected deftness, the giant wielding forth an immense and untended claymore. The Knight lifted his cleavers in response whilst crossing them in guard as to impede the blow. The foe's blade caught where his swords met and the shockwave numbed his wrists amid their gauntlets. From Rorrek's peripheral he glimpsed dark shapes speeding past as the others took advantage of the brief stalemate to flank him. The high ground was compromised and there was from then no other choice but forward, lest he be hewn down where he stood. The man among giants summoned his strength to turn upon his heels, allowing the claymore skid along his cleavers while pulling them back during the turn. In the same motion he used his momentum to kick from the slope and ram the entirety of his weight against the towering Kvaldir through his shoulder and back. The sudden impact and slickness of the stone incline caused the Kvaldir to tumble backwards and send them both reeling into the shallows below.

The Knight was the first to rise from the water with a gasp, his cleavers instinctively honing upon where he knew his opponent to have fallen.  The Kvaldir lifted himself partially in time for the nape of his hunched neck to meet Rorrek's steel as would a guillotine. Again the cleavers seemed uneager to be wrested from the flesh of their enemy, shifting in weight to be far heavier in contrast than before. This stalled Rorrek momentarily whilst another Kvaldir rushed him from behind. The cleavers were eventually pulled from the already dissolving body, and yet it was too late. From the right moved a veritable obelisk of a shield, iron-rimmed and soaked through, that brutally collided with the cleaver he held. The weapon was knocked aside unto the stones. Rorrek's remaining cleaver sought to halt the Kvaldir's flanged mace which swung wide from the left, yet the strike was a feint and prelude to the bludgeon's end being jabbed against his mail clad stomach. The wind was knocked from him and Rorrek grasped for breath, but was unable to regain composure before another vicious blow of the truncheon struck his left side. The scale mail which girded the sides of his torso buckled beneath the Kvaldir's strength. The bruising which ensued was naught beneath the anguish of his ribs which then fractured. The Kvaldir reeled back with his shield arm and struck upward against the bowed head of his smaller foe, sending Rorrek stumbling backward into the shallows again. His grip miraculously did not falter upon his remaining blade.

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For a moment the warrior lost consciousness and did not notice the enormous feet which stomped slightly above his head. The Kvaldir that had stood rightmost of their encirclement had approached his senseless body, their malicious grin to have appeared upside down to Rorrek were he awake. He began to rouse beneath the water and with blurred vision glimpsed the shadow that descended from above. Adrenaline coursed through his battered form and his muscles reacted instinctually, lifting the flat of his still clutched cleaver upward with both hands. The long axe haft crashed against the blade and the ripples of force cascaded painfully throughout his person. A strangled cry of torment escaped his lips and became muffled through the foul water. Still, the axe had been stopped from cleaving his breastplate in twain. Further fortune followed as the Kvaldir could not pull his axe free, the curved end having been caught against the underside of Rorrek's cleaving sword.

Without hesitation, in spite of the mounting pains his body exuded, his right gauntlet dove for his waistguard. There sheathed was a scramseax, the sidearm a simple and single edged knife. The smaller blade was drawn, point downward, to which Rorrek then pulled himself upward the shallows whilst shouting through the blinding pain of his ribcage. With effort he twisted and drove the scramseax unto the Kvaldir's lower stomach and forced it downward unto the giant's groin. With another desperate mustering of strength he twisted the knife and continued its descent down the drowned vrykul's innermost thigh. The Kvaldir knelt beneath the abrupt wound as his footing buckled and in such sealed his fate. The knife was withdrawn from its diseased flesh and stabbed unto the far side of the Kvaldir's neck which was now stooped within reach. It collapsed and became naught but foam and blood again.

The remaining two Kvaldir began their approach before the Knight could stand and regain his stance.

There were two Kvaldir left; one wielding a shield and mace, the other with a chain and hook. As the latter approached the knight, he raised the chain and spun it in a wide arc. His prey was in the water, injured from the look of it. Vilmah grit her teeth in frustration, pain radiating from the wound in her side. She bit her tongue as the salty sea water stung her exposed flesh and tightened her grip around the sword gifted to her from the Valarjar. With a deep breath, she ran full-speed toward the two Kvaldir, screaming at the top of her lungs. “Lok’tar ogar!!”

It was enough to grab their attention. The chain wielding Kvaldir turned from their downed opponent and instead swung an enormous hook in Vilmah’s direction while his companion ran for her with his shield held in front. Vilmah would have to think quickly on which to engage first, and seeing as how one was not as heavily shielded, she decided on that one. Taking a deep breath, she ran for the shield bearing Kvaldir as if she were going to engage him. He ran toward her, shield first, and attempted to bash the orcess in the face. Unfortunately, with her being so much smaller, the Kvaldir did not have an easy target. He lunged into Vilmah’s direction, finding her gone by the time his feet hit the appropriate placement. She’d used her size to her advantage, and rolled to one side to let the Kvaldir speed past her.

Confused, he rounded on the orcess and watched as she sped toward the only other Kvaldir left standing. Unshielded, he swung the chain in the air, waiting for an opportunity to strike at Vilmah. She was fast, but her boots were waterlogged and the cut in her side was beginning to sap her energy. The chain came down hook-first, threatening to latch itself against Vilmah’s neck. She rolled to one side and avoided the chain, but wasn’t fast enough to avoid his companion running full-speed into her from behind with a shield. Vilmah went down into the water, face first into a rock that planted a deep gash into her cheek and jaw. “Patience,” she muttered, a mouth full of blood and seawater.

The Kvaldir loomed over Vilmah, his shield raised to strike down against her bare back. She took a deep breath and grabbed the same rock that struck her face, only to slam it down on one of the Kvaldir’s knees. He roared with pain and hobbled to one side, giving Vilmah enough time to swing her sword up and into his groin, slicing up into the giant’s stomach. The Kvaldir roared with rage and pain, swinging his mace toward the tiny orc as she dove through his legs and into the water before he fell forward on to his knees. It wasn’t long before he collapsed on to his face.

There was one left.

Before she had a chance to acknowledge him herself, the chain came crashing down on Vilmah’s shoulder and wrapped around her body. The hook lodged itself into her back and tore at the muscle, eliciting an angry scream from the orcess as she felt her mechanical arm buckle beneath the chain. It was made of a strong material, plated to disguise its robotic design, but the chain was made of a thick rusted metal and found its way into one of the gears. Gritting her teeth, she clenched her jaw and made a quick decision as the Kvaldir yanked to chain to bring her toward him.

Her shoulders pulled tightly to her sides by the chain, Vilmah grunted with effort as she raised her mechanical arm, the artificial strength pulling at the muscles in her back. Knowing that it would be damaged beyond repair, she continued to spread her arm until the chain was loose enough that she could turn her body and unwind herself, though the hook was still in the meat of her back. Jaw clenched, she ran for the Kvaldir, surprising him with her sudden boldness. Vilmah’s mechanical arm hung uselessly to one side as she used her good arm to swing her heavy sword at the Kvaldir, who dropped the chain to grab at the blade hanging from his side. It was down to one-on-one combat; an orc with one arm, and a Kvaldir with two, each opponent with a sword. Vilmah was bleeding heavily into the water, and she knew that if she couldn’t take down this last enemy quickly, he would overcome her. “Patience,” she said to herself, knowing well that time was something she did not have much of. So which was it? Patience or haste? Or both? The weight of the chain was holding her back, and she only had one arm. It was either drop her sword and pull out the hook, or stand and defend herself. “Patience,” she repeated.

The Kvaldir ran for what he assumed would be an easy kill. The small orc was bleeding out, and she only had one usable arm. Vilmah raised her sword to block a downward slash, her good arm strained with effort. This was where she remembered her training, those months spent meditating in the garden with her sword held aloft by that same arm. If she could hold that pose for hours on end, she could block this attack.

She could also kick him in the groin.

The Kvaldir stumbled back. Even as his leather codpiece took some of the impact, Vilmah’s plate boot was hard enough to break bones. Her desperation was palpable, and as the Kvaldir took a single step backwards she was already rearing back her sword to slash at him again. The pain of her kick was distracting, but not enough to block her sword. They traded blows for a few more swipes, Vilmah’s body aching as she looked for some kind of opening in the Kvaldir’s stance. Blood was heavy in the water, and her vision blurred. Desperate to end the fight, she used one last trick up her sleeve and quickly turned her body sideways.

Still broken but not entirely useless, her mechanical arm was heavy enough to still do damage. It slammed into the Kvaldir’s side, distracting him long enough for Vilmah to smash the butt of her sword into his jaw. The telltale sound of bone cracking gave Vilmah all the signal she needed to repeat the gesture, beating his face with the heavy weapon until he was disoriented enough to kick into the water. The giant flailed as he fell backwards, his face a mass of battered meat that was soon covered by seawater. Vilmah shrieked as she plunged her sword into his throat, ending what was left of the Kvaldir’s life.

She stumbled, glancing toward the knight. The adrenaline from the fight was beginning to wane, pain radiating from the hook still tearing at the muscle of her back. Sliding her sword into its sheath, she reached for the hook and felt it with her good hand, panic setting in. To rip it out would mean more blood loss, and very likely death. With a deep breath of effort, she grabbed the chain instead and wrapped it around her arm before staggering toward the knight. The orc was a mess of blood and metal, but she approached the knight with a relieved smile all the same. “Kvaldir dead. Us alive,” she said with a delirious sounding laugh.

Rorrek had managed to stand once more in the midst of Vilmah's skirmishing, the wearied warrior using his remaining cleaver much as a crutch for the side which took the hefty blow. His stance radiated exhaustion, his form slightly hunched in favor of his fractured ribs. His armaments glowed no longer and the fire atop his swords had long since been extinguished. He knelt with his back turned to Vilmah as they approached while retrieving the remaining cleaver that had been lost before. Through gritted teeth he lifted himself again, managing such with the majority of his weight upon the blade supporting him. He shook his helmed head from side to side solemnly as he turned to face the orcess. "No," he said flatly. He gestured with one sword toward a pile of seaweed and coral where one of the Kvaldir had been felled. "They shall rise again."

With that thought in mind Rorrek began to lamely walk toward the direction of Valdisdall. However, he halted before passing the injured Blademaster. His gaze held a cursory sweep of their wounds. After a moment of silence he buried one cleaver end down into the shallows and mud so to remove his helm. The armored man revealed his weathered face at last to the orcess and thence spoke his name. "Therrien," he said. After meeting their eyes for a time he nodded once in gratitude before donning his helm again. The cleaver was pulled from the soggy grounds and he began to slowly make his way through the fog.

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Vilmah blinked, as if confused by the sudden declaration. When he put his helmet back on, she finally understood what was happening. "Ah! Therrien! Good fight." She said happily, taking a few burdened steps to catch up before she gently slapped the human on his enormous plate shoulder with her one working hand. Despite the heavy hook in her back and the chain wrapped around her arm, she still seemed in a good mood. As they walked, Vilmah reached for the straps holding her mechanical arm in place, and using her one hand, unlatched it. The broken thing fell to the sea water with a loud splash, revealing the stump of her left arm, removed at mid-bicep. She picked up the prosthetic and regarded it sadly before shoving it into one of her magic bags. It was a long walk back to Valdisdall, and Vilmah was steadily losing blood from the hook in her back. She cleared her throat.

"Therrien?" She asked politely, turning to one side to point at the enormous hook that pierced through her, a steady trail of blood rolling down her back and into the water. "Need uh.. need help. Or die. Probably."

Rorrek did not stop the measured and slow pace through the mire for some time, even after Vilmah spoke. In silence he trudged forward whilst seeking to keep wary of his surroundings. Eventually he halted his steps and stood there gazing upward toward the ever present fog. He turned slightly and looked back to Vilmah. The man's solemn and fatigued face could be seen through the gap in his helm due to their proximity, and it wore a most grim expression. The Knight was quite aware of the predicament of the orcess and had been since the brief glance he stole before, and yet he did not appear to hold supplies on hand to adequately handle the situation. He looked again forward as if measuring the distance yet to be traversed before Valdisdall was reached. They had come far from the outcropping where their stand was made, but there was still too much ground to cover before even attempting the steep and winding cliffs...

He sighed in frustration whilst his brow furrowed, and after some moments of silence more seemed to come to a decision. Rorrek thrust downward the cleaver that was not acting as his crutch into the shallows, the blade jutting upward and still. He then gestured with his now free gauntlet toward where Vilmah stood. "Wait," he commanded and set off in another direction by himself. Soon he vanished into the mists completely beyond the sight of the Blademaster.

Vilmah didn't waste time as she was asked to wait. Her one arm reached into one if her magic bags and pulled out a roll of bandages, thick and strong enough that it could stop most bleeding. Holding one end with her teeth, she carefully guided the bandage around herself, covering the hook even as it remained inside of her to at least slow the bleeding. She was breathing heavily now, and the fog was making it difficult to see in combination with her blurred vision, but she continued until the bandages were spent. Once finished, she walked toward the blade her temporary companion left behind. It was not the sort if blade one saw every day, and that he would leave it behind intrigued her. She made a note of it, and waited as he instructed, watching the distance for more enemies.

Time seemed meaningless while within the unnatural mists of the Kvaldir. All that could be vaguely told was that a lengthy amount of waiting had passed since the man ventured into the fog at his crippled pace. Eventually something stirred from whence he had departed. A slow and uneven splashing, as if of cautious footsteps, approached Vilmah while still wreathed from her sight. An eerie blue glow could gradually be seen emerging more clearly from the haze much akin unto a wisp. The shape which accompanied the light ambled slowly toward the orcess into view and fortunately proved to be none other than Rorrek again.

Within one gauntlet was a crude torch which kept the ghastly blue flame atop it, the source of which most likely of the bonfires and lanterns about the now deserted Kvaldir encampments. As well, pressed between the torch handle and his plated hand, were strands of hanging moss that had been clumped together. Rorrek controlled his pained and arduous breathing with an effort as he walked until he stood behind Vilmah. "Kneel," he spoke directly and waited.

Vilmah had seen enough field doctors to know where this is was going. She sighed and laughed to herself, doing as the human instructed, kneeling in the water. "Not too bad," she said, grinning through the pain. It was clear she was straining to keep her composure. "Need stay pretty."

Rorrek immediately afterward embedded his remaining cleaver upright in the water as the one before. A moment was required to ensure his stability and footing, the fractured bones within his side perpetually aching. A cold sweat had accumulated upon his brow from the continuous exertion which bordered upon fatigue. Regardless, he set to work at once. He reached beneath one pauldron and retrieved an ornate horn which displayed intricate scrimshaw designs upon it. The wooden stopper at the wider and sealed end was deftly removed, and at once came forth the pungent scent of blazegrease again. He then opened slightly the palm which held the torch and clump of moss as to allow the drier portion kept at the center to breathe. The open lid of the horn of oil was pressed to the dry moss and, with meticulous care, upended for a single fleeting moment. As a result a minute amount of the highly flammable substance doused the moss beneath before the horn was sealed and stowed away again.

Rorrek paused. He then reached for his waist and unsheathed the scramseax knife at his side. He reached over Vilmah and offered the handle horizontally before her lips. "Bite."

Vilmah took the blade thankfully, a dozen or so jokes running through her mind. There was something about horrendous pain and the threat of death that seemed to inspire humor in the orcess, though she could not appropriately translate it to Common. Instead, she lowered her head and said "thank yiu" as clearly as she could in the human tongue, and put his knife between her teeth.

The Knight then affixed his gaze upon the still jutting hook which tore unto Vilmah's back, assessing the angle and position carefully. His obscured expression would tell of one preparing as such was certainly necessary for when the horrid blade was removed. The bleeding would be profuse and undoubtedly worse than now. He would need to act swiftly once the deed was done. Rorrek's cold gauntlet pressed against Vilmah's shoulder and then pushed lightly downward to guide them forward slightly so that their posture was not so steep. His steel clad fingers peeled down the recent layer of bandages that Vilmah had wrapped about herself and the hook. He then clasped the end of the hook where its base met the wrapping chain. "Were only Brianna here..." he muttered beneath his breath. "Endure," he then said firmly aloud. He wrestled with the hook and eventually angled it free, allowing it to fall limply and hang by its chain.

The flow of blood increased as expected and he proceeded accordingly with all due haste. The previously oil doused clump of dried moss was compressed in his grip and then pressed into the wound to staunch the stream. The Kvaldir torch was then lowered as he took a step back. The wicked embers of the drowned marauders emanated an icy chill, but would ignite the oil nonetheless. The brittle portion of moss caught fire and instantly erupted into violently consuming flames of bright orange as the blazegrease ignited. Rorrek grimaced again as he watched briefly, allowing the abrupt fire to cauterize the outer layer of the wound from within. Yet, he did not allow the orcess to burn for long.

The torch was cast into the water and the remaining moss dipped thereafter beneath the surface. This was thence compressed as well and then pressed with some force atop the charred kindling within Vilmah's wound to smother the flames. Rorrek held the damp and makeshift poultice to her burned flesh for several moments. It was a pitiful and desperate procedure which would need to be cleansed soon, lest the orcess succumb to infection. But... at least the bleeding would stop. He eventually lifted his gauntlet, leaving the moss thereabouts to seal the harshly cauterized injury. The bandaging was pulled upward to cover the clump and set it in place.

For her part, Vilmah kept still throughout most of the procedure. She was clearly used to pain, as evidenced by the scars littering her exposed skin. Her back was already a collection of stab wounds, bullet holes, slashes and burns. Vilmah bit down on the blade she was kindly provided with and closed her eyes as the hook was removed from her, blood gushing down her back threatening to force the orc into unconsciousness. She swallowed down the pain, even as she felt her tusks dent the metal in her mouth. For all its agony, the hook removal paled in comparison to the burning. Now, she grunted, deep in her throat, forcing herself to take the pain quietly to avoid signaling their position to more unseen enemies. It was especially difficult, as her self control slipped further away with the blood loss. When it was finally over, she dropped the knife into her hand and wiped her mouth, shaking with cold and fatigue. She took a moment to gather her strength and stood on trembling legs, her skin pale. Turning to face the human, she handed him his knife with her one hand and nodded solemnly. "Thank you. I.. owe debt."

Rorrek mused on their words while assessing their composure and sheathing the knife. There came forth a grunt of acknowledgement that preceded his response. "Canst thou walk?" he inquired tiredly. He watched attentively through the mounting haze of pained exhaustion. She was certainly in worse shape betwixt them, but his form was upon the verge of collapse as well in spite of his discipline. Instead of waiting for a response, Rorrek saw to the retrieval of his cleavers and came to stand beside Vilmah. The right blade was quickly set to use as a crutch again. He partially lowered the shoulder nearest them and gestured with a nod for her to approach and perhaps take hold of his pauldron. "Come," he spoke and waited so to set their pace toward their destination once she took hold.

Vilmah blinked at the offer, but wasn't really in a position to argue. She put her one hand on his shoulder and allowed herself to lean on him enough that she could walk. Laughing a little at their situation, Vilmah offered the Knight a smile as they trudged through the water; two heavily injured warriors from opposing factions, clinging to one another for survival. "Anyone sees," she said with a scratchy voice, her breathing labored as they moved. "Orc, human, no kill eachother. Good thing. No good injured, but, good no kill eachother. Just like Thrall say."

Rorrek remained silent for a time as they set off slowly toward where they might depart the sodden grounds of the Kvaldir. He concentrated upon regulating his breath as his chest burned with each inhalation that stirred his heaving injury. Eventually a rather dry chuckle came from deep in his throat, though it waned soon after. "Yes, I suppose... Good."

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