A healers trials. Part 2
- Are you feeling alright, Anchorite?* I heard Sergeant Delgao asking Elani, I scowled again, leaning over the side of the cart. I didn’t make out her reply, she had been quiet and subdued since we set out. That had been some hours ago. Valliance keep was fading over the horizon, and there was only weeks of travel ahead of us. Well..that and an army of scourge, and the Horde.
There wasn’t many of us, a squad of eight, well…seven and Elani. We had set out from Valliance keep a few hours earlier at dawn to try and make as much progress as we could in daylight . Although it was inevitable, we were bound to wind up in the wilderness at night a few times, none of us wished to consider it.
The squad consisted of, Myself, Sergeant Delgao, the priestess Elani, and Wirt on the cart. Tan, Olon , Michaels and Zekay were riding escort on their horses. Not a bad lot to be with, all told. They were tough, experienced soldiers, with the notable exception of our healer. Though we all silently prayed for a safe journey, the chances of one were, well…it was Northrend for Lights sake.
The sun was high on the first day of our journey, but it did nothing to offset the cold in the Tundra, animals grazed in what grasslands they could get, we kept to the roads, or what semblance of road there was. Well worn tracks marked the path many like us had taken before.
For the first few days, things were quiet, no fights, nothing, if you listened you could hear the sounds of battle in the distance, though it was next to impossible to fix the location. We were eating our breakfast, the horse drawing the cart along steadily when we heard a call from ahead.
- Sergeant! Sergeant!* Tan called as he thundered towards the cart on his horse, he slowed to a trot and moved up alongside the cart. Delgao who had been laid back against some boxes resting, was now fully alert.
- What is it, Private?* He enquired, scowling.
- Transport up ahead, sir. Wrecked, the cargo bares the mark of the Warsong Orcs. No bodies.* Tan replied, breathless, he had been riding hard and fast to get back to us as quickly as he did. *I don’t know what to make of it, there was definitely a fight there, at a guess I’d say they were overcome and the bodies taken to make more scourge.*
The Sergeant nodded *Alright, we keep moving, I’ll see for myself when we get there, might mean we get more supplies to bring along or use ourselves at the least.* We all nodded and Elani began going through her healing supplies.
- Anchorite, what are you doing?* Wirt asked, peering at the Draenei. Elani glanced up and smiled.
- There may be wounded Tan did not see on his initial check, hidden nearby, I’d like to be ready.* She replied, before going back to work. Wirt scowled and clucked his tongue.
- You don’t think you would be allowed to heal scum like the Horde do you? If we find survivors we’ll kill them. That’s all there is to it.. Elani looked back up at Wirt, and then over to Delgao.
- You must be joking, you would murder wounded soldiers?* She asked, a clear note of concern in her voice.
- We are at war, I'll not have you expending energy and supplies on our enemies, if they require aid we will give them a merciful end, that is all.* Delgao grumbled, folding his bulky arms across his chest.
Elani made to speak but stopped herself, it seemed her run ins with the chief medic of Valiance keep had taught her to respect her superiors, at least some good was coming of this then. Now we only had to cross the continent alive and everything would be as it should.
A few awkwardly silent hours later, we arrived at the site of the Horde supply caravan. The first sign of something amiss was the Tauren, face down on the ground in the middle of the path.
- I thought you said there were no bodies, Tan.* I asked, checking my rifle. It was loaded and ready. Tan glanced at me, then the Sergeant and shrugged.
- That wasn't there last time I was here. Something isn't right.* He said, slowing his horse as the cart was stopped. I looked at Elani and she was clutching her bag of medical supplies, looking as though she would leap out of the cart any second, she glanced at me for a second and I shook my head very slightly, she nodded and released her grip on the bag, lowering her head. I felt sympathy for the priestess, she was not interested in the war between the Alliance and the Horde, only in protecting and preserving life.
- Arnel, you're a good shot, put a bullet in that Tauren, if this is meant as an ambush, then they are in for a surprise.* The Sergeant ordered, I nodded and stood bracing the rifle against my shoulder. Slowing my breath, and keeping both eyes open, I took aim and fired off the rifle, the sound of the shot echoed across the landscape and connected with the Taurens body, I couldn't quite make out where, but the body shifted slightly, from the force of the connection.
I turned to face Delgao, who was still scowling. He had unsung his own rifle and held it out to me. I accepted it, knowing already what he wanted as he turned to reload mine I got back into position. Wirt was standing next to me, grinning like a fool.
- Twenty silver says a headshot.* He chuckled as Tan said something about upping stakes, I ignored them and lined up the shot, aiming for the torso, damned if I was going to get him any earnings off such a depraved bet. I pulled the trigger, another echo across the landscape, and another twitch of the Tauren.
I heard Wirt grumble something behind me, and then there was a dull thud, and someone fell behind me.
- Ha! Wirt you bloody idiot, mind where you step you’ll break somethi....WIRT'S HIT!* Zekay roared and leapt from his horse into the cart.
Turning around quickly, I saw Wirt thrashing and kicking, his hands wrapped around his neck as blood spilled out from between his gauntleted fingers. Then I noticed he was pulling at an arrow lodged in his neck. Like a fool I was just staring and was thrown from the cart by Delgao, who dragged Wirt over with us, behind cover.
- Medic! Try and stabilise him!* Delgao bellowed, drawing his blade, the others had all run around to us, the cart shook with the force of the arrows being loosed into it. Elani was already trying to pry Wirt’s hands from his neck, and succeeded only when he was too weak to struggle anymore. She worked as quickly as possible, ripping the arrow free she immediately channelled magic into his body to seal the wound, she was preventing any more blood loss, and beyond that I could not see what she was doing, I assume using her powers to mend his body from the inside.
All the while, the ranged assault continued. We were pinned, our guns still in the cart, the horses had been shot, even if we won we either had to wait for aid or walk. After a couple of minutes, silence fell again, total silence. I glanced at Wirt and saw Elani blessing him, he wasn't breathing.
- Horde filth, we’ll get 'em for you Wirt, don't you worry lad.* I heard Olon growl.
- Shut up, and keep your eyes peeled, they are either closing in, or circling around to get a shot at us.* Delgao said, I heard him but I wasn't paying attention. I was watching Elani as she dutifully folded Wirts arms across his chest, and closed his eyes. I turned to watch the area around us, we were very exposed if they circled around, there was a mound of snow a few feet high on the side of the road stretching the length of the path as far as the eye could see, if they were moving somewhere in the distance we would not see them until it was too late, we had to move.
- Lok'tar Ogar!* The roar was deafening, and the world erupted in chaos and cries as an orc, burst from the mound of snow he had been hiding in, for..Light only knew how long. Zekay’s helmet and skull were split by his first blow, his death quickly avenged as the Sergeant roared and drove his blade through the Orc's chest plate, and ending the monsters attack.
Unfortunately he was only one of many, its comrades had used the distraction he created to close the distance on us, we all had our weapons drawn and were ready to fight, a shadow loomed over me and I turned to see a troll about to impale me with his spear when Tan took its legs at the shin, with a swing of his sword, the troll toppled back into the cart screaming, arterial spray from the stumps spraying blood like water from a burst pipe.
A mere moment later the cart was lifted from the ground, and tossed aside, two Tauren stood where it had been, giants compared to us, we were surrounded, outnumbered and in a hopeless situation. I glanced to Delgao who was clutching his sword in one hand, the other holding his right side which was bleeding heavily. From the surrounding Horde forces, I counted about ten, some trolls, some Orcs, and the two Tauren. One of the Orcs stepped forward.
- Weapons, on ground…what remains of supplies, and you..belong to the Warsong clan.* It growled at us. I risked a glance at Elani, who was…seemingly oblivious and trying to patch up Delgao, a snarl from the Orc who noted what I was looking at convinced her to lay down her hands and stop healing.
- Raise dem hands again, little Draenei, I take dem.* One of the trolls rasped, smiling crookedly.
Elani glanced back up at the Troll and narrowed her eyes. Tilting its head the troll drew its axe and hopped down to stand next to her, my heart seemed to be twisting inside my chest. I couldn't help her, I had no weapon and if I moved, I'd be run through in seconds. Elani was still kneeling next to Delgao, the Troll towered over her, holding his axe loosely.
- We 'ave no need for da' little one ey'? An' I not eaten in hours, she no fighta.* the troll said, a malicious grin on his face. He glanced back at the Orc I presumed to be the leader, and the Orc made a brief nod. I made to move and one of the Orcs loosed an arrow that hit the ground right at my feet. I glared at him and he grinned, shaking his head.
The troll, was tossing his axe casually between both hands, circling around Elani, who was kneeling still, her eyes closed. Shrugging, the troll raised its axe and swung for Elanis' head. I shut my eyes tight, silently damning myself for my cowardice, there was dull...thud and a shriek, that came from the troll.
Opening my eyes, I saw a rippling energy around Elani, she had shielded herself at the last second, and the Troll had been holding his axe too loosely. When it hit the shield it flew from his grip and buried itself in his chest. I beamed, glancing around at the other Horde soldiers, they seemed shocked as did my own comrades, this lasted only a second though and with an outraged roar, the lead Orc stormed over to Elani, drawing his hammer. He raised it to strike when a shadow appeared, growing over his head.
- Get the hell away from her Greenskin!* bellowed the armoured human as he came crashing down upon the Orc, it had no chance, a fully armoured human male landing on its head killed it instantly, looking up I saw a snow white gryphon hovering overhead at about twenty feet in the air, a rider still on it, the male who had landed scrambled back to his feet and stood before Elani, drawing his sword and shield, I immediately noticed the same tabard her father and Adaire had worn.
The Horde archers immediately turned to shoot the man down and the same gryphon that had been flying over head, flew straight into one of the Orcs and began tearing at him with its claws and beak. The rider, who I recognised as Adaire had leapt off and broken the jaw of the other archer with her mace.
Now we were clear, we grabbed our weapons and laid into the remaining Horde soldiers, the male who had come with Adaire, was fighting one of the Tauren, it swung its mace, the man deftly dropped to one knee, avoiding losing his head and stood back up, driving his blade through the chin and skull of the beast.
I witnessed Adaire fighting one of the other Orcs, blocking and parrying his attacks with her shield and mace. Seeing its allies being struck down enraged the Orc, it grew careless, desperate, it slammed its mace down into the ground, where Adaire had been standing a millisecond earlier, she dodged to the side, and with a sickening crack, brought her mace down on the Orcs skull, it dropped without another sound, face down in the snow.
The rest of the Horde had been eliminated, we'd lost Tan and Olon, and Elani was knelt over Delgao, his armour shredded around his midsection where he'd been struck by an axe. Her medical kit had been stamped on and crushed during the fight, so she was relying entirely on her Light given healing powers, he was bleeding profusely, and she was clearly struggling to mend his body before he lost too much blood.
- Arnel, it's good to see you, are you alright?* Adaire asked, I turned around to face her and forced myself to nod, the male had come up with her and was sizing me up.
I’m fine, a little shaken, thank the Light you g...how did you know to find us?* I asked, the realisation only having set in.
The man grinned faintly, glancing at Adaire before speaking. *We were keeping an eye on Elani, wouldn't do to have her get hurt.*
Adaire nodded and I let out a relieved sigh, saluting the pair returned the gesture, and then the man offered me his hand.
- Richard Norhand, mercenary of the Aurora Wolves.* I accepted the hand and nodded smiling, he was considerably taller then me, and built like a man who lived in his armour, a career fighter without a doubt. Like Adaire his equipment was top class. The armour was lined with furs, just looking at them made me shiver. The Alliance military, could not well provide furs for every last dog soldier, so men like me had to put up or shut up, as Delgao told Tan on numerous occasions.
Adaire glanced past me to get a look at Elani, looking over my shoulder I could see she was still working on saving Delgao, she strode past me and knelt next to Elani, placing one of her hands over the Sergeants wounds she too began channelling her healing magic, while the other hand fumbled around inside a pouch on her, belt. I watched as she withdrew a bag of herbs and with a slight exertion of her Holy magic ground some of them to a powder and sprinkled them over the sergeants wounds. I could smell them, even over the smell of blood.
- We would have stepped in sooner, before you lost those men, but we had to wait until the Horde had shown themselves. If we jumped in too soon we would have just ended up with you. Surrounded and...well buggered.* Norhand said as I turned back to face him. Nodding, I allowed myself a sigh.
- Did her father send you after us? What would you have done had she been attacked sooner? Would you have still waited?* I asked, looking up at Norhand and meeting his eyes. He removed his helm and rubbed at his goatee.
- No, Ormel didn't send us. Elani is a close friend of Adaires and mine. We knew if there was a fight she would be in serious trouble, she's tougher then she looks but her refusal to take lives makes that point rather null and void. If she had been attacked sooner, yes. We would have stepped in.* He replied, his gaze unflinching, as if he knew what thoughts were going through my mind.
I felt an anger gnawing at me, Wirt, Tan, Zekay, Olon..possibly even Delgao. Dead, and these two only stepped in when their little friend was in danger, granted...some of those losses had occurred after they had stepped in, but at the time I wasn't thinking that. Only that deaths could have been avoided had they taken action sooner rather then watching until Elani was directly attacked.
- So, our lives weren't worth saving? Only your friend? You watched men die, and only took action whe...*
- By the Light, shut up Arnel...had I known it was your complaining that was dragging me back from death, I'd have let myself pass on.* Delgao grumbled glaring over at me. I turned back sharply and saw Elani and Adaire helping him stand, he was deathly pale, and was clearly still in a lot of pain.
- If these two hadn't been here we'd all be dead, we're soldiers, this is war, people die. Get used to it.* I nodded, feeling more like a fool then I ever had in my life. Glancing back at Norhand I offered an apology and he nodded.
I decided to take a look around, and after walking for a minute I recalled the Tauren on the road from earlier, this had been an ambush, so it was very likely the Tauren was alive when we shot him, lying in wait for men more merciful then us to come to his aid.
I walked to his body, and looked it over, the two puncture wounds were indeed still leaking a little blood, it had been alive.
- Brave idiot..* I grumbled, and spat on the corpse. Turning to walk away I had made it two steps when I heard noise behind me, drawing my blade I turned to finish the Tauren, only it was already on its feet, and with a swing of its giant hands sent me sprawling to the ground.
The wind was knocked from my body. I staggered to my feet, clutching at my cracked breastplate, my saving grace was the simple fact that this Tauren was too wounded to instantly close in for the kill, it reached me and made another swing with its meaty fists and I fell back onto the ground, narrowly avoiding the blow. It raised one hoof to stamp on me, to crush me. And a shot rang out, the Tauren staggered, and Norhand barged into it, knocking it back to the ground and without a moment’s hesitation drove his blade into its heart.
I tried to thank him, but there was a metallic taste in my mouth and something stopping me from speaking, I wretched, and blood, my blood stained the ground where I had coughed. Immediately I felt hands supporting me and glanced up to see Elani holding me steady, her hands glowed again, and looking at her up close I noted the sweat on her brow, and the strained look on her face. I had heard that there were some magic users who were exhausted by their art, Elani was apparently one of them. She held her eyes shut tight and I could feel something moving around inside my body, it was quite the most unpleasant sensation of my life and I vomited, it was like there was a pair of hands inside me mending broken bones, fusing them back together.
It didn't take her long, to mend me. She told me later that I had been lucky, some of the broken bone had come very near to piercing my heart. We had burned the bodies of our dead, and the Horde. We wouldn’t risk giving the scourge more troops.
We were sat around the remains of the caravan, someone had set up a small fire to stave off some of the cold, we had discussed at length what we would do, and the only option, it seemed was to make for the Gnomish airstrip to the west of our position, it wasn't safe journey but, well we were in the wrong part of the World if we expected anything safe.
Elani was fast asleep, and had been since shortly after we all sat down, Norhand and Adaire had draped cloaks over her, like they were caring for a younger sibling. It took some hours before I finally drifted off into a sleep filled with images of sneering trolls and blood coated Tauren.
I was awoken, by a whirring sound and the occasional mechanical coughs and splutters I had come to associate with anything Gnomish, distant but growing louder, the others soon awoke as well, and we spent a minute or two looking around for the source of this noise, until the flying machine came into view, it was spewing smoke from the rear and I thought it on fire initially. It was making a sharp descent towards us and we hastily got to the side of the road taking cover behind a nearby rocky outcrop.
The machine continued its sharp descent until it was seemingly meters from the ground and the pilot pulled up sharply, skidding the machine along the road, it ground to a halt on the spot we had been camped on minutes earlier.
As the noise of the engine died down, a Gnome vaulted out of the pilots seat and landed in the snow, he walked towards us adjusting the goggles on his head, he stopped at Adaire and beamed, waving.
- Greetalings! I am Aronius Falkeshall. Mr Ormelly said you might need some assistance!*
A few hours later we had all been safely delivered to the Airstrip. I feel it is worth noting that I have since developed a terrible fear of flying.