Catch a fistful of sky

Olllld WoW story | November 19, 2010

Kysa loved the mornings in Theramore. It was truly a city that never slept, but mornings seem to be so much more alive to the girl. She would sometimes convince her mother to let her go to the markets with one of the servants, under the pretense it’d help her “learn to run a household”. Instead, she took in the sights and sounds of Theramore’s wharf. Humans of all shapes and sizes, from all points of all trades. Craftsmen rubbed shoulders with footmen, captains bartered with merchants, and it was just so alive.

As the representative of her household when she went, she had to often deal with non human races. The other races had never lost their charm to the green eyed girl. Dwarves who were as tall as she but twice as wide, loud and rough but mostly honest dealers. Gnomes who looked like the child she had been not too long ago. This didn’t stop them from trying to connive her, adorable as they were. The elves, who seemed to stand out in the crowds like lightning in a sky – brillant but untouchable – she had rarely dealed with. Usually for goods from their homeland to the North, which were both expensive and exquisitely made.

Today’s morning held so much more for Kysa though ; she was being allowed to travel with the trade caravan to Ratchet, merchant city of the goblin’s Steamwheedle Cartel, who she had heard her father swearing about rather heatedly from time to time. Trade was how her family had purchased thier coat of arms and nobility, and over on the Eastern Kingdoms she had grown up with stories of how her grandfather had been scorned by those with less money but more pedigree. Her grandfather had always had a nose for change, and when Jaina fled to Kalimdor, her family was one of the ones who left with Archmage Proudmoore. Now her family’s name ranked with those who had pedigrees that dated back to the first Troll Wars, and the name Laurient was one of distinction. Five of her brothers had marched to Hyjal, leading House troops into what was being called the Last Battle. Of those five, only one returned not carried home by their men. Her mother was wont to say that of the five that left, none came back, for laughing jesting Althos had left with the sun in his hair and sapphires for eyes, sparkling and full of wit. He came back with grey at his temples and the sparkle gone, replaced by a cold sheen as hard and black as the ice that sometimes formed on Dustwallow Bay. He would take no bride, nor take the reins of the house as was his right. Instead he drilled the troops and kept to himself, taking his meals alone. She would sometimes see him, this stranger who used to be her brother, whittling wood while sitting outside on the balcony that faced towards the north. Even Father would do no more than sit with him and share a skin of wine from time to time. These sessions were private, and to intrude on them was to invite a hiding of the highest order, delivered on the flat of a sword by Father himself, as her brother Theo had discovered to his chagrin.

So she supervised the loading of carts with goods coming from the Eastern Kingdoms: dwarven arms and furniture from Ironforge, reliable gnomish trinkets and devices, human styled furniture and clothing of the latest styles from far Stormwind. Kysa moved with a purpose, tying loose knots, checking the hooves of the horses and the spokes of the wheels. Her brothers, the twins Theo and Hamal crossed their arms and stared at her while they leaned against a strut in the stables. Though they were older than her by several seasons, she was the first to be allowed to make the trip, and their blue eyes glared daggers at the black haired girl as she helped the teamsters stage. They were pranksters by nature, always with sharp tongues in their head and a mind for trouble. Trouble was not what Father needed, and she had a sensible nature that her brothers lacked. So it was no surprise that when the breakfast chime rang, and she headed back to the house to wash up that the brothers followed in her wake, talking loudly about what she might expect in Ratchet.

“I hear that the Horde havvin’ free reign there,” started Hamal to his brother, tossing a ball to his twin as he walked, “Nothing to stop them from popping a girl in the stew pot.”

“Aye, I hear the same thing,” continued Theo, a smile playing across his lips, “all the swords in the world won’t help when some orc on a wolf snatches you up for dinner. I hear they love pink skins, especially little girls.”

“Och brother, you don’t say? I hear black haired ones be especially delicious. Have a burnt taste to them, don’t even need ta marinate. Instant meal, even,” Hamal continued. This vein went back and forth with Kysa trying to shove images of her being pushed back into a stew pot by a giant green hand. Her body was shaking as their teasing escalated, walking side by side with her talking about how trolls loved to eat the skin in one big wrap, while the cowmen just mashed you flat and slurped you up. So deep were the twins in the game that they didn’t notice they were being followed, and the clouts on the side of the ears came as a shock. The screams were more from surprise than pain, but the blows did indeed hurt. While they rolled in the grass of the yard, Althos gave them both swift kicks to the trunk, drawing his sword with a flourish when Hamal reached for a rock.

“Go on, throw that rock and see if I don’t remove the hand that offends me,” he snarled, his teeth bared. “It’s shit like this that’s the reason she’s going and you’re not. Get you to your studies, and pray my mood improves before Father gets back, you louts.” Two feet of mithril versus a rock was an easy choice, and the brothers fled for the safety of the manor house. Sheathing his sword, he took Kysa by the shoulder and guided her towards his own villa in the gardens. “Come sister, let me show you something,” he said, all hostility gone from his voice. She had never been in her brother’s quarters, she realised. For five years, he had always met her at the door, or been outside when she called. She suddenly felt a great sense of time hit her, wondering why she hadn’t noticed the loneliness her brother had surrounded himself with. For his part, Althos didn’t notice her realization, instead opening the door and leading the way in. Her brother lived clean was the first thing she noted, his table bearing a small platter of fruit. In the back she could see the bed where he slept, several end tables placed here and there, and a wall covered in books. Her eye took in his weapons rack, and where his armor would be if he wasn’t wearing it. One last thing caught her eye – a series of shelves with exquisitely carved figurines of wood. Before she could examine them further, Althos pulled out a pair of chairs and bade her to sit.

“I’m not going to apologize for being distant,” he started, removing his gauntlets and flexing his fingers, the knuckles cracking with a staccato popping. “I have my demons, and how I deal with them is my business. That being said, I only gave half the reason you’re going instead of those two jackals,” Kysa’s eyes widened, but she didn’t say a word, waiting for him to go on. “You’re curious about the others. Our “allies”, I suppose. You get on with them in a way Father or Mother or those two never could. That’s our future, Father and I suspect – that we can’t afford isolationism anymore. So here’s a new thing, Kysa, are you listening?”

“Aye brother,” she said, biting her lower lip and leaning forward, “I’m listening.”

“Then listen well. When you go to Ratchet, you’re going to see those of the Horde. What do you think when I say that word?” Kysa, weaned on stories of the First Invasion and of the Scourge sacking Lordaeron, had a bevy of replies.

“Burning schools, eating people, sacrificing us to daemons, that sort of thing. Is that true? Will they eat me?” she asked quietly, wondering what exactly Ratchet was going to be like. Her brother gave a sardonic smirk and shook his head.

“No sister, that’s not what…” He trailed off and sighed. “We’re going to regret making enemies of them one day, mark my words,” he said softly to himself, and then focused back on her. “When I was at Hyjal, I saw the demons that exist outside of this place, waiting to come in and wreck havoc. I saw dogs the size of lions run through my men, beasts made up of human parts crashing into our walls. I saw a lot that day sister. I almost died when what was left of our house troops was caught between some demon lord and a line of ghouls,” Althos took her hand, and she could see him staring through her, reliving that day. “We were set to sell our lives as dearly as possible before we rose up and turned on our fellows. And a few did, and there’s nothing more terrible than having to put down the man who was just guarding your back a second ago,” he swallowed, and then continued. “The reason I’m here, telling you this, is because of the Horde. We heard a great cry from behind the demon who was toying with us, and thought that more had come to join in his fun. I remember Turgish slapping me on the back and saying “Had a good run with you Sir, fun while it lasted,” right before the first line of Orc warriors came bursting through the trees. Their axes were like great scything blades, and the ghouls were so much chaff. Some people will tell you they scream like beasts, but…no. Not like beasts Kysa, but they were bellowing for something else. An idea? A name? A belief? I don’t know, but then the earth started to shake, and here comes one of the Tauren. He was wielding a great wooden club, and smashed that demon down as you or I might a crab. A flick of the horns to us, and they were gone,” he finished, his voice low, reliving that day. His eyes focused again, and he looked at his sister. “So Kysa, this is what I’m trying to tell you with that story. They’re like us inside. Stab them and they bleed. They hunger, they shit, they laugh and cry. Green, blue, fur, whatever. See with your eyes whats inside, and judge accordingly. Your life may depend on it,” he paused, and then stood, stalking over to his weapon rack. From it, he drew a thin dagger in an unadorned sheathe. “When I first left, I took this with me. It was the only weapon that was originally mine when I came back. Bring it back to me, sister, and bring me a story.”

With a gulp, Kysa wrapped quivering fingers around the blade. “I will Althos, I’ll bring you a story that’ll make you smile again,” she said softly. For a moment, he almost threatened to smile, his face working into the Althos that had brought her confections when she was sick, of the one who took her fishing down by the bay, who dressed as a murloc to scare her one Hallow’s Eve. But then it faded, and it was Althos again, made of stone. “Go Kysa, Father will be cross if you miss your first outing.” And she fled that place of shadows, steel, and memories, wondering how many nights her brother had lain awake, trying to figure out what strange beliefs drove those that saved his life.

She wasn’t late, but only by a few minutes. Father stood a hand above the rest of the drovers and teamsters, his voice bellowing among them to organize, telling the guards to form ranks on either side of the caravan, checking goods against the manifest. In essence, all the last minute chaos before a convoy leaves. She favored her father, with his green eyes and black hair just starting to have silver run through it, and he doted on her for it. He patted her head as he walked with her towards their steeds. “Althos talk to you, blackbird?” he asked her as he mounted his charger, Thunderclap.

“Aye Father,” and she showed off the dagger at her hip, her Father nodding appreciatively. Her pony, Swift, danced about as it waited for them to move along, and she leaned forward to stroke its neck, making clicking sounds low in her throat.

“He told you what you’d be seeing then? Orcs and Tauren and Trolls, and possibly some of the Forsaken?” he asked her as he snapped his reins and Thunderclap began to trot forward. Swift followed alongside as Kysa’s face twisted in confusion.

“He said something of the first three, but nothing of the Forsaken, who are they?” she asked.

“They were people once, like you or me, who fell to the plague,” her father began. “But for some reason, they have a will of their own. Stay clear of em, Kysa. You’re level headed but you got a streak of curious like a goblin, and I don’t know which way to jump when I see them. They ain’t going to be pretty, so I’m telling you so you’ll be prepared,” he finished, and then looked over at her. “Understand what I’m saying love?”

Kysa nodded, and her hand fingered the dagger at her waist. “Aye Father, I understand. Don’t stare, don’t scream, don’t make a fuss. I won’t embarass you,” she told him with a levity only a 15 year old can muster. Her Father smiled, and reached over to rub her hair.

“That’s my girl. I’m going to go talk to the Sergeant of the March, see what’s he’s got planned for where we’ll bed down tonight. The dragonkin down south are acting fierce lately, and I don’t want to be taken unawares,” he told her, and pointed at her dagger. “And we’ll find someone to teach you how to use that, so you’re not running about more a danger to yourself than anything we might run into,” he said before pulling off and riding along the moving column.

The convoy moved slowly through the swamp, the condition of the roads a mess with the recent incursions by murlocs, crabmen, and dragonkin. She could hear her father cursing at the pace that had to be set as brush needed to be cleared aside, or a fell tree removed from the road. He said he wanted to be on the edge of Dustwallow and near the Barrens by the time they camped tonight, but they had to detour south because of a washed out road. For all the halts, the bugs, and the sweltering heat, Kysa was enjoying herself. She was on an adventure, a real adventure. Nothing like the Heroes of the Portal, but still, this was all new to her. She had never traveled too deep into the Marsh before this, but here she was on the way to Ratchet. So lost in her thoughts she never noticed when her father came up, his mail caked with mud. “Let this be a lesson to you Kysa: the plans of men are games for the gods to spoil,” he said with a sigh, and then looked at his map. “That hillock! Circle the wagons round the base and set up camp up top! Set your pickets, Sergeant, and have them manned by two men!” he bellowed before leading Kysa towards their destination, clucking his tongue. “We’re too far south for my liking, but we’ll have to trust in the Light that the dragons leave us alone. Hopefully they’ll see we’re prepared, and go find something easier to harass,” he said with a shrug. So inerred was he to the vagaries of life in Dustwallow, he took no notice of his daughter’s wide eyes.

“Dragons, Father? Like flying, firebreathing types?” she said in an awed whisper. He shook his head, and patted her shoulder.

“No blackbird, just…Well, they’re like dragons, but not. You know centaurs? Well, kind of like that. Cept they look like dragons. Hopefully, you’ll never have to see it to know,” he said, shaking his head. “If there’s an attack, just stay by me, and we’ll fend them off and go our merry way,” he explained. She nodded, wishing she felt the confidence he had.

In Dustwallow, you could be blind and tell that it was night. The marsh came alive with twice as much sound as it had before, and with no moon it every torch stood out like a bonfire. They had built a ring of fires up on top of the hill, and it was around one of these Kysa and her father sat. She listened to him swap stories with one of the merchants by the name of Salty Tuck, tall tales that tended to leave both men in stitches over their rations. Not understanding some of the references, she left to sit by herself, staring out at the night, and the distant lights of Theramore. She wondered what her mother was doing now – probably making prayers to the Light for their safe return. Her brothers were probably wenching away in a tavern while Althos…Well, she didn’t know what Althos did. She thought of all the nights where she played with dolls or gossiped with Jeyne and Maranda while her brother spent his nights alone.

She let out a sigh for her brother’s sake, and said a short prayer for him as well, thankful it was quiet enough to think. That was what set her off, that it was quiet enough to think when a moment ago it was a raucous cacophony of sound. She rose to her feet, staring into the night with her breath catching in her chest. When sound filled the air again, it was screams. The screaming of the men out in the darkness with torches, cries of “Wyrmspawn! Wyrmspawn!” and the clash of metal against metal. The air filled with hisses and cries of an alien sort, and there was a tearing she could hear from the hillock combined with an ungodly scream. Something landed with a wet thump near her, covering her in warm liquid. She stood in shock as she looked at the mailed legs of a trooper, twitching hand raised to feel the blood that was sticking her hair together. She stared at her blood covered hand for an eternity as time slowed down, and it wasn’t until her father snatched her up that everything started moving again. “Kysa! Kysa!” he said as he shook her, his eyes boring into her. “Listen to me! Hide under these crates and stay here! Bastards cut our horse lines, so we can’t make a break for it. We’re going to form a perimeter here and hopefully they saw our flares in Theramore for aid. We’ll keep them held off until the garrison arrives, and we’ll make it out of here. Do you understand?!” her father demanded with a shake. The fact she had blood in her hair was pushed to the back of her mind – she had to be her father’s daughter now. She nodded, and her father added, “You do not leave where I’m putting you unless I get you,” he finished with before giving her a rough hug and tucking her behind some crates, covering her with a tarp, and leaving her in the darkness.

She could hear the screams and the chaos outside, and nothing stood out for moments until right before the world exploded. “They’ve got fliers!” she heard someone say, and then her world became a dance of black and reds, followed by a darkness that never ended.

Kysa lay very still when she came to, regaining her bearings in a matter of seconds as she listened to the hissing that came from the other side of the oiled tarp that lay supported on some shattered crates. Keeping her breathing as light as possible, she instinctively edged away from the stomping creature she could not see, hearing it ravaging through supplies. The sky told her that the first fingers of dawn were starting to arrive, and if she could survive until the sun rose, she would be fine. Thoughts of her Father, of her family, of the fact she just put her hand in what used to be a man’s face weren’t anywhere in her mind, only the fact she had to survive. She moved in incremental phases. A few inches stolen here and there while whatever was there searched. Her world had ceased to exist outside of the burnt and bloodied tarp, it was her saviour right now. She could edge of the side of the hill, crawl to the road, and flee. Running was always her strong suit.

If it had been the one, she might have made it. Even with the Scalebane coming over the edge, if she had played dead, she might have been able to fool them long enough for them to decide that there was nothing there of interest, and flee. She didn’t though. The site of the monstrous, 12 foot tall dragonkin made her fill her lungs with air and instinctively scream at the sight of the horror. It turned its armored head towards her, black eyes glaring with hatred at the sight of her, and then whipped its gaze towards the three who were chopping up the remains of those who hadn’t been able to flee. There was a brief conversation, consisting of hisses and snarls between the two groups, the consensus of which was that live food was better than dead food, and that they were hungry now. Kysa froze as the dragonspawn moved in on her, falling to her knees and shaking with the terror of the dragonfear. Her world filled with the horrors coming towards her, but her conciousness would not flee, forcing her to experience every ground shaking step as her death closed in from all sides.

It was only the blast of lightning flashing across her vision, striking one of the beasts that made her flinch, and the immediate thunderclap that occured afterwards that threw her to the ground. Blinking away the after images, she could see a figure stalking up the hill, slamming axe against shield three times before breaking into a dead run, screaming a war cry. Too big to be a man, she wondered what it was until it stood over her, and she could see where green skin gleamed dully.

Her saviour was an Orc.

It threw out one hand, and the ground ripped itself up in a straight line towards the armored one, invisible force breaking the flesh and spilling the black blood of the dragon, who gave a roar and seemed to outline himself in dancing flames. The Orc raised a hand to the sky, called out, and lightning answered his call, shimmering around him in a protective aurora. Slamming his axe against the ground, she could feel something pass into the weapon, and the glowing skull topped blade seemed deadlier to her eye. He called out to the left and right of him, and in turn the earth rumbled and the wind blew as something answered his call. Kysa drew herself up, drawing her dagger and clutching it in both hands as the dragonmen moved in. Her guardian seemed puissant, but five to one odds was still five to one odds.

It wasn’t five to one odds, as a mad cackle came from behind the large group and an thin, armored form spung into the air, twin swords transfixed in a blue haze as he struck home again and again, driving down one robed dragonspawn with a savage series of chops, spittle flying from his helm as he did so. Seeing the long ears extending from the helm, she first thought it was some sort of elf, but she never knew an elf that had blue ears, or had tusks protruding from the face.

Troll, she thought, as one of the armored monsters connected with a solid swing, but had the follow up bounce off one sword. It seemed to her that he welcomed the three attacking him, his blades becoming a dance, guarding himself while he drove home his weapons. Still, he bled blue, but it only drove him to greater heights of fury, and even she had to wince when he drove both blades into the exposed neck of one beast. The Troll scissored upwards, spliting the head and causing her to vomit profusely on the ground when some of it landed on her.

She heard the gunshot before she saw the shooter, and with a heavy thump the massively armoured Scalebane, who had looked so invincible to her, fell to the ground. Most of its guts were blown into the trees and bushes, leaving a hole she could crawl through. Some distant part of her mind noted that there would be good eating for some scavenger. The heavy footsteps that she thought belonged to one of the things that had assualted her caravan instead belonged to a massive Tauren, who put the double barrled gun away and let blades spring from his forearms, engaging one of the remaining dragonkin with a silence that seemed just as menacing. She hadn’t noticed when the Orc had left her side and traded blows with the last of the dragonspawn, his enhanced axe biting into the skin of the beast and leaving lifeless gray wounds. With a flourish he tossed it in the air hilt over blade, driving his fist into the thing’s face three or four times in a rapid series of blows before smashing his shield into the scaled head, knocking it off balance. He caught his axe in midair and brought it down in an overhand chop that severed its head from its body, sending it flying through the air and landing in front of Kysa. The last reflexive action of the Firemane was to open its mouth in a snarl of defiance.

For all her willpower, a snarling dragon head was not what she was used to, and mercifully, her eyes rolled back in her head and she fainted.

Sermajin looked over at his two companions after lowering his last two fingers and giving thanks to the spirits of Earth and Wind who aided him, raising the hand in supplication. When he felt they were pleased, he turned to his comrades, looking around at the scene and kicking over the ravaged remains. “Looks like they were butchering these pinkskins for meat,” he said as he looked down at a pile of body parts. A hissed word between clenched teeth, and fire sprang from his hands to the remains, crackling happily and filling the air with a smell not unlike pork. While the Troll stood over his kills, reciting the Prayer of Ancestral Battles, the Tauren looked at the kill Sermajin had made shaking his great horned head.

“Was that necessary, old friend?” he asked. “You could have finished him from a distance if you wanted.” Sermajin pointed with his axe at the gory remains of the Hunter’s kill.

“As could you, Throtl my brother. In fact, that’s what I believe you specialize in,” he said, sheathing his axe and slapping Throtl on one massive shoulder. “There’s something to be said for closing with the enemy and driving them down to the ground before you,” Sermajin said wistfully. Throtl nodded after a moment.

” ‘Killing elves and men’, isn’t that what I said?” he asked, and the Shaman nodded. “So, what do we do about her then?” Throtl asked as he shot a thumb behind him at the fetal form of Kysa.

“Dere’s always the stew pot,” spoke the Warrior, rising from his prayers and wiping his blades clean after taking trophies of eye and talon. He looked at the two others, and then raised his hands, open palmed, to the sky. “Da spirits of da Nether be singin our praises, dis makes dem proud,” he said as he tucked his trophies away. “Dey will make good slaves in da afterlife, be proud of dis day.” Sermajin nodded, and then shook his head.

“No, we’re not going to eat her, Gullah,” said Sermajin in a casual dismissal, walking over and throwing the girl over his shoulder. “Let’s go and get the mounts.” Throtl strode forward, disbelief etched on his face, and Gullah’s own had the same confusion on it.

“Sermajin…She’s a human, we just can’t keep her like a pet,” Throtl started. Sermajin turned to look at his friend, shaking his head.

“We can’t leave her here, either. For all we know, that was the rescue party,” he said with a wave of his hand, indicating the crackling flames. “We’ll bring her to Ratchet, see if there’s anyone there waiting for her, looking for her.”

“And if no?” asked Gullah, running a finger along one tusk. Sermajin gave a shrug of his shoulders, mail rattling as he did so. “It is what it is.”

“Not really much of an answer at all,” called Throtl as he stalked through the underbrush, Gullah walking along casually pulling rear security.

“It’s all the answer I have for you. We’ll figure out what to do then. If it comes down to it, well, I have a plan or two,” Sermajin responded as they arrived at their mounts, stroking Gromsch’s broad head and lashing the girl to the bedroll at the rear. “There’s a few Forsaken in the Harsh Winter – they might know how to speak with her, but first, I want to ask the spirits.” Throtl grunted in reply. Sermajin could tell the Tauren wasn’t happy with the decision, but knew in his heart it was the right one. He turned to Gullah, who had mounted Spunkeh, his war raptor, and was staring off into the distance.

“What do you -” Sermajin was cut off by Gullah.

“Dat not be my issue, boss man. Some big mojo going on right now, and Gullah say we be movin at the quickpace. Beside, you be da one leadin, right or wrong. Gullah just throw her in da pot, but Gullah’s belly not always arbiter of life an death, ya know mon?” Gullah shrugged, and jigged Spunkeh up to where Sermajin had mounted. The Shaman nodded and they began the trek out of Dustwallow. Throtl spoke up after a moment.

“You are right, Sermajin, we can’t leave her to die, but…” Another great shake of that massive head. “Old habits, friend, old habits.” Sermajin nodded. He knew about old habits, and how they were indeed hard to break.

“Cross that bridge when we get to it,” he said, and they rode in silence for the rest of the way.

Advertisements

Posted in Uncategorized

Leave a Comment »

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

About author

Paratrooper. Correctional Officer. Federal Agent. Hello world, these are my thoughts and this is my story.

Search

Navigation

Categories:

Links:

Archives:

Feeds

%d bloggers like this: