Post by Morec0
(( Gilnean Moon (Part 16)
The use of worgen as scouts and ambush units had proven immensely successful, so successful that King Greymane had even decided to allow them to act as shock-troopers for head-to-head engagements with the undead. There had been many a protest raised against the king’s decision by those who were against it, by both the common folk and those with standing in Gilnean society. Lord Godfrey, General Denson, even Krista Jeret had finally taken a stand against her brothers’ ideas for “the safety and security of the greater Gilnean populace.”
All of their efforts, their protests, their cries for remembrance of what the worgen had done to Gilneas long before the undead had ever arrive, were ignored by Genn, who spent most of his time in consul with the Gilnean Generals – most of whom took not one side or the other in the conflict. This created a new rift amongst the Gilnean people, one that many feared would lead to another civil war.
But even if stood against his most recent decisions the Lords and Officers of the Gilneas Armed Forces were still loyalty-bound enough to carry out their king’s commands, however grudgingly. The feeling, while not mutual, had a corresponding emotion from the worgen working with the humans; grief. Greif that their human counterparts – people that might have been friends or even family before the worgen outbreak – now feared them and were hesitant to work alongside them. Some were even affected by this so much as to be enraged by it and hesitant to work with the non-cursed Gilneans as a result. But still they worked with each other, whether they liked it or not, and even this reluctant cooperation from both sides allowed to strike against and crush the enemies of their kingdom.
Of course, they were still fighting a losing battle. For every human soldier they lost the undead gained another warrior – for some reason, those with the worgen curse had proven immune to the undead’s efforts to resurrect them, which had fueled the need for them to be a part of the war effort further – and because of that they remained to be hopelessly outnumbered. And their foes were not fools either; for every victory the Gilneans won the Forsaken were victorious as well and matched them in stalemate in another battle.
But still the war continued to rage, and still both dead and wounded continued to pour into the Gilnean camp from the battles – the scars they had mirroring the scars the battles were leaving upon Gilneas.
“Make way! Clear the way for the wounded!” A group of thirteen soldiers – all human – rode back into the camp. Out of the thirteen only six were in condition fit to have made the trip back from the Gilneas-city border that their latest mission had taken them. But it had been try to make the ride back to camp for treatment or die alone in the wilderness. It seemed the gambit had been well worth the risk.
Their mission had been simple enough; scout Gilneas city for signs of any remaining worgen. The hope was that, like in the marshlands, the worgen had vanished from the city as well, in which case the Gilneans could have retreated to within its walls for security that the marshlands obviously didn’t provide.
They were the seventh group to partake in this scouting mission, but the first to return.
The wounded were carried into the medical tent and laid on the ground – the cots had long ago been filled up with wounded and had remained filled for weeks without respite – where doctors stepped over the least-wounded to treat the most critically injured.
King Greymane stepped out of his tent and quickly began walking towards the medical tent. Stumbling up to him, General Denson met him halfway and saluted. “Milord,” he said, pain rippling through his voice. “Gilneas City is inhabitable.” The General had volunteered to lead the all-human force in an effort to prove the worgen were unnecessary, and therefore the risk-reward situation created by using them was mostly risk and little reward.
“The worgen are still there,” Genn muttered, frowning. He had hoped, prayed to the Light, that it was not so, but the facts were clear. The disappearances of the other scouting parties – which he had hoped were just due to unfortunate encounters with undead kill squads – and now the near-fatal wounding of this one…
“No, milord,” Denson said. “It is far worse; the undead had captured the city.”
The blood drained from Genn’s face.
“They’ve entrenched themselves within the walls and are using it as a forward staging ground for spreading out throughout the remainder of Gilneas. The numbers they have stationed within the city’s walls dwarf even the numbers that were reported to be amassing near the ruins of Duskhaven. They also seemed to be importing some kind of green toxin en masse.”
“Toxin?” Genn questioned.
“It appears to be used in conjunction with their catapults, milord,” Denson explained. “And, whatever it is, it gave me a chill the likes of which I have never felt before.” A millisecond after finishing his sentence the General collapsed onto his knees, blood seeping out from his armor as the wound in his left side opened up.
“Medics!” Genn yelled. “Treat this man immediately!” Another group of Gilnean soldiers hurried over and picked up General Henry, carrying him towards the medical tent.
From the rows of tents, Ivan – still in worgen form - watched the conversation and removal of Denson for medical treatment alongside his brother – also currently in worgen form, having just recently returned from a search-and-destroy mission he had placed himself on. Blaine’s face was just as white as the King’s had been.
“Light,” the youngest Jeret said, falling silent after the one-word prayer. He finally found the words he had been at a loss for; “Gilneas City… in the hands of those undead. What do you think this means for the war-effort, Ivan?”
Ivan blinked once, and then slowly said; “nothing good.”
Five days and General Denson’s condition failed to improve. During their scouting mission they had been discovered by Forsaken sentries and the entirety of the undead forces had been alerted to their presence. In their effort to retreat they had lost three soldiers and the rest had been wounded to some degree. Gashes, scars, and occasionally internal bleeding afflicted the soldiers under the General’s command.
But General Denson had suffered far worse than the soldiers that he had led to the city. He had been infected with some disease the undead apparently carried when he had been wounded in their retreat, and it was taking a toll on his health. Old cuts, some that had been fully healed over, opened back up to pour out pints of the Generals blood, and bloody hacking and coughing fits made it near-impossibly difficult for the General to eat anything. Medical efforts to cure him had met with neutral results; the disease was failing to progress but his condition was also failing to improve.
Even magical means, provided by both Harvest Witches and Clerics of the Light, failed to restore his health. This worried many, but fewer did it worry more than his wife, Pamela; who was herself a Harvest Witch.
How a high-ranking Gilnean officer – and he had been a ranking Gilnean officer when he had wed her – had somehow decided to shack up with a tree-hugging social outcast and manage to retain his reputation and standing was beyond anyone’s comprehension.
She was worried for his health as a wife should be, but she also was worried that, whatever ailment was afflicting him would spread not only to the rest of the camp but beyond humanity. And with whatever manner of infliction this was immune to both magic and science, what it would mean for Gilneas was heart-stopping to think about.
She refused to give up on him though, which was more than could be said for the rest of the healers. They considered his condition to be incurable, and so had stopped trying to treat him. On the third day of his treatment – or lack thereof – they had even petitioned King Greymane for him to be quarantined far away from the Gilnean camp. But Pamela had fought against their wishes and King Greymane had agreed to let treatment for him continue; albeit by her alone and a good number of yards away from the camp.
With only the barest of access to medical supplies most thought General Denson would be dead within one day of being moved out of the camp, but Pamela’s magic and knowledge of healing herbs kept her husband’s condition stable. Hell, but the fourth day it had improved drastically. There was speculation, of course; some claimed it was a miracle, others claimed it was the work of demons; but either way; all eyes were on the Denson’s and the General’s recovery.
Including a pair of green, wolfish eyes.
Ivan had taken a particular… interest in Denson; not the General, though: his wife. He monitored her comings and goings; her trips between her husband’s sick tent and the forest where she collected herbs and other vegetations used in the natural remedies she was concocting to aid in her husband’s recovery; when she sat by to watch over him; when she went into camp to get food for herself or him. He made mental note of all the regular visits she made and how long it took for her to do each.
And who was monitoring him? Not his siblings; Blaine had left the day after General Denson’s squad had returned for an extended mission somewhere to the north, and Krista had distanced herself even further from her brothers by locking herself away in her tent when not speaking with the King or the nobles that sided against King Greymane’s decision on the worgen. Nor were any of the soldiers that had once called Ivan friend of ally; the war kept them all busy, as did it the Gilnean Lordships; Godfrey, Ashbury, Walden, not one of them spared a moment of their time to watch Ivan’s activities. And as one might expect; the citizens of Gilneas kept their distance from him and tried to avoid him whenever possible.
He was a dog off of his leash. Then, at twilight of the seventh day as she was heading towards the marsh-forests alone, he followed her.
Like any predator stalking his prey he was stealthy and watchful; staying well out of sight and making not so much as a slight breath of a sound, all while keeping her well within eyesight and earshot of him. Pamela had no idea she was being followed as she made her way deeper and deeper into the forests to search for the alchemical ingredients she needed.
Three yards from the marsh’s edge; four yards; five; six and deeper in still. Deeper and deeper she ventured, and deeper and deeper he followed. His green eyes monitored her traveling, watching her with a malice that was far more evil than any violence. Animals of all kinds; birds, squirrels, deer, they all fled as they saw or smelled the worgen. Something about the creature frightened them, but they were fortunate enough to have the senses needed to stay away from it. General Denson’s wife had no such senses.
Finally Pamela stopped to begin collecting the ingredients she needed, she knelt down and began to pick at the mosses and plants around her, carefully putting each into her satchel. But he didn’t stop; he continued to advance forward, towards her, keeping to the darkness and silence until she was within feet of him. Then he stepped forward, making sure to break a large twig under his padded foot of a paw to make his presence known.
She turned around with a start and gasped as she saw him. She didn’t scream for help but tried to run from him, only making a few feet before she thought she recognized him. “Lord Jeret?” she asked. “Lord Ivan Jeret.”
The worgen blinked once, slowly and intently. Then its lips pulled back into an unmistakably animal snarl. “No,” he growled, and lunged at her.
She had no time to make any sound but the inhalation of breath for what would have been a scream. The worgen took her head in its right paw and dashed it against the nearest tree; not hard enough to kill, but certainly hard enough to render her unconscious. As was his intention, and it worked perfectly.
And there she lay on the ground before him, helpless to defend herself before the brown-furred worgen towering above her unconscious body. Her husband had taken his mate from him, now he would take Denson’s mate from him. In ways that he knew would hurt the General much more than simply killing her.
First he sank his fangs deep into her shoulder. The worgen affliction spread slowly, the transformation would not be complete for some time, but that wouldn’t stop him. Without hesitation he disrobed her, then himself…