Post by Skreeran
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Roberts legs felt as if they would fall off. He marched and marched and marched and marched. The sun was waning in the sky now, and the faint glow of the Blue Child could be seen cresting the horizon. Finally, the tip of Stormwind Cathedral’s spire appeared over the edge of the landscape. Robert heard his father breath a small sigh of relief, which he soon echoed. They were almost there.
They marched for another hour, nearly forgetting their fatigue with the prospect of rest so close ahead. Finally, they reached the gates, barred fast against any possible threat. The captain of the company approached the gate and let out a long rich clarion call on his horn, the signature trumpet blast of Stormwind Kingdom. A helmeted head was seen over the gates in answer, and looked down upon the returning rank. The man disappeared again from the top of the gate. Moments passed, and finally the gates opened, allowing the company passage.
The reached the Trade quarter, which was in the midst of being transformed from a bazaar of sort into a fortified choke point into the city. Scattered gun emplacements were being assembled on top of the buildings, shielded by large planks of wood or metal. Basic battlements were being set up for archers to fire from. Carts and stray bits of stone and wood had been assembled into a barricade barring access to the market square. The city was preparing for total war. Robert only hoped it would be enough, the scene of his forward company dissolving within a cloud of green gas still burned fresh in his mind.
His captain vaulted over the barricade, moving to speak with his overseer. Robert could not hear what they said, but it was clear by the uneasy tone in the captain’s voice that he was afraid. The commander sighed audibly, before turning to Robert’s company.
“Alright, boys,” He called out, “You’ve been marching all day. Go get a meal, sharpen your weapons, prepare for battle,” The commander finished, a grim tone in his voice. He knew that many of these young men would not survive the night, if scouts' reports were to be trusted. Damn the Horde. Damn it to the pits from whence it crawled out so many years ago. They were bad in the first war, but never before had they possessed a weapon as potent as the Forsaken Blight. Even the terrible power of the orcish warlocks was dwarfed by the sheer genocidal capacity of this weapon. Today would not be a good day.
Robert followed his captain to the old town, as it was called. Among the newer buildings, if you could call them that, many remnants of the first Stormwind stood, undefeated be the Horde in the First War. Robert had only been to Stormwind once before, but he had never liked being here. In contrast to the busy, joyful tone of the Trade quarter, or the Mage quarter, Old town was a veritable ghost town. Those who stayed here were quiet: thieves, spies, ruffians, veterans. All those who did not belong to the merry atmosphere of the rest of the city gathered here, and lent their gloom to the attitude of the district. Where in the trade quarter one might hear singing or music over the constant chatter of the market, Old Town was quiet, resolute. It had seen the destruction of the rest of the city, and it was forever changed. Even the stonework seemed old and bitter, crumbling in places, cracked in others, while still elsewhere the white marble was seared with black soot, where once flames had licked as they consumed the city.
Robert followed his company to the mess hall, where another group was already leaving. He entered the building, standing in line to receive his food. He waited almost half an hour, before finally reaching the end of the line, where a black-bearded dwarf stood with a pot of grayish semi-solids.
“Enjoy yer chow, boy,” The dwarf grunted, leaning forward and ladling a large spoonful of the severely unappetizing slop into his bowl. Robert groaned and moved on, taking a seat next to his father. Thomas chuckled slightly, patting his son on the back. “It’s not your mother’s cooking, but it’ll fill your belly, and we’ve gotta take whatever we can get if there’s going to be a battle.”
Robert hesitated for a moment, and took a bite, grimacing as he choked down the “food.”
Throm struggled against his bonds, trying to knock himself off the horse, but received a heavy strike from the back of the knight’s steel glove. His vision went dark for a moment, and when he could see again, there were stars twinkling in his eyes, despite the fact that there was still light in the sky. He tried to struggle again, but stopped when he saw his sister laying limp on the back of another horse, whimpering slightly.
He couldn’t leave her behind. Even if he managed to escape, he could not honorable leave his sister to whatever fate the humans would put he through. If he could even escape at all. His hands and feet were bound, and he could not run if he made it to the ground. Besides, even if he could have, the humans were on horseback. His spirit screamed within him, thinking about what had transpired. The deaths of both his parents to the same accursed humans. His capture, and his sister’s, to be taken ancestors know where, to face humiliation and torment, no doubt, if not death. His screaming soul found release as he gnashed his teeth and let out a genuine orcish warcry, a powerful mix of lamentation and rage that burned his throat in its intensity.
“Shut up, little greenskin,” The knight spat, backhanding Thorm again; harder this time, knocking him out cold.
When he awoke, it was dark. He looked up, noticing metal bars holding him into an uncomfortable small cell. He looked around, trying to find his sister, but couldn’t. Nearby, many other orc youths of various ages were also locked up. He stood, placed his thick hand around the bars and began pulling, pulling with all his might. His face went flush with exertion as he tried to bend the bars, before he screamed in pain, his muscle tearing slightly.
“It’s no use,” One of the older orcs, probably somewhere around sixteen years of age, muttered, “Those bars are made of thorium.” The youth nodded, pointing to a number of burst blood vessels underneath the skin of his own arms.
“Where is my sister?” Thorm cried, slamming his fists against the bars, recoiling slightly at the pain.
The youth shrugged. “If she wasn’t killed on the spot, they’re probably taking her to a camp, if she’s lucky.”
Thorm didn’t want to think about what might happen if she were unlucky.
“Supper, ya little piggies,” A voice called out from another room. Soon, a large heavy-set human entered, holding a tub of cold porridge. The young orcs in the cages about Thorm pushed small trays out into the hall, allowing the human to dump an amorphous blob of the tasteless food onto each tray, before they pulled it back.
Thorm looked down, finding a similar tray at his own feet. He frowned in disgust at the status of the tray. It was if it had never been washed. Nonetheless, he pushed it under the bars, allowing the human to plop a spoonful of the gruel onto it.
“This’ll ‘av ya grow up big an’ strong, t’ earn lotsa money for yer masters,” He laughed. “Word ‘as it that th’ King is comin’ too. E’ll just love seein’ ya strappin’ young orcs ready to put to work.”
The elder youth growled and gnashed his teeth at the large human, turning his pained arms on the bars again in a futile attempt to pry them open.
Robert had just finished sharpening his sword, smiling tiredly as the blade bit deep in a target dummy modeled after an orc.
“Nice work, Rob,” His father smiled heavily, fatigue and sleeplessness showing in his eyes. Rob wasn’t used to fighting with a sword, and his technique was poor, but passable.
“Soldiers, to your stations!”
The cry went through out the district, being yelled by many different captains and commanders at once. Thomas looked up and beckoned Robert to follow him, quickly reforming their company behind their captain. The quickly marched across the canals to the Trade district, Roberts company was placed behind the barricade, behind two other companies of soldiers. Thousands assembled all over the city. Dozens of gun emplacements lined the roofs of the buildings in the district, and countless archers stood with them on the roofs. Robert looked forward nervously at the flimsy barricade. There were two different gates that the Horde would have to get through to get to his position, and that was comforting. But the Horde had the Blight, and that could bypass any obstacle.
Suddenly, a horrid cry rang through the air. A cry of thousands of Horde voices ripping through the air in a massive battle roar. Robert’s heart skipped a beat as he began to hear the thunderous booming of countless feet that he knew were charging at the gate.