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#12717308 Sep 18, 2016 at 12:40 PM · Edited 5 years ago
9 Posts
Theodore opened his eyes slowly, wincing and blinking against the midday sun that shone down between the thick, leafy boughs of the tree he had been napping beneath. With a grunt, he sat up, looking blearily at his surroundings; the rolling, hilly plains of Hillsbrad stretched before him, soft breeze winding through his hair and rustling the lush grass. Awake, and content to be so, he pushed himself to his feet, turning to look behind him, down the hill at the bustling town of Southshore.

Home.

With a smile, Theodore started to make his way down the hill, quickening his pace when he realized that he was late to feed the chickens. He was jogging by the time he passed through the town square, returning waves and giving jovial calls of greeting, slowing only briefly when one of the local priests gave a warm but stern call of “mind how you’re going, son”. On arriving home, Theodore ducked into the chicken coop to do his chore before going inside for lunch, knowing he’d be asked if he’d done it yet, and denied lunch until it was done anyway.

It was in the coop, ankles swaddled by a brood of impatiently clucking chickens, that he first heard the noise; an odd, distant whistling, followed by the sound of splintering wood. The first time went ignored, but the second piqued his interest. By the time the third crash sounded closer to home, he haphazardly scattered the feed, and lightly punted several of the hens away from his feet to make a break for the door.

When he got outside, Southshore was already in ruins; green, oozing puddles littered the streets, with more appearing every few seconds thanks to the hellish looking trebuchets hurling barrels of the concoction from the shoreline right into town. Citizens ran, screaming, from the onslaught, as a pack of shambling undead in various states of decay surged through the streets, swords and torches in hand. The priest who had warned him to go slower about his business was impaled on the jagged blade of a warrior with no jaw. Recoiling in horror, Theodore turned to see the local lamplighter clutching at his freshly cut throat. Without a second thought, the young man ran inside to warn his parents, but the moment he charged through the door, it was to find them, already butchered, and laying on the kitchen floor.

----

His father, one eye gouged out, is reaching his hand toward him, wheezing for aid, when Theodore wakes up, sitting bolt upright in his bunk with a sharp intake of breath. Panting softly, he tosses his head from side to side, drinking in his surroundings; a fellow soldier is cramped into the bunk beside him, and the damp material brushing his bare shoulders as he sits back is a reminder of the tent he’s been sleeping in. Deployment. He’s on deployment in the Broken Isles. He’s not home. He wasn’t there when the attack happened. It was all just a dream, his mind playing tricks.

He sighs, firmly pressing the knuckle of his right index finger squarely between his eyes, other hand finding the Light pendant at his neck, and driving it into his palm. After a few minutes, his breathing slows, but the imagined mental picture of his slain parents refuses to leave him when he closes his eyes, however briefly.

Theodore is mostly silent when he rises and dresses, not waking his comrade. Pulling up his coif as he ducks out of the tent and into the rain, he takes only a moment to squint up at the dark sky of the appropriately named Stormheim before walking through the largely quiet camp to the northern gate.

“Eh?” a yawning Worgen, wearing a tabard with the insignia of Gilneas, turns at the sound of footsteps, and eyes the approaching soldier with a curious gaze “Yer one of the First, aye? What brings you out here then, ey?”

“Watch replacement.”

“Oh,” the Worgen frowns for a moment, but shrugs. He could have sworn that he had another hour, but he’s not about to question the chance at extra sleep. Passing his lantern to Theodore, he inclines his muzzle “Have at, young chap. Gi’us a yell if ya see anythin’.”

Taking the lantern, Theodore merely nods, watching the Worgen trudge through the mud and into the Gilnean barracks, before turning back to face the forest and taking his position by the gate. He returns the nod given to him by another soldier several feet along the wall, then raises the lantern, and keeps his eyes trained ahead of him.

Working is easier.
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