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#12759167 Oct 04, 2016 at 02:12 PM
932 Posts
The following is a series of Moon Guard Forums Posts that I made for the March on the Highlands Campaign in March of 2014.

The stench of the plague hung in the air. In eastern Lordaeron on the border of Quel'Thalas, the first regiment of the Stormwind Army had delved into the ruined forest troll city of Zul'Mashar on a daring mission to secure the whereabouts of a fabled fountain of health. After slaying dozens of zombified forest trolls that had risen from shallow graves, the regiment was greeted by the plague-afflicted warlord of the ruined city. In exchange for the peace granted to his former tribesmen and a warrior's death, the warlord revealed the location of the fountain of health to the first regiment.

Dame Theodora De Vreis and Sergeant Bhaldorn Maclaren tumbled head over heels down the ziggurat steps, knocked asunder from a mighty blow by the troll warlord. Flashes of silver and blue surged up the path to take their places as heavily armored footmen readied their weapons.

"COME AT ME, HUMANS! TASTE MY AXE!" roared the troll, deflecting an attempted shortsword thrust with a clang. The warlord held the high ground and was determined to keep it. The clash of arms proved to be an inevitable loss, however, as other footmen took the places of those beaten back.



A strange silence fell over the valley. The troll had frozen in place, its arms stopped in mid-swing. The footmen, looking up, would see that an arrow had pierced the troll's brow up to its feathers. The troll's legs buckled and gave out as the warlord collapsed in a heap.

"We're under attack!"

So they were. From the thick forest rained arrows and spells, striking many of the troops completely by surprise. Men and women cried in agony as their limbs and bodies were shot through. "RUN! Retreat to the Argent tower!" one man shouted as the now disorganized soldiers of Stormwind stumbled over each other as they fled to the west. Those that were wounded were dragged and those that weren't quickly found themselves struck by at least one of the projectiles.

"Fireborne, give them hell!"

Lord Maxen Montclair jerked his head in the direction of the voice as he ran. Setrien Dawnlight, High Commander of the Sin'dorei organization known as the Fireborne, was fast on Maxen's heels. The armored lord spun round, brandishing his longsword to meet the blood elf head-on. The two exchanged blows, masters in their craft. Sparks flew as truesilver met Thalassian steel. Around them, regiment troops fell in battle one by one, struck by arrows or blasted by magical flame. Others fought on against the ranger scouts of the Fireborne.

The battle raged for several minutes and approached the road leading into Quel'Thalas. Northpass Tower was in sight, and the battle was in sight of Northpass Tower. Surely, Maxen thought, that the Argent Crusade would send aid to cease the fighting. As the conflict persisted, however, such hope turned to despair as Argent Guardsmen simply watched from their posts atop the fortress. In short time the regiment was outflanked and surrounded. After a final clash of swords, Setrien and Maxen disengaged, eying each other cautiously.

"I've been looking forward to this moment for a long time, Maxen." said Setrien with a hungry look in his eye, a bewildered smile creeping across his elven features. The sound of dozens of bowstrings being drawn crept into the ears of the remaining regiment troops as they formed a defensive knot. "Hand yourself over and I will spare your men."

Maxen held a firm defensive stance as Setrien's words sunk in. He and his regiment were surrounded without any aid in sight or knowledge. The elves who had devastated their ranks in the Arathi Highlands now held them at arrow point in a land far from any allies. If Maxen refused, his men would surely perish.

"Do not test my patience, Marshal. Surely you do not want their deaths to be on your mind." Setrien cooed, a smug grin on his lips. He had Maxen right where he wanted him.

Maxen glanced about, anxiety taking over. Sweat beaded on his brow beneath his steel barbute. After letting out a deep sigh through his mouth, Maxen plunged his longsword into the dirt at his feet, slowly releasing his grip on its hilt. "Stand down, men."

Several gasps and dissapointed cries would follow from within the regiment lines. After several human voices expressed that they would stand and fight, Maxen turned his back to Setrien to face them in full. "Captain. Take the men and find what we were looking for. Save my wife." This did little to quiet the regiment men. Several ran to Maxen's side with weapons drawn.

Captain Grayloth Ke'tar seethed with rage at the order. His eyes burned as he refused to blink, his gaze set on Setrien Dawnlight. "Mark my words, Setrien. You will pay for your cowardice." He turned to the cluster of blue and silver garbed footmen. "REGIMENT! We move!" A number of the soldiers hesitated at this order, but one by one they eventually followed the battered troops.

"He isn't a prisoner of Silvermoon. He's a prisoner of the Fireborne."

The words uttered by Setrien Dawnlight played over and over in Maxen's mind as he sat in the dank and crumbling prison in the ruined quarters of Silvermoon City. Two days prior, Maxen was stripped of his arms and armor and marched quickly through the plague infested Ghostlands and Eversong Woods by the Fireborne, avoiding patrols of the Silvermoon Guard and darting through the forest like wanted criminals. He was smuggled into the ruined city and thrown into his cell, promptly tortured and dissected for any information regarding Tendael Dawnlight's death.

His limbs still ached from the paralytic poison injected into his thigh and the beatings he endured from his captors. Maxen's hair was a torn up mess, ripped and cut to make a fool out of the man and to remind him of his current situation. It was bleak.

Maxen was startled by the sound of a small army of footsteps approaching his cell. He looked to the elves who guarded him - who remained unfazed.

From the door opposite the wall Maxen leaned against, black and gold armored soldiers of the Fireborne emerged, filing into the ruined prison and taking positions along its walls. They were soon followed by Setrien Dawnlight and promptly by another familiar face. Baldrec Ashcroft, Marshal of the Seventh Vanguard of the Alliance military, was stripped of his own arms and armor and led into the cell. Maxen's brows raised. He didn't expect to see Baldrec in this situation.

After Baldrec was unhanded by his captors, his eyes came upon Maxen. He gave a curt nod. "Evening. It seems the past has come back to bite us in the !@#."

A Fireborne Marshal slipped in behind Baldrec, skirting the elven soldier who had hauled him to the cell and came to stand nearby. Firebore guards were posted at each door of the prison, on alert.

Maxen let out a sigh as he returned the nod. "That they did. Where'd they pick you up, Ashcroft? A tavern in Redridge?" The old man smirked, having no illusions of the ill circumstances the two men were in.

Setrien sneered at the two as Baldrec approached Maxen. "Close enough. Marshal, Fairwind, exit the premises. Leave the men to speak." At that command, all but the door guards left the two humans to themselves in the cramped prison cell.

"It seems they got me at a party in Lordaeron. I suspect the High Elf Aeriyth Dawnsorrow set me up for this trap. Anyways, when one f us gets out of this, be sure to have her arrested, aye?" Baldrec says with hopelessness and dry humor to his tone.

Maxen knit his brows, jerking his head to the door guards. "Let's not reveal too many plans to our gracious hosts."

"They would love to hear them, but I think Tendael's son is too caught up in revenge. I assume he has threatened to kill you and your family already unless you do as they say?" Baldrec smirked.

"I wouldn't underestimate them if I were you. See where that's gotten you now."

"Oh, I haven't. That's why I'm up here now. Their threats are quite real, that I believe. Now, I need to tell you what they want me to convince you to do..."

Maxen quirked a brow, beckoning Baldrec to come and take a seat next to him. "I'm listening."

Baldrec moved to Maxen's side, sliding down to sit against the dusty wall. "First off, they want you to renounce your loyalty to the Alliance. Second they want the pardon for Ashamal to be retracted. And thirdly, they want you to sign their treaties," Baldrec states.

Maxen would take several moments to let the words sink in. "Hm."

Baldrec would remove his torn cloak and placed it between his back and the wall. "Yes, and they threatened to have you and your family sent to the blade if you don't comply."

"And what are they going to have out of you?" Maxen retorted, looking at Baldrec with concern.

"So far all they wanted me to do was to convince you to do these things. They also threatened death, torture, and imprisonment. Not the typical prisoner of war scenario."

"Aye, that's for certain."

"Anyway, I know trying to convince you to do option one is out of the question, but the other two..." Baldrec shook his head. "I can't believe I am doing this. They should bring the damn sword down on me already," Baldrec lamented, looking to the floor - his face full of sorrow.

Maxen eyed the guards, giving Baldrec a frightened look. "Don't let them hear you say that."

Baldrec nodded with a sigh. "So, what are you thinking at this moment? I am rather out of ideas and the hit that I took to the head isn't healing."

"I'm thinking that we should survive for as long as we can." Maxen said with emphasis.

"I agree with you there..." Baldrec said quietly, a look of concern creeping over his features. "And that is why I'm going to ask you to make a decision about the propositions they are setting before you."

Maxen eyed Baldrec. "I will certainly make a decision."

Baldrec looks around the room, nodding at Maxen's words. "Aye.." he mumbles as his voice trails off in thought.

Setrien walked briskly into the room once again, his officers at his side. "You're out of time, Ashcroft. On your feet."

Baldrec let out a sigh. "Light bless, Maxen," he said in a soft and quiet tone. Rising to his feet, Baldrec left his tattered blue cloak behind at Maxen's side. He'd then walk towards Setrien in silence.

"Marshal, take Ashcroft back to the first floor. I've words to mince with Montclair," Setrien barked.

The elven Marshal at his side would first march forward to Maxen, snatching up Baldrec's cloak and examining it thoroughly. Deciding that it was of no threat, she folded it over her shoulder, ushering Baldrec out of the hall.

Maxen let out a long, drawn out sigh as Baldrec was escorted out of view. One of the guards prodded Baldrec with their weapon, shoving him out of the cell. Setrien stared vacantly at Maxen until the sound of footsteps could not be heard. Once the two were alone, Setrien proceeded to march straight up to Maxen and sieze him by the collar.

"Fancy yourself a martyr, do you? Think death will spare you from my wrath?" He pushed with a strength to slam the human against the crumbling wall. Dust shook down from the ceiling from the force of the impact.

Maxen took a moment to gather his breath, looking Setrien dead in the eyes. "I'll only be a martyr if you kill me, Setrien."

Setrien's teeth were bared. His eyes were burning with an intense flame that only a true avenger would possess. "And you think your wife and children will think of you when they're DEAD?"

Maxen would simply look into Setrien's furious gaze for a few moments, letting the elf's words sink in. "None of that will bring back your father, Setrien."

"No, it won't. But I will have my revenge. And you will comply with my demands if you know what's best for your family." He released Maxen at last, turning fully around. Just when it seemed like his anger had subsided, the Fireborne commander swung back around and sent a gauntleted fist sailing into Maxen's gut with a sickening thud. Maxen was winded from the blow, sending spittle over Setrien's tabard as the breath was knocked out of him. He fell back against the wall of the cell, breathing heavily in pain.

"I don't take you for a fool, old man. Stubborn, corrupt, but not a fool." Setrien flexed his fingers for a moment, then turned to exit the room.

Maxen rested against the wall, still panting from the blow. Gathering his strength, he retorted, "Honoring our oaths to our king is what is best for my family."

Setrien stopped momentarily in his path. "You'll reconsider. This lact act of defiance will not serve you." The crunch of his greaves eventually faded away as he disappeared.

The fourth day of imprisonment was no better for Maxen or Baldrec. While the two men were separated by walls and floors, the screams of agony that echoed through the crumbling prison's hallways were a constant reminder that both men were still alive and in unfriendly captivity. By night's end, both men were bloodied and bruised in bodily places typically unscathed in battle.

Setrien Dawnlight had provided Maxen with three documents that he expected the human to sign. Although Maxen refused to give an answer, he was certain that the issue would be pressed to a point within the next day. Unable to sleep due to the pain of his injuries, Maxen groaned as he sat on the cold floor of the prison. This was not the Quel'Thalas he remembered of decades past. The lands, its very people seemed to be broken to him, on the very edge of snapping and giving in to blood-lust.
The first document, demanding that Maxen declare Ashamal Shalah'aman an outlaw.
The second document, demanding that Maxen pay the debts of both the House of Dawnlight and the Legion of Vengeance.
The third document, demanding that Maxen recognize Erich Gottfried Manstein as still alive and an outlaw to the Kingdom of Stormwind.

The sound of approaching footsteps brought Maxen to instictively tense up as he eyed the doorway, the elven guards of the Fireborne parting way.

"I had a big dinner. It's alrght, truly."

Maxen's spirits sunk as he heard the voice. Dame Theodora De Vreis, one of the first regiment's officers, was shoved into the room and halted before she could reach Maxen. A Fireborne soldier blocked her path. "Shut up," the elf snapped at her.

Setrien Dawnlight entered the room, a smug look on his face and his arms outstretched in presentation of his new prisoner. "Pleased to be united with one of your kin, Montclair? I heard it wasn't too much of a challenge to find her."

Maxen growled, giving Theodora a concerned look. "Was she alone?" he asked.

Setrien smiled. "I don't see how that matters. She's one of yours, isn't she?"

Maxen let out a deep sigh before nodding. Maintaining an unreadable expression, Theodora offered Maxen a brief glance before letting her eye slide to Setrien.

"That's a good start," Setrien began. He slowly made his way over to the woman, resting his hand on her shoulder. "Do I need to explain what will happen if you don't get me an answer by tonight, Montclair?"

Maxen shook in rage, eventually snarling at Setrien. "The answer you seek or the answer I give?"

The soldiers of the Fireborne tensed at Maxen's retort, gripping Theodora tightly in anticipation. Theodora's brows raised, this time at the sensation of being gripped.

"Is that necessary, old man?" Setrien dropped his hand from the woman's shoulder, walking back over to Maxen with a stern gaze. "I'm not in the mood for this. If you refuse to sign, we'll kill her. Now, look into her eyes. I want you to look DIRECTLY at her when you give me your answer."

Maxen visibly swallowed. Breathing through his nose, he glanced between Setrien and Theodora, obviously deep in thought.

One of the Fireborne's Sergeants chirped, "I'm sure this isn't the first time you've held someone's life in your hands, Lord Marshal." Her gaze now fixed on Maxen, eyes narrowing with irritation. The soldier holding Theodora slowly drew a dagger from his belt, his gaze fixated on Maxen.

After several tense moments, Maxen looked Theodora in the face. "What will happen if I sign the documents?"

Setrien glanced back at the human woman, then returned his attention to Maxen. His voice sounded far less stressful now. "She'll be released unharmed, along with yourself. You'll be escorted out through the Thalassian Pass to live out the rest of your fleeting human life."

Glancing at the nearby blade being waved around, Theodora added her thoughts. "Your Grace, don't compromise on my account. Today might very well be a good day to die after all. Anyway, the Captain would probably thank you for it."

Maxen's jaw remained slightly open as he looked around the room, considering the presented options and Theodora's words. Setrien suddenly gestured to his soldiers without breaking his gaze from Maxen. No sooner than Theodora's words were uttered did her handler send a gauntleted fist into her stomach, a swift blow meant to expel the air from her lungs.

The human Marshal winced as he saw Theodora's breath leave her. His jaw snapped shut. Another elven soldier snatched a red bandana from her satchel and stuffed it into Theodora's mouth, gagging her.

"It won't end with her, Montclair. Baldrec Ashcroft will meet the blade as well. Do you truly think that so many lives are worth less than your pride?" Setrien asked with a condescending grin.

Theodora curled forward, shivering in pain and shock as she tried to breathe through the handkerchief gag. Maxen's good eye burned in condemnation of the Fireborne commander. "I would ask the same of you, Setrien."

An officer of the Fireborne immediately retorted, "Did you truly think we'd not seek vindication? And did you think it would be anything less than bloody? The horrors have just begun, old dog. They begin with you; they do not end with you."

Theodora grunted, beginning to chew on the red bandana with a rebellious intent. The guard handling Theodora waved his dagger in front of her face, yanking her head back by her hair with his free hand. Surprised by the jolt, Theodora let out a small "hmmmmph!" but then adopted an expression of complete and utter disinterest. The elf made one sound to her as he kept her held in front of Maxen, Setrien, and the rest of the elves. "Shhhhh." She was not allowed to speak.

Setrien's eyes flared resentfully at Maxen's remark. After a moment of tense silence, he snapped back with a vitriolic tone. "You think their deaths will weigh on my mind? That I'll be weighed by the guilt of my actions?" He snapped his gaze to Theodora's handler, nodding firmly.

The elf turned the point of his dagger into Theodora's torso, left unprotected by the absense of armor. A small incision took place, it's tip barely sunk in. He kept his eyes on her as he did so, with no trace of empathy as he twisted the metal into her flesh. Head jerking at the sudden realization of pain in her side, Theodora didn't even gift those in attendance with a cry. But then again, her face twisted in a way that would express her discomfort. She instinctively tried to pull away from the blade, to no avail.

Setrien's fel-green eyes were now burning with an intense hatred, giving off the most sickly glow. He marched up to Maxen with an unholy pace in his step, reaching to seize the back of his collar and jerk him forward to face Theodora. "Look at her," he managed to articulate in spite of his enveloping rage. "This will continue until you comply. Do you understand!?"

Theodora's handler withdrew his blade, its tip painted crimson with Theodora's blood. He held it up so that she could see it, then lowering the blade to tap her stomach with its tip after she'd gotten a good look.

The Fireborne officer who spoke up earlier stepped forward, his staff in hand. He peered between the gathered soldiers frantically, eyes narrowing and widening in apparent indecision before he finally cleared his throat. "Setrien. Do you really plan to do this?"

Maxen gazed at Theodora with a sympathetic and defeated look of sorrow. He eyed her fresh wound and the dagger at her stomach, deaf to the officer's words as he was completely engulfed by his own remorse and indecision. Theodora cringed at the sight of her own blood, drawing in a deep breath as the sensation of her stomach being gestured at registered.

Setrien's voice sounded uncharacteristically cruel when he replied to his officer. "He won't evade justice, Blightweave." Slowly, he glanced over his shoulder. His eyes were unnaturally green, glowing with a lethal intensity that didn't suit him at all. Surely, he would almost be unrecognizable, even to his officer.

Theodora made a point out of chewing on the bandana gag once again. The Fireborne soldier whom it belonged to growled, lunging forward and kicking the back of Theodora's leg with force, bringing her to her knees. Her handler yanked at her hair, keeping her within dagger's reach.

One of the Fireborne soldiers stood in his place despite his officer's suggestion. To it he asked, "Why?"

The officer, Isario Blightweave, spun his staff around so that it struck his own back, where he held it firmly. He stepped up to the prisoner, his gaze fixed only on the dagger held at Theodora's neck. He cleared his throat thickly, clearly lined with phlegm within. "This will likely become bloody."

Setrien turned back to peer at Maxen, still completely void of sympathy. "Now, what's it going to be? Will. You. Sign?"

Seeing Theodora kicked to the ground, Maxen let out a gasp through clenched teeth. He lowered his gaze, opening his mouth to speak. "I'm sorry, Theodora..."

Another officer of the Fireborne smirked, held within her hand a black leather satchel. She gazed over them. "We could take her other eye. Then she'd be as blind as a-"

"I'll.. sign.. the documents." Maxen uttered in a dark, hateful tone, each word sounded out in full.

Many soldiers of the Fireborne let out sighs of relief, others relishing their victory with smug grins. Theodora immediately broke into a frenzy, letting out loud, frantic noises through her gag. "MMM-Mmmm!" A clear and decisive call for non-compliance to their captors. With her Marshal's resignation, Theodora attempted to yell at him in what might be annoyance.

On cue, Setrien jerked back on Maxen's shirt collar, then pushed him forcefully against the dilapidated wall. "Take her away. Heal her fully." The tension had left his tone, but his attitude was no less amused than before.

Beset now with anger, Theodora made a decisive attempt to struggle. Her handler twirled his blade in his fingers as he reached for Theodora's left arm. As another soldier grabbed her right to hold her still, he dealt a closed-fist blow to the back of Theodora's head with the pommel of the dagger, knocking her out cold. Her limp body was dragged out of the cell, dead weight.

Maxen collapsed on the floor against the wall, unsure how to quantify what he had just done. Setrien glared at the back of his head for several moments.

"Should you change your mind, expect that she, Ashcroft, and all you love will be slain before you. You will be reduced to ruin, Montclair." Setrien snapped his gaze away from Maxen's crumpled form, walking with purpose out of the room.

Maxen gave the elf no reply.
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