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#13499494 Oct 26, 2017 at 12:29 PM
206 Posts

The skies above the hell-planet did not shine like that of Azeroth. Instead, the celestial bodies familiar to the sergeant major were replaced with swirling clouds of sickly green gas, entire slabs of earth floating incomprehensibly in the void, or foul demonic ships cruising along to places unknown. Yet, that bright blue orb that peeked over the mountain was always there. Gigantic, imposing, magnificent. If only the army had chosen to make camp elsewhere, perhaps he could spend his morning hours meditating before the sight of his home world. But this was not to be. Instead, high jagged peaks boxed in the troops of the Westridge First, defending just as much caging them. Still, could it be possible that the agents of the Burning Legion, thrice damned be their name, are simply waiting for their chance to strike? Not to raid or harass, but to truly bring down the hammer of their forces. If their ships could so easily hover overhead, with little care for their cannons or the presence of the Vindicaar some miles away, can they not just simply destroy them?

A nudge on his shoulder stirs him from his thoughts. His eyes were wide open, but his focus was gone for moment. Shaking his head, Edrington looks to his right to spot a private, a footman by the looks of his war gear, attempting to grab his attention.

“Sergeant major?” he asks, brow quirked underneath his helmet, “Are you alright?”

“Of course, soldier. Why do you ask?” replies Edrington, raising a hand to rub the bridge of his nose.

“I was . . . nothing, sergeant major. As you say.”

“Very well. What’s the word, then?”

“Guard rotation is now occurring. Thought I should let you know.”

“The time?”

“2400. I’m with the new detail, hence why I bring word to you.”

“Right, right. Time for me to get going as well.”

The private bows his head, Edrington returning the gesture with a nod and a raised hand. “Carry on,” the sergeant major says, grabbing his gear and climbing up a small step-ladder out of the trench. They had been on Argus now for a few weeks now and the defenses were still coming along slowly. The earth seemed to work against them, constant raids by the local wildlife or the demons of the Legion were an ever-present threat, and not to mention the spread of disease and taint that was inevitable. Edrington gave himself and the rest of the regiment two months on this planet, maximum, before the taint overcame them. The Army of the Light and their warriors had been fighting on the planet for decades. Yet, they were blessed in ways a mortal man could not even begin to hope for. Two months. That was his guess. Then they’d be driven mad.

Already, he felt the effects of his stay on the broken world. As he moves from trench to inner perimeter, a torch in one hand and his pistol in the other, he cannot help but let his mind wander once more. Perhaps it was a combination of his own exhaustion and fears that preyed on him, or maybe his tendency to grow overly concerned by everything. Still, at least he was awake. He was thinking. But he wasn’t focused. Already once a small critter, one of the felines that dwelled in the nearby den to the south, attempted to crawl through a fence made of wood and wire. It didn’t get very far. A shot rang out into the air, and the beast ceased in movement. That ought to keep them away, he thought. It was close, though. It nearly sprinted past him had he not snapped out of his own stupor.

Come on. Eyes open, you idiot.” He curses under his breath. Edrington was used to sleepless nights, long patrols, and seemingly endless watch duties. Yet, this was different. It was his trial – could he endure through exhaustion and stress? Could he keep his charges safe at the cost of his own vitality and sanity need be? Could he do his duty regardless of what ills weighed upon his body? And this he was to do for three days. Again, he thinks to himself, three days wasn’t the worst he’d been through. Kingsland, with that Light damned humidity and heat, had sweated him dry on previous incursions into the jungle against the trolls. Even as the governor of that colony, he had to help his short-staffed troops in guarding the perimeter. Or on Draenor, when he trekked countless miles across frozen mountains. Sleep evaded him, for adrenaline ran through his body like a torrential river. Fear kept him going, and fear kept him alert even now.

What was different now was the ground beneath him, he reckoned. Argus sapped at him daily. Already, his own mental fortitude was weakening. He did not forget his previous encounter whilst on patrol with Delamond. Figures and signs flew across his field of vision, incomprehensible things that confused and astonished him. The first signs of taint, no doubt. Of heresy. He shakes his head, casting the incident aside. It was but a momentary lapse in faith. He let his guard down, and now he must simply steel himself. Good timing too, for a recruit wanders into view. The sergeant major stops him, questioning him. He was on his way to the latrine trench. Satisfied with the answer, Edrington continues to watch the man as to ensure he headed in the right direction. He did. Five minutes later, he returned. Good. All was well.

His soul, however, felt drained. His heart weak. His mind wary. If he was to pass this trial and enter the service of the Ducal Guard – nay, if he was to survive Argus and do as duty demanded – he now needs to fight back. Against a planet, he asks himself? Yes, against this rotten planet. Against all it stands for and against those who call it home. Those foul demons won’t get the better of him. “My faith is my shield.” he whispers quietly, beginning to move at a brisker pace. Eyes dart from side to side, examining the perimeter. He counts in his head. One, two, three, four. One, two, three, four. Focus would return to him, by force need be. He pushed himself to remained focused. The demons wouldn’t have the pleasure of breaking him.

So went the first night, and certainly not the last.
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