I shook my head wearily. “That was a close call. If she had re-animated and empowered 2 more of those minions, we would’ve been overwhelmed.”
“Good thing she didn’t then,” Brutusk remarked cheerfully as he rummaged around in his bag of herbs.
“On the platform, everyone,” Avierra instructed. “If SI:7 intelligence is to be believed, this should take us to the Skybreaker. The airship will then take us to the Upper Spire.” The platform’s regular rise and drop made it easy to clamber on from the Oratory of the Damned and hop off at the top. Once there, we came upon heavy fighting between Alliance and Horde soldiers.
“Orgrim’s Hammer has already left!” One of the Alliance officers screamed at us over the howling wind. “It’s a three-way between us, some of the Horde soldiers, and the Scourge. The Skybreaker is moored off to the left. You’ll need to fight your way past the skirmishes.”
Mal whistled as he observed the skirmishes ahead. “This should be interesting. They haven’t spotted us yet. We can drop on them like a hurricane and they’ll never know what hit them.”
Jizal nodded in agreement. “I like your plan, Mal.”
The night elf warrior smirked. “You always like my plans.”
Jizal shrugged. “We’re still standing here talking?”
With cries and howls, we descended on the fighting like screaming banshees, crashing into the Horde soldiers and breaking through their lines like madmen. Our healers stayed back, making sure we got healed when the fighting got too confusing. I was firing 3 arrows at a time, each arrow hitting a Horde soldier. I reveled in the chaos of it all. It felt good to let loose.
In the middle of the fighting, Mal and Jizal stood back to back, swords arcing up and down in silvery lines of glimmering death, ending in trails of crimson on the icy stone. Avierra took the outliers, supported by Azmuth and Calimdan. They made short work of the Horde healers, quickly sending them to their deaths.
We veered left and came upon another knot of fighting. Mal leaped high and brought his massive sword crashing down, cracking the ice-ridden stone and hurling soldiers aside, Horde and Alliance both. Jizal followed at Mal’s heels. “For the Alliance!” The paladin screamed, rallying the Alliance troops, still dazed from Mal’s charge.
The soldiers roared and pushed forward, bringing swords and maces to bear. The Horde fell back, stunned. I grabbed a curved shield off a fallen soldier and rode it down the slick ice stone, firing arrows into the Horde massed on the steps. At the last moment, I leaped off, fired 3 more arrows, and saw the shield fly off the steps and embed itself in the throat of a wide-eyed orc warrior.
I spotted a Horde healer near the back of the lines trying to get away. An aimed shot later, and he was lying on the cold stone, choking on his own blood with one of my iceblade arrows sticking out of his throat.
“Not a very honorable kill, Wips,” Adialetha noted.
“This isn’t a very honorable war, human,” I noted irritably, firing off another arrow. “If need be, I’ll slaughter them like animals if that’s what it takes.”
The human priestess shook her head sadly, as if in regret. Her eyes suddenly widened and she began to choke. I stared at the black-fletched arrow sticking out of her throat. That was a kill shot, no mistake. I looked around wildly and spotted a Horde troll archer taking a bead on me. I snapped a shot at him, forcing him to duck down behind a wall. “Healer down!” I shouted even as I leaped to the left, keeping my eye on the archer. Our priestess had sunk to her knees, blood pulsing onto the stone.
My eyes narrowed into slits as I drew another arrow. The troll had lost sight of me and was taking aim at other targets. As soon as his head cleared the wall, I released my shot. It sped straight and true, slamming into his head with the force only a longbow could deliver at that range. His head burst open like an overripe melon. One shot, one kill.
Brutusk and Hotohuri were already at Adialetha’s side, doing what they could to heal the extensive damage wrought by the kill shot. “This is beyond our skills,” Brutusk admitted sadly. “She needs to be sent back to Light’s Hammer. Perhaps the Highlord will have healers who can bring her back.”
Mal whipped out a strange-looking device. “This is Rage On mercenary company,” he spoke into the device tersely. “We have a healer down in need of evacuation. Can you assist?”
The response was immediate. “Place the device on your healer and step back.”
Mal did as instructed and a bright shimmer engulfed the corpse of our priestess. In a flash, she was gone. Hopefully, to someplace where she could be brought back to life. But for now, she was lost to us.
Avierra turned to Jarvisius. “We’ll need a teleportation gate,” Avierra was saying. “I’ll have to take over Adialetha’s healing duties. That means Azmuth and Mal will be taking point. We’ll be bringing Brendah in now.”
Azmuth nodded. “Having a rogue will make it easier to find and disarm any traps.” Brendah was our resident expert on all things dishonest and shady including, but not limited to, poisons, lockpicking, booby traps, and other such nefarious devices. She was a gnome who’d grown up in the deeper recesses of Ironforge. We always made sure to check our gold whenever she was around, but she was a solid member of our crew, capable and dependable.
Jarvisius cast the teleportation gate spell and, in a matter of a few seconds, Brendah arrived, an impish grin on her face and a well-balanced knife in each hand. “Hey guys, about time you brought me in here. Good thing I wore extra clothes. It’s cold!”
Jizal was listening to an Alliance officer off to one side. “Thank you for the assistance,” the massive draenei was saying. “We were outnumbered before you arrived. Captain Muradin is aboard the Skybreaker and waiting for you. We will guard your rear.”
Avierra nodded curtly. “Let’s move out, people!”
We encountered an undead frost dragon blocking the way to the Skybreaker. It roared its defiance at our tiny company. Azmuth and Mal glanced at each other before drawing swords, roaring in turn, and rushing in to engage. Calimdan, Brendah, and Jizal were close at their heels while Jarvisius and I stayed with the healers. The undead monster gave a final ululating scream before crumbling to dust in the wake of our assault.
We ran to the waiting skyship moored on our left. “About time ye got here,” Captain Muradin remarked as he signaled for the lines to be released. He was a stalwart dwarf, one of the longest residents of Northrend from the Alliance side. “Let’s be off then. We’ve got a meetin’ with destiny. Hold on to yer hats!”
As the skyship’s engines shuddered with power, the Skybreaker rose gracefully in the chill air. “What in the blazes is that? Grab me spyglass, crewman.”
Muradin squinted into his spyglass before stiffening. “Horde, sailin’ in fast and hot!”
A goblin was already scrambling among the crew, distributing rocket packs in case the battle got ugly. Avierra was already issuing orders.
“I want Bladewisp and Jarvisius manning those cannons,” she was saying tersely. “The rest of us will defend the Skybreaker. The Horde will definitely send their people across. We cut them down and make sure to defend those cannons. The faster we bring down Orgrim’s Hammer, the sooner we’ll be able to make our way to the Upper Spire.”
Jarvisius and I were already taking our places at the cannons, testing the controls and adjusting the aiming reticles. As soon as the Horde skyship was in range, we commenced firing. The massive boom of the cannons was punctuated by the screams of Horde soldiers who had teleported onto our ship. Mal and the rest of the company were obviously taking care of business.
In the distance we could vaguely hear the Horde captain shouting. “We’re taking hull damage. Get a battle mage out here to knock out those cannons!” A blood elf frost mage ran out and lifted both hands into the air, incanting a freezing spell on our cannons. In short order, our cannons were useless.
“Az, we’re taking Bladewisp, Jarvisius, and Calimdan over there and taking out that mage!” Avierra screamed as she engaged her jetpack. I quickly engaged my jetpack and sailed over onto the Horde ship. I targeted the frost mage and released an arrow before even landing. From the corner of my eye, I saw Jarvisius shoot a green-tinged fireball at the mage even as Calimdan, in cat form, careened into the mage in a direct assault. Azmuth was keeping the Horde captain, a hideous orc wielding a massive axe, busy with Avierra’s healing support.
“Mage down!” Calimdan shouted as he engaged his jetpack to jump back. I did the same and was quickly back in my cannoneer seat shooting cannonballs at the Horde ship.
This sequence happened a few more times before the Horde ship disengaged, having taken too much hull damage to stay in the sky.
“I hate sailing,” Hotohuri was saying as she shimmered into night elf form.
“Technically, we were flying,” Jizal reminded her.
She shrugged. “Same difference.”