The Skybreaker cast its lines and moored itself at the entry to the Upper Spire which SI:7 agents said the Scourge called Deathbringer’s Rise. The Alliance vessel was well-stocked and we all replenished much-needed supplies as we took a breather before assaulting the heart of Icecrown Citadel.
I thanked a human fletcher for providing me with enough iceblade arrows to fill my depleted magical quiver while, nearby, both Brutusk and Jarvisius chatted up an herbalist who provided them with herbal reagents for spellcasting. Even Brendah managed to refill vials of poison from a shady crewman.
Avierra was conferring with Muradin. “Any news concerning the healer we sent back to Light’s Hammer?”
The wizened dwarf shook his head. “Nay, lass. I’ve had no word from the Highlord. I suggest ye concentrate on the task at hand. No telling what’s inside those doors.”
Avierra nodded in agreement. “Have we figured out a way to open those doors?”
Muradin shook his head. “One of my goblin crewmen is thinking about explosives but there’s a danger of damaging the Skybreaker in the blast. I’m fairly sure the doors are booby trapped so I’ll be sending a team of… volunteers to check them out.”
The paladin cocked an eyebrow. “Volunteers?”
Muradin shrugged. “I’m pretty sure they’re SI:7 but the King doesn’t want me to blow their cover, apparently.”
“Of course,” Avierra remarked. “Wouldn’t want to do that…”
One of the crewmen came bursting through the door. “Captain! You’ll want to come see this.”
Muradin and Avierra rushed out on deck and were greeted with the sight of a lone undead orc standing before the now-open double doors. “For every Horde warrior you kill, for every Alliance dog that falls, the Scourge grows stronger. Even now, the Lich King’s val’kyr work to raise your fallen into Scourge. Come, let me show you the power that the Lich King has bestowed upon me.”
Captain Muradin’s amazement was clear. “A lone orc? Against the might of the Alliance?? CHARGE!!!” Five Alliance soldiers rushed in to engage the undead orc. They were all taken by an invisible shadowy force by the throat and raised high in the air as the orc laughed. The soldiers struggled in vain as Muradin stood in shock.
“Dwarves…” The orc chuckled.
“Engage the orc!” Avierra roared. Azmuth and Mal rushed in from opposite sides, having already decided not to take the direct route. Calimdan, Brendah, and Jizal were close behind, wicked claws and steel hammering into the lone undead guardian. Jarvisius and I hurled magic and arrow from a distance, one on each side. The healers were spread out in a fan-like formation to cover as much of the platform as possible.
“He’s getting stronger!” Azmuth warned as the orc seemed to shrug off blows that would have felled most normal undead monsters. “Not sure how long we can keep this up!”
Avierra clenched her teeth. It appeared as if the orc was feeding off the blood being shed on that platform. Crimson globes appeared to float off of us that were, in turn, absorbed by the undead orc. “He’s feeding off of us somehow!” Avierra shouted as she redoubled her healing efforts.
The orc gave a massive heave that sent our people sprawling and laughed. He raised both fists into the air and crimson lightning arced down from the sky. In their wake, a pair of blood beasts had appeared. Even as we proceeded to engage, Avierra gave a warning shout.
“The blood beasts will feed him further,” Avierra warned. “Don’t engage them. Let Jarvisius and Bladewisp take them from range!”
I quickly nodded at Jarvisius as I loosed a distracting shot at the nearest blood beast. It roared and came crawling toward me. While its movement speed was slow, I had to make sure to keep out of its reach. I dropped a freezing trap before leaping backward. The trap slowed the beast even more, while I fired three explosive shots in rapid succession. The explosive charges in the arrows burst into flame from within the beast, incinerating it from the inside out. On the other side of the platform, Jarvisius and his pet imp Zignar were likewise making short work of their own blood beast. I quickly turned back to firing at the undead orc.
“It’s working!” Hotohuri shouted, in tree form. Until you’ve seen a tree shout, you haven’t lived. “His wounds aren’t healing themselves!”
We redoubled our efforts. Twice more, he summoned a pair of blood beasts and both times, Jarvisius and I took them from range and destroyed them before they could energize him further. Avierra assisted on these, dropping a holy stun on both beasts to give us more time to kill them.
Mal swung a particularly vicious blow at the orc. Instead of shrugging it off like he did before, the orc appeared to stagger, opening him up to a few blows from Brendah.
“He’s weakening!” Mal crowed in triumph before the orc roared and fetched Mal a well-placed blow that sent the night elf warrior sprawling. He shook his head to clear the cobwebs before giving a shout and rejoining the fray.
The undead orc heaved, sending all our melee people sprawling for a bare split second. He pointed a finger at Hotohuri (in tree form) and his eyes seemed to burn with fury. “Mark of the Fallen!”
A brand magically appeared on Hotohuri’s trunk, seemingly burned into the very wood. As our melee assaulted the orc again, the orc smashed his fist into Mal. The night elf warrior staggered, blood flying from his nose and mouth. Hotohuri, yards away, felt the blow as if she was the one struck and fell to her knees, coughing and spitting blood.
Avierra noted this and her eyes widened. “Take him down now! Hotohuri’s gonna need heals!”
Hotohuri shook her head, leaves swaying in her tree form. “I can heal myself. Keep our people alive! Take that orc down.” Even as she spoke, more wounds seemed to magically appear on the bark of her tree form. She cast more healing spells on herself, barely keeping up with the pace of damage being inflicted.
Everyone redoubled their efforts. Jizal flicked me a hand signal, quickly echoed by Jarvisius, Calimdan and Brendah. Azmuth noted the signal and hissed, “Hysteria on Jizal.”
Jizal’s sword glowed a near-phosphorescent white, Jarvisius began to gather fel power for a massive fireball, Calimdan edged back slightly to give himself room to swing, Brendah dug deep into her bag of tricks and both knives came up sizzling with deadly poison. I nocked an arrow and fixed my eyes on the orc’s left eye, everything else became muted and time seemed to slow. Kill shot time, I thought to myself.
“NOW!” Avierra roared.
Jizal’s incandescent sword slammed into the orc’s back with savage holy power.
Jarvisius let loose with a massive fel fireball that engulfed the orc in green burning death.
Calimdan rushed in with a clawed swipe that struck at the orc’s legs, hamstringing him.
Brendah jammed both knives bubbling with deadly poison deep into the orc’s bowels.
My arrow flew straight and true, burying itself to the fletching in the orc’s left eye.
Everyone leaped back as the orc shuddered and fell, hitting the ground with a boom that shook the very walls of the citadel. The orc’s helm rolled away and we got a look at his face. “It’s Saurfang the Younger,” Brutusk noted. “He was taken at the Wrathgate, along with Highlord Bolvar.”
“At the very least, he now rests in peace,” Avierra said.
The mark on Hotohuri faded away upon Saurfang’s passing. Soon, she was capering around the platform, still in tree form, and glad to be alive.
The Horde ship returned at that point, with Saurfang the Elder having heard about his son falling to the Alliance. While Muradin seemed inclined to stop the elder orc from taking his son’s corpse for burial, King Varian Wrynn of Stormwind intervened. For once, it appeared as if the hope for peace between the Horde and the Alliance was not so fleeting.
Before the old orc leader left with his son’s corpse, Mal turned to Brendah. “Don’t you want your knives back?”
The little gnome made a face. “Pfft. I’ve got knives aplenty.”
“You sure? Hate to lose a good knife, much less two.” Mal observed.
“Shut up, night elf,” she hissed.
“They looked expensive,” Mal noted sadly.
“I hate you, Mal,” she said.
The night elf warrior grinned and sauntered away. “And you’re still a poopyhead!” Brendah shouted after him.