Rain poured down from the sky as if a thousand widows wept together. The dark, cloud heavy sky barely allowed any light to come through despite that it was noon, with the sun (supposedly) at it’s zenith. The group of soldiers used the trees they were stood under as cover but still it did not take long for the banners to hang sodden by it’s poles and cloaks clung to their backs as if some goblin glued it on them for some immature jest.
“Is this normal Gilnean weather?” a young soldier asked. Unlike most of the other soldiers who wore standard armour and bore either the Golden Alliance Lion or the Gilnean symbol on their tabards, the young man had armour fitting a nobleman with plate armour painted black with red rims. His tabard was a black bull on a red field. One of the Gilnean men, an older and battered warrior with red hair and a beard to match, turned to face the younger man.
“Aye it is, Lord Karland.” Sergeant Cleese said with a smile.” In fact, this is one of the more sunnier days.”
“But it’s raining cats and dogs!” Thomas retorted. One of the other Gilnean wolf-men with an eyepatch frowned his remaining eye a little at the youth.” No offense, Lord Crowly.” He added quickly, intimidated by the Worgen’s sheer height.
“You did not have rain in your Stormwind, Lord Karland?” Darius Crowley asked.
“Of course we did, my lord.” Thomas replied.” But not as much….”
One of the other Gilneans snorted.” No wonder why the Orcs stormed through you lot, first time round.”
“What did you say, dog?” One of the Lions turned to face the Gilnean.
“You heard me.” The Gilnean replied as he stepped closer.
Darius did not wait for things to escalate. “Enough!” he growled.” Save your strength for the Ogres. I thought I had soldiers with me, battle tested in Pandaria and the Barrens. Not squabbling children.”
Both men quickly apologized and went back to their positions. The men were growing restless Darius noted, for which he could not blame him. Three hours had passed since the runner was send to the other Alliance forces to co-ordinate the attack. They were positioned around Keel Harbour, Gilneas City and Aderic’s repose. The Forsaken had long left Gilneas but the Ogres remained and thrived. For the past few weeks after the Siege of Orgrimmar, Darius and High Commander Wyrmbane had attacked them and driven them in one area. If the plan worked, the Ogre infestation was dealt with and the fleet which was anchored a few miles ahead could move in and begin rebuilding the shattered kingdom.
“You fought Ogres before, Lord Karland?” Cleese asked.
“N-no, Sergeant.” Thomas replied as he wiped the rain away from his visor.” But I have experience fighting gnolls and kobolds.”
“Killed a few to, I hope?” Cleese raised his brow.
“Of course, my father would not send me into battle without some preparation.” The young Karland nearly looked offended.” The Karlands have fought for Stormwind ever since the First War. And my mother is the late Queen’s younger sister. I am not allowed to dishonour both my House and House Ellerian. We-“
Cleese held up his hand.” It’s alright, son. No need to explain your heraldry. I was just wondering why your old man lobbied the Council so hard to get you here.”
“It took Genn two years to get this task force together, Cleese.” Darius chimed in.” Two years of licking the heels of every Alliance leader to gather enough coin for this expedition. Some concessions had to be made. Make sure young Lord Karland stays alive long enough so he can reap some of the glory.” The Worgen Commander said as he caught a scent. Without delay he moved forward passed Sergeant Cleese and Lord Karland.” Or you can go back to the Howling Oak and sip some more Night elven tea.”
With that Darius left and went to greet the runner, or runners rather. One was a woman with long black hair, a determined face with a gun strapped to her back as she was riding a horse while her escort ran beside her on his hands and legs like a wolf. However the escort was armoured in plate and his shield and sword was strapped tightly on his back. Darium smiled a little at seeing the young woman.” Lorna, praise the light you-“
“I’m fine, father.” Lorna snapped as she halted her horse.” No need to thank the Light every time you see me. We’ve been through wars before.”
“Of course, my daughter.” Darius nodded.” My apologies. Are the other troops ready, Captain Bowen?”
“Lord Wyrmsbane and Packleader Bloodfang are ready to begin the attack in ten minutes, Lord Crowley.” The Worgen replied.” Wyrmsbane will rout the Ogres from Gilneas City and drive them away from Aderic’s where Bloodfang will guide them into Lady Lorna’s cannons.”
“The rain would’ve destroyed our cannons but thankfully our dwarven and gnomish allies made some adjustments so they would fire well.” Lorna added.” Our objective is still Koroth the Hillbreaker, right?”
Darius nodded.” If he dies, the Ogres will lose what little leadership they have and be easy pickings. My group will kill the Ogres you flush towards us. We will use the signal and hold Koroth up so your artillery can take a clean shot.”
“What can go wrong, right?” Lorna smirked before she turned her horse.” I’ll ride back to my position, lit up the signal when Koroth shows his ugly head…or heads.”
“Lorna-“ Darius began but his daughter already rode off. He sighed sadly before he looked to Bowen.” She still hasn’t forgiven me, has she?”
“Neither has Bloodfang, if it wasn’t for Wyrmsbane and Duke Foehammer’s drinking contests I don’t think he would still be on our side.”
“I cannot fault him for that, or my Lorna.” Darius flexed his fists.” I disappointed a lot of people in Silverpine. Lost quite a few as well.”
Bowen smiled.” Not all, my Lord. If I may be honest, none of us would be here if it weren’t for you.”
Lord Crowley nodded.” Thank you, Captain.” He placed his hand on Bowen’ shoulder.” Today, we are coming home.”
“Aye, my lord.” Bowen slammed his fist on his chest before he ran to his position. Darius walked back to his as he unhooked the metal claws from belt and fastened them to his fists. He looked upon his men. To Captain Bowen, Sergeant Clees, young Lord Karland and many others.
“Brothers and sisters.” He began.” That is what we are today. We have all come together for one purpose and one purpose only. To reclaim Gilneas in the name of King Genn Graymane and the Alliance. Normally the plan was to reclaim it from the Forsaken, but it seems Sylvanas has called in sick today and has send the ogres to deal with us instead.” A few men chuckled.” No matter, they probably provide better sport than those rotskins anyway.” He looked back as the distant sounds of cannonfire drew his attention.” You hear that, my brothers and sisters? In one year from now that will be the sound of fireworks to celebrate a restored Gilneas City, If you stay close to me you will hear those fireworks. Stay close to me.” His eyes lingered on Thomas Karland for a moment before he moved on.” If you find yourself alone however, riding in the green fields with the sun on your face, do not be troubled. For you are with the Light, and you're already dead!” the men laughed some more, which even made Darius chuckle. For a moment he saw Clees nudge the frightened Karland boy and give him a smile. All turned to face the distant sound of many feet headed toward them.” My friends….TO VICTORY!” he raised his clawed hands in the air.” FOR GILNEAS, KING GREYMANE AND GILNEAS! CHAAAARGE!”
As one the men charged with him. Men on horseback, Worgen on all fours, the odd dwarf on an ram. As one they roared their battle cries. For Stormwind, Darnassus, Gilneasn, Ironforge, Gnomerregan and even a few who claimed to fight for the Exodar. The oncoming horde of Ogres, rallied on by cannonfire and feral worgen to nip them to the side, charged toward them with the look of fear and anger in their eyes.
An hour later, the crows were feasting well on the battlefield. The broken banners of the Hillbreaker was covered over the ground as was the Golden Lion as the bodies of Ogre and Alliance lay scattered.
Darius stood on the fallen corpse of the Ettin once known as Koroth, his mouth and claws covered in the blood of ogre. Almost in trace Darius unhooked his ruined metal claws before he took the flask of water from his belt and washed his maw, throat and claws. He did not know how long he was stood there, but there he was. Standing on a fallen titan who lost one of his heads by cannonball and the other hung on by a thread. As Lord Crawley glanced around he saw the remaining Alliance forces finish off those Ogres who still resisted or gathered them as prisoners. Darius jumped off the corpse walked toward the harbor to signal the fleet. On the way he saw many of his men dead or dying. He passed a blood covered Thomas holding Clees in his arms as the old warrior instructor gasped his last breath despite Celestine the harvest witches’ best efforts. He saw Bowen and a Draenei hold back an feral female worgen as she wanted to tear into an ogre prisoner. He saw the corpse of a male laying beside them, the scent coming across as identical to the female. Lovers, siblings? He shook his head and kept going.
An group of Ogres was led to a pen as one of them kept moaning.” Why do this, this our home to!” Even after a gnome with a spear poked him forward he kept moaning.” You just like corpse-men! You monsters to!”
We are all monsters at the end of the day, Darius thought, it all depended in which history book you read.
He found Lorna, an heavily armoured Wyrmbane, the dwarven duke Foehammer and the worgen alpha pack leader Ivar Bloodfang waiting for him at the docks.
“Took you long enough.” Ivar snarled.” I hoped Lorna shot you dead with her cannon during that fight.”
“Shut up, Bloodfang.” Lorna frowned at the feral worgen before she turned to face her father.” We were waiting for you, father.”
“You have the honour, Lord Crawley.” Wyrmbane said as he offered the flare gun. Darius took the pistol and aimed for the heavens. The red flare raced to the sky and exploded like a phoenix as the sky had a small sun, if just for a moment. The sound of an boat’s bell rung heavily as out of the mist several Alliance vessels, both human and night elven made, made their way to the harbor.
An half hour later, the barge with the royal family docked along with several boats filled with workers and mages who already began moving supplies ashore or open portals to Stormwind to let more supplies in. Darius smiled as he offered his old friend a hand which the king of Gilneas gladly took. King Genn Graymane was a large bearish man, a brawny warrior with thick features, a heavy beard, and black and gray armor. Despite his looks however the noble older monarch gently aided his wife and daughter on shore. Both mother and daughter looked much alike, Mia Greymane’s hair being much like her namesake while Tess looks much like her mother did when she was her age.
“Genn, welcome home old friend.” Darius said.
“Indeed, welcome home.” Genn smiled and held his friend for a moment.” Is the route to Aderic’s repose safe? I have a promise to uphold.”
“We all do.” Lorna agreed.” The route is safe. We made sure of it.”
“I want come to.” Princess Tess said as she held her heavy cloak tighter as to shield from the rain.” I never had the chance to say goodbye.”
Genn was about to speak against it but a quick glance from his wife made the king change his mind.” Very well.”
A carriage left the harbour and made it’s way to the reposte, the last resting place of many Gilneans. Including Prince Liam, who died two years prior during the Forsaken invasion. The royal family and the Crowley’s made their way up the memorial hill as the 7th Legion and even a few members of the Bloodfang pack who followed them kept their respective distance. The carriage stopped as both families got off at the memorial on top of the hill, dedicated to the young prince who gave his life for his father and his nation.
Mia held her husband’s hand as Tess held back her tears.
“We’re back, son.” Genn said to the monument.” It took us a while, but we’re back. We’ve come home, all of us have.”
“Most of us.” Tess reminded him as she took out a flower from her purse and laid it down on the grave. Genn and Mia took a few steps back to let Tess talk to her sibling.
”You have given me a large burden, big brother.” She smiled sadly as she wiped the tears away from her eyes.” It’s been a hard time these past two years, but seeing you again one day helps me get through this.” she placed her hand on the coffin.” Until then, I promise you from one Greymane to another…when father comes to join you and grandfather, I will do my best to lead our people like you did in those final days. And I hope when I come to join you to, you will be proud.”
She let a tear as her mother placed her hand on her daughter’s shoulder.” He already is, my girl.” She smiled.
“She will be a good Queen, some day.” Lorna said to her father.
“She will be, let’s hope that day will not come for some time.” Darius replied as he glanced to Genn.” But I fear that day will be upon us soon enough.”
“Is the king, ill?” Lorna asked.
“A parent should never bury their child.” Crawley said.” The scars that come from that…it never heals.”
“Is that why you did what you did at Silverpine?” Lorna frowned slightly.” So you would not bury me?”
“Yes.” He said aghast.” How can you ask me that?”
“I was willing to give my life for Gilneas!” she turned to face her father.” You sacrificed people before, for the greater good.”
“And I remember their names and I will carry them in my heart until I die. But I will never carry yours Lorna, nor should you wish that.”
“My life isn’t worth the ones we lost that day, father!”
“IT WAS TO ME!”
The hill went silent as the cry rolled over it. The Greymanes looked to the Crawley’s to see what caused the commotion. An awkward moment of silence passed before Lorna walked away, no daring to look anyone in the face. Lord Crawley stared at his feet when Genn walked over to his friend. “Darius?”
“I’m sorry Genn….a lot of wounds still have not healed.” Darius replied.” I shouldn’t have-“
“Darius.” Genn took his friend by the shoulder.” If I was placed in a similar position I would have done EXACTLY the same like you did. She will come around, sooner or later. And perhaps one day when she has children…she will understand you more.”
“I hope so, Genn.” Darius sighed. His ears flickered as a familiar scent caught his nostrils. Darius and Genn looked to their right as a armoured Worgen ran to them. Captain Bowen ran up the hill to them and quickly saluted.” Your Grace, my Lord.“
“What is it, Captain?" Darius asked.
“You have to come with me sir.” Bowen said.” Ivar found something you should see.”
Both the King and the Lord looked at one another before they followed the young Captain.
They were led to the Northern highlands passed the bridge where they saw a large pack of Bloodfang Worgen led by Ivar were escorting three riders. Two of the three riders rode on skeletal horses as the other (a woman Darius guessed by the shape) rode on a war steed much like Paladins use. One of the horsemen held up a flag in the air which bore the sigil of Lordearon before it's fall by the hands of the Undead Scourge.
“I see a Forsaken.” Darius growled when he spotted the free willed undead but then looked confused.
“And two humans, my lord.” Bowen added.” One of them a Paladin, the other a woman of noble birth methinks guessing by the silk dress.”
Genn nodded and strode forward on his horse and met the escort. Darius saw his skin go pale white when his king saw the riders in person.” Genn? Are you alright?”
“I am….” Genn said.” It’s not every day I met a dead person who does not try to kill me.”
“Not dead….” The noblewoman said as she dismounted from her living horse.” Only forgotten.” She threw her hood behind her head and revealed her face. Now Darius to felt the same surprise in his gut.” No, you cant be…”
“I am.” The woman said.” I am Queen Calia Menethil of Lordearon. I have come seeking asylum from the Banshee Queen.”