Alliance: Chapter 11
He hated almost everyone in this room. Ivar Bloodfang snarled like a rabid dog that he was. Thomas respected worgen like King Greymane or Lord Crawley but savage creatures like Bloodfang sickened him. He had proven his worth twice Thomas knew. Once was when he and his pack saved Calia, Trevor and Ser Lightblade from Forsaken captivity and the second when they drove off Galen Trollbane’s regiment that nearly overwhelmed the Stromgarde batallion and no doubt would’ve killed his cousin, King Danath Trollbane. Many Bloodfang Worgen lost their lives during the attack, killed by Forsaken sword and the blight catapults. Calia had a statue made for the sacrifice and was placed in the courtyard of the rebuild Pyrewood village.
But a man who embraced his inner monster could not be trusted.
“We should attack them now, while they still mobilize.” The worgen chewed on a bone.” The last thing that banshee will expect is a attack.”
“ Why should we listen to you, mongrel?” Brother Crawley frowned.” What manner of beast knows how to conduct war better than man?”
The worgen snarled and glared daggers at the holy man. He didn’t retort a reply, save for a growl, but that did not stop the Alterac lord from verbally defending his ally.
“One who still has his packs and allies.” Lord Edward drank from his glass of wine.” Which is more than I can say about your little crusade, holy father.”
Edward Grimshore was another man he disliked. He remembered House Grimshore quite well, a noble house of ill repute who took a black dragon for their sigil. Thomas knew he and Lord Edward had a lot in common and that sickened him even more than Bloodfang did. Like Thomas, Edward fled from Lordearon during the Scourge plague and ended up in another kingdom and had to work from scratch to get where they were. From that point their path’s diverged. While Thomas became a squire for many knights and ran a proper business out of the few farms and a copper mine House Karland held in Stormwind, Edward turned to crime. When Thomas looked at the smooth-talking young man who sported a goatee and semi-royal attire (the sheer arrogance for claiming to be Calia’s equal angered Thomas even more) , he could barely see this famed drug kingpin that made himself king of a broken kingdom of thieves and killers.
What is worse is that he married some lowborn pirate woman by the name of Catelyn the Blade.
“What did you say, Grimshore?” the brother asked with a hint of anger.
“I say that the track record of your holy crusade is quite poor compared to my friend, Ivar here.” Edward leaned back in his chair.
“We are not friends.” Ivar tossed the bone away.
“Point stays the same. The problem with religious crusaders is the lack of aim. I think your need to cleanse, purge and burn everything your peers claimed was for the light cost you wealth, resources and men.”
“What happened to my peers is not of your concern, criminal scum!” The brother snapped as he stood up from his chair.” Our goal now is sacred and blessed by the holy light! We will not be misguided any longer!”
Edward shook his head and poured himself another glass of wine and did not even look the man in the eyes.” It does help that you get named Bishop after all of this, is it not?” Crawley was about to rage further bit a single glance from Calia called him off. The devout priest’s red face turned pale before he bowed his head and took his seat.
Brother Crawley was another man Thomas grew to despise. A religious fanatic whose incoherent speeches somehow made more people don the scarlet robes and grab for the sword. From his one hundred ‘Renegades’ he once brought to Calia’s banner it now swelled to roughly one thousand. Desperate refugees from Westfall or Darkshire who sought refuge in Stormwind but either found poverty or a Scarlet brother who urged them to take up the sword and reclaim Lordearon for the rightful Light chosen Queen. He heard some of Crawley’s hate filled speeches and already a few fights between his flock and non-humans had to be pulled apart. There were rumours that Crawley had a thing for young men but Thomas did not pry or care for that matter. For the good of the Northern Alliance. He did keep a eye on another member of the council who mostly did not speak once during the meetings.
The Dark Iron dwarf by the name of Hadhod Cobaltslayer who served as the figurehead of Queen Moira’s ‘mercenary’ troops was the strong silent type. Calia paid a lot of coin every month for his troops but the Dark Iron underground drills worked very well and the dark Iron forces were very good at what they did. But try as he might, Thomas could never find anything on Hadhod, rumours or otherwise. It is as if in-between battles and meetings the man dissapeared, probably reported back to Queen Moira herself. That didn’t sit right with the Karland lord. He hated it when men kept secrets.
“Gentlemen.” Calia called the council.” Now is not the time to argue. Ivar is right, the time to take action is at hand. The usurpers has fresh forces whom I have been told were taken from the graveyards of Darkshire itself.”
“Whose scouts told you this, your majesty?” Crawley turned to Ivar.” His?”
“No, mine.” Lorna replied.” I hope you do not disapprove of Gilneans?”
“Not at all, Lady Crawley…” the brother apologized.
“How many are we facing?” Danath asked.
“Seven to eight thousand.” Lorna replied which caused some muttering amongst the council. Except one cackling creature who was seated in the corner as a large dark knight stood vigil near him. None seemed to acknowledge them, except Thomas.
Lord Godfrey was present for the meeting, despite the fact he was nothing more but Thassarian’s puppet. He had seen the man….creature, fight and it terrified the young Karland. There was a darkness in the former Gilnean lord that brought a disturbance. Sanity and coherence fled the room when he entered, reason died off as the man’s grin and hollow eyes rested on you. The creature that once was Godfrey smirked at Thomas before the young lord looked away quickly. Thassarian’s cold gaze was aimed at Calia still. Thomas had nothing but respect for the man…in life. The last thing he wanted was Calia to rely on a Death Knight who had slaughtered hundreds only a few years ago before he was ‘freed’. And his mindless undead, whom he raised for Godfrey to use, did upset a few of Calia’s own people who were undead. Thankfully the Queen had the good sense to keep the mindless undead away from the brave men and women who would life their own lives again for their nation.
It was clear the Death Knight had his own agenda for being here and the Queen trusted him…for now.
“We have about four thousand, right?” Calia asked.
“Five hundred when we finished recruiting the last sellsword companies this side of the Eastern Kingdoms on our side.” Hadhod Cobaltslayer spoke out in a gruff voice which did cause a little surprise from everyone who almost forgot the dark skinned dwarf was there.
“That still will get us outnumbered two to one though.” Danath pointed out but the dwarf merely shrugged.
“Let us not forget the corpses Sylvanas is using are from Darkshire, which likely means they are old.” Edward pointed out.” That means that her ‘fresh’ troops likely only serve as cannon fodder. Which means one of ours are worth ten of them.”
“What do you think we should do, Lord Grimshore?” Lorna asked.
“Do exactly what we have been doing for the past couple of months, Lady Crawley. Make Sylvanas hurt.” He leaned in forward.” She started this by capturing Queen Calia and made it worse when she invaded Gilneas and even used you as a bargaining chip. In Alterac we had a saying. If someone pulls out a dagger at you, you pull a gun. If someone puts one of your men in the hospital you put two of his in the morgue. That is the way you show others that you mean business.”
“Lord Grimshore, this is not some gang warfare we are speaking off.” Calia said.” This is not just a war to reclaim some scraps of territory; this is a war for the soul of the Lordearonian people. I will not become that which that I fight.”
“You could’ve fooled me….” Grimshore leaned back in his chair.
“Although I loathe to agree with him…” Brother Crawley added.” He has a point. We need a plan.”
Calia stood up.” I know my fair share of warfare gentlemen and I know how to wage it. Every person or army or nation has a weak spot. The key is to find it…and push. We already got the usurper’s gold mines in Hillsbrad and Silverpine but we will go for somewhere closer.”
The young lord feared for the future of his queen. These men were not to be trusted and yet she called them all here and were part of her council. He expressed his doubts to her before but his queen always smiled and asked for his trust. Thomas’ eyes fell on his queen as she discussed with those present. Her sigil was a white rose and she was called such by the men. Innocent as snow white but still had thorns to sting if needed.
She was the last chance for Lordearon to have a future and he would die to protect that and her. He loved her both physically and for what she stood. She was a shining beacon that could rally all those who wandered to her side and bring them back home.
Thankfully his Queen had a few, so damn few, people Thomas knew would stand by her side. Lady Lorna Crowley was a battle hardened commander and a honest advisor. Her tactics and diplomacy brought many victories for the Queen and she gave it her all. Thomas heard of the fight between Darius Crowley and Lorna before the latter joined Calia’s rebel army. She put everything on the line to claim Lordearon for the Alliance…and have vengeance on Sylvanas.
King Danath Trollbane, a old and tired man who was given the crown of Stromgarde, was despite his weariness still as forceful as he was in his youth. Thomas knew he had no choice but to ally with Calia’s more shadier allies, Stromgarde was a weak nation, but he brought the much needed chivalry that was needed in any Alliance council. When Danath saw what mockery Sylvanas made out of his cousin Galen was all the justification he needed to throw in the remainder of his army and Arathibasin’ goldmines into the Alliance.
And of course the Queen’s guard were there for her as well, and again they were with few as well. Ser Lightblade did not survive his injuries and was buried a few days ago. Ser Nials, a Stromgarde captain who had proven herself in reclaiming Stromgarde’s capitol from bandits, had taken his place. Thomas had only spoken to her a few times but she seemed like an honourable sort. Trevor had grown more suellen while Hartman frequented the taverns more often than before.
“Undercity has always been Sylvanas’ pride. She build it from nothing and would do anything to keep it safe, even beg a orc warchief to help her reclaim it.” Calia placed her elbows on the table and held her hands.” That is why we are going to sack it and lure her in.”
The council gasped. Even Thomas and Trevor blinked. Sacking Undercity?
“How?” Trollbane asked as if he asked in Thomas’ stead.
“Thanks to some negotiating I did with Tandred Proudmoore and with Lady Catelyn Grimshore...” Calia motioned to Edward.” We have a small fleet in our hands, small yet large enough to sneak past the Forsaken’ fleets. A skeleton crew –stop chuckling Ivar and pay attention- will defend our holdings which will draw out Sylvanas’s forces while the majority of our forces are dropped off at the North Coast. From there we march through Brill and attack the Undercity.”
“Won’t it be heavily defended?” Ivar asked.” I do not mind a good scrap but I prefer to stay alive at the end of it.”
The Queen smirked.” If there is one thing Putress proved is that spies easily can shift the scales for Undercity. Gentlemen…one week from now when we take the Undercity we will call down the Banshee Queen to us and when that usurper comes in to save her city we will either kill her or send her off to the rest of those unwashed savages in Kalimdor.” She raised her voice.” My father’s legacy will no longer go tarnished by the whims of usurpers! This is our land! The Eastern Kingdoms belongs to us! WE STAND AS ONE!”
Thomas felt a smile creep up on his face as the council cheered at the plan and joined their voices with hers. We stand as one, they cried, we stand as one!
During the cheering he saw Hadhod leave. Thomas took Trevor aside.” Mind the queen for me please, Trevor.”
“Of course, brother.” The undead priest nodded and took Thomas’ place. The young lord slipped out and tailed the Dark Iron dwarf. “Why are you leaving?” he asked.
The dwarf turned around.” Business to do.”
Thomas folded his arms.” Reporting to Moira, you mean?”
“Like you did to Greymane?” the dwarf replied. Thomas felt the lifeblood drain from his face.
“I don’t know w-what you-?”
“You really are a bad liar.” The dwarf folded his arms in turn. He inspected Thomas up and down before he spoke.” I know of you Thomas Karland, about wanting to prove yourself for your House’s name. Make them great again and all that shite.” He stepped closer as Thomas steadied his nerves.” You treat the men with respect and you aren’t too bad at commanding them in battle either. You got a whole life ahead of you so I will be honest with you. Calia’s plan is not going to work. Get out while you still can.”
“What makes you say that?” Thomas frowned.” You doubt our cause?”
“Aye, if it weren’t for Moira paying for my pay cheque and the fact I owe her a huge favour, I wouldn’t even be here.” Hadhod admitted.” You fought the Forsaken before and you know hard hard they fight for her. They love Sylvanas. They see her as THEIR Dark Lady, their messiah of sorts. Trying to kill her makes you all the enemy. She was there for them when you lot left and hide away. You will pay for every inch of land in blood and even if you get all of it back they will set everything ablaze rather than you getting your hands on it. You are not fighting a nation, you are fighting a religion. With no room for dialogue or reason. The only way your precious queen will rule is to butcher all of the Forsaken and she doesn’t have to spine for that.”
Thomas could not believe what this dwarf was saying.” You are wrong, dwarf.”
“I fought in a lot of wars, lad. I’ve heard others say exactly the same thing Calia is saying and in the end everything stays the same, no matter how much blood is spilled. War never changes. ” The dwarf turned and walked away. He turned back midway the hallway though.” Oh and if you think she will make you king after this, forgot it. It’s nothing going to happen. You will be shoved aside the moment politics come into play. Tandred Proudmoore, Varian, Trollbane or some other Lordearon Highlord who will get her that throne. Believe me on that score.”
Thomas glared.” Get going, dwarf.” He did not even bother seeing the dwarf leave as the young Karland turned around and left.
Later that night Thomas was still awake as the Queen slept beside him.
He tried to shove the thoughts away of what the dwarf said. He knew it was the late hour that made the mind not stop thinking as he carefully thoughts things through. The dwarf had a point. The Northern Alliance’s forces were a mixed bag. They were highly motivated but few had proper training and several charges cost more men than it was expected. Knights fought alongside criminals and monsters and zealots. It was a miracle that no riots happened as of yet or they suffered any major defeats. The chances, even with spies who would open the gates, were still quite slim.
Stormwind would not aid them if things went sideways and above all else….Thomas turned his head as he saw his lover breath while she slept. After they made love he asked Calia about their future but as always she changed the subject or promised they would talk about it later before she drifted off to sleep. They lived in the moment, day by day. He cared-no he loved his Queen with all his heart…but what would she pick when the time came? The throne or him?
He was of lower nobility, he had no chance to marry her. He loved this woman but it was only now he realized it might be soon when he will be placed aside for another noblemen to secure her hold over Lordearon and the throne. He was expendable and that realization hurt him.
Hours past before the young knight had figured out some acceptance with his situation. The young Karland lord decided to make peace with his position and enjoy it as long as he could. He swore he would make his father and uncle proud, he would get his estates and lands back and made sure the name Karland would mean something again in Azerothian history.