Alliance: Chapter 1
“Sergeant Cleese was many things.” Sister Almyra spoke softly before the gathered crowd.” To some a drunkard, a loudmouth and a scallywag. But to others a true friend, a patriot, a teacher and a hero.” The Cathedral was filled to the brim for the funeral of so many. By King Greymane’s wishes, each and every single of the casualties was honoured, documented and properly laid to rest. Sergeant Cleese was the fifteenth casualty that was put forward in a sad and long list. Thomas held his head down in respect as the bier with Cleese’s body passed. The former Arms trainer was armoured in his old armour as he held his freshly forged blade. He looked like he was sleeping, ready to engage the enemies of Gilneas at any moment. For Gilnaes and those refugees who finally came home he was one of the many heroes they would honour each year. For Thomas it meant a debt he could never repay. It was Cleese who pushed the young Karland lord aside as the Ogre’s club came down and it was Cleese who made the killing blow before his internal injuries took him to the Light.
“Although he will not be with us to see Gilneas rebuild, he will honour him within our hearts and our cups. May the Light take him in.” The priestess motioned her hand as a small holy glow surrounded the body.
“May the Light takes him in.” The crowd responded. As Cleese was led outside, another bier was brought up which held a Night elven corpse.” Thaumaturge Moonspire was not from our land-“ Almyra began anew as something pulled on Thomas’ sleeve. “Ser Thomas?”
Thomas turned his head to an Gilnean soldier.” His majesty, King Graymane has asked for you.”
The newly anointed Knight blinked confused at the soldier.” The king?” he asked.
“Yes, he asked me to find you.” The soldier replied.” Can you come with me please?”
“Of course.” Thomas replied and followed the man out of the Cathedral. He put on his helmet before he stepped into the rain. He was here for nearly a week and already he hated the bloody rain. His mind went to poor Sergeant Cleese who would be buried in Aderic’s repose with the other heroes, in the cold and wet ground. He had half a mind to ask the draenei or dwarven shaman to do something about the weather but decided against it. It was a sad day, the rain made sense in a way. Gilneas mourned for her heroes.
He followed the soldier through the rain and puddles toward the Town Hall.
Life was returning to Gilneas City as houses were being repaired, cooking fires lit up and here and there a merchant opened up shop again. He heard that every day ships arrive at Keel harbor with more Gilneans returning home or others who bought land cheaply to begin a new enterprise here.
Mother would be pleased no doubt, Thomas thought. The Young Lord entered the Town hall and was led to the main room where his courage nearly left him. King Genn Graymane, Lord Darius Crowly, Duke Foehammer and an Night elven female commander ( Thomas guessed by her attire) were hunged over some maps. The soldier slammed his heels together and saluted.” Your majesty, I brought Ser Thomas Karland with me.”
The king looked up from the large map on the table. “Very good soldier, dismissed. Shut the door behind you please.”
The soldier slammed his heels together again and marched out, closing the door behind him.
“And I thought only dogs did tricks.” The dwarven duke chuckled before he caught the eye of Crowly.” No offense.”
“Ser Thomas.” Genn smiled and walked over.” I didn’t think we would meet again so soon.”
“Me neither, your majesty.” Thomas bowed his head.” It was just yesterday when you knighted me.”
“I think it was yesterday.” The Worgen lord chuckled.” You and six others.”
“Two of whom who didn’t make it. I know.” Genn replied.” But that is neither here and or there. You did an excellent job during your first engagement Ser Thomas. You killed several ogres and protected the Harvest Witches from their assault.”
“I did my duty to the Alliance, your grace.” Ser Karland said humbly.” And I lost many friends that day as well.”
“Cleese was his mentor.” Crowly added.” He said a lot of good things about him.”
“Encouraged by Varian’s purse and gold, I bet.” Genn smirked.” I’m not one for politics Ser Thomas. I know why the king asked to bring you and several other noble lords along.”
“Y-your majesty?” Thomas stammered.
Genn held up his hand.” It’s fine. When I was accepted into the Alliance I knew Gilneas had to pay the price for leaving it after the Second War. Sacrificing some portions of lands of Godfrey’s rebel lords does not seem such a steep price.”
“I did not come here for land, your majesty.” Thomas found some courage.” My mother may be Ellerian and thus related to the king, but House Karland was a Lordearon house and any claims my mother wants in Gilneas are solely for House Ellerian. With all due respect, any lands I would like to have personally are not found here.”
The King of Gilneas chuckled.” Well now, it seems the bull does have some courage after all.”
“ Excuse me..” The night elf spoke.” But he does not look like a bull save for that piece of cloth over his plate armour.”
“His family house took a bull as their sigil, Priestess Il'dinare.” Crowly explained.” He is not a bull.”
“I see…” the priestess raised her brow with amusement.
“Not much of a house left either. Save for your mother’s estates which belongs to House Ellerian, House Karland only has a few men-at-arms, some servants and some gold.” Genn said.” Is that correct?”
“Yes, your majesty. My family lost a lot during the Fall.” Thomas replied.” My father died in Stratholme.”
“I met your father once during the Second War.” Crowly smiled.” He was a good man, terrible at cards though.”
“Thank you, my lord.” Thomas smiled a little.” But with all due respect your grace, you asked me to come as fast as possible.”
“Yes, I did.” Genn said and motioned him closer to the table. Thomas’ eyes fell upon the map. He saw several markers on the map which indicated villages being rebuild or relocated. Hearthglen had the note of ‘Spider Infestation’ while near a cliff face a marker which said ‘New Duskhaven’ was planted. The wall which separated Gilneas from Silverpine forest, and Horde grounds, had notes which said ‘need more mortar’ and ‘need more hands’.
“I will be blunt. Princess Calia Menethil has returned.”
Thomas held on to the table as the shock waved over him. He ahd ehard the rumours but he passed them off as just that. To have a Menethil return…
” Come again?”
“Your princess arrived shortly after the battle with Forsaken rangers behind her. When she and her escort passed the wall and into the protection of an Bloodfang pack, they hastily retreated. We kept her secure but news is slowly getting out. Several Lordearon natives and Hillsbrad Worgen are already at her doorstep.” The Priestess said.
“We are asking you to keep a eye on her.” Foehammer took a stein of ale and gulped it down before he wiped the foam of his beard with the back of his hand.” Make sure she really is whom she claims to be.”
Thomas was puzzled.” My lords, I apologize for asking but…how would you not know who she is?”
“I have only seen Calia once when she was just a woman flowered. She looks the part but I am still unsure.” Genn said.” It has been many years since then. We are waiting for Varian to arrive since he was a foster child with the Menethil’s for a long time and would know. However that is not the issue.”
“She is not willing to accept any of our men after we took away one of her escorts to be…questioned.” Crowly let that sink in.” She only wants a Lordearon knight to be her guard. And since those are short to come by these days…”
“Is that why I was made a knight?” Thomas held the pommel of his sword so hard it nearly hurt.” Because of my heritage?”
“Before you think anything.” Foehammer interjected.” We did not know of this before we made you a knight, Ser Thomas. Your deeds on the battlefield are respected and worthy of your knighthood.”
“It is like a card you pull out of your Hearthstone deck.” Crowly added.” It was just the right place and the right moment.”
Thomas took a moment to gather himself.” What do you want me to do?”
Genn took him by the shoulder.” Nothing to subterfuge, I promise you. Just keep her safe and see if she really is the rightful heir of Lordearon. If she is, people will flock to her and the idea of reclaiming Lordearon might come to mind. Try to persuade her otherwise.”
“We made a treaty with Vol’jin’s horde after we have slain Garrosh for a reason, Ser Thomas.” Il'dinare said.” We cannot afford another war with the Horde. We do not have the manpower or the funds or the motivation for that matter.”
“I understand.” Thomas nodded.” I will do my duty for the Alliance.”
A few hours later, Ser Thomas Karland arrived at the estate. Several men, women and worgen turned to face him. They asked him questions but Thomas rode on as his escorts drove the rabble back. The guards inside opened the gates and let Thomas in and the others out. The knight leaped off his horse and handed the reins to a stablehand.
“where can I find the princess?” Thomas asked.
“The Queen is inside the solar, Ser.” The stablehand frowned before he took the horse away. Thomas blinked at the stablehand before he entered the estate. Inside the recently renovated home, Thomas could still smell the wet paint, he was greeted by a swordsmen.
“Ser Karland?” The Paladin asked to which Thomas nodded.” I am Ser Andarin Lightblade.”
“A Paladin?” Thomas frowned.
“Yes I am.” Andarin smirked. The so-called Paladin did not wear anything resembling Paladin armour. He looked more like an mercenary rather than a member of the holy order or knight. He was tall, well build and wore no armor other than an ornate breastplate. He had a bastard sword rather than an hammer, strapped to his side which had sacred runes etched on it.” Not quite what you expected eh? Neither did Sylvanas’ guards. Queen Calia is in the observatory upstairs, come I will take you to her.”
The Paladin led Ser Karland upstairs.” A friend of mine asked me to infiltrate Undercity to find his friend. Instead of finding this friend, I found an Forsaken who aided me in slaying one of the Abominations that nearly had me. He was a priest who still used the Light and told me of a prisoner that needed saving quickly but I needed to held the line. I did and a moment later Trevor-“
“Who?” Thomas asked.
“The Forsaken, a nice guy save for the odour. Not his fault, Light bless him. Anyway, Trevor led Calia outside of her cell and I was forced to follow. I did not find the prisoner my friend wanted me to find but I found the next best thing.” He turned to face the knight.” How is Trevor?”
“I do not know, they did not say.” Thomas replied. He did not even know the other escort was a Forsaken, which made Thomas wonder what else Graymane and his hide from him. “You risked a lot for this friend, Ser Lightblade.” he noted to which Andarin smiled.
“He saved my life in Northrend, I owed him and Lurid one. This was my trying to pay my debt. I'm afraid I still have to pay the tab for that one. But that is a tommorow’s thing.” The two stopped in front of a door which led to the observatory. He knocked once.
“Come in.” a feminine voice on the other end said to which Andarin opened the door.
She was not the type of princess Thomas had expected. Her brown hair was tied into a bun and she wore trousers and a vest rather than a dress. She was sharpening her daggers with a rock before she stopped and looked at them with her hardened, green eyes. Save for an expensive looking necklace and a certain air only nobility could have perfected, the woman looked nothing like a princess. However as she placed her knife and rock away and stood, there was a certain elegance to it. Thomas could not help but find her attractive, in a rugged kind of way.
“Your grace.” Andarin bowed.” This Ser Thomas Karland.”
“Ser Thomas, it is a pleasure to meet you.” she smiled.
“It is an honour, your grace.” Thomas bowed deeply.
“I heard from my guards outside that you have just been made a knight and you are of Lordearon descent, is that true?”
“Yes it is, your grace.” Thomas replied.” I was knighted by King Graymane the same day you apparently arrived.”
“Apparently?” she raised her brow.
“M-my apologies.” Thomas bowed his head.” I meant no disrespect.” The knight stared to the ground intently as his heart raced. A chilling moment passed before he heard her giggle.
“It’s quite alright Ser Thomas.” She placed her hand on his shoulder.” Rise. I don’t want anyone from the House of Karland to dishonour their words.”
Thomas stood up as he looked puzzled.” You know our words?”
“Stubborn as a rock, yes?” Calia said with a smile.” I was taught from a young age to learn the sigil and words of all Lordearon houses, great and small. Yours was a small house until the Second War when your greatfather held an pass in Alterac against Orc reinforcements for three hours. I think in a way House Karland saved my life that day.”
“How so?” Thomas asked.
“Well those reinforcements may have linked up with the rest of the Horde to the Lordearon capitol which was besieged at the time. If those troops aided in the struggle the walls may have been overwhelmed and I may not have been here today.”
“It is an honour you think of my house that way, your grace.” Thomas smiled.
“So many honours, indeed.” She chuckled and walked back to her chair.” So…” she began sharpening her dagger again.” Has Genn asked you to spy on me did he?”
Thomas’ smile faded immediately.” N-no your grace.”
Andarin stood to her side as he picked up an apple from the fruit bowl and ate it.” If he did, he either picked the most terrible liar and a damn good actor. I think the former is what we have here, your grace.” He said in between munches.
“As Princess I was taught to read people, Ser Andarin. And I think you are right. No offense, is a bit young for his title bit driven to proof his family name. I think you are being used as a pawn, poor Thomas.”
Story of my life, Thomas thought to himself as he stayed silent. First his mother and now Greymane.
All he wanted was to proof himself and the Karland name.
Calia kept sharpening her dagger.” I have not met your father, Thomas. But my brother did and House Karland served him during the early days of the Third War. I hope I can expect as much loyalty your father had for my brother as you hopefully will to me.”
Thomas dropped to his knee.” I swear on the Holy Light, I will not betray you.”
“Good, and may I expect the truth from you?” she asked.
“Of course, on my honour.” Thomas replied.
“Good. Then answer me this. What do men respect most, a throne or the person who sits on it?”
Thomas looked up at the self-styled Queen.” It depends who is sitting on the throne, your grace.”
“Really?” Calia placed her dagger on her fingertip and made the blade turn.
“A throne is a throne.” Thomas said.” Men respect it because it will always be there. It is their past and future, their collective consciousness. If the person who sits on the throne is weak or wicked, men will prefer the throne than the man and pray for better times.”
“But if the person on the throne is strong?” Calia cocked her head to the side.
“Then men will admire the person and not the throne. And when the person dies he or she will be remembered with the throne.”
She withdrew the dagger and placed it with the others.” My father was seated on that throne for more than fifty years before my brother took him. It was the throne that saved my life when what’s left of Uther’s guard sheltered me in the Scarlet monastery before Sylvanas found me and held me captive for all these years. Thomas…that throne belongs to House Menethil. It is my birth right, my legacy. Father wanted Arthas to rule with Jaina at his side and a golden haired prince in their lap. I never once wanted that throne until the day when Arthas shoved his sword through my father’s belly and threw the entire country to ruin.”
“The Forsaken rule Lordearon now, your grace.” Andarin said.
“No, not the Forsaken. That usurper Sylvanas. She stole my people away from me.”
“If you wish to stop her, your grace.” Thomas stood up.” Why haven’t you shown yourself yet? Many of your people are outside.”
Calia smiled as if Thomas and her were equals.” I am waiting for the right moment.”
“The right moment?” Thomas asked. Calia did not reply and changed subjects.
A few days passed as Thomas got used to life as being a guard to the princess. He wrote home to his mother and half-sister, omitting the fact of Princess/Queen Calia’s survival of course. He and Ser Lightbringer trained in the courtyard until the crowd outside grew even bigger with each passing day and kept asking questions. When confronted with this, the Princess said it was not time yet to reveal herself. Calia kept to herself in the observatory although at night she had a tendency to sneak out. Thomas followed her twice in the dark, and thanked the light he was good at hide and seek when he was small, and found her chatting to an Stormwind Lord guessing by the Lion’s tabard. It was dark but the moon gave enough light for Thomas to recognize the badge of Black Dragon of House Grimtide on his shoulder pad. They spoke in hushed tones and never for long. Seems Calia had a spy on the inside as well. Thomas made his way back to the estate before Celia did. And so the days went one. Until one day, when the rain stopped for once, that Andarin shook him awake from his bed.
“Today’s the day, Thomas.” He smiled.
“W-what’s today?” Thomas slowly got up.
“Unification.” Andarin replied.
The Paladin and the Knight escorted the self-styled Queen downstairs as for the first time she left the estate. The crowd outside, which numbered nearly in the thousand Thomas thought, all stood silent and gazed at Calia. She mounted her horse, as did both Andarin and Thomas, and set a course for the gate. Andarin handed Thomas a rolled up banner as they rode.” You mind holding this? I have a soar shoulder. Open it when I tell you to.”
“Of course.” Thomas agreed.
“Princess Calia.” The gilnean guard said.” I’m sorry but you can’t leave.”
“Has Graymane arrested me then?” she asked.
“No, of course not.” The guard replied shocked.
“Good, then be so kind to open the gates?”
The guard reluctantly opened the gate as the three riders moved out.
“Now, Thomas.” Andarin motioned.
Thomas unrolled the banner and held it high in the air. The symbol of Lordearon was held high in the air as it waved in the wind. The mob cheered at her as they all cheered her name. All hail, Queen Calia. All hail, Lordearon!’.
“Brothers and sisters of Lordearon! My children!” She shouted.” Follow me! Follow your Queen!”
and follow they did. Man, woman, child and Worgen cursed. All followed their Queen. They marched toward the capitol as Gilneas soldiers and other members of the Alliance stepped aside. She let them to Stoneward prison.
Calia rode to the Warden.” Warden, as Queen of Lordearon I demand you to let my people go.”
The crowd fell silent with a gasp here and there. Thomas looked to Andarin who looked just as confused as he was.
The warden tried to mutter an excuse but Calia did not take heed.” Let my people go, Warden. I will take full responsibility if your king has issue with it.”
The Warden did as he was told and opened the cells inside. One by one the cell doors opened…and walking corpses came out. One of them wore a priests robe and looked less…’dead’ than the others. As if some holy energy fueled him.
The crowd went almost insane, for many remembered the Scourge, but Calia held out her hand.
“My children, listen!” she called.” LISTEN!” The crowd fell silent.” These are your people to. I have been told that these Forsaken have left their false Queen and come back home to us!”
“But they are dead!” one man shouted.” Monsters!” said another.
“The people of Hillsbrad had to drink cursed blood to remain themselves, are they monsters?!” Calia shouted. She dismounted from her horse and gave her reins to the prison warden who looked unsure of what to do. Fearlessly, she walked toward the robed Forsaken and his kin. Thomas and the Paladin followed her. As one the Forsaken prisoners knelt before Calia, save the priest who just smiled.
“My princess, I knew you would come save us.” The priest chuckled.
“Never thought you would be an romantic, Trevor.” She smiled and held him. She stepped back and walked to the other Forsaken.” My children, you have been betrayed before. Once by my brother and again by the false Banshee Queen.” She motioned one up.” Stand, stand! You are no longer slave to your torment. It does not matter what you were before in the Scourge or the Forsaken. You are Lordearon still! We will take back our homeland!” She extended her hand to Thomas. Without thought he handed the banner of Lordearon to the self-styled Queen, a Queen he felt he could get behind.
"WE STAND AS ONE!" She cried.
"WE STAND AS ONE!" The crowd replied as the cheer of man, worgen and forskaen alike shook Gilneas city.
The word of home went through the crowd like wildfire. It was as if some strange enchantment fell upon them as an man walked over to an Forsaken and shook his hand, which the Forsaken gladly shook back.
“All hail, Queen Calia!” they chanted.” All hail, Queen Calia!”
Thomas felt a smile creep to his lips as the Lightblade motioned to the roofs to their right. He followed Andarin’s hand and saw the reason why today was the day of her revelation. On the rooftop were not just King Greymane and Lord Crowly but also a man with deep blue plate armour, one shoulder pad in the shape of a lion and the other an eagle. His hair was in a pony tail and went to his waist as his scar across his face grew even worse when he frowned. High King Varian Wyrnn had arrived.