☽ ☼ ☾ Part One ☽ ☼ ☾
There was no signal from Commander Rhün as they approached the last few miles to the tower; there didn’t need to be. The whole unit, which was comprised of fifteen bodies without including Rask, grew all at once silent. Even Jonesy stopped cracking jokes, the only sound from him becoming the pad of his boots and the quiet rattle of his bones. It was an eerie thing to Rask’s still-human psyche, marching alongside fifteen other bodies without hearing labored breath. He was glad for the years of physical training that allowed him to walk all this distance without much strain, else he might be betrayed by his own body.
As if urged by the thought, Rask picked up his pace, surpassing the Commander who merely gave him a ghost of a nod as he went.
“Rask!” He turned at the hiss, seeing Jonesy waving vigorously. “Good luck! Kick their ass!”
Vassya clocked him on the skull with her staff, creating a hollow sound. “Shush!”
“Aw, Heartblossom,” Jonesy whined, and Rask again couldn’t help his snort of amusement. The Forsaken’s beaming skull grin was the last thing he caught before he turned away again, pulling on his hood and the mask he’d taken to wearing for missions such as these. The mask reminded him of a horse or deer skull, stylized to a simple piece of silver with two black eye sockets which allowed him to see out, but barred anyone from seeing in. It made him faceless, immune to sympathy or regret.
The sparsely wooded landscape narrowed abruptly to a crevice only a few bodies wide as the ground sloped sharply downward, the rocky mountain walls growing on either side. Rask traversed the bottleneck as little more than a whisper in the crevice’s deep shadow; if there were any guards posted here, it would be his job to dispatch them.
He came across no other soul, however, and after a few minutes of walking the walls fell away without warning, the right side plummeting down a now sheer cliff face as the mountain continued upward on the left. Ahead of him was little more than broken boulders, enterprising shrubs clinging here and there as the path tumbled downward toward the sea. Rask’s eye followed it to the rocky jetty that thrust into the ocean, raised above the dark waters by some dozens of feet of sheer rock. It was on the end of that rock spur their prize was built; a tall tower of grey stone, visible despite the clouds that choked the crescent moon above thanks to the dancing glow of the Worgen’s fires.
The environment lent more of a defense than Rask had realized until now, standing as he was some distance above it. He pushed away a shiver that crawled up his spine at the sight, and at the smell of dense fur salted by the sea’s spray that carried on the blustering wind that plucked at his hair and garments. He tried to ignore how much the wind scraping against the jagged peaks resembled a wolf’s howl, as well as the sudden fire of a phantom pain digging three vertical furrows in his back.
A gust of wind nearly made him lose his feet, bringing him abruptly to the present. His instincts caught him as he braced himself, hugging the left wall so he could continue his journey down. He focused on planting his feet more carefully, trying to steady his breaths as he felt the sweat on his spine turn cold in the wind. He would be of no good to Vanthir, Thalyssara, or the rest if he got himself blown off a cliff. Rhün’s voice echoed in his mind; she said it was of no consequence to us. Under present circumstances, he supposed the Dark Lady had a point.
Finally, the path curved down around a boulder, solidifying as it did into soil and grass. Rask pulled himself up the boulder instead of following the path, squatting behind a tree stump that clung to its edge. Sure enough, two Worgen were posted behind the boulder, guarding a stack of crates and undoubtedly watching the mouth of the path for any unwelcome visitors. He listened to their chatter as he made a last check of his gear, tightening the straps on his armor and boots and making sure the poison coating all his blades was still viable.
“Aye, sure, Sylvanas ‘s a twat,” one of the Worgen said with a snuffling snort, “But really, some shit tower out in th’ middle o’ nowhere ain’t what I was signed up fer when I shipped m’self ter the Broken Isles.”
“Oh, aye? An’ what’d you think you’d be doin’?” Another lilting voice answered, a little reedier than the other, as if it came from a narrower chest. “Out on the fron’ lines with Khadgar an’ the rest, turnin’ demons inta pincushions?”
“As a matter o’ fact, tha’s precisely what I thought I’d be doin’,” the first voice answered indignantly. Rask leaned himself around the side of the stump, hidden eyes on the outlines of the pair below. The one speaking was broad of chest as his voice implied, and the shape of a bow protruded from his back. He would be the first, Rask decided. “The las’ Alliance ship we seen was a week ago. Some feckin’ important supplies ‘ere, to be right sure.”
The second man snorted; he was leaner of frame as his voice implied, but his body reflected the dim light in brief flashes, showing that he was armored from snout to foot. “Come off it, we all know this tower’s a giant ‘fuck you’ ter Sylvanas. But you gotta admit, mate– ‘s a good gig. No demons means no gettin’ yer soul sucked right out yer hindquarters an’ fed ter some soul machinery.”
“Good gig, me arse!” The archer protested. “I’m like ta freeze m’ ears off, with this damnable wind and sea. In fact, I think I’m comin’ down with a cold!” He snuffled again, “I could be dyin’ some noble death fighin’ demons, an’ instead, watch– I’m like ter die from a Lightdamned cold!”
“Ain’t the sea’s fault y’dress like a moron,” the warrior quipped– and Rask felt amusement stir in his breast, the same sort of amusement Jonesy-bonesy usually managed to rouse from him. He blinked, a frown furrowing his brow as he watched the two continue to bicker for a few dragging seconds. His job would be much easier with them out of the way; past the mouth of the path was the edge of the jetty where he could continue, unseen, to the tower. Not to mention, his companions that were surely clattering their way down the crevice above would have an easier time without being ambushed by these two.
The bigger Worgen guffawed below him, slapping his grinning companion on the shoulder. Rask saw the opportunity, and dropped like a stone from the edge of the boulder. It was his fist that connected with the base of the archer’s neck as he landed, and the Worgen dropped like a pile of rocks. The armored lad barely got out a yelp before Rask brained him with the pommel of his dagger, grimacing at the resounding clang.
He stared down at the two, and wondered what Rhün would report when the unit found the Worgen unconscious but not dead. He wondered if they would even notice– and the thought of what his Forsaken friends would do if they did compelled Rask to drag the two bodies behind the pile of crates they’d been guarding, hiding them securely from sight. No sooner was the job done than he was darting toward the edge of the jetty, darkness and magic helping conceal him as he all but fled from the two breathing bodies that had cost him more than he’d expected.
☽ ☼ ☾ To be continued! ☽ ☼ ☾