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Grathier
Grathier
Posts: 127
Joined: March 28th, 2014, 8:58 am
Grathier

Re: Still Not as Bad as Gilneas

Postby Grathier » February 10th, 2015, 5:57 am

Rosemary Aberdeen shot herself two days later.

When Grathier returned from scavenging with a dead rat from the mine, she lay in the centre of the room, the back of her head a mess and still clutching the shotgun in one hand. She had arranged every piece of remaining furniture into a strange ring around her.

He stood frozen for a moment, clutching their dinner. Next to her was a knife thrust into the floor and a word carved out in the timber.

S O R R Y

"Damn it!" he kicked a side table over as hard as he could. He wanted to curse and throw the furniture around, but he was too weak to be angry. In the end he just looked at her for a time. Her eyes were fearful, but at the same time she looked relieved.

She had freed herself from her nightmare, he supposed.

He knelt beside her, only now seeing her dark brown hair was a mess of blood at the back. Grathier closed her eyes and mouth, took the gun away and crossed her arms over her chest. Except for the pool of blood, she looked peaceful now. He sat down at her side.

"Feeling better now?"

He let a moment pass, as if he actually expected an answer. He thought back over the past few days, trying to find warning signs. If anything, she had been getting better. They had shared a morsel of food the previous night. There had been no more confrontations with others since the fight. Was this his fault? How much of this was his doing? He *did* leave her the shotgun - that much was his.

He thought about the apology. Did she think she let him down? Honestly, she had. No amount of pity would change that. But he wasn't angry. He was too weak to be angry.

After a while, the hunger won out and he cooked the rat. It tasted worse than rations. Almost ritually, he left half of it uneaten beside Rose for a time while he thought. He decided to leave. He would climb over the wall and go up to the hill. Perhaps Kashka was still alive. Two days ago he may have considered a vigil for Rose, but more and more dead simply remained as they lay now. Dumbelrin must not have the manpower or the energy to collect anymore.

He started gathering his things. As he was replacing the round in the shotgun she had used, a commotion erupted outside. Grathier went to the loophole and watched the main road. Out of nowhere, ragged men had begun erecting makeshift fortifications. Crates, barrels, doors, a rowing boat and such were being used. He boggled at the sight - there was no food yet were still so many of them. They must have come from the Town Hall.

Not many fortifications were completed. Footmen streamed through the front gate, many of them with fancy gold armour of officers. The defenders scattered and Grathier let out a whoop.

Admiral Taylor was back.

He hurriedly gathered his things and rushed to join him. He checked his equipment and conducted an ammunition count, ate the last of the rat and most importantly, made sure he had his loot. Lieutenant Schuman's emerald pendant and his ticket out of poverty once his duty was done. He replaced it in his empty tobacco pouch and headed out.

He stopped at the door and gave one final look to Rose.

"Go easy on her, aye? She was young and terrified."

He closed the door behind him and started towards the fighting.

Grathier
Grathier
Posts: 127
Joined: March 28th, 2014, 8:58 am
Grathier

Re: Still Not as Bad as Gilneas

Postby Grathier » February 10th, 2015, 6:39 am

"NO!" he stopped and fell to his knees. He wasn't hurt - he was simply watching his hopes be dashed before his eyes.

Taylor's men were turning on themselves as well!

That wasn't the worst part. The defenders weren't falling back to fight on higher ground. In fact, Taylor passed them entirely. Those he missed were going building to building, announcing themselves as Taylor's men. Those left alive opened up, and were butchered.

He saw some twisted product of necromancy on the path. It burst through the barricades into the Briny Barnicle. There were screams inside.

Grathier ran his hands over his face. This can't be happening.

"This is BULLSHIT!" he said feebly.

It was heated confusion again. It would be the same result as when he was in the barracks. As Bravo Company at the gate.

The gate! Grathier headed for it. It was empty. He saw another soldier appear from behind the Barnicle with the same idea. He levelled the shotgun at him.

They were too far away to identify one another in the darkness and he was too weak to call out. The other man immediately dropped to the ground, making himself a small target. They stared one another down. Perhaps when he realised he wasn't to be shot on sight, he simply got back up and started towards him.

"Close enough!" Grathier snarled. He had maybe 95% of the trigger pressure taken up, he was that ready to kill the man. He couldn't trust anybody.

"Look man, I don't want no trouble." the footman looked younger than he, with a beard and ragged hair. He almost looked like-

"Exeter?"

"Grathier?" he asked. "What the fuck?!"

Grathier lowered his weapon - less than ten seconds of holding it up had made his arms tired. How the hell was Exeter still alive?! He didn't think he was one of them.

"Sorry. But this place has me a bit paranoid." he pointed wearily at the house he had left. "I've been in there for a while."

"I was in the armoury." he said. "It... was bad."

"How did all you stay alive in there?"

"Don't ask." was all he said.

"Don't tell." he said. He knew they couldn't scavenge - that left only one real option. "I think Kashka is up that hill."

"How do you know that?"

"I know the sound of her rifle anywhere."

Exeter sighed. He looked five years older. "What are you going to do?"

"Find her. Then one way or another, head south."

"You're not staying?" Exeter asked.

"They're all fucked." he replied, gesturing back up the hill. "They'll slaughter themselves. I've seen it happen."

"I'll come with you then." he said. Grathier gave him the shotgun and the three remaining rounds and they set off.

-----------------------

They didn't just find Kashka. They also found Collier. Turns out she had bullied their way through the gate when they tried to stop her leaving for forage duty. When everything went down they set up on a hill with overwatch to much of the base. They had access to game. The two of them had even constructed a shelter from the rains.

"You were in there?" she asked, pointing down at the house. She could only see the back of it, but it was still visible to her. "I think I took a shot at you once."

"You probably did." Grathier replied. "If I had any strength, I'd slap you back."

"And I will throw you off the side of this hill."

"Touche."

Collier said little and Exeter was watching the fighting down in the garrison. "They're barricading themselves in the barracks." he said.

"We tried that." Grathier retorted. "Then we started slaughtering each other over so much as a funny look."

"That bad?"

"We should go." he said. "We can't do anything here."

"You want us to desert?" Collier asked.

"Not desert." Grathier said. "Fetch reinforcements! How is it that the Lunarfall outpost hasn't sent somebody to help with this?"

"Perhaps they don't know?" Exeter pitched.

"Figures..."

They looked back at the distant barracks. They knew he was right and he knew that they knew - it was a lost cause. Nobody really wanted to leave except him - but they didn't have it as bad as he did. He wanted nothing to do with this place or this damn part of Draenor anymore.

"We will go at sunrise." Kashka said at last. "And we will return with soldiers."

Exeter bristled. "If we tarry here, the more likely Taylor won't-"

"Shut up!" she said. "We will not survive in there at night. We will go at sunrise."

Grathier
Grathier
Posts: 127
Joined: March 28th, 2014, 8:58 am
Grathier

Re: Still Not as Bad as Gilneas

Postby Grathier » February 12th, 2015, 5:19 am

Nobody slept that night. They were too preoccupied with the screaming.

It wasn't pitch dark, but Grathier couldn't see Kashka sitting 25 feet away and neither of them could see Collier.

They had pushed their luck. The Lunarfall outpost was supposed to be a day's hike south. They had moved as two blades and two guns. Grathier was the most malnourished of the four and Kashka had the most rounds for her rifle, so Collier and Exeter had taken swords. Almost immediately, they encountered the Iron Horde blocking their path to safety.

South was out, so they went east to box around them. A few hours this way led them to the Horde - the regular Horde - blocking their east path. They deduced the two forces were currently combating one another. Their options were to either box around them as well, which would take them back the way they came, or try to slip between them. They tried the more dangerous second option.

Just before sunset, they were compromised by a pale orc with a sword for a hand. Kashka shot him and he fled. Ten minutes later they were attacked by a dozen more. All armed with hooks and sword-hands. In the ensuing skirmish, Grathier used the last of his shotgun ammunition and Kashka's rifle broke parrying a blow. They got off lightly.

Collier had been slashed across the chest - a seemingly minor wound - and Exeter had been cut down as they turned to flee. They didn't know how many (or how few) kills they inflicted - he supposed it didn't really matter. When night came, they counterattacked, Collier and Kashka with blades and he with his revolver and percussion cap. It was desperate, but they drove the orcs back as darkness enclosed. They realised soon Collier had been poisoned. His breathing was laboured and he was constantly seething.

Then the screaming started. It was Exeter.

So they sat there in the scrub all night, forced to listen. Minutes dragged by like hours. Whenever he felt faint, Grathier had to rock himself back and forth to keep alert.

He would just not. Stop. Screaming.

He couldn't ignore it and think about something else - reality had a vice grip over his mind. After an hour, it triggered a migraine. Grathier could feel every pain in his body. His head, His cracked ribs, his cut up leg which thankfully didn't make him limp, every damn muscle that should be too weak to do what he was making it do. He was wasting away from starvation, and had not a drop of water since before the skirmishing. He tried to cover his ears, but he had a pistol in each hand. And it was tiring to lift his arms for longer than a few seconds.

Exeter just kept going. And he kept listening.

-----------------------------------

He found himself looking at green and brown. What was this? Forest? He felt dizzy. Every twitch of muscle coursed pain through his body. He groaned. He was in the foetal position.

It was morning. It was quiet. Grathier needed a full minute to sit up, only with the motivation that he could see a plant with dew on it. He spent another sucking on leaves, which only made him more thirsty.

Collier had stopped breathing through the night. His face and neck were purple and swollen, like he had choked to death. When it had happened was anybody's guess. Kashka was kneeling by his side and noticed him waking.

"It happened some time ago I think." she whispered.

He tried to respond but couldn't articulate any sort of Common. It came out as just random sounds. He saw Collier. That switched him on a little.

"Wha-" he said. "Wha-is..?"

"Shh! I am thinking you had passed out." she said with her hush-hush tone. "Exeter stopped screaming several hours ago."

He was probably dead. Grathier found a bug and ate it, not knowing what it is or if it was even edible. He found another and ate that too.

"We should find him."

Kashka looked doubtful, but behind that was fury. Grathier couldn't muster up the rage right now, but he was sure it would come.

"Yes. Let us."

They set off with Collier's footman medallion. She carried an axe, which made sense. From what he remembered in the fighting, these orcs were nigh-impervious to pain. In fact, they almost fought like Forsaken. Just with muscle. And balls.

He followed her. She was more alert than he was, so she was the logical choice for scout. Exeter had been close, close enough to pinpoint a direction. Kashka suddenly stopped and started crawling. He followed her, eating a small beetle that crossed his path.

She stopped and signalled for him to come up next to her. Crawling was arduous now, but he kept at it. After all, it hurt no more than any normal workout. He got next to her, took a moment to catch his breath and looked up. And froze.

It had to be Exeter. Grathier's stomach lurched and he fought back vomiting. In the end, they had impaled him on a heavy-duty hook and hung him from a tree, where he lightly swayed in the breeze.

It was mostly just a torso. His arms were missing to the elbows, one leg to the knee and the other missing completely. His eyes, ears, lips, nose and teeth were gone. They had scalped him to reveal some skull and mutilated his genitals. Underneath him was a small pile of amputated parts. Fingers and toes were separate to hands and feet and they to arms and legs. The orcs had started small. His torso was covered with cuts and burns. In a cruel twist, they had left his tongue in to let him scream.

The orcs were gone.

"I will kill them all!" Kashka snarled. Grathier didn't reply at first, though he felt the same way. Exeter had only been 18. He may have been vain and cocky, but he had deserved better.

"Let's go." he said. "There's nothing we can do here."

Kashka trembled with rage. He put a hand on her shoulder, which calmed her. She buried her face in her hands for a brief moment before regaining her composure. They got to their feet and turned to leave. They didn't get far.

Grathier
Grathier
Posts: 127
Joined: March 28th, 2014, 8:58 am
Grathier

Re: Still Not as Bad as Gilneas

Postby Grathier » February 12th, 2015, 6:41 am

Four was now two. And Kashka was in a bad way.

Grathier had no idea how he wasn't just still going, but carrying her over one shoulder as well. After starvation, sleep deprivation, being shot (sort of), stabbed and horribly beaten. Clinging to hope after hope and watching them crumble. Failing in his duty, failing those who needed him, indeed failing at humanity. An ordinary man would have died a long ago.

And now, perhaps the only living person he would trust with his life implicitly was bleeding to death. Probably poisoned as well. An orc had cried out in alarm and attacked. Kashka had hacked him to pieces before two more arrived and they fled. They caught up. Again, Kashka hacked one down but the other eviscerated her something bad. Grathier had pressed the muzzle of his revolver into the second orcs ear and pulled the trigger.

"Stop!" she cried after a time. "Set me down!"

Grathier complied and set her down against a tree.

"Come on, girl." he said with a tone of pleading. "The Kashka I know doesn't just give up when she is cut to ribbons."

She groaned in pain, clutching her stomach.

"I am not getting out of here..." she said.

"Bullshit!" he snapped. "You're as hard as arcanite! I've seen you kill dozens by yourself! I've seen you-"

"Shut up."

He shut up. She shifted to get comfortable and Grathier noticed her innards threatened to spill out of the cuts she was holding in. The walk must have been agony for her.

"You go." she said. "You can go and live."

"I don't let soldiers die." he said. She chuckled, which turned into a coughing fit laced with blood.

"If I had my gun..." she mused between spasms of pain. "I could make a nice last stand here."

"If I'm not helping you," he said angrily. "What am I doing?"

"You can help me by shooting me."

"I'm not-"

Something roared. Grathier whirled around on a charging orc. He drew his pistol and fired twice without thinking. The orc's face twisted up and he doubled over. He didn't fire again - that was the last of his bullets - so he turned back to Kashka.

"Why not?" she asked.

"I ain't ever killed somebody that didn't deserve it." he said. That was probably untrue, but he didn't care. "You're not dying because of me."

"Everybody dies." she said ruefully. "My husband and my daughter died. She had such spirit, that one..." she lapsed into a memory for a moment before coming back. "The other draenei can fool themselves, but not me."

Grathier was quiet for a moment. "I... didn't know you were married."

"Another time, another life."

He sighed and drew his percussion cap. He didn't want to do this. He turned it around and thrust it in her hands.

"You can move on quickly," he said, standing up. "Or you can take one of those bastards with you."

She looked at it, as if weighing up the options.

Grathier looked back at the orc. He was still now. Good riddance.

"And Kashka."

"What?"

"I'll want that back."

"How will I-" she looked puzzled until she read his face. "Oh. Of course."

He left. Thirty seconds later he heard a shot.

------------------------------------------

Another life...

Everything was a blur. He walked toward the sun for a while. Every time he saw or heard something that resembled a person, he just sat down. His reserves were gone. He was running on fumes.

At first he thought about Kashka. They had had a few adventures together. Won battles, lost people, taking no prisoners. They had been magnificent. He began to think about others fleetingly. Exeter and Collier, Aberdeen, Bartholomew. Others he had fought with in the past. Those he had seen fall, those who survived and had families, those who vanished into thin air. Their faces were like pages in a book he was leafing through.

That broke down soon, and he merely thought about surviving. He had Miranda, and he had Schuman's pendant. He would make a lot of money with that, buy his seven-year old sister a house, an education. He also thought about Kashka's words. Another life...

It would be so easy to just curl up and die.

His thought cycle looped and skipped again. He thought about that orc he had shot. There was something about it he couldn't put his finger on. The way he looked... He skipped again to something else. He couldn't even feel himself walking now. He kept the sun in his eyes and auto-piloted. Eventually he couldn't even articulate his thoughts. Live. Die. Money. Kill. Miranda. Protect. Fail. Survive.

He saw a figure and sat down. Ten minutes later he started walking toward the sun again. He walked. And walked. And walked. Sometimes that orc's face came to him. There was something...

The forest gave way. There were hills. He smelled the ocean. He walked to the top of a hill, shook some sense into himself and looked around. There were tree stumps one way. That was good. He walked that way. Why were tree stumps good? Right. People logged them. Perhaps if he could-

He collapsed. When he woke up, the sun was on the wrong side of the sky. His face hurt. That made him think of the squinted face of that stupid orc. He climbed a great mountain to his feet and kept walking.

SurvivekilldieMirandalivewinkilldefeatdieMirandahappymoneylivesurvivewin.

He saw two blurry figures. One waved. He sat down. Can't be seen - seen is death. They walked over. He had a gun - did it have bullets still? He had to kill. He got up and aimed and fired. The gun clicked - what did that mean? He was pretty sure that was bad.

"By the light!" one of them said. Grathier suddenly felt water.

Water!

It was like being electrocuted. He spasmed and started drinking. It poured over his head and into his clothes. His vision cleared and he saw two labourers - two human labourers.

"Is.. there... outpost?" he asked.

"Just to the north." the same one said. "By the Light what happened to you."

"Food..." he moaned.

"Look at him," the other said. "I bet you could play the harp with his ribs under that shirt."

They gave him something edible, he wolfed it down without knowing or tasting what it was and promptly threw it back up again.

"We better get him back to Southport." the first one said.

"Aye. The lumber can wait."

"I- wait." he realised what had eluded his mind for so long. That orc he shot! The look on his face. The way it scrunched up. It had looked like he came in his pants.

Grathier laughed. And laughed. And collapsed.

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