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[RP - Draenor] The Three Pillars -- Tenacity

Postby LEGION » May 3rd, 2015, 5:57 pm

((This series begins at the start of the WoD expansion, and covers Landreth's entry into Draenor after his attachment to the Eighth Legion))

Roughly one hundred tons of burning steel slammed into the earth. The impact killed dozens of soldiers outright, and the shockwave radiating outward flung dozens more like toys. As it rolled across the battlefield, the Iron Star's bladed chains tore a swath of destruction though the ranks like the clawed fist of a fiery titan, crushing everything unlucky enough to be in its way. Finally, it punched into a siege engine, ending both in a searing ball of magic-fueled flames. In a matter of seconds, nearly half of Task Force Lima-Bravo -- better known as Lunch Box -- was dead or dying.

The concussion of the blast hit Landreth, lifting his heavily armored frame into the air and sending him sprawling. Dazed and ears ringing, he fought to get his feet. The noise of the battlefield had reduced to a persistent buzz, with other more distant explosions and gunfire being more felt than heard. Someone grabbed him by a pauldron, hauling him to his feet. He tried to focus. It was Lt. Ditmer, an earnest young man, who had tried to make Landreth's re-introduction to the rigors of regular military life a little less difficult for the aging paladin. For the most part, he had succeeded, though Stuart barely had a week in his assignment to the 8th Legion before they were deployed to staunch the Iron Horde vanguard pouring into the Blasted Lands.

Stuart staggered against Lt. Ditmer, who was pointing towards the Dark Portal and yelling something. More tugging. Landreth glanced back in the opposite direction and felt his heart drop. He saw the charred earth left in the wake of the Iron Star, and hundreds of barely recognizable remains. Stuart tried not to notice that the ground in its wake looked like churned-up, rusty mud amid the desert dust and broken bodies. Beyond the destruction, a formation of Iron Horde surged forward to fill the void. It was enough to drive away the haze of horror and goad him to action. Turning back around, he could see the command flag was moving towards the Portal. There must have been a break in the Iron Horde lines ahead. Unfortunately, other Iron Horde lines were swinging around to flank.

"Where's Burke?" yelled Landreth over what he assumed would be the din of the battlefield. Ditmer scowled and pointed at the Iron Star. Part of him wanted to curse Capt. Burke for dying, and leaving him in this situation. Instead a prayer came to mind in the few seconds before the reigns of necessity took over, and Landreth found himself issuing orders. "FORCE Lima-Bravo to me!" he shouted. His shout was picked up and carried down the line as the able-bodied regained their feet. "Shields around the wounded! Fighting retreat to the portal!" They were difficult orders. The wounded would slow the already decimated task force, but he refused to leave them behind. Furthermore, the fragile morale of the troops demanded that he did not. At this point his first goal was to gain the command force and the heroes mustered by Khadgar enough time to do whatever it is the master mage had intended. If Landreth's shredded task force was actually able to get with the Alliance vanguard pushing back through the Portal, all the better. However, the chances were slim and the grim faces all along the lines told Landreth they all knew it. He felt their eyes looking at him, watching to see what he would do.

He hefted his shield, moving closer to the soldier to his left. "Close up these lines and BRACE!" All told, a line of roughly forty shields closed up and lowered with a determined clatter. Behind them, pikemen lowered their weapons just over the tops of the shield wall, creating a bristling line of death for any foolish enough to try to overcome the shield carriers. Three four-man fire teams of gunners took cover behind the wall, except when they were firing. And a lone battlemage kept a vicious hailstorm going that slowed the onslaught of the orcish footmen long enough for the gunners to take down rank after rank. Still further behind them, a handful of healers and light-wielders worked frantically to get what wounded could be saved onto their feet. With agonizing slowness, the roughly four remaining platoons of Task Force 'Lunch Box' retreated towards the Dark Portal.

Landreth started praying.

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Re: [RP - Draenor] The Three Pillars -- Tenacity

Postby LEGION » November 12th, 2015, 8:59 am

Three days before clashing with the Iron Horde at the Dark Portal...

Commander Maul had placed Landreth as second-in-command over the guard details for the supply wagons that also served as a fall-back point for the rear lines. The first-in-command, Cpt. Jaye Burke, was rumored to have acquired his rank by being a younger (and therefore disposable) son of a Stormwind City councilman. Landreth wasn't quick to adopt this bit of hearsay as truth, as it was a common accusation made by the enlisted ranks of any young officer who wasn't known to have worked their way up the ladder via the meat-grinder. Still, Burke's obvious distaste for not being given command over front-line troops suggested that he hadn't seen enough combat to be sick of it, and worse, that he probably had a burning need to Prove Something to Somebody. Cpt. Burke had also been quick to make sure that Landreth realized that despite their identical rank the younger officer was functionally his superior. Landreth tried not to fault Burke for this. Establishing clear chain of command in circumstances such as this was appropriate. Landreth had hoped that he had sufficiently assured Burke that he didn't expect for his role as Provost Marshal to have any bearing on the military action of the coming battles. He was a city peace-keeper and enforcer of the King's Law. He wouldn't be doing his job until their Repelling Force became an Invading Force, and bases or frontier Garrisons were established.

Still, he worried that the resentment he sensed coming from Burke wasn't just his imagination.

At the campfire, Lt. Ditmer handed Stuart a cup of coffee. Landreth took a sip, grimacing at the hot, bitter brew. "Yeah, it'll put hair on your chest if you didn't have it before," said Ditmer, seeing Landreth's reaction. Landreth had already established 'at ease' as the status quo for his assistant, unless protocol demanded something else.

"It's not the hair I'm worried about," Landreth replied. "I think my teeth are melting."

"Just wait til it's sat around by the fire for a few hours. We'll use it to clean the cannons."

Landreth snorted with amusement, taking another sip. Ditmer stood up, dusting off his trousers and started scanning the ranks of supply wagons. "What?" asked Landreth.

Ditmer glanced back at him. "Just trying to see if our special forces have shown up."

"Special forces?"

"Yeah," muttered Ditmer. "You'll know what I mean when you see 'em. I thought Burke was going to crap a litter of porcupines when he got word."

"That good, huh?" answered Landreth.

"Oh yeah. He's pissed that they won't report to him," said Ditmer. "Got their own orders and chain. They're just along for the ride." Ditmer shrugged. "I guess the brass figured that ol' Lunchbox would be glad enough to have the extra protection not to whine too much about the smell."

Landreth winced quizzically. "Smell?"

Ditmer flashed him a grin. "You'll see."

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Re: [RP - Draenor] The Three Pillars -- Tenacity

Postby LEGION » December 20th, 2015, 11:08 pm

Landreth's eyes snapped open in the chill darkness before dawn. He couldn't quite place what had pulled him near the surface of consciousness, but shouting at a neighboring campsite brought him fully awake. In a scant few minutes, he had pulled on clothing sufficient to investigate what was going on. Firelight from the torches and campfire revealed roughly a platoon of mounted soldiers of some kind. In front of them was one of the supply drovers, clearly angry and yelling insults. In between was Lt. Ditmer.

"Ye' can't put them blackhearted bastards in our camp!" snarled Frankels, the lead drover. "They're spookin' the animals, an I can't afford ta have a horse break a leg here!" A rumble of agreement ran through the assembled crowd of supply personnel. A thread of uneasiness snaked through the back of Landreth's mind, growing thicker the closer he got. He reached the edge of the circle of onlookers.

"Lieutenant -- What seems to be the problem?" he called out.

Ditmer looked his way, as did everyone else. It was then that Landreth saw the eerie, blue eyes of the newcomers. The chill that Landreth had previously attributed to the season settled around him with a familiar revulsion and dread: Death Knights.

"Captain, sir, this is the escort that will be covering our Task Force as we march on the Portal. Ebon-Lord Crowfeather is their commander." Ditmer inclined his head towards a towering Death Knight, whose whose drab, dust-colored hair spilled over his shoulders from beneath a skull-faced helmet. Adamantite wings swept up either side of the helm, protecting long, tapered ears. It was evident that the undead officer had at one time been a Night Elf.

Landreth's jaw clenched in reflex that was common among veterans of the Third War. He otherwise fought to keep revulsion from his expression. Frankels immediately sought an ally for his outrage.

"Cap'n! You can't let 'em set up here! We're decent folk what ain't deserve bein' cast in with the likes of these murderers!"

"A moment, Mister Frankels," Landreth replied. He walked over to the formation of Death Knights. "I'm Captain Stuart Landreth," he said, inclining his head towards Lord Crowfeather. "Were you given instructions on where to set your camp?" Blue, glowing eyes rested on him, silently, as the towering undead elf regarded him. Finally, the creature stirred, taking out a roll of paper, and handed it wordlessly to Landreth.

The paladin forced himself a step closer to retrieve the scroll, as the aura of the Death Knight's magic tingled uncomfortably over his skin. He opened the orders, skimming over them. They were in the right spot. Landreth sighed quietly. "I'm sorry, Mister Frankels, but the orders are right here. This is where Command sent them."

Mister Frankels shouldered his way through the crowd until he stood directly in front of Landreth. He was fully a half-head shorter than the paladin, and probably ten years older, but still feisty and quick-tempered. "I only been paid t'bring the wagons this far. But them's my horses an' I won't think twice about takin' them an' leavin yer sorry selves right here! Let them rotten nags draw your supplies. But I ain't gonna bed down with a bunch'a cutthroat coffin-stuffers!"

In truth, the drovers had all been paid to bring the wagons up to the Dark Portal itself, once it was secured. Landreth didn't feel like arguing the matter in light of the bigger problem at hand. Technically, the drovers fell into a civilian class of labor, so unless their actions were immediately jeopardizing soldiers lives, or were in egregious breach of contract, he couldn't threaten them into staying. If Frankels left, it would likely embolden the others to leave as well, and the King's campaign couldn't afford that. Hungry troops were dangerous on many levels.

"I understand your concern, Mister Frankels," replied Landreth. And he did. Northrend couldn't erase the soul-deep disgust he felt in the presence of the Lich King's former servants however much they had sought to win redemption. Their whole existence, their relentless hunger for the suffering of others, was an anathema to him. But duty drove him harder than disgust, and his duty right now was to ensure that these temporary troops had housing, as well as ensure that the drovers remained to complete their mission. "Give me a few minutes, and I'll see if I can sort this out."

Almost immediately, the fire went out of Frankels' demeanor. "Thank ye, Cap'n," he said, almost apologetically. "I figured you'd do what's right."
Last edited by LEGION on January 8th, 2016, 7:32 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: [RP - Draenor] The Three Pillars -- Tenacity

Postby LEGION » January 5th, 2016, 9:15 pm

Landreth returned his attention to the Death Knights' commander. "Lord Crowfeather, how much room will your troops need to pitch their camp?"

The undead elf regarded him again, with several long seconds of inscrutable silence. Then, he swung down from the saddle of his nightmarish horse. Even unmounted, the Death Knight stood head and shoulders above Landreth, curls of cold vapors rolling from the unnatural frost of his armor. Landreth shuddered, but kept his gaze locked on the points of sickly blue light glowing within the darkness of the creature's helm.

"We don't require much," answered the elf. His voice was raspy, hollow -- generated without benefit of breath or living lungs. It emanated as much from within Landreth's head as it actually fell upon his ears, and evoked another shudder. "We have a command tent, and another where we mend our soldiers. A small picket area for horses." The elf offered a small shrug. "Otherwise we have no need for a resting place. Our patrols and sorties are ongoing."

Landreth's lips thinned. There was an obvious solution, given how little space the undead troops needed. But the paladin couldn't help but cringe inwardly at the thought. Finally, he said, "The area near my administrative barracks is fairly open. I don't think it will take much to make the room you need, if you'd like to survey it? Otherwise, I can try to---"

The Death Knight interrupted by gesturing vaguely back the direction from which Landreth had come upon the scene. "I will look," he interjected, simply. Though his abruptness suggested impatience, there was nothing in tone or inflection to reflect anything more than dogged pragmatism.

"---Ah...eh, certainly," finished Landreth. "If you will follow me. Ditmer..." Landreth jerked his head in a 'come with' gesture. Ditmer fell into step with him.

Landreth was sure the Death Knight followed, mostly because of the persistent chill at his back, but also the scattering of personnel before him who moved to give the trio as wide a berth as possible. Soon, they were at his own tent. "If we clear those crates and the water wagon, it would---"

"It will be sufficient."

Again, the hollow voice scratched like sand over his psyche, tiny needle-pricks of discomfort never quite registering the source. Great. Light help me, but I'll never sleep again. He reluctantly turned to face his new neighbor. "Very well then. I'll have Lieutenant Ditmer secure some labor to make the necessary room."

"No need. My troops will follow his instructions in this."

Landreth glanced sidelong at Ditmer who straightened, acknowledging the indirect order. "I'll get right on it, sir." He hustled back towards the assembly of Death Knights. Landreth inclined his head towards Crowfeather. "My lord -- hopefully this will have you and your troops settled shortly. If anything arises that the Lieutenant can't sort out, I'll be in here." He gestured to his tent, preparing to duck inside. He wanted desperately to put a little distance between himself and the hulking horror next to him, even if it were only thin tent walls.

"A moment, Captain." Landreth paused. The Death Knight reached up, removing his skull-faced helmet. A spill of dark gray hair framed a chalky gray face. Eyes filled with the blue fire of the Lich King's magic met his. In all other respects, Crowfeather's face was typical to his kind as it was when he was alive. It was a gesture seemingly intended to put Landreth at ease. It had a mixed result however. In some ways, seeing a face that was so close to normalcy, yet so utterly wrong, simply drove home how close any of them were to such a fate. "I realize this is difficult. Especially, for you. I wanted you to know that I appreciate what you've done this night. You are a credit to that which you serve."

It was awkward, this display of empathy and gratitude. Clearly, it was not one that was well-practiced by the Death Knight commander. Which made it all the more awkwardly sincere. Landreth was simultaneously touched and repulsed at the same time. "Why 'especially' me?" he finally said.

"You are a paladin," Crowfeather replied simply, as if that explained everything. In a way it did.

"How do you know?" Landreth wore no obvious symbols of faith. He rarely invoked The Light. Did not consider himself a particularly powerful representative of his order such that he glowed or radiated or whatever with his inner conviction. He was simply determined to do what appeared to be the right thing in all his choices.

"Paladins were among the most prized of his ... recruits. I am not proud to admit that I came to know them well."

The slight inflection given 'his' made it all clear. Arthas' recruits -- selected amongst the slain and the craven to become Death Knights. Chosen above others for their fervor, which when twisted sufficiently, made them into legendary monsters. How many friends or beloved leaders had been so turned? How many had this undead elf chosen? How many had he broken? Once again, the line between 'What Was' and 'What Could Have Been' was laid before Landreth, stark and unrelenting. It made him feel ill.

Landreth squared himself, refusing allow the Death Knight any deeper purchase into his thoughts. "I'm glad I was able to assist," he grated. "King's Honor," he said as he ducked inside his tent. He felt the oppressive aura of the Death Knight fade as Crowfeather left to do whatever he would. The knots in his chest began to loosen. But there would be no further sleep this night.


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