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.