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RiktheRed21
RiktheRed21
Posts: 113
Joined: March 29th, 2014, 11:06 pm
RiktheRed21

The Wolf's Last Hunt

Postby RiktheRed21 » June 25th, 2015, 4:09 pm

((This story is a rewrite of one I posted to the old sanctum, and lost in the crash. It was by far my favorite I ever wrote, so I decided to try it again. It takes place during the last months of the Siege of Orgrimmar patch in MoP for reference.
Enjoy!))

A cold breeze ran across the Gilnean man’s cloak and animated his scarf, sending both billowing in the wind behind him. His horse’s hooves clopped along on the wet dirt path trailing lazily up the hill before him. The rhythm of its steps had put Mayes in something of a trance along his journey. Since he had passed the wall bisecting the lands of Hillsbrad and Arathi hours ago, his guard had dropped significantly, and he allowed himself to enjoy his journey, a gift he had been kept from for years. He could have been a commoner off to visit a family friend in the hills, or a soldier patrolling the roads of a proud nation. But Mayes’ mind was too sharp to be fooled by even his own illusions. He straightened his travelling hat as he cast his gaze through a gap in the trees out across the countryside. Ruined towers and villages dotted the rolling hills that gave the area its name. Mayes saw the outskirts of Southshore a long way off. His memory stirred, reminding him of his last visit to the town.

Endless ships had dotted the southern horizon, so many the young noble could hardly believe his eyes. Gilneas had never boasted the proudest of navies, but Mayes didn’t think so many vessels could exist in one place before. And they were all barreling down on the walls at his feet. A stiff pat on his shoulder jarred him from his stunned silence. He looked at the man beside him, a tall, proud knight who grinned, showing a jagged scar along his jawline. He spoke down to Mayes in a gruff landslide of a voice, “Let’s give ‘em hell, Blackmane.”

It all seemed so long ago. It was like peering into another man’s life to Mayes now, and yet there the ruins stood, easily within his reach. He shook off his thoughts and focused once more on the rhythm of the horse’s trot.
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Parigan stalked into the back room of the structure which towered over the War Quarter of the Undercity. He had been summoned by a man whose name meant nothing to him to accomplish a task of great importance to the Forsaken. Or so he was told. In truth, any task would do for him. Anything to get the thoughts of her out of his addled mind. The man with the rotting face sat at a desk, sorting through papers as if he were a common human man with an office job. Parigan nearly cackled audibly at the ridiculousness of it. The man looked up at him, flashing a grin of satisfaction. “Ah, Blackmane,” he said in a voice hushed by decay, “Right on time. We have a little problem you would be perfect to solve.”

Parigan pulled a seat from the corner, intentionally dragging it along the stone cobbles on the floor. It screeched painfully until he placed it in front of the now frowning man’s desk and sat in it without so much as a word of courtesy. He drank in the annoyance on the man’s face. This was the sort of thing Parigan used to keep himself going these days. “Please,” he said mockingly, “By all means, continue.”

The man groaned and did as told, “A Gilnean rebel by the name of Julius Bradford ran off with a trinket of considerable value our miners discovered in the ruins of your homeland. You seem to have a knack for making the living wish they were dead, so the Executor in the area asked for you personally to track Bradford down and kill him. Make sure to bring back the amulet, as well.”

Parigan leaned back in his chair, scraping dead skin off his upper lip with his metal lower jaw. He rocked back and forth as if mulling it over before saying, “Sounds easy. Where was Bradford going last this Executor had wind of him?”

The man checked his notes before replying, “Across the bay and into Hillsbrad. We have reason to believe he has ties with the Ravenholdt Assassins, so you should look there first. Don’t expect them to show you the man willingly. In fact, expect them to try and slit your throat and you’ll turn out just fine.”

Parigan gave the man a disgusting toothy grin and said, “Right away, sir. I’ll bring you this amulet, and Bradford’s head, free of charge. Anything for the Banshee Queen.”
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Robert paced in front of the water-damaged tavern at Menethil Harbor. It wasn’t like him to worry over things, but given the circumstances, he has plenty of things to worry about. Lord Arthur Hunter sat on a chair sipping coffee from a mug, watching Robert pace with mild disinterest. The two lords of Gilneas had come north from their new homes in Duskwood to answer a summons by Lord Mayes Blackmane, their superior. The three families had maintained an allegiance after the fall of the kingdom, but their armies and supporters had grown distant and unresponsive. Mayes decided to change that by sending an order that shocked them all. Robert had worried briefly the man had gone mad with grief for his murdered heir.

Invading Forsaken lands had always been the plan, but with the Siege of Orgrimmar nearly completed, many whispers were passed around that the Alliance leaders were considering peace talks with the Horde rebels. Robert couldn’t imagine old Greymane agreeing to anything without a promise of their lands returned to them. The Bitch Queen of the Forsaken would never give up her power now, not with so much land to be lost by peace. Mayes had evidently chosen now to strike, with the Horde preoccupied with civil war. And yet, when they arrived here at Menethil, the old wolf of a man was off in Hillsbrad, leaving his eighteen-year-old daughter in charge of his eight-hundred strong fighting force. Combined with Robert’s six hundred and Arthur’s four, they had nearly two thousand military men ready to unleash fury on the Forsaken, barely bound together by Lady Esmerra’s presence in lieu of Mayes’.

“You know,” Lord Hunter began, “If you ruin your boots before we even get going, the undead will outrun you no problem.” Robert stopped pacing and looked the man up and down. A slender huntsman, Arthur had long boasted the best trackers in Gilneas, and the best war hounds. Useful things to have for scouting, but Robert’s men were off the highlands. They prided themselves on strength and wits, not dogs and guns. And Lord Hunter always seemed to have some scheme hidden in his words that put Robert on edge.

“If I ever have a problem outrunning the undead,” Robert replied, “I’ll just turn around and cut their bloody heads off.” He returned to his pacing, only to be interrupted when he saw Esmerra walk out from behind a corner of the keep at Menethil’s center. He stood straight up and cleared his throat as the lovely young lass walked forward purposefully. Arthur got the hint and dragged himself to his feet. “Lady Blackmane, an honor to address you,” said Robert.

Esmerra smiled at him courteously. “The honor is mine, gentlemen. It has been too long since we were able to meet. You both are just as I remember you.” Esmerra was a lovely sight in any situation. Her long velvety black hair rolled across her shoulders like a shadow, contrasting with her pale skin and fair complexion. Her dark brown eyes popped, and watched everything with hawklike focus and fascination. Her full, vibrant lips and subtle curves marked her for a woman, now. Robert had known her throughout her childhood, and he felt some pride in knowing such an astonishingly beautiful youth.

Arthur spoke up next, “Pardon my rashness, dear lady, but this area is not conducive to such a large gathering. Our men are forced to scavenge for sustenance day and night, and we are likely to see many deserters before this campaign is complete. If we are to act, we should do so quickly.”

Esmerra nodded politely to Lord Hunter, saying, “My father knew this well, which is why he sends word that his side-trip to Hillsbrad is of the utmost importance. He will be attending a meeting in Stromgarde on the way back to try and win more supporters. He also says there will be a Forsaken emissary visiting to discuss terms.”

Robert’s eyebrow rose on its own then. “Forsaken emissary? Might as well not have bothered with the meeting, then. Nothing can be gained by discussing terms until the fighting starts.” Robert paused, realizing his rudeness. “Apologies, my lady. I forgot my courtesy.”

Esmerra waved a hand dismissively. “It is no worry, my lord. I value honest words greatly. But surely you have more faith in my father than that? He must have a plan if he is delaying for this meeting.”

Robert thought back to a peace talk he had attended between Gilneans and Forsaken before. He remembered how well that had gone. Bodies littered the floor before it was over. Treachery and mistrust were buried deep in every Gilnean and undead. Put the two together and bad things were sure to happen. He worried his old friend might be heading into a trap. “I hope you are right, my lady. Mayes has never steered me wrong before, but strange times make for strange happenstances.”
"I am the Night!" -Brinnea, Rikthered, Cynthya, Orgog, Kazarak.....

RiktheRed21
RiktheRed21
Posts: 113
Joined: March 29th, 2014, 11:06 pm
RiktheRed21

Re: The Wolf's Last Hunt

Postby RiktheRed21 » July 6th, 2015, 2:09 am

The wind died as Mayes entered the cozy building, so out of place in the quiet desolated Hillsbrad. Ravenholdt Manor had seen better days, to be sure. Mayes had not been present when the training grounds had been set ablaze by the red dragonflight, but the scars of the attack were still healing. The manor itself had been largely repaired, but the assassins standing guard tensed at the slightest breeze as if they were the beating of a drake’s wings. It was a sad sight, lions jumping at shadows like chubby house cats. They had once been more proud than this. He let those thoughts pass quickly as the guards led him to a table on the second floor. Julius sat at one end, more jittery than any of the assassins. Mayes took a seat opposite him. Julius nearly leapt out of his chair when he took a seat.

“Ah! Oh…it’s you,” he said shakily. “About bloody time. What took you so long? Any day the Forsaken could have been along and done off with me!”

Mayes regarded the man with a blank expression. Julius Bradford was small and slight. His muddy brown hair and dark eyes marked him as a commoner. His plainness came in handy when Mayes needed an ear in crowded places. “You live. The Assassins made sure of that. They owed me a favor. I sorely hope your “artifact” was worth what it cost to get you out of harm’s way.”

Julius paused for a moment, licking his lips. “Right. Well, I assure you it was worth the trouble. This thing is the real deal. Years back, a fishing boat picked it out of a fish they caught. Whatever they did with it, their house was burned down. The Arcanists picked the thing up, and kept it a secret after. But I got an inside look at their lab. They tested it, found a bunch of magic stuff in it. When I was working with the rebel lords, I told them about the lab, and we ransacked the place. Hid the lot of what we took with a hidden arsenal in the city…”

Mayes shifted in his seat. “What exactly does this artifact do?”

Julius paused, mouth agape. “Well…uh, we never got a chance to actually use the damned thing, but uh…”

“Where is it now?”

“The Assassins boxed it up and put it in the basement.” Mayes requested that it be brought upstairs, and in a few minutes the box was placed on the table before them.

Mayes opened the box. Within it was a translucent blue orb. It seemed to be pulsating with some sort of arcane energy. He picked the orb up carefully, holding it to his face where he could look at his more closely. “This artifact is a mockery.”

Julius half jumped from his chair again. “I-I-I assure you…”

Mayes shook his head. “It may be the artifact those fishermen found, but it is a fake. Powerful, yes, but a failed replica of something much greater. Julius, have you ever heard of the Focusing Iris?”

Before the man could answer, a loud thud from the roof caught their attention. The guards were already drawing their weapons. One of them nearly sprinted to the nearby balcony. Mayes put the artifact back in its box and put a hand on his own sword, Wolfblood. He felt the familiar tingle of the blade’s dark power under his fingers. A voice echoed through the caverns of his mind:

Time to feed?

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Parigan gazed down from the back of his massive onyx nether drake. Ravenholdt Manor was barely a dot far below, surrounded by stark hills and secretive trees. The Deathguard stroked his mount’s neck and sneered into the blue sky. Wind whipping all around him, he shouted, “Let’s dive, Brackien!” The drake folded his wings and plunged. Parigan held tightly to the reins as they picked up speed. If there was one thing he hated more than his permanent sobriety, it would be rogues. Assassins always gave him trouble on the battlefield. They snuck around, taking advantage of his less than functional senses, then they incapacitated him and went on their merry way. Parigan had learned that the only way to get the better of a rogue was to take away their element of surprise.

So he decided to perform a stealthy assault on the Manor, warrior-style, by leaping onto their roof and killing the guards before they had a chance to flank him. Once Brackien got close enough to be seen, he unfurled his wings like a parachute, quickly slowing their descent. He began to take off again as Parigan leapt from his back, hitting the freshly tiled roof with a loud thud. The Deathguard sprinted to the end of the roof, drawing his battleaxe, and vaulted down onto the balcony, driving his weapon into a guard’s face on the landing.

Parigan looked into the second floor room, surprised to see what appeared to be a meeting he interrupted between his father and a man that looked vaguely familiar. Mayes Blackmane was as sure of himself as ever. A hand on his legendary blade’s hilt, the man stared down at the hunched-over undead he had fathered. His black hair, the feature common to his family ran longer and wilder than Parigan had ever seen. That, and his scruffy beard gave him an almost wild look. His dark clothes were made for traveling, and had been worn to patches by time. The other man, however, seemed more a weasel than a wolf. Parigan recalled many similar looking men meeting with his father during the time he had lived under the Blackmane family roof. He realized now that they were all part of his spidery web of spies. The man had more eyes and ears than an abomination.

Parigan rose, keeping his weapon low, a tactic he used to bring enemies closer. The weasel slinked into a corner, whimpering about how he was going to die. Parigan supposed he had a good reason. Mayes took a few steps forward, Ravenholdt assassins at his back. They regarded the undead with eyes too hot for cool-tempered killers. The Deathguard cracked his neck, taking a step closer. “Stay where you are, Parigan,” Mayes warned with a level voice. The weasel squeaked from a dark corner of the room, “You know this guy?”

“As much as he wishes he could forget,” Parigan said. The humans all gaped at him as if they couldn’t believe he had the brainpower to utter a single word of Common. “It’s been a while, Mayes. Care for a bout, or will you give me what I’m after this time?”

Mayes slid his weapon from its sheath. The sound of it sent a chill up Parigan’s partially exposed spine and sent the assassins back a step or two. The candlelight seemed to grow shorter in the presence of the Wolfblood. “One more step and I’ll take your legs off. Go back to the Undercity to lick your Queen’s boots, boy.” Parigan flinched angrily at the emphasis of the word ‘boy.’

“I have a better plan,” Parigan said. He heard a shuffling from behind him. Drawing a hand-axe, he spun around, driving a sharp point through the leather armor of an assassin that sought to stab him in the back. The man grunted in shock, as if he couldn’t mentally comprehend how this warrior had possibly detected even a hint of him. This is why Parigan hated rogues. He twisted the axehead and drew back, then wrapped his arm around the man’s neck, threatening to break it in full view of the other assassins. Even his father did not come any closer. “How about you and me fight, man to man? Less of your craven friends die that way.”

Mayes lowered Wolfblood. “Have it your way. Ravenholdt’s men have no quarrel with the Forsaken, and I won’t make any more of them die on my account.” Parigan grinned hungrily, a sinister shadow cast across his face. He released the poor excuse for a rogue and stomped on his head, receiving a satisfying cry for mercy in return.

“As much as I would love to butcher my way to victory, I’ll settle for finally being rid of you, daddy. Let’s take this to the training ring outside. Maybe the wind will blow your pitiful tears away before anyone can see them.”

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Mayes regarded his son from across the ring. He stood taller than Mayes ever had, and wore dark, foreign armor that brought back memories of the Pandaren he had seen in his most recent travels. The faceplate reminded Mayes of a menacing mogu drawing he had seen in one shrine or another. The pale golden glow of his son’s eyes cast a permanent shadowy scowl on the mask. A pair of fangs came down from the helmet, matching those on his metal lower jaw which creaked with every jeer he tossed at Mayes. The undead hefted a two-sided battleaxe bearing the symbol of the Banshee Queen and the colors of the Forsaken, matching the tabard at his chest.

Mayes flexed his left arm. A specialty bracer on his wrist propelled a dagger into his hand in response. A tricky weapon for a crafty man. At least, that’s what the man who made it had said. Parigan took a few paces forward. Mayes did the same. The assassins formed a circle around the pair, watching carefully. Mayes hoped they would play along nicely. It would be a pain to explain why a Forsaken had cut down many of Lord Ravenholdt’s men under his watch. Parigan kept his weapon low, trying to bait Mayes to make the first move. “How long has it been since you fed that evil thing of yours?” Parigan asked contemptuously. Mayes felt Wolfblood grow hotter in his hand, longing for the kill. He willed the beast within to wait.

He also kept silent, circling left as Parigan circled right. The man was impatient. Mayes could tell by the way he walked he did not like waiting. “I’m going to make you bleed, old man.” The warrior made the first move. He rushed in, cleaving from the right. Time seemed to slow, as it always did when Mayes fought his battles. The axe closed in on him. He could not dodge, but he could knock it away. Wolfblood hissed as it deflected the axehead away from Mayes’ body. Parigan kept his footing and shouldered the rogue in the chest. Mayes let him, exhaling to absorb the impact. He tucked an arm under the warrior’s, locking him in place as he kicked the legs out from under him. Parigan stumbled, but brought Mayes to the ground with him. The rogue rolled, releasing his grip on the arm. He stood quickly, flanking the warrior, who stood slower. Mayes bounded forward, driving his sword’s point towards Parigan’s exposed back. The Deathguard shifted, knocking the blade out of the way with a rounded pauldron.

Mayes recovered as Parigan pressed him. The axehead flew by faster than the rogue would have expected. He ducked under a cleave, only to be forced to the side by an overhead swing. Parigan gave him few openings for attack. For a while Mayes could only duck and weave around the axe, until at last he managed to grapple the weapon cleanly. Wolfblood kept the axe locked in place, allowing Mayes to lunge with his off-hand dagger. Parigan’s gorget was suddenly dampened with green blood as Mayes’ dagger sunk deep into his throat. The warrior grunted, but did not waver. He bashed Mayes with his helmeted head and drew back. Mayes shook off his minor disorientation and pressed the attack.
Wolfblood howled as it clawed through the air, bloodying Parigan further. Although he could deliver many attacks without tiring, Parigan was poor at parrying attacks with his axe. After several blows along his chest, Parigan began to stumble. Mayes backstepped as the warrior’s axe swung wildly at him, then he rushed forward at the off-balance Deathguard, driving the dark blade into his chestplate. Parigan fell to the ground, and Mayes took the axe from him before stepping back a few paces. The undead hacked up blood as he pulled the dagger from his throat. His eyes burned hot as bonfires as he stared Mayes down. He tried to speak, but his words were lost in a gurgle of blood.

“We’re done here,” Mayes said with finality. He put Wolfblood back in its sheath and instructed the assassins to put Parigan in the basement, in chains. He did not look back as his son sputtered incomprehensible curses at him. He never dropped his neutral expression as he strode into the Manor, up the stairs and back to the table. He regarded Julius casually as more shouts filled the halls. “Now,” he said calmly to a dumbstruck Julius, “Where were we?”
"I am the Night!" -Brinnea, Rikthered, Cynthya, Orgog, Kazarak.....

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