"My last coherent thought was craving a chimera steak. Of all the things you can think of whilst charging an enemy, I wanted that steak. I wanted it so bad, my blood boiled with rage that I didn't have one."
Sergeant Cerestal Falah'serrar smashed into the first spiked barricade along with a score of bloodthirty Alliance and Horde soldiers. Even with a kaldorei's height, it was too high an obstacle to step over. On the other side in thrusting reach were scores of orcs, iron-clad and just as eager for blood.
The advance was checked for the moment. Shells screamed overhead as orcish cannons and draenei ballistae duelled one another. Gryphons and wyverns dared to strike out against the enemy riflemen. Footmen, grunts, vindicators, warriors of all shapes and sizes thrashed it out in the middle, slashing, hacking and thrusting in a charged melee. Attrition wore on both sides.
Eventually, the Iron Horde line buckled.
Cerestal half clambered, half fell over the barricade, weighed down by his cumbersome armor and shield. Soldiers left and right found their way through, pressing the enemy, assisting allies over or outright clearing obstacles for the siege engines to advance. The enemy line withdrew to the next row of defences, dug their heels in again and dared the Alliance and Horde to follow.
They were fighting uphill. Funnelling as the ground to their flanks rose up as impassible fortifications and the colossal gate neared to their front. The enemy fire grew more intense with every yard gained.
Still they pushed on toward the Gates of Tanaan. Into the maw of death.
Cerestal crashed into the next barricade with the others, hot on the heels of a human footman. A few moments after the leading warriors cleared it, they were struck by a counter-charge. Another deadlock.
He stabbed an orc in the abdomen, used his might to haul him up and over the barricade into the waiting blades behind him and retrieved his sword as a half dozen others fell onto the unlucky enemy. A Horde grunt nearly made it over but was struck by a round, slumping over it instead. Vital minutes passed until Cerestal heard cheering and saw pointing.
Fatigue was setting in and he was still closed with the Iron horde, but he dared a glance. High upon the battlements on the left flank, the orc riflemen that had rained death down from their perches now had their attention turned inwards. In moments they were overpowered by the Rangari and the enemy flank became an allied flank.
"-ies! Love 'em!" a human shouted. The dim conscious in the back of Cerestal's mind said he looked familiar.
"What?!" the night elf shouted back across a distance of perhaps two feet, half-deaf from rage and battle fatigue.
"Cannon fodder for hire!"
An Iron Horde cannon behind the barricade exploded, perhaps thirty feet away. Everyone staggered, some fell over and a hole was carved into the Iron Horde line. A Frostwolf warrior was the first to seize the gap, carving half a dozen orcs down in a reckless charge forward. The human vaulted over as if he weighed nothing. Cerestal was less gracious, tumbling over and fighting his way back up.
The gate loomed menacingly. Less than a hundred yards away yet may as well had been halfway around Draenor.
The last obstacle may as well have been impassible. The sheer weight of enemy artillery and rifle fire risked bogging them down, even with their own foothold on the walls. The gryphons and wyverns overhead were being shredded by fire, taking the heaviest losses.
More minutes of fierce fighting and no purchase. They were stalled and the Iron Horde were simply too numerous.
They heard a war horn. Just like that, orcs began withdrawing off the walls, off the gate and off the path. They were winning! Morale flared back up and officers roared for a renewed push. Behind them, men and women started shouting.
"MAKE WAY! MAKE WAY!"
Behind them and flanked by two ballistae, was the biggest, deadliest piece of siege equipment Cerestal had ever seen. It rolled into position as the front line was clearing the last barricade. Any orc caught between the Alliance, the Horde and the impassible Iron Gate were cut down mercilessly. One threw his rifle down and tried to surrender to a vindicator as she crushed his skull with her hammer. The time for mercy had long passed.
It was a brief respite, and Cerestal nearly collapsed from exhaustion. He felt a hand grab his pauldron and half-turn him.
"You!" the human said. He looked familiar.
"Have we met?" Cerestal asked a moment too soon. Recognition soon followed.
"FIRE!" someone shouted too late. The great machine of death fired on the gate with scarce warning, a shot so powerful that many of the soldiers toppled from the shaking earth. The Iron Gate groaned as its midsection was torn apart by the shell.
When they were both back up, they grinned.
He hadn't seen this man in years. Not since Northrend. Cerestal went to sheath his sword, only to puzzle himself.
"This isn't my sword." he said, bemused. "How the..?"
He looked around. When did this happen?
"Loose grip was always your problem." Windrest chided.
"My grip is fine!" Cerestal retorted. "This just isn't my-"
No warning this time. The second shot knocked everyone down again and sundered the gate completely. It seemed to fall away in slow motion as soldiers cheered on. An Frostwolf with a wolf pelt for a cloak led the charge. Conversation was done and everybody poured into the gate.
Beyond loomed Tanaan Jungle. Cerestal didn't have time to take it in. They covered fifty yards before they were counter-attacked by more orcs. Fel orcs.
They scarcely held. The assault had already taken a third of their number as casualties. Cerestal and the others fought for their lives against this new onslaught as they waited for reserves to be brought up to relieve them.
"They're fel orcs!" Cerestal cried out, almost happily. He loved killing demons and demonic enemies. His old comrade Windrest vanished into the melee. Behind them, the reserve force rushed in as relief. Sharpshooters were manning what was left of the Gates of Tanaan, and the draenei ballistae slowly filed through one at a time.
The new pressure began to press the fel orcs back through sheer attrition. The reserve assault group pushed past them, into the jungle.
By the time Cerestal was clear of enemies, he sank to a knee and struggled to keep his rations down. He was exhausted. Soldiers streamed past him and what was left of the assault group. Officers and commanders called for charges.
"Well we're in, I guess." Windrest said, appearing out of seemingly nowhere. Cerestal caught his breath and eventually stood back up. For all his strength, his shield weighed a ton now.
"That track is called the Path of Glory." Cerestal said hoarsely.
Windrest shrugged and they looked back down through the gate they assaulted. "Seems appropriate."
"Aye. My thoughts exac-"
Up ahead, explosions tore the new assault force apart and the road became a killing ground. They had charged onto a pre-sighted artillery position.
"DOWN!" the night elf shouted automatically, throwing himself face-first into the mud. Most didn't need prompting.
"Nothing's ever simple, is it?"
The advance was checked again. A ballista was dismantled by a direct hit, killing soldiers with flying debris. Within half a minute, the assault had routed. A Horde Captain rallied Cerestal and the others forward to relieve them. No time for rest. The fel orcs pressed back and the combined Alliance and Horde pressed forward.
(( Hi. This thread is open to all of you hapless grunts and footmen stationed throughout the Tanaan Jungle, Alliance and Horde alike. The intent here is to incite RP between (ICly) estranged members in the zone for better or worse as the fight progresses. Open each post with a quote or commentary about battle from your character. ))