From the ashes of destruction, the Phoenix rises, twice as hot and twice as colourful as the aged bird it leaves behind.
“Got the message from Zul’drak a couple of hours back. Good of you to warn us.”
We were meeting with the High Crusader in charge of the Tournament Grounds, a man known as Adelard. We had managed to enter the depopulated grounds without encountering opposition, and quickly learnt that a small cadre of Crimson Hand ‘envoy’s’ were stationed in the former Ebon Blade tents.
“Speaking of the Blade, do they still control the Shadow Vault? If we could contact them-”
“I’m afraid not. The Blade disbanded after the Lich King’s defeat. The ones that remain are wandering the earth.” Adelard sighed.
“The Hand have communicators and bloodgems.” Khairan intoned over the communicators.
As the others discussed tactics with the Crusaders, I checked the exterior edge of the camp. Given how Sorlain’s military commander, Rith’len, had become involved with the Argents already, it was likely that Sorlain would attack soon once they allied with us. There were possible fronts from the west, where an old necromancer camp was located; the south, which opened up into the entirety of Icecrown; and the north, given that we knew that the Hand had boats. The east was less likely, given the mountains in the way, but as the Peaks were where the Hand were supposed to be, it couldn’t be ruled out.
Things were looking great. Still, the odds would likely swing our way if Sorlain attacked. Argent aid, in addition to the bipartisan army we had forged in western Northrend, would definitely outnumber the Hand.
“Ah, Kal’es. I’d advise you that it’s in your best interests to surrender or I shall be forced to attack.”
A hologram of Sorlain, Sha-tentacles and all, greeted our entry into the command tent in the morning. Sathreyn sat down on the floor, tinkering with a device identical to the projector Sorlain was using. An amusingly accurate doppelgänger sprang up.
“Cut the crap, Sorlain. If you cared for these people, you wouldn’t attack. And he’s threatened your forces now, so I take it that that means you’re on our side.” Edanna nodded towards the High Crusader, who looked relieved to not have to suffer through Sorlain’s ramblings alone.
“Regretfully… I must declare war… on the Argent Tournament.” The doppelgänger helpfully croaked. Sorlain glared at it, one of the tentacles on his crown vanishing.
“Enough. If you’re not going to see sense-
“You’re looking a bit ill, Sorlain. I guess you know that we found the primed mana bombs and the trainees you had primed to explode. Thanks.” She nodded at Sathreyn. I had no idea what was going on, but it seemed to put Sorlain off further. He took a breath to say something, but was interrupted once more by Adelard’s hammer tearing the emitter to pieces with a satisfying crunch.
“Couldn’t sit through any more of that.” Adelard grinned at Edanna. “I guess this is it then.”
“So, who’s ready for last-minute training?” I perked up, leading the charge outside. “I have ice traps readied along the western ridge, I believe you have scouts along the north, although I have yet to cover the south.”
The Crusade leadership, ourselves and some random android sent from Elient, who regretfully could not attend (my posterior she couldn’t attend, we were all aware that she’d already buggered off to try and kill Sorlain on her own with her saronite magic) spread out, just as word came in that Scourge were approaching from the south.
A legion of zombies as well as several repurposed Scourge siege engines greeted us, and I quickly scaled the tower and joined in the cannon-led bombardment. From the ground, the Argent troops held the line, slicing through oddly-weak scourge. Between us, I and Edanna covered them with snow, hindering them further. The meat wagons struck the tower once, and I fell back while one of the cannons collapsed.
“There are reinforcements approaching!” The sound of combat from the northwest drifted over as a second legion, bearing three more meat wagons and two cho’thaki cages, came to aid them. Levitating one of the meat wagons, I tossed it at them, scattering them and mowing down several more zombies. The meat wagons fired again as battle began anew, collapsing the roof of the tower. I levitated half of it, tossing at a cho’thaki cage to halt the zombies from opening it. Lirial reinforced this with her druidic powers, wrapping constricting icethorns around one of the cages, causing a cho’thaki to screech in pain.
I lifted up the rest of the roof, as well as a broken cannon, as another shot hit the tower. I tossed them at a cho’thaki cage, and the cho’thaki were quickly silenced by the battering. Evacuating the tower, we headed into the rest of the camp, where forces were still attacking the north and west.
In the western flank, I busied myself with gargoyles that were dealing significant damage to the hippogryph riders, as sha and undead attacked the Argent line. Sathreyn took point, creating a shield to protect the recruits from the Sha, while Edanna began a reinvigorating song.
The gargoyles moved at once. Their flight, their casting, right down to the blinking of their eyes. All the action happened at once and then it was like they froze, flickering in and out like a torch. Sorlain’s puppet-masters were doing poorly, and the same thing was happening with the undead on the ground. I began to conjure several scores of weak lights, coloured orange to resemble fireballs, and launched them at the gargoyles, using telekinesis to speed them up and make it appear like each gargoyle was being attacked on all sides. Sure enough, it worked, and they frazzled, the movement too much for their controller to cope with. Several crashed into each other and the reinforced Hippogryph riders, along with the android, took them all down-
-as a shower of arrows cut through the wings of the hippogryphs, sending half of them down to the floor.
“We’re under attack! Rangers, from the east!” I called out over the communicators, as the android charged off in the direction of the arrows, closely followed by Sathreyn’s troops. The undead had all been taken down, and the Crusaders maintained the line against the Sha, who were falling back with no negative emotion to cling onto. Edanna moved towards the cliffs to reinforce the Argent ships.
Bududu Bududuu Whuzzz
The mysterious noise got louder. The clouds above our heads were moving faster than normal.
No. He couldn’t.
Another shower of arrows came towards us from the south, and I called upon the arcane, creating a force barrier which reflected the arrows with ease.
Edanna rounded back in from the north as I attempted to detect where the rangers would teleport to next. Counter-spelling their teleport just in time, I pulled back their cloaking to reveal a cadre of Crimson Hand rangers. Caught by surprise, they attempted to flee, and Edanna quickly polymorphed them into turtles. Lightning flashed across the sky, and Sathreyn dashed into the valley to try and collect the turtles (who had all begun rolling towards their deaths).
WHUZZZZ WHUZZZZ WHUZZZZ
The clouds dispersed entirely, revealing in the twilight sky the shadow of an immense aircraft, bigger than any zeppelin we’d ever seen. Two immense engines at the back followed an immense tubular hull, but everything else was obscured. The air seemed to still.
A massive boom ruptured the sky and our eardrums, as I saw out of the corner of my eye the central pavilion shrink into the ground under the weight of the impact before everything became smoke.
WHUZZZZ WHUZZZ WHUZZZ
A number of smaller cannon balls punctured the smoke, careering wildly and hitting anything in their path.
Noise broke through again after a few seconds, and I threw my hand back towards the icy canyon, calling upon the wind as I drank a mana potion. The wind broke through, pushing the hot smoke into the sky and blotting out the zeppelin. The android leapt after, propelled by Edanna’s own magic. I dashed through the grounds, extinguishing fires and extracting survivors from debris.
The central pavilion of the Tournament had been mostly flattened, only a few walls remaining standing. Every tent had been knocked over by the force of the cannon and was either ablaze or smouldering. Most of the paladins had been knocked over or unconscious, but only those close to the buildings had been wounded.
The zeppelin moved away slowly afterwards, and the android impacted upon the ground forcefully, murmuring ‘mission accomplished’ as its life drained away.
Being built mostly of wood, the grounds looked reparable, and the tents were easily repaired and re-erected before the smoke had even passed. Around twenty or so paladins had not made it, taken by surprise and the force of the cannon blasts.
It was clear that Sorlain had more in his arsenal than he had anticipated. But it did not matter anymore. We had come through the storm intact. Later that night, as the airship disappeared from view around the Storm Peaks, I launched fireworks from the old necromancer camp, filling the sky with bright colour and a silent defiance towards Sorlain. Morale remained high. Edanna estimated that it would take at least a day to re-load the cannon, and that with the smoke cloud, Sorlain likely believed the Tournament wiped off the face of the map.
We have survived everything you have cared to throw at us, and we are more loyal, dedicated and competent than any among your army, Sorlain. We are Silvermoon. We are the phoenix that rises from the ashes of destruction, twice as hot and twice as colourful as the aged bird it leaves in the past.
You believe us defeated, but we bring a force of reckoning to make you answer for your crimes, as Vyrael and Garl have. You will be the one taken by surprise when we bring them to your doorstep. The Crusade, the Sunreavers, the Silver Covenant, the Alliance and the Horde, the forces that defeated the Lich King. They will not kowtow to you, they will not submit, they will never surrender.
Pride is your vice. Greed and vanity and lust and power. But we are untouchable. We work for a better world, a world of tomorrow. We do not seek to maintain our superiority, but to teach and to strengthen others and in doing so, to improve ourselves. We have learned humility, for we have lost everything and been forced to rebuild. And we shall never take for granted what we have retaken from you.