Scourgelady (melee offence officer)
Joined: 17 Oct 2007
|Posted: Sat Oct 09, 2010 1:59 am Post subject: The Argent Breach
|A muffled thud was heard. It echoed softly around the cavernous hall, the sound swallowed up swiftly by the penetrating silence. Again it came, a mournful sound, slow and ponderous as a rusted pendulum in an ancient clock. Mist swirled across the floor of the hall, winding sinuously around the carven pillars which stalked down its length. The high vaulted ceiling caught the sounds and sent them back towards the doors. Mighty doors they were, too, wrought of a dark bluish metal which seemed to drink what little light there was. The flickering, guttering torches sent strange shadows dancing across their surface, hungry shadows cavorting across graven images of death.
Another dull thud was heard, this one louder. The doors shook slightly, and a thin shower of dust flew from them. Another thud, and then another, followed by a splintering crunch. A few moments passed, and then, with a shriek of tortured hinges, they flew open; the doors smashed wide to crash into the walls. A hail of stones and shards of ruined metal were hurled into the hallway, lost in the swirling mists. And then there was silence again, briefly.
Where the doors had stood, a passage could now be seen leading to a courtyard, whence the sunlight reluctantly entered. A lion-headed ram swung from its cradle by heavy chains. Small, wary figures huddled around it, before picking their way across the ruined threshold into the dim chamber. One however, strode in without hesitation, pausing in the shattered doorway to survey the hall. Another few approached behind at a respectful distance. One stopped to look around warily, and then cleared his throat.
“I say Tirion, old boy, could it be true? Could the Citadel have been emptied in the defence of the last gate?”
Tirion Fordring spoke quietly after a moments thought. “No, Eadric. We have fought a terrible battle to get this far, but it will only have been the first of many. Who knows what dread creatures Arthas has lurking in this cursed place.”
More footmen and other soldiers entered through the breached gate, crowding the antechamber. A slender, cowled figure passed through them, attracting little attention. She made her way to where Tirion stood with his knights, pulling back her hood to let her grey hair spill out. "My sister and her magi are without. I have a feeling that we will be needing their services again soon enough." The elder paladin nodded briefly, and waved a hand to signal the advance to begin.
The Argent knights began to cross the vast hallway, peering around each pillar warily. The swirling mists which covered the floor changed each footfall to a muffled crunch. The shadows in the hall fled before the torches carried by the vanguard, but nothing was revealed in the recessed wall niches. The entire citadel could have been deserted for all the signs of activity revealed within.
Seja shook her head and muttered under her breath, “I don't like it, it's too easy. There ought to be a rear guard at least. This makes no sense.” She turned to the old knight next to her, “Tirion, I think you should call those men back, there’s something wrong here. I c-…”
An anguished scream cut her off mid-sentence. Up ahead along the advancing front, there was a confusion of activity. Men were breaking from the line and turning to run back, others were stumbling in the mist. Some fell completely, and did not rise again. Something did rise, however, in their place. For every fleeing soldier pulled down into the mist by skeletal hands, two, four, a dozen undead rose in his place. Who could say how long the bones had lain there, waiting, concealed.
Tirion’s hand flew to the Ashbringer’s hilt. “Paladins, to me! Clear a path to our allies and help them back to the antechamber!” But before any of them could take a step, or unsheathe a weapon, the entire hallway erupted into a blistering firestorm. The blast wave was so intense that those few who had rushed to aid their friends were picked up and hurled back towards the doorway, their tabards smoldering. Eadric spun away from the heat, shielding his face, and saw the Kirin Tor’s delegation of magi directing the flames. He yelled at them in disbelief, “What the bloody hell are you doing? Quell those flames!”
The magi clustered at the back of the antechamber lowered their hands and looked confused. “We’re sorry, Eadric, but the Highlord himself gave the order.” Eadric looked stunned. “Tirion would never give such an order,” he said. “Not to burn his own men along with the undead!”
A cloaked figure emerged from the shadows by the wall. Darion Mograine looked the younger knight squarely in the face. “I gave the order, paladin.” He strode over to stand beside Tirion as the other surveyed the charred ashes which were all that remained in the hall. Burnt clothing scraps and ash drifted down from the roof far above as the pillars pinged and cracked, cooling after the sudden intense heat. Darion nodded grimly at the desolate wasteland in front of them. “I am sorry, Tirion, but your men were already dead.” He turned aside and barked terse orders at those behind him. “Secure this hallway and chamber as our base of operations. Get tents and forges set up along the walls, and set up picket lines and caltrops at the far doors.”
Mograine narrowed his eyes a little.
“And bring in more knights.”