The Scar Empties

A tale set many months prior to the current day, before the Horde and Alliance had breached Northrend. It recounts the battle that the Crusaders of Quel'Thalas (later reformed as Shindu Alar) were thrust into as the Dead Scar suddenly and without warning swarmed over first Fairbreeze Village and later, Silvermoon City itself.

The Tale

The village was burning.

Her village.

Her mother's before her.

The flames, spreading almost as quickly as the blood flowed over the cobblestones of Fairbreeze. One could not even smell the smoke over the overpowering stench of death and decay the Scourge brought with them; broken bodies and blades lying amongst the ruined stones and hasty wooden barricades.

Still, she fought valiantly, her shadowy form remaining firm against the endless waves of the Undead, with Rangers and other Sindorei crumbling as the rest of the village did. Spell after spell, a hurled staff and a flashing dagger met each rotting minion of the Lich King as they staggered and stumbled with a single-minded determintion over the village's lax defenses.

Finally, with what seemed almost her last strength, did the female cry out for the others, supposedly safe behind the high shining walls of the city to the North. Then all she felt was the stone against her face, the dark orbs of her eyes flashing in anger one more time before they shut.

The Paladin stood before his charges, the Hunter and Rogues by his side as he looked over the others, mostly Blood Elves, save for an Orc, a Troll and a Tauren. He stood silently, his mace glowing by his side and the shield hanging comfortably on his back. The brown-haired Hunter and the lighter-haired Rogues remained as they were, each either silently observing or offering a remark or retort where appropriate, sometimes when it was not.

Around the table stood and sat more, among them a crimson-haired Priestess, two young Huntresses, one Shaman, a tall female Warrior, an excited Marksman, a brooding Warlock, a hulking Beast Master and a smallish Assassin, fiddling with a dagger. As they turned to the Paladin, who seemed to be finally about to speak, her cry filled thir minds, as their hearts filled with dread.

"Crusaders, to the gates!"

The Hunter cried out, rallying the others as he called for his great white wolf; the Paladin and Rogues summoning their own steeds as the company assembled by the imposing portal to the city.

"We ride hard and fast to the village, let nothing stop you, we find the Lady!"

And so they rode, some yelling and slashing through the thick masses of Undead, others in silence but no less committed. Wolves and spectral horses and a lone kodo stormed through Eversong, blazing a trail through the Undead army, cutting a path to the village.

The village was burning.

Through the smoke, they somehow found her, lying on the stone, miraculously alive, though barely so. Two Sindorei corpses lay over her prone figure, a desperate last attempt by the defenders to protect their spiritual leader in her time of need. Working quickly, the red-haired Priestess attempted to revive the Lady, though many, many, more lay dead or mortally wounded by her feet, with throats and faces and limbs torn off savagely. She was quickly slick with the blood of the fallen and the wounded.

The Marksman and Warrior rode off to help stem the tide of Undead, though their combined efforts did little but slow the invasion for a moment, as the others rode to join them. Arrows and blades flashed though the air - there was little need to take aim due to the sheer numbers of invaders - as two groups formed.

The first group consisted of the Paladin and a few others, including the Rogues. Holding the road, looking desperately for friendly reinforcements but expecting none, they left a ring of Undead laying broken and shattered around where they made their stand.

The other group rode towards the screams, as the Hunter and Marksman led others to a scene born out of nightmares.

Innards and organs spilled out of cruel-looking gashes as a pile of Sindorei corpses littered the ground on which their boots crunched. Bones and tattered robes, only recently regal, carpeted the grass as more rotting figures moved towards the few survivors that remained huddled in an alcove.

The Marksman loosed his arrows, downing as many Scourge invaders as anyone else, the Warlock unleashing bolts of shadow towards the Undead and the Hunter drew his great axe as he charged forward with his ethereal cat. Their assault decimated the ranks of the invaders, but still more came. Bolt and staff and blade and claw tore through the rotted zombies as wave after wave descended.

The lone Orc stood tall, suddenly alone among the Undead. Gripping her sword tightly in her green-skinned hands, the Warrior looked around for her allies, but saw no sign, save for strewn ghouls and the occasional tremor of a spell or glinting blade that flashed in the distance. She turned, hearing the hollow moans of a group of rotted zombies stggering mindlessly, yet purposefully towards hr lone figure.

The first few fell quickly under her blade, its keen edge finding to trouble in shearing through their decayed sinews. Parrying blows as often as she gave them, her sword proved to be a more than able defense against their relentless assault in these opening exchanges; with every parry she removed an arm, hand, claw and the occasional jaw as it slashed towards her armored body. Often her blade cut through several Undead with each swing, the Orc's strong arms maiming those that still fitfully attempted to attack the green speck among the Undead.

The last Undead of the group crumpled into a maggot-ridden heap by her feet, before she turned to charge at another group, roaring a battle cry, a look of rage on her Orcish face. This group too, fell quickly, the Orc striking out with her fists and feet when the greatsword was out of position to cut down any nearby ghouls. Tossing one zombie several feet across the ground into three more, the Orc impaled two others in a quick, vicious move, a satisfied smirk on her fanged mouth.

She felt the bites on her arm and sides only a moment later.

The village was burning.

The Paladin, forseeing the end of a vain, prolonged, battle cried out,

"Crusaders, back to the city, there is no victory this day!"

The village was burning.

The Troll hovered protectively over the Lady, totems and axes at the ready, bolts of lightning dancing at his fingertips. Still, the smoke poured out from the village, making vision, much less fighting, near-impossible. He shook his tusked head, muttering a curse, and waddled towards where the flames burnt the largest, and recited a simple spell, tapping into his mastery of the plane of Fire and the elements. The flames remained.

The Shaman was surprised, cursing again and laying down totems to aid his incantations, as the wind and flames howled and twisted before him. The heat of the fire waned, the flames seemed to go dimmer for a second, before blazing once more. Grumbling in his native tongue and blasting stray zombie with a huge bolt of lightning, the Troll started again, working to extinguish each of the smaller fires that fed the larger blaze.

Soon, only smoke remained, and the Troll returned to the side of the Lady, carrying her gently as others joined him in the evacuation.

As they trudged off, still under assault, however, a vile figure arrived unchallenged, floating amongst the corpses, to gesture towards the smoldering ruins once more.

The troll and the others did not look back, but the village was burning.

The bloodied and bruised defenders regrouped in the city, bolstered slightly by a handful of allies. Still, if every exchange saw a score of invaders fall for every Crusader, the day would still be lost. As it was, they were granted a brief respite, setting broken bones and procuring arrows and readying spells.

The Lady awoke, as the gates shuddered under a sudden assault by the unholy army. Again and again, the tremors through the city walls caused even the most stalwart hearts in Silvermoon to quaver. The Lady struggled to her feet, brushing off the attentions of the Hunter as the shocks continued.

"They come, my Lady."

"Then I go."

"And we go with you."

As one, they made their way again to the gates, steeling themselves for what was perhaps thir greatest test. Each made their own preparations, the Paladin leading the way, his mace in his hand. The Marksman and the two tall Rogues stood firm, strange energies flashing around their bodies. Another Hunter and Paladin joined the ranks, setting themselves against the impending strike gainst their home.

One figure, the Hunter, split off from the group. Riding to the South-western corner of the city, he touched an ancient wooden door, vanishing and materialising within, climbing over the rubble quietly with the great cat by his side.

At the gates, the two forces met with a ferocity only heard of in legend. The Marksman, tapping into fel energies, destroyed scores of Undead with every move, while the two Rogues flew among the Undead army in a flurry of rage and steel, cutting down the rotten invaders in heartbeats. The Lady and others by her side did similarly well, resisting the Undead charge for long periods of time with no rest as the crimson-headed Priestess, now totally drenched in the blood of the wounded, cast spell after spell of healing and mending and shielding to aid her embattled allies.

The Paladin stood tall in the midst of the mayhem. his mace crushing all in his path as his shield flashed in the sun, turning even the crashing fist of an Abomination, which had joined the battle. A stealthy, masked figure moved among the lumbering Abominations, slicing their hamstrings and throats, effectively removing them from the battle before they got a chance to arrive as a white rat scurried about their massive trunk-like legs. The Huntresses sent an endless rain of arrows towards the Undead barrage, many finding their mark deep in the skull or throat of a ghoul or monstrosity.

A sudden onslaught of arrows suddenly appeared from above, the Hunter hanging from a ledge high above the city, overlooking the Dead Scar. Choosing his targets carefully, he shot down the Undead closest to the Priestess and the Paladin, selecting his marks as he eyed his rapidly-depleting quiver.

Hoping against hope, the Crusaders pushed back against the Undead charge, and for one glorious moment, the day seemed as bright as the white mace of the Paladin, but even as the soul is willing, the flesh grows weak. And their enemies did not tire, even if they were soulless. Arrows missed their mark, and blades clanged uselessly against splintered bone, and spells were less and less effective as their casters stumbled.

In the distance, the village was burning.

The Undead marched like a hive of so many insects, swarming over a fallen creature.

The village was burning.

The Hunter was out of arrows, still standing uselessly on the ledge, too far from his allies, which included his friends, siblings and lover.

The Marksman was breathing heavily, his spear long-since forgotten, even his best throw would not stop them now.

The Rogues leaned against others, their swords hanging limp from weary fingers, wounds and broken bones suffered and given.

The Huntresses looked frantically among the scene, still firing but more out of desperation than purpose.

The Warlock, still channeling her dark energies, soon tired and slumped.

The Priestess was on the ground, drained and bloodied.

The Lady stood defiantly by the Paladin, both of them fighting with tooth and nail, though with every ghoul they struck down, four more took its place.

The Undead pressed on.

The village was burning.

On the ledge, the Hunter put his hand affectionately on the great cat, drawing his swords and casting his heavy axe aside. Dropping his bow and quiver, he nodded once towards his allies, diving into the mass of Undead.

The ghouls and abominations and zombies and monstrosities, surprised by their death from above, stopped in their tracks as the brown-haired male and his great cat tore through their ranks, too far from any support from his allies.

A cry was heard from the Blood Elf frontier, as the Crusaders rose for one last push, fighting towards their comrade, who even then had already lost one sword and had the other broken against the skull of an Abomination.

An arrow obliterated the head of a zombie, inches from th Hunter, as he looked past the bloody pulp and smiled at the Huntress, noticing with a sense of satisfation that the others were all on their feet, fighting with a renewed spirit.

A clawed hand pulled him to the ground as the Undead piled on.

A cry of dismay echoed in the distance as blackness engulfed him.

The great cat sprinted among the ghouls, making its way to the Huntress who fired the arrow, dragging her back as the others moved back within the safety of the gates.

The village was burning.

A dark force glided slowly towards the city, leaving a trail of darkness and despair. The Undead before it left a clear path for the being, a straight road to Silvermoon, and it stood there, silently, mockingly, for many long moments. Casting fear and doubt and dread and terror into the beating hearts of those around it, it spoke with an ancient, terrible voice.

"The City will fall."

And for one horrible moment, it seemed it spoke the truth, that its dark prophecy was as much a promise as a threat, and that the Crusaders had fought and bled and died for nothing. Arrows hung unstrung from dropped bows, chipped swords pointed to the earth in defeat, shields and maces seemed too heavy for the arms that wielded them, the simplest of spells escaped the abilities of the sorceresses.

The Village was burning.