Title: The last Stand: Part One - The Fall
Summery: Faced with a fate worse then death one Blood Elf is determined to face his end with dignity, but what twists does fate have in store for him?
Important Notes: There are some things in this that relate to guild developed lore which has been developed over the years. These things aren't meant to change official lore, simply to fill in the gaps. Most prominant being shown here would be the Blood Elven lifespan. High Elves live only until they're 300, sometimes 350 if they're lucky. Blood Elves however haven't had a chance to tell what their max lifespan is but it's likely the use of Fel energy can lengthen their lifespan considerably. Elves who were young when they became blood elves won't really notice the difference but elders found that it had a youthening effect.
The events detailed in this fic are based around in game RP between my main Jaideng Dawnspark and other players during the WOTLK prelaunch and Death Knight introduction.
Talgith Lightwreath had never been an early riser. Despite being the many times veteran that he was he still groaned and whined every morning he had to pull himself away from his bedroll. He'd become the target of many jokes from the younger elves in their battalion he knew, most of which were targeted at his age though in truth he'd been no better in his youth. Not that his age was actually a factor given the effects Fel had had on his races longevity. At 290 he should have had plenty of reason to protest the entire situation. Forced to climb up off of a flat bedroll on the hard ground before the sun had even properly risen. He snorted as he stood up and stretched his arms above his head until his back cracked. He sighed and rubbed the tight spot on his spine. Seemed even Fel couldn't solve all of the problems of long life. Patting down his robes and stretching his arms across his chest the priest started to fall into his customary meditation pose when he glanced to the bedroll of his companion...and found him missing.
He frowned heavily as he took in the unused look of the bedroll, proof it hadn't been slept in the night before. He shouldn't have been surprised but it was still disturbing for him.
Jaideng Dawnspark had been his friend for almost longer then he could remember and possibly longer then most of their current companions had been alive. They'd trained together, though the other elf was still over 10 years his senior, and had fought countless battles together. Sleeplessness had never been a problem for the older elf who had gained quite a reputation for being able to sleep through almost anything. It didn't matter where they were or what situation. Whether safe in the city or crouched in a ditch waiting for battle he'd never had trouble simply leaning his head against a surface and falling asleep and yet he'd be up and ready at even the slightest touch or joustle as if it had never happened.
To see that even after the rather taxing journey through the Plaguelands to the besieged chapel of Light's Hope Jaideng hadn't taken any rest was of great concern for him. He'd seen him miss sleep before a battle only one other time and that had been in the days before the Scourge attack on Silvermoon during the third war. They'd both been priests then and it had been expected that Jaideng would join the other retired soldiers in aiding the evacuation of the city, there was little place for them in such heated battles. Talgith had learned very late that his friend hadn't any intentions of leaving. The words Jaideng had spoken to him then had been burned into his memory ever since.
I'm an old man Talgith, the Light knows the chances of me falling over dead in the next hour are pretty high. You snicker but every day I wake up is a feat I take pride in. I was never meant to leave this place again. If this city is to fall then I shall fall with it. I've fought for it too long to leave it behind so easily now.
He'd smiled as he spoke. Smiles had never been hard for him then either. After the battle however...he'd never been the same. Talgith still wasn't sure if Jaideng had liked that he'd survived. He hadn't slept...because he'd known he was about to die.
Meditations forgotten the Blood Elf stood back up and exited the tent, looking around for his missing comrade. He didn't need to look very far to see him overlooking the rest of the camp, the rest of the Silvermoon forces gathering below to take their meditations before they would be called to relieve the Alliance forces that had been battling throughout the night. The Scourge cared not at all for the normal rules of battle, giving them no time to rest and recover. It was well enough really. The Alliance fought through the night and the Horde took the days, neither side being forced to fight side by side for fear of "accidents". The Horde forces had taken particularly heavy losses however and as the nearest reliable source Silvermoon had been quick to send reinforcements. The normal disdain given to the strictly organized distinct gold and red clad battallion by the other Horde forces had been overshadowed by the relief their large number of Paladins and Mages would bring to the battles ahead.
The reluctantly welcoming looks given by the gathered orcs and trolls would have been a pleasant experience if it hadn't been for Talgith's pressing concern for his friend. Jaideng had lingered at the back of the group, relying for the most part on his well trained war mount to keep him from falling completely out of formation. In truth Talgith had feared the hunter wouldn't make it to their destination so far had his condition progressed. That Jaideng was not at his best had become common knowledge to those he traveled with though no one dared speak of it directly. As a noble and a highly decorated veteran, it wasn't their places to question his decision to join them. The true nature of his illness however, remained a secret to all but a few trusted individuals. Talgith among them.
Approaching from the back he couldn't help but flinch again at the amount of weight his friend had lost in the short amount of time it had been since last they had traveled together. His normally straight backed and confidant stance was slumped in fatigue. His broad muscular shoulders were much less so, the muscles having deteriorated drastically. The masked hood he'd worn to hide his symptoms had been pushed back and his long free flowing blond hair left to blow in the faint breeze. It was hard to see in the dim light but Talgith could still make out the startling streaks of purple through the normal pale gold. His closed eyes were surrounded by dark circles, the sharp angles of his face made even more so by the hollows in his cheeks. Talgith could swear he looked worse then he had the previous day.
But that's why he was here. Much as Talgith hated to admit it he knew Jaideng was working on borrowed time and only the older elf's admirable will had kept him going for as long as he had. It was hard to think that even someone so strong could have succumbed so badly to his addiction. Talgith had never fully discovered how it had happened beyond that it had something to do with a mage lover. He hadn't asked beyond that. While the loveless nature of Jaideng's marriage was common knowledge along with his reputation for a wandering eye it was still considered a highly taboo subject so he had let his friend keep his secrets. If he thought about it, it really wasn't that difficult to guess at what may have happened. Mana tapping during intercourse wasn't unheard of, it was rather common with the younger generations from what he understood, though it wasn't dangerous if both partners participated. This led to an even more taboo subject concerning what race this lover had been that there hadn't been an equal amount of giving and taking which would lead to Jaideng overdosing so many times without realization of the damage he was doing to himself.
He shook his head. It wasn't important. The damage had been done and nothing anyone could do would change that. Suppressing a sad sigh Talgith waited for Jaideng to become aware of his pressence. He was ignored long enough to begin to suspect that the hunter was meditating. It had always been hard for him to tell given that Jaideng was one of the few people he knew of who proffered to do it standing up. He was about to sit down and join him but was brought back to attention immedietly by a low pained groan. Jaideng's ears drooped and his face fell into a pained grimace. He wrapped one arm around his middle in pain as sweat began to form along his brow. He looked as if he might fall but a low whimper announced the previously overlooked presence of Hemacandra, Jaideng's wolf, who stood up and pressed herself against his side. With her impressive size she was more then capable of supporting her master's weight. Talgith watched his friend shiver against the wolf's flank in despair. He was suffering withdrawal symptoms. Given the rather impressive amount of energy he'd seen Jaideng take from the battalions Fel crystal the night before it seemed impossible for him to be going into withdrawal already but he was. In his current state how could he hope to fight?
"Jaideng..." Talgith spoke softly not wanting to startle his friend as he moved forward to stand at his side.
Jaideng's eyes shot open, the normal fel green clouded by a haze of gray blue, and he struggled for a moment before forcing himself to stand on his own though his hand lingered on the wolf's shoulder. The Wolf gave a small growl though he knew from experience that this particular sound was one of greeting and not of anger. Even so the smile he sent her way was a bit strained. He found her a tad bit disturbing given her plague infected state. Her corpse white eyes, exposed ribs, and occasional maggot infestations made his skin crawl. For his friend's sake he tried not to show his disgust too openly. The she wolf hadn't always been like that and he remembered Jaideng being nearly inconsolable when he thought his beloved pet had been slain during his first battle as a hunter within the Plaguelands. He'd been overjoyed when the wolf he'd buried showed back up a few nights later and despite her obvious undead nature their bond had remained as strong as ever.
For her loyalty he would never doubt her.
Jaideng's ears twitched and he cleared his throat, "Talgith...I thought you'd still be sleeping." he said trying to lighten the mood.
Talgith only smiled slightly for a moment before it faded, "Jaideng...you don't have to do this you know...no one will blame you if you left."
Jaideng frowned and turned his gaze back towards the people moving around in camp, "I would..." he sighed, "What would you have me do? I'm not going to beat this...and I refuse to make this someone else's problem. I did this to myself...I'll take care of it myself." he said with determination adding almost as an afterthought, "...while I still can."
Talgith's ears drooped, "Jai...I-"
He was interrupted as Jaideng abruptly stood up straighter, eyes flashing, "I will not be remembered like that." he said forcefully, "I won't be remembered as the weakling who couldn't control himself...as the Wretched." he said his voice breaking at the last word. He looked away, arms crossing over his chest.
Talgith blinked and placed a hand on his friends arm, "...you won't be..."
"I just want a soldiers death...is that selfish?" Jai asked quietly to which Talgith could only shake his head. He'd run out of words for his friend. Faced with a fate worse then death could he really talk his friend out of his chosen path?
"When the time comes...don't save me..." Jaideng said, "You'll want to...I know that...but I beg that you do not."
Talgith didn't know how to respond and simply let his hand fall back to his side, both of them remaining silent as they waited for the call to come.
The sun was setting. Jaideng could see that as he took a moment to try and catch his breath. Much as he wanted this to be over and done with his pride wouldn't let him just stand there and be killed. He may die but he planned on taking as many as he could down with him. So he fought...and fought...and as the sun slowly sank towards the horizon he was still fighting. There wasn't a single part of him that didn't scream with agony. His muscles burned and sweat soaked his body, his long hair sticking to his forehead and face in tendrils that he hadn't the energy to brush away. His mana was all but gone and his aim was less then perfect as his vision swam.
Gasping harshly for breath he couldn't seem to get, he swung his halberd in a wide sweeping arch around him, using the weight of the weapon more then his dwindling strength to pull it around. The attack knocked over the group of ghouls that rushed at him from all directions leaving them open to further attack from Hemacandra who was quick to finish everything off. He'd been knocked from his mount early on but as the war trained bird that he was the Hawkstrider continued to fight nearby without him to guide it. It's sharp beak and strong legs dealing devastating injuries to anything that dared get too close.
There was a sudden break in the action as the wave of undead was cut down and no more came immediately to fill the gap.
Wheezing for breath he awkwardly returned his halberd to the harness on his back, picking up his discarded bow, leaning on it as he waited for more undead to show themselves.
Instead his ears were graced by a somewhat unwanted sound. A horn was being blown. A call for retreat. The day was over and the Alliance would be moving in to take their place on the battlefield. He closed his eyes in dismay. He'd survived. Light damn his stubborness.
"Jaideng!" Talgith's voice pulled him out of his thoughts as he rode up with his own mount in tow. Jaideng groaned but after a slight struggle he managed to pull himself into the saddle. He wrapped the reigns around one hand and nodded at the concerned priest.
"Go...I'm coming..." he managed breathlessly nudging the still aggravated bird into a run behind the retreating priest, his wolf running easily just ahead of him.
Half way back he was only vaguely aware of the huge shadow that enveloped the ground around him or the warning growl of his wolf.
"Death Knight!" someone yelled and Jaideng looked up just in time to see a huge boney talon crash into his mount. The world spun around him and he heard his mount give out a loud shriek as they both crashed into the ground, Jaideng being thrown free of the saddle to roll across the ground coming to rest on his stomach a couple feet away. The world continued to spin for a moment afterward, the pain the impact sent through his already abused body muting all other sensations. After a moment he shook his head and started to push himself up, peering over his shoulder to see what had hit him.
His eyes widened when he saw the huge frost dragon, his black hawkstrider pinned beneath one foot. It shrieked and continued to flail, legs kicking as it pecked at the dragon's foot bones futily. The dragon reared it's head back as it shook itself. From his position Jaideng could see the exhausted Horde forces continuing their retreat, running behind the formed ranks of Alliance soldiers who prepared to confront the new threat.
He managed to tear his gaze away from the dragon looming over him to the form of Talgith, still mounted and standing just on the other side of the Dragon's bulk. With a gasp he tried to push himself up but was thwarted by his halberd which had half come loose and was weighing him down. With an awkward tug he reached over his head and pulled it free. The Dragon roared and Jaideng couldn't help but look back just in time to see it take his mount in its jaws and throw its head back. The Hawkstrider continued to try and peck at the bony maw but after a single bite fell limp, tumbling into the dragon's maw and falling back to the ground when it fell through the beast's fleshless throat. It didn't seem to notice.
Talgith could barely see his friend still on the ground in front of the dragon. He started to call out again until he saw the black armored figure drop from its perch on the beast's back. The skull decorated armor and frost covered sword identified him perfectly well. Talgith would be no match against the Death Knight...or the dragon for that matter. There had to be something he could do, he thought as he looked at Jaideng and their eyes met.
Don't save me.
Talgith's face fell and he blinked back tears, "I'm sorry..." he whispered then turned his mount around and fled.
Jaideng saw Talgith run and sighed, a small smile on his face. This was it then. Standing awkwardly he turned to face the dragon and its rider, gripping his weapon as steadily as he was able. What happened next was a bit unexpected, however.
The Death Knight had apparently given the dragon some sort of command, though Jaideng hadn't heard it. Rearing its head back the Dragon let out a roaring laugh.
"I DO NOT FOLLOW YOUR ORDERS, KNIGHTLING. FIGHT YOUR OWN BATTLES." it said, turning and with a small flying hop, crashed headlong into the Alliance forces. From the sounds of it the Alliance would be calling for reinforcements themselves come daybreak. The Death Knight shook a fist at the beast, "Stupid Dragon!" he yelled.
Jaideng raised an eyebrow but otherwise said nothing. He'd never fought a Death Knight before. They were obviously far removed from the mindless Scourge he was used to.
Why do you even care? You want him to kill you, don't you? he thought to himself as the Death Knight regained his composure and turned to face him. He tried to ignore the fact that his head gear parted around long upward pointed ears, blackened with rot. A high elf? A Blood Elf perhaps? Had he once known this individual? He vanished the thought. Whoever he had once been he was nothing but scourge now. He could feel the Knight sizing him up from under the thick armored cowl and the lips which were the only feature he could see clearly twisted into a smirk.
"Half in the grave already? You make this too easy."
Jaideng's eyes narrowed but then he felt a presence behind him and returned the confident smirk, "Then come then...unless you're afraid you can't take me, knightling." he said using the dragons insult.
The knight's smirk vanished and the air grew noticibly colder as he gripped his sword and advanced, "A slow death it is then."
Jaideng just continued smirking, holding his halberd in both hands defensively across his chest. He waited until the Knight was close enough to start lfiting his weapon to swing then ducked and threw one hand out in front of him. He heard a moment of Hemacandra running behind him before her paws made contact with his shoulder and she launched herself off of him towards the startled Knight's face. The maneuver was one they did often but Jai found himself not as capable of recovering from it as he was used to. He buckled slightly under her weight and her aim was thrown off. Rather then crash into his body she only managed to get her mouth around the arm he threw up to block her. The attack was of little use against the Knight's thick plate and he threw her off with a curse.
Jaideng pulled himself back upright and began to backpedal away from the undead elf, dropping his halberd and unlooping his longbow from his back. Despite his fatigue it barely took a moment to have an arrow strung and aimed.
The Death Knight growled and kicked at the wolf who continued to bite at his legs yet was oddly agile enough to dodge all of his strikes.
"Enough." he said and threw out a hand at the wolf giving out a mental command for the undead beast to halt her attack. Hemacandra yipped and stumbled to a halt in front of the Knight, her ears going back as she whimpered and backed away. Her entire body trembled as she fought the Knight's mental commands.
Jai heard and saw Hemacandra's struggle and suddenly his exhaustion was forgotten. His eyes narrowed in rage and the arrow began to glow a bright purple as he channeled all of his remaining mana into the attack and let fly.
The magical bolt slammed into the Knight's back, punching through the armor and throwing him forward several steps. He straightened slowly, eyes narrowing dangerously as he turned to slowly face the hunter.
Jaideng loaded another arrow and aimed. He was out of mana but he would channel his own life force if he had to. He'd be damned if he let the scourge have his wolf. The Death Knight smirked and suddenly something misty and purple shot out into the air towards him. It wrapped around his arm before he could pull back and suddenly jerked him forward, toward the Knight, releasing him when he was only a step away from him. He couldn't shoot in such close quarters and he had dropped his melee weapon. The Knight swung his weapon and Jai lifted his bow, catching the blade against it, caught off guard again when the scourge pressed forward, pinning him between the locked weapons and a tree. He grunted at the impact but found he couldn't move as the undead elf pressed against him. He was confused by the actions but discovered his intent a moment later when the Knight pushed forward and bit him. He tried to move to the side but the knight's teeth locked onto the flesh between his shoulder and neck. He cried out when he felt him bite down, teeth meeting, and when he pulled his head back he took a chunk of flesh with him.
Jaideng cursed and struggled as he felt the blood pouring down his chest and back under his armor. The Knight chuckled and then abruptly stepped back causing the hunter to overbalance and fall to one knee. Jai grimaced and this time didn't make a sound when the next attack struck him high in the chest, the knight's sword sliding effortlessly under his collar bone straight through him to pin him to the tree in a half kneeling position. He grunted and released his bow. He could feel his heart pounding in his chest and a wave of cold washed over him as he reached up shakily to grip the blade where it entered his flesh. He was going into shock. He let his head drop as he gasped for breath. He lifted his head slightly when he heard the Knight making a tsking sound, two smaller swords in his hands, obviously retrieved from the bodies of the nearby dead.
"Now now, don't die yet, we've only just begun to play."
Jaideng coughed, "I'm not here to amuse you."
The Knight shrugged and smiled, "Ok." he said and walked up to him. He smiled down at him then slammed one of the blades down into his thigh, pinning his leg to the ground. Jaideng shut his eyes and stiffened but refused to cry out. This seemed to upset the Knight who twisted the blade. Jaideng gasped and gagged slightly but he wouldn't let himself make any further sounds.
The Knight sneered and started to lift the other blade when he heard Hemacandra's growling barks threateningly at his back. The wolf hadn't attacked but her fur was completely raised and she was snarling fiercely. The knight smirked evilly and reached out to her with his will. He could feel her resisting him but she was plague infected and couldn't fight him forever.
"Why don't you help me, little one. Put him out of his misery." the Knight said calmly motioning for the wolf to come forward. Her hackles dropped and her ears twitched upwards though she whimpered and looked confused.
Jaideng felt his rage rising again but when he looked at Hemacandra he knew her confliction. He locked eyes with her, "Leave me...you've served me well...now it's time to go."
Hemacandra whined sharply and cocked her head, completely ignoring the Death Knight who continued to force her compliance.
Jai felt his heart shudder as he severed the bond between them. It hurt worse then the injuries he'd suffered, but if he had to dismiss her forever to save her...then that's what he had to do.
"Now...go." he commanded swallowing hard as he heard her continued whines. Backing up a couple steps she threw her head back and howled then turned and ran, disappearing into the ruined landscape.
The Knight didn't make a sound or move for a long moment but when he did it was with the same coldness as before, "How touching...now...where were we? Oh yes." he said and slammed the other blade into the same leg only further down in the calf. The hunter grunted and glared at the Death Knight in defiance. The Knight sighed and gripped his face, leaning in until Jaideng could see the glowing blue eyes staring at him from under the cowl.
"This doesn't end until you give me what I want. If I have to kill you in little pieces, I WILL make you scream."
Jaideng grinned at the challenge. Rather then comment he spat in the Death Knight's face. He received a backhand for his efforts before the Knight stood and walked off a short ways, in search of more weapons to stick in him no doubt.
Jai's eyes narrowed and he gripped the sword in his chest tightly, ignoring the cuts it made on his palm, and pulled until it was free. He let it fall into the grass and then gripped the one in his thigh. He couldn't feel the pain anymore. Not really. Despite what the undead elf had suggested he knew he was already dying, but he'd take the bastard down with him. His muscles trembled as he pulled the blade free of his thigh and then curled to reach the one in his calf, removing it as well. He kept the last two in hand as he used the tree to stand up, his injured leg almost refusing to hold his weight.
Gripping the swords tightly he suddenly charged at the Death Knight who turned only barely in time to avoid the first couple of swipes. The second strike cut across right in front of his head and as he jerked back Jai got a good look at the other elf's shocked face and grinned, pressing the attack. He swung one sword towards his chest and as he lifted his arms to catch the blade across his bracers he hooked his foot behind the Death Knights legs, tripping him. As the Knight hit the ground and began scrambling backwards Jaideng didn't wait and followed after him. He didn't have time to wait. He wasn't sure how long his strength would hold out.
With as much strength as he could muster he swung both blades down at the Knight and growled in frustration as he swept both swords to the side with a blade hastily collected from the ground. Jai pulled back for only a moment but it was long enough for the Knight to push himself back to his feet and make a quick thrust directly at his chest. Jai attempted to swat it aside realizing far too late that the move had been a feint, the Knights sword moving sideways and up faster then his tired eyes could follow. There was a deep burning pain across his left arm and everything from just above his elbow down went numb. The world swam dizzily and Jaideng slumped forward, holding himself up with his remaining sword alone, the tip digging into the dirt. He stared at the ground but refused to look at the severed limb. He wasn't going to last much longer.
Eyes rolling he started to fall to the side. With a snicker the Knight moved forward to catch the falling blood elf, "That was cute...not that it did you much-" he stopped abruptly as the seemingly fainting elf straightened and shoved his remaining sword through his stomach. The Death Knight gave an angry cry and pushed the elf away, the sword going with him. Jaideng lifted the sword to take the Knight's head but was suddenly tackled from the side. With a surprised cry he saw that it was one of the nearby dead soldiers, reanimated, that had attacked him. He fought to pull himself free. Something flashed near his head and everything stopped.
He simply couldn't move. His body refused to respond to what he was telling it and slowly everything began to go numb. He wasn't breathing but for some reason it didn't bother him. He was deaf and his vision was fast fading but he saw the Death Knight crouching over his body. He was doing something to him...but he was too far gone to tell what that was. Whatever it was caused his body to jerk in reaction and then there was nothing.
To be continued...
Authors Notes: Concerning Jaideng's wolf. Her undead nature and the story behind that is based completely around gameplay. You see, back in the old days Hunter's were forced to switch out their low level pets for higher level pets in order to upgrade certain abilities like Dash, Growl, and Bite. Hemacandra the Prairie Wolf had to be switched out for Hemacandra the Diseased Wolf. being the Full Time rper that I am...I had to create some sort of in character story for it.
I'm well aware that many people think it's insulting for a hunter to have an undead pet...but the game allows it so...who am I to argue.
Also...I've come to realize that a great many of my recent fics tend to start the same way...with some form of character death lol, why is that?
Please Review! If you liked it please let me know why, if you didn't you can do the same but try and be constructive, please.