(AN: You know, it's easy to play World of Warcraft or even Warcraft III and forget how the people in that world feel. To us, it's just a game, but to those who inhabit the world, it's as real as the world in which we live in. And I'd like to capture a hint of that in my story.)
A day came at last when excitement took hold of all those on board the ships. Tharbin, who was growing weary of the long sea voyage, was eager to see the cause of all this excitement. With Melissa in tow, he wound his way past the many eager sailors, soldiers and crewmen on their way up to the top deck.
After many days of nothing but ocean for miles in all directions, the line of reddish sand was as welcomed as the Light after months of darkness. It was not the tiny smudge of a lost island, or even the gentle rise of a lone mountain risen up from the sea: land stretched out as far as the eye could see to the north and as far as the eye could see to the south. It was a continent, perhaps larger than all of the Southern Continent, even with Lordaeron put together.
The Redmanes, along with every one of the crew and Expedition members, were eager to come ashore. Fortunately, this was not a military movement, where the soldiers had to disembark from the ships first. Orders from Proudmoore's ship, positioned on the southern end of the shore, indicated that every able-bodied man, woman, Elf, Dwarf (and even those of the gnomes who came with them) were to prepare to move in-land. This meant that women, children and the elderly had to stay on board the ships until further notice.
Melissa, however, was not keen on this idea.
"Honey, it's for the best," Tharbin said, once they had become aware of the orders. "We don't know what's out there, and you're almost at your time."
"I'm fine, love," she returned. "But I have to go with you."
"Why? You'll be hurt, and I'll never forgive myself if..."
"I'm almost certain I have to go." she said. "I can't explain it, but I know that where I need to be right now is with the Expedition."
"They'll never let you go!"
"I don't care, dammit!" she returned. "I'm going with the Expedition, if I have to chase after you all the way across this new land!"
Tharbin sighed, seemingly defeated in his argument. However, he knew that this would never be acceptable with those in charge.
"Still," he resigned. "You're in no condition to fight. They'll never let you go!"
"Excuse me," a voice said. Tharbin and Melissa turned to see an Elf sorceress with flaming red hair standing a few feet beside them.
"What's your story?" Tharbin returned, a little too harshly. He'd found himself on the receiving end of one too many elven fists during the duration of the voyage to be trusting of anyone with glowing eyes and long ears.
"I heard that your wife is interested in joining the Expedition," the Elf said.
"What's it to you?" Tharbin suspiciously asked. "Gonna snitch on the stupid, law-breaking humans, are you?"
"Well, what are you gonna do about it?" he asked, challenging the Elf again.
"I was wondering," the Elf returned. "If I could be of assistance. But, unfortunately..."
"No, wait!" he returned. "I-I'm sorry. Things haven't exactly been pleasant with the Elves on this voyage, no offense meant."
The Elf nodded her head. "I understand. If you want my help, you must say so now. It seems we don't have much time: the Lordaeron Corps is moving out right now."
"Alright!" he relented. "I'll take your help."
"Good," the Elf returned, with a smile. "Your wife will stay with me, as my apprentice scribe."
"Can I at least know your name?" Tharbin asked.
"Alessan," she replied. "Ishnu falanah, Tharbin Redmane."
Tharbin was quite surprised that this Elf sorceress, whom he'd never met, knew him by name. Already she was speaking with Melissa, throwing an apprentice's cloak over her and giving her a small satchel filled probably with the instruments of a scribe. Part of him hoped that this would work, at least for her happiness. Another part, however, was still fearful that she was now willingly throwing herself into undue danger.
Less than an hour later, the Lordaeron Corps was assembled and disembarked onto this new land. The ships dropped anchor and several boats filled with as many passengers as they could carry without running the risk of sinking rowed out to the shore. The people of Lordaeron had their first real look at this new land.
It was a desert, as far as the eye could see. Several stunted palms, like the fabled ones of Stranglethorn Vale, dotted the beach here and there, but further in-land, sand and clay dominated a land dotted by short, stunted scrub-like trees. Several large mesas and buttes, most likely made of sand-stone, rose up out of the landscape, looming like the massive ruins of Thoradin's Wall.
Marching across this land, however, was a different chore. The heat was not very great, but it was very dry. On the sea, they had no fresh water to drink, only weak rum to quench their thirst: it was dually weak in that it took a lot for it to affect anyone (which was impossible to do, what with the supplies being rationed), and it only made the drinker more thirsty. The salty sea water was unfit to drink, and so any hope of fresh water was to be found in this new continent, Kalimdor, was it?
But there was no water to be found. An army could not march in the desert without water, and there were enough people here present for at least five armies. As such, hydromancers were rationed in each company. They could call upon their usage of arcane power to conjure mana-imbued droughts for the troops, and their ability to sense the ambient humidity could serve as a means of locating sources of ground water for wells, should the need arise.
Yet even the hydromancers could not concentrate on their spells during the long drudging marches through the sands and scrubby deserts. And as the days marched on, it seemed that this expedition was doomed to failure without water.
At night, the crickets chirped loudly. The skies were clear, perhaps clearer than any nights in Lordaeron ever had been. The howls of desert wolves echoed in the distance. The snorts and growls of creatures they knew not added to the sleeplessness of the guards. In a certain tent belonging to Tharbin Redmane, he could not get to sleep. In one corner sat his wife Melissa and Alessan the mage. Since she was skilled with letters, Melissa asked Alessan if she could take her as her apprentice in truth. Therefore they spent all night around the mage-lantern, pouring over old tomes and spell-books. Any scribe could write enough scrolls to fill the libraries of Dalaran, but it took a certain kind of scribe to create the magical tomes and scrolls of power that mages and sorcerers used in battle against their enemies. It was the former that Melissa Redmane knew, and it was the latter that she wished to know.
Tharbin had no magical background, not even a stronger than typical inclination towards the Holy Light as Melissa, so the world of magic was still very strange to him. So it was that he could not sleep with the unnatural blue glow of the mage-lantern from the other side of the room. Even if it couldn't ignite the tent, it kept him awake when he needed to sleep. So he lay there, trying to sleep, with the sounds of the camp and the quiet mutterings of his wife and the elf-mage going on behind his ear.
Just then, he heard the caw of a raven. It was strange, for he hadn't seen any ravens when they first landed or in their various marches across the desert plains. Where had that thing come from, he wondered. Yet he could not ponder it further, for sheer exhaustion finally brought him into the land of sleep.
(AN: Wanted to go on more, but it felt like flogging a dead camel. You know, where you've gone as much as you can in one chapter and any more is just too much.)
(New chapters will be better, I promise...I hope so.)