Post by Monday
Smoke rose lazily form the ruined inn, as a tangle of bones extricated itself from the burning wreckage. Araj reunited his bones in a traditional Lich form, and picked up his singed headdress from the ground. Setting it behind his head, he glared at the inn, considering going back inside to capture the soul of the dwarf that caused him so much trouble, but the magical equivalent of a cough changed his mind, and he left to find a minion or two to drain the necromantic life from.
Fünden, Fjarn, still carrying Jessica, and Thorgrim plodded along, none of them mentioning the large column of smoke behind them, as Chillwind Camp came into sight. No less than thirty armed and armored Argent Dawn soldiers stood outside, guarding the camp. One of them took off their helmet, revealing a human woman with long black hair. Her eyes were lined with worry, but her countenance was cheerful and determined “Hail!” she called. “What is your business in these blighted lands?”
Fünden rolled his eyes. “Oh come off it lass, ye remember us sure as the sun’s in th’ sky.” The woman grinned. “Welcome back, Stormcross! Where’s the rest of the group?” Fünden said nothing, and her grin slowly faded. “Oh, I’m sorry…” she said, looking at the two others remaining. Fünden shrugged. “They did their duty tae us and tae the world, Amy. Azeroth stands a better place because of ‘em,” he said, scrubbing one eye with his hand. “Durn plague mist,” he muttered.
Amy nodded sympathetically, and her eyes shifted to Fjarn. “Who’s that Fjarn’s got there?” she asked, taking a few steps closer. Fjarn retreated. “She says ‘er name is Jessica,” he told Amy. “She also says she’s got the Plague.”
Amy’s eyes widened, and she covered her mouth in shock. “Jessica? But she vanished almost three months ago! She can’t have lived.” Fünden nodded. “Aye, seems a bit suspicious. What should we do with ‘er?”
Amy sighed, watching Jessica closely. “Don’t bring her in the camp, and all of you have to get disinfected. Unless you’ve shared various body fluids with Jessica, got attacked by her or ate her food, you don’t have the Plague. Yet. And we want to keep it that way. Go see Brother Walker.”
Fjarn slowly set down Jessica, and Amy waved forward five Argent Dawners to watch her. The dwarves walked over to a house, with many bricks missing and hardly a roof to speak of. Inside were set several holy candles, and a single priest with gray hair and tanned skin, reading from a prayer book. He shut the book as the dwarves entered, and stood. “Brother Walker, at your service,” he told them, in a deep baritone voice.
Fünden nodded and shook the priest’s hand. Thorgrim did the same. Walker’s eyes narrowed as he saw Fjarn, but still gave a firm handshake to the dwarf. Fünden looked at Fjarn questioningly, but Fjarn shook his head. Not now,
“I assume you are here for disinfection, yes?” Brother Walker asked, interrupting the silent conversation. Fünden cleared his throat and responded, “Yes, we were ordered tae get disinfected.” Walker tilted his head. “If I may ask, why? The Scourge can’t spread the Plague themselves, and we’ve seen no Necromancers nearby.”
Thorgrim replied, “We found an Argent Dawn member taken captive by the Scarlet Crusade and rescued her. She told us her name was Jessica. Apparently this is news to the Argent Dawn, but we can’t figure out why. Could you help explain?”
Walker fixed Thorgrim with a piercing gaze. “Jessica, are you sure?” Thorgrim replied, confused, “Yes, she told us quite clearly.”
Walker grimaced, lowering his eyebrows. “Where is she now?” he asked, agitated. “Tell me quickly!” Fünden glared at the priest. “Not until ye tell us why!” he challenged. Walker shook his head quickly. “No time to explain.”
Fünden inhaled slowly and planted his feet. “We ain’t movin’ until ye tell us why.” Walker glared angrily at the dwarf, but relented.
“Jessica went missing about two months ago on a routine scouting mission to Sorrow Hill. Her entire patrol was found slaughtered, but not by undead that we could see. Roughly half the corpses looked like they were eaten to death by multiple small animals, probably insects. The other half had wounds everywhere looking like they were made from claws, but they were cauterized. Only Jessica wasn’t there, and we assumed she was now a mindless Scourge, or completely consumed. We thought no more of it.”
“Until now,” Fünden supplied, sensing where the story was going. “Yes, until now,” Walker said, with an acknowledging nod. “Her returning now is a bad omen, if you believe in such things.”
Fünden opened his mouth to reply, when he felt something ripple
through him, like a wave of disease that left him feeling sickened. Thorgrim ran out of the house and was promptly sick. Fjarn looked queasy, but held himself in check with rigid discipline.
Walker too kept himself in check, seeming to not feel any after effects. Then Fünden noticed the tell tale golden globe shining around him. The light fell away, and the Priest grimaced.
Fünden grabbed the front of his robes. “What was that!?” he asked, shaken. Walker brushed the dwarf’s hands of his robes and replied, “Probably Jessica. Go!” They vacated the house and ran as fast as they could to where Jessica had been.
They found the first body about twenty feet away from where the warrior, a sandy haired human who couldn’t be more than a teen, was originally. Fjarn shook his head sadly as they passed, and Walker looked stricken.
A sick, yellow glow shone from the body of the woman as she stood up from where she had lain, and shook her hair out. “Ah, that’s better,” she said, smiling wickedly. Fünden’s mouth dropped in surprise. “Why?” he asked, in shock.
Jessica smiled. “You never met Jessica. She died with the rest of them.” Her body started to contort, and shifted into a tall humanoid with pale skin and horns. A dreadlord. “I am Vas’karaz.”
Fjarn responded by jumping forward and slamming his hammer into the dreadlord with a crunch. Vas’karaz cried out in surprise, and swatted the dwarf, sending him bouncing twenty feet away. He ran toward Fünden, and raised his claws to strike.
Walker stepped in front of Fünden. Without saying a word, he lifted a ceremonial silver hammer, and struck the demon in the face with it. The wound sizzled and burned, and the dreadlord yelled in agony.
“I am weak from my metamorphosis… but I will be back!” he roared, and ran. Walker eschewed chasing the demon to run after Fjarn and started waving the hammer over the dwarf and murmuring prayers and exaltations to the Light.
Fünden said nothing, and traded looks with Thorgrim, confirming that the other dwarf was thinking the same thing.It was for nothing…
Two months later, Fünden stood in his house in Ironforge, and checked on Fjarn. The solidly built dwarf was steadily recovering from his fight with Vas’karaz, but the demonic strength and fel claws had left their mark. There was no doubt that Fjarn would fight again, but it wouldn’t be for many months.
Fünden set the fire going and went to the mailbox outside. A package sat on top, marked To Fünden Orebeard. Containing a record of my days in Andorhol. I know you want to know where I am, but I can’t tell you yet. I still cannot sleep at night without nameless horrors invading my sleep, and coming to Stormcross will only bring back bad memories.
Have no fear, I will return.
Fünden tore the package open and took out a worn and stained journal. With trepidation worming through his heart, he returned inside and opened the book…