Power in Stories

“There's power in stories, though. That's all history is: the best tales. The ones that last. Might as well be mine.” – Varric Tethras

A Broken Song in Three Voices, Chapter 5

It was chaos before they even got close to shore. Fel fire assailed them from afar, rocking their boat furiously as it crashed into the waters around them, missing them thanks to the skill of the crew manning the vessel.

Others were not so lucky and, as he watched a sail sink beneath the choppy waves, he hoped that those some who had been aboard it would make it to shore. It was a sobering sight and one that brought quiet to the ship except for the furious whipping of the sails and the calls of the crew.

“Hard ta por’, Mistah Dawnbreakah!” bellowed the captain of the ship, a skinny female troll with blue-green skin and bright orange hair tied up high in a ragged tail. She clung to the rigging right in front of their position on the ship, her body bobbing with the motion of it through the waves and her eyes on the steadily approaching shore. “I don’ want ta run aground!”

“Aye, Captain!” replied the sin’dorei at the wheel, his brightly glowing green eyes as focused on the shore as his captain’s. Then the ship began to lurch to the side and Hresden grasped the hilt of his sword to steady himself, pushing enough magic into it to feel the blade’s magic sing back at him. Caren’s heavy hand thumped on his shoulder a moment later and he lifted his own to clench his fingers over hers.

His blood sister might not be at his back but the soul who’d become as good as that was.

Then the captain was screaming at her crew again alongside the few officers on the ship bellowing disembarking orders and he felt panic for one suffocating instant. Caren snarled from behind and above him, the sound purely feline, and Necronim spat a foul sounding curse in Gutterspeak. Hresden remembered to breathe a moment later and quelled the fear as best he could. It had no place here.

Everyone on the ship surged forward as one onto the beach before spreading out, combining with forces from other ships and a few dripping wet figures who had managed to make it to shore from downed ships. He drew his sword, the purple and pink crystalline surface of the blade gleaming with the magic contained in it, as soon as he had room to do so and set his eyes on one of the demons ahead of them on the beach.

A thunderous howl went up from somewhere far away – the distant cry of worgen on the hunt – and then the Horde war horns bellowed in return followed by hundreds of voices calling out war cries that became one raucous cacophony of furious noise. He shouted wordlessly alongside them and heard Necronim from his left raise his voice in a shrill shriek that reminded him of the undead attack on Silvermoon for one brief, terrifying second, before Caren roared from behind them with the voice of a bear and drowned out all sound for a moment.

The whole world descended into one single moment of clarity, his focus narrowing in on the demons arrayed before him and those in his immediate vicinity. Hresden tightened his hand around his sword as he channeled magic into the blade and brought fire to his other hand as the whole of the Horde surged forward at another blast of the war horns.

Eveything after that turned into little more than vague impressions. The heat of fire against his hand as he flung fireball after fireball in the face of a felguard. Caren’s healing magic, so different from his own in its nature, soothing as it flickered around and through him. Empty air flickering before Necronim appeared, his mouth open in a snarl as he buried his blades in a felhound’s throat. An orc warrior, bleeding from a claw wound to the leg, staggering backwards with wild eyes until Hresden stepped around him and lifted his sword to fling the magic gathered along the blade up into the face of a doomguard in a giant blast of fire that distracted it long enough for others to press their attack. Orcs and trolls and tauren, undead and goblin and elves alike, all falling around him, some staggering back up with magic healing their wounds and others never going to rise again.

And then, just like that, he realized how far they’d pressed forward.

Breathing hard, Hresden looked around him at all of the slain demons and asked, “Does this seem…easy?”

“Easy?!” exploded a nearby goblin as Caren stepped up next to him, blood and sand matting her dark fur. There was also blood on her teeth he realized a moment later when she spoke, though he more noticed the sudden weariness in her amber eyes.

“They broke,” she noted quietly. “Broke and retreated. There is a plan here.”

Necronim appeared abruptly, wiping demon ichor from his blades on some sort of cloth, as he asked, “What sort of plan?”

“That, my friend,” replied the healer shortly, “is a question I don’t have an answer for.”

Hresden nodded slightly before he heard a cry from ahead of them, the call of a familiar name from the throats of their leaders, trying to ignore the quiver of fear it sparked. Tirion Fordring. If someone had downed the paladin… “Doesn’t matter,” he growled, shaking himself. “We have to keep going.”

Caren nodded in return as Necronim slipped away again. As the druid began casting healing magic over everyone around them, Hresden tried to ignore the sudden gnawing sensation in his belly that something was terribly, desperately wrong.

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