Ashenvale, approximately 2225 years before the opening of the Dark Portal
The young Sentinel turned around, glaring angrily back. "I told you not to call me that, Laris Dawnseeker"
The white-haired young man smiled and bowed. "I'm sorry F-"
"Just... don't, understand?" She continued, the angry expression on her face framed by her long, dark blue hair.
"I understand." He nodded, then smiled again. "Besides, the last thing I would want to do right now is get you angry." He added as he waled over to her.
"Well don't. Its a silly nickname anyway. I don't know why everyone calls me that." She continued. "Yes, I know it's my initials, but..."
"Do not worry about it." He continued. "It was a silly mistake on my part, one that I should not have made." He smirked as he walked over to her, a friendly smile on his face. "Besides, why would I want to anger the woman I love?"
She sighed, then laughed a little. "You have a good point there, Laris", she conceded. "And I know you mean it just as a joke, but..."
"I know." He finished, putting an arm around her armoured shoulders. "I will not ever do it again. I promise."
"Good." She added, a decidedly exaggerated sulk in her voice. "Anyone would think that you didn't like me."
"Of course I do!" He shot back. "How could I not love a woman as strong, powerful and capable as you?" He smirked, then gently kissed her on the cheek.
She knew it was true. She was large and muscular by female standards, whereas he was a lightly built scholar; she knew that she was stronger then him and appeared to be the larger and more powerful of the two. It was something that she found amusing. "Well true." She admitted, blushing a little.
"However, as much as I would like to stay and talk..." He kissed her again before stepping back. "I have so many things to do."
She turned to look him in the eye, an decidedly unhappy look on her face. This was the one thing she didn't like about Laris, she would have readily admitted, something which made that stupid nickname he used seem mild by comparison. "I'm still not happy about this, Laris."
He sighed. "It is just some research, you know that." Laris replied, a clearly defensive tone in his voice. "I am trying to find out more about my family, that is all. It is harmless."
"And you know there is a reason why the elders do not allow it." She shot back. "The Highborne's mistakes nearly killed us all."
He shook his head. "It's not like I'm trying to learn arcane magic or how to summon demons. You know that." He stated, more then a hint of anger now in his words. "I Just want to find out more about them. Is it a crime to want to know more about your forefathers?"
The young sentinel sighed, then shook her head. "No, no it isn't." She finally admitted. Which was technically the truth; what he was doing was not strictly forbidden. However, that did not mean that she had to like it. The irony was that she would have wanted to know more about her own parents; she had been orphaned while only an infant and had never been able to find anything about where she had come from.
"I will only be a few days. A week at most." He continued. "And after that, well, I think I will have all that I was after. And then..." He smiled a little. "Then, well, I think that there's a few other things that the pair of us should discuss."
She smiled and nodded, outwardly appearing happy but still clearly not. "I suppose..." Even Laris's suggestions were doing little to defuse her suspicions.
"We'll talk when we get back." He finished as he walked over to his waiting Nightsaber and giving the packs on its saddle one last check. "Until then, my love." He finished as he mouted up.
"Until then, Laris", she replied, her voice lacking warmth and enthusiasm.
She could have remained in their village, patiently waiting for him to return. She could have assumed that his intentions were entirely honorable and that he meant no harm. But, as much as she wanted to, as much as she loved him, she knew that what he was doing was not right. And, at the very least, it was her duty, as a Sentinel, to investigate what Laris was doing.
If it turned out that it was indeed harmless research, then she would apologize to him and leave it be. But as much as she wanted to believe that, a part of her knew that it was anything but. And she began to worry for what she may need to do if such was the case. She knew that her duty over-rode her heart's concerns, no matter what.
So she had taken a Nightsaber and set off after him. Her hope was to confront him on this "expedition" of his and discover the truth. Even though he had a lead on her, she was no more then an hour behind him by her reckoning, assuming that she was following the same course. She knew that he had rode eastwards out of their village, and questioning locals in passing had confirmed that he was following the main road for the moment.
Unfortunately, this lead to one horrible conclusion, one that was realized as she reached the small bridge over the Southfury River. The chasm marked the border between Ashenvale and the land known as Azshara; that he had gone beyond it seemed to confirm her worst fears. The former capitol of the Highborne, Azshara was a twisted and tainted land, populated by the ghosts of its former inhabitants, as well as a host of other evils. And it appeared that Laris had joined them.
She drove her Nightsaber on, more determined then ever. Regardless of the reputation of this dark land, she knew that she had a duty to perform and that she could not turn back now. She rode on, her eyes cautious to the lands around her; ancient ruins jutted out from the verdant plant life, speaking of the disasters that had befallen this place in past. Around her, she could feel a sense of a looming, lingering evil, something intangible yet clearly present, as if lurking below the surface out of sight.
She had traveled for several hours before she found Laris's Nightsaber; the beast had been secured to a ruined pillar by one side of the road, several of its packs emptied. There was no immediate sign of its rider, however.
He must have continued on foot, the Sentinel thought to herself. Hopefully he's not too far ahead. She dismounted and secured her mount next to his, then began looking around for signs of his passing. Fortunately, they were not too hard to find; he'd made no efforts to conceal his passage, leaving a clear trail in the grass and leaf litter that cluttered the ground. Probably wanted to make sure that he could find his way back here, she commented to herself as she set out on the trial, sword and shield drawn and at the ready. Unlike her high speed ride before, she was moving far more slowly and cautiously now; she had no idea what beasts - or worse - could be lurking in the wilds. That she had no idea where she was going only made her even more cautious.
It was more then half an hour later that she found where he had headed. A shrine lay ahead, surrounded by numerous crude tents and carved totems. While she recongised the style as similar to ones she had seen in Ashenvale, this one was distinctly different. The Shrine had been desecrated, recolored in blood red, while the totems had a twisted, eerie form to them, faces distorted in pain and anguish carved into their surfaces.
it was not the shrine that caught her attention. however. It was a form lying sprawled nearby, clad in ragged robes. Her heart skipped a beat as she saw the body's long white hair, and she realised with a growing sense of dread what it meant. Abandoning her cover, she ran over to him, kneeling down by his side.
"Laris?" She began as she looked over him. "Can you hear me? Can you?" However, she knew what her efforts were in vain; he was clearly dead, his robes splattered with his blood. Something had attacked him, she realized. Something that was probably still nearby...
...and she had broken cover to come to him...
She began to stand, but was instead struck in the back by a powerful blow which sent her reeling. Staggering, she turned around, reaching for her sword, only to be struck again across the face. Dazed, she staggered back, trying to get a look at her attacker.
They were humanoid in form, but their lower body was more bestial in nature, with cloven hooves. Not wearing any clothing, their body was instead covered in red fur. A long tail snaked out from their back, their hands were clawed, and two long horns grew from their head. However, most disturbing was their face; it resembled a male Kaldorei's, but twisted and bestial.
Satyrs! She hissed to herself, recognizing the twisted, transformed Higborne. Creatures of malice and hatred, they had once been like her people,. but had sold their souls in exchange for greater power. However, now was not the time to dwell on matters; she had to focus on her own survival.
Drawing her blade, she was about to take a swing at the Satyr when a second attacked her, again striking from behind. The force of the blow drove her to one knee, causing her to nearly drop her weapon. As she tried to regain her footing, the first Satyr ran at her, ramming his elbow into her throat. She dropped her weapons, staggering back as she clutched at her neck.
The second Satyr grabber her by the back of the head, then drove her forward, smashing her forehead into a rock. There was a loud crack and a wet feeling of blood running down her face. She tried to struggle free of his grasp, only to be rewarded with another slam. Dazed, she collapsed, limp in his grasp.
He reared back for a third blow, but was instead halted by a call of "Enough!" The Satyr stood, still keeping a firm grip on his limp captive. Looking up through the haze of matted hair and blood, the Sentinel could see a third Satyr; taller and more muscular then the others, this one had flame-red skin and brown fur.
The Satyr approached, seizing her by the chin and raising her head to look straight into her face. "How fortuitous." He began as he studied her. "Young, healthy, strong..." He sniffed the air, then grinned, bearing a mouthful of bestial teeth. "And a virgin as well. Excellent. She will do just fine."
He turned to look at the other two. "Bring her back to the camp. Her blood, along with the tome the young fool bought us, will be perfect." He turned to leer at the young Sentinel. "There is but one more thing we need of you."
"You'll never get it." She replied, a defiant tone in her voice despite her obvious pain.
"Do not be too sure." He countered, a leering tone in his voice. "You are just in time. The ritual is about to begin."
"Give it to me!" The Satyr snarled, then swung his arm, striking the Sentinel across the face. She recoiled from the blow, blood splattering across her cheek from her nose.
"Never." She snarled back, defiant despite her situation. Stripped of most of her armour, she had been bound to a totem inside the Satyr camp. Her body was battered, cut and bruised, the result not only of her capture, but also the heavy beating she had endured since.
"What is your name?" He yelled again, slamming her hard in the gut, the force of the blow smashing her back against the totem. She wanted collapse in on herself, but the bonds held her in place and only dug into her wrists as she tried to move. "Tell me, whelp!" He struck her again, this time using his claws to rake across her midriff, tearing bloody swipes out of her flesh.
She chuckled to herself, in spite of the pain, managing to spit out a reply. "If you are so powerful, then you figure it out." She grinned, baring her large fangs. "It's not that hard, really."
"You fool!" He struck her hard across the face again, sending her reeling. "Give me your name now and your suffering will be at an end!" He reared back, claws bared. "Surely you want this pain, this torment to be over."
"Yeah." She replied with a wry smile. "I get to live now so you can sacrifice me later. That sounds like a really good deal to me."
With another roar of anger, he slammed her hard again, driving her face into the post. "Why do you resist?" He called out. "Why do you struggle? Surely you must realise the futility of your actions!"
The truth was, she didn't know why she was being so obstinate about her name. All she knew was that the Satyr wanted it, and, as such, it could not be a good thing for her to give it to him. Satyrs practiced fel magics, powered by twisted, demonic energies. As near as she could tell, by denying them her name, she was denying them a weapon.
And stopping them from completing their ritual - whatever it may be - is worth more then my life She added. In past, such rituals had been used to summon demonic beings into this world with catastrophic results. The ruins around her spoke volumes of the mistakes of such actions.
So she struggled, and accepted his abuse. She'd long ago lost track of how long it had been; all she knew was that she would not yield, she would not fail and that she would not be broken. She would gladly die before giving them an advantage.
"My actions?" She said as she bought her head around to face him. One eye was swollen shut, however the other glared straight at him. "You're the one who's engaged in a futile venture. I will not yield to you. I will not surrender my name. All you will get out of me is a bloody corpse." She laughed, a weak but still audible response. "Which will be doubly useless to you, actually. So, by all means, beat me further. All you'll get, in the end, are sore knuckles."
With a roar, the Satyr reared back, his hands open to strike. However, he stopped, glaring angrily at his grinning prisoner. "You know I'm right." She continued. "Go on, kill me now. You might as well and save yourself the bother."
He paused, then lowered his arm with a loud roar of frustration. "Take her away." He commanded to a pair of smaller Satyrs. The pair of them dutifully approached, untying their wounded captive. As soon as she was released, she slumped back into her captors' arms, clearly exhausted and drained.
"So you conceded defeat?" She managed to blurt out as the pair of them dragged her off.
"You have merely prolonged the inevitable. You will still be sacrificed."
"But without my name." She shot back. "So, even after the fact, I still win."
He snarled again, stalking off as the pair of them dragged her away.
The Satyrs had bound her hands and thrown her into a tent. They hadn't made much of an effort to secure her; they figured that she was too far gone to be of any threat. That she had made such an act of collapsing had probably worked towards this; she wanted them to think she was beaten.
In truth, she was anything but.
She'd allowed herself a few hours rest to recuperate to a degree before making her next move. Working the crude bindings on her wrists had been easy; again they'd hardly put in enough effort to secure her, believing her to be beaten and harmless. As pathetic as her act had been, it had served several advantages.
Rising, she was considering her next move. However, a sound from outside made her realize that it had been decided for her. Someone was approaching the tent; knowing the surroundings and figuring on their intent, she guessed that it was a Satyr come to collect her for the night's ritual - a ritual that she had no intent of being a part of, one way or another.
Instead, she slipped back, waiting against the edge of the tent. She stood perfectly still, barely daring to breathe, the colour draining form her form until she remained a barely-viable shadow, all but unseen to the naked eye. The Satyr strode straight past her as he entered the tent, then paused, clearly wondering where their captive was meant to be.
That was his last mistake.
She lunged at him, wrapping the ropes that had bound her wrists around his neck, pulling back on them with all her strength. At the same time, she rammed her knee into the Satyr's body, forcing him forwards The fel creature let out a brief, surprised gurgle before collapsing, falling limply to the ground.
The Sentinel let him fall, then glanced around. She knew that there were numerous other Satyrs still in the camp, while she was alone and unarmed. She could just leave now and be off to safety, and they would not know until they found the body of their fallen companion.
However, at the same time, she could not just leave. While she had no Idea what it was that the tome that Laris had bought to them was for, she knew that it boded ill, and would be best kept out of their hands. She felt that she had a duty to locate and destroy it in order to make sure that they did not use it. She had failed in her duty by not stopping Laris. Now she would atone for that failure.
Or die trying.
Of course, in order to do that, she would need a weapon; she had no idea what the Satyrs had taken her own arms, and she could not see any easy way to acquire one, save for taking it from a Satyr's body - a risky prospect at the best of times. While she had managed to ambush one, she had no way of guaranteeing that it would work again.
She cautiously moved through the camp, trying to stay low and remain silent and undetected. Her personal hope was to sneak past whatever defenders may be present remained and then steal the tome and escape from the camp. Of course, she knew that it was not likely to be that easy. Of course, the instant that they discovered the body of their fallen comrade, it would all be over.
Skulking around the fringes of the camp, she spied a lone Satyr heading away from the group, a knife in his hand. While it wasn't much, she knew that the weapon would still be better then her bare hands and a piece of frayed rope. Again she slipped back into the shadows, her body's form disappearing into the twilight as she prepared herself. As silent as she could be, the Sentinel waited for her prey to pass.
And then she struck. However, this time, luck was against her. To reach him, she had to extend herself just a little further. She couldn't say if she was too loud, or he was better prepared, or if she just left herself open too long. Instead of becoming her second victim, he whirled around, striking her across the face. A second blow sent her reeling and crashing to the ground.
The Satyr called out something in a fel tounge, then came at her, his blade outstretched. In desperation, she kicked at her attacker, the blow hitting him in the thigh and throwing him momentarily. As he staggered back, she rolled over and scrambled to her feet, taking off in a crouching run. Bellowing, the Satyr took off after her, calling attention to all around him.
This is impossible! she thought to herself as she tried to evade her opponent. I need a weapon.. .something, anything... Desperate, she glanced around, looking for something that she could use.
With a roar, the Satyr came at her again, reaching out and grabbing her leg as she ran, then pulling back. She crashed to the ground, landing face first. Desperate, she lashed back, again catching her foe and forcing him back for a moment, but she knew it was a temporary reprieve. She scrambled forwards again, only to hear the Satyr coming up behind her.
Wait! There, jutting out of some fallen masonry just in front of her, was what appeared to be the grip of a sword. Putting all she had into it, she lunged forwards, grabbing at the weapon. She had no idea what it was, but all she knew was that it was something, a way for her to escape the situation she was in. Behind her, the Satyr recovered, surging forwards again, blade outstretched.
She grabbed the hilt, pulling back on the sword to draw it out. As she did, a feeling surged through her being, one that she was at a complete loss to explain. it was a feeling of possession, of ownership, of gaining a part of herself. The sword simply felt... right, as if it had always been hers, or it was intended specifically for her. It was as if the weapon was there for her to find it because she needed it at the time.
The Sentinel swung back with the blade, wheeling around at the advancing Satyr. Despite her awkward stance and position, she felt a surge of strength and power through her body, as if something was enhancing her and revitalizing her. The blow hit the Satyr hard, ripping across its chest, rending flesh and bone. The creature let out a sudden cry of shock before it collapsed, clearly dead.
Her foe was dead. However, she was far from out of danger. Glancing behind her, she could see another pair of Satyrs approaching aware of their comrade's demise axes at the ready. She knew that she had nowhere to run to; more importantly, she knew that she had to stay and fight and complete her mission.
Grinning, the weapon filling her with a strange confidence despite her battered condition, she charged forwards, running at one of the two approaching attackers. Again the sword filled her with strength and fury as she swung, the blow coming down on her foe. Clearly unprepared for their supposedly helpless captive or her weapon, the Satyr was caught unawares before the blow ripped across his torso, opening him up with a spray of black blood.
As she wheeled around, something else happened, something even more unexpected. Flames licked along the length of the weapon, its silver blade turning a brilliant orange as she swung again, driving at the second attacker. This time he was ready, attempting to bat th weapon away with his own axe. While he managed to deflect most of the blow, the blade still skimmed across his forearm.
With an unearthly screech of pain, the Satyr reeled back, his flesh scored red while flames licked the fur. Dropping his axe, the Satyr desperately beat against his arm, trying to extinguish it, all but ignoring his attacker. For her part, the Sentinel didn't hesitate to take advantage of his distraction, driving forward with her sword. The weapon impaled the demon, driving through his gut. He gave a brief look of shock before she withdrew it, suddenly coughing up back blood before keeling over forwards.
I did it. She thought. I defeated three of them with this blade..' She looked over the weapon; giving it a quick inspection before the sound of approaching hooves caught her attention again. However, as she turned, she did see one thing on it that caught her eye; a word inscribed on the blade in the Darnassian script.
However, she didn't have time to ponder what it meant. More pressing matters occupied her attentions.
Turning, she saw another pair of Satyrs come running, clearly preprepared for a fight. Strangely unconcerned, she turned to look at them, and then grinned, baring her large fangs. No longer was she a helpless, beaten, nearly broken captive. She was a warrior, determined to face whatever foes dared approach her. All of this was due to the sword she had found. She did not know if it was some magic it possessed, or simply the fact that it had proven a powerful weapon in her hands.
She just knew that it felt right.
Screaming a harsh battle cry, she ran at the pair of them, her blade poised to strike.
She had no idea how much time had passed. All that she knew was that every Satyr in the camp was dead.
Save for one.
Their leader, the one who had beaten and tortured her to take her name from her was the last one left. He also had the tome that Laris had unwillingly given to him, the sole reason why she had stayed to fight rather then leave when she had the chance. Despite what he had done to her, however, she did not care what happened to him at all; weather he lived or died was immaterial, as long as she got what she wanted.
"The tome." She stated. "Give it to me."
The Satyr glared back at the woman standing before him. Gone was the wide-eyed girl that he had captured and beaten only a few hours ago. In her place, was a feral, enraged woman; her eyes narrowed, her body scarred and torn from the abuse she had taken. Save for her blade, she was splattered with the blood of what had been his minions, the ones she had torn apart with an almost sickening degree of ease.
"Never." He snarled back. "Despite what you have destroyed here, I can recover with this alone. This book gives me a future - something that you should never have."
She chuckled for a moment, then leveled her recently-acquired blade at him. "Your mistake. You could have lived." She smirked, then broke into a run, charging at the Satyr. Leaping off a chunk of rock, she swung her sword overhead, bringing it down in a brilliant, flaming arc. The Satyr reached up with is own weapon, a wickedly curved blade, managing to parry the attack; however, he still staggered back from the force of the blow.
"Although!" She called out as she swung again, the Satyr's blade just barely blocking her a second time. "There is a certain logic to killing you" He swing back at her, the Sentinel deftly avoiding his blow. "If you die... then nobody will ever, ever need to suffer at your hands." She surged forward, her strength and power seemingly renewed by this conclusion.
"You will never torture someone for their name." She stated angrily as she swung again at him, putting all her strength into the attack. he bought up his weapon, but was gain driven back as her blade pressed into his. "You will never sacrifice another innocent to fuel your twisted desires." She swung again, this time slamming hard into him, sending his own blade flying back. "Your dark dreams, whatever they may be, end here tonight." The third blow shattered his blade, sending him back. The Satyr tripped, crashing down to the ground.
"No more, please! I beg of you!" He called back, desperation filling his voice.
"And If I had begged the same of you, what would you have done?" She sneered, anger filling her voice. "Would you have relented, would you have let me go with getting what you wanted from me, just because I whimpered like a child?" The Sentinel snarled, baring her fangs. "You do not deserve any pity, or any mercy."
With that she swung again, her blade slicing through his neck, cleanly decapitating him with a single blow. As his body crashed to the ground, she turned, taking the book from the altar, not sparing the Satyr a single glance.
Despite the fact that the beast was dead, she did not want its lifeless body to see the tears running down her cheeks.
Ashenvale, 25 years after the opening of the Dark Portal
The Sentinel sighed as she looked over the group of young recruits. Between them they were barely adults and had very little practical experience; she could also tell that none of them had ever been in a real battle before. However, they were her squadron, and she would be depending on them - as they would be on her - to keep alive in the dark days to come.
The Burning Legion had returned to the world, and were invading the Ashenvale forests. Ten thousand years of peace and sanctuary was about to come to a crashing close. The Sentinel Armies were faced with a terrifying foe, and every woman was needed to face the coming storm; even ones as young and inexperienced as these.
They're my squad now, she thought to herself. And I will not fail them.
"Okay, girls, listen up." She began. "I will not lie to you. This situation we are facing is the single greatest threat that has ever arisen to our race. The legion are a merciless, relentless and implacable foe; they will not surrender, they will not back down. They will fight until we are destroyed - or they are."
"However, I will do everything in my power to ensure that we all survive what is to come. If you follow me, listen to what I say and do as I do, then you will make it through this. We all will."
There was a pause, then one of the recruits spoke up. For some reason, she reminded the Sentinel of what she had been like at that age. "Seler? Uh... not to pry but... what should we call you."
She smiled back. "Just call me FJ."