Scourgelady (melee offence officer)
Joined: 17 Oct 2007
|Posted: Wed Oct 13, 2010 5:19 am Post subject: Whispers on the Wind
|So much ice, I never thought there could be this much in all the world.
The horizon all around was dominated by soaring peaks of blue-green ice, jagged fingers which curled and clawed skywards as if grasping for the stars themselves. The sun hung low in the sky - it never rose very high, even by midday - and lit the distant frozen talons with a pale pink hue. It was beautiful. Beautiful, yet deadly. One of those gracefully curving talons had collapsed across the line of their march as the army threaded its way between them. Nobody had been killed, luckily, but they had lost three hours cutting through the barrier. Three hours which had to be made up after nightfall. Three very cold hours.
“Stop wriggling, ye’ll scare all the game away. If I ‘ave t’go another day with nowt t’eat but frozen biscuit, ah’ll be blamin’ ye.”
A dwarf was standing next to her, holding a blunderbuss and chewing tobacco. The juice was freezing in his beard, giving it a shiny, amber sheen. He turned his head and spat carelessly, hitting Seja’s foot. She curled her toes reflexively, then realised she couldn’t feel them.
“Sorry aboot that.” He sighed and slung his gun over his shoulder.
Seja stamped her feet in the snow and turned to look wistfully back at the bustle around the camp fires. They had encountered the dwarves the previous day while marching. Well perhaps “got shot at by the dwarves” would be a more accurate rendition. The soldiers at the front of the column had not been satisfied with the dwarves’ assurances that they had only shot at what they had thought was, in turn, a bear, a herd of elk, and “that jormungar we shot at t’other week, knew ee’d be back t’git us!” In fact if Arthas had not been riding near the front of the march, things might have got ugly. As it happened, the prince recognised the leader of the dwarven party as an old friend, and that, coupled with the dwarves generous offer to share their ale around, had smoothed matters over quickly.
“I’m only shivering because it’s freezing.”
“Ah, quit yer moanin’. Spend a winter in Dun Morogh an’ ye’ll feel cold a’ight. So cold it’d freeze yer nipples off and ye’d have to pull a frozen plug out yer ram’s arse inna mornin’ afore breakin’ camp. Good times.”
“Where’s yer beard, lad?” The dwarf jammed his hands into the pockets of his furs and eyed her up and down.
“I don’t have a beard, I’m a woman.”
He stared at her. “Don't ye women have beards? Pah. Woman, man, ye humans all look alike. Ye need a beard t'keep ye face warm, ‘specially on a brisk day like this one. Tell ye what'll do ye a power of good; some victuals. The supplies us dwarves brought ‘ave just the thing t'keep the blood flowin'. Come along.”
He stomped off towards the tents.
The supplies he spoke of consisted chiefly of the famous dwarven staple: ale. Seja had tried a mug of it the previous evening in the canteen tent but gave up after she discovered it was thick enough to chew. Her neighbour had been more than happy to relieve her of it. Nevertheless, any excuse to get out of the bitter wind was a welcome one, even if it involved eating dwarven ale. She decided to follow him.
The canteen tent was large enough to seat two hundred, and amply furnished with braziers. Seja felt her cheeks begin to burn as they thawed in the welcome heat. Several small groups of people were sitting at a few of the trestle tables, but the tent was largely deserted. Her dwarven companion made straight for the ale kegs where a couple of other dwarves were standing, conversing in low tones. He filled a mug and turned to Seja, raising his bushy eyebrows. She smiled and shook her head. Dwarven ale was very strong, and spending the afternoon on her back was no way to impress the rank and file. Or, maybe it was, but not in the manner she hoped to impress them. The dwarves had begun talking to each other in their guttural native tongue, leaving Seja feeling awkwardly out of place. She gazed around the tent, looking for an excuse to leave. A tired looking woman was sitting alone at the far table. She looked up, caught Seja’s eye, and waved. Excellent, she’ll do.
Seja tapped her dwarven companion on the shoulder, “I’m just going to talk to my friend over there, alright?” He waved his mug at her and nodded. She stepped back nimbly to avoid the splash and made her way over the the table with a sigh of relief. The other woman smiled up at her as she sat down with a clatter.
“I see by your armour you must be the new captain. Seja, wasn’t it? I remember your name from the roster. Congratulations on your promotion, by the way. I was made Lieutenant at the same time, it already feels awkward among the men. I suppose that’s why I’m sitting here by myself. My name’s Joanna, by the way.” Her handshake was firm and brief. “I see you’ve met our new dwarven friends. They take some getting used to, but they’re great fighters when not drunk. Or was that when drunk? I can never remember.”
Seja looked back at the dwarves. “What could a dwarven expedition be doing here of all places?”
“Treasure hunting I heard. There’s plenty of dragons in these parts still, or so the tales say. We haven’t seen any yet, which is something to be thankful for. In any case, what their leader Muradin had to say must have been of great interest to the Prince; those two have been as thick as thieves. None of the officers know what they’ve been discussing, but we do know why the dwarves are here.” She leaned closer across the table and lowered her voice. “Apparently there’s an ancient Elven artifact rumoured to be somewhere near this location. A sword, they say. A powerful one too. The dwarves would have put it in one of their collections or something, but I think the Prince wants to use its power against the demon lord that leads the undead armies.”
That sounded like Arthas, all right. The daring prince leading his mighty army to victory with a fabled weapon of ages past. Seja smiled. He’s just a boy at heart.
“They say its name is Frostmourne.”