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Old 06-15-2013, 08:40 AM
Timolas Timolas is offline


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The Battle of the Living Dream I

The spirit realm unhooked itself from the Temple of Zul'Gruc'Jen and peeled back with a grimace. Jin'thek went with it, watching as the Temple receded into the distance, the light of the sun becoming a dot of light, and then vanishing, until he was left in the calm cold.

With melancholy, he felt the happiness of the trolls of Zul'Aman as they cheered his name. The gorgons were defeated, as was their god and her mistress. For now, the dream was safe in his homeland. But there was still an emptiness to fill, far away.

Outside, it was the Summertide, and the snows had melted away in the mountains of Alterac. The heat of battle was almost as intense as the sun in Valen's Cut, where the last idol of man was wielded against his people. A long time ago, the human general, Valen, had won a victory. Jin'thek was happy that Valen had achieved such a victory, because without it, the Amani would have prospered and tyrannized. Now, there was the Living Dream. History's bloodshed had been necessary, so that the races would learn through their mistakes.

Now it was time for the ultimate lesson. The heat of battle became fire, warping trollish flesh with the anger of the Horror, the plague recovered from a broken world. Crimson Cabalists, the very embodiment of the final idol of man, stood upon the cliffs of the Cut, causing the plague to be borne on the winds. For those trolls who survived the plague, there was the magic of the Cabal, ready to burn them away. A song hummed through the spirit realm, reflecting the red mood of the survivors.

Jin'thek felt dismay in that song, the dismay of those who had been defeated. Exhel cried out in despair, as the trolls retreated back up their hill, north of the Cut. There was desperation, and the threat of the dream being extinguished.

In their hearts, there was a prayer.

"Do you feel it?" an old troll asked beside Jin'thek. Was it Gruc'jen? But then Jin'thek remembered that Gruc'jen was dead, gone to a place beyond Jin'thek's reach. No, it was Zanza the Restless. The old troll who watched everything, the god who did not sleep. "The song is a song of ending. The trollish Dream ends."

Jin'thek looked at the humans, secure upon the heights. There was triumph in them, and hope. A different dream. They dreamed of going home, to their families. Many dreamed of their fields, of a warm fire, and food in their bellies. They sang of their victory.

"One Dream for another." Zanza said, a glimmer in his eye. "Has it not always been so? A cycle."

But Jin'thek knew there was more to it than that.
"All cycles can be broken."

"Oh?" Zanza said, leaning forward with a quizzical look on his face. "Your people have paid everything, their blood, their lives, even. But it has not been enough. Not against the Empire, against the idols of man. What more do they have left to give, Jin'thek?"

"No, you are right." Jin'thek said heavily. "The trolls, the Atal'jin, the Atal'kaizar, they have all given up everything. Everything except each other. And now they are ready to die, together. I must go to them."

"Go to them?" Zanza asked incredulously. “You are willing to do it, then? To sacrifice godhood, to die a man? To wake up from the Dream?”

Jin’thek nodded slowly, understanding what he had to do.
“I will walk with them. And die with them, if I have to.”

Zanza was smiling.
“The path is open, then, my friend. A final chapter. Now you understand how it must be. For we must all wake up from our dreams, in time. Go. Wake up. And break the final idol of man."

Jin’thek had come to die beside his people. He could not stop the plague, nor could any troll. Not even the Atal’jin, or the druids, or the Atal’kaizar, could stop it. Not completely. Not even if all the vats of plague were destroyed on this battlefield could the plague be stopped, because more could be made. No, the true weapon that was wielded against the dream was hatred. And hatred could not be killed by the sword.

As Jin’thek stepped out, standing atop the northern hill, he saw that thousands that remained to fight the humans and their allies. They were ready to die, and understood it was the end. And there was nothing that Jin’thek could do to help them.

-

“Kill the traitors! Kill them now!” Eldengar Trollbane was yelling, his orders carried through the ranks, amongst the commanders. Jana Septim strapped on her helmet, and her lieutenants did the same. The forces of Arathor twisted into a semi-circle upon the western ridge, trying to encircle the army of Alterac. King Perenolde had declared his intention to withdraw from the battlefield, back to Alterac City, declaring neutrality. It was a profane insult, that this peasant king, rumoured to be a republican rebel from Lordaeron, would challenge him so. He had declined to acknowledge Eldengar’s rule, and now he had spited humanity itself.

The Empire of Arathor sounded its trumpets, and archers loosed, arrows tearing into the unprepared and frightened soldiers of Alterac. The Lost Legion took the brunt of the damage, but it did not scatter. It met the Arathorians with horrendous speed, its elite units breaking the encirclement.

“How... grim.” Elrich said with a sigh, watching the spectacle unfold. “I suppose you shall have what you wanted, my Emperor. A sea of blood.”

Eldengar Trollbane kicked his horse, waving Trol’kalar over his head. With inhuman speed, the Imperial Guard followed, stampeding towards the soldiers of Alterac. Eighty of the Imperial Guard were there to carve through the soldiers of Alterac like butter. Eldengar led them towards the nearest command post, led by Commander Emerson, the speech-impaired leader of that encampment. Trol’kalar spilled human blood, Eldengar’s steed kicking in a man’s skull. The Imperial Guard did not react to injuries, their heavy weapons breaking bone and drinking gore. Eldengar was sure he saw Emerson fall beneath the plate boots of the Imperial Guard, not several feet away, and the command post was soon aflame.

Alterac was ordering a general retreat from the battlefield, but Eldengar was not prepared to give them that chance. His men were waiting for the order to continue pursuit, but somebody broke through the Imperial Guard atop a mare. It was Liera, her face white with an emotion Eldengar could not comprehend.

“I don’t believe it. I don’t. You’re a monster.”

Eldengar’s mouth opened to speak, but he found no words.

“When was it that you lost your soul, Eldengar Trollbane? When did the crow come to mean more than the kingdom, or the kingdom come to mean more than the people within it?” she screamed hoarsely.

An Imperial Guard smashed his gauntlet against Liera’s thigh, causing her to wail in outraged pain. Her hands dropped to her sides, and a dagger slipped from her fingers.

“Stop! Do not harm her!” Eldengar commanded, and the Imperial Guard stepped back.

“She is an assassin, milord.” Captain Aledar was muttering. “A spy-”

“No.” Eldengar stated, mirroring absolute authority with absolute denial. As he spoke, he saw the Ramrods and Blackguard shepherding King Perenolde to safety in the west. It was now too late for pursuit. “Take her away. She is mine. Put her in chains if you must. But we’re done here, Captain. Let the soldiers of Alterac flee. We will rejoin our brothers against the trolls.”

“What is your bidding?” Aledar pressed. “What do you intend?”

“I have had enough of this pretentious game of cards, of this board game. Of water-brained captains and butter-spine cowards. Fuck the rules. We are going to destroy the trolls. We are going to attack.”

Messages were sent down to the Hesperians, Imperials and Perinany that they were to order their cavalry and vanguards to charge up the eastern ridge. Humanity was to go on the offensive. The hour had come for final victory, a final solution to the trollish menace.

And so, the Empire of Arathor descended off the western and eastern slopes, aided by the cavalry and footmen of their allies. The trolls were already charging towards them as they ordered the attack. All sanity and strategy dissolved in the grand moment of passion, the pages of history torn out and cast into the fire. Nothing else mattered, but this final act, a final sacrifice.

Saboteurs had taken the plague vats and had destroyed them, whether they were Atal’kaizar or druid or Atal’jin, it mattered not. Much of the remaining plague was poured onto the trolls in those moments, but the trolls were not deterred by it. The two armies exploded against one another across the whole of Valen’s Cut, the climax of this desperate battle resounding across the mountains of Alterac.

Hundreds died in the first few seconds, magic, arrows, swords, axes and spears doing their work, and many followed in the seconds after. Cavalry rode down trollish skirmishers, only for dire trolls to pull down horsemen from their steeds and break their bones. Feeling betrayed, soldiers of Lordaeron hacked into Atal’kaizar who had once served in the People’s Front, old tensions afire once again, and many recognized one another from years past in that struggle, once again on opposing sides of the battlefield.

But the trolls were outmatched. And so, they died. The grand gambit of their army was the Orb of Translocation. It fired, surrounded by Atal’jin, the ones who could wield it. Alyson Antille poured her strength into it, calling aid from across the sea. And so, Sandfury arrived, teleported by elf magic to Valen’s Cut, just as planned. Elf magic, which had harassed the trolls for so long, had been turned against the enemies of the trolls, by Atal’jin. It was a sweet irony. And roaring into battle, from Un’goro, the devilsaurs arrived, mounted by trolls. The sight of them struck terror into the hearts of the humans that had arrayed themselves against the trolls, and many began to flee. The devilsaurs chased them for a time, but the trolls gathered around the northern hill, trying to reforge their ranks. But it was probably too late, and all hope was slowly lost.

Together

Out and onto the ridge stepped the Zul’Kaizar made flesh, Jin’thek.

All looked with hope, with anguish, with astonishment, to see the Zul’Kaizar draw breath yet again. The communication stone of Quel’Danas, drenched in his blood, had offered him a way home. The trolls fell back, granted a moment of reprieve by their enemies. It would only be minutes before the human army had the northern hill surrounded, and the trolls would be crushed between them.

“Brothers, sisters!” Jin’thek called out, his voice amplified by the nooks and shape of the land itself. “On the Summertide, years ago, not far from this very day, I spoke with many of you in Zul’Aman, our beloved home. Most of us were enemies, then, divided by hunting grounds and old feuds. But we set those aside, and we changed the world. We Dreamed a Dream. We lived it, and many of our brethren died for it. We die for it now. It is not yet over, but I have not come to you with magic, or secret weapons, or a secret to turn the tide of this battle.”

There was understanding amongst the trolls. They knew that Jin’thek had not come to win the battle for them with godly power. There was no way to turn the plague away, no way to break the human ranks. The avatar of Jin’thek had not come to win the war for them, he had come to die with them. A final act of brotherhood, between followers and leader. The Dream would never die.

Then at last, Jin’thek said it.
“I am sorry. Sorry that trolls did not win. I tried.”

“Jin’thek!” they began to chant, overcome with compassion for their leader. “Zul’Kaizar!”

“You have not failed us, Jin’thek.” Exhel said, placing a hand on his friend’s shoulder. “We stand with you. Even now. In the end. Our victory is not about swords, or steel. Or how many lives we take. Or how many heads we chop off, or how much blood we shed. You are our Loa of the Heart. You know this.”

“We will die. Together.” Jin’thek said, eyes clear, looking to the human lines stretched across mountain pass and cliff, weapons pointed against them. “But the Dream will not die. You are right, Exhel. The Dream, it is within us. Where no sword can pierce. I proved that at Quel’Danas, in the spirit realm. Defeat will not change this fact.”

“Jin’thek!” a loud voice sounded, a giant bellowing his harmless and simple happiness. Joa’mar came bounding up the hill, catching Jin’thek in his mighty and loving arms. “You’re alive!”

Kirio followed, one hand on his hip, the other on his axe.
“You are a bit late, Jin’thek! Again! Just like at Atalm!”

Friends and old enemies gathered round. There was Maka of the Firetree, blinking tears of calm joy away, a confused but contented look on his face. Beside him was Lez’li, and the elf, Alyson Antille. They stood together, protective of one another, and united in fascination of what they beheld.

Then Jin’thek turned back towards his army. They were not sad, like he thought they would be, or disappointed. They were happy, happy to be with him, in this final hour. This was what they had prepared for. In their hearts, they knew it. The Dream was grand, it was great, it was invincible, unstoppable. But they knew that they were just trolls, in the end. They could not change the world, or break the board. Because in the end, despite heroic deeds, and great acts, they were uncivilized, not good enough. They were just trolls. Jin’thek’s eyes burned with tears, and with a heart-wrenching cry, he jumped off the ridge, to die with his comrades.

But he did not die. They caught him. He opened his eyes. He was alive again, carried by the hands of his friends. They had caught him.

A cry of defiance exploded from the trolls. They wanted to prove the Zul’Kaizar wrong, to show the Zul’Kaizar that although he had Dreamed the Dream, the Dream did not belong to him. It was not his to lose faith in. It was not his to forget, to kill. Nor was it the right of the humans to kill it.

This was not the end. And Jin’thek saw the faces of dwarves of Dun Djoldar, angry and triumphant even in the end. He saw the faces of elves, whose lives he had lived, of humans, whose families he had fought, in a different time and age. And Jin’thek shouted once again. And something shrieked in the sky. He half expected a dragon, a Bronze Dragon, come to mock him. Nozdormu himself, come to take the Dream away, to tell him that the Dark Histories awaited, that it had to be so. That there was no denying them. But it was in that moment that Anasterian Sunstrider came awake from his nightmares, from his coma, and clutched his chest in terror and understanding, understanding at last the Fon'kaz'kah.

It was in that moment that Ker’ah swooped down, shrieking from the skies, and the trolls threw their voices into the air to cry that they would not bend, they would not break, that the Dream would not die. It was not over, not yet. It was never over. The Dream could never die.
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There is no creature on earth half so terrifying as a truly just man.

Last edited by Timolas; 06-26-2013 at 03:05 PM..