Sielic’s ponytail waved in the wind coming off the harbor. Morning had brought a cool breeze and clear skies, and Sielic looked towards the horizon. For weeks, he had risen early with the Guards, training and sparring with them. He watched the ten Guards in their sparring matches. He had stepped out this morning. 

‘None of these men are real soldiers. They have guarded Theramore for many seasons, but only a few of them have ever even fought the Horde. Most would think that a telling sign of their inexperience, they would be wrong. Many of these guards have defended her walls for years of their lives, but they’ve only repelled raids by the local ogre population, maybe a rampaging crawler or croc from the marsh. A few claim experience in handling the dragonkin from the region.’ 

Sielic looked over each Guard that he had spent so much time training with. They had improved since he had started. When they began, rounds with Sielic had ended quickly. They were unused to cunning, to intelligence. The ogre and marshland wildlife were brutal, but straightforward. They did not improvise. Sielic grinned.

‘No, these men and women guarding this city are not inexperienced just because only a few can claim to have fought the members of the Horde in direct combat. It is because the Horde are savage, and in most cases, mankind falters beneath their attacks. Strategy is what wins the battle, but we have always taken heavy losses. Farmers do not make good soldiers.’

Sielic focused his mind’s eye on a cold winter valley. Two soldiers, himself, and a few men from Westfall. They had started with pitchforks, in Westfall, but in the valley, they held real steel, cold from the winter storms, forged into polearms. Pigstickers, they jested. When the group ran into a patrol sent out by the Horde, it was over quickly. Surprise was on the side of the Alliance, and the charge downhill went quickly. The two soldiers dispatched five orcs together before they had gathered their wits. The farmers each took one orc, as well. They laughed, and cheered. The three of them grinned, distracted, as the remaining tauren and troll surged forward. The tauren bowled over the two soldiers, and the troll leapt viciously among the farmers, wicked blades slashing outwards quickly. The farmers could barely pull out the pigstickers to defend themselves. Sielic saw his younger self step forward, blades flourishing and dancing as he and the soldiers defeated the tauren. The troll fell easily, but all the farmers laid dead. They had all had families, they were sons of the Alliance, but they were not ready for this.

Sielic snapped back into reality. The current set of sparring matches was over. He stepped up and took his place, the veteran stepping back with a salute. He drew the blunted knives, enchanted with minor electrical power. His sparring opponent would feel every tap, but they would not hurt. 

‘No,’ Sielic thought, ‘These folks will do themselves proud in battle. They will have to learn quickly though, and harden fast. It is time the butcher’s bill was evened out in this conflict.’

The whistle rang out, and blows rang out through the courtyard. Sielic’s were quiet, near silent. The first to slip through the parries of his opponent struck his chest, right above the heart. 

‘It is time to strike to kill.’ Sielic thought, grimly.

 

 

The sun was rising and Sielic looked out across the horizon, smiling softly. The group of Guards he trained and sparred with had gathered this morning, despite it being their free time to pursue ale. Everyone wanted to be prepared, ready. Training continued, despite the solemn air around the city. Sielic flipped a dagger in the air, end over end. He caught it by the knife tip as it descended and quickly flicked his wrist, sinking the blade into the target dummy.

    The night before, Sielic and Lyna embraced as they laid down. The air in the room was filled with frustration. Despite their seemingly affectionate physical gestures, they were both arguing vehemently against each other. Sielic growled, and Lyna jabbed at him with a slender finger. 
    “You are leaving on the ships.” Sielic stated with a sense of finality. Lyna growled back at him.
    “I’m leaving, and you’re staying so you can, what? Fight off the Horde and die trying?!” She waved her arms erratically.

    The Guards saluted one another, not sure if this would be the last morning they would assemble together. The sparring began, the Guards performing admirably, determination across their shadowed faces. Sweat quickly began pouring out across their bodies, male and female alike. Sielic’s sparring partner had adapted well to the fast pace of knife fighting. A quick stab, parried by the slender longsword of his partner. A follow up, but the blade was already drawn back into position. They had learned so much, built up and worked on reflexes for so long. 

    “I do not want to die here, Lyna. But I cannot leave. This has become my home, as much as our cabin in the Hills. These people need all the help they can get.” Sielic frowned, his voice steadying and lowering in volume.
    “All the help! I can help them, too!” Lyna raised her voice, her point sitting in the air, poised to win this disagreement.
    “No, we’d be much too worried about one another… I cannot lose you, and you would have me much too worried if you stayed. You can help the others evacuate, tend to wounds of the injured and administer to the enferm. I am no healer. You can serve them better as one.”

    Northwatch was gone, razed so quickly. Sielic grimaced as the sparring continued. The longsword wavered for a fraction, and Sielic’s dagger thrust in quickly, tapping just below the arm. His opponent yielded to the touch, very likely to have been fatal contact. The other matches concluded quickly, and partners were changed. The next one to step up was Elle. Sielic knew her well from the sparring, and she was slightly more skilled than Eric, the man with the longsword and shield. She wore the Guard uniform in full, and brandished a polearm. With the fighting approaching, some had adopted polearms and spears for further reach while manning the ramparts. Sielic nodded, and the whistle rang out to begin.

    Sielic kissed Lyna, hesitant to break contact for many long moments. He was scared, they both knew that. Lyna held to him tightly, afraid to let go. 
    “Please, leave on the ships.” Sielic whispered softly.
    “Okay, Sie… I will.” Lyna burrowed into the man’s shoulder, tears beginning to run down her face at the upcoming departure. They laid there in the bad for a long time, locked in a sorrowful embrace between lovers. Neither thought of the upcoming battle, of the blood to be spilled, and of the Beast and Fury that would reign supreme. They merely dwelled on each other, and how they would miss one another. The scent of one’s mate, the touch of a lover’s hands, the taste of their lips.
    “Tomorrow.” Sielic insisted and Lyna nodded.

    The polearm swung at him, Elle moving quickly onto the offensive. Sielic leaped backwards, both blades coming up at the ready. The polearm thrust out again, and Sielic had to smack it with both his blades just to parry it away. He stepped forward to try to capitalize on the polearm’s issue with close combat. He slashed quickly, but Elle parried with the haft of the polearm and quickly retaliated with a powerful straight kick. It connected, only slightly, with Sielic’s thigh and he fell backwards, rolling with it until he was out of her reach. She had improved greatly since the last spar.

    Neither of the pair slept, merely staying up the night and taking in the last night they might ever spend together. Neither spoke all night. They held each other, and the only sounds in the room were their heartbeats, the even breathing of Sielic, and the shuddering breaths coming from Lyna as she cried. The sun rose, and Sielic looked out the window of their room, catching the rays on his face. 
    “Let’s get going, Lyna. There will be a ship leaving soon.” Sielic barely whispered, afraid that his voice would not keep steady. Lyna and Sie stood up, getting off of the shared bed. Most of their belongings were still packed due mostly because they had just traveled here before everything had changed. The walk to the docks was peaceful, and Lyna managed to giggle at a subtle joke made by Sielic.

    The polearm came at him again, and he ducked underneath it. As he ducked, he tucked both blades into their sheaths, coming up with arms around the haft of the polearm. He twisted and rolled it in Elle’s grip, contact soon breaking as he disarmed her. He tossed it aside and sprinted forward, Elle having already dropped into an unarmed fighting stance. Her fists were stilled gloved, and would pack a wallop if her earlier kick was any hint. Sielic fluidly dropped a hand and drew one of his blades as he reached her. She threw a flurry of punches and Sielic barely managed to catch one and turn it aside, as he reached in with his blade. It barely touched her neck, the dulled sparring weapon sliding off as she moved. She groaned in exasperation, and bent down to pick up her polearm. The match was over.

    She had a bag with her, and Sielic smiled at her, pulling her tightly to him and giving her one last long kiss. She returned the kiss with much affection and the sailors and other evacuees in the crowd parted around them, proceeding onto the ships. When they finally broke contact, Lyna stepped back.
    "Stay in Stormwind until I come get you, Lyna. It will be safe there, if anywhere.” Sielic frowned, looking back towards Theramore. Theramore should have remained safe, but it was clear that it was not. 
    “I will, love. Come for me soon, Sie. I hate the smell of the city.” Lyna gave a sly grin, and Sielic snickered with her, nodding. They kissed once more, and the lovers parted as Lyna boarded the ship. Sielic stayed on the docks, watching the ship as it sailed away a few hours later. He stayed on the docks, watching long past the point where he could no longer see the figure waving to him on the dock. Long after even the sails had faded from view.

    Sielic went through the rest of the sparring matches, a few latecomers joined in and everyone was exhausted by the end of it. They began talking, but Sielic paid very little attention to it. Eventually, one of the Guards familiar with the sarcastic man called out to him.
    “Hey! Where is the wit this morning? Normally, we can’t shut you up.” John grinned at him and Sielic turned to the man, his face impassive.
    “Some days, there is just no reason to laugh.” Sielic spoke quietly. “Sometimes, we are without a reason to smile.” Sielic quietly excused himself, leaving the Guards to get over his solemnity and enjoy their own jokes. Sielic walked back to the docks, and looked out across the waters for a long time.

 

 

 

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