Officer’s Journal Entry #1162

Back home, in Stormwind. But is it where I belong? Am I safe here? Perhaps less so than where Seella is as she has moved to the Exodar with our children since I needed to establish the garrison on Draenor. I go to see all of them on a regular basis, but something’s different. She has these … dreams. Flashbacks, I suppose, where she sees the old Draenor destroyed as well as her own family killed and torn apart by the fel orcs and the Legion. I can tell that her Light is dimming inside when I look into her eyes. I know there is a remedy for this, but it eludes me. Feeling helpless is not a new emotion for me, but it is not one I experience very often.

The outpost and keep inspections in Icecrown went as well as I hoped, with one exception; Westguard, currently being garrisoned by the Templars. After their base of operations was destroyed in the Manabomb incident at Theramore, they entered into negotiations with the Alliance Military for aquiring an existing installation and making it their own. Because of their history of neutrality and alleged connections with certain Horde houses, that was a difficult task for them. After a while and some convincing, they were given the outpost of Westguard in Northrend on the condition that they were to rebuild and improve the existing fortifications, and to submit to periodic inspections as well.

While flying there by griffon, Knight-Champion Bearwalker and I noticed a plume of smoke coming from our destination. Upon arrival, we were accosted by some very … zealous Templar guardsmen. In obvious sight of the landing area was the burned out husk of a building that had served as an inn for travelers and the like. Sheet-lined corpses were laid out neatly in a row to the side, indicating a recent hard-fought battle. I was, to put it mildly, very suprised. There had been no indications or reports indicating any hostile activities in the area, not even from the Forsaken outpost nearly a league distant. The wildlife couldn’t have done this either, nor were there any Vyrkul bandits lurking. So what, exactly, had happened? Who had attacked the Templars so savagely, managed to get inside the walls and cause such destruction? I silently resolved to find out.

Justicar Arialynn Maewood met us shortly afterwards, once the guardsmen had satisfied themselves with the knowledge that we were who we said we were. She simply stated that they were attacked from within. One of their own had turned traitor, and now sought to bring death upon the whole of her house. She also reported that the person responsible was in chains, to which Elli blurted out an offer to eat him or her. I think Arialynn was not expecting such a statement from Elli, as she asked for clarification. Shaking my head, I reassured Arialynn that Elli’s offer should not be taken seriously. Humans are never for eating since we are neither crunchy nor do we taste good with ketchup.  Elli would fervently disagree I believe.

She offered to take us on a guided tour of the outpost, as if recovering from a deadly and destructive attack was an everyday event. As we walked past the inn, there were sounds of metal being worked and a curious whining sound from the open basement. Perhaps they had recruited some gnomish engineers to help rebuild? We did not stop to investigate, but, instead, we were led to the keep proper. The walls from outside still looked sound, if a bit battle worn and soot-stained. She briefly related her loyalist faction’s decision to defend the keep once they were fully engaged and I agreed. Better the inn lost than the keep.

As we walked, I eyed the surviving Templars that were milling about and helping put the place back in order. Their faces showed shock, despair, and resolution. I can feel what they are most likely experiencing. The soldier beside you, that you trusted with your life, drank with, trained with, fought with, only to turn on you and try to kill you. The effect on morale can be devastating, as that trust and faith is damaged and, at times, decimated. One of them obviously had turned to drugs to cope, as he had to be ‘guided’ to the barracks to sleep off whatever he had taken instead of attending a meeting in the keep. I can sympathize but, if it were up to me, that soldier would have been removed from duty permanently and replaced with someone else.

Once people were assembled in the main room of the keep, Arialynn called for volunteers for going out on patrol. One group would scout the nearby mines, another would be inspecting the cargo being brought in via zeppelin, and the last would be outside the walls on a general patrol route. As one would expect, there were several Templars present that immediately stepped forward. Elli immediately spoke up as well, stating that I wasn’t going into the mines. After giving her a look, she stepped back and let me decide for myself, though her acquiescence was less than reassuring. Light give me strength, sometimes she can be a bit overprotective when acting as my bodyguard.

Elli and I were slotted into the general patrol with Arialynn as patrol lead. As we started the route proper, she would point out details in the surrounding area. Here would be where they had ships dock to unload supplies, there would be a place for departing ships and the like. When we arrived at the neighboring Kalu’ak encampment, it seemed deserted. I commented on the lack of a population, to which Arialynn agreed that something had to be amiss. Elli went on alert, scenting the air but could not determine anything out of the ordinary. We moved further into the small village and saw no signs of struggle or battle. Everyone was just … gone. Upon reaching the far end of the village, Arialynn spotted a lone creature moving along the ledge heading down to where we stood and asked Elli to scout it out.  Swiftly shifting to her bird form, Elli flew over. We knew, or rather I knew exactly what it was when we heard Elli�s outraged screeching immediately upon her catching sight of the creature – Elli�s � low opinion of the undead seems to match, if not surpass, my own.  Summoning her back to rejoin us, we moved as a unit across the shallows and to the ledge. It was a single ghoul that was quickly dispatched. Unfortunately for us, however, the screeching was heard by more undead further up the ledge.  We spied the large group of ghouls and zombies as they shambled further down the ledge, moving to engage us and blocking our escape. Thinking quickly, Arialynn asked Elli to fly back to the keep and get a satchel of explosives that the zeppelin group had discovered in the supply crates. After a short skirmish and setting some demolition charges, we were able to collapse the ledge and bury the rest of the undead in a tomb of fallen rock.

We reached the keep in short order and without any further encounters, but the mysteries did not end there. A cryptic note was left in plain view for everyone to read; it held no special significance for myself but I believe that Arialynn knew its hidden meaning. Just more questions, and no answers. What happened to the Kalu’ak and their village? How did the undead manage to get so close without any alarms being raised? Were they waiting for us, or just milling around as mindless creatures do? Did this traitor to the Templars have anything to do with it? And if so, how?

After returning to Stormwind, my first order of business was to detach two squadrons of soldiers and archers over to Westguard. They will work to reinforce the Templars’ depleted ranks until Arialynn�s people are able to field an effective force once again. I have made it clear, however, that the officer in charge of these soldiers is well aware of the chain of command so as to prevent him from acting on orders that may originate from someone other than myself or Arialynn. This will remain in effect until I am assured that the Templar’s integrity as a single unit is restored.

Author Acele
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