Community Manager of TRGNetwork, site admin/developer.

(( Big thanks to Kanta and Koryander for character input on this AND helping me recall 10 years of roleplay. ))

Her name was penned to the last of the papers. A gold waxen seal with the shape of a maltese cross was pressed to every paper�s right corner. The task complete, the Marksman�s discharge papers exited the door in the hands of a clerk.

The Justicar sat in the war room in silence. The hour was late and her only companion the lit torches on the wall. She stood alone, partly armored, forgoing her pauldrons, gauntlets, and heavy shield. Taking in the long-awaited moment of solitude, she took in a deep breath, closed her eyes, and let her mind slip into memory.

—-

It was the first time she strode into Stormwind Park. The sunny afternoon had drawn a crowd but in a small, grassy reprieve set apart from the throng, Arialynn was introduced to to a kaldorei. He sat on the ground, two young children clinging to him, goading him as best they could to wrestle. His face was at ease, a smile occasionally appearing somewhere beneath the folds of a cloth that covered his face�s lower half. The smile rose to his eyes. His name, she was told, was Kanta Wildsabre.

—-

Opening its mouth wide, a demon poured fel fire from its gaping maw. Arialynn raised a shield against it, bringing both metal and Light to defend herself against her grotesque foe. Its head was adorned in twisted horns, its eyes green slits. It was an amalgamation of nightmares, its claws, teeth, and fire bearing down on her, roaring in Demonic with words not understood, but their murderous growls clear in intent.

As she battled against her foe, its full weight nearly bearing down on her, a rush of air whizzed by her ear. She heard the sharp impact of metal against skin. Two more rushes of air and three arrows total were embedded in the demon�s shoulders and chest. With a roar, it reeled back, its clawed hands grasping at the bolts that protruded from its flesh. The lady knight took the opportunity to release a hand from her shield, raising it in attack. Light flashed from it, arching from her hand directly into the demon�s chest. The Holy magic charred its flesh. Overcome by its wounds, the demon went limp and unceremoniously fell to the ground.

Arialynn raised the visor of her helm and spoke into the guildstone: �My thanks, Marksman.�

He only grunted in reply, but his tone, however brief, still carried a grim smirk.

—-

Weeks felt like months in Northrend. Ragged, worn, and with countless sleepness nights behind them, Arialynn and Koryander stood at the docks in the Howling Fjord. The fjord bay was framed by a high chasm. It was at the mouth of the chasm where their tired eyes were trained, waiting in anticipation. The glimpse of white sails, of wooden hulls. Silent, their eyes waited for the sights of anything other than hordes of undead.

�The hour is too late. The tide will not come in till morning,� Arialynn said, her breath condensing in the air. �Perhaps tomorrow.�
�Shit,� Koryander muttered utter her breath. �That�s another night freezing our asses off, eating frozen jerky, and not sleeping a damn wink because everything wants to eat us.�

�I will make camp,� Arialynn replied. Used to her companion�s rants, she was unperturbed. Even Koryander herself was unenthused by her own words, her complaint sounded flat in the chilled air. Dutifully, the redhead turned around, following her armored companion with a sigh.

�Night has not fallen yet, there is time to — � Arialynn was cut off by an arrow that sunk into the frozen ground just at their feet. Both soldiers looked up, their eyes landed on an elf silhouette standing against a grey sky above them.

�What the, what the hell?!� Koryander stammered, then grinned. �You sonuvabitch! When did you get here?� Recognizing him immediately, she nearly lept from her standing position to grasp him in a bone-crushing hug. Dressed in Northrend furs, Kanta was only half as excited to return the favor. Arialynn approached them, keeping a respectful distance, her face showing a modicum of relief but otherwise set in its stone.

�Marksman,� she said. �It is a surprise. We expected the whole of the Templars.�

�They got delayed, should be here soon,� he said gruffly, finally shrugging Koryander off. Remnants of a smile still remained somewhere beneath the mask on his face. �I got here early. Got something to eat, too. This place isn�t half bad for hunting.�

�Yeah, if you�re a hunter,� Koryander said appreciatively, about halfway ready for another bone-crushing hug for the Marksman. Arialynn smiled, and the three of them prepared camp for the night. The campfire they built felt a little brighter than previous cold nights.

—-

For a few breathless moments, the battle felt over. Singed, wind-burned, and exhausted, a coalition of forces looked out upon the swirling Maelstrome where the Destroyer plummeted from the sky. Just as the first soldier tentatively called out victory, fiery tendrils erupted from the stormy swirl, clawing and clutching at the slippery rocks where incredulous armies stared at the awful sight. A head emerged from the waves, its lower jaw an unhinged curve of jagged metal, a fell voice roaring from outstretched jaws: 

YOU HAVE DONE NOTHING!

�Templars, to arms!� Arialynn yelled over the chaos. White and gold banners erected from the din and trumpets sounded. Other orders, both Horde and Alliance, rose up on all sides, perilously perched on the rock that framed the final battle between Deathwing and the temporary forces he united. 

I WILL TEAR YOUR WORLD APART!

His words boomed over them all, crackling like thunder as it sounded over the rising waves. Soaked by the ocean�s upturned spray and burned by the dragon�s fire, the armies of many descended upon the Destroyer, the tabards of white and gold a pointed dagger within them.

Within the fray, Arialynn kept close to the armored bulwark of the Rose headed by Koryander Emberstone and Jarrick Mason. Together, the three were armored head to toe, two warriors and a paladin battling at flaming hands of a tremendous dragon. Flames licked them all, batted temporarily away by metal shields and shield of Light, then immediately kindling anew. 

�Look out!�

So close to the raging flames, the three barely heard the warning before each dodged almost clumsily to the side. Behind them, a great tentacle crashed into the ground, leaving a lasting imprint in the rock from its massive weight.

Jarrick gritted his teeth beneath his helm: �Bring it down, bring it down!�

And so the battle split: One part battling the dragon�s fiery claws, the other pitted against a new limb ripped from Deathwing as his body tore itself apart. Flinging doomed soldiers off one side of the rock, the tentacle rose again to its full height, preparing another great crash onto the armies below. 

�Slow it as it falls!�

Magi raised their hands, summoning ice to chill the tentacle of a beast whose split chest burned hotter than the planet�s core.

�Pin it as it comes down!�

Slowed only slightly, the tentacle came down, bodies moved hastily, nearly toppling over each other to spill away from its wake. Spears, swords, spells, and arrows descended upon it, rending it open. But though the flesh hung from bone, again it rose, its innards laid mostly bare but its body still twisting. It prepared to swing down again upon the beleaguered numbers that fought against it.

In the moment it fell once more, time slowed. Arialynn searched for safe egress for all but the rock was too crowded and time too short. The tentacle swept downward, ready to cast dozens into the Maelstrome, a roiling gyre with Deathwing its center. 

Swift movement was caught in her eye. Garbed in purple and green, Marksman Kanta Wildsabre moved beneath the descending tentacle, aiming his bow at its flayed-open center. His arrow flew true, piercing a nerve vital to its coiling sweeps and descents. It jerked and fell, sparing the soldiers at the edge but falling heavily on the Marksman who felled it. Hand outstretched, Arialynn summoned a shield of Light around him as a last measure, her eyes the last to see the kaldorei as the tentacle overtook him. 

�Kanta!� Koryander blurted, and immediately plunged into the dying flesh to find him. He emerged, the Light that encased him already fading, giving Koryander a rather self-satisfied grin. The red-haired warrior nearly tore him in half with her bone-crushing hug.

�Eyes forward, Templars,� Arialynn called out to them. �The Destroyer awaits!�

The battle of the times continued on the jagged rocks around the Maelstrome, the very swirling heart of Azeroth. White-and-gold banners and cheering voices rose high in victory as the Destroyer fell.

—-

Theramore, a beautiful port city on a peninsula, its white banners waving in the wind, disappeared in a bright flash. A beacon one moment and crumbled the next, ash fell from the sky for days.

—-

Does that make you angry?

He towered above them, the sky far overhead looming dark. Clouds toiled in stormy grey. Jeering, toying, and screaming, the Sha of Anger bore down upon them, grinning through uneven teeth and countless sets of narrowed eyes. His hunched, clawed figure was an image of nightmares, a literal manifestation of the rage rotting within, taking towering and terrible form and taunting his prey.

Yes, YES! Bring your rage to bear! Try to strike me down!

At his feet were Templars, smaller Sha consuming them. Some turned their weapons on one other, momentarily overcome with the Sha�s singular emotion. Others were mired in themselves reliving horrific images from days past. The white banners of Theramore shimmered in many�s minds. Overhead, Anger roared, crowing in his victory.

LET YOUR RAGE CONSUME YOU!

Through the tint of the spell that netted them, Arialynn peered at every Templar. Among them was the Marksman, his arms greyed with Sha marks crawling their way upward, ever upward, drawing close to his chest and heart, threatening to consume him, take him whole. He yelled, his voice wrapped in guttural rage, his inner demons overtaking him, corruption and memories overwhelming him.

�Onward! For the Rose, for us, for Theramore!� The Justicar rallied them, the other Marshals coming to the fore. Those who raged at themselves came to. Those who enraged at others came to their senses. Raising their arms in tandem, the Rose bore down on the monster of fury and hate.

YOU WILL NOT BURY ME AGAIN!

He fell, the ground beneath him trembling as he crumbled, his form disappearing into the land itself. A great rush of air pushed the heroes back. All went silent. Slowly overhead, with no fanfare, with no spoken command, the storm clouds broke. The farmlands of Pandaria went silent from a battle hard won but far from its end.

—-

In the privacy of the war room, with the fel scars on his face clear cut, with a fel wolf at his side, the Marksman stood across the Justicar.

�Will you do it?� she asked him, the air heavy between them.

�Yes,� he said emotionlessly, his word hanging in the air.

With that, his final mission began.

—-

Her name was penned to the last of the papers. A gold waxen seal with the shape of a maltese cross was pressed to every paper�s right corner. The task complete, the Marksman�s discharge papers exited the door in the hands of a clerk.

Her mind returning to the present, the Justicar looked to a chessboard left on the war room table. A lone white rook sat apart, removed from play, but from where her hand placed it upon the bare table, both the white and black court remained in its view.

Author Ari
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