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It’s been a long time since I read the first chapter, but the first paragraph made me remember what the story was about and what had ha...

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When Dagren had gone, Llorrin suddenly noticed he felt incredibly cold, and decided to return to his cabin. Back inside, he marched past the door to the mess hall absentmindedly, barely hearing the noise. His head was spinning from all the new information. He’d always looked up to people like Dagren. Now he was no longer as sure. He sighed as he entered the cabin, shaking off his worries. The chanties of the men on the lower decks could still be heard even here, at the second highest part of the ship, but Llorrin felt positive he’d be able to sleep through it. The fight had taken more out of him than he would’ve dared to admit.

He shut the door behind him and ungirded his cutlass, putting it away in a sword rack standing to the right of the room. His longsword, which he found a little too cumbersome to carry around when he wasn’t sure he was going to need it, was already resting upon it. Llorrin considered joining the men in the mess hall anyway, but had to surpress a yawn even as he stood thinking about it.

Let the men relax while they can. I need to grab all the rest I can get. What-?!

He was grabbed and almost lifted off the ground, then forcibly smashed into the wall in front of him. Llorrin gasped for air, but was smacked into the wall again almost immediately, then held there. The side of his face pressed painfully against the wall, and he was unable to look over his shoulder to see his assailant.

“If you were an orc, you would’ve been dead now,” a voice like ice hissed.

Jeredan. Of course, Llorrin thought.

“What do you want?” he growled, trying to twist into a slightly more comfortable position.

Jeredan snickered bitterly. “Want? What do I want?” he repeated, his voice at its breaking point. Llorrin had never heard him like that.  

Stars, has he gone insane? Llorrin thought. when Jeredan spun him around to face him, lifted him about a foot off the ground and pressed him into the wall again. He was deathly pale, even more so than usual, and he had bloodshot eyes. There was a sense of panic in those eyes that had replaced the usual cold contempt he always regarded the world around him. Maybe he was insane to begin with… Llorrin already knew what this was about, and he found it infuriating.

“What is your problem?! I asked you to use your magic to save a dying man! Why is this such a big deal for you? Are you such an-”

“Quiet!” Jeredan bellowed, only keeping his voice down slightly. He seemed to realize his mistake and looked at the door worriedly for a moment, but the noise coming out of the mess hall would most likely stop anyone from hearing him. He pointed his finger up at Llorrin’s face.

“You, be quiet, alright?” he said with a trembling voice and wide-open eyes. Llorrin couldn’t do anything but stare back into those gaping black voids. There was something there he’d never seen before. Emotion? Jeredan’s grip on him tightened. He could no longer feel his right arm and he feared his jaw was going to snap. Jeredan didn’t make the mistake of raising his voice twice:

“This is what’s going to happen. I’m going to tell you, tell you why I don’t heal others, and why I’ll never do it again, and you’re going to be quiet, and listen to me. You’re not going to interrupt or argue or by Lothar I swear you’re going to be choking on your own teeth.”

Llorrin thought it wise not to answer that. Jeredan’s eyes slowly trailed off. It seemed to take hours for him to start talking, and when he finally spoke his voice was softer than usual, as if he was scared that he would harm himself by speaking them too loudly.

“A while ago I told you about how I fought in the First War.”

“I remember,” Llorrin said. His chin was barely able to move, and his voice sounded awkward. Jeredan seemed to contemplate strangling him for a moment, but then went on.

“I haven’t told you everything. I said I split from my company and let my commander Gaelos die when I heard Stormwind City had been razed to the ground. That’s not entirely true… I split at the first chance I got when I heard it was under attack.”

Llorrin could only wonder what could pull Jeredan away from a fight against the Horde. Obviously there must have been something in the city he’d been wanting to protect. “Family?” he asked, despite the rules Jeredan had set for the conversation.

Jeredan’s eyes trailed off again as he shook his head. “They were lost long before the end of the war, and they weren’t from the capital. I’m a farmer’s son, not a city rat. Me and my family lived on the farms around Northshire Abbey.”

Llorrin swallowed. Northshire Abbey, the home of the Holy Order of Northshire Clerics, had been razed to the ground during the First War. It seemed easy to guess what had happened to Jeredan’s family.

“My parents were smart enough to leave Northshire when they heard about the Horde. They thought it’d be safer to go to Stormwind City. I had already been conscripted into the militia by that time. I had to stay to defend Northshire. I would catch up with them, I said…” He paused for a moment.

“I was sent out on patrol, mere hours before the Horde attacked. Those orc bastards jumped us. I killed one of them – my first – but my companions were cut down. I grew up with one of them… Kieran was his name. He got decapitated, and his head rolled against my boot. I ran, and I didn’t look back. I should’ve headed back to the city, but I didn’t even know where I was running. When I looked behind me I saw Northshire burn. I was on my own. I started looking for tracks, thinking I could catch up to my parents if I tried, fool that I was. I was wounded, and weak, and I must have collapsed at some point. Wild beasts or orcs could have torn me apart, or I could have simply bled out, but I got lucky.”

Llorrin was finding it increasingly difficult to make eye contact with Jeredan. “Is that when Gaelos found you?”

Jeredan nodded. “Gaelos was an idiot, but he could recognize a good fighter when he saw one, I’ll give him that. I wanted to go after my parents, but Gaelos left me little choice. I could either join his company or stay by myself and die.”

“I thought you liked working on your own,” Llorrin quipped despite the precarious position he found himself in. Jeredan was almost visibly shaking and could no doubt erupt in anger at any given moment.

“Not yet, back then. Besides, I couldn’t pretend to be a refugee. He’d seen my uniform, he knew I was a soldier.”

“Did you tell Gaelos about your parents?”

“Yeah, but I don’t think he cared. Gaelos said they were going to protect the refugees. I’d have as good a chance as any to find them by riding with him, he said. The bastard probably thought they were already dead, and he might even have been right. I never saw them again.” Jeredan was breathing rather heavily. Llorrin felt his grip on him lessen, a little.

Llorrin wasn’t seeing how this story explained why Jeredan hated using his magic so, but he was willing to wait for what came next. He waited patiently until Jeredan was ready to make eye contact again.

“I wasn’t always this good at fighting. At one point I got so badly wounded Gaelos considered leaving me behind to die. We’d just saved a group of refugees though, and when I regained my consciousness I found myself sprawled out on the back of a cart. I was warm, and no longer bleeding, but I was still badly wounded. Every time the carts stopped someone came and tended to me. Sometimes I was conscious, sometimes I wasn’t. After a few days I’d regained enough of my strength to talk to her.”

“Her?” Llorrin repeated.

Jeredan nodded, slowly. “Her name was Serana. She was a young woman who’d been looking after the refugees we’d just saved. When I asked her why she was helping me she said she was merely returning the favour, because without us the refugees would have surely died, and she’d known most of them for most of her life. Serana lived in the woods just outside their village, and when one of the hunters got wounded or when a child fell ill, they came to her.”
“So she was a healer?”

Jeredan frowned. “She was far more than that. She carried a bow with her all the time, and it wasn’t just for hunting. She used all kinds of ointments and salves to treat injuries, but she also used the Light, Llorrin, something I’d only ever seen the Clerics of Northshire do. I asked myself how this was possible, and I asked her, too. She told me that one day, the Light simply ‘found’ her, and she learned to use it to help the people around her. I thought she was blessed.”

“You believed that?” Llorrin blurted out. It was very uncharacteristic of his friend, no, companion… Mentor- whatever Jeredan was to him.

“Seeing is believing,” Jeredan said with a scowl. “I’m not a religious person, but when you see and feel and touch something, you know it is real.”

“Gaelos was still with the caravan. King Llane was regrouping his forces in Stormwind City and Gaelos, the coward, of course wanted to join them. He thought we’d be safer if we were part of a bigger force. I realized the chance I’d ever find my parents again was small, but I imagined that if I did find them I’d want to be able to help them as best I could: save them as Serana saved me. I asked Serana… I asked her to teach me. She’d been blessed by the Light because she helped people. I was sure the Light would find me too if I wanted to use it to save my parents. It worked, but never quite as well as it should. I managed to heal minor injuries and even speed up my own recovery. She said that in time, I’d get better at it.”

“When we got to the capital we learned that the war wasn’t going well. The orcs had become smarter, more aggressive, and it is was beginning to take its toll. Stormwind City was where we would make our last stand. We helped prepare for the siege, but we got a different task, by orders of Sir Lothar. We were sent out to act as skirmishers, slow down the Horde as much as possible, possibly draw some of them away from the city. Gaelos didn’t like it, but when someone like Sir Lothar commands you, you obey.”

“You spoke to Lothar?” Llorrin said, awe-struck, but Jeredan shook his head.

“No. One of his lieutenants delivered the orders, but they did come from him. I went to say goodbye to Serana. She’d been helping the refugees in the city, and we’d stayed in touch as much as possible throughout. She… She wanted to come with us, to fight, but I… I told her to stay, told her her place was in the city, with the people she’d been protecting. ‘It’ll be safer inside the walls’, I said, damn fool that I was. In many ways I was like you. Overconfident. I thought if I just fought hard enough, maybe the Horde would never even reach the city. So damn foolish!” Jeredan scowled, and his grip on Llorrin increased forcibly.

“Harassing the Horde went well, for a time. We killed many of the curs, but it wasn’t enough. Soon the main body of the army had gone past us, and our route back to the city had been cut off. Gaelos refused to fight our way back to the city even when we saw the flames on the horizon. He claimed our orders still stood. He was blind, a damn coward who didn’t want to see that we hadn’t received any new orders because we’d been cut off from the city. During the next skirmish, I left Gaelos’ side. The bastard didn’t last a second without me. I saw him cut down as I fled. When I got to the capital it was already too late. The city’d been razed. I looked everywhere, and I finally found Serana, lying in some dark alley, like she didn’t deserve any better! Her bow was beside her, snapped in half, and there were orc corpses all around her, felled by her arrows. She was barely conscious when I found her. Wounded, but alive. I’d never gotten the opportunity to use the Light to help my parents, but I figured I could use it to help her.”

There was a long pause. Jeredan’s eyes trailed off towards the floor. Llorrin didn’t dare say anything now.

“I tried and I tried, but she didn’t heal, not really. She regained enough of her strength to speak and recognize me, and… and she smiled when she saw me, Llorrin. Do you know what she said?”

Llorrin shook his head ever so slightly.

She said… ‘I saved the villagers.’ And then she died, with that damn smile still on her face. No amount of Light from my part could bring her back. I thought she’d been blessed, but it turned out she was just as cursed as everyone else in that godforsaken place.”

“Not everyone,” Llorrin tried. “The villagers got out, and Sir Lothar and-”

“That’s not the point,” Jeredan said, shaking his head angrily. “Don’t you see it? I- I killed her, Llorrin! It was my fault!”

“You couldn’t save her, Jeredan. Hardly anyone escaped that storm. It’s more likely you would have-”

“Died. Yes. I couldn’t have stopped the fall of Stormwind all by myself, I know that too damn well. But I could have told her to come with me. I convinced her to stay in the city. I killed her. And when I tried to save her I couldn’t do it. Every time I use the Light since that day, I feel what I felt back then.”

“Jeredan, Ser-”

Jeredan pushed him tighter against the wall. “Don’t say her name!”

“- she had been healing people for what, months, years? And she couldn’t even save herself. It’s not your-”

“It was! She exerted herself. Knowing her, she probably spent every bit of her strength to protect others, to make sure they could get out of the city.”

Jeredan shook his head pensively. His lips formed a thin line. “Not even Sir Lothar stayed that long…”

Llorrin wanted to tell Jeredan that Lothar had had his own responsibility: if he hadn’t warned King Terenas about the Horde, the Alliance would never have been formed and the Seven Kingdoms would have been smashed one by one. Llorrin wanted to tell him he should be proud of Serana, that her life continued through that of the people she saved… But he finally realized that by now there was nothing he could tell Jeredan that Jeredan hadn’t already told himself.

Llorrin felt he didn’t have any right to tell Jeredan to feel differently about any of this. All this time he’d been so angry at the Horde for the loss of people he’d never even really known, but Jeredan had lost the family he’d grown up with, his friends, his hometown, his country, his battle companions, and finally… his lover? The worst part was that he didn’t just blame the Horde, he also blamed himself.

“Jeredan… I’m… so sorry… I had no idea. I can’t even imagine… What that must have been like to you. I’ll… I’ll never ask you to use the Light again, I swear it.”

“Hm.” A single, grunted response. That was all he got from Jeredan.

Jeredan barely moved a muscle. His mind seemed adrift as he stared at the wall, but he was still holding Llorrin.

“So… What are you going to do now?” Llorrin finally asked, breaking the painful silence. Jeredan looked at him sharply.

“Me? There’s an armed intruder in your cabin who attacked you, again. The question is, what are you going to do?”

“Well…” Llorrin said, looking down. Jeredan followed his eyes down. Llorrin had drawn his knife and placed the tip right below the bottom of Jeredan’s breastplate. Llorrin had drawn the knife as soon as Jeredan had pinned him against the wall. He’d almost forgotten about the knife himself as Jeredan’s tale went on, but had always kept it ready to slip beneath the armour plate and into Jeredan’s abdomen in case the warrior actually tried to kill him. Jeredan actually smiled, if only briefly.

“Seems you’re finally learning. I hope you also learned something from me today,” he said, stepping back and finally putting Llorrin down. The smile faded as he turned away walked towards the door. Halfway there Jeredan suddenly stopped and started breathing heavily. His fists clenched, shaking at his sides, and Llorrin didn’t dare move closer. What caught his eye most as Jeredan’s head sunk down was the vulnerable spot at the back of his neck that was suddenly left open. He felt the knife in his hand. A red haze appeared before his eyes. Surely if you kill him and tell everyone how he attacked you, they would believe you, a little voice said inside of him. He had no business here at this late hour anyway, and the bruises he gave you can serve as proof of his aggression.

Stars! Llorrin thought, lifting a hand to cover his eyes as he jerked his face away from Jeredan. His body was shaking. The knife dropped from his hand, clattering as it hit the ground. Through the gaps between his fingers Llorrin could see Jeredan looking over his shoulder. His face was shrouded by shadow, but the cold blue eyes were visible even in the dark. They first narrowed on his bent, shaking, frame, then widened ever so slightly, as if in surprise.

“I didn't think you'd care,” Jeredan said, his voice but a whisper. “Let’s never speak of this again.” And then, finally, he was gone.

The attack on his body and his mind had pained him far more than Jeredan’s hands ever could. Fairmount may not have realized the extent of his troubles, but she had been right: he needed help. It was too late to go to Carekon now, and he didn’t feel like he could make it to his quarters even if he tried, but he decided to seek the chaplain’s help first thing tomorrow. Must… get to… sleep, Llorrin thought, struggling towards the bed on the far end of the room. Every step felt like a trek over a mountain, but he finally made it, collapsing onto the bed.

He saw a girl with golden hair and a bow, holding off the tides of darkness. When he tried to call out to her he didn’t have a voice and when he tried to reach out to her to help he didn’t have any hands. His body was absent, which was unusual. His dreams were usually far more lively. Dreams. As usual, once he realized he was in one, he was snapped out of it, only to awake in the large, lonely space of his cabin.
The news that they were going to join the remnants of the Third fleet spread like rain through a sewer. It also had the unexpected side effect of causing something of a celebration among the men, which Captain Willow quickly confined to the mess hall, to keep the entire ship from becoming a mess. Llorrin thought a celebration was a bit premature at best, but he could understand the crew’s relief. The succesful capture of the ship was one thing, but for the newcomers finding out there were more survivors from the Third Fleet must have come like a wave of relief. Suddenly, they were no longer alone in this fight.

While he hadn’t exactly planned on it, Llorrin chose to allow the festivities to some degree. It was mostly just singing and dancing anyway: they didn’t have the supplies to throw a full-blown party. Going back to pick up the supplies from Borax’s cave seemed like too much of a risk, not to mention a waste of time. At any rate, it couldn’t hurt to give his crew and Willow’s men another opportunity to become more acquainted with one another.

Llorrin didn’t join the festivities. The pain in his chest remained, and he was still fussing over the men he’d lost. Granted, they hadn’t lost many, but there had been too few of them to start out with already. Carekon and Dagren had done their best to heal whoever they could, and they had saved a lot of lives, but they hadn’t been able to save Allard. Llorrin had refused all treatment, because there were others who needed it more than he did. He also didn’t want either of them to see his injuries. The cauterized look they had to them, the burning sensation he felt when he touched them… Llorrin wasn’t sure what to make of it himself, how could he expect his companions to react with anything but shock? It was bad enough already that Captain Fairmount had seen them. Llorrin still didn’t understand what had come over him or how he’d survived, and he didn’t think he wanted to.

Carekon had, of course, noticed his troubled expression, and told him he looked rather pale. Llorrin had quickly brushed aside his worries, telling the chaplain that he’d walk it off. He made his way to the upper deck to clear his head. The moon was up, but barely visible behind the fast-moving clouds that passed it. Llorrin had little trouble adapting to the dark.

Though he knew he wouldn’t be able to get rid of his problems this easily, he at least felt better now that he was on the sea again. They’d only been in the city briefly, but he much preferred the smell of the sea, even though Theramore had reminded him of home. Llorrin was surprised to find another man there up on the far side of the deck, right where he’d knocked the naga overboard. He recognized him by his powerful posture, the hammer hanging by his side, the cloak that fluttered behind him in the wind, and his greying hair.

Dagren, he thought, approaching the paladin slowly, even though he didn’t know what he was going to say. Though he had a feeling Dagren had noticed him much sooner, he only turned towards him when he was almost right next to him.

“I’m betting you want to talk about what happened,” the old paladin said with the mixture of a smirk and a grimace that appeared so typical to him that it had created lines in his face.

“It was certainly… a surprise,” Llorrin said, crossing his arms and leaning his hip against the side railing. He wouldn’t have had to push Jeredan to use his magic and Allard might have very well been alive if it hadn’t been for Dagren’s mental breakdown. Whether he blamed Dagren or himself for that, he still couldn’t tell.

The paladin stared out across the sea, pulling his cloak tighter against the cold. The relative darkness obscured his age, which made it seem like he might as well have been a young man, but every time the moonlight peeked through the clouds the lines in his face were revealed. Some time passed before Dagren finally spoke.

“The things I’ve seen, been through… It’s much, far too much. A leaking mind can be bliss, but most of the time it’s a curse,” he sighed, tapping the side of his head with two fingers. “If you asked anyone where I was, they’d tell you I’m dead, and they’d be half right.”

Llorrin was growing more disconcerted with the man’s attitude by the minute.

“I don’t understand. You want to forget?”

“Want? I just do, and then I don’t. These memories sneak up on me like… wild animals, and they jump me at the worst possible times.”

“Anything in particular that’s bothering you right now?” It didn’t take a genius to see there was.

Dagren grew silent as he looked out over the sea.

“Count yourself lucky you weren’t there to see the fall of Lordaeron, kid. My order was slaughtered, the people scattered and twisted into those foul undead as they fell. We tried to protect them. Not just me. Halakh and… Magroth, yes, Magroth. Them too.”

Llorrin nodded. He knew those names. “Halakh the Lifebringer and Magroth the Defender,” he said. They were no doubt dead by now. Most of the Knights of the Silver Hand had been wiped out during the Scourging of Lordaeron. Palliter had told them some had spread out over the newly arisen orders of the Scarlet Crusade and the Argent Dawn. Only those remaining in Stormwind could truly still be called Knights of the Silver Hand, and Llorrin had his doubts about whether the title still applied to Dagren.

Dagren barely seemed to hear him. “We tried to get the remaining refugees out to the mountains. It would’ve taken the Scourge ages to weed them all out. It would’ve been a hard life, but at least it would’ve been life. It was all for nothing. Prince Arthas fell upon us, closed the mountain passes and killed anyone who tried to escape. Halakh and Magroth both fell. All dead, all dead,” he said, shaking his head.

“Except for you?”

Dagren looked at him and paused as if he’d only just begun to remember.

“It was… close. I took on the lich, the one they call… Kel’Thuzad. I was overwhelmed, and swept aside like a rag doll. The fiend must’ve thought I was dead. I barely got away, I… abandoned my men. I searched for survivors afterwards, but found nothing.”

The tales of the undead sent shivers down Llorrin’s spine. He’d rather face a dozen orcs singlehandedly than be faced with one of the foul creatures again.

“I drifted aimlessly, always trying to stay one step ahead of the undead, never really knowing where I was heading. What’s a paladin without anyone to protect? Finally one of your patrols found me.” Dagren chuckled bitterly. “Figures. Kul Tiras did almost nothing to stop the Scourge, but they manage to save the sorry bastard who deserved it the least.”

“We… tried,” Llorrin said, the image of the burning ships and the undead’s unholy flames appearing once again before his eyes.

Dagren nodded. “Tried. Many tried.”

The word seemed to leave a bitter taste in his mouth, and he turned away to look at the sea again, seemingly lost in thought. The silence grew eerie, and after a while Llorrin could no longer stand it.

“I don’t think you had much trouble joining the fleet after they realized who you were?”

“No. I got on one of the last ships to sail from Kul Tiras. It was a good thing too. I had to put distance between myself and the Scourge… And everything else I left there.”

Llorrin frowned. He’d expected Dagren to have joined the fleet for a different reason. Dagren seemed to notice his surprise and moved one hand back and forth in front of his face, putting on a strong expression, like that of a man going into battle.

“You see, this is just an act. Since then it’s just an act. ‘Orcslayer’, ‘paladin’, Defender of the Light’, it’s what you see when you see me as, but it’s not what’s happening up here. Not anymore,” he said, pointing at his head.

“What you went through was no doubt horrifying,” Llorrin said, not bothering to tell how he felt about the undead personally, “but why did you only break down right before we entered the cave?” Even Llorrin refused to chalk this one up to bad luck and bad luck alone. There had to be more to it, or Dagren would’ve refused to come with them earlier.

“Yeah, the cave… I only remembered when I saw it. We arrived in Kalimdor without much trouble, and set up on Dustwallow Marsh. Your admiral wanted us to control access to Theramore, while he sailed to snatch it away from his daughter. We had enough gunpowder in that camp to blow up a small fort, I can tell you that. Suddenly it all went off. Someone’d set us up. Not much later these Naga came swarming out of the seas. We were still in disarray from the previous attack, so we were cut to bits. Most of my mates were cut down – again – so I tried to get them back on their feet by using the Light, and you know what that did? It attracted the attention of those female Naga, sirens I think you call them? She and her cronies grabbed me and dragged me to that cave. The very same cave that dwarf built his ship in.”

“Wow. Dagren, I had no idea… Do I even want to know why she kept you alive?”

“Those things are mad for magic. It wanted me to use the Light. On her, so she could… bask in it, I don’t know. Those things are weird. I refused, of course, and they would torture me to near death to force me to heal myself. It went on like that for… I don’t know how long. I thought they’d end it at some point, but they didn’t. Eventually, I escaped. I don’t remember how, I don’t remember when, but I escaped. By then most of the damage was done. I must have traveled, I don’t know how long, but I forgot who I am. It wasn’t until I saw your ships sailing into the harbour, when I saw those anchors on those green sails, that I remembered who I was. Everything in between is grey and… vague. I do have more scars than I remember.”

“Maybe Carekon can help you with that,” Llorrin said. The state Dagren was in disturbed him more than it should have. Or did he just feel so anxious because he’d brought up the undead?

Surprisingly, Dagren snickered. “Tell him he shouldn’t bother. No spell can fix this mess, and I don’t need anyone but you to know.”

Llorrin’s fingers touched the spot where the naga’s trident had pushed into his skin. He thought he understood. He could keep Dagren’s ‘secret’, but he wasn’t the only one who’d seen him break down.

“Why tell me?”

“I had to. You’re the one they turn to to explain this kind of mess. You get all the blame,” Dagren said with a wry grin.

More than you know, Llorrin thought, thinking about Allard, and how he’d pushed Jeredan to use his magic.

“Are you sure this isn’t going to be a problem anymore? You breaking down, I mean?”

Dagren shrugged, lifting his hammer and resting it on his shoulder as he walked away.

“I can’t say… Who knows what I’ll remember tomorrow?”
“Would you care to explain to me, captain, how you got two of my men killed?”

Llorrin frowned. “Two?”

Captain Willow took off his hat and started tapping it on his desk. “Two.” Small specks of blood still stained the hat, as well as his uniform.

“Allard succumbed to his injuries,” he told Llorrin flatly.

“Stars,” Llorrin cussed, very disappointed. He’d known the young marine only briefly, but he’d taken an instant liking to him. He’d never complained or hesitated to carry out orders, but all of that counted for little now. “I told Carekon to tend to him first.”

“There’s only so much a healer can do. We have many wounded,” Derek said, staring out through a window. Silence reigned, and after a few painful moments it hit Llorrin that Willow was still waiting for an explanation. His new captain’s cabin was far larger than the previous one, but felt no more comfortable for it. It was already quite clear Willow intended to drive him from it.

“Duke died in an ambush. More murlocs than we’d estimated had remained behind in the cave.”

“Cause?” Willow said briskly.

“No one saw him fall, but it looked like he’d been stabbed repeatedly in the back,” Llorrin said, somewhat confused by Willow’s need to know the details of Duke’s death.

“Hmm. It’s not like him to leave his back open,” Willow grimaced.

“Perhaps he wasn’t used to fighting in the dark. At least we got to save Jake,” Llorrin said.

“A good man, though a bit undisciplined at times,” Willow said with mild approval. “It was coincidence rather than design that saved his life, however.”

Llorrin was beginning to understand why Elena had such trouble putting up with this guy. He continued, eager to be done with this interrogation.  

“As for Allard, he got wounded when the murlocs were overwhelming us on the ship. That the murlocs would keep attacking us even after we’d left the cave was an… unforeseen circumstance.”

“Ah yes, the chink in the chain. Our dwarf friend made a good fool of us there,” Willow said, and for a moment his displeasure was directed away from Llorrin. Then he eyed him sharply.

“How do you intend to deal with his treason?”

The look in his eyes left little doubt on what kind of fate Willow had in mind for Borax.

“I’m going to have a word with him first, and then we’ll see,” Llorrin said, rising from his chair. This matter had to be attended to, and fast.

Willow put his hat back on, leaving the cabin with one last look at Llorrin.

“So we will,” he said, leaving the door open on his way out.


“I’m here to see the prisoner,” Llorrin announced. The brig guard – one of Captain Willow’s men, incidentally – took his key and opened the door for him. Llorrin quickly went inside.

“I told you he’d betray us,” Jeredan muttered on his way in. He’d insisted on coming with him, and Llorrin had neither the energy nor the will to tell him to leave. Jeredan was likely angry enough with him as it was. Forcing him to use his magic might have been a move he was going to regret in the end.

“Well, he was either going to betray us or prove you wrong. Either way you'd have something to be angry about,” Llorrin quipped as he walked into the brig. The size of the brig further convinced him that it was a floating fortress rather than a ship he’d commandeered. There were four separate cells, two in front of him and one to each side, as opposed to the one cell his frigate had had. Borax had been chucked into the cell directly to his left. To his surprise, Wheann was waiting in front of the cell, safely out of Borax’s reach (which, granted, wasn’t very long). Llorrin had demanded the half-elf's presence so he could hear both sides of the story, but he hadn’t expected Wheann to actually show.

The black eye he’d acquired since the last time he saw him made Wheann’s glare seem even more hateful. Llorrin tried to ignore it as he stopped in front of the cell, shaking his head like a disappointed father.

“Come ta take me head, ‘cap’n’?” the stout dwarf asked.

Why do people I put behind bars always make such a poor case for themselves? Llorrin thought, crossing his arms behind his back and looking at Wheann.

“We’ll take it from the top. What happened?”

“Shouldn’t we ask you the same question?” Wheann asked.

Llorrin ignored that, waiting for Wheann to tell his version of the events. The half-elf stared at the wall angrily while he spoke.

“After you did your magic… thing, Borax, Wyll and I made our way to the top of the ship. Modri and Lukjan were already there, but they hadn’t managed to get the ship moving again, hence why we were checking out the hold.”

“Wait, who?” Llorrin asked.

“Me mateys,” Borax butted in.

“We thought you’d killed yourself powering the stone, so don’t take us leaving you behind personally,” Wheann said, his unapologetic grin contradicting his words.

“Get on with it so we can lop his head off,” Jeredan warned the half-elf.

“Borax got the ship moving and maneuvered it out of the cave, but once outside he started steering it away from the coast,” Wheann said, giving Borax an angry look. “He said he was convinced Kurdran would deal with the remaining murlocs before they could get to us, but it’s more likely he just wanted to keep Captain Willow from reaching us so he could keep the ship for himself. I stopped him.”

Good job. You probably saved us all, Llorrin thought, but he didn’t say so. He was done dealing with Wheann’s attitude. There was one hole in his story, however.

“What about the two dwarves… What were they called again?”

“Modri and Lukjan.”

“Didn’t they interfere?”

Wheann scoffed. “Do you see them in jail with him? They were either too scared or smart enough to see Borax would’ve gotten us all killed.”

Llorrin sighed. How could Borax have been so short-sighted?

“Thank you,” he said flatly, shifting his attention to Borax, and with one last scowl Wheann left.

“You didn’t tell us about the mana stone or the naga. You knew the plan wouldn’t work, and then tried to take advantage of it! What do you have to say in your defense?” he asked the dwarf, barely containing his anger.

“This be my ship!” Borax argued. “I didn’t wanna get ye all killed… It be another scunner I be after. Tha bastard who sunk me ol’ beauty.”

Llorrin pinched the bridge of his nose and pressed his eyes shut.

The people I have to work with, he thought. Everyone seemed to be making their problems his own.

“From the top, again,” he sighed. “You couldn't have built this ship the way it is without the mana stone, and I expect it's going to cause us more trouble later, too. So where'd you find it?”

“On one of me travels. Mayhaps we ah… liberated it from a group of them fishheads.”

“So you did know why the murlocs attacked you!” Jeredan bellowed.

“Aye, no point in lyin’ now. I didn’t know about tha big fishhead though, nor that ‘e was sappin’ tha stone.”

“You didn't know a naga was leading them? That would explain why you didn’t expect it to have been drained… That you thought you’d be able to just sail out of here,” Llorrin said, putting the pieces together. We were extremely lucky I managed to power it up again, Llorrin thought, but he didn’t say so out loud, reluctant to recount his own role in the events.

“What’s Kurdran’s role in all this? Was he just going to let us die so you could sail off with the ship?”

“Look, I saved ‘is life once, while ‘e an’ ‘is beast were stranded on sum rock. Tha gryphon ‘ad been wounded by sum pirates an ‘e ‘ad nowhere ta go until me and me mateys picked ‘im up.”

“What was he doing flying a gryphon out in the middle of the sea?” Jeredan asked critically.

“’E was a freelancer, used ta guard people’s ships from pirates. That be not tha point though. Kurdran’s been loyal ta me ever since that day, but ‘e didn’t think o’ this himself, nor was ‘e aware, though I think ‘e woulda gone along with it, if asked. If ya want ta punish anyone, put tha blame on me an’ leave ‘im be.”

“If Kurdran is so loyal to this treacherous bastard, he might be trouble,” Jeredan remarked.

“I’d thought of that,” Llorrin said. It was his main concern dealing with Borax, even more so than how everyone was going to react to how he chose to deal with him. Antagonizing Kurdran and his mighty beast could spell serious trouble, and even if he just chose to turn his back on them it’d still mean the loss of a unique asset. Even in Admiral Proudmoore’s  assembled fleet gryphon riders had been rare.

“Borax, I’m assuming this ship is powered by the mana stone somehow?”

“Aye.”

“So it must run out of energy after a while.”

“Aye.”

“You can’t have expected to get very far, then. None of your men are mages.”

“Me plan was ta get as far as Theramore. A ship an’ ‘is cap’n, it be not too hard ta find sum salty sea rats, not with a beauty like this.”

“You were expecting to find a crew? You would’ve been more likely to be mistaken for an orc ship and killed as soon as you came in sight of the walls,” Jeredan scoffed. He frowned when he seemed to realize something.

“What was your original plan? You must’ve had a mage.”

Borax looked down. “Aye, I did. She died when tha fishheads first struck,” he said. He didn’t look up.

Llorrin and Jeredan shared a look. He thought it better not to press Borax on the issue.

“You understand my crew is rather angry with you,” Llorrin said after a couple of moments.

“Ya gotta do what ya gotta do sunneh, just don’t keep me waitin’. An’ promise me that when ya come across a ship with an ogre for a cap’n an’ two grinnin’ heads on thar sails that yell sink it for ol’ Borax.”

“I’m not going to execute you,” Llorrin said.

“What?!” Jeredan said.

“He’s no longer a threat. Four dwarves against the rest of the crew? I think we can handle those odds, should it come to that,” Llorrin said. He didn’t want to lose Kurdran’s help, and Borax and his dwarves knew this ship better than anyone else. Should it be damaged, he wanted to be able to rely on the expertise of the people who built it.

“You’re free to go.”


“I should inform you I’m quite unhappy with your decision, captain.”

“I’m getting used to that,” Llorrin told Willow, who immediately stopped to glare at him. What Llorrin didn’t tell him was that he’d let Borax go to gain his allegiance and that of the other dwarves. Every member of the crew that was on his side would make it more difficult for Willow to take control.

“Was that supposed to be funny? We need to discuss where we’re going to hit the Horde and how we’re going to deal with their blockade. I’m hoping you’ll keep those smart remarks to yourself when we do.”

That reminded Llorrin of the second pressing issue he had to deal with.

“You’re going to have to learn to work with me, Captain Willow, at least for a while,” he said, resting his elbows on the deck and joining his hands together.

“For a while?” Willow asked.

“There’s something I haven’t told you,” Llorrin said, motioning for Willow to take a seat. He poured some of the rum they’d found in the cave into a cup and silently wished the old captain was the kind that got more agreeable when he was drinking. Thinking about it, he realized there probably wasn’t much that could make the old captain less agreeable. Though hesitantly, Captain Willow sat down, experienced enough to know when someone had something important to say.

“I didn’t tell you the whole truth, back in Theramore… Part of the Third fleet still remains,” Llorrin said, rolling out a map. Borax had stocked his captain’s cabin with a lot of treasure maps and detailed maps of the islands around Kalimdor, but luckily he’d been able to find a map restricted to Kalimdor and the surrounding seas as well. “Here,” Llorrin said, tapping the island chain North of Theramore, East off the coast from Northwatch Hold, with his finger.

“That’s where Captain Adane awaits us. I’ve already plotted the course. Lieutenant Alverold is still missing, and a number of our ships were lost during the Sundering, but it is still a strong force. Stronger still, when we rejoin them.”

“You lied to me!”

Willow knocked over his chair as he jumped up and he slammed his hat on the desk, nearly spilling his rum. Llorrin just barely caught the cup before it would topple. Llorrin was getting used to people yelling and glaring at him and remained calm, placing his hands back together, though in a dark corner of his mind he imagined him using those hands to strangle the cantankerous Captain Willow and pop his head off his shoulders like a grape instead.

“It was too risky to tell anyone about the Third fleet’s existence while we were still on land. What if they didn’t agree to come with us and told Jaina about us? To carry out Admiral Proudmoore’s orders, we can’t risk our men falling to Jaina’s influence. We both know she’s not in favour of further war against the Horde.”

Captain Willow took his rum and emptied it in one swig. He took some time to take in everything Llorrin had just said and finally seemed to calm down. As the captain’s anger disappeared so did the violent thoughts clouding Llorrin’s mind.

“Not while we have Admiral Proudmoore’s orders to fall back on. They grant us the authority we need to act.”

“I agree with you, but it is a point of discussion for many. It didn’t stop Jaina from pacifying the remnants of the First fleet after her father’s death…”

Including you, Llorrin thought, but he thought it wise not to add that.

Willow grimaced, shaking his head slightly. “What were we to do? We came to this land hoping to drive the Horde from it, but we failed. In the final battle, at Theramore, victory actually seemed to be within our grasp… Even though Jaina held back her forces, we were pushing many of the invaders back towards the shore, until we heard that Daelin had fallen… Some orc ogre halfbreed, Light curse him, had fought his way through to our admiral and murdered him. We lost faith shortly afterward and the Horde… They simply made a deal with Jaina and left. It'd been better if they'd simply finished us off… Life under Jaina’s rule was no life at all. We were lifeless and frozen, just waiting for the hammer to fall, because we knew the Horde would be back one day. The future looks grim. Even with your fleet we lack the strength to fight the entire Horde. We need to unite all of Kul Tiras to even have a chance. I doubt the Alliance look favourably upon us if we simply attack them, too. King Varian has had his share of conflicts with the orcs, but still he’s playing far too nice with them. If we want to be sure we can make our move without him stopping us, we'd need a sovereign ruler to back us. Even King Varian won't risk scorning an entire kingdom. There's few enough of them left as it is.”

He'd never thought about it this way, but Willow was right. As grim a realization as it was, the destruction of so many of the Seven Kingdoms had shifted the balance of power favourably towards Kul Tiras. Alterac and Lordaeron were gone, Stromgarde was but a shadow of its former self, Dalaran had taken a serious blow and if Lieutenant Palliter's reports were accurate Gilneas was being ravaged by some sort of curse. The elves of Quel'Thalas had shattered as well: many had defected to the Horde. Everything considered, it was amazing the Alliance was holding together as it was. Kul Tiras might have lost much of their fleet but the island nation had otherwise remained largely untouched. As far as human kingdoms went, they were likely the most powerful remaining member of the Alliance apart from Stormwind itself. If a united Kul Tiras declared open war on the Horde, would King Varian choose placating the Horde at the cost of offending one of his few remaining allies? Llorrin didn't think so, but then for now all of this was premature at best. The forces of Kul Tiras were hardly united, and he had a very good reason to doubt they'd risk open war.

“Tandred rules Kul Tiras now,” he said with a weary sigh, his eyes trailing over the map in the direction of Kul Tiras, but the map cut off way before he could see it. He wouldn't say so in front of Willow, but he had serious doubts about Tandred's ability to fill his father's shoes. “We’ll discuss this issue with Captain Adane when we get to him. By now he’s probably been waiting around for us long enough to come up with some kind of plan,” he continued, smirking slightly, but inside he felt like screaming out his frustration about how everything always had to be so complicated.

“Fine,” Captain Willow said, picking his hat off the table. “I’d better go tell the men.”

For the first time Llorrin actually felt some sympathy for Captain Willow. Because of their differences, it was easy to forget that ultimately, they were on the same side.
Good day viewers

I suppose I owe you guys an explanation for the lack of activity currently: I'm pretty sure I haven't said this before but I'm a teacher trainee in English and History.

Right now I'm on my first major internship, and it's pretty rough. To give you an idea of what I have to do:

1. Try to figure out when and where to be from a pretty unclear roster
2. Make sure I get enough hours (7 hours of observation for each subject, 14 hours of teaching for each subject). I was lacking about 9 hours in total so it took me a lot of time to figure out how to make it work. 
3. Send loads of e-mails to coordinators and mentors while I'm at it
4. Get information and answer loads of questions about a) each mentor b) each class (about 10) c) each classroom d) the school
5. Do two observation tasks
6. And the biggest chunk, make lesson preparations for 28 lessons. Without going into too much detail, a lesson preparation is pretty freakin' huge and detailed.
7. Edit these lesson preparations according to feedback...
8. Make additional material for these lessons. 
9. Polish up my knowledge on whatever subjects I'm given if necessary.
10. Do two more tasks unrelated to the internship. This could have been 4-5 tasks if I'd been unlucky. For some of my colleagues, this is the case. 

And all this while only one of my three contact persons is being responsive and helpful...

I have 2 weeks to do all this starting tomorrow, because in the third week, before I start teaching, I have to go on a school trip for the first year which was actually something I should've done last year (I'm in my second year), but couldn't do due to a lack of 'study points', meaning I'll likely lose an entire week where I won't be able to do much in preparation of the actuel teaching...

When I do something, I want to be good at it however. And I know I can be even if the amount of work seems daunting. It just means that for the next 5 weeks or so, I'll have to focus on this almost exclusively...

Greetz

Teano
Fairmount followed him so closely he could feel her breath brushing against the back of his neck. She only gave him some space once they'd reached the entry hall to the forecastle, where they found the others. Elena hadn’t been kidding when she said the murlocs were pressing them hard.

Jeredan and Jake had placed a table they’d most likely gotten from the mess hall against the door, and were doing their utmost to keep it there. The force of the blows sent them reeling backwards every time the door was hit. Water seeped into the forecastle slowly with each hit, which made Llorrin believe there was something worse than a murloc trying to bash its way in.

Wyll was standing a small distance behind the door, looking nervous. His face lost all colour when he laid eyes on Llorrin, and he received a glare in return. If it wasn’t for the murlocs, Llorrin would even up the score he had to settle with everyone who’d simply left him to rot in the hold right here and now. Ishrien was still recovering, it seemed, as she was resting against a wall and didn’t seem to be in any condition to fight, but at least she was alive. Allard, who’d been put next to her, seemed to be in a much worse condition. His chest was stained in blood. Llorrin doubted he was conscious.

“Captain! Good to see you’re still… Breathing! I couldn’t make much of what… Wyll was saying, but… It didn’t sound good,” Jake said, shooting him occasional glances in between his struggles to keep the enemy out.

“Well, it wasn’t thanks to him,” Llorrin said, his eyes narrowing on Wyll, who looked like he wouldn’t mind to just disappear.

“The naga is still out there, and he’s got some kind of big creature with him,” Jeredan said, placing his elbows against the table to push it back in place. “What the hell did you do down there?”

“We’ll talk about that later,” Llorrin said, trying to sound calmer than he actually was. It earned him a disapproving glance from Captain Fairmount, but luckily she kept her mouth shut.

“Can we fight our way out?” he asked.

“We’re in no shape for that,” Jeredan growled. “All of us are wounded, and there’s more murlocs on board than I’ve ever seen together in all my life.”

Llorrin gave Jeredan a closer look. He was only bleeding from a shallow cut across his thigh, so he doubted it were his own injuries he was concerned about.

“Have you tried to do something about the wounded?” Llorrin asked, somewhat surprised Jeredan hadn’t even taken the time to heal himself.

Jeredan’s face turned to ice. “Yes, I’ve done something about the bloody wounded. Not as much as Dagren could’ve, though. I’ve told you before, I’m not a healer,” he said in an icy voice that matched his face.

When he saw the shape they - especially Allard - were in, Llorrin felt a pang of regret for not forcing Dagren to come with them, but he didn’t understand Jeredan’s reaction. Jeredan had fought alongside others for years, how could he possibly mind having others rely on him so much, and why would he have bothered learning healing magic if he was so reluctant to use it in the first place? If the subject wasn’t so touchy, he might have asked him… At a later time, if they made it out of this alive.

“We have no choice, we have to think of something!” Llorrin said, aware they shouldn't expect any help from Captain Willow, unless the grizzled captain learned to walk on water.

“We could crawl out through one of the gun ports and swim to safety,” Wyll suggested.

“And I suppose you’re going to carry my armour? I’m not leaving it behind,” Jeredan said just as a vicious blow struck the door. He barely flinched even as blood spurted out of the cut on his leg.

“Do you want to drown? Or be torn to shreds by the murlocs as soon as we touch the water? Bad idea,” Llorrin said, shaking his head.

“Well, maybe we could reach the shore. It’s better than staying in here and dying,” Wyll said.

“I’m not giving up the ship,” Llorrin said firmly, taking a moment to consider his options. Then he had it.

“Elena, go and get me a pair of cannons, and make sure they’re loaded.”

“Cannons?!” Elena said, raising her eyebrows.

Llorrin smiled confidently, even though he didn’t feel as certain of himself as he tried to look. “Yes, cannons. This place is full of them. You should be able to move some of the smaller ones. Jeredan, Wyll, go with her.”

“What do you intend to do with them?”

“I don't know, what does on usually do with a cannon?” Jake japed, quickly regretting slacking off as he was forced to brace against another impact.

“Just trust me! That door isn’t going to hold very long, so hurry up. I’m counting on you, Elena,” Llorrin said.

“It’s Fairmount, ‘captain’ if you please,” she said, raising her chin a little, but she nevertheless obeyed. Jeredan frowned at him as he passed him by, like he couldn’t believe he was being pulled away from the door, and Wyll hurried out of the hall as quickly as he could, glancing at Llorrin briefly before he disappeared.

Llorrin quickly took Jeredan’s place at the door, pressing his right shoulder against the table. The creature Jeredan had referred to – whatever it was – hit the door with tremendous force. He was grateful he was able to catch most of the impact on the right side of his body, because surely the pain would’ve forced him through his knees if it’d struck the sore left side of his chest instead.

“You know, when I signed up to go with your crew back in Theramore, this wasn’t what I was expecting,” Jake huffed.

Even though he didn’t sound resentful, Jake’s words still cut deeper than he could possibly know. “I’m sorry,” Llorrin sighed.

“Oh, don’t beat yourself up over it. I was prepared to die for the cause and all that, I just didn’t expect it’d be this soon,” Jake said, sounding very matter-of-fact.

“You won’t die,” Llorrin said. He wasn’t sure if he believed it, but even so it felt good to at least pretend. Jake gave him a sideways glance and smirked, focusing his efforts on defending the door and saying no more, as if at peace with his fate. Even if he had meant to talk, they were soon out of breath anyway. The minutes felt like hours as they struggled against the elusive force on the other side of the door. When he finally heard the sound of Fairmount’s voice her haughty tone felt like a kiss to his ears.

“I must thank you for holding on for so long, it would have been a shame if we’d gone through all this trouble only to find the door broken down behind us,” she said, sounding quite happy with herself.

Llorrin peeked over his shoulder just in time to see Jeredan struggle his way up the stairs, carrying a cannon in each arm. They were six pounders from the looks of them, and he put both of them down on the floor like they weighed nothing at all. Wyll was carrying a gunpowder barrel and a sack that no doubt contained munition, and Fairmount had a torch and a lintstock, a spear-like object used to light the fuse on a cannon safely, in hand.

“Here we are. Your friend Jeredan wanted to take the 24-pounders instead, but these will have to do. I do hope you are aware, however, that this plan of yours borders on insanity? Assuming your plan is to shoot at the murlocs right after they finish breaking down the door, which I believe can't be too far from the truth.”

“Why, you read my mind, my lady,” Llorrin smiled, aware he might indeed appear rather insane, but by then he didn’t care. “I just thought that since we have the commander of Northwatch Hold among us, we wouldn’t have to worry about the safety of using cannons. I'm sure you're quite familiar with them. Assuming you didn’t just throw rocks at the orcs to defend yourselves, which I believe can't be too far from the truth, either,” Llorrin said.

Fairmount scoffed and nearly laughed at Llorrin's imitation of her speech, but Jeredan didn’t have much patience for their banter. “If you two are done-” he began, but Fairmount didn’t let him finish.

“I’m merely the former commander, though I doubt they’ve found someone adequate enough to replace me,” she corrected Llorrin. “You are, however, correct in your assumption that we did use cannons against the Horde, and that as such, I know my way around them. I was able to hit an orc scout right on the nose with a six-pounder from over two hundred feet away. Just you leave this to me.”

Fairmount set up both cannons, giving them a quick sign when she was done. Llorrin nodded at Jake and together they dragged the table back, away from the door, tossing it to one side of the hall. Then they quickly moved to stand next to the cannons. With him and Jake gone the door cracked and the hinges screamed when the mysterious creature bashed against it. Surely it wasn’t going to hold for much longer. Llorrin was just reaching for his dagger and one of his pistols when Jake offered him back his cutlass.

“Don’t worry about me, I’ve already borrowed Allard’s sword,” Jake said, patting the scabbard on his hip. “Besides, all this responsibility is becoming way too much to handle.”

There was no time to discuss it, so Llorrin took the blade, strangely grateful for the familiar feel of the weapon in his hand. He hadn’t done half bad wielding the longsword, but he’d never come this close to dying with any other weapon, either. After a moment of doubt, he chose to wield his knife rather than a pistol in his off hand.

“I doubt they’ll give us time to reload the cannons. We’ll have to hope the cannons take enough of them out so we can beat back the rest. Rush the doorway and kill them as they’re coming in, and we might have a shot at this,” Llorrin said, aware it was likely a fool’s errand. If there were really as many murlocs out there as Jeredan had said, there was no way they were going to survive, and that was without even taking the naga royal guard or the creature he had summoned into account. Llorrin wished he'd taken just a couple more people with him.

Damn it, what are Borax and Wheann doing? It was important to get us out to sea, but surely they could be doing something other than steering the ship now that we're out of the cave, he thought. An extra pair of hands or two could make all the difference in the fight to come, and, as strange as it felt, if he had to die Llorrin would prefer to do so alongside his companions, so he’d at least know what had become of them. He frowned as he considered that. Captain Adane wouldn’t know what had become of him, he'd only know that he’d failed. He remembered the painting, the one that had been modified, as if something had been erased from it. Whatever had been there had clearly been too painful a memory for Adane cope with. Though he’d never gotten any real confirmation Adane thought of him as anything more than a soldier, the thought of putting him through coping with loss once again was unbearable. He'd never see Irewyth again either. She'd either smirk at his incompetence or be genuinely genuinely saddened if he fell - with her both these things seemed possible, but he couldn't allow either.

No, he had a duty to them all, and most of all he had a duty to himself, and the parents he had never known. His fingers clenched his cutlass tighter, his knuckles turning white. The lock broke as the door burst open, and murlocs rushed in immediately. The beasts seemed oblivious they were charging right into a killzone. Fairmount calmly lighted the fuse on the closest cannon. The sound as it fired was like the sweetest music, the shot tearing through the thickly packed murlocs like they weren’t even there, the force splattering their wretched bodies against the walls.

Fairmount waited for the corridor to fill up again as the murlocs, undeterred, continued their attack. She waited until the very last moment to light the fuse on the second cannon, killing even more of the creatures this time, it seemed. He heard the naga’s low voice gurgling commands in some foreign tongue, and his anger flared. His heart was beating with anticipation. They had the enemy at a disadvantage, they had surprised them and inflicted terrible losses. This was no time to wait. This was the time to strike.

“At them! For Kul Tiras!” Llorrin shouted, thrusting his cutlass forward. He charged, through the smoking remains, out of the forecastle and onto the main deck. He'd barely gotten outside when he had to duck, an ice shard hitting the forecastle and exploding above his head. He kept running, his eyes drawn towards the source of the spell. The naga was there, at the far end of the foredeck. He was bleeding, but alive. At his side the biggest water elemental Llorrin had ever seen stood. The murlocs on board the ship had been thinned out, but yet more were pulling themselves on board. They were of no concern to him. To end this, he had to kill the naga.

He spun out of the way of a murloc who rushed at him and buried his knife in the back of the creatures' head, cutting another with his cutlass as he spun. By chance his eyes fell right on the longsword he’d left on the deck. It was still right where he’d dropped it. He sprinted as the murlocs closed in from both sides, determined to reach his sword before the murlocs could stop him. Murlocs were naturally slower when they were out of the water, and he outran them easily. A murloc saw through his intentions and rushed to pick up his sword instead of coming after him, but Llorrin threw his knife into the side of the creatures’ head as it was turning away from him and reached the blade first. He was still going at full speed when he scooped down and grabbed the sword, holding both his swords out as he slid to a stop across the wet deck, with murlocs falling down on either side of him. He barely had the time to catch his breath when a shadow fell over him.

The giant water elemental appeared before him like a spirit of vengeance, blocking his way to the naga. It seemed even bigger now. Llorrin had to raise his head towards the sky just to look at the creature’s ‘face’. The creature’s arm grew longer as it swiped at him, the watery arm shaping into a blade as it came for his neck. He ducked and cut at the arm quickly with his cutlass as it passed. The touch of the ice orb froze part of the arm, which sent shards of ice falling down and shattering on the deck. There was no way to get past the creature, no way to get to the naga. Llorrin readied himself as the water elemental drew back its arms, sharp edges like those of a spear wall sprouting up out of each one. Another shadow passed over the deck before the creature could strike however, and it served to distract the elemental, which seemed to look up. Llorrin didn’t wait to see what manner of creature had cast the shadow was but twisted his cutlass around, raised it to his shoulder and threw it at the water elemental. He feared his sword would go right through the water elemental but then the blade got stuck halfway through as the ice orb started freezing the creature. The water elemental flailed left and right as the ice orb froze more and more of its body, swinging its arms so close to Llorrin face he had to drop himself onto his back to avoid them.

Then he saw where the shadow had come from. His heart skipped a beat as he mistook the creature for a dragon, but once he got a proper look at it he clearly recognized the creature as a gryphon: a proud warbeast with the forequarters of a mighty eagle and the hindquarters of a giant lion. The Kul Tiras fleet had been supported by several gryphon riders, but they were nevertheless a rare sight. Most of all, they were a welcome sight to any Alliance soldier on the battlefield. Perched atop the creature’s back was the dwarf who had called himself Kurdran III. The runes on his bronze armour glowed brightly and were clear to see even at this distance.

The gryphon turned with incredible speed and swooped dangerously close to the deck, with such force that Llorrin could feel the wind against his face as it passed. Kurdran launched a storm hammer into the water elemental, which in the meantime had become almost completely frozen. Llorrin, realizing what was going to happen, crossed his arms in front of his face mere moments before the hammer hit and shattered the elemental. He thought the ice shards were going to cut him to shreds as they flew outwards, but he felt nothing, and when he looked around him he saw only murlocs felled by the shards. They were truly numerous, for more were still climbing aboard despite these grave losses. Most of all though, Llorrin saw that the way to the naga was now open. The creature had managed to shield itself somehow, but it wasn’t going to be able to shield itself from this.

He charged, bringing his sword behind him and going for a downward slash in an attempt to surprise the naga. His longsword came down on the creature’s head in an arc, but wounded though he was the naga still managed to raise his trident in time to catch the blade. Llorrin pressed down hard even though he felt he lacked the energy to do so. He was spent, but as far as he could read an uncommon creature like a naga he could tell the beast was suffering just as hard as he was. His muscles were afire, his wrists felt like they were going to snap, his legs like they were being sawed out from under him. He had no other choice though. He had to push on. He had to do this. If he managed to push down his sword even but one inch lower and he’d be able to adjust the angle of his sword and slide it across the naga’s weapon, straight into his eye socket…

The naga inexplicably let go of his trident with one hand, granting him that inch, and more… But before Llorrin could draw in closer the creature’s free hand slammed into his wounded chest. He opened his mouth in terror but his lungs didn't have enough oxygen in them to even allow him to scream. With a final effort he pushed his right arm through, driving his sword across the naga’s neck. The fresh cut sent the creature staggering backwards, granting Llorrin just enough time to catch his fall. As he sat on one knee, panting and pressing his hand against the burning, throbbing wound on his chest, he felt he simply couldn’t push himself up, no matter how much he wanted to deliver the final blow. The tip of his longsword rested against the deck but when he attempted to use it to push himself up, the pain spread from the wound across his entire body like burning lava, becoming unbearable. The naga, too, was leaning on his trident, unable to fight on. Llorrin felt the familiar disturbance in the flow of magic however, which he was now certain was more than simple intuition, and he feared the myrmidon was about to cast another spell. The battle raged on behind Llorrin, but neither one of them had any energy left to fight. He felt like he might have fainted from the pain then and there is a voice hadn't attracted his attention.

“For Admiral Proudmoore, for Kul Tiras!” someone shouted behind him.

Llorrin didn’t dare take his eyes off the naga to see where the shouting was originating from, but he heard the war cries of countless men behind him. Gunshots filled the air. Had reinforcements arrived, or had he simply become delirious? This wasn’t according to the plan. Then again, what has been? Llorrin thought, almost smiling at the bitter irony of it all. From the reaction of the naga as it looked about the deck, Llorrin could tell things weren’t going well for the fiend's minions. He screamed in his mind. His enemy was distracted, left wide open, and he still couldn’t reach him.

Then all of a sudden light filled the deck, going into his body and cooling the burning sensation in his muscles, giving him fresh energy. He didn’t wait or hesitate. He rose to his feet and, screaming out his frustration, slashed diagonally upwards, feeling a fresh rush of adrenaline as his sword cut across the naga’s chest and warm blood splashed against his face. The trident slipped from the beast’s hand, hitting the deck, and the creature finally slumped forward, beaten. Crying out, Llorrin planted his foot in the middle of the beast's chest, kicking it over the ship's railing with a force he didn't know he possessed. Llorrin turned around, limping slightly on the leg he'd kicked with. He was positive he'd strained a muscle and realized the folly of kicking a creature many times heavier than him, but he'd done it without thinking, and it had felt good, somehow.

The final murlocs were being cleared off the deck. Those that weren’t killed dove overboard of their own accord, fleeing from the battle. Llorrin saw the dark green uniforms of Kul Tiras everywhere he looked. He recognized several of the men, and Captain Willow was at the head of them. When he peeked down across the railing he saw the sloops the dwarves had left on the shores drifting alongisde the ship. Several ladders had been dropped down from the ship to allow them access. Kurdran’s gryphon circled the ship slowly, screeching triumphantly. Blood dripped from the creature’s talons. Someone had apparently had the clarity of mind to realize the murlocs were focusing on the ship, and had convinced Willow to take the sloops to come reinforce them. Llorrin had no idea who it could have been, but then he saw Dagren, who was no doubt who he had to thank for healing him earlier as well.

“Captain,” the paladin said, grinning wryly. Llorrin nodded curtly, not knowing what to say. His attention was quickly pulled towards Captain Willow. The veteran officer had barely any blood on him, but he was walking to the middle of the deck as if he owned the ship, and everyone was looking at him, and not Llorrin. After the constant noise of the battle the silence felt deafening. Llorrin had whistles in his ears. Captain Willow looked about himself with narrowed eyes, as if he was looking for something to disapprove of. From his face one wouldn’t have been able to tell they’d just won a victory. After a few more moments of uncomfortable silence, Willow turned towards his men.

“Men,” he said, “the ship is ours.”

Everyone raised their weapons in response and cheered. Everyone except for Llorrin.
Good day viewers

I suppose I owe you guys an explanation for the lack of activity currently: I'm pretty sure I haven't said this before but I'm a teacher trainee in English and History.

Right now I'm on my first major internship, and it's pretty rough. To give you an idea of what I have to do:

1. Try to figure out when and where to be from a pretty unclear roster
2. Make sure I get enough hours (7 hours of observation for each subject, 14 hours of teaching for each subject). I was lacking about 9 hours in total so it took me a lot of time to figure out how to make it work. 
3. Send loads of e-mails to coordinators and mentors while I'm at it
4. Get information and answer loads of questions about a) each mentor b) each class (about 10) c) each classroom d) the school
5. Do two observation tasks
6. And the biggest chunk, make lesson preparations for 28 lessons. Without going into too much detail, a lesson preparation is pretty freakin' huge and detailed.
7. Edit these lesson preparations according to feedback...
8. Make additional material for these lessons. 
9. Polish up my knowledge on whatever subjects I'm given if necessary.
10. Do two more tasks unrelated to the internship. This could have been 4-5 tasks if I'd been unlucky. For some of my colleagues, this is the case. 

And all this while only one of my three contact persons is being responsive and helpful...

I have 2 weeks to do all this starting tomorrow, because in the third week, before I start teaching, I have to go on a school trip for the first year which was actually something I should've done last year (I'm in my second year), but couldn't do due to a lack of 'study points', meaning I'll likely lose an entire week where I won't be able to do much in preparation of the actuel teaching...

When I do something, I want to be good at it however. And I know I can be even if the amount of work seems daunting. It just means that for the next 5 weeks or so, I'll have to focus on this almost exclusively...

Greetz

Teano

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TEANO
Belgium
Hi there Deviants. So what is there to know about me? I've been writing for as long as I can remember, mostly spending my time writing my stories on RPG boards. Now, I've decided to finally start putting all my ideas into novels... so expect mostly writing from me. I tried my hand at drawing but have to admit I'm not very talented, maybe I'll upload a goofy drawing I did here and there some time or even pick it up again, as it's not something I have complete given up on (I'm bad at giving up...) :) My other interests include Music, Sports and Gaming. I look forward to meeting all of you :)
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:iconpedigri:
Pedigri Featured By Owner Jan 4, 2015  Hobbyist General Artist
Woah, new chappies! Should've let me know you posted them:). I found them only because I had this intuitive "go check his page now" :D
I'll take a look at them soon. Today's the last day I can enter a second work into a writing contest. My first one ever. Then I'll finish reading and rating the last of those other's have submitted (you know, they rated mine, so it'd be good if I returned the favor). I wrote a horror short story, but I kind of ruined it by adding comedy elements, which spoiled the scary atmosphere. But its other elements were quite well received.

I hope your teaching work is going well.
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:iconteano:
TEANO Featured By Owner Edited Jan 5, 2015
Yeah I probably should have, though I figured you'd check eventually, when you had the time to do so, and would catch up in time anyway ;) The end of a year tends to be a busy period for most people so I didn't want to seem pushy. There's no rush anyway. Right now I have exams and I'm really unfocused (on studying) because there's a lot of other things I want to be doing, writing being one of them, but I'll pull through somehow.

Good luck with the contest! All I can say is that generally it's a good idea to establish the general tone of your story early on and not vary it too dramatically, but I'm sure you've already realized this yourself.
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:iconpedigri:
Pedigri Featured By Owner Feb 4, 2015  Hobbyist General Artist
I see.
I hope you're doing well.

The contest was certainly fun. Submitted two short stories. The one I liked most but unfortunetely had to cut up in a haste before the deadline, due to a character limit got 28th place of 50.
The other got 44th, BUT the contest organiser told me that the one that got 44th almost got into the top 5 stories chosen by the jury. But I don't regret, because the one's who won were my favourites too. Two of them weren't but were written so well technically that one could suspect them of being lifted. So... it's an honor, really, to have lost with such professionally and often hilariously funny works.

Buuuuut I got the highest people's choice award for the best commenter/reviewer of submitted stories. The writers themselves decided that my critique was the most detailed, thorough and that they learned the most of it.
I got printable diplomas to prove all of this, but since it has my name on it, I'd rather not post it publicly:) Perhaps in a private message or something.

Sorry if I'm bragging too much, it was my first time taking part in a contest in forever and I'm still pumped from all the good things that came from it.

Perhaps you should try it too? If the whole doesn't fit the criteria of the contest, try to cut something out, add some intro or cliffhanger etc. You can writer very well, and you could really get exposure by joining contests.

I took the time to comment on all of the 50 stories. The amount of work I put into it created loyalties that in turn gave me valueable feedback on my short stories. I'm pretty sure I'll get some more if I submitt something to the group for feedback outside of the contest. On the other hand those who submitted stories to the contest, but didn't bother give a single comment in return are now frowned upon.

Oh, I'm also rewriting the "Behind the curtain of life" story I posted here on dA. I'm starting it way earlier, with scenes that have more action in them. And we actually get to know Triss, the girl the protagonist waited for in the original intro. This will also make the waiting scene shorter. No longer need to TELL the reader about her. At leats not that much.

If you take part in a contest or something feel free to share your experiences.

Best wishes:)
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:iconpedigri:
Pedigri Featured By Owner Oct 16, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
Busy with college I presume?
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:iconteano:
TEANO Featured By Owner Oct 16, 2014
It's pretty rough. 

Internship starts next week. 

Then a week of vacation in which I have to... prepare the next phase of the internship (teaching requires an unfathomable amount of preparation...), because in the week I'm supposed to make my lesson preparations, I need to do a course from the first year which I couldn't do last year, meaning I'll be gone for a week. Then 2 weeks of internship, teaching teaching and more teaching.

I need to become more efficient and generally have more energy to spend on a day to day basis if I wanna continue all or at least some of my hobbies. I guess having a good physical condition also helps you to be more energetic throughout the day (it used to be that way, at least), so maybe I should work on that. 

'Cos I *really* wanna continue this... 
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:iconpedigri:
Pedigri Featured By Owner Oct 17, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
Oh, I see. Focus on your responsibilities then. Drop me a message once you're back. Or reply to my review, whatever works for you. I'll be waiting.
Best wishes!
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:iconpedigri:
Pedigri Featured By Owner Oct 4, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
Happy birthday, buddy! I wish you all the best!
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:iconreinahw:
ReinaHW Featured By Owner Oct 3, 2014   Writer
Happy birthday
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:iconbyzho:
byzho Featured By Owner Oct 3, 2014  Professional Artist
Happy Birthday!Happy Birthday Godliek :D
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Darkman69 Featured By Owner Sep 22, 2014
Thanks 4 fav and comment !
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