User:Shammiesgun/One Long Rainy Day

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This article is fan fiction

The contents herein are entirely player made and in no way represent official World of Warcraft lore or history. The characters and events listed are of an independent nature and are applied for roleplaying purposes only.

For the scenario, see User:Shammiesgun/Horrid Weather at Chillwind Camp.

Characters

Major Supporting Mentioned Minor

Locations

Story

Day 313,

It has almost been a year since we lost Andorhal to our enemies, my troops are tired and scattered on the battlefield. No matter how much we try, the forsaken push us back at every turn. We try and try to hold at least one stronghold in the city, but the only thing we do is increase their ranks. Even our great commander has abandoned us and his whereabouts remain unknown. So much for fearless warriors… It’s hopeless, every night our enemies scavenge our supplies and every night we lose more men. You can say we are a training ground for forsaken novices, a humiliation to the Alliance. What’s worse is that King Varian has decided to send all his troops to a land lost in time, Pandaria I believe the name was. Reinforcements haven’t arrived in days and only a couple of drifters have arrived. I fear that our time is ticking and the safe alliance haven that is Chillwind will be dead soon. I can hear them even now… Crushing their hammers on the iron nails to build their catapults. Their bows and arrows, firing at the prisoners they captured. Abominations are throwing their hooks to pull down another old house for another apothecary district. I hate to say it, but the order of retreat is official.

*****


Ashlam

Ashlam grabbed the bottle of wine on the inn’s table. It first started with ordering his troops to their deaths and now he has kicked everyone out of the only house at the campsite. The commander became a true sociopath and didn’t see the light of the sun for days. He took another sip and reviewed the situation. Dropped down to a couple of men and with no one coming anytime soon, the leader doubted in his own abilities to keep the place ongoing till tomorrow. The door he had locked months ago, rarely opened. He used an old jug as his bathroom and when it was filled to the brim, he pierced a small hole to dump it all out. “Thief!” yelled one of the guards outside. Ashlam got so used to hearing that warning that he no longer cared for who came or what bounty they stole. He took another sip and realized that his bottle was empty, just like his cause. His desperation had reached such a bad level that he no longer stood up to throw it at the hole, instead he created a corner for all his trash. The bottle made a loud noise as it touched the ground and joined the others. Grabbing another bottle from the cabinet underneath his desk, the commander shed a tear. The initials L.V only reminded him of the treasure he’d lost. In a fit of rage, he threw the bottle at the ceiling. The wine was dripping one drop at a time, until it was in perfect tune with a clock. He found it relaxing and didn’t care that it would have left a stain on the wooden planks that housed the inn. The only one who would have given a piece of mind to it was Mother Matterly. But because of Ashlam’s greed she was forced to return to Stormwind, for she was jobless without her precious inn. ”Are you ok sir?” said a voice from the disposal hole. It was Thurman Grant, the farmer’s leader. His voice sounded chilling because of the wind and rain outside. There were only two tents and the farmer decided to sleep in the cold to give his men some space. “I’m fine Thurman. Go back to sleep.” With his fears gone, he grabbed an old horse saddle and planned to use it as a blanket. Returning back on the wet grass, he tried to catch some sleep but the feeling that more forsaken would come again tonight kept him wondering. He thought about the past in Westfall, about his starving family and the letter from the king that filled their hearts with joy. Too bad the newly cleansed land had a new scourge to worry about. Back inside the inn, Ashlam dipped his feather in the black ink and wondered how to end his journal. After some time, he decided to read his previous logs to decide how to conclude his last one. He went back to roughly about fifty pages before he stopped and read his own writing.

Day 43

Andorhal had fallen and what remaining forces it had have fled to this camp. Looks like we’re back at step one again. I wondered what happened to that death knight, he and his ‘friendly’ minion didn’t show their faces back here. Just like before, it would seem I will lead my forces again…

*****


Lana
Philip

Being the ones with less armor, the minute men were the first to come back. All tired and with no will to fight, they set by a camp fire along with their leader. The Andorhal Defenders soon followed, some didn’t even reach the camp, for they collapsed on the ground. Thassarian and Lurid didn’t show up and he suspected they had fallen in battle. To his joy, his prayers were answered when he saw a young woman with black hair and heavy armor making her way to camp. Lana Valorfist dropped her sword and shield and grabbed a pouch filled with water. She poured it all over her face before fainting in the arms of her father. Carrying her on his back, he entered the inn and placed her on the only bed. He also grabbed a chair and set beside her until she awoke.

It would have been many hours before those beautiful, blue eyes had finally opened. She found herself stripped of her armor and dressed in what appeared to be an apprentice’s robe. Exploring her surroundings, she noticed a bald man sleeping by her side. With her gentle arm, she petted her father on the head. The commander recognized that soft hand, he was pleased to feel it one more time. The next day Ashlam, his daughter, Thurman Grant and one remaining Force Commander sat down at a table outside. It had plenty of maps with foot notes the commander wrote himself. Philip Jayon, the last force commander was eager to hear what the next course of action will be. He took out his favorite smoke pipe and lit it with his final match. He gave it a sniff, to make sure the herbs were still good. “Friends, let me say that from the bottom of my heart, I thank you for the courage you displayed yesterday. The same men who aren’t with us today have shown the same, and their death won’t be forgotten, for we will celebrate their sacrifices in time. But now it’s not the time for mourning, now it’s the time for action. Yesterday I have issued my report on the situation, the king wasn’t happy but he also had a plan. He will send us a decent number of troops for a new attack.” The commander took out a letter from his pocket and placed it open on the table. “As we speak, a hundred soldiers have begun their march from Stormwind and are heading here now. I need one of you who can lead more than just a squadron.” Two hands were raised from a set of two. The ones who remain silent were those who worked in the fields for most of their entire lives. “Philip, you are now promoted to general. You will be my right hand for the time being. Practice and rest, you’ll need it.” Philip rose up and saluted Ashlam in respect, but he would not even have the opportunity to shake his hand. “What about me?” Lana asked. The general felt something bad about to occur, so he saluted and left. “You’ll stay here and rest, you are far too weak for another assault.”

“No I’m not, I came back and I’m ready to go back. I want to avenge my friends and free this land from the undead, I didn’t spend an eternity training in Northshire just to sit on a bench all day!”

Bolvar brings Lana to Ashlam

Lana was very stubborn, just like her mother. Ashlam pictured her now, her courage and tenacity, her will to overcome any odds. These were the trades that defined her, the trades that the aging commander began to lack. He remembered the Defias rebellion in Stormwind, how his pregnant wife was falsely accused and hanged. They told him that the Stormwind Stockade was too good for treason. It would have been many days before an apology letter was sent, by which time he was already searching for a rope strong enough to hold his weight. Then Bolvar gave him a visit with an infant in his hands. He told him that before she was dragged to her death, she gave birth to a beautiful girl. She wanted to call her Lana. It was these words from the wise paladin that sealed the choice of name. But alas, Ashlam was down to his last silver. After being fired because of the ordeal with his wife, he didn’t believe that a new light would have driven him to a new hope. But I can’t raise a daughter in poverty. He set down and wondered what outcomes he could achieve and then the paladin spoke again. I have a job if you would like to apply. I know your history Ashlam and I know your parents were citizens of Lordaeron before they came to Stormwind. Recently I have ordered an outpost to be built at the start of the Plaguelands. How would you like to enter the military and fight for the king? This was a golden opportunity, but he was a little skeptic about it, the Plaguelands was no place to raise a child. So Bolvar suggested sending her to Northshire Abbey where she would train until she was ready to join him. After the hard decision, Ashlam left for Chillwind camp, leaving his daughter in safe hands. Now merely sixteen years old, she practiced day and night from the age of six. When Llane Beshere ran out of material to teach, she immediately began to pack for the long journey. To reduce her walking, her guardian Brother Neals gave her ten gold pieces for a flight master and wished her luck. Arriving after the long ride, she met up with her father and began to bond for all their time lost. Ashlam was grateful that the Plaguelands had mostly healed, for now he could spend some quality time with his daughter without worrying about the undead.

“I am your father and I decide what is best for you!” he yelled. Being their first fight he lowered his voice and talked honestly. “I’m just worried about you. Yesterday I feared the worst when I didn’t see you.” Grabbing both his shoulders, she gave him a grin. “The monks told me that above all else, parents will love you to the bitter end. I know you are worried, but I trained hard for this. To fight for the Alliance, to be with my father and to make him proud. Now I am ready for this, so please don’t hold back. I know what to do.” Signs of regret were visible from the start but now they built a frown. While he wanted to stay with his point, who was he to deny the code of a warrior. He gave a gentle nod which she understood immediately. Giving him a kiss on his left cheek, she grabbed a sword and joined the others for practice. Raising his hand and calling his new general, Phillip dropped his sword and obeyed. “What is it sir?” he asked. “You are a knight of the Silver Hand, aren’t you?”

“Ye-s-s Sir.” He muttered a little.

Ashlam Argues with Lana.

“Then it means you are a paladin, you can fight and heal at the same time. While I know that on the battlefield you will be busy, I have an assignment for you. Your rank was given and maybe even earned, but never mind that. The reason I called you was because my daughter is your second in command and I expect it remain this way. If you can, please watch out for her and heal her when she needs to be.” Giving him a salute of respect, he placed his other hand on his beating heart.“I swear that before your daughter meets a dire end. I would have already expired.” And with that the day came to an end, maybe the loss of the city wasn’t too bad, he thought. At least back then, there was only sunshine.

Ashlam chuckled as he read, for the following pages were all about him and his daughter, how well they adapted. All those long years appeared to have been filled in a week. He’d wish they’d continued, but even he knew he’d arrived at the final chapter.

Day 51

The troops arrived tired and demoralized. I could see it in their eyes. With the loss of Southshore, they were forced to take the long road by going through the Hinterlands. I began to wonder if there was something I could do…

*****


The night was filled with music and cheer lifted high in the air. Mugs of ale were scattered on the floor and the smell of cooked boar drowned your heart. Ashlam was proud of the festivity he organized in just a sunset. He set down by a camp fire and drank a dwarven brew. Tonight however, was not going to be all celebration and joy. The old alchemist at camp had asked for an audience last night and the commander agreed. When midnight struck, the commander left his soldiers and entered the inn unnoticed. Arbington was waiting by the table with two clean cups present by his side. Whatever he wanted, it looked like he wanted to make a good impression. “I am here Arbington, what is it you need?” Opening his left hand, the man by the table offered him a seat. Ashlam accepted and sat gently on the opposite side of the table. He wondered and waited to see what his business was. “Wine?” asked the alchemist with politeness. The commander nodded, even if he thought he’d drank too much tonight. The cups were soon filled and the meeting had commenced. “I’m glad you came Ashlam, for we have lots to discuss.“ All was quite in the room, outside you could hear the men still celebrating, but inside was silent to the point where it felt dead. “I wanted to talk to you about my retirement…” The commander now knew where this was heading and he didn’t like it one bit. Like their previous meetings, he was going to give him the same answer for his question. “Arbington, you already know my answer.” A frown was present on the old alchemist’s face, but he still wasn’t going to give up. “But Ashlam, you promised me years ago that I would have been allowed to return to Stormwind and rest. Why do you keep me occupied here?” Placing a fist on the table, the black skinned man grabbed a coin from his pocket and tried to distract himself from all the stress. “I know I did, but try to understand. You are the only doctor here and you can cure diseases that High Priestess MacDonnell can’t. Not even the draenei from the Exodar can. If I let you go now, many more will die. I hope that you can comprehend the situation I’m in.” “I can. I also can comprehend mission 12.” The coin that kept Ashlam intact had dropped on the dark ground and wished it was still in his hand. “You want a little reminder? Two years ago you sent a squadron of five people to Andorhal. They were composed by two daughters, one son and two family friends. You knew their chances were slim, but you still sent them in to turn on four damn watchtowers. All of them came back in caskets. Do you know what it feels to have your own children and friends killed on the same day?” The commander began to mutter, unable to continue the conversation without taking long breaks. “I… I…I don’t.” His head felt ready to explode and he didn’t know what to say. Should he apologies or should he say it was for the greater good. Tensions were drawing from the two and Ashlam was losing. “No, you don’t. All I want is to end my torment by going to Stormwind and die in peace. Instead, you decide to keep me here, TO RELIVE THAT MEMORY AGAIN AND AGAIN!” Placing one hand on his shoulder, he tried to communicate with alchemist by showing sympathy, instead it was shoved away and the man in green robes stood up. Leaving disappointed, Arbington blew the only candle in the room, creating an atmosphere of regret and fright for Ashlam.

Ashlam denies Arbington request

To this point Ashlam wanted to close the book and stop reading this tale, for the next part was the most horrid from this story.

Day 52

Morning had brought clouded skies, it didn’t rain but there was no light either. I got up early to inspire the troops…

*****


While not the best of days, Ashlam felt like this was the one victory they were going to achieve. He walked in circles round the inn until he got some inspiration. Lana was also up and running, she ate a hearty breakfast and started her daily routine, practice and rest. While with a little hangover, Anchorite Truuen prepared some Kafa from the Kafa Beans a pandaren once gave him. It was unfortunate he never met that stranger again, for he forgot to ask him how to make more. Seeing that this could have meant the taking of Andorhal, he grabbed a caldron and threw all his remaining beans in the boiling water. All the soldiers that drank it were back into shape and ready to fight. The skies appeared greyish today and the sun was invisible. “Soldiers, come to me!” yelled Ashlam from the rooftop of the inn. Everyone came closer to see what he had to say. While not a leader’s pedestal, he still went through with it so everyone can see. “Brothers and sisters, welcome to the front lines! It’s from here that we will march into the city and retake it in the name of the Alliance. I know some of you are terrified, maybe because of their abominations, maybe out of fear that you may be raised. But I tell you this, I’m sure you all heard the story of at least one human hero. One of my favorites is Antonidas. Yes he was afraid, yes he feared the undead, but did he give the book to Arthas without a fight? No, Arthas took it out of his blood filled hands. His sacrifice was never forgotten, not even today and nor tomorrow. So think of them when you are killing a forsaken scum, when you are bleeding and bruised on the ground, because that is how you’ll become heroes! Second, King Varian informed me that some of you are new recruits. So let me tell you something, the word Alliance means family. We look out for one another not matter the cost. Since you are carrying that tabard, you will respect it. Stick together without questioning why. Now, here is the plan.” Grabbing one of the maps he marked earlier, he showed the men a design of Andorhal with round circles on it. Then he attached it with a hammer and four nails on the window.


The Speech

“For this assault we won’t split up into separate units. I’ve decided we are going to overpower them. You will charge in from the western gate and keep advancing until you reach the middle. My spies tell me that there is where the forsaken leaders meet. Kill them and their forces will be scattered, lambs for the slaughter. You shall be led by Philip Jayon, second in command shall be Lana Valorfist. Meet me all back here in a quarter of an hour. No matter the outcome, today you fight with honor and you shall become heroes of the Alliance, even if you should you fall in battle. . FOR THE ALLIANCE!” Raising all their swords, they complied with his cheer and now they were ready for war. Thurman Grant was the most impressed from all the soldiers. He felt the need to sharpen his pitchfork even if he and his men weren’t going to be present for this assault. Philip saluting his commander, he could read an ok in his eyes on the things they agreed on a week before. Jumping from the roof, he approached his daughter to encourage her. “Are you ready for today?” he asked. “Yes, I will make you proud.”

“I know you will.”

Giving her what he assumed was his last hug, he approached her ear and gave her a final message. ”Stay safe.”

“I will.” she answered.

Tears were dripping on the log, Ashlam wondered if all he had read was enough to conclude it. He didn’t want to relive the upcoming moment again. The rain had gotten worse and the roof began to leak. When one rain drop dropped on his head, he regained his sanity. He took another sip from the bottle and noticed it was empty. He disposed of it and opened the cupboard again, he search up and down until he grabbed the final bottle that remained. Now he began to regret throwing the one before at the ceiling. Wanting to make it last, he opened his log book and continued where he’d left.

…had arrived and troops were ready for war. They climbed on horses, sharpened their blades and replaced any broken armor they wore. Those who had nothing better to do, practiced the drill for the upcoming battle, while others took a nap, for they believed it would have taken two days before they’d return to camp. I simply grabbed by spy glass and scouted the forsaken. I saw the city still in ruins as well as the undead constructors rebuilding parts of it. I noticed that for the time being, the forsaken used our old dwellings as homes and prisons. While freeing the prisoners was crucial, our true objective was to retake the city. With the city in our hands, we will rise up and march towards the Bulwark. But before I delve into the future I had to focus on the present, for the fifteen minutes were up…

*****


Arbington betrays the Alliance

The soldier formed lines of five per sword. Those on horses stood on the front, those without on the back. Thurman and his farmhands were building three medical encampments outside the city. They would have been tended by Anchorite Truuen, High Priestess MacDonnell and Alchemist Arbington. Coming down from the ceiling again, Ashlam observed the area surrounding him. His daughter and Philip were ready for his orders and gave him a nod. Pride and regret was all he felt at the moment. Not wanting to fall into doubt, he took out his sword and raised it up in the sky. The troops screamed until their voices were weak and when the two commanders began their march, they followed. As Philip reached the crossroad he steered his horse to take a left, he noticed the human priestess on the other side. She gave them a wave of encouragement. At the start of the crossroad, the draenei was present. He casted the power word of fortitude on them. As he almost reached the gate, he noticed something odd. The alchemist was missing from his encampment and this wasn’t normal. Maybe he was running a little late, he thought. Not caring much, he and his men assaulted and broke through the main gate. The forsaken stationed there all fell dead to the ground. The general couldn’t believe how easily they died and began to wonder were their abominations where. With his men, he stormed to the middle of the city and was startled by what they didn’t see. The place was deserted and no one appeared to dwell in it, he got off his horse to investigate. From the city hall emerged a figure well known at the camp, no one knew his true purpose for being here, but it couldn’t have been good, by him stood Legionnaire Hardlim, the apparent leader of the forsaken. “Arbington, what in the light’s name are you doing here?” he asked with rage. “Just enjoying the end, your end that is.” From the ruins, plague carrying catapults following the alchemist’s appearance. “I know it feels weird to fight your own kind, so let’s make it more appropriate.” Grabbing a vial he’s just concocted, he drank without thinking twice and waited. The humans watched as his body had begun to rot, turning into a shade of grey. He now looked more monstrous than human, he was undead. “You became an unholy monster Arbington. You will pay for your betrayal.” The alchemist’s jaw was almost unattached, but Philip knew he was laughing. “Kill him!” An arrow was fired and hit the paladin in the chest. He tried to heal, but in two seconds he was paralyzed, Lana watched as he died before her. “Go…to…camp!” Philip fell to the ground lifeless, Lana kneeled before him to try and revive him but it was too late. “Don’t worry lad, I think you’ll make fitting parts for when I construct my first abomination.” “MONSTER! My father trusted you and this is how you repay him!” Lana stood on her feet shattered and gave a wet keen eye to her enemy. “Your father is a liar and a hypocrite, you only knew him for a week, I suffered under his rule for years! But all of that is now over. Let’s see if I can break him.” Lifting his hand up and then down, the surrounded soldiers tasted the new plague as the catapults fired their deadly alchemy.

Ashlam fights his daughter

The sky began to cry slightly, the rain was freezing cold and the fog that brought with it was deep. Ashlam rested under a tree, carving game pieces for when the boys returned home. It was frustrating, but it helped him pass the time. It also kept his mind off Lana. By all he’d learned of her, he believed she was capable of taking care of herself. Seconds became minutes and minutes became hours, the commander fell asleep. It was the sound of footsteps hours later that awoke him. Grabbing his spyglass, he scouted the area and he could see the crossroad. The first thing he noticed was that the two priests were rushing back to camp. He couldn’t tell if this was a bad or a good thing. From behind them came what appeared like troops, the fog had made it impossible to decipher for. He aligned the spyglass on a stump to get a better view. While it was still unclear, a particular armor on the front made him smile with joy. Starting his run, he would soon stop when the vision got clearer. “No...” he whispered. In front of him weren’t the troops, not anymore. Instead, his daughter along with four deathguards appeared. This Lana wasn’t the woman he bonded with in the past week. Her eyes were yellow and that beautiful ocean blue was gone. The armor was filthy with mud and the sword looked rather rusty. Her once black hair now looked like straw in a storage house and her skin was color coded into a dreaded green, no longer similar like that of her father. Even if he hated to admit it, she was a monster. Guilt rushed to his body and made him drop to his knees crying. He knew he shouldn’t have let her go. “Hello father. Aren’t you happy to see me? I thought I’d give you a surprise and this is how you welcome family?” Shoving his sword in the ground for support, he stood up and wiped the mucus from his nose. “Whatever these monsters did to you, I promise I will end your misery.” At the same time that Lana laughed to the sentence, lighting and thunder joined up with the lazy calm rain. “Thank you for offer, but I have to deny. The Dark Lady gave me a specific order. Not to return to Andorhal without your head. Surely now you won’t fight your own daughter? It wouldn’t be very fatherly, would it?” Grabbing his sword in both hands, he charged with a slash. Lana avoided and with her hilt, she hit him in the jaw. Regaining his senses, he saw her jump and strike from above. He stepped back and avoided. Ashlam slashed at the opening he saw and chopped her hand off. “No! You are the weakest link, you will fall.” Even with just one hand, the daughter was more than a capable fighter and kept her balance. She swung her sword left to right, while her father blocked every attack. When she struck from above, Ashlam parried with both hands and prayed that his strength would not fail him. With one hand holding the hilt and the other the blade, his face was relatively close to his opponent. “You’re a failure as a father and a commander. You led a hundred people to their deaths. They are forsaken because of you. You deserve no less.” Spitting in his face, the commander closed his eyes and interrupted their conflict. Seeing the opening, Lana slashed her sword from top to bottom and slid open her father’s chest. Ashlam felt his vision fading, his heart beat increased and the blood spilled around him. The metal which protected his body now appeared to be part of his skin. Dizzy as he was, he couldn’t step back in the battle and was vulnerable. Lana prepared her sword for a final strike and aimed for the neck, she was ready to sever the head from the body. The commander started to see images from his past and knew his time had come. One memory made him wonder why it repeated itself, he wondered why he heard his name being said for numerous times. Using the same method as before to stand up, he wide opened his eyes to see why he was still alive. From his sides, he saw the minutemen holding off against the deathguards, while right in front of him, Thurman Grant was holding his edge against the forsaken girl. His minions found it difficult to stand against such a formidable opponent. Lana’s training had truly paid off, for she stood her ground against three men with just an arm, it was unfortunate that this boon worked for the forsaken’s favor. Seeing her opening, she unleashed her fury on the farmers and in one slash, she broke their pitchforks. Ashlam sent all his remaining strength to his shaking arms. When he saw that all was in place, he closed his eyes and delivered the final blow which decapitated her. The same time the commander fainted on the ground, his daughter’s head along with the rest of her body followed.

…it was a sad deed, but needed. My poor Lana, what have I done? I just met you and I have already lost you. I feel the life leaving me, as if my soul doesn’t want to be with my body anymore. Now I lay dormant on the ground without answer, I can hear the undead fleeing the scene at the death of their leader, probably returning to Andorhal to inform their superiors of what occurred. I also feel my body being lifted up and taken back to camp by Thurman and his men. I believed it to be my final memory before the light’s embrace, but I didn’t care. For if I had to keep living after this torment I didn’t know how to go on.

My prayers were not answered, for I awoke with a hundred bandages keeping my body intact. I grabbed a staff which I assumed someone left for me to use. The rain which had started out slow now drowned the camp. Everyone was freezing, but I didn’t feel a thing. The once who lagged during the assault were the only survivors. They told me of the betrayal and of Philip’s death. I was thankful that he kept his word, for his actions I will order the construction of a monument and shall send a messenger to King Varian, with a request to make him a hero of the Alliance. The priestess gave me a hug of compassion, but not even that cheered me. After asking about the body, Thurman told me they had prepared a pyre at Sorrow Hill and they only waited for me to rise before they would light it…

*****


Lana’s Cremation

“Should we bury the remains here sir?” asked Bibilfaz Featherwhistle. Ashlam didn’t calculate his surroundings, but instead watched the colors of the fire burn. He could have sworn that time stopped at the moment he lit the dried out wood. If the fire was weak, Anchorite Truuen would pour oil and any kind of spirits he could find in his trunk. He watched the fire rising higher and higher until it touched the sky, hoping that his daughter could feel it. At some point he even threw the very staff which kept him stable in the flame. “Should we bury the remains in Sorrow Hill sir?” asked the flight master again. “No. Pour the remains in an urn and send it to Stormwind. Bury the remains next to her mother, in the cemetery found in Goldshire. It is there where she belongs.” The gnome cleaned his goggles and charted a map for the safest route to take. “Order was restored today and that is more than could be said.” added Thurman. He reminded him of Bolvar, of how he first brought Lana in his hands. It was ironic, he thought. The same light that brought him a gift was the same light who took it from him. Taking his final breath for the night and feeling the fragile rain drops on his skin, he turned around and entered the empty inn alone, making it his personal sanctuary.

Days became weeks and Ashlam rarely stepped outside for too long. The remaining logs were all filled with how he couldn’t cope with life anymore. While turning the pages, he found two letters. One concerning Philip’s plea, which was accepted and became an official hero, while the other was the confirmation that the remains were delivered and buried according to his order. In another log, he found a short rope with bite marks on it. Those were his and sometimes wondered if the reason why he didn’t hang himself was because he didn’t have a rope long or strong enough. A hard knock on the door startled him. Thurman rushed in without awaiting an answer and placed a map on his desk filled with details about an attack on Chillwind Camp. “Ashlam, our troops ambushed a messenger and we managed to find this. What are your orders?” Grabbing his monocle from the table, he examined the plan while also trying to look sober in front of his subject. “Interesting I have to say, but not surprising anyway. We fought with blood lust, and now we are dust. Once I led, then I ruled, even if I had you fooled. You drink my poison and now you’re sick, go home for you have wounds to lick.” The commander wasn’t making any sense or if he was, Thurman’s farmer mind couldn’t comprehend. He looked around the room, which he didn’t gaze at for months and didn’t recognize it. Rather than a home for explorers, it reminded him of the pig’s sty he used to work in. A paper on the ground caught his attention and with Ashlam distracted, he investigated. Silently he began to read and was shocked by every word. “What is the meaning of this?” he asked. Still a little tipsy he turned to Thurman and thanks to the candle’s light, he made out tree numbers ‘313’. Feeling a little out of place he grabbed his bottle and drank the last remaining drops. Out of pure instinct, the farmer took the bottle and splattered it on the ground. “THAT WAS MY LAST BOTTLE!” yelled the commander. “I don’t care, the forsaken are coming and you are going to back down?” Ashlam sat back on his chair and slammed his head on the table. His head was hurting and his body was sore. “Yes, look around you. We have lost and we will die if we stay. I relieve my position and now give it to you. Lead who ever remains home and let me be here. I would rather embrace death than live a lie.” said the commander with a depressing tone. “I once knew a man who told me that the Alliance was family, we stick together no matter what. Outside there are men who still have faith in you, people who would lay down their arms if you simply ask them to. I am one of them and you are one of my favorite inspirations. Today you can become a hero.” Using his fist to smash the table, he rose up with disgust to these words and took the paper from the farmer’s hand. “Did you truly believe my words, it was just to raise the moral. The Alliance is nothing more than a race of monsters, a bunch of Blackmoores. They fill you with this hero nonsense and then fill your head with noble and righteous ideals. First they kill my wife and then they take away my daughter. She died betrayed by a man she trusted and she had to suffer a second death by the hands of her father. I just wanted to see her smile every day and feel her soft cold hands. And now, now she’s dead.” Slamming his hand one more time, he grabbed Thurman and brought him closer to his face. “You above all people should know this. You didn’t move to the Western Plagueland because you found new land. You came here because Westfall was dying, because your king had abandoned you. This is why the Defias came to life, because of the Alliance. You already lost two children from hunger, how many more lives will they take today?” Realizing he went too far, Ashlam took a deep breath and glanced at his surroundings. “Look, you may be filled with hope, but I feel bleak. Grab everything you can and flee if you want to live. Now, leave me alone.” He sat back down and as before, he dipped his feather in the black ink and began to conclude the log he so dearly wanted to finish. “Somewhere inside of you, that man is still there, bagging to be released from this drunken mess I call commander. I still remain loyal to the king because Alliance is family, yes we fight and yes we disagree. But we always get through it, because we fight as one. Do you think your daughter wanted this to happen to you because of her death? Right now she is disappointed in you, like I am. However, you may yet redeem yourself. All you have to do is get up and lead your men.” Knowing he made his point clear, he left the inn and left Ashlam to think about his next move. Moving his feather, he wrote with a quick pace and a steady hand. When he was done, he wore his armor with pride and sharpened his sword to the point where sparks were emanating from the blade. He wore his Alliance tabard of old and embraced the rain outside.

Ashlam and his men feel a presence

Morning had just arrived, but no sun was visible, only a dense fog was present. The Hinterlands was quiet and if the army was lucky, they would get some sort of transport from Aerie Peak. Right as they reached an abandoned campsite, a wind of change was blowing. The weather had become colder and troops were alarmed. All of a sudden, the wind jumped from one soldier to the next. All of them, felt it strange but sweet. When it reached Ashlam, he was astonished. This wind gave him a touch he didn’t feel for months. It was very soft and gentle. All of a sudden, a voice penetrated his thoughts. ‘Go back’ it said, ‘be a hero’ it said. Just like it appeared, it disappeared with the wind. The troops were startled and only the captain had the courage to speak. “Wha..a.at was that?” he muttered. “I…I think I know.” Turing back on to face the captain, Ashlam placed his foot down. “Captain, drop everything and return to Chillwind and prepare a defense. I will catch up with you later.” The captain and the confused troops obeyed and rushed back, he prayed it wasn't too late.

*****


Ashlam throws away the journal and only keeps the good memories

The commander was left alone, even if he believed he wasn't. He took a peak from a ledge on the hill and counted at least eighty-four feet. Good enough for jumping but not why he approached it. Taking the journal out of his pocket, he took out the pages that concerned him and his daughter and threw the rest in the lake below. Now he was ready, he dropped his backpack and rushed back with redemption in his heart.