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Thread: [Warcraft Total War AAR] My Dread Lady

  1. #101
    Artifex
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    Default Re: [Warcraft Total War AAR] My Dread Lady

    Chapter XV-V. Scarlets and Shackles
    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 

    When they came out of their hiding place, Jaina only stared. Before her stood not the one ranger squadron under Kalira, but four. And kneeling in front of them were no less than twenty men and women in dirty red garments and mail and leather armours. Their hands were tied together in a long line and their eyes had been covered by strips of cloth sheared from their shirts and cloaks.

    ”Twenty, Dark Lady.” one of the new rangers reported in Thalassian. Jaina guessed she might be a lieutenant like Kalira and Anya. ”One dead, one lightly wounded.”

    ”Good work, Anthis.” Sylvanas answered without any hint of surprise. ”That makes our total twenty-one. That should even your odds a bit in the negotiations don’t you think, Lady Proudmoore?” she added towards Jaina.

    ”Er…yes, ah, of course…” Jaina stammered. She didn’t know if she was most taken aback by the sudden appearance of eighteen rangers that Sylvanas had kept her in the dark about, or how they had seemingly without any difficulty, or even much effort, been able to capture a matching number of armoured enemy soldiers. She didn’t know what to quite think of what she saw. The rangers each held daggers or short swords ready, and their faces were impassive and their eyes on Sylvanas only. Jaina could see their prisoners’ different state of mind. Clenched jaws on some, trembling chins on others. Shaking, laboured breathing. Bloody but shallow cuts here and there, dirt and mud. Dark stains on their trousers.

    It was war and Jaina hated it.

    But it was still war.

    She closed her eyes briefly and tried to steady herself. Her mission remained the same. Negotiate. Find a solution that did not have to be paid for in blood, if she could. For the sake of both sides.

    ”Anya! Tell the guard to be ready if needed.” Sylvanas called out. Was that what she had named Anya’s squadron? Jaina shook off the thought, she had more pressing concerns.
    Sylvanas walked up close to Jaina. She seemed to struggle with something.

    ”Lady Proudmoore…good luck.” Sylvanas’ jaws were working as if she debated whether to say something or not. ”Cyndia matters greatly to me and all of us. But she is not alone in doing so.” Sylvanas handed Jaina three gilded medallions. ”Here. These are likely their officers’ insignias, hand them over as proof that we have their scouts. You have one hour.” Sylvanas said curtly, almost tense.

    It was a strange sensation to be alone again.

    Jaina walked across the open fields from the edge of the forest towards the town gates and felt…how did she really feel about this? She had been forced to adapt to being watched closely during just about every waking hour and most sleeping ones too she assumed. But the unnerving presence of emotionless rangers around her had turned into a comforting one of guardians and friends, and while Jaina would not deny that they were at times a bit too close by (she could do without someone standing guard outside her bathroom) she found herself missing her dark companions very much right now.

    The terms for the negotiations that Brokk Ironpick had been sent with were simple. The Scarlets would meet her outside their walls and Jaina would relay the Banshee Queen’s terms and then withdraw. It was almost as simple as it could be, and Jaina could not imagine herself appearing as a threat with the heavy brass shackles weighing down her forearms.

    The weather was clear but the sky cloudy, and under other circumstances it would have been a fine autumn day to walk along a muddy road towards a Lordaeronian town. Jaina could see red-clad guards by the gate, and that they had spotted her. They looked like they were expecting her approach and Jaina dearly hoped Brokk had been earnest with them.

    Like with most towns Jaina knew of, there were some houses outside the walls too. Farms, tanners, an outlying tavern that catered to thirsty peasants making camp outside the walls for market days, sometimes a sawmill. The same was true for Hearthglen.

    When Jaina was nearing the gates a Scarlet soldier pointed to a small house to the side of the road.

    ”In there!” he ordered.

    Well, Jaina hadn’t exactly expected them to be friendly.

    She swallowed and approached the door. Before she had gotten close enough to knock it was opened by a man in red robes and a hood. He stepped aside to let Jaina come in without a word.

    The inside of the house, or cottage perhaps being more apt, was as sparse as the exterior. A low ceiling and a single table with crude benches on each side greeted Jaina. Opposite of her was seated a man and a woman in red robes and pieces of ornate armour, both older than Jaina and with deep furrows in their brows and coarse faces. She got a distinct impression that neither of them used to smile or laugh very much, or encourage others to do that.

    ”Ahem, greetings.” Jaina made a small bow, careful not to bang her head against the ceiling when she rose. ”I am Lady Jaina Proudmoore of Theramoore, representative of Queen Sylvanas Windrunner of Lordaeron.”

    ”If that was true you would know that a lady curtsys, young miss.” the woman told her condescendingly.

    Jaina added a curtsy, but did it with an ironic half smile that signalled that she gave in to a request she thought silly or overly stubborn. The Scarlet priestess (at least Jaina guessed she would be) just huffed at her.

    ”Now, now, let us sit down and begin.” the man began in a more kindly tone. ”I am Brother Hans of the Righteous Order of the Scarlet Crusade and this is Sister Grete. My child, we tank the Light that you have been allowed to escape the tainted clutches of the undead and come back to us. Will you accept the Light’s blessing?”

    Jaina had to fight down an instinctive urge to ask if there also was an Un-Righteous Order of the Scarlet Crusade. She had a feeling that Brother Hans and Sister Grete would not appreciate that logic to the same degree as Areiel or Velonara would.

    ”Yes, I guess so?” Jaina answered. To her knowledge Light spells were rarely harmful - to the living – if that was the intention and not simply reciting something.

    Brother Hans did indeed channel Light magic. Jaina could not detect what it was like she could with most arcane spells but she had seen enough priests at work and been healed enough times to note that it appeared more like an small wave washing over her than a lingering actual blessing. She ignored it for now, it wasn’t why she was here.

    ”Well, Brother Hans and Sister Grete, since we meet here I take it that master Brokk Ironpick has briefed you on the premises of the negotiation. The queen holds in captivity one Henry Turner, a member of your armed forces.” Jaina cleared her throat. Did the Scarlet Crusade actually have anything but armed forces? ”She offers to exchange him in return for any Forsaken you hold captive.”

    ”That much poor Brokk has told us.” Brother Hans nodded sadly.

    ”Then I first need to inform you that the circumstances have changed on that point.” Jaina carefully put the three medallions on the table. ”The queen now holds twenty-one Scarlet Crusade soldiers to exchange.”

    ”May the Light shelter their souls.” Brother Hans bowed his head momentarily, solemn as if Jaina had told him they had all died.

    ”So the queen is ready to exchange them for the return for those of her people that you may hold captive. She has asked me to inquire specifically if you hold a formerly elven ranger by the name of Cyndia Hawkspear captive.” Jaina asked as normally as she could. A bad feeling was growing in her.

    ”My child, I would like to believe the words you speak, but the Light is not fooled by trickery. It sees the truth in us all.”

    Jaina frowned. What did he mean?

    ”I do not follow, Brother Hans. I assure this is no trick of any kind.”

    He looked sadly at Jaina.

    ”Yet still I detect Fel magic about you, my child. So I must regrettably ask you, what manner of demon are you?”

    As he spoke the last words Brother Hans just about lit up with channelled Light spells, rising from his chair with Sister Grete following suit.

    ”No! I am not a demon!” Jaina frantically tried to make sense of it all. ”These are magically warded shackles, nothing else.”

    Witchcraft.” Sister Grete sneered. ”Mages deal with corrupting powers that human hand were never meant to touch.” she declaimed.

    ”No, I swear, it isn’t like that…”

    ”Maybe you are human and your heart was once good, my child, but you are tainted by Fel magic and you openly consort with the vile undead without any sense of remorse or revulsion.” Brother Hans said as if delivering a final verdict. ”The taint of Fel and Undeath are like a plague, and must be purged from humankind at any cost. You must turn from it’s dark ways, my child, and repent so that at least your soul may be redeemed.”

    Jaina recoiled, terrified and disbelieving.

    ”Find comfort in the Light…”
    The Misadventures of Diabolical Amazons - Completed.
    An Orcs Tale, a Third Age AAR - Completed.
    Reviewed by Alwyn in the Critics Quill
    My Dread Lady, a Warcraft Total War AAR - A few chapters done.
    Home to Midgard, a Third Age AAR about two dwarves, a spy and a diplomat - Completed (pictures remade up to chapter 19).
    Reviewed by Boustrophedon in The Critics Quill

  2. #102
    Alwyn's Avatar Frothy Goodness
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    Default Re: [Warcraft Total War AAR] My Dread Lady

    It doesn't sound as if negotiations with the Scarlet Crusade will get very far, considering their zealous determination to purge humanity of the taint of their enemies! I'm wondering what will happen to Jaina. Good update!

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