Arc 1, Chapter 1 - "Before the Storm"

View previous topic View next topic Go down

Arc 1, Chapter 1 - "Before the Storm"

Post by Tyrós/Cále on Fri Apr 05, 2013 5:30 am

Author's Note:
Spoiler:
This is Cale's "origin story", and there are a few things you should know before you continue to read...

  • The story starts at the beginning of the Second War. While I am quick to establish this in a narrative sense, it's best to take with you as you start out, especially if you don't feel you'll pick up on the lore hints I've made use of.
  • While the story is meant to convey Cale's character progression to the person he is today, it is not only done through my own interpretation of the Warcraft universe, but also through my preferred style of writing... which means a lot of snark and dancing on the 4th wall. (Bonus points for anyone that finds all the various references to game mechanics!)
  • I would appreciate critique on this, in any shape and form. Positive or negative, tied to my narration style or to the lore, I am very keen on any feedback you will grace me with, as I really want to push myself and improve my writing.


...and with that said, enjoy the first installment in what is going to be a long, loooooong story. I hope you'll enjoy it!


Arc 1, Chapter 1 – Before the Storm

“It wasn’t my first time seeing a Destroyer, but it was the first time one actually laid anchor in Southshore so I could see it up close. I still remember that ship like a perfect painting in my mind… I thought it seemed so elegantly sculptured compared to anything of human build. So… colourful. The deep blue sails contrasting with the red-and-gold that had been used to paint the keel and hull; I had never seen anything quite so grand before, and I didn’t imagine even in my wildest dreams that I would actually get the chance to serve on such a vessel once I got older!”

Nalia smiled from ear to ear, and placed the palm of her hand against the smooth, sanded surface of the ship’s foremast. The sail had just been lowered, and her eyes wandered to the uncharacteristically plain-looking Quel’dorei who was now watching the crew in the more complex foldaway of the three-piece sail that made out the main mast.

“I mean, your people tends to be so isolated and secretive, and always seemed so distant… but, about that… do you think maybe the Thalassian borders will open up more after the war?” Never really stopping to await an answer, Nalia quickly continued: “I’m sorry, I just really hope your people will remain with the Alliance… and I keep saying ‘your people’, that isn’t offensive, right? I meant no disrespect by it, Sire! …umm, Sire? Sir Cale?!”

Cale felt his ears twitch at the mention of his name, and looked back to the human girl who was standing behind him on the deck. She had tailed him ever since she got on the ship earlier in the morning, and it was close to dusk now...

“I’m sorry, Nalia…” Cale answered hesitantly, “The answer to your… question…?” he made a short pause to read the girl’s expression, and since she looked at him expectantly he thought he must be on the right track, “Right… the answer to your question… is, ahh… hmm… yes?”

Nalia flashed a huge grin that made Cale question if he had just agreed to something inappropriate. After all, the girl clearly had something of an obsession with the Quel’dorei, and even if the Sunchaser was an elven vessel, it housed an all-human crew – with exception to Cale himself. He was painfully aware that this made him the lone outlet for this lively girl’s fascination with his kin.

“Well, either way Sire”, Nalia finally continued, “right at this moment we are allies, and it will be an honour to fight alongside you once we reach Zul’dare. I promise, I won’t fail you!”

Cale blinked abruptly. “Wait, what? You are going ashore with the rest of us?!”

Nalia froze up under his surprised stare, and without saying another word she gave a slow, very faint nod, which forced Cale to look closer at her and re-evaluate his original impression.

He had thought she was coming along to swab the decks, or some equally menial task. While she was relatively tall for a human, and would have decent reach in battle, she didn’t look to have the physical strength needed to go with it. Cale frowned, and proceeded to eye her long, red hair once more; it was let out rather than being kept in a ponytail, and would surely get in her eyes if she engaged in melee combat, or indeed if she tried to take aim with a bow and arrow. Also, with that impracticality aside, those green eyes of hers were, in his opinion, far too serene to be the eyes of a warrior.

And that still left the matter of her age…

“How old are you, anyway?” Cale finally asked.

“Eighteen years and a month, Sire…” Nalia answered quickly.

“And have you had any military training whatsoever in those… eighteen years and one month?”

Nalia wrinkled her nose, and for a moment Cale felt a slight tang of worry that he might have offended her with the bluntness of his question.

“When Sir Lothar came to Lordaeron six years ago, I instantly knew I wanted to fight for this new alliance that was proposed. And with everyone getting ready for what was to come, I was allowed to be tutored in both fencing and archery along with the other teenagers of my town, starting from my thirteenth birthday.” Nalia’s voice had grown quite stern, to Cale’s surprise, and she continued: “So you won’t have to babysit me on the battlefield; I can look after myself.” She shot him a stubborn glare, but her expression gradually calmed, at which point she quickly added: “…with all due respect, Sire!”

Cale stared stupidly at her, unsure what to say. He wasn’t sure if the humans’ willingness to recruit and train such younglings was a result of the many years that Sir Lothar had given them to prepare, or if it was a sign of their desperation about the coming tide. At any rate, the query made him feel uneasy, so Cale pushed the thought to the back of his mind.

“Sorry, I didn’t mean to imply anything…” he offered Nalia, followed by a weak smile in the hope that it would help smooth things over. But the girl seemed to have already forgotten about his lack of faith in her, and beamed back at him.

“Quite alright, Sire. I know I’ve still got much to learn, but along with you and the rest of our shore party I doubt there will be any problem.”

“Yes…” Cale agreed, not too surprised to hear that Nalia would be one of the people under his command. Most likely she had requested it from the Section Chief. “Speaking of which, where is the rest of our shore party? I have been a little too… preoccupied, to meet them.”

Nalia clearly understood what was implied. Her shoulders sank, and she pursed her mouth into a thin line. “Only one more on the ship, and the last one is a dwarf who has been placed as a forward scout. He will meet up with us at landfall and debrief us on his findings.”

Cale arched one of his long, blonde brows. He hadn’t expected another non-human; at least not in this theatre of war. However, he decided to focus on the person he could be introduced to here and now. “What are their names, and can you recognize the one who’s present on the Sunchaser?”

“Dorin Ironbrew is the forward scout, and the man on this ship is known as Adrian Fletch. I met him before, but…” Nalia hesitated, biting into her lower lip while a slight frown formed on her face, “You should meet the Ship’s Captain first if you haven’t already, as we will be reporting to him.”

Cale waved his hand dismissively to the suggestion. “I’ve met the captain already. I don’t mean to make it sound like I think all humans look alike, but… I had a hard time separating him from that footman who stood guard in the harbour.”

“Oh… I know which one you mean, Sire. The two of them are actually brothers… they’re from Southshore just like myself. Captain Heskil and… Private Heinkel, I believe? I heard Heinkel say he’d ‘rather be sailing’ just like his brother, but… different lots in life, and all of that.”

“At least no risk he’ll be made seasick…” Cale muttered. “But with that little parenthesis dispensed with, could you take me to see this ‘Mister Fletch’ now?”

“Of course, Sire.” Nalia hesitated once more, though so briefly that Cale barely registered it, “If that is your wish, I’ll take you to him at once.” She made a brisk salute, and then turned to scan the main deck. Cale followed close behind her as they went past the now fully folded-down main mast, and continued towards the ship’s rear. By the stern they found a lone figure, gazing out towards the scattered landmasses of the Channel Islands that the Sunchaser had already sailed past. A dirty, fern-green cloak with a pulled-up hood covered the person’s back and head, but it only reached down to the figure’s lower calves, from which point a pair of thick metal boots took over, gleaming in the last rays of the setting sun.

A trail of smoke rose above the head of the hooded soldier, and Cale could faintly recognize the smell of tobacco in the air. He gave Nalia a questioning look, but she merely answered with a quick nod and pointed to the person before them.

“Excuse me, soldier…” Cale began, and cleared his throat loudly, “Would you happen to be Adrian Fletch?”

The figure shifted, and held out a naked hand from his side, gripping a pipe. He emptied it over the edge of the ship and let the ashes from it fall into the foamy waters below, after which he seemed to tuck the pipe itself into some unseen pocket in his cloak. Cale was already getting impatient with the lack of a response as the man then proceeded to put a gauntlet back over his right hand and then, at long last, pulled back his hood and turned around to study the two people behind him.

Cale, likewise, looked back at the man, and instantly decided that he did not like this human. His chin seemed to only ever so rarely cross paths with any kind of razor, and the man’s dark stubble had grown to that awkward point just before it might be passed off as a short beard. Such a scruffy demeanour was something that in Cale’s mind betrayed a lack of discipline, and it wasn’t even the worst thing about the stranger; his dark-brown hair was actually longer than Nalia’s, and the mere sight of it hanging down past his shoulders forced Cale to absentmindedly touch the short, neat spikes of blonde sticking up from his own head. Men choosing to let their hair grow until they looked like bearded women was something he had never understood, but at least one person around here had the discipline to consider functionality in battle, and the thought soothed the borderline chateophobic Quel’dorei enough to return his attention to the human, who had apparently been following the motion of Cale’s hand.

“Yarr!” the human exclaimed with a huge grin on his face, “That be a strange greetin’ yeh’ve got there, piker! I rather jehst wave…” He held his own hand up, and moved it very faintly left-to-right before he stopped and pointed to Cale. “By yer o’ergrown ears an’ caveman’s brow, I say this here be yer furner, aye?”

Before Cale had even had a chance to reel from the apparent wave of nonsense unleashed at him, Nalia had already taken a menacing step forward, glaring daggers at the cloaked man. “Mister Fletch…” she hissed between her teeth, “You weren’t funny the first time you tried this, and you aren’t funny now. More importantly, I will not let you speak to one of our allies in such a way… This is a military operation, and you are NOT a pirate!”

“Avast!” wailed the aspiring buccaneer, and dramatically placed a hand to his forehead as he arched his back, “Shackle yer missus, squiffy, lest she’s goin’ all barmy on tha’ both o’ us, paint ‘er face green an’ make us walk tha’ plank!” The stranger took a deep breath. “Phew! Tha’ was a mouthful, aye!”

“Perhaps the shackling can be reserved for some actual green-skins” Cale interjected before Nalia could do or say anything else, and although irritated, he felt himself relax as the two humans focused their attention back to him rather than starting a bigger quarrel. “But to be clear, you are indeed the man we’re looking for?”

“Aye-aye!” the man answered, and made a lazy salute.

“Then for the shackling to happen…” Cale continued, choosing to ignore the fact that Adrian’s response had been a nautical term to recognize an order, rather than the intended confirmation of his identity, “…I would like for you to stop with these games of yours, so we can carry an actual conversation.”

“Oh!” Adrian exclaimed, finally dropping his fake accent, “Sure thing, Cale!”

“Good, because I am- …wait, what? You already know my name?”

“Well… word gets around fast”, Adrian murmured while scratching his cheek, and Cale could just about see Nalia shift around in the periphery of his vision.

“Word must travel fast indeed, because last I checked they still hadn’t managed to conjure up name-tags that float over our heads…”

“Ahh, well, give it a few more decades!” Adrian chirped, “Those Kirin Tor people are as innovative as their beards are long!”

Nalia rolled her eyes. “And what about the women in the Kirin Tor, do they also have beards?”

“Alright, fair enough. I never said it was a perfect analogy… but I do have a few stories on just that topic, some of which might surprise you!” Adrian gave Nalia a playful wink, which was only answered with another roll of her eyes, so instead he set his gaze back on Cale. “But to stick to the point you were making, mister Lightsinger, and don’t take this the wrong way… as much as I appreciate your people’s contributions to the war effort, you do tend to send more materials than you send manpower, so remembering the names of the few elves around isn’t really that hard.”

“I am aware that the soldiers my nation pledged to your Alliance is a token force at best”, Cale agreed, “and it seems mostly like dumb luck to me that the contingent of archers we originally sent got captured. Quel’dorei rangers don’t usually allow themselves to be caught like that, and I am sure that having them so swiftly rescued put some further pressure on King Anasterian to offer additional troops.”

Adrian smirked. “Was that the reason? I figured Uncle Lothar was just calling in favours for that Troll Wars thing back in the day, but if you prefer to think of your king’s yes-men as closeted philanthropist looking for an excuse to go hug some humans then by all means, feel free to do so.”

“Well I can’t speak for my people at large…” Cale patiently answered, “But personally I volunteered to come here. I am proud to fight for the Alliance… and I am especially pleased that my initial assignment takes me this far west.”

“Ahh, yes it is a glorious enterprise to be sure!” Adrian nodded along quickly as he spoke, and his smirk split into another grin as he gestured towards Nalia. “Little miss Harper here told me before, that you were supposedly a noble man indeed! An honourable warrior, a defender of the realms, and… a follower of the Three Virtues? In fact, judging from what I’ve heard, you could just as well have been born and raised in Lordaeron!”

Cale folded his arms defensively. “My family follows a… distinct path, yes. What of it?”

“Oh I’m merely musing over your good fortune, mister Lightsinger…” Adrian placed some additional emphasis on Cale’s surname, something he wasn’t sure he quite liked. “Getting to stomp out the evil Horde on your very first mission; crush their base at Zul’dare and ensure the safety of the vulnerable human townships along the coast! Quite the beginning for whatever résumé you’ll be writing up during the course of the war. You know… if it’s good enough you might even want to consider filing it with the Silver Hand, but I suspect that thought has already crossed your mind?”

“My mind is set on the task at hand, which is indeed to engage the Horde at Zul’dare.”

“Yes…” Adrian snickered. “Only problem is… we won’t be going to Zul’dare…”

“What?!?” both Cale and Nalia cried in unison, though their respective follow-ups were too different from one another to result in anything other than a cacophony of incoherent gibberish.

Adrian waited smugly for the both of them to quiet down, before turning to Nalia: “Speaking out of turn, aren’t we Harper? I’d expect you to cede the floor to your commanding officer, non-commissioned though he may be…”

“As if I care about THAT!” Cale snapped back. “Now what exactly do you mean ‘we won’t be going to Zul’dare’?!?”

Adrian feigned a surprised look, and tilted his head slightly to the side to emphasise this, much to Cale’s annoyance. “The Captain didn’t tell you? Oh my, well we actually received a missive from your forward scout earlier today.” Having said that, Adrian actually looked a little more serious as he continued: “Several Alliance outposts along the Channel Islands have been ravaged by Horde Forces, and our dwarf friend reports that an orc warlock is leading a raiding party at one of the isles in question.”

“A warlock?” Nalia asked in a rather tense voice, “Why would a warlock go out to raid a small outpost unless-“

“Unless he’s there for far more than just some recreational tower-smashing.” Adrian filled in. “Astutely noted, miss Harper. Well done!”

Cale held up his hand just as Nalia was about to say something back. “Well if these tidings are indeed so unsettling that we are spurred to change course, and if it was indeed the scout belonging to my shore party that discovered it, why didn’t the Captain send someone to inform me?”

Adrian shrugged and offered Cale a sheepish smile. “Heh… I knew there was something I was supposed to do…” Seeing Cale narrow his eyes, he quickly added: “But it’s all good and well now! I mean, you came to me, and there is nothing you can’t do with the information now, that you could just a few hours ago!”

“That may be the case… but I still expect an orderly conduct from my team, and so far you aren’t living up to my expectations. I expect that to change, soldier, or I will force you to take cues from Harper, here!” Nalia instantly straightened up at the mention of her name, though she looked like she couldn’t quite decide if she should be happy to have received praise, or to worry about the prospect of actually having to take Adrian on as a charge.

“Pah! It will be a snowy day in Eversong before I lose seniority to a greenhorn who’s half my age.” Adrian smirked wryly, and despite straightening up to stand at attention, a certain degree of smugness remained in his voice. “I’m afraid I wouldn’t be able to live that down, mister Lightsinger… or is it Sir, now?”

“I couldn’t care less what you call me, so long as you follow orders!” Cale stepped forward, and sharply poked Adrian in his chest plate, much to the human’s amusement. “And if you want to make a big deal about age and experience, know that I could have lived your life five times over, and still had change to spare! I know a thing or two about small-unit operations, and if I can’t trust you to report to me with important news, how can I trust you to have my back when we make landfall to hunt for that warlock?”

Adrian blinked, for the first time seemingly taken by surprise. “Landfall? What do you mean landfall? We’re not going ashore!”

A deadly silence fell on the group, broken only by a slight cough from Nalia, who sought to fill the gap with at least some form of noise.

“What… do you mean… we’re not going ashore…” Cale finally asked.

“Oh, well we’re picking up that dwarf guy, sure, if that’s what you mean, but after that we’ll just remain by the coastline.”

“And how do we deal with the orcs from there? I scarcely see we have time to wait for reinforcements, if the final assault on Zul’dare is about to commence as well!”

“Well…” Adrian began, his smirk gradually returning, “It’s a pretty small isle, so I suspect we will just wait for the orcs to come into view, at which point we fire every explosive barrage we’ve got stocked up at the gun deck. If Captain Heskil remains unconvinced that the orcs have been reduced to a mess of red pulp and charred bone fragments after that, then I suppose you MIGHT persuade him to give the whole shoreparty thing a swing…”

“What?!? We can’t do that!” Nalia exclaimed. “You said there was an Alliance outpost on the isle! What if there are survivors?”

“Well if there are, let’s just hope they don’t get caught in the line of fire.” Adrian looked up to the dark sky and stroked his chin before he added: “Come to think of it, I believe the isle has a few regular residents too… Fishermen mostly, with families, and supposedly there’s also this sweet old lady with a cat.”

“Fletch!” Cale practically spat out, “What are you telling me? We’re just leaving these people to their fate?! What if they need help! And worse yet, what if we actually hit them with our barrage!”

Adrian laughed nervously. “Well hey, chief, isn’t that just the gambles of war? Sure, sometimes you accidentally bomb your own outpost, or a workshop that makes civilians, but you just said yourself that you knew all about that kind of stuff! Or do you mean to tell me that you knife-ears in the Thalassian army get told to do things differently?”

“This isn’t about military efficiency!” Cale shouted back. “This is about people! This is about innocent lives that could be saved!”

Nalia nodded quickly in agreement, nearly stumbling on her own words as she added: “We have sworn to protect the peoples of the Alliance, mister Fletch! And this… this is wrong!”

Adrian took a step back towards the stern of the ship and waved his hands at the two. “Whoa, hey now! Don’t be taking your aggressions out on me! This was the Captain’s decision, there’s nothing I can do about it!”

“Sire!” Nalia turned to Cale. “Sire… he has a point. But perhaps you could beseech the Captain to change his mind?”

Cale held his breath and nodded, after which he expelled a troubled sigh. “It seems our only option. After all, this is an elven ship put under Alliance command, perhaps I can incur a favour regarding how it’s used.”

“A more than reasonable request, Sire.” Nalia agreed, and her smile helped Cale feel a little more confident about the plan.

“Well then!” Adrian concluded, “Shall we bring our merry little band below the deck, and speak with the Captain?”

We are going separate ways for now, Fletch!” Cale said in a stern voice. “Harper will accompany me, but you are dismissed. Go get your act together for tomorrow; it’s too dark to steer close to the isles tonight anyway.”

Adrian shrugged. “Fine. I’ll just head below-deck and have a drink with the crew then. Best of luck, Lightsinger!”

Cale and Nalia watched Adrian make his way past them to the main deck, and from there, down into the ship’s interior. Once they felt certain that he had been given a decent head start, they followed down the same path in search for the Captain.

As soon as they opened the door to the lower deck and started to head down the stairs, a wave of warm, musky air struck against them. The excited buzz of an off-duty crew greeted them once they stepped into the living quarters below, with several bunks along the sides of the walls, but also several tables in the centre of the room. Most chairs were taken, and Cale’s eyes wandered over the smoky room and its rowdy occupants.

It didn’t take him too long to spot the Captain, with his distinctive, blonde mutton chops that lent no splendour at all to his overall appearance. With a vacant expression, and protruding bags under his eyes, the man looked very much like a tired bulldog. He sat in the corner at the far end of the room, resting on a crate by which a barrel had been placed to serve as a makeshift table, adorned as it were with a thick, half melted candle and two wooden steins.

Heskil drank from one of the steins, but while the other one also appeared filled with some dark, murky content, the second crate at the opposing side of the barrel remained vacant. Cale wondered why a man of Heskil’s rank would choose such an odd place to be seated, but the thought only lasted a moment as the ship rocked gently from the strike of a slightly larger-than-normal wave, and a drunken crewmember by one of the tables instantly fell out of his unsteady chair and crashed down on the floor, just in front of Nalia and himself. Cale was ready to help the unruly human to his feet, when he saw who it was.

“Fletch…”

Adrian snorted a laugh and jumped back to his feet without any assistance, almost rudely so in the ease with which he rose up despite the heavy plate armour that should reasonably have weighed him down. “Yeah. I’m just here in the living quarters having my drink… like I said! Don’t mind me, good sir Lightsinger!” He took a deep, theatric bow before the other men by the table, all still laughing and cheering over his unfortunate fall, before he sat back down.

Cale clenched his jaw as he glanced over to the Captain, who was sitting just a few paces away. Finally, he felt Nalia’s stare in his neck, and took the few additional steps over to Heskil, where he made a brisk salute.

“At ease, Sir Lightsinger.” Heskil muttered, only answering the salute with a barely noticeable wave of the hand. “And by all means, have a seat… Fletch told me you would be coming down, so I had a grog brought out for you as well.” Cale could hear a chair creak behind him, as the Captain continued: “…though I must say, having your arrival announced like that seems a very strange custom to me. We humans only reserve it for royalty.”

“What if he is?” Adrian called out from his seat. “Captain, perhaps we should ask Sir Cale how he spells his first name?”

The suggestion was met with assorted snorts and chuckles from those close enough to have kept up with the conversation, but Heskil only smiled mildly and shook his head. “Settle down, mister Fletch. Your role as herald was appreciated, but your services are no longer needed...”

Adrian gave the Captain a pout, but then leaned back in over his table, and joined in the drinking with those around him. Cale, who had felt a slight heat rising to his cheeks, decided to leave the remark be and sit down. Nalia instantly reacted and placed herself at attention to his left, something that Heskil seemed to note as his smile was replaced with a faint smirk.

“Royalty or not, you sure seem to keep your subordinates on a short leash.”

“It isn’t like that, Captain. Fletch was dismissed for the evening and just happened to come across you before I did, and Harper here is just…” Cale glanced up to Nalia, who, without turning her head, returned the look from the corner of her eye, “…exceptionally motivated, it would seem.”

Heskil slowly nodded and took a drink from his stein, using the sleeve of his deep blue uniform to wipe the beer foam from his chops. “Yes… it’s her sort of ardent spirit that shall help us win this war. But I am sorry to be keeping you on your toes, Lightsinger, you came here to see me about something?”

“That I did,” Cale agreed, not touching the stein that had been placed out for him, “I am lead to believe that we are changing course, Captain.”

“Yes, to pick up your forward scout.”

“I should like for my team to go ashore then, before any further action is taken.”

Heskil looked at Cale in surprise, stopping the movement of his hand mid-air as he was bringing the stein to his lips for another drink. “Oh?” he finally asked, after a long moment of hesitation. “And why, exactly, is that?”

“Captain! With all due respect, isn’t that obvious!” Cale’s raised tone seemed to come as a surprise to Heskil, whose tired eyes abruptly widened and stared back at him.

“The people on that island will need our help!” Nalia added, “We can’t do this to them, Captain… they need us!”

Heskil glanced from Nalia and back to Cale. His jaw had dropped very slightly, and he put his stein back down without ever raising it all the way to his mouth. “This sounds like it will just complicate matters further… are you sure it is really wise, Lightsinger?”

“Sir, let me say that I strongly recommend it!” Cale confirmed.

The Captain let out a soft grunt, and dragged one of his meaty palms over his forehead to wipe away a few pearls of sweat that had begun to form from the sultry atmosphere that pressed down on them. “Very well then…” he finally half-spoke, half-sighed. “…I trust your judgement.”

“Hear hear!” Adrian exclaimed in the background, though Cale chose to ignore him. He couldn’t help but feel that persuading an Alliance Captain to change his tactical approach on a whim should not have been that easy, even though it wouldn’t be the first time he’d seen an officer do a good job on a lower position, only to get promoted past the brink of what they are actually competent to handle. He wondered if that was what had happened to Heskil, and if perhaps he was more comfortable taking orders than to give them. Cale hoped that was the case, at least, because the only logical alternative was far worse; it could also be that Heskil was weak under pressure, because just as subordinates like to delegate difficult decisions upwards, Cale knew that many officers in turn would be keen to push their conundrums over on one of their more trusted, go-to men, in the hopes that they could make the matter go away. The problem with that possibility was, of course, that Cale was an unknown to the Captain, and had not had the time to earn any such confidence from him. Back home, those types of bonds between an officer and his best soldiers would take years, if not decades to truly form…

“So what will be the plan, Lightsinger?” Cale snapped out of his musings at the sound of the Captain’s voice.

“Well, Sir, if the Sunchaser can hold position by the coastline and provide cover once we withdraw, then my group should be able to handle the rest. At least… initially. If we encounter too much trouble we will simply fall back to the coast and device a new plan from there, but I would rather not pull too many men from the ship in case additional Horde forces pass through the area.”

“Quite right.” the Captain agreed. “Then we will remain in position during the night, and make our final approach in the morning.”

The ship rocked slightly again, and before Cale could answer, he heard a pained creak followed by a bang behind him, and judging from Nalia’s drawn-out sigh it was Adrian who had once again fallen out of his chair. As he turned to look, Cale confirmed the assumption as he laid eyes upon the mess of plate, green cloak, and drunken human that was busy getting reacquaintanced with the floorboards.

“Do you really think he will have recovered before tomorrow, Sire?” Nalia asked. “Perhaps we should at least cut him off for the night.”

“Nonsense, little missy! I’m good for at least one more drink!” Adrian got up in one swift leap, moving with an acute fervour as if suddenly wanting to prove the continued readiness of all his faculties. He hurried to drape his cloak over his right arm, though not fast enough for Cale’s scrutinizing eye to miss that one of the buckles in his pauldron hung loosely after the fall.

“From what I’ve observed so far…” Cale began, and looked out over the seated soldiers that had all stopped up to see what would come next, “Mister Fletch is pretending to be more drunk than he really is. Aside from the ever so graceful gymnastics he seems to have chosen for our evening entertainment, he remains the same hopeless loudmouth that I was originally introduced to!” Assorted chuckles could once again be heard around Adrian’s table, and the man of the hour listened along with a curious look on his face. Cale noted as much, and struggled to hold back a smirk as he felt the corners of his mouth pull upwards. Instead he continued: “If you disagree with me, miss Harper, then the only other alternative I see is that he had already started drinking when you first introduced us! So either way, I don’t think one more stein will make much of a difference for him at this point!”

The men around the tables laughed and cheered once more, and Adrian wringed his hands together while a new mug of beer was tapped from one of the barrels at the end of the room, and then passed down the tables until it reached him. Nalia, however, looked at Cale with a disapproving scowl, although when he glared back at her, she quickly averted her gaze and settled with shaking her head at the unfolding scenes before her.

“Mister Lightsinger!” Adrian roared as he held his new drink in a toast, “Sit down with us!”

“Yes, master elf! Join us!” someone in the cramped quarters agreed, and everyone else soon joined in a clamour of approval.

Cale laughed softly, and let the noise settle down. His voice remained gentle, although he shot Adrian a poisonous stare that, due to dim lighting and inebriated eyes, only Nalia was close enough to notice. “If mister Fletch here intends to be a hungover mess when he comes along tomorrow, I better rest up so I’m able to exert myself with the efforts of three men; that of myself, of mister Fletch, and not to be overlooked, that of the invisible caretaker that shall have to make sure he doesn’t trip over his own blade while the rest of us do actual work.”

The room erupted in an approving cheer once more, but to Cale’s disappointment, Adrian joined in with the guffaws and downed his mug in one go. But at least the soldiers had taken his refusal well, so he gestured for Nalia to come with him before the crowd thought of another reason for them to stay.

--------------------------------------------------------

Adrian watched Cale as he strode up the stairs to the main deck, that Harper girl following obediently behind him as if the two of them were bound by an invisible chain. Yes, he would definitely have a lot of fun with those two... After he faintly heard the door above both open and slam shut again, but moreso felt it in the tremors of the floorboards under his boots, he rose from his chair without even the slightest sign of a wobble in his movements.

Captain Heskil was still sipping on his first stein as Adrian sat down in Cale’s spot, facing the tired-looking man. “Hey Captain, going easy on the bub tonight?”

Heskil chortled dryly without giving a reply. Instead he watched Adrian help himself to Cale’s untouched stein, left on the barrel.

“Oh, by the way…” Adrian continued, while holding up the already half-emptied mug, “you don’t mind if I have this, right?”

“By all means, mister Fletch…” the Captain muttered. “But tell me… I don’t suppose you had anything to do with that little ruse from our high elf friend?”

Adrian leaned back in a jaunty posture, with his right leg crossed over his lap and the foot dangling mid-air. He pointed to himself as if to make sure the captain had actually addressed him and not somebody else. “Me? What? Oh my dear Captain, I have no idea what you’re talking about!”

Heskil gave Adrian a very forced smile, the insincerity of which was betrayed by his hard stare. “Don’t think I haven’t got my eyes on you, Fletch. I’ve seen the games you’ve been playing for these last couple of days. But, I suppose… if anyone on this ship can contain you, it will be that elf.”

Adrian smirked. “So you say, but either way… the fun has just begun.” Before Heskil had a chance to answer, Adrian had already jumped to his feet, and raised his stein to the others in the room. “A toast, comrades! A toast, to the sagacious leadership of our Captain!”

Adrian was met with a massive, drunken roar from the crew, and wherever the discussion had been meant to head next, was quickly forgotten even by the two men partaking in it.

--------------------------------------------------------

Nalia and Cale had shared a long silence, the young recruit not quite sure what to say after what she had seen below the deck, all at the same time as Cale rather enjoyed having a moment of silence, making no effort whatsoever to start up a new conversation. But the Quel’dorei’s moment of bliss was finally interrupted by a loud cheer from down below, followed by a rumble of gravelly voices joining together in a song:

To arms we go anew, and the filthy Orcish Horde,
All bent on loot and plunder, with lives they ill afford…
It seems a thrashing now and then, will never help to tame,
Those brutes, and so they’re out upon, their usual wicked game…
The Lion did his best, to find them some excuse,
To crawl back to the morass again, all efforts were no use…
They hunger for their victims, so pleased when blood is shed,
But let us make their crimes recoil, on Orcish neck and head!


The song then turned into a chorus, that not even Cale’s elven hearing could quite make out. Not that he tried, but it was made impossible either way once the sudden eruption of noise had spurred Nalia to speak: “Why do you let him stay down there and drink, Sire? I don’t mean to disrespect your will, but isn’t he disgracing you?”

“I have learned to choose my battles with these kinds of things, Nalia. In a room full of soldiers, I’d rather keep the good spirits going if it only costs me the concession of a single mug of ale.”

Nalia’s eyes fell to the ground, and she appeared to be in thought. Cale guessed she disagreed with his notion, but struggled to find a good counter-argument. He decided it was best to patiently wait her out, and so continued to listen to the singing reaching up from below.

The misdeeds of the Orcs, are known throughout our lands,
But how about the Trolls, can they show spotless hands?
They slaughtered well in history, both elves and humans bold,
How many done to death, we’ll ne’er perhaps be told…
They butchered all through Eversong, both woman, man, and child,
With cruelties that their leaders, would rather see beguiled…
And poor, broken Stormwind, Horde’s cruel yoke now must bear,
While prayers for reprisal, go up into the air!


“It’s just… not how I expected things to be.” Nalia finally said, once again denying Cale the chance to listen to the chorus, which he was now actually growing curious about.

“Well, Nalia… I suspect you will come to understand it in time. In fact… after your first battle, I am sure you will.” He turned to look her straight in the eyes, realizing only after he had spoken that his words might have been slightly more foreboding than intended. Indeed, Nalia actually looked a little scared, so Cale made sure to soften his expression and give the girl a reassuring smile. “Military discipline is good and well, Harper, but sometimes, people need more. Ways to blow off steam, as well as outlets for their thoughts. It’s for the same reason that so many soldiers write poetry when they are stationed on the front lines.”

May those who ‘gan the quarrel soon have to bite the dust,
The Orc should be thrice armed, for it’s our cause that is just…
‘Tis said that countless thousands should die through this cruel war,
But let us hope with fervour, that peace shall come before…
Let them be wary of our Lothar, bravest Lion still,
He proved our might, and claimed his right, and ever, ever will!
For him we draw the sword, for our homes and those unborn,
Humans, dwarves and more; to the Alliance, steadfast sworn!


“I still don’t like it” Nalia finally said, “but maybe… maybe you’re right in that we all cope differently. I mean, when I got sick of all the chores back home I would go out for long walks in the forest. It was a good way to have time for myself… to think. Or perhaps… ‘daydream’ is a better word for it, since I’d often pretend I was walking through Eversong.” She smiled weakly, and at the same time, it didn’t escape Cale's eye how she looked to him as if something further was on her mind. “Is it the same with you, Sire?” she finally asked, “I didn’t consider it at first, but… while you let mister Fletch have his way, you also declined to join him.”

“I am not much of a drinker, admittedly.” Cale gave a quick nod, and decided it best not to add that he got enough of that sort of revelry from his brother back home. “And likewise, even a Quel’dorei needs sleep to function. I was about to call it a night.”

Nalia’s brow formed into a scowl. “You sleep up here? …on the main deck?”

“Yes.” Cale nodded. “I prefer resting under the night sky… so long as it isn’t raining. I suppose I’ve grown accustomed to it; it’s easier for me to fall asleep without walls and roof to block out sounds of anything that might approach.”

“…or walls and roof to protect you from anything that might approach”, Nalia noted. “But Sire, I don’t suppose there’s more to this? I’ve heard that your people likes to incorporate your architecture with nature itself, at least out in Eversong. Does that mean others of your kin are as drawn to the outdoors?”

“I wouldn’t say ‘drawn’ to it. That suggests some form of need, or reverence, which I wouldn’t really say is the case. But most of us do indeed enjoy nature, you are right in that.” Cale walked over to the main mast, and pushed his back against it as he slumped down on the ground. His feet ached from standing about all day, and he sighed contently as he finally allowed himself to relax.

Nalia watched him in silence for a time, and Cale wasn’t quite sure how many minutes had passed once the silence was finally broken. “You are tired, Sire”, she noted.

“That I am”, Cale admitted.

“I have more questions, but I’ll save them for tomorrow.” Since Cale’s only response was to nod, Nalia continued: “And I suppose I should head for the bunks as well... Good night, Sire.”

“Good night, Harper.”

Nalia quickly turned on her heels, and Cale thought her movements seemed a little sharper, almost aggressive, as she walked off. He was too tired to give it much thought, though, and finally closed his eyes once he heard the door to the lower decks open, letting the drawled singing from below reach into the night for a moment, before the muffling door was just as swiftly shut again.

He took a deep breath, which he expelled in an equally deep sigh while he adjusted himself against the mast to sit more comfortably. He quickly entered into the stage of drowsy stupor where the sounds of the waves, and the rasps and creaks from the rocking ship, only served to soothe his mind rather than disturb it. The distant songs from Adrian and the other humans below the deck became a reassurance that it was safe for him to lower his guard and drift away into a tranquil sleep. Cale allowed the voices to sway him deeper into his slumber, and as they reached the somewhat nonsensical chorus of the same song for the fifteenth time, he was no longer sure if he heard it, or actually dreamt it:

“We don’t want to fight, but by Lothar if we do,
We’ve got the oil, we’ve got the gold, we’ve got the lumber too!
We’ve fought the Horde before, and if we’re Alliance true,
The south we shall soon liberate, it’s long overdue!”

avatar
Tyrós/Cále

Posts : 147
Join date : 2011-06-17
Age : 28
Location : Sweden

Character sheet
Name: Cale Lightsinger
Title: Patriarch

Back to top Go down

View previous topic View next topic Back to top

- Similar topics

 
Permissions in this forum:
You cannot reply to topics in this forum