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   "DEATH TO HORDE SCUM!"

   Saora whirled to face Dhaja. The Draenei had already conjured a massive light spell in her hands. Even worse, several Zodiac mercenaries behind her edged closer, emboldened. If they attacked now...

   Dhaja's arm pulled back. She flung the orb of Light at Varosh, the ball bigger than the orc general's head. Without thinking, Saora threw herself in the magic's path. She whipped Benediction around her wrist, forming a golden shield with its spinning shaft. Dhaja’s orb folded into the blessed staff. Benediction gleamed brilliantly as it spun, fading to its dull shine as Saora whipped it to her back and held it steady. Her left hand extended to the Justicar, ready for a second attack.

   "Please," Saora said, terror pressing against her lungs, "please don't."

   Dhaja stared at her, jaw dropped. The mercenaries had similar expressions.

   "Don't you see?" Saora kept pleading, "This is what he wants, what Arthas wants. For us to kill each other. Then who can stop him?"

   “We have no quarrel with the Alliance,” Varok said. “I am here only to claim my son’s body.”

   "Demonic filth!” the Justicar spat. “Stand aside, human!”

   The priestess gulped again but shook her head, "N-no...Pl...Please..."

   Another spell grew in Dhaja's hand. Deep purple and dripping with black sludge, it hovered eerily between her fingers. Saora's eyes widened. That was a shadow spell. She wouldn't...

   Verita's armored hand grabbed the Justicar's wrist and yanked her close. Dhaja didn’t struggle, just whipped her head around to see who dared touch her and held the hunter’s gaze. Endymion circled the two, growling deep in his throat, the fur along his back standing on end. His powerful muscles rippled under that gleaming black fur, reflecting the turmoil between Commander and Justicar. No one else dared move.

   "You swore!" Dhaja hissed through her perfect teeth. "You swore you would never interfere with the Light's justice!"

   The elf's voice was calm but still echoed across the platform, "Your 'justice' will interfere with the mission."

   "Killing them will not impede our progress!"

   "Back down. That is an order."

   Neither moved, their noses almost touching. Dhaja's eyes darted to Saora. The human shivered at the power behind her glare but remained firm, her arm outstretched. The shadow spell shrank and disappeared. The Justicar's fingers clutched her palm before relaxing. Verita released her. Saora beamed at her friend, the hunter in charge of her emotions once more.

   "Mortals..."

   A blood red beam shot through the armies, roaring over and past Saora's head. Behind her, Varosh's deep war cry was cut short. She turned back to him and screamed. He and his entire army were encased in a red glow and suspended several feet above the stone floor. They'd been frozen, their faces twisted in surprise and rage.

   "Pathetic, old orc," the Deathbringer snarled. "You WILL join me, father, whether in dying life or living death!"

   "ATTACK!" Guider cried. Saurfang grimaced, his gleaming, yellowed teeth forming a horrible grin. The ice blue magic in his eyes turned blood red. Thick lips whispered terrible words and his arms began to glow the color of his eyes.

   "NO!" Saora raised Benediction overhead, the red gem cutting through the growing fog. Golden light burst from the staff as Saurfang's spell appeared. The red and gold collided. Saora, nearly blind, blinked furiously as the spells faded.

   The first thing she saw was Verita's still form. The hunter crouched a few feet away, her bow just being notched. She screamed a muted order, her eyes gleaming with hate. Endymion stood tall at his hunter’s feet, his expression frozen in that moment of realization that magic was descending on them. Beside her commander, Dhaja had managed to lift her arm in a defensive gesture. She'd been readying a shield spell, her fingers curved in the necessary formation. All around the priestess, dozens more were frozen statues. Every mercenary, soldier and ally in the area stood still as corpses.

   Tears filled Saora’s eyes. Benediction quivered in her hands and her heart pressed heavily on her lungs. She was the only one left. She'd failed.

   "Saora?"

   Her heart leapt to her throat, "Jay?!"

   He appeared suddenly, weaving between the statues like water. She barely had time to recognize him before she was safe in Jaybird’s arms. Sobs burst from her lips as she clutched him close.

   “How?” she whispered.

   “You. A shield flashed in front of me. It blocked the spell.”

   "Thank the Light. Guider?" she asked. Her husband stayed silent, his arms tightening on her shivering form.

   "Frozen,” a familiar voice answered, “Kasino, too.”

   Saora beamed at the golden paladin edging away from the statuesque armies, “Celesi!”

   “Glad to find others,” Celesi eyed the Verita statue, uneasy. “Guess I’m the only officer left. We must regroup with other survivors, if there are any.”

   “All survivors. Few walkers,” Pips came into view, still rubbing her eyes. Behind her trailed Teagin and Katrina, two of Guider’s army. Teagin, a night elf druid,  rushed close to grab Saora’s hand in joy, a flowery scent drifting from the leaves in her hair.

   “How did--?”

   “The little one,” Katrina, a paladin, gestured at Pips. “She threw up a portal and jumped in. We followed her.”

   Teagin shivered, “Still not sure it was a good idea. Warlock portals are creepy.”

   “Rescue unappreciated, as always,” Pips sniffed.

   “Four more, Commander Celesi,” Vendaci’s monotone voice announced her arrival. The death knight was flanked by three Zodiac mercenaries. Saora recognized two that Verita had warned her away from earlier, the druid and the gnome rogue. The third was the night elf hunter who was the first to dismount when Zodiac arrived at the Citadel.

   The hunter tossed her long white hair and smirked, “Ten of us against one of him? Easy odds.”

   “The Deathbringer will summon minions,” Vendaci said. “He is imbued with the strength of Frostmourne. He is not some foot soldier from the Pit, Shalvaris.”

   “Meh,” Shalvaris shrugged, “he’ll die all the same.”

   “Kasino and Guider are out,” Celesi said. “That leaves me in charge.”

   “According to who?” the Zodiac druid snarled.

   “Who else would you suggest,” Katrina snapped, “you?”

   The druid grinned, his fanged teeth gleaming, “That’s not such a bad idea, baby.”

   “Call me that again and you’ll lose a limb.”

   “Kat! Don’t insult the strong, handsome druid,” Teagin batted her eyes at the mercenary. “He’s clearly seen many battles. I’m sure his...experience will be invaluable.”

   “Don’t waste your time with that troll, sweetheart,” Shalvaris said. “The only thing Edrianne loves is himself.”

   The Zodiac commander raised her hand, “Enough. I cannot do this without ALL of you. I’m not keen on becoming another lackey for Arthas.”

   “You ain’t the only one,” the rogue pulled away his mask and spat on the stone floor. For one horrifying moment, Saora saw his tiny face. It had been ravaged with wounds. Acid burns, deep cuts, broken bones, his face had seen more abuse than an entire battalion. The priestess had never seen so many scars, and she was sure more covered the rest of his body. The gnome caught her stare and winked before replacing his mask.

   Katrina waved her hand, blessing her mace with Holy light. “Let’s hurry up and free the others.”

   “Wait!” Teagin clasped her friend’s hand, pulling her back to the group. Her wide eyes closed and she turned her face to the sky.

   “Elune, bless us in our endeavor,” she whispered. “Shine upon our path and fill us with the power that controls the sea.”

   Saora closed her eyes and offered her own prayer, “We go forth to spread Light to the darkness. Lend us the strength needed to perform our duty.”

   A harsh, choking laugh echoed through the room. The stunned armies began to glow with that familiar blood red magic. At first nothing happened, then the glowing statues began to rise. Their levitation revealed the group to the mad gaze of Saurfang. They hovered overhead with the frozen Horde army, out of reach and out of the way.

   “What chance do you have?” the Deathbringer growled. “You are NOTHING! I am more powerful than you can imagine!”

   He reached for the massive handle at his back. The axe he drew was monstrous, large enough to be wielded by an ogre. Its chipped and broken blade was stained with blood and the shaft was covered in thousands of cuts. Saora swallowed, realizing those were not cuts. They were notches. Saurfang had killed more opponents than she could count. Vendaci was right. This was no foot soldier.

   Vendaci’s iced armor glittered as she stepped toward him, “Better to be nothing than a slave, Dranosh. Leave the King, break his hold, lest he throw your existence away as he did mine. As he did Mograine’s. Or do you think yourself above the son of the Ashbringer?”

   “An abandoned traitor walks among them,” the orc cackled. “Do you come to throw yourself at his knees? To beg to be accepted back into his graces? You cannot deny the bloodlust coursing through you, the desire to harness his awesome power again!”

   “His awesome power is not for anyone to harness, nor for you to wield. You have limits. I know you haven’t the strength to repeat your levitating statue trick.”

   Saurfang’s grin twisted to a snarl, “I have plenty left to destroy your friends.”

   “That will be more difficult than you think, Deathbringer,” Celesi stepped to Vendaci’s side. “The Light will triumph.”

   “Enough talk!” the orc roared, swinging his axe. “Come, heroes! Taste the power that the Lich King has bestowed upon me! Come and face the might of the Scourge!”
Here's where it gets interesting!

Some love for Celesi is needed because that chick was one of the best reasons for being in Zodiac. She was laid back, fun and unapologetic for who she was. While so many chicks in gaming fall in two awful stereotypes (the helpless "Gamer Grrl" or the overly defensive feminist), Celesi stood apart. When the guys teased, she teased right back AND was there every raid night to pull her weight as one of the main tanks. She and I were second in command to Kasino in the Zodiac hierarchy, and she supported him just as much as I did. She was also one of the few Zodiacs to RP. Often when I think of WoW friendships I've lost, I feel regret or sadness. When I think of Celesi, all I can remember are the laughs and her soft voice talking about tentacle hentai. She was awesome.

Fight scenes are always fun, but always trying. Since I've thrown in several new personalities I've never written before, it's been...sluggish getting through it. But next chapter it comes...

The first battle!
:icongina-sadiren:
Gina-Sadiren Featured By Owner Jul 22, 2014
Personally one of my favorite chapters so far XD I can't explain why, but I really like it!
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:iconchildofdumas:
ChildOfDumas Featured By Owner Jul 28, 2014  Student Writer
Yay! :D :iconbatglompplz:
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July 21, 2014
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