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Rise of the Legion.


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The distant booming of the Horde war drums was beginning to wear on Private Thogrum Bronzebeard's nerves. He nervously tugged at his armor, and checked the placement of his equipment for what seemed like the hundredth time. His crossbow, slung across his chest, was cocked and a bolt laid in place. The breastworks prevented him from seeing anything in front of him.

He glanced behind him, at Lieutenant Strongaxe, who was calmly reading yet another dispatch from the command. Lieutenant Strongaxe was young, barely five years older than Thogrum, but a seasoned veteran of the frequent border clashes with the broken remnants of the horde. He glanced to his right, at Sergeant Hammerlock. Hammerlock was up on the step, peering cautiously over the top of the breastworks. He glanced down, and grinned at Thogrum.

“Buck up lad. Ye look like someone just killed yer cat!”

Seargent Hammerlock was old. How old, no one in the squad knew, but he had seen his share of battles in both the Second War and the subsequent skirmishes with the remnants of the horde. He carried an enormous axe, of intricate work, that had a thousand tiny scars, scratches and nicks all over it, as did his armor. He was, in short, one of the most thoroughly intimidating individuals that Thogrum had ever met.

Lieutenant Strongaxe cleared his throat.

“Ok, troops. Listen up. Intel from our Gnomish allies in the air reports that the Horde forces in this area are disorganized, mostly tribal remnants that missed the sweeps after the war. They have been raiding our outposts for supplies, and fading back into the hills. We are going to hold the defensive line here while our cavalry drives them towards us. It's the old hammer and anvil, boys. “

This line drew a few grins, as almost every one of them had grown up playing in and around the smithys of Ironforge. The young officer looked at the paper in his hand, and continued.

“ We suspect that these are mostly Frostwolf Clan Orcs, and that makes them very dangerous indeed. I don't want any screwups today. Keep 'em at range, and don't let them close in on our perimeter, or the Cav boys won't be able to reach them. Sergeant Hammerlock, anything to add?”

“No, Lieutenant. Just want these boys here to remember their training, and remind these orcs here what happened LAST time the orcs crossed axes with the forces of Ironforge”


Lieutenant Strongaxe nodded. “ Indeed, Seargent. Indeed.. Take your positions, the cav sweep should be starting momentarily”

The Horde war drums in the distance abruptly stopped, then resumed, at a faster pace. Boom, Boom, Boom. It seemed to match the pounding of his heart. He wondered if this was what his father had felt, waiting for the Horde forces at Dun Modr during the seige.

In the distance, he heard screaming, a chilling howl that shook him to his core.

Sergeant Hammerlock was yelling. “Up on the breastworks boys, UP, UP, UP! Crossbows READY!”

Thogrum scrambled up onto the parapet, and leveled his crossbow over the top of the fortification, along with the rest of his squad. He stared out at the onrushing mass of...Well, something. The dust obscured his vision, but whatever the Horde was throwing at them, there were a LOT of them, and they were moving fast...really fast. Sergeant Hammerlock was muttering under his breath next to him.

Thogrum risked a look behind him, down into the fortification. Two humans, a man and a woman in long, flowing robes had joined the Lieutenant, as well as another heavily armored dwarf, and were discussing something.

An armored hand slapped the back of his helmet, and Hammerlock snarled at him: “PAY ATTENTION BOY! Eyes forward!” Thogrum snapped his head back around, and the dusty, fast moving cloud was close, maybe a hundred yards away. He aimed for the center of the cloud as he had been trained and waited for the order...

“ FIRE” Hammerlock roared.

Hundreds of crossbow bolts sang out from the dwarven lines into the dust cloud and disappeared. Nothing seemed to happen....Thogrum re cocked his crossbow, and placed another bolt.

Again the order came “ FIRE”

Again the bolts flew out, and disappeared into the dust cloud, and nothing. The cloud was maybe fifty yards away at this time, and seemed to be accelerating.

Distantly, Thogrum heard Lieutenant Strongaxe shouting. “ Get their heads down Sergeant Hammerlock! “

As Hammerlock turned and screamed for the dwarven soldiers to get behind the parapets, Thogrum heard a strange chanting. He ducked and stared at the two humans in robes, as they stood chanting in unison, with swirling energies building around them.

Suddenly there was a tremendous blast of heat and a roar from the other side of the breastworks, followed by a blast of bitterly cold wind, and then another blast of heat. Thogrum's ears were ringing.

As his hearing returned, he realized that he heard...nothing. It was dead quiet.

He cautiously stood up, and turned back towards the parapet, when suddenly something hit him bowling him over, and knocking him off of the step, and rolling him backwards. Something snarled in his face, reeking of sulfur and venom. He shoved it hard and instinctively rolled aside, pushing himself up onto his hands and knees. The beast, now in between him and the humans, snarled again and lept for him. The flash of an axe blade caught it in mid leap, and it fell in two pieces on the ground, twitched, snarled and died. Shocked, Thogrum looked up at Sergeant Hammerlock, who grinned at him and extended a hand to help Thogrum to his feet.

As Thogrum stood up, the two humans and the dwarven officer came to where the pieces of the beast were laying on the ground, now starting to dissolve into a foul steam. He stared at it numbly.

The humans exchanged a glance.

The male human spoke. “Their numbers appear to be far greater than we thought. We need to report this immediately.”The woman nodded. “I agree. This needs to get back to the Archmage as well. This information needs to get to the council.”

She then spoke to the dwarf that had accompanied them. “ General, report any further sightings of these beasts immediately. Do not launch any attacks and be prepared to fall back if needed. Our forces are not prepared for this fight yet. There are far greater forces at work here than the scattered remnants of the Horde.”

The stocky dwarf general nodded gravely. “It shall be done, milady.”

The mages, for it was now clear that they were magi, nodded, turned and headed for the rear of the dwarven lines, escorted by the dwarven commander.

Thogrum looked at Sargent Hammerlock, and tried to force himself to speak. “Sarge, what was that thing?”

“ I don't know, Lad. I've been fighting the Hordies a long time, and never seen that sort of beastie. It looks a bit like the tales me father told me of the demons from the First War, but I thought that all the people who could summon those were long dead.....”

Lieutenant Strongaxe nudged the lumps of disolving flash with his armored boot.

“ They may not be as dead as we had thought, Sergeant”

Thogrum looked at Lieutenant Strongaxe. “What does it mean Lieutenant? Were those Battle-magi? ”

“ It means, my inquisitive little private, that something big is coming. And yes, they were Battle-magi, and they don't appear unless something is about to happen.”

The Lieutenant looked down the line of soldiers, now starting to peer over the parapets at the legions of slain demons on the field in front of them.

Sergeant Hammerlock spoke: “ I think it's coming again.” The Lieutenant nodded, still with a distant look in his eyes. “ I agree, Sergeant.”

“What's coming Sergeant?” Thogrum whispered.

Sergeant Hammerlock roared with laughter, and slapped Thogrum hard on the back, his armored hand clanging off of Thogrum's own armor.

“ Why, War, lad. War.”

Thogrum looked up at the parapet, and saw the smoke rising into the sky, and heard the drums begin to beat again. He drew his axe, resumed his place on the breastworks, and began to wait.

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