Northern Borders of Ashenvale Forest.
Year 20. The Third War.
3rd Squad, Theramore Task Force.
The order had come from Major Ronald Goldwood, Commanding Officer of the newly constructed Task Force to Theramore. He was a tall man at 52 years, with a white beard covering the majority of his face. His shining silver armour clanged together as he knelt down beside a trail of unusual footprints.
“Felbeasts,” he muttered under his breath, “Captain Vaylor, front and center!” Over his shoulder, stood a platoon comprised of around twenty armoured soldiers. A muscular man from the back made his way forward in a crouched walk, clutching the hilt of his blade which was attached to a combat belt. Kaijan Vaylor was promoted nearly a week ago by Lady Proudmoore herself, following his service under the command of Major Goldwood. He halted next to his officer and breathed in quietly, “Aye, Sir?”
“Vaylor, these prints lead further into the forest, away from our current objective. The barrage obviously didn’t hit all targets, take Lieutenant Shadowbane and Corporal LaRoche and eradicate anything that doesn’t talk common.” Kaijan Vaylor nodded and hand signalled for the two Marines to take point away from the platoon, ensuring that they follow the Felbeast prints. He followed in behind them, entering the darkened, misty forests of Ashenvale. As twigs and branches snapped under his boots, he could hear Goldwood and the rest of the platoon move on with their sweep across the road.
The forest was eerie with silence, and the three remained quiet, keeping to hand signals and worrying where the prints would end. Each were clutching their standard issued swords as their heads rotated amongst the trees. The previous month had been hard. They had all accepted the words of Medivh, and had signed up as soldiers of what was to become Theramore. They had joined Jaina Proudmoore in her journey to Kalimdor, being promised a new start, and a new home. Thrilling as it sounded, they were much disappointed. The Third War had engulfed the Kingdoms of Eastern Azeroth and was now spreading to Kalimdor. Ashenvale Forest was the Burning Legions forefront of assault, and Major Goldwood’s men had been given the task of patrolling its northern borders following a Dwarven Artillery Barrage.
Captain Kaijan Vaylor cupped a firm hand around Corporal LaRoche’s shoulder as he stopped at a clearing in the forest.
“What is it, Robby?” he asked. LaRoche pointed, his distant eyesight made him a fine spotter. Kaijan clenched his eyes as he peered into the clearing. Several Felbeasts were puncturing their teeth into a helpless Night Elf commoner who had obviously been caught up in the war. His screams and yells were silenced as one tooth ripped through his voice box. The three Marines unsheathed their swords as quietly as possible and crouched out from their cover behind the bushes. The clearing was too open for a direct charge, and the Felbeasts would be alert by the time they’d even reach half way. They spread out, Shadowbane taking the left flank, LaRoche the right, and Vaylor up the middle. They helplessly watched the Night Elf male be mauled to death by the group of Burning Legion lapdogs. They encroached further, the Felbeasts still unaware of their predators behind them. The eerie silence still shrouding the forest as their boots thumped the thick mud. They approached the Felbeasts from three angles, lifting their blades high. Kaijan nodded and charged the remainder of the way, bringing his blade down upon the nearest Felbeast, ramming it into its thick skull. It keeled over with a screeching yelp and the others whirled. Shadowbane had charged so fast he had no room to manoeuvre his sword and alternated to charging his nearest Felbeast to the floor, persisting to punch it. LaRoche was caught off guard, and his foe had already pounced. Its heavy weight forced him to the ground and knocked the sword from his hand. He grunted with frustration, fending off the beast with his arms, but to no avail. The savage creature forced its way through and bit into the top of his head, crushing it under its teeth.
Kaijan stared blankly as he watched LaRoche consumed by the Burning Legion servant. He retracted his sword from the skull of his own beast, and called out for Eranar. The Lieutenant looked up, his hands bloody from ripping his own beasts jaw in two.
“We’re leaving; Major Goldwood needs to be informed that the Burning Legion are still active in this sector.” The two gathered themselves and made to leave, but were met by several other Felbeasts who had scampered out from the bushes. They were surrounded, but gave no hesitation in charging their way through, forcing the Felbeasts aside and ran down the way they had come.
“Where’s LaRoche?!” Eranar panted as they ran through thickets of branches and bushes. Kaijan didn’t answer, but merely ran as fast as he could, not daring to looking back at the pursuing Felbeasts. Moments later they found the road, and burst out from the bushes to find several men sprawled in their own blood. Both men stared blankly at the dead soldiers that was once in their platoon. They scurried up the road as their pursuers cut through the bush and onto the cobbles. The sickening noises made by the beasts kept the men running, determined to find the rest of their unit.
A several hundred meters further up, Kaijan and Eranar heard the crunches and squelches of metal meeting flesh. They turned a corner as a Marine hit the ground in front of them. A six bladed polearm, the size of a man, was protruding from his chest. The two looked up in horror to see a raging Felguard towering above them. It roared horrifically, unmerging its weapon from the dead mans body. The two readied themselves, standing side by side, shoulder to shoulder, preparing to meet whatever death that awaited them. Felbeasts emerged behind them, and it hit them that they were trapped. The Felguard approached, grunting curiously as the two partners backed off slowly. It heaved the polearm above its head, taking one stride forward with a cry of anger and a yelp of pain. A sword had suddenly appeared through the monstrosity’s chest and it bent over silently and hit the ground with a thud. Major Goldwood’s figure came around the body with a warm smile.
“I’m guessing this area still crawls with Legion forces, we must hurry, this ha-,” he was caught midsentence as a second Felguard erupted from the forest next to them. The Felbeasts also lunged forward, and the three were locked in a battle from all sides, fending off the Legion soldiers. They fought honourably together, and with the rest of the men dead, they were ready to go down with them.
Major Goldwood retracted his sword from a slain Felbeast and turned on the 8 foot Felguard standing before him. He charged at it, hacking his way into its armour. It yelled in agony and returned the favour, using the hilt of its polearm to club the Major. He fell to the ground, a bruise growing on his face. He scampered back and stood, avoiding the polearm as it struck the ground where his crotch should have been. He lunged forward again, puncturing the beast’s stomach. It should have died but it never, and out of shock he hesitated. He was too late to see the three sided blade of the polearm strike his torso. He screamed in pain and blood spurted from his mouth like a fountain. He held onto the weapon wedged into his body and pushed it free. He fell to the ground and backed off. Kaijan and Eranar hadn’t heard his screams and were to busy fending off several more Felbeasts that had all of a sudden, appeared from the forest. Goldwood’s face turned as white as the moon as blood poured from his gashing wound and mouth. He turned around, calling for his two remaining officers.
“Major? … Major!” Kaijan rushed over, deflecting a fatal killing blow from the Felguard’s oncoming polearm. He tossed it aside and finished the already injured beast off, severing its plated arm and lodging the sword in its heart. Eranar approached, his face smothered in blood as the sound of battle ended … they were victorious. He looked down at Goldwood, who was propped against a tree, struggling to release words from his blood spurting mouth.
“R-Return to M-Mi’Lady P-Proudmoore, she must be i-i-informed…” His eyes fluttered, and Kaijan was forced to tap his cheek in order for him to stay conscious. He didn’t reply to his request, but instead, unattached his armour. He flung Goldwood over his shoulders and made as fast as he could for the nearest Night Elven outpost, repeating the words, “Major, hang on, you’ll be fine, don’t give up hope…”
… The death of Major Ronald Goldwood never went unnoticed. His blade, “Ribal’Tael” was later stored within the Theramore Library as a declaration of his duty, and his body was cremated several days after the victory atop of Mount Hyjal with the other lost soldiers that fought bravely and honourably for Jaina Proudmoore.
After the establishment of Theramore, the Task Force was left under the command of Kristoff, the cities Chamberlain, who used it as a secret policing force. The same Marines served with fidelity and later assisted with driving Grand Admiral Proudmoore from the Isle.
Captain Kaijan Vaylor was later honoured for his service and was given full control of the Task Force with the rank of Major, who reinstated its former position as Theramore’s Special Forces regiment. Ever since they have conducted numerous expeditions and investigations against the Lich Kings Scourge and various other factions…