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"Yet this inconstancy is such

As you too shall adore;

I could not love thee (Dear) so much,

Lov'd I not Honour more."


– Richard Lovelace: To Lucasta, Going To The Wars.


Inexorable - Part Five.


I had finally received my orders, and after finishing various businesses I finally found myself ready and in my armour, awaiting Spearce’s arrival at the Valley of Heroes. He turns up and we start heading off, riding through Elwynn Forest. We talk a little on the road. His lack of memory makes it hard for me to speak of that many things. At least, I say, as we ride through Three Corners towards the bridge leading over to Duskwood, he hasn’t forgotten how to fight. He agrees to that fact, reckoning that it is the training that dwells in his mind – perchance subconsciously.

It starts to rain, somewhat to my annoyance. Spearce eyes me in an odd way, asking if I dislike the rain. I chuckle at that question as I recall my time of blindness where rain felt good. "It’s just when it is late and I have to travel a long distance," I tell him. Quite true, really. Getting wet and cold on a long journey is hardly that healthy. As much as it may be true that the Paladins are resistant to diseases and such, we can still feel so very cold. And in light of that, we agree to gallop the remainder of the way to Darkshire and stay at the inn for a little while.

We didn’t stay there long. Only long enough to get something warm to drink and I notice that the rain stops. Time to move on, I agree with myself and we mount up and are about to continue. Then someone calls my name; a voice I’ve not heard in a while. It is Louise. I greet her politely, and she asks what is going on, and speaks of Colonel Ironboot of the Mountaineers 3rd and of Nomine and Undead. I frown, glancing at Spearce. He looks just as clueless as I suspect I look.

"What are you doing here, then?" Louise asks curious.

"Just passing through, really." That is true. We were heading for the Blasted Lands, after all, since my orders require me to report for service at Allerian Stronghold, just like last time.

Upon hearing that she bids me a safe journey and hurries off. I wonder for a moment if I should investigate, but my orders were clear. And I tell Spearce that we should continue.

Trotting towards Deadwind Pass we stop momentarily as Spearce wonders where we are. Even in Elwynn Forest he had no clue where to go. Makes me wonder if he’s even from the Kingdom of Stormwind, but then again, I did meet him in Outland, wounded and unconscious. All he can remember is having been at one of the camps of some Orcs. Either Fel Orcs or those serving the Burning Blade, one of the groups forming the Shadow Council.

Blasted daemon followers.

Mayhap they did something to him, holding him captive and whatnot. Perchance it was they who are the cause for his lack of memory.

Though…I did find him in full armour and carrying a great axe – with an arrow in his back.

Strange...

I disregard the thought, telling him of the signs that warn off people from entering.

"Charming," he comments.

I can’t help but chuckle, if but a little – and I add that though it may be slightly off, abandoning all hope, it is still a dangerous place.

We continue. I warn him that being afraid of heights is not good when crossing the bridges here. He seemed hardly to even notice the long drop. And after I point him the way to the old residence of the Brotherhood of the Horse, and later where Medivh the Wizard lived, we finally behold the Swamp of Sorrows.

I tell him of the many battles that took place here, both in the First and Second Wars.

"One doesn’t need a travelling guide with you along," he comments.

I laugh.

For one not remembering anything of his past, he still has a sense of humour. And in light of that, I recall Richeron as we spoke in the Cathedral, of how he seemed jealous that Spearce would be accompanying me. Jealous. I felt offended since it gave me a feeling that he didn’t trust his wife, I, to not being able to fend off any would-be courter. [i]Light’s name, man, I wear plate armour and wield a great hammer. Do you really think I can’t fend off for myself?[/i] I had asked him. That did make him see, I think. Oh, well, I did manage to make him see that it is only he that I love. It is he that holds my heart, my desire. I wouldn’t be the mother of his children if that was not so.

I do not tell Spearce of this. He seems to know his place very well, honouring the vow of defending me as he swore to do when he realised that I had saved him from death back in Terokkar Forest when I found him.

The air turns very damp, despite the lateness of the hour. In the distance there are still many sounds from various animals, insects, mammals and other beings.

And Orcs.

We eventually run into one, as I had warned Spearce that we might. It keeps its distance upon noticing us. I hope that by acting casual it would realise that we are not here to instigate any conflict – that we’re merely passing through.

It suddenly roars and attacks Spearce. He’s quick, giving the Orc a kick on its jaw, sending it back. Before I can even react, Spearce is off his saddle and lets his great axe descend with frightening speed.

The Orc dies instantly.

I feel like cursing, as I know there are many other Orcs in the area, and I hope none of them noticed our deed. I also feel slightly stunned by Spearce’s quick reaction – of how easily he dispatched the Orc. He then lets his axe sink deeper.

"Just making sure," he replies when I ask why he did that.

I grimace, trying to hide it at the same time, and yet I know it was necessary.

Spearce quickly mounts his horse again, and we move out. We do not get far, however, as another Orc howl resounds. Another one has arrived, and has noticed our deed. This time I manage to get out of the saddle, only to find that Spearce is already passing me and running towards the newcomer. The Orc stands no chance against the two of us, and hammer and axe make short work of him.

Some commotion can be heard nearby, and I tell Spearce to mount up again. We need to get out of here, and fast. We do so, and continue a few paces.

Then another howl is heard. It comes from our right side, close by the sound of it. At first I wondered if it was that of an Orc or something else. Then I realise that it is commands being yelled, in the Orcish tongue. And we see a group of more Orcs, most probably scouts.

Arrows start to fly, some of which startle Archi, my warhorse, so that he rises on his hind legs. I don’t get enough time to react and I land smack dab on my back. It hurts a lot; add the fact that I get all the air in my lungs forced out of me by the impact. I would’ve been an arrow pillow if not Spearce had run up, blocking us both with his shield. He tries to make me get up, but I can’t breathe for a moment. The arrows stop suddenly.

Spearce pulls me up as I finally manage to refill my lungs, and we see Orcs heading our way, but not from where the Orcish bowmen were positioned. It’s from up the road. First one Orc, then another. Spearce handles it better than I do, bringing down the first with relative ease. I parry the attack of the second, and Spearce takes over. My lungs are still shaken after that fall, and my back hurts terribly. I spare a moment to look for Archi, but I can’t see him anywhere.

"Light’s name," I mutter. Archi has never been that startled before. Mayhap he’s getting old.

A bestial howl resounds, and I barely manage to parry. Another Orc. I spare no time and give him a full gauntlet fist in his face, which seems to stun him for a brief moment. I spin on my heel, holding out the great hammer. The speed and strength is the factor that assures that I crush his ribcage. And as he’s still falling down on the ground, I lift the hammer with both hands, and send it down on his skull, ending it as quickly as I can.

Pain flares through the side of my left chest. Just terrible pain. I scream and try to ascertain the cause. And I see an arrow, so nicely planted right in the conjunction of my plate armour. Either it was fired by a master bowman or the Orc shooting just got amazingly lucky. Now it hurts to breathe even more. Spearce runs up to my side, cursing as he brings the shield of his up to shelter us both.

"We can’t stay on the road. We have to get out of here," I snap, clutching my side.

He doesn’t reply with words, merely nods and pushes me forward to the opposite side of the road, away from the Orcs that shoot at us.

The howls grow distant as we run. Well, I partly run and limp at the best of my capability with Spearce supporting me. When we think we’ve run enough, through cold swamp water and past crocolisks, we finally get a moment’s respite. I cast a glance at Spearce’s shield, which seems rather full of arrows – one even having penetrated slightly.

"Spearce," I whisper as I lean back against the tree and then slowly slide down unto the ground, so that I sit. "Do you see any of them following us?"

He peers around the corner of the tree for a moment.

"No."

"Good," I mutter, noticing that it is even harder to breathe now than previously. I also notice the taste of blood in my mouth, and a chilling sensation creeping up through my body when I notice that. A familiar phrase echoes in the back of my mind.

She was the bright mother of our future. May she rest in the Light.

The world loses its focus, and the darkness that I fought to keep at bay overwhelms me.

Iohannes. Annika...

Everything becomes darkness.

And I plummet into that darkness.

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