This is Part of Angrethar, the story of The Battle for the Wrathgate from Aelflaed’s point of view. You can see all of the posts in this story on the Story Archives page, by searching for the Wrathgate category, or through this link.
The fact that she’d tossed and turned all night in her tiny cot, dreaming of death and climbing trees, didn’t help the 4am Reveille call.
Aely stuck her nose out of the corner of the field tent. It was wetter than it had been the previous day, and the fog was thick and swirling in the pre-dawn light. The hushed noises of the night before were replaced with shouts and movement, tents packed up – even the medics seemed infected with a desire to keep busy, to stay moving, and to try and avoid thinking about the horrors they all knew were coming. They were understaffed, thanks to the earlier attacks, and the impending dread didn’t help anyone’s mood, particularly the two dwarf priests who seemed eager to battle each other instead of worrying about the soldiers.
They say there’s always a lull before the storm, for battle or for weather, and that day both the wind and the army was rising.
Men and Dwarves and Elves moved in formation, an assortment of drummers keeping march, and somewhere she heard Goblin planes roaring in the growing wind, the whir of the machines mixing with the solid tramp of booted feet on snow. Not even the clear, rhythmic ring of hoofbeats sounded without an element of anticipation as they marched on Angrathar. Time stretched as an eternity for the Combat Medic Unit, each carrying as many supplies as they could, and their two poor donkeys with a wagon behind of whiskey, water, linen, and firewood.
The closer they got to the gate the worse the wind became, and the first flurries of snow blew in and among the soldiers, whipping their cloaks into a frenzy of multi-colored flags. Angrathar loomed over them, a brooding menace that spoke to horrors within – it cracked, and hordes of scourge came into full view, pouring out of the gate – shambling towards them with the odd, shuffling gait of the mindless dead.
Then stillness settled over the Alliance forces, as tangible as the soft wisps of snow falling from the thickening clouds. The wind held its breath.
A shout, muffled – silenced. Two shouts, and a musket misfired. “HOLD FIRE!” Silence again, only the sound of each heartbeat in straining ears. “STEADY!”
And then, as suddenly as the silence fell, it vanished in a rush of swallowed heartbeats and voiced adrenaline, shouts of battle and the percussive roar of cannonfire and musketry overhead. Somewhere an elven battalion sang their arrows into the sky, and with the sickening crunch of metal on reanimated flesh the two armies began to dance.
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