What is it, he asked, as she woke, gasping from a nightmare. She looked at him, eyes softening from fear to love. Had he been awake all night? Through the window, the sun was rising over Booty Bay harbour. A new day. Just a dream, don't worry, she said, smoothing back his hair. But I do need to get back before they miss me. She pulled away from his embrace and watched him tie back his ponytail. Try and get some sleep, and her feet stepped on the floor.
The gryphon flight to Stormwind took some time. She daydreamed, remembering that horrible day. The sounds of battle, the moans of the undead as the crusaders hacked through rotten flesh and unnaturally strong bones. She had been drifting in and out of her senses, counting her limbs, one, two, three, four, then her eyes resting on the awful wound in her leg, bone gleaming through the torn skin and bloodied muscle. She had wondered why she could feel nothing, and was grateful for the bleak numbness that carressed her consciousness. She refused to die. The army grew close now, the Scourge guarding the inn had rushed off, and not returned. The black air in the cellar was momentarily lluminated by a flash of green and purple light, she saw the sticky red pool in which she huddled, smelled the rotten stink which flowed with that flash, and she had known that a Lich had ben slain. Praise the light.
Nature, mercifully, has a way of protecting the mind from that which it cannot process, and so it had been with her. She remembered faces, uniforms, swords, scarlet and mercenary. She remembered the stiffness in her body when she had been untied. The remembered the looks on their faces, horror, shock, but the worst was pity. She did not remember much, but she remembered the bandages, stitches, and someone had carried her home on their horse. Home. Sweet, soft familiar Stormwind, with its fragrant, candle-lit Cathedral, and the comfort of clean red robes.
And as the gryphon touched down in Stormwind, and she limped towards that Cathedral, she knew what she should do. There had been no question, it had only been a matter of time before she knew. And as she collected her red mail, and pushed her feet into steel boots, as she tested the sharpness of a blade, she knew that the time was now. Outside, a horse was saddled. Not her own, as he had been lost in that gory battle, but it didn't matter. She spurred it to a run and they had soon left the gates of Stormwind far behind.
Fields passed, the the rough dwarven mountaines. Her mount picked a careful path through the wetlands, then over Thandol's broken Span. North, north, through the highlands, past Thoradim's Great Wall, and haldway through Hillsbrad before she caught that first sniff. Unmistakeable, rotting Undead flesh. Just that tiny breeze, but it churned her stomach. She turned her horse towards the smell, brought on a cold North wind. Through Alterac, ever north, until there she saw the broken house and collection of tents: Chillwind Camp.
It started to rain, a cold rain stinking of mushrooms. She let her horse walk on slowly now, shivering in her wet armor. Each mail ring would need drying and rubbing carefully later to avoid rusting. She dismounted outside Andorhal and hobbled her horse, turning it free to graze.
Andorhal was in ruins. Scourge had claimed it as their own. Skeletal mages, bone-armoured ghouls, moaning zombie undead, now lived here. She closed her eyes and summoned the Light as she had been recently taught. For just one brief second, she saw the town as it had been only a few years previously - houses intact, flowers blooming in gardens, merry tradesmen kissing their wives, children running to school. Then the stench clased the image away and she blinked in the rain.
First target selected. Check battle stance. Draw weapon. Charge. Parry. Swing. Block. Strike. Execute. Her training was true, plain and precise. The Undead body dropped at her feet, and the image of a young human male appeared in spirit form. He smiled in gratitutde. You have saved me! Tears formed in her eyes, seeing the expression of peace on his face as his spirit rose freely. She knelt in brief prayer, then raised her sword again. Another Undead fell to her sword arm, a young woman freed this time, blissfully grateful. Then a third, a fourth, fifth. At the sixth, the sun came out from behind the clouds, and her wet face shone with rain, blood, and happy tears.
No, she thought. Maybe Stormwind isn't my home after all. No, this is my home. Here, this stinking poisoned ruin. Behind this sword, this shield, freeing theses spirits from captivity.
And her sword fell down, again and again, until the exhaustion and her wounds got the better of her, and she climbed on her mount, heading to Stormwind.