One More Dream (Linedan RP)
I talked in a post a while back about wanting to shake Linedan’s somewhat stony personality up a bit, and, honestly, what better time to do it than a world-shattering apocalypse, right? This is the first part of some RP that I hope to develop over the next few weeks leading up to whatever happens with the Cataclysm. It’s the story of a simple Tauren who’s been fighting on the front lines for five and a half long, hard, bloody years and has sacrificed everything to succeed there…his friends, his family, even his very heritage. What happens when the battles are won and the burden becomes too much?
He had suffered the dreams for so long that he thought little of them anymore.
They didn’t always come every night. Sometimes they would come for two, three, or four straight nights and then leave for just as many. He had once gone over a week without one. Most of the time there was only one a night, but not always; occasionally there were two. There had never been three. On the nights where a second one had caused him to wake up sweating, he either stayed awake until the dawn, or found a bottle of alcohol to send him into a dreamless “sleep.”
They followed the same pattern, all of them, but they were by no means identical. Sometimes he was alone, sometimes with a few of his friends, sometimes with a small army. Usually he was clad in his sturdiest armor with weapon and shield, geared for endurance and protection; but he had also had dreams where he was in his lighter armor, wielding two huge weapons, fighting in the berserk way that the troll spirit had taught him years ago.
The locations changed as well. The steaming jungles of Zul’Gurub, the fiery pits of the Molten Core, the frozen halls of Icecrown Citadel, even the scrub-covered plains of the Barrens. The antagonists changed, chosen seemingly at random from an endless list of those he’d faced in combat. And the location and antagonist didn’t always match; once he remembered a dream of fighting the Soulflayer, Hakkar, in Winterspring of all places. The dreams were totally accurate and vivid, drawn from memories that Linedan didn’t even know he retained. The sounds of clashing metal and breaking bones, the stench of blood and the dying voiding their bowels, the sweat, the shadows, the glare, the screams…all of them were reproduced with perfect precision.
There were, really, only two constants in the dreams’ plots, and for years, they were rules that were never broken. The first was that regardless of numbers or foes, Linedan and whoever he was allied with always lost. They always ended up dead or dying on the battlefield; no mercy was ever given. And the second was that, invariably, as the blow came down that would kill Linedan, he woke up, heart pounding, breath coming in gasps.
This night, Linedan found himself atop Icecrown Citadel, surrounded by his friends from The Anvil. He was staring up at the Frozen Throne, the black figure of the Lich King seated upon it, but Tirion Fordring was nowhere to be found.
There was no warning, no talking. Suddenly Arthas was right there in front of Linedan, and battle was joined. It became a whirling blur of shouts and clanging metal, the howl of the frozen wind and the cries of descending val’kyr. The Lich King was wounded again and again, but he fought on, and slowly, one by one, Linedan’s fellow adventurers began to collapse onto the icy stone. The Lich King laughed, and raised Frostmourne for the downstroke that would finish the bleeding Linedan and end the dream…
…the sword slammed into Linedan’s shield and skittered down it with a tortured skree-ee-ee of metal on metal and a shower of sparks, before ringing against the stone. Arthas stopped; it was quite possible to imagine him blinking in surprise behind the blue glow of his helmet.
Linedan swung his shield upward with all his might and slammed the edge into the Lich King’s side, then backhanded it up into Arthas’ chin. With his other hand, he slashed forward with his great Scourge axe–how did that get there? I normally use a mace–and felt the blade crunch through the thick saronite armor into the frozen, rotted flesh beneath. He stepped aside as the Lich King fell to his knees in front of him, blood pouring from his chest through the rent in the armor. Without a word, he raised the axe, and brought it down with a roar. The Lich King’s head parted cleanly and rolled away as the body collapsed, coming to a stop a few paces away face-up.
Linedan blinked, staring dumbly at the severed head as the blue glow faded from the eyes. I…I won? That’s…never happened before…
He looked up. No longer was he standing atop Icecrown. Instead, he saw around him the rolling plains of Mulgore atop Red Cloud Mesa, the plains of his childhood. But they weren’t as he remembered them. They were scorched and blackened. The grass was wilted, dying, even burning in a few spots. Ravens croaked and vultures called. Smoke hung in the air, and the scent of death hung thick. In the distance, he saw the tent where he grew up. Something compelled him to head for it.
All around him as he walked, there were bodies on the ground, hundreds of them. He recognized them…the bodies of his friends. Ghaar, his guildmaster. Gorebash, Keltyr, and Haicu, his fellow fighters on the front lines. Davien, Loremistress of Noxilite. Mirandella, the priestess that had driven him to the edge of insanity. Bricu, the human paladin whom he had nearly died trying to protect, along with Threnn, his lifemate. Corspilla, the mage he had very nearly had to kill when she was possessed. He recognized them all, and more…all those who he had ever fought beside, year after year. They all lay dead around him.
As he reached the tent, the flap opened. To his astonishment, his mother, Muatha, walked out of the tent and up to him.
“Mother,” Linedan gasped. “I…”
“Linedan,” she interrupted him, solemnly. “Last of the Granitehoof clan, until you forced me to make you of the Disowned.”
“I…forced?”, he sputtered, growing angry. “Mother, I did not…”
She ignored him and began to pace. “You have done well in the five turnings of seasons since you defied me, Linedan of the Disowned. Many say you are a hero. You have seen and done things that few ever have. You have fought the greatest foes, and emerged victorious.” She stopped in front of him and stared up, her eyes boring into his, her voice growing colder. “But you are Disowned. You are not Shu’halo. You are as much a foreigner as those you associate with.” She touched the armor he still wore. “Was it worth it, you who was once my son? Giving up your identity and your people, your birthright and your history? Was the gold worth it? Was the thrill of the fight, the killing, worth it?”
“What would you have had me do, Mother?”, he snapped. “Ignore that my destiny lay out there? Ignore my call to defend and protect the Horde, including the Tauren? Ignore my duty to my friends? If you would not have me, then this…” He plucked at the black-and-silver symbol of the Noxilite Eye he wore on his tabard. “…this is my clan. These are my people.”
Mautha stood silently for a moment, then nodded her wizened head. “I would expect nothing less from you, calf. You always were too stubborn for your own good.” She turned to face the corpse-littered field in front of her and raised her hands. “Your people, you say. Let us see what they think of your call and your duty.” She threw her head back. “Come to us, spirits! Rise up, and give your thanks to he who is not my son! RISE UP!!”
From the field in front of him, the corpses began to stir, to move, to stand. They still bore the means of their death…bloody from wounds, or charred with fire, or disfigured by shadow. They stood by their dozens, the lifeless, shambling bodies of those whom Linedan had known for years. And as they came toward him, backing him against the tent, he heard his mother’s cackling laughter rising behind a crescendo of voices that spoke, over and over again, as one:
“Was it worth it? Was it worth it?”
This time, Linedan did not wake up when the first blow fell. He only woke up after feeling himself be torn apart while alive, unable to block out the chanting, and his mother’s laugh, with his own screams.