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The Silver Cord

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Chapter Seven

Ocilla Montrose rushed to the side of the crumpled figure lying in the quiet street. “Can you move?” she softly asked. Roswell tried to raise his body from the ground but collapsed after a moment’s effort. “I need supplies from the clinic,” Wren’s mother replied. “I’ll be two minutes. Lauren, stay here with him.” The blonde girl sat dumbfounded on the cold stone, staring blankly, her knees clutched to her chest. “Lauren!” The warrior blinked and looked up. “Stay here, angel. I’ll be right back.”

Wren silently nodded and watched as her mother ran back up the tunnel, white cloak billowing in her wake. She turned to look at Roswell; he laid prone, face turned in her direction, eyes randomly darting around as if following the lights in a swarm of fireflies. Question after question raced through the young girl’s mind: “Who are you?” “How do you know my mother?” “Why me?” In the end she just sat, breathing steadily through her nose and rocking back and forth.

True to her word, Ocilla came running back two minutes later, panting and soaked from the rain. In one hand she clutched a glass vial filled with a glowing red liquid. In her other hand was a tightly rolled strip of blue cloth which Lauren’s mother kept tossing and shifting her grip on, as though it were painful to touch. “Hold this for me,” she said to her daughter, giving her the bottle. The healer then untucked the back of her patient’s shirt and exposed his lower back. The man’s skin was red and inflamed, signs of swelling and bruising already evident. The cloaked woman unrolled the bandage and pressed it against Roswell’s skin; he groaned and gritted his teeth at her touch. “You may have broken his spine, Lauren,” said the mother as she worked. “I hope these frostweaves are as good as they say. We just got our first shipment of them two days ago.” She paused a moment. “We’ve got to get off the street,” Ocilla said, one eye looking down the tunnel and toward the Cathedral. “Roswell, I need you to walk for me.” She again pulled the cowl of her cloak up, hiding her face. “Lauren, honey, come on. Give him the potion and then pull your hood up. We need to go.”

Emotionlessly, Wren stood, handed over the vial, fixed her cloak, retrieved her pack and her weapons, and followed her mother and the stranger toward the canals. Roswell was badly hurt, that much was obvious, but the girl’s emotions were much less clear. She alternately felt shame over attacking this apparent friend of her family, irritation at not being told the truth of the situation, nervousness from the way Ocilla insisted on hiding their identities, and yet relief that her mother was close.

“Horde in the tram!” The call came from a distance ahead, from deep within the dwarven district. Alarm bells clanged; you could hear each one in turn alert the next as the information worked its way around the city. Streets that were empty due to the weather suddenly flooded with people rushing home to protect loved ones and their treasured belongings.

“There. Go… toward… tram…,” grunted Roswell, still leaning heavily on Ocilla’s shoulder. “Lauren… protect…,” he wheezed, and the blonde’s eyes grew.

“I don’t have my armor, or my shield!” she protested. “I don’t have Khrys,” she thought.

“No… time…,” said the man.

“No, he’s right. Lauren, it’s the only way.”

“Only way to what?” pressed the young girl. “Mom, what’s wrong?”

Again Ocilla’s eyes darted toward Cathedral Square. “There’s no time for this, angel. Lead us, we’ll help you. Give me your pack. Now, get us to the tram.” The mother looked into the daughter’s eyes, an expression of calm on her face. The healer urged Roswell to drink the remainder of the red elixir, and then nudged the trio forward.

Wren unbound her sword, lashed the black runed scabbard around her waist, and took a few hesitant steps forward. She was scared, to be sure. The warrior felt naked without her gear or her paladin. She jogged ahead across the bridge, sticking to the shadows where she could. She looked into the smoke-filled exclave of the dwarves who called Stormwind home. The warning bells continued to clang, but the street was eerily quiet. “Perfect spot for an ambush,” the blonde girl whispered.

Carefully, sword drawn and at her side, Lauren crept up the cobblestone boulevard, keeping close to the buildings on her right that ran along the wall of Stormwind Keep. Spying an ashcan, the warrior lifted the heavy stoneware lid. Raindrops sizzled in the warm and gray cinders as she tested her grip on the makeshift shield’s wooden handle. Just ahead, two uniformed guards ran out of a side street and toward the entrance to the tram. Lauren looked back at her charges, saw that the strange man was now standing under his own strength, and waved them to rush forward.

From the west, the echo of horns heralded a squad of paladins riding forth from the city’s center. Wren slowed and let her shoulders relax, but from behind her mother hissed, “Hurry! We’ve got to get to Ironforge! Fast now!” The girl wheeled about, preparing to demand an explanation, but she stopped short when she looked at her mother’s face. There was worry in Ocilla’s eyes as she’d never seen before, not even the morning when she’d come home to tell her family she intended to continue her training as a warrior. Instead, Lauren tightened her grip on her sword, turned back around and continued to lead them onward.

The trio entered the opening to the station and were greeted by the deafening sounds of combat. A phalanx of forsaken raiders, easily totaling two dozen or more, fought against the defending Stormwind guard. Still bodies littered the floor, dead and undead alike. Ocilla gasped, and a nearby mage turned her eyeless white gaze on the small group. The reanimated sorceress’s face split into an unnatural grin as she conjured a rapidly growing spike of ice in the air before her moving hands. Instinctively Wren surged forward, closing the distance in an instant. Channeling all her fear and anger and confusion, the blonde smashed the ashcan lid into the chest of the mage, busting the ice shard in the process. The undead woman doubled over, what passed for breath knocked from her body. Lauren’s sword whistled through the smoky air and sliced a grisly gash diagonally across her enemy’s back. Shrieking loudly, the forsaken cocooned herself in a glowing azure shield of protective magic and lurched away, green ichor soaking through the back of her tattered tunic.

A pause in the nearby fray allowed the warrior a chance to get her bearings. To her amazement a path opened between the threesome and the pit over which the mechanical tram cars hung suspended on their overhead rail. Cool air rushed in from the end of the station, announcing the next train’s arrival. Wren called back to her mother and the stranger. “On my signal run hard for the tram!” Ocilla’s eyes grew wide, while Roswell looked down at the ground and nodded.

On seeing the first of the automated cars cruise into the station, Lauren hollered, “Now!” The trio pressed through the battle, the blonde at the lead. She raised her sword overhead and took in a huge lungful of air. Wren screamed, a deep, guttural, resounding yell that sounded more like a trumpeting elekk than a nineteen year old girl. Some forsaken were so taken by surprise that they actively fled. Others were simply stunned into immobility searching for the source of the noise. Either way the obstacles between the three and the incoming train evaporated.

The first of the three cars came to a clanking halt just as the swift warrior reached the edge of the linear track’s trench. Lauren whipped around to see her mother and Roswell ten paces behind, the large man stumbling and catching himself on Ocilla’s arm. Behind them the first of the undead raiders to come to its senses lurched toward them, a vicious spiked maul in its withered hands. “Hurry!” called Lauren, and ran toward her charges to protect them from the quickly-gaining menace. “Get on the train!” she yelled back as the passed them and engaged the pursuing forsaken.

The ghastly warrior reared back, hefting the yard-long war hammer backward with a strength incongruous to its deathly form. Lauren raised the makeshift shield overhead and braced. The stonework lid shattered into a hundred jagged pieces as the bone-crunching impact of the maul radiated down Wren’s strong arm and into her backbone. Acting quickly, the blonde thrust her sword point-first into the armored abdomen of the undead fighter as the momentum of the war hammer carried its arms backward, awkwardly exposing its midsection. The weapon’s tip penetrated the chainmail jerkin and Lauren shoved the sword a few inches into the abomination. Leaving the blade lodged in her enemy, the girl turned and ran at top speed back toward the train.

Ocilla and Roswell, who had just reached the tram car’s metal grate floor, turned to see their protector sprinting toward them. A yank on the chain in the overhead track signaled the train’s imminent departure. “Lauren!” screamed the mother, urging her forward with waving arms. Wren bowed her head and pumped her arms and legs maniacally. The car shot toward the tunnel, sending both passengers grabbing for its metal handrails. The blonde leapt into the air, slamming into the railing with her waist, and threw her arms over the bars, catching the topmost underneath her armpits. The girl’s body twisted violently sideways as she held tight to the side of the car, the deafening wind in her ears as they plunged into the safety of the tramway, zooming north toward Ironforge.

Continue to chapter eight

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writing/the silver cord ch 07.txt · Last modified: September 3, 2011 by Dave Leach

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