Into the Heart of the Citadel

Posted by Torianne July 24th 2014.
 
 
 
Warlord Grushk stood at the top of a small hill overlooking Vengeance Pass, carefully observing the frantic activity on the Carrion Fields. The Scourge launched a new wave of attacks on Wintergarde Keep and he could clearly hear the sounds of the distant battle … guns, screams and battle shouts, all mixed together into the song of death and destruction. He felt the call of his warrior blood, the sweet sensation of victory and the bitter touch of defeat. As the military commander of Venomspite, he knew both all too well.
 
Deathguard Vesonis slowly approched the Orc. “Enjoying the evening, Grushk?”
 
Grushk glanced at the Forsaken. “Just observing. It seems the Scourge have taken one of the Alliance outposts. It doesn’t look too good for the defenders. Their current defensive position is unsustainable and if they don’t retake the outpost, they might be forced to fall back even further.” He turned towards the Deathguard.
 
“I have news for you, Vesonis. Our Kor’kron Infiltrator returned from his mission this morning. He located another control crystal in Naxxramas, but was unable to deactivate or even examine it due to the presence of numerous Scourge patrols. The crystal was located in a large room with a giant spider watching over it. Around here.” Grushk showed a small map to Vesonis, but the deathguard seemed uninterested.
 
“Hmmm … ”
 
“Yes, exactly. This is going nowhere. Our spies can’t deactivate the crystals and open the portal to Kel’Thuzad’s room. We need a different solution.”
 
“What do you have in mind?”
 
“A small raiding force, able to quickly navigate around the citadel and push aside any opposition if needed. Around a dozen or two capable men and women. Their task would be to reach all four control crystals and deactivate them, opening the path to the hearth of the citadel. They could then survey the Inner sanctum and report back with results. Their data would be used to plan a major strike against Kel’Thuzad.
 
“We must act swiftly. Our spies in Wintergarde Keep report that the Alliance losses have become unsustainable. If the keep falls, the Scourge would take over control of central Dragonblight and be able to attack our forces at Angrathar from behind.”
 
Vesonis noded. “We both know what that would mean. A military disaster for the Horde. But how to execute such raid? We know Garrosh suspended all offensive military operations in Dragonblight in preparation for the assault at the Wrathgate except for the most favourable exploits. You can’t disobey your supreme military commander’s orders.”
 
Grushk started to laugh. “You know, I’m not the one to stop easily. Too much is at stake. I’ve asked the Argent Crusade for help and they will send us one of their units. They are not part of Warsong Offensive and they don’t need to obey the Hellscream kid.”
 
“You play with fire, Grushk. If Garrosh finds out, he will have your head served on a platter.”
 
“He won’t find out if we act swiftly. And this raid is meant to be just a reconnaissance mission, not a combat operation. Well, some fighting might be involved, but what do you expect in the heart of the Scourge citadel? If the force breaches the Inner Sanctum, the situation would become ‘a favourable exploit’ and a valid reason for us to attack.”
 
“You are smarter than you look, Orc. For a moment, I thought I was talking to a Natrezhim.” Deathguard Vesonis grinned and Grushk suddenly realized that he had never seen this Forsaken grinning before. “Now, tell me something about this … unit.”
 
“The unit consists of two dozens seasoned war veterans, and they are lead by a capable and strong leader. They may be little undermanned, but I’m sure they will do well. But first, let’s have a glass of Bloodsail rum in Venomspite, eh?”
 
The deathguard laughed and both men started to walk toward Vengeance Pass. In the distance, the sound of the battle between the Scourge and the Alliance defenders echoed across the Carrion Fields, with the dread citadel Naxxramas hovering above silently.
 
***
 
News from the Warsong Hold were unsettling. The Alliance had assembled a huge army led by Bolvar Fordragon and moved it to Angrathar. They were poised to strike at the Lich King’s citadel at any moment. To hasten preparations for the Horde’s own assault on the Wrathgate, Garrosh Hellscream had stripped majority of garrisons in Dragonblight of bulk of their forces. Only in Venomspite, a full combat group remained to watch over the Scarlet Onslaught at New Heartglen to the south and the Scourge at Carrion Fields to the north.
 
Warlord Grushk felt powerless. If the Scourge were to mount any serious attack against Venomspite, it would surely fall without outside assistance. Any news from Naxxramas would be priceless.
 
“For the Horde, warlord,” said a tall and bulky Tauren courier. “I have an urgent message for you.”
 
“Lok-Tar, brave. Let me see it.” The Tauren handed Grushk a sealed scroll, saluted and left.
 
“Another Hellscream order?” wondered the warlord, but then spotted a large seal with the Argent Crusade crest. Could it be it, wondered the Orc. But the message arrived via the official channel. He promptly broke the seal, unfurled the scroll and began to read.
 
The message made him grin broadly. It was a report, written by the raid leader about successful Naxxramas scouting raid. Good news, at last. They managed to access and disable two control crystals. The raid confronted and eliminated Heigan the Unclean, the mastermind behind the plague cauldrons, and number of Scourge monstrosities across two quarters.
 
“Ah, our heroes can fight too. I’m pleasantly surprised.” Unfortunately, they were unable to locate other two crystals and access the Inner Sanctum. The raid members retreated after several hours of fighting with only minor loses.
 
The warlord was satisfied. His formula seemed to work. Small, highly versatile and skilled group, able to quickly navigate the citadel and successfully engage in combat if necessary. They must return to Naxxramas and find remaining control crystals, then gather the info how to access the Inner Sanctum! Then he would lead an attack right into the hearth of the citadel, eliminating Kel’Thuzad and the Scourge presence in eastern Dragonblight once for all. A risky manoeuver, but one worth it.
 
Grushk could almost hear the battle drums and victory shouts of his soldiers. With this success, his promotion would be a mere formality. Maybe he would get his whole legion to command, or become warlord of the Warsong Hold. He laughed. Ah, the smell of victory was sweet.
 
He continued to read the report. His smile started to vane rather quickly as he suddenly remembered Vesonis’ words. If Garrosh were to find out about this, he would become a janitor at The Crossroads Inn, not a feared Horde legion commander.
 
But they were successful, weren’t they? They could get the job done. Let send them into the Citadel again! If they find and disable remaining control crystals, the mission would be a complete success. If they fail … well, every war has casualties. No need to go through pesky details afterwards, right?
 
Grushk started to laugh. He would issue the order — actually the request, to be more precise — to mount another raid immediately. “Get me the courier,” he barked at one of the guards.
 
***
 
Warlord Grushk couldn’t believe his eyes. The Scorge forces on the Carrion Fields were in complete disarray, and the deadly precision and efficiency with which they had operated there during previous weeks had been completely gone.
 
Grushk stood at the top of a small hill overlooking Vengeance Pass, his usual observation post. He was accompanied by Deathguard Vesonis and two guards, elder Troll shaman Jin’lore and young Orcish warrior Schamay. He and the deathguard were observing the Carrion Fields with their spyglasses.
 
On the field below them, chaos ruled all over the place. Amidst capsized plague cauldrons, some Scourge members fought each other, with many more wandering around cluelessly or fleeing the battlefield. At Wintergarde Mausoleum, a group of skeletons were shooting a massive mounted crossbow at Frost Wyrms, circling below Naxxramas.
 
The Scourge at Carrion Fields had effectively ceased to exist as a fighting force.
 
“Have you seen anything like this before, Deathguard?” asked Grushk.
 
Suddenly, Jin’lore shouted: “Warlord, over dere!” He pointed towards a small group of undead, quickly approaching them. He and Schamay unsheathed their axes and assumed defensive position. But instead of attacking, the group stopped few yards away of them. One of the undead took one step further, raised both his hands as he was begging, and gurgled something in Thalassian.
 
Grushk quickly unsheathed his bastard sword and tried to swing it at the creature, but Vesonis grappled his arms. “Don’t kill him, Grushk!” he yelled. The Orc hissed at him: “All agents of the Lich King deserve annihilation, Vesonis.”
 
“He’s not an agent of the Lich King anymore, Warlord. He’s the master over his body and will.”
 
Grushk was starring at Vesonis, completely clueless.
 
“You asked me if I’d seen this before. I had, Grushk. On the day we, the Forsaken were freed of the Lich King’s iron grasp and gained control over our destiny, I saw the very same thing.” He pointed at the group: “These creatures are not under the influence of the Dark Lord anymore. They are free.” He approached one of the undead and put his hand on his shoulders: “They are the Forsaken now.” Dead creature’s eyes were starring at him.
 
Suddenly, a large group of mounted warriors appeared in the distance. They quickly rode down the road leading from Dawn’s Reach towards Vengeance Pass and when reaching it, dismounted. Half of them formed defensive perimeter around the pass entrance, while others started to unpack medical supplies, blankets and clothing. They all were wearing The Argent Crusade tabards.
 
One of the crusaders, a massive Draenei, continued to ride towards them. When he reached the group, he dismounted, quickly glanced at the group of undead and then approached Grushk.
 
“Warlord Grushk, my name is Vindicator Daeren. It’s my pleasure to announce that on this day, the Argent Crusade has won an important battle against the Lich King. His most trusted lieutenant and the Master of Naxxramas, Kel’Thuzad, have been vanquished.”
 
Grushk took one step back, completely smashed.
 
“Our special group of crusaders defeated the lich half an hour ago. They successfully entered the Citadel’s Inner Sanctum and engaged Kel’Thuzad in combat. I understand that you provided invaluable expertise while planning this mission, Warlord. We are deeply thankful for that. Lord Fordring will personally commend you to Garrosh Hellscream.”
 
“Kel’Thuzad is no more?” asked Vesonis. “What about the Scourge forces on the Carrion Fields?”
 
“Apparently, many of the Scourge there are not under control of the Lich King anymore. Kel’Thuzad had probably helped to control them and with his demise, they were freed. The Argent Crusade is kindly asking you, Warlord Grushk, to provide help to those poor souls. Medicine supplies, clothing … anything you can spare. We must protect them because once Westgarde forces start attacking, they will slaughter anything in sight.”
 
“I’ll take care of that,” said Vesonis. “We will provide whatever is needed, Vindicator. Whatever is needed …”
 
Daeren noded. “Also, we are asking the Horde forces at Venomspite to help defeat the remains of the Scourge and drive them out of the Carrion Fields … forever.”
 
Grushk seemed to recover, at least partially. He saluted the Draenei: “Blood and Thunder, Vindicator Daeren. I thank you for this information.” His eyes were glowing when he turned towards Schamay. “Stone Guard, return to Venomspite on the double! Activate all fight-ready men and women. I want them to be at the exit of Vengeance Pass in five minutes and ready for battle!”
 
He then sheathed his sword, looked towards the Carrion Fields and laughed: “It’s pay-back time.”