The Lich came flying in, his eager head low with intensely glowing eyes as it smelled the blood of it’s enemy’s flowing through their veins. The rictus smile of death on it’s face seemed to grow even wider as fel magics began to course through it’s arms, causing it’s hands to glow with a deathly pale light. Reyk dug his feet in and raised his sword to the threat, prepared to sell his life dearly as Dueg prayed for fortitude against their coming trial and Scrat pulled a small, intricately carved totem from his pack. The three stood defiant before death’s agent, prepared for the worst.
Suddenly a huge, dark shape shot from the edge of the clearing. A blur of black and blue with a sword easily as tall as Dueg’s shoulders, the massive shape bared down on the rushing lich, slicing in with a powerful stroke. From behind where it had just appeared, a bolt of flame shot over the shape’s shoulder, flaring against the lich and setting it’s tattered robes alight. Thrown off course by the sudden attack from it’s side, the lich was forced to circle around and back up, raising it’s defenses against the whole of the suddenly bolstered group facing it. The massive dark shape stopped it’s mad rush and instead set into a defensive stance, it’s sword slowly winding back and forth in a defensive pattern through the air.
The shape resolved itself into a massive tauren, it’s matted fur the blue-black color of a nasty bruise and it’s eyes lit by the cold powers of the grave. The heavy plate armor it wore could not hide the signs of decay that had begun to creep along the tauren’s withering skin and face. From behind the defensively crouched form of the tauren a small, lithe figure slipped from between the tree trunks, the long, upward pointing ears betraying her blood elven background as her hand weaved an intricate pattern into the air, forming another ball of green, lambent fire. The two faced off against the lich as the three still conscious companions turned to face the threat in a unified manner.
The lich paused, recalculating it’s odds now with the new additions to the fray and deciding that the time had come to make a tactical retreat. With a rageful shout of defiance, the lich suddenly folded it’s still smoldering robes around itself and began to shrink within the center of itself. After a second, it disappeared with a small, fizzling pop, leaving behind the scent of rotten eggs and sulfur and allowing the clearing to finally regain a normal temperature. The tauren snorted and sheathed his mammoth sword while the blood elf allowed her ball of hellish fire to gently fade away. She turned and gave a quick curtsy at the three still somewhat bewildered companions.
“Serae Lightwill at your service, travelers, and no thanks necessary, we help out where we can,” she said with a broad smile. The tauren suddenly raised his head, sniffing at the air and then eagerly padding off to the edge of the clearing, crouching down and examining the bottom of the tree trunks. Serae screwed up her delicate features in a quick look of annoyance before sighing gently, “That rotting hunk of meat is my personal bodyguard, Ayunn, a reprieved knight from Arthas’ now defunct order.”
“A Death Knight?” exclaimed Reyk as his eyes looked over to the still crouched tauren who was running his meaty fingers through the various sprigs of plant life growing through the underfoot of the forest, “I thought all of Arthas’ fallen heroes had rebranded themselves and were in a campaign to destroy the Betrayer, why is this one in your employ?”
“Most did, it’s certainly true, but not all still burned for combat and wished to take the fight to the doorstep of Icecrown. Some, like my dear Ayunn over there, decided that their unlife was their own to do with as they please. So he left the order and eventually we met up. He was wondering aimless and a beautiful young merchant such as myself can certainly use the extra protection when out peddling her wares to the frontier settlements of Northrend.”
“Most merchants don’t know how to corral the hellish fires of demons like you certainly did,” Dueg said as he eyed her suspiciously.
The petite blood elf woman folded her arms across her chest and frowned severely, “Perhaps you would have preferred we simply minded our own business? Maybe walked on by with our noses in the air? Talk about looking a gift Hawkstrider in the beak.”
Dueg stammered slightly, taken aback, “uh… well, I…”
Scrat quickly stepped forward, “Be not worrying, about ‘im, you ‘ave our gratitude,” he said, extending a three fingered hand to her.
Suddenly her eyes went wide as she stared at the indigo digits held out for her and took a step back, “Assault! Robbery!” she began to scream.
Now it was Scrat’s turn to step back, quickly pulling his arm back to his side and stammering an apology. Ayunn looked up from the tree trunks, dropping the flowers he had been collecting and snorting as he barreled back across the clearing, drawing his sword once more. Within seconds he stood between Serae and the three bewildered companions, his eyes glowing fiercely and his sword held defensively between them. Ayunn’s cold, dead eyes scanned all three of them, waiting for one of them to go on the attack so he would have a reason to attack. One of Serae’s small, delicate hands appeard from behind him, gently patting one of his massive arms.
“It’s ok, Ayunn, simply a drill. You did marvelously.” The tauren looked behind him to her then snorted in obvious annoyance, re-sheathing his weapon and stepping aside as Serae came forward once more. “Sorry about that, my friends, but one has to keep their security sharp on on their toes, or hooves as it were. And now, we must be going, need to be in Venomspite by tomorrow afternoon in order to drop off a shipment of alchemical supplies.”
Serae reached over, taking Ayunn’s proffered hand and placing a slippered foot on his knee as she swung up to delicately sit upon his shoulder and look down at the three and their unconscious mage. “Was truly a pleasure meeting all of you, hope to do it again sometime, but without the lich, eh?” She patted Ayunn gently on the head, “Let’s go, no time for distractions and this time watch out for low hanging branches and no stopping for flowers! I swear, we’re going to be late if I have to indulge…”
Slowly her voice faded as the three looked at each other and shrugged, unsure of the whole bizarre encounter that had just occurred. Quickly they cleaned up the camp and placed the unconscious form of Noxt onto his bedroll to give him time to recover from the mental intrusion wrought on him by the lich. Once they had him settled, they quickly doused the fire so as to not betray their position again and began to gather up their packs in order to be ready to move the moment Noxt had recovered. It was then that they noticed that all of their supplies had been stolen.