The story continues with the group making their way further into the Caverns. Unfortunately, being a rag-tag assembly on a quest won't save these guys.
"Alright," she finally said. "I think I'm all set."
Dor'ash hummed, nodding as he picked up his backpack and slung it over his shoulder. Then he looked at the third member of the group.
"How about you, Celandria?" he asked.
"I guess I'm ready to continue," she said with a shrug, getting to her feet.
The baaing finally got annoying enough to earn notice. From his corner of the cavern, the sheep looked at the others expectantly. He was practically bouncing on his little cloven hooves.
"Yes, we haven't forgotten about you," Dor'ash muttered. He then looked at Sarah, raising a thick eyebrow.
She just waved a bony hand, focusing on rearranging the bags on her belt.
"I can't just turn him back," she said, and then, a little more cheerfully, "a hit to the head should do it."
Fingers as thick as a man's wrist curled into a massive fist as Dor'ash stepped closer to the suddenly uneasy-looking sheep. The fist went up-
And hesitated for a second.
Then Dor'ash got to his senses. After all, the four of them had just barely made it this far together. Just three would be a stretch - and then, also, Sarah did not plan on staying much longer.
Even as he bonked his fist onto the wooly head, a tiny voice in the back of Dor'ash's brain grumbled that he would regret not taking the chance to leave the foolish young tauren behind.
But the chance had passed. In a poof of smoke the sheep rose up on its hinds, rapidly growing and changing color into a dark brown. Wool became hair and armor, cloven hooves hands and... bigger cloven hooves. Beard, hair and horns sprouted from the growing head.
It was over in two seconds, and then the full grown (though young) tauren was once again with them.
Damian's big mouth opened and Dor'ash folded his arms, fully prepared to meet all the cowish fury of the hairy creature.
"Finally! Let's go!"
And with that shout, Damian stormed out of the cavern, axe and shield in hand.
The other three stared after him, even as the rapid clip-clop rushed further and further away.
Then suddenly there was a loud, distant hiss followed by another shout of Damian's.
Cursing everything to the twisting nether and back through the frozen north and over to mount Hyjal, Dor'ash stormed after Damian. Celandria followed him, with her mouth still hanging open.
On her part, Sarah let out a loud sigh before stomping after her allies, grumbling to herself all the way.
They were all quite relieved to see Damian only fighting two horse-sized raptors, holding one at bay with his shield and hacking at the other's throat with his axe. It did not quite forgive his dash, but at least there weren't five beasts trying to have taurenburger for dinner this time. He did however stand dangerously close to the gaping cleft which ripped the grand cavern in two pieces.
"Cel, backup! Sarah, the one on the left!" Dor'ash snarled, not even pausing as he rushed forwards with his warhammer ready to strike.
The close to twenty pounds of metal narrowly missed the head of the raptor by Damian's shield, and the monster leapt further backwards while hissing wildly. It didn't see the fireball coming. Shrieking on top of its lungs the unlucky raptor staggered, covered in flames. The pain of having its flesh fried was cut short however, as Dor'ash's hammer slammed into the lizard's scaly, flaming side. There was a crunch of broken bones and the raptor sailed through the air by the force of the strike, going over the edge of the cleft and disappearing into the dark obscurity.
The adventurer's never found out how long it took before the distant, disgusting thump finalized the beast's life. Over all their own fighting, they really could not focus on listening.
Though the battle itself ended quickly, with Damian cutting off the second lizard's head in almost the same instant as Dor'ash sent the first one flying, that was hardly the end of it.
The only pause was the moment it took Dor'ash to breathe in deeply enough.
"What in the name of all demons do you think you're doing?"
A furious orc is a frightening thing. An orc who is furious beyond his own understanding, and still managing not to roar on top of his lungs, that was something that even made Sarah take a step back.
One could understand then, why the demon lords had chosen to make the orcs their pawns.
Damian let out a gurgling sound, which probably was meant as some kind of explanation or at least comment. No more could he do however, because it's a bit hard to speak when you're being lifted off the floor by your throat.
It was even more impressive considering that Dor'ash was about two heads shorter than Damian.
"If you ever, and I mean ever rush ahead like an idiot again," Dor'ash hissed through clenched fangs, "I'm going to rip off your horns, then use them to gauge out your entrails. And then I'll drag you down to camp Taurajo and hang you from the highest totem pole I can find. And I'll hang you by your own bowels. Understood?"
Damian, eyes bulging, managed to make an "eep!" sound.
Seemingly satisfied with that, Dor'ash put him down and ceremoniously brushed his own hands off. Then he gave Damian - who was coughing and desperately rubbing his throat - a final warning glare before turning to the ladies. They watched him in silence.
"Well then," the orc growled. "Shall we go?"
Celandria jumped slightly as she was addressed, then shook her head hard.
"That's absolutely obscene!" she declared and turned away.
At that, Dor'ash just let out a grunt and looked at Sarah. She turned her face up, clasping her hands.
"Have my babies," she cooed.
The remaining anger deflated in a blink. In the background, Celandria made yet another disgusted sound and Damian kept gasping for air.
Finally Dor'ash decided that the smirk on Sarah's lips really meant that she was kidding, and he snorted.
"That's absolutely obscene," he echoed, though a whole lot softer than the elf.
"Bah, humbug," Sarah said, giving him a light slap on the arm. "They'd be adorable little biological impossibilities."
Dor'ash cleared his throat and reassumed his stern look.
"Let's continue onwards," he said, then pointed at Damian. "And you, you're doing as I say and nothing more."
This one time, the tauren shut up. Though he didn't acknowledge the order by a nod or word, the frightened look he gave Dor'ash was satisfying enough.
They continued onwards with Dor'ash in the lead, creeping along in the shadows. The progress was slow, especially as Damian had to walk very carefully not to let his hooves clop against the ground, but for at least five minutes there wasn't much complaining.
Alas, it did not last any longer than those few precious minutes. Not when a magic pyre suddenly flashed ahead of them, casting white light upon the lithe body of a druid. She moved slowly with fluid, snakelike motions, drawing her hands up and around as her voice rose and fell. To the intonations of the ancient words, the flares of magic flashed and danced around her fingers. The light revealed shadows behind the woman, but it was too irregular and weak to properly disclose how many, and what kind of, enemies lurked in the darkness. Only dancing shades cast along the walls and floor, apart from two staffs stuck in the ground. The woman stood just between them.
The rest of the group could practically hear Celandria lick her lips and get that crazy "MAGIC ALERT" look in her eye.
Sarah would never admit that whenever she started charging her fireballs, she felt a little disturbed from noticing the elf staring at her. Or as disturbed as she could get.
"Th-" Damian started, but Dor'ash reached backwards and pinched the protruding mouth shut without even looking.
The druid continued to move her arms, and from her feet suddenly sprung a circle of the same white light along the floor, stopping when its edges met with where the staffs stood. It shed ample light around the woman, and then finally the intruders could see two more druids, both male, and another raptor.
As the female druid raised her hands in front of her chest and held them there, arms trembling with the power she was channeling, the two men began to move. Sliding forwards rather than walking, perfectly in sync, they moved to the borders of the magic circle, towards a staff each.
It took a moment to realize that their every motion was decided by the woman's continued chanting. They moved with its rhythm, practiced to perfection. Led by her voice they raised their hands to the top of either staff and when she let out a sharp hiss they did as well, fingers whipping at the wood. Flames erupted from their fingertips and lit the staffs, turning them into torches.
Though his arm was rather violently pulled back and forth from Damian trying to get free, Dor'ash never took his eyes away from the scene. Though the orc shaman had not spoken of his reason to enter the caverns, his apparent interest in the druids' doings gave some hints.
Sarah took note of this, but only to file away inside her head as things that may turn out to be important to somebody later on. She had long since discovered that whenever you found something unusual in this world, there was always something to it. Even stuff like empty barrels and disembodied talking heads. And somebody always, always wanted to send you running across the entire damn world for something whenever you found something like that.
The line of thought was cut off when Dor'ash suddenly straightened up and turned around, without letting go of Damian. Apparently, the valiant group's leader had seen enough to be satisfied.
"Very well, this is what we'll do," the orc said, pointedly glaring at the still struggling tauren. "We'll fight them."
Damian immediately perked up and stopped trying to break free. This did not save him another glare.
"We'll use a bit of tactics and you will still do as I say, understood?" Dor'ash growled. He did not continue until Damian answered with a strained nod. "Good. What we will do is that Sarah will turn the man on the right into a sheep. Damian attacks the other man first and keep him busy as I frost shock him. Then we get the woman. Together. Cel, you stay back and cast healing spells on us. Sarah, try to keep the lizard frozen to the ground until we can deal with it. Everybody got that?"
Though she was still staring at the magic being channeled by the lady druid, Celandria nodded. Sarah, meanwhile, knocked the side of her hand against her forehead in a half-jocular salute.
Satisfied, Dor'ash looked up at Damian again.
"I'm going to let you go, but you're not going to attack until I say so. Got it?"
Though he did let go and turned around, Dor'ash made sure that he blocked Damian's path in case the tauren would still decide to dash ahead like a moron again.
Standing behind the two men with their bodies blocking off most of the light from her hands, Sarah peered towards her designated target and called upon her magical powers.
The druids never saw it coming.
And a whole lot of hissing. The man who had not been sheeped opted for snaking himself - those being perfectly alright terms in this context of course, stupid as they sounded even to the adventurers - and made a slithery dash to meet the charging tauren. The raptor was just behind him, but the woman opted to stay within the circle, from the look on her face and stance now channeling the magic for more violent methods.
She may have had some troubles focusing if she had noticed the way Celandria stared at her. Amazing, really, that the little blood elf managed to focus enough to drive the pain out of Damian's leg when the giant snake managed to scrape a speck of exposed hide with its sharp tail.
The monster managed to do this by diving past the tauren and whipping at him with the end of its long body. Doing this it also successfully ducked the frost shock bolt, and the magic only managed to create a pool of ice on the floor. Cursing, Dor'ash dove aside to avoid getting friendly with the lightning bolt the lady druid sent his way. The electricity crashed into the cavern wall and erupted, hissing as violently as its users.
While this happened Damian was proving that when it came to actual battle, at least then he knew what he was doing. He had no problems at all sidestepping and blocking the snake's violent, pecking attacks, swinging his axe towards it whenever he had the chance. It slid backwards cautiously, forked tongue furiously whipping at the air and the advancing tauren.
Dor'ash at least got a look around as he turned to help Damian, noting that the raptor was struggling to free itself from the ice clinging to its feet and the floor. The orange light let the orc know everything he needed to know about what Sarah was now planning for the giant lizard.
The catlike shriek, the female voice crying out in disbelief and the hard thump of two bodies hitting the floor, followed by what sounded like violent wrestling, could only mean that Celandria had left her position and gone magic hunting. On the druid. Quite annoying in itself that she had not obeyed orders, and the knowledge that their healer busied herself elsewhere was a tad unpleasant, but not as unpleasant as looking around to tell her to get a grip would be. If so, one would have to actually look and see what the blood elf was doing. Dor'ash thought he could spare himself future nightmares, and opted for simply ignoring the elfish business and focus on killing the monstrous snake.
Taking in a deep breath he focused again, driving icy cold into his hands and into the air. With amazing effort he managed to zone out the sizzling of magical fire being charged.
This time, the snake was too busy trying to avoid getting cleaved. It let out a snarl as the spell exploded into its back, every muscle creaking at the extreme cold.
It had no way to escape, and Damian's axe dug deeply into its head. The body twisted in death throes, whipping about with such force that the tauren had to leap back, tearing his axe free in the same motion.
Satisfied to know that the snake situation was under control, Dor'ash spun around and rushed towards the struggling raptor. It had gotten one foot free but remained stuck with the other still trapped in the ice. Its cold eyes were set and staring quite wildly at the fire still burning around Sarah's hands.
It was well aware that it would hurt. A lot.
However it caught sight of Dor'ash from the corner of its eye and turned towards him, baring all its teeth desperately.
"Incoming!" Sarah snarled, arms whipping forwards.
Dor'ash stopped in mid-step and leapt back. The explosion of the fireball hitting the unfortunate raptor still managed to singe the hair on his chin.
The ice evaporated and the lizard staggered backwards, landing by the edge of the gorge as a heap of burnt bones.
Dor'ash looked around, having to blink as his eyes struggled to get used to the dusk of the caverns after the bright flash of the fire.
It always made him wonder about how smart monsters really were, seeing as Sarah had practically set off a beacon the size of an ogre... and yet, the entire population of the Wailing Caverns weren't coming down on the intruders in a storm of clawy rage.
The undead mage casually strode forwards and kicked the smoking bones. They scraped against the rock, but were obviously too heavy to be moved much by such a light knock.
"Darn," Sarah said. "I was setting it to ‘well done', not ‘charred'. Now it's-"
She stopped in mid-morbid-joke, face turned towards what had been the snake druids' magic circle. Dor'ash quickly spun around to see what it was, but found no enemy. Only Celandria walking towards them, a satisfied smile on her lips.
It took a moment before Dor'ash took in the whole scene behind the blood elf.
Of the magic circle only scraps remained, thin, broken threads of magic light. One of the staves had fallen over, the other still standing. Both put out. And in between them laid the remains of something half snake, half humanoid. Away from this Celandria traipsed, almost danced.
Dor'ash cleared his throat and turned to check on Damian, finding that he was calmly wiping the blood from his axe with a piece of cloth.
It took a second, but then the orc took note of the mumbling. He glanced aside, seeing Sarah still seemingly staring at the remains of the druid, greenish lips moving rapidly. Straining his ears, Dor'ash made out the chain of quick words.
"Can't sleep, elves will eat me. Can't sleep, elves will eat me. Can't sleep..."
Which was, as it would turn out, a rather ironic choice of words. In more ways than one.
For the moment though, Dor'ash poked Sarah's shoulder to snap her out of it. She started, falling silent.
"Just kidding..." she muttered. But she did not look up at him - instead she made sure to study every movement Celandria made.
Dor'ash was about to comment about Forsaken not needing sleep at all, when the voice in the back of his head finally managed to make it through. The voice shouting that something was wrong.
Something was missing.
"Wait..." he began, grasping his war hammer tighter. "Where's that sheep?"
In a distance, there was a "baa!". An angry one. And it was followed by the hissing of several raptors, accompanied by their quickly approaching steps.
"They aren't supposed to still be smart when they're sheeped!" Sarah exclaimed, glaring right back when Celandria gave her a dirty look.
Three raptors burst from the darkness, closely followed by the now un-sheeped druid. One of the lizards had probably given him a good knock to turn him back - at least, it looked that way judging from him rubbing the back of his head. He threw out his other hand, sweeping the pointing finger in the direction of all the intruders.
"You will never wake the dreamer!" he called in defiance.
"Why'd we care about some napping sissy?" Sarah yelled back, tearing her staff from her back and throwing out her own hand.
One of the raptors staggered backwards when flames erupted around it, but the others continued undaunted. Sarah opted to make a dash to the side.
"Regroup!" Dor'ash shouted as he threw himself out of the way. "Come to me- /Damian/!"
But instead of heading towards his allies, the tauren charged at the burnt raptor. The giant lizard, though smoke rose from its back, opened its jaw and prepared to meet the warrior. A bolt of lightning threw Damian off his feet and he crashed on the ground, the raptor stampeding towards him with its claws ready to dig through any unarmored piece of hide.
"Fools! You shall perish here!" the druid called, already charging another spell.
Dor'ash didn't roar. He cursed, from the first step through the dash between the two raptors and continued even after he body slammed the raptor just as its clawed foot was about to descend on Damian's face.
Orc and raptor crashed together, mere feet away from the dark void of the gorge. Shaking his head to regain his orientation Dor'ash got to his feet, almost stumbling when the raptor's thrashing tail got beneath his foot.
"Kill the orc!"
The calls made Dor'ash look up just in time to see one of the other raptors coming right at him. A bolt of ice from the side froze the floor before the great lizard's feet, but the beast was already leaping. It slammed into Dor'ash, sending both of them over the edge and down into the darkness.
The orc's fading scream of rage vibrated, flung between the bare cliff walls as he fell to his death with the raptor.
Sarah took a moment to press her free hand to her forehead, the blue glow for another ice spell wavering dangerously.
"Aw crap," she summarized.
Then she turned around and lowered her eyebrows at the druid. Clenching her hands she killed the last cold, calling fire back into her hand instead. Damian had gotten to his feet and wasted no time cutting off the head of the raptor Dor'ash had tackled. He then turned towards the last lizard, which hissed and clawed the air.
Sarah ignored the tauren, figuring that even if he failed to block the attacks on his own he wouldn't die from a few claw wounds.
Or rather, she no longer cared if he died.
Okay, she had never cared. But now she cared even less.
The druid, noticing the rising glow of fire, locked eyes with the mage... or at least he did a valiant try. A crazy smile touched his lips as the magic around his hands surged, and Sarah responded in turn. The flames cast fluttering shadows over her sunken face, giving it a sickly brown hue.
As if the green hue was any better.
The dancing flames and spinning lightning increased, flaring in the darkness-
The druid had no chance to notice the blood elf who sneaked up behind him, not until she stabbed him straight through his back. With a fading gurgle he slipped downwards off the sword, lightning dying.
It was doubtful that he had safely reached death before Celandria was over him, fingers hooked like claws.
Croaking out a curse at the meddling elf Sarah flung the fireball from her hand towards the fighting raptor and tauren. Damian saw it coming in the last moment and raised his shield, but the raptor shrieked as the fire burnt its tail. Too distracted by the pain, it was an easy target for a well aimed cut of an axe.
As silence fell over the cavern - save the raptors' death throes and the hissing of magic being sucked out of a dead body - Sarah grasped her staff in both hands and heavily leaned on it. That only managed to keep her standing for another second. She sunk to her knees, bones scraping the staff as she tried to maintain her grip.
Despite really wanting to keep an air of cold dignity, she could practically hear her limbs creaking. Threatening to fall apart again.
A shaking hand reached for her belt, fumbling for the bottle of water. She hardly managed to hold it, but tore out the cork with her teeth and took a few deep gulps. Too tired to continue, she let the hand with the bottle sink to the ground and just sat there, hunched and exhausted.
After a little while she looked up, noticing the silence.
Damian stood a little ways away, gazing down into the gorge that had taken Dor'ash. Even Celandria paid attention now, having walked away from the remains of her second druid.
The wind howled in the distance as the three members of the horde contemplated the loss of their little group's leader.
Sarah could tell the very second it dawned on Damian that there no longer was anyone stopping him from going about this whole fighting thing his way. He got a certain look in his eye.
And then he suddenly spun around and charged off into the darkness from whence the druid and last raptors had come. Celandria blinked, but turned to follow him when he passed her.
"Come on Sarah!" the tauren shouted over his shoulder. "What are you waiting for?"
"I need to rest!" Sarah shouted back, automatically.
"You'll be fine, come on!"
But by the time he called that, Sarah had gotten to her senses again. She let out a loud snort and lowered the staff to her lap.
While Dor'ash was there, at least, she had still believed that she could get all the serpentbloom she needed from the cave. Now, she knew it would never happen on this day. She would simply have to come back later.
And those two fools could rot in here.
Her pure white hearth stone softly clinked against her claw-like fingertips as she pulled it out of a bag by her hip. She held it between her hands and focused her tired mind. An easy spell, constructed to be usable even by fading, dying minds. The green glow washed over her like a warm summer wind.
"Help! Help!" came a shrill call from the darkness.
Sarah did not react to Celandria's shouting until she realized that it was coming closer. And so did the clopping of hooves.
And hissing, and steps of big feet with claws.
Damian and Celandria rushed back into sight, and just behind them were four very angry raptors. One of the beasts caught sight of the green glow and changed course towards it, apparently unwilling to let a possible extra prey escape.
Groaning, Sarah realized that the hearth stone never would be able to teleport her out in time. The incoming attack would only shatter her focus too soon. Rather than be an undead sitting duck she dropped her attempts to activate the stone and instead raised her hand, forcing cold into her will and grumbling the spell with a hoarse voice.
The bolt of ice hit the raptor's foot and it stumbled, tumbling onto the ground.
Her head spinning, Sarah planted the staff back on the ground and dragged herself to her feet.
"Blast them! Shoot one!" Damian shouted, now backed up against a wall and trying to fend off two of the raptors.
"Help!" Celandria shouted, still being chased.
"Fool..." Sarah croaked.
A movement in the corner of her eye caught her attention and she staggered around, lifting her staff to catch it between the jaws of the raptor. Somebody else had also gotten to its feet, apparently.
"Come on, blast one!" Damian yelled.
This time Sarah didn't even bother to answer, too busy trying to remain standing. This worked out for about one second before the raptor decided that playtime was over. It bit down on the staff, and with a twist of its neck ripped the weapon from the mage's hands. Before she even had time to curse the beast spun around and smacked her with its tail, sending her flying several yards.
She crashed on the floor, not having a chance to regain her orientation or try to get up before a heavy foot came down on the small of her back, pushing her down. Furiously she craned her neck, finding yet another male druid smugly grinning down at her.
There were not enough curse words in Sarah's dictionary to cover this.
The smug grin disappeared when the druid looked up at the incessant shouting. Instead, his lips twitched into a disbelieving smile a moment before he pressed a hand to his mouth, trying not to laugh.
Not feeling too enthusiastic Sarah tried to turn her head enough to see what was so funny.
It was a mental image so silly she would have laughed if the main character had not been on her side.
The raptor chasing Celandria had finally gotten the little elf caught against a wall. The oh so brave paladin was probably handling this as best she could - which, as it seemed, included shouting for help while standing on the tiptoes of one foot, the other foot lifted from the ground as she curled against the wall and... and...
Well. The only words to describe what Celandria was doing with her sword was... well, poking the raptor on the nose.
The tip of the monster's tail wagged back and forth like a dog's. It seemed to be laughing.
Sarah turned her head, seeing Damian lying unconscious under the feet of his assailants.
Groaning, the Forsaken pressed her head against the ground.
"Don't," Sarah said, holding her finger a mere inch from Jonathan's nose, "ever, ever, tell anybody else in the Undercity about this."
The other mage held a fist against his mouth and loudly coughed - as if he needed to. Even for a living man, it would have been a lousy attempt to hide his very obvious amused smile.
"Yes, of course," he quickly said when Sarah's finger threatened his right eye. "I would not want other people to know about such a stupid defeat either..."
"No," Sarah said, shaking her head. "I meant all the words I used to describe Celandria. They say Lady Sylvanas still likes those sissies, you know."
Jonathan coughed again, bending down over the table.
There was a moment of silence as Sarah sat back, rubbing her forehead.
"Another drink, miss?" the innkeeper readily asked, perking up.
"Later maybe," Sarah said, giving a tired sort of smile. "The worst is still to come, you see."
She leant forwards and to the side, peering down on the floor.
"Hey, are you going to get back up here and listen to the ending today or tomorrow?" she asked, raising her voice slightly.
At the words Rohdjinn finally stopped laughing, though he still chuckled as he, with some difficulty, climbed back onto his chair.
"Sorry ‘bout that, mon..." he chortled, not sounding honest in the least.
Sarah snorted at him, but picked the story back up.
"So, after that not so glorious defeat, we were tied up and dragged deeper inside the caves..."