Freezing wind whipped her long blonde hair back from her face and made her cheeks and hands sting and burn a red color that the warrior ignored for the moment as her eyes focused harder out off the cliff’s edge from the top of the arena wall. She could smell the sea. For 23 years she’d lived in the embrace of a sea that was often cruel and could be known to be miraculously lenient in her rulings only occasionally. Julienne knew the smell of her only childhood God and would not be swayed by others who insisted that the sea was too far down below the cliff’s edge to be smelled.
The brine heightened her senses and she turned, accidentally making eye contact with the Lady who escorted their King to these games. What the finest mage in all of Azeroth might have thought of the wild-eyed warrior’s thoughts Julienne never had the chance to know. Her body felt a sudden warmth as the Lady’s lips mouthed some arcane enchant and the Julienne knelt beside the cooking fire, any of her wildly unkept thoughts gone in her gratefulness as she extended gold and silver clad fingers towards the flames feeling the metal heat quickly and sting her fingers in a new sensation.
Later I’ll fly down there and show them, she thought and cast a single wicked glance at the back of their King. For now I belong to Wrynn’s command regardless of my own personal wishes. He’ll undo us and they’re all happy for the undoing that comes from hating half of our planet’s inhabitants. Julienne closed her eyes and refocused her mind on the brine that she could still smell over the cracking wood almost against her knees that heated her flesh cased in metal until the bindings creaked from the sudden warmth and movement and buckles and casings suddenly relaxed and bit less cruelly into her flesh as her life saving armor warmed and expanded.
Julienne was only a warrior. She was less involved in politics than she was by them and often her opinions stayed her own lest she seem in any way accidentally ungrateful for her grand rewards and many commendations and recognitions. Commendations which included her invitation to come here and represent the Alliance under the Human King that had inspired Julienne to be a warrior in the first place.
She would excel herself, she knew. Not because King Varian Wrynn desired it but because she was incapable of giving less than everything she could in combat when her friends’ lives were on the line. Very smartly their King had invited many of them along with her into this tournament of champions he’d arranged with Garrosh of the Orcs as some means of measuring ability and strength and spirit outside of the gruesome never-ending fights with Arthas’ monsters and minions in Icecrown below.
Jaden joined her at the fire and smiled his thanks, unnaturally glowing blue eyes from a face that used to be deliciously Night Elven chilling even in the warmth of the smile that crinkled deep lines beside his eyes, believing it to be her own ingenuity. His own dark purple glowing plate armor began to expand and warm in the heat and he turned his backside to the fire playfully, wagging his narrow rear end over the flames as he squatted lower.
“Aye, careful there, boyo.” Hal laughed his deep Dwarven sound that always reminded Julienne of home and trips to Menethil and through the Arathi Highlands with her father and his friends. “Ye’ve had beans every night this week and young Julienne might like to keep her lovely golden locks there.”
The trio laughed out loud and Julienne strode to embrace her Dwarven friend. “I’m sure your beloved Gods would protect me in the face of such an evil onslaught, Halath.” She kissed the Paladin’s grizzled cheek and he could feel the heat of her face and softness of her lips against his bared skin. “I’m off to fetch our mighty huntress, anyone seen her about? My guess is she’s off over by the Jormungaar because she believes she can have one if she works hard enough at taming it.”
“Aye, our Alassiel is there with the mage and that nasty little Izon thing.” Halath shuddered and turned, raising his hand as their Shaman joined them at the fire with a deep breath of relief.
Julienne’s spirits were lifted at the sight of Tempestaari and she waved goodbye to him. The Draenei was always suspiciously quiet and contemplative and also always able to bring peace to the whole party and Julienne loved the warm strength that was his laughter. They needed him tonight in the face of this thing none of them had ever done. His wife, a priest, would be not far off and this also brought a smile to Julienne’s face. The lovely and outrageous Blyght was as warming and loud as her husband was shy and appropriate. The healers had become a part of their group years ago now and now neither Halath nor Julienne would go anywhere without them. Both had actually flatly refused to enter this contest of money for might without their Draenei friends.
Julienne clicked her tongue and the lusciously beautiful Bronze drake set down to ground beside her as if knowing all along that his mistress would require his services for a prank. Did you see Alassiel over by the Jormungaar? I want to drop down right on her and give her a mighty start. Julienne’s smile became a laugh when the image of the Jormungaar cracking at their bindings flashed in her mind and a voice, low and so sultry it had always made the beautiful warrior shiver in thrill as it whispered low in her mind. Perhaps we should just show off a bit instead? Trust me, Julienne. Come, I’ll show you.
Julienne’s thighs closed more tightly over the dragons back and she lowered herself closer to the warmth of the beast’s mighty flesh as they ascended straight up into the brilliant blue of the Icecrown sky.
Has Chromie even got a grip on time anymore, my friend? He says you are young. I wonder now if you are only younger than the war of the titans?
She knew without thought that the dragon would never tell her his true name. She also knew that as much as she loved his company and enjoyed his dedicated service that the bronze drake was only doing a favor for a beloved leader because Julienne had bested their enemy on their behalf and had done so quickly and so efficiently that Chronormu had gifted her with a drake as her personal mount in reward for her services.
And yet, soaring high above the crystalline perfection of Icecrown’s rocky shores and then diving straight towards the ground where she couldn’t even make out her friends’ silhouettes far below was such a thrill that Julienne cried out in joy and surprise even as her thighs and hands betrayed her joyous sound by clenching even tighter to the dragon’s sleek body.
Alassiel gave a cry of her own and clenched her arms immediately around the dragon’s neck as the snow settled around them all like a sudden whiteout.
Someday you’ll have to tell the girl your name, Bryn. She loves you as truly as it’s possible for any human to do. The Night Elf nuzzled the bronze scales along the neck of the warrior’s mount and patted him idly. It was clear to everyone that the huntress was absorbed in the beauty and unseen grace of the giant worms she had just spent the past hour and a half learning everything she could about from their handlers.
Laleigha shook the remaining snow from her icy blonde hair and smiled up at Julienne. “He’s really magnificent, Jules.”
“Tell him that. I’m just adornment on a saddle he’d really rather not be wearing.” Julienne sighed and leapt down to the packed snow with a jingling of buckles and metal plate meeting metal plate over her body, already sorry for the loss of the dragon’s mighty warmth. She stroked his neck gently and half-hugged the beast. Thank you. She thought and shivered as he went alight swiftly.
“I want to convince an Azure Drake to come with me, Jules. I really do.”
Julienne studied her fair-haired fair skinned friend and nodded. There was no surprise to her that the mage forced to leave Dalaran for refusing to follow only their prescribed teachings would also desire a beast who embodied her own strengths as her chosen mount. Laleigha had been, of everyone they’d traveled with for so long, the hardest to crack. Naturally bookish and shy, Laleigha had also learned early that a mage, a girl mage, alone could trust no one save herself for protection on a cold night in Theramore’s dirty streets or in the frozen cobbled paths of the many Northrend towns.
It had, in fact, been in the Underbelly Inn, the Cantrips and Crows, where Laleigha had whispered to Julienne that she dared not show her face above lest her former classmates and friends see that she’d returned because now her home town floated high above the beautiful and dangerous Crystalsong Woods, very far from the farmlands and lush surroundings of Laleigha’s childhood upbringing and subsequent tutelage in Dalaran before leaving.
Julienne had devilled her new friend into coming above into the golden and lavender mage’s city the next morning and they’d stayed in the Ledgerdemain every time they’d gone to Dalaran thereafter. Perhaps the mages had not known Laleigha’s greatness in her softly spoken refusals to learn only one school of magic and to do it in her own time. It was to the benefit of the strongest group in the King’s forces that the pale fragile girl mage had focused her substantial gifts and abilities on both the schools of arcane and frost magic’s. There was never a fight when her knowledge did not come in handy and never an encounter when the little mage did not show herself the better for her single-minded dedication to taking another path.
Sentimental and still almost distracted, Julienne turned as if to say something of her internal thoughts to her friend when the Bronze Drake’s voice in her mind stilled her as she listened, Beware, Julienne. This fight seems only money for might, as your Dwarven friend so aptly calls it, and yet there is something greater at work here. Thrall does not hold the might over his people as a peaceful War Chief that Garrosh holds in his hatred. Beware and be brave, little warrior. Follow your heart and you will be victorious.
With his oddly frightening and arousing voice gone again from her mind, Julienne gazed around as though stunned by his warning. He’d never warned her about anything before now. Why would he bother now?
An hour later the warrior stood beside her collected friends and a pair of strangers, eyeing the other warrior’s gear with a girl’s eye for jealous desire to have the same and a warrior’s discerning eye for weight and balance that made the other warrior show off more than he should have done so that their Paladin had to tell him off for being too brazen in front of their leaders.
“Sorry.” Julienne blushed while the tall Night Elf warrior bore his rebuke with tilted ears.
“I’m not.” Kean smiled down at the soft human girl and began the process of changing out his gear and equipping his shield so that he could help Halath by holding some of the monsters and enemies they were about to face. “I’m just sorry we don’t get to bash more Horde skulls than just those sad lot out in the halls.”
“I have a bad feeling about that Horde bashing,” Julienne whispered more to herself than to anyone and felt Tempestaari’s heavy hand on her shoulder.
“Hold on to your belief that hate brings nothing but misfortune, Jules. It’s a powerful vision to keep.” He said the command that brought his totems out all around them with a comforting popping sound then and Julienne felt the berserking energy of battle begin to course through her as the excitement of their upcoming battle began to surge through her from fingers to toes, making the fine hairs bristle on her neck and her spine tingle with unspent energy.
Halath stood for a mindful moment watching his lovely warrior friend, always awed by the power of the gods who could turn a gentle handed soft spoken girl into a fiercely deadly bedeviled killing machine in a few seconds. It was truly amazing to find a warrior as dedicated and determined who was also able to separate themselves from their deeds and maintain themselves as individuals instead of individual campaigns or combats. That beautiful blonde girl now hidden in the safety of her beautiful silver and gold gilt armor was the picture of gladiatorial perfection and he could feel the infectious nature of her battle shout rip through him as clearly as the healing protection of his god would gently encompass the others in the party a second later.
Hopping left and right in tiny self-contained circles, the warrior began what was for her a ritual dance of excitement that infected them all with the same bloodlust and desire for success that consumed herself and even the mage laughed a giddy excited laugh when Halath jumped at the booming voice above them in the rafters that called his name as a champion of Ironforge. In a blink Izon vanished and she smiled knowingly to herself as she began to leap higher into the air and her breath became more regular and controlled.
Contemplating their new dark party member would have to wait and the Death Knight was sad for this. The willowy dark warlock was shrouded from head to toe in all dark flowing vestments of almost smoking cloth, the lady could be lovely or just lordly and Jaeden wanted to know with an irrepressible need. The wicked red locks that had snuck free to flit in the breeze on the way into the arena enchanted the Night Elf Death Knight. Almost distractedly, he fingered the trinket on his shoulder and the chilling sound of the Horn of Winter filled them all as his warrior friend cried out a blistering Battle Shout again that warmed them all through and filled them with the need to defeat their enemy.
Julienne danced with her friends and ignored the King over her shoulder, choosing instead to bow deeply, curtseying almost all the way to the dirt when Thrall’s name was called over them all as the War Chief of the Horde. Many booing hissing names were called and Julienne steadfastly held her curtsey until the horde had finished cheering before rising. She bowed equally deeply to her own King when his name was called and hoped that this sovereign loyalty to honor title and position meant something in the world that seemed ready to slip into the sea disconnected from everything at any moment.
With the sound of the horn Julienne raced for the far wall where Halath had suggested she should wait on the back side of the huge wooden gates and gave another shout before bringing the sharp spines on her gauntlets down on both of her thighs just outside of the plate that protected them with a scream that made her literally see red with rage and heightened her fighting senses beyond the bouncing excitement before. Focused and ready, the warrior let the head of one axe rest on the dirt under her feet and swung the other mighty axe by one hand over and around her wrist menacingly.
The mighty almost human faced monster on an elephant’s body was unknown to Julienne and she turned confused eyes on the hunter who pointed and gave her the thumbs up. Just kill it, that thumbs up meant and Julienne happily raced head-long into the fray, the pair of her mighty axes swinging in cleaving arcs that just barely missed her friends and cleanly dispatched her foes in fight after fight. Even the new warrior, Kean, seemed surprised at the ease with which the small woman wielded two massive weapons and managed not to cleave her friends along with her enemies. Izon sprinted from one spot to another, always on the next challenge without hesitation.
Horrible snowbolds leapt on the heads of the party and had to be pulled free and killed until Julienne’s nerves were wrought with a newfound hatred for the tiny little menaces. She made a mental note to ask Halath later what the hell they were and whether they should be protected as Gods creatures or if she could hunt them to extinction like she’d tried so hard to do with the murlocks of Azeroth until Northrend. Izon, too, appeared bedraggled by the constant racing from place to place at the calls of, “Oh my god, getitoffgetitOFF!”
Still panting and shaking from the combat, the gates swung open again and Julienne raced back to the point where Halath had indicated he wanted the melee combatants to wait for incoming challengers. She smiled down at the gnomish rogue who gave her the thumbs up and then vanished into thin air once more.
When the mighty worms burst through the doors Julienne was at once saddened for her hunter friend and exuberant at the challenge of taking a mated pair of the mighty beasts for the first time. With a backwards count of 5 to 1 and a shout, the warrior sprinted lightning fast to the beast that the warrior held, knowing that Halath would choose the more dangerous one and that it was her job to kill the beast his less familiar companion held first.
A shout of “run to Halath” and her whole body was on fire. She felt as though something were squeezing the life from her entire body and even running was taking too much effort. Almost breathless, Julienne reached Halath and the paralyzing venom from the other worm was lifted from her as if by magic. Incensed, the warrior flew back at her target almost through the air and with renewed lust she dispatched the beast with a last shout and a shivering thought of the beast boiling her friend on the other side of the arena.
As one unit the melee turned and raced towards Halath and the mighty Jormungaar trying desperately in the face of his dead mate to kill the humans tormenting him and retreat to lick his wounds. The beautiful Warlock, Leytisha, commanded her minion away and called out an exotic beast that raced Julienne and the other melee into position at the huge worm.
Toxic pools of burning ooze covered the arena floor and Julienne screamed in pain and renewed rage as burning acid covered her whole self because she’d run too far forward in her haste to rejoin the combat. No time to apologize to the shaman whose natural magic wrapped around her and cleansed her body when he should have had his attention on the two keeping the beasts’ full attention.
The mighty worm went down in a thundering crash and Julienne turned with her friends towards the gates where the crier shouted a new and more violent menace was entering the ring. From high above and in front of her a troll with vibrant pink hair and so many totems and embellishments hanging from her neck that she could be merely a spectator if Julienne’s senses hadn’t also picked up the totem giving the caster mana outside before the match made eye contact with her and pointed to the Yeti. “Get ye away from him when he’s about to charge and you’ll see he’s just a dumb animal and not a menace at all. He be so dumb he’ll be stunned on the wall.” She called down to Julienne.
Jules turned to Halath who nodded and Julienne called out to the others “When he’s about to charge run away and he’ll be stunned.”
The warlock caught Julienne’s hand and dropped a tiny green glowing stone in it. Her lovely fingers were soft to the touch and the nails were tipped a vibrant almost blood colored purple that stopped Julienne’s mind for a split second. Her own nails were often split and chewed away to prevent them catching in combat. Sometimes she wished she hadn’t discovered a natural ability to wield heavy weapons and do it with accuracy that belied the unwieldy nature of her chosen trade. Warriors were not glamorous like this sexy red haired warlock, Julienne knew.
“If you’re seriously hurt crush the stone between your fingers and it will release captured life energy into your body to restore you.”
Julienne’s eyebrows rose and she looked down at the green stone that seemed to swirl and change color in her hands before nodding and slipping it into her bosom where it would be safe and also hopefully reachable if required. “Thank you, Leytisha. A real lot.” At the stranger’s nod she turned and faced the giant new challenge as it entered the arena.
She slapped her hands down on the backs of her aching thighs once more and felt the power of her fury surge through her again. With a single shout she raced across to intercept the giant blue Yeti and her axes again whirled and diced, spraying them all in blood and gore as she fought against the mightily large beast. When he blasted them all back and turned to charge Alassiel, Julienne prayed her friend would run fast and then charged forward to assail the duly stunned beast.
Panting, bent at the waist with her axes lying with the heads almost flat on the ground, Julienne almost knelt in exhaustion beside the stinking beast on the dirt before her and felt the presence of the beautiful bronze eyes of her most trusted friend and gazed up to where the dragon perched on the upper lip of the open air arena. He didn’t speak in her mind and she didn’t answer, simply nodded and rose to her feet to walk back to where everyone was gathering by the main door opposite the one the beasts had been using to enter through.
The little gnome with the grandly amusing name made her laugh and she turned to the Night Elf beside her to find that his glowing frost-blue eyes told her nothing. Julienne glanced up at the vibrant mohawked Troll Shaman and found that the woman was no longer in the stands, nor were any of her friends and Julienne was suddenly chilled inside. How many had there been? Was that gigantic Tauren warrior one of the Trolls friends? And what of the fetished Tauren woman who’d seemed almost too stoic and disinterested in the plight of the combatants below? Julienne couldn’t remember and figured she’d gotten help from one of the contestants here to represent the Horde against them later.
Julienne closed her eyes and let her head fall back without the weight of her helm, axe handles resting against her thighs as the flowing healing energy from the totem on the ground beside her eased the stress from her muscles and pain from her bruised body. They all still smelled strongly of spent adrenaline and sweat that was so sweet that it contrasted with the heady animal smells of blood and wet leather until she was giddy with it and gave a shout just as the little gnomish warlock was smashed flat by the Eredar Lord he’d thought foolishly to summon.
Suddenly the arena burst into angry shouts above and only Garrosh and Varian’s voices could be heard clearly enough to be understood even in snippets. From her place on the arena floor Julienne could only guess at the uproar when she clearly heard the Eredar turn on the combatants on the floor.
“Part of the show?” She hissed to Halath who shook his head and gave a shout just as the demon turned his gaze on the diminutive red haired and grizzled bearded Paladin.
Julienne’s battle shout reverberated off the rafters and her drake took instant flight straight up, casting a beautiful shadow on the floor of the arena for a split second before it was gone. She was on the Eredar in an instant and felt the chill of the Death Knight as his Horn filled her with speed and accuracy she hadn’t possessed before. So high on the challenge of an unforeseen fight that it almost overflowed her armor, Julienne didn’t realize she’d forgotten her helm until blood sprayed her eyes as the multi-armed consort called forth by the daemon went down with a shuddering sigh.
Distractedly frustrated with her foolishness, Julienne swiped her blood-matted hair away from her face just as a wave of agony spread through her from the inside out. Cursed or diseased, she didn’t know, she just ran away from the entire group to prevent spreading it and shrieked in pain as though her soul was on fire. The pain was gone as quickly as it began and Julienne was dazed by the change for a split second, finding herself run over by a flaming infernal and in a new kind of agony.
This time the pain focused the warrior’s mind and her training came back to her in a flood as she spun, cleaving the rolling rock monster as she charged back at the demon in a flash too quick to see and shouted her rage at him in a frenzied assault that seemed to spread to them all in turn. When the demon went down with a thundering of hooves and buckles and flesh Julienne raced back to where their lovely Priestess had carefully set her helm aside. The beautiful Draenei caressed Julienne’s bloody cheek with a single hand as she poured water over the side of her head to wipe the worst of the caked blood away for her friend.
“Thank you, Blyght.” She almost moaned the words when the woman embraced her and kissed her cheek. The warrior wiped the blood away on her stained gauntlets and the shame on her face must have been too much for the lovely Draenei to bear because she poked the warrior in the ribs.
“Sometimes too brave, Julienne. Too excited for the fight.” The woman laughed in the warrior’s soft golden hair and pushed her away. With a word blue white light flowed from Julienne and became radiant golden beams as it flowed out and through her. “The light watch over you, little warrior.”
They’d gathered under the banners of their King because through the other door were appearing Horde combatants who gathered under their own banners because Garrosh had so ordered it in retaliation for what he thought was an Alliance plot because the foolish little gnomish warlock had summoned an Eredar Lord and not the Doomguard required for the competition.
Julienne swallowed a potion offered by the Death Knight and knelt so that the Paladin could anoint her forehead with a prayer that flowed through her whole body like a surge of undeniable energy. From the corner of her eye she could see that the warrior Kean was donning his lighter gear again and the idea rallied her. She asked Jaeden for another of the potions and raced to the warrior, offering it with a shy smile.
Alassiel played magically charged drums and the whole group felt themselves rising to the occasion. These new foes were not beasts or monsters. They were not freaks brought out for display. Thinking fighting people, like themselves stood there under the billowing banners being surrounded in the colors of their combined kingdoms and Julienne felt some of the energy surge from them.
“Stormwind Blue and Ironforge hammers…” Julienne started the chant and soon they were all reciting it, at first disjointed and then suddenly with focus and meaning. Again Julienne’s battle shout reverberated and she imagined the Troll Shaman smiling with it just as she slapped her own thighs and the blood flowed again down the backs of them as her body surged and she turned and collided with the Death Knight, chest plate to chest plate, the sound a cracking sound not unlike battle and the pair of them shouted.
“Victorious under the light of our banners!” The group finished with a shout and Kean shouldered Julienne roughly so that she nearly lost her footing and she returned it roughly with a growl.
“Save it for them lot, you pair.”
“Don’t worry, Paladin.” Julienne laughed and swung her axes menacingly into play so that one blocked and the other balanced up over her shoulder to come down brutally without any seeming effort. “I have plenty for them. Got one you want me to make sorry, Hal?”
Halath laughed and nodded. “Take that Druid and hold her, Julienne. No matter what else. She’s gonna heal them and it’s gonna hurt.” He turned then to the other warrior whose eyes were flashing and intelligent. “You’re on that Holy Paladin, Kean. Don’t let her get a heal off if you can help it.” And with that Halath shouted his orders to the others before nodding to the Death Knight who surged with undead energy that both spooked and pleased the Paladin.
Almost on queue the ground around the Death Knights on both sides of the arena began to boil as bones and blood and spent sinews of a thousand dead and forgotten things began to rise to the surface under the control of the elite soldiers and masters of the undead created by the Lich King. The hunters both sprang into position and the pets growled and crowed in unison as the massive Tauren Warrior under the beautiful Red Horde banners gave command in unison to the Paladin in blue shouting to Jules to “Gogogo gehl!” in the Dwarven baroque that always made her smile.
Julienne knew from experience that the rogue would appear as if by magic behind his unprepared victim and that the carnage would be shocking for a tiny warrior so cute when he wasn’t in combat. Across the arena like they were on rails, Julienne and Kean were off with the army of undead minions unleashed by the Death Knight and collided body to body with their chosen targets. Blyght laughed out loud and her body glowed fiercely golden for a split second and then the Troll Shaman cried out an oath and shuddered trying to regain her balance.
Around and around, faced and locked with constant interruptions, all ten of them fought the well coordinated and massively powerful Horde combatants until Alassiel had gone down with her cat and their priest and druid were subdued, and then the warrior Kean gave a cry and was down, taken out by the Orc Death Knight with the gloriously glowing eyes that shone from an otherwise blackened maw of a helm. Jaeden and Julienne were on the Death Knight in an instant and he fell with a shuddering moan before Julienne felt the sharp electric pain of an arrow through her back and braced against her armor at the front.
Blood ran hot down her stomach and into her pants, making the plate and leather slip and uncomfortable against her skin suddenly and the scratching of the point of the arrow on her armor made her shudder and she vomited blood with a frightened cry.
Julienne spun on her heel and charged the Troll Hunter with bright orange hair with a fierce angry shout that splattered the Troll in a mist of her own blood and with her teeth bared, the warrior straddled the Hunter and brought the handle of her axe down across the man’s face, knocking him unconscious.
The flow of healing energy blasted through her then and she screamed with it, as the arrow seemed to be trying to heal into her and hurt like fire in her belly. She rose, distracted by the pain and panic, and dragged her chest plate up out of place and screamed loud and long as she dragged the arrow shaft and fletching through her body and out the other side before collapsing back onto her knees in the dirt, useless arrow still clutched in her fist. In her mind Julienne remembered the swirling green glow of the tiny stone Leytisha had gifted on her in the fight with the Yeti and her cold fingertips closed around the gemlike stone for a moment before she crushed it and the energy flowed through her quickly.
To say it felt stolen was an understatement. For a split second Julienne imagined she could smell salt and sea and tasted the foulest old fish smell in her mouth before the world returned to blood soaked dirt and screaming friends and foes all around.
She rose when a second of Blyght’s warm healing spells flowed through her body and as an afterthought cracked the arrow over her knee and dropped it on the Troll’s chest with an angry oath before lifting up the weight of her axes again and turning to rejoin the rapidly closing battle.
In seconds the druid in cat form fell to the dirt with a lingering growl that became a sob as the young Tauren male form shifted out of the cat before being erased by magic and resurrected behind the closed wooden doors on the other side of the arena where they’d entered the battle under the Horde standards.
Julienne knelt beside her friend and laid her hand on his forehead. Always deathly cold, how could one know if this was the time when the Death Knight simply would not come back from death’s gates for another round at war? And then smoky tendrils of green light coiled incongruously around the dark plate armor and the vibrant blue eyes fluttered open their unnaturally bright light almost stunned to be seeing again before they focused on her face.
“So ready to have me done for that you’re cryin’ over my remains, Jules?” Jaeden’s hand on her thigh belied his teasing and she brushed her tears away with the back of her hand dismissively.
“I’m cryin’ ‘cause Aari said he could res ya and that means I don’t get that sexy axe of yours, Jae. That’s all.” She knocked him with her knee and turned to find the others. Feeling her friend rise behind her was enough for now.
Kean was hugged and laid a hand on the bloodstain on the front of her Stormwind doublet. “Doesn’t look like it feels nice.” He teased and laughed even louder when the girl glanced down and sighed heavily before shrugging sincerely and turning to lean down and slap “high” fives with the dancing rogue.
“I hate spending good gold after bad trying to keep nice things in good shape.” Julienne said and gratefully accepted the drink offered by the mage so that she could rinse her own blood and bile from her mouth and cleanse her lips and chin a bit.
“Jules, you ok?” Laleigha’s warm hand on Julienne’s neck, feeling the skin there where it was exposed as if the warrior were a child who’d come up sick instead of a warrior who’d nearly died, again, in service to her King.
“Yeah, Lal. Right as rain. Thank you.” She smiled as she straightened and found new pain in her lower back that hadn’t been there before all this fighting, praying that her smile held fast for the benefit of her friends concern.
“Jules, ugh! There’s still blood in your teeth.” Laleigha turned away, pale and gagging a little at the harder woman’s nonchalance.
Even Halath could not suppress a laugh at poor Laleigha’s discomfort and the mage shook her head in disgust at them all. “Barbarians.” Julienne thought she heard before the mage re-joined her newfound friend, the lovely and now un-masked Leytisha. The women seemed to be whispering in another language to anyone not familiar with the shorthand jargon of casters everywhere.
Julienne caught a piece of bread offed by the other warrior and laughed a little as she used it to brush her blood caked teeth clean and then without thinking chewed and swallowed the pieces as though it were commonplace to eat ones own blood on bread between battles. “What?” She said through a mouthful of the lovely yeasty bread when the hunter shook her head and turned away. “You want me to spit it out and freak Lal out even more? Is just blood and bread.”
Julienne turned to Kean who laughed and shrugged as if to say he didn’t get it either and turned to face the middle of the arena. “Gods and goddesses sometimes I feel like I’m not a girl at all anymore.” She growled with a mighty roll of her vivid blue eyes and swallowed the last bite of her bread.
They were so high on their unexpected glory in the face of a challenge fought and won against the other faction that none of them seemed really to be paying much attention as the heated debate took place above and Julienne only half noticed when it was Thrall who blessed the bestowing of their prizes for honor and valor in the face of so many unexpected challenges.
“Not DONE? Did he just say DISQUALIFIED?” Kean raised his fist at the young Orc seated to the side and slightly in front of Thrall and bared his teeth. “I’ll show you disqualified, Garrosh you dirty bastard. Come on down here and fight me like a man, or have you forgotten how?”
“Easy mister.” Halath ground from between clenched teeth, heart pounding a little faster at the thought of the young Orc in his full prime who had definitely not forgotten how to fight taking the rash Night Elf up on his challenge.
“Easy yourself, Dwarf. That sniveling Orc’s runt isn’t fit to lick his combatant’s blood from my boots and he’s gonna stand there and demand more from us if we want our prizes?” The warrior spun around and saluted his King. “Sire!” He yelled up to the spectators. “There’s nothing that dog can throw at us that we can’t defeat! Give us the challenge that bested his last best team!”
Brazen bigotry aside, Julienne found that she was emboldened by Kean’s righteous anger and even more by his bold-faced bravado. She joined him, her blood streaked face tilted up at the Alliance spectators in a perfect furious battle mask of gore. “Bring it and we’ll defeat it!” She shouted up into the crowd.
Soon the group of them stood with their backs turned on the Horde side of the arena awaiting their leader’s decision. He turned and whispered furiously at Lady Jayna beside him and she blinked out of sight only to appear on the Horde side of the arena in an unprecedented on-sight demonstration of her constantly wearying struggle to keep the peace between the two very different faction leaders.
When Thrall laid his hand gently on the frustrated mage’s elbow and nodded and then in a fiercely different gesture swung his arm back to strike Garrosh back and reprimand him in front of everyone present so that the other Orc squatted and skulked away in shame, Julienne closed her eyes and smiled up at the Orc she feared admiring so much and still could not deny his place in history and in her heart.
In the three times she’d laid eyes on the Warchief he had always been calm, wise and gentle. He was without the burning frightening hatred that made both Varian and Garrosh such compelling and frightening leaders. The Warchief seemed somehow celestial, beastly only in appearance. She had been drawn to him since the first time she’d seen him, even from that distance, and her admiration shamed and thrilled her at once.
Distracted and disjointed Julienne stuttered and failed to reply when Halath asked if she was ready.
“Is my job to pray, girl.” He chided and kicked the toe of her boot with his own. “Julienne?” The Dwarf growled and raised his voice so that he could see her jump with it. “Bloody fracking battle ground to girl in the clouds.”
She blushed and looked down at her own boot prints in the blood caked sand beneath her feet. “Sorry, Hal. Here, fit and ready, yessir.”
“Then look it, fierce warrior.” He chided again, this time less harshly and chuffed her on the elbow with a concerned look.
That silly girl positively glowed when she looked upon Thrall and it made him just as positively nervous to see it. They were in a war and the kid seemed unable to focus on more than one enemy at a time.
Somewhere never far back in his memory was the night he’d found her bandaging a wounded Orc warrior outside of the Citadel. Using her own medicines and her own bandages and speaking mindlessly soothing words as she wound the bandage expertly around the woman’s arm so that she would still be able to wield her weapons, weapons she’d no doubt use to kill more of the Alliance soldiers in the morning.
Halath had stood in stunned silence when the girl had even given the Orc the last of her own food rations and waited in the darkness watching as the other soldier limped away, raising a hand in salutation as though waving goodbye to a friend.
More stunning had been her waspish reply when he’d confronted her about choosing her sides. “The sea knows no sides, Halath, and he knows no mercy save a few so far apart as to seem almost accidental or imaginary fancy. I’ll kill that warrior tomorrow, like as not, or she’ll kill me. “ The hard cold glare of the Northrend moon on her pale eyes told the truth of her words and the conviction behind them.
And then her eyes went soft and the clear orb of the moon became a rippled thing like on the water. “But here in the dark and cold she found a soul like her own and we’re fracking few in number and fewer in faith. I’ll not let my sister die alone because she has misfortune of being born tusked or I had misfortune of being born without.” Much later he’d learned that the Orc bore a symbol on her jewelry that Julienne herself bore, a symbol paying homage to a goddess far older even than the Dwarven Kingdom of Ironforge or the fragile Alliance and Horde that the pair of loyalty crossed warriors fought to protect.
“So another challenge it is then.” He growled and clapped his hands together, bringing all of his band of weary and ready soldiers to attention.
“The Valkyre.” Leytisha hissed and turned to Laleigha as the ancient battle maidens came into the room. “There’s a story about these gals. They’re joined.”
“One light and one dark.” Blyght agreed. “Both halves of the same soul, split by the Lich King, they said.”
“I heard by the Titans.” Laleigha laughed nervously. “Doesn’t matter, these girls mean business. You wanna tell me the Horde had to do THIS one?”
“Tell me the Horde made it this far.” Kean murmured angrily and spit into the dirt roughly.
Julienne grabbed the other warrior’s arm roughly and spun him around. “Let them talk. They’ll plan and we’ll do as we’re told. Don’t you know that’s our place?”
“Varian was born with that leadership. And like Arthas he did precious little to earn our loyalty and devotion, Kean, save being born to the right family. He just gets it whether he deserves it or not.” Julienne sounded more disdainful than she meant and her cheeks flushed in embarrassed humility. “I mean that if you want to lead you need to reign in your hate some or you’ll never really be more than an angry pissant with a grudge and not as many friends as enemies. Come… lets get the people going again. It’s fun when they’re chanting with us.”
The older and taller warrior studied the little blonde warrior turned clown and was even more shocked when the Death Knight joined her, actually bending with his hands in a step for the girl to step up into and be flipped over with a fierce shout of “Stormwind!” or “For Gnomeregan!” which brought as much laughter as it did cheering. One after the other each of the fighters stepped up into the Death Knight’s hands and leapt off and over as he vaulted them to shout over and over until the whole crowd were screaming and teaming against the rails with their voices and hands high in the air.
“For the Alliance!”
Julienne began the tight circular hopping and shouting that Kean had learned was her own private preparation and hefted her axes up to her shoulders and down again as if working the muscles of her arms like the rails on a goblin steam train.
The Valkyre sized their foes up and spun in circles at the other end of the arena for a moment, taunting and harassing in their low sensual voices. When one of them reached out into Juliennes mind she was greeted with a booming shout and plea for the killing to begin. She spun and danced sensually up to the warlock and the two women came together with their hips in the middle, much to the joy and merriment of the entire crowd. That Julienne turned then to the tall Death Knight and tilted her face back for a kiss that she was given brought outrageous applause. She smiled at her friend and he smiled back, wordless. Their lips never met when their faceplates were down but the crowd was responding to their playacting anyway and he loved it.
“’Aight, ladies and gents. Their Lordships and Kingships and Warships have spoken, and we’ve another fight in front of us.” There were general titters and then all 9 sets of eyes were on the Paladin’s whiskey colored ones. He smiled at his warriors and shook his head. “If I can steal master Kean from the gals, I’d like to see if he’s up to helping me out with these nasty old crones.”
“Aye, Halath. I’m up for it.” Kean was already in the process of loosing his axe harness and heading off to the wall where his shield and lighter sword awaited him. In only a few moments he was ready and looked it.
“So our pair of very learned casters are telling me that these two gals have some serious stuff in store for us. Laleigha? Explain to the melee and to Kean what they’re about.” Halath turned to his healers and the Hunter and gestured them to join him at Leytisha’s side.
“Umm… yeah. So…” Laleigha dried her suddenly moist palms on the front of her robes and laughed nervously. The Night Elf laid a steadying hand on her shoulder and watched her face raptly. The effect was at once both steadying and nerve-shattering for the poor shy little mage who actually snorted trying to keep herself from another giggle attack and she had to shake her head and utter something arcane that made her fingertips glow blue as she drew on the ground.
“They bring out these orbs that linger at the four corners of the room.” Laleigha began, finding that her nerves steadied as they all crouched to see what she was doodling on the floor in magic. “One is light and the other is dark, and each of the portals will be either light or dark, two of each…” And as the mage began to explain that from time to time the twin Valkyre would share a soul and share each other’s pain by healing each other, and that the combatants could take advantage of the different energies amassing and disbursing in the room so that they could more greatly weaken the Valkyre not already focused, they all nodded.
The fight itself was almost a shambles. None of them had ever undertaken such a hideously complicated fight, and it was clear from the start that as much information as the two very bright casters were, there was as much or more that they hadn’t heard about or didn’t understand.
The rogue lay dead between the Valkyre in less time than it took for them to really get into the flow of the fight, and then the running through different colored orbs became confusing for the Death Knight and the Warrior who collided both times they were sent and spent long moments trying to focus their minds and their attacks again. The Death Knight’s army of dead creatures fell as though he’d not even bothered to summon them and the lovely priestess went down with a shattering cry to her husband to “keep them going, my love!” that very nearly sent their Paladin racing back to resurrect her, combat or no combat.
By the time the group got themselves going and actually had the rhythm of the fight and understood what they were doing, even Alassiel’s cat lay motionless on the bloody arena floor.
Literally beyond exhaustion and emotionally spent, Tempestaari knelt beside his wife and raised her then embraced her, leaving the resurrection of the other party members to their leader who gladly raised the others. The crowd above started screaming and he turned an irritated glance their way. Varian had sent banners down on both sides of the arena, glorious blue Stormwind and Alliance banners. The Dwarves and Night Elves and Humans and Gnomes raised themselves loudly in a constant scream for them to all have a bow and the Draenei seemed to be drumming with their hooves on the wooden and stone floors above until the cadence became deafening.
“True Champions.” He heard their King cry down to them and felt his own weariness begin to fade a bit.
He turned and Julienne, always easily led by a crowd of happy noises, well, he thought to himself, lets face it, any noises, began to hop in small circles as though preparing for battle and traded which of her many friends she circled with as though dancing about the Ribbon Pole at the Midsummer Fire Festival.
One and then the other, holding hands and dancing around in a circle before changing partners and direction to go around again. When she reached him, Halath happily took her hand in his and spun with a laugh, even more thrilled to find that the lovely Blyght would be his next partner. Once all had had a turn they settled to chanting back and bowing for the crowd.
The officiate had reached the dirt floor with the prizes for their battle and they were all high with the glory of success when the air around them darkened and changed so that it nearly cracked with cold and Jaeden made the first truly feral noise Julienne had ever heard him make as his whole body flashed the gory vibrant red of the aura that she already knew would help him heal the more blood he shed.
She instinctively secured her helmet and pocketed the leftover crust of bread with a swallow from the skin of conjured water before tossing it mindlessly underhand against the wall behind her knowing that it would vanish soon anyway. Some instinct already tying the pair of them together, Kean and the Rogue also flashed with their own buffs and bristled with readiness.
And then the Lich King himself stood in the arena and again that animal hatred from Jaeden who was always able to literally wear the control born from something he called the repose of the undead and Julienne’s spiked gauntlets came down instinctively on her thighs as her axe handles crashed together and her battle shout sounded, shocking some of the onlookers from their meandering during what they thought would be a break and bringing them shouting and screaming to the rails of the spectators area above. From jovial to battle ready, the whole hand-chosen band of fighters took prepared stances and began to flash and prepare for the least likely fight of the moment as though they’d come for it and it alone.
The ground under them gave way so suddenly and Julienne’s scream was less brave than frightened for an instant and then the Lich King’s words were delivered to those assembled above and were lost in the distance ever growing farther and farther as she went down down down.
Julienne came up out of the water with a shudder and laughed. “I did NEED a bath. Thank you, Arthas. You fail as Prince and Paladin but you’re a mighty gracious host. I’ll give ya that.” Shivering and coughing, she dragged herself up onto a piece of fallen arena floor with a sodden groan and another heaving cough to expel some of the water she’d swallowed and made her way on shaky legs to the shore where she got her first look around them and backed instinctively away.
“Azjul Nerub? What? Izon, we killed him, didn’t we?” Julienne pointed to the shape of Anub’arak at the back of the high-topped icy chamber as the beast began his chanting litany that always unnerved her to her core.
The warrior was afraid of precious little, save the hysterical gurgling giggle noise made by murlocks and the chattering of insects she’d never known to fear before her first introduction a few months before to the Nerubian’s of Dragonblight.
“In so much as we kill anything I guess.” He laughed a nervous sound and Julienne shivered again and said the words that started a cooking fire so that the others would have it to gather around before turning to see if she could help anyone else from the wreckage of the collapsed arena floor.
“Oh Goddess.” Julienne turned to help the Priestess from the water and laughed when Tempestaari raced back out across the water to help the paladin and heavily geared warrior by whispering the boon that brought them up to walk on water with him. Jaeden strode purposefully across the water on icy footprints that faded as he passed and his eyes were lost on the sky above them not really related to the hole they’d magically been transported through to get to this place deep under the Icecrown Citadel.
“What treachery is this?” Halath growled sounding very much in the moment like Garrosh had sounded only a few minutes before.
“Some new way to embarrass us all, Horde or Alliance.” Kean shrugged. And as there were murmurings that this was reserved only for the Alliance as punishment form our once crown Prince the warrior snorted derisively.
“Don’t kid yourselves, people. Arthas will rule us all or be killed for daring to think he could. Why would he be in the least concerned if the 10 who won were Horde or Alliance? Maybe it’s tastier to look at the bruised and haunted Warrior King Varian instead of the unflappable War Chief Thrall. I seriously doubt it.”
Julienne nodded and hissed again when one of the icy white beetles got too close and burned when he died. “I don’t like this even a little bit, Hal. There’s damned bugs everywhere.” The slight tremor in her voice unnerved the rogue who meandered away for a moment to let his friend recollect her bravado.
“Careful, Jules. They’re leaving something behind that seems to react to cold. Watch…” Laleigha cast a little spell and Julienne cried out with the sudden cold on her whole body. The caster turned to the warlock who nodded and cast one of her own spells and found that the cold effect didn’t spread with shadow or fire damage. Julienne stepped wisely away when the priest and shaman joined the magical experimentation.
“Useful, that. You think he’s gonna burrow like he did before?” This from Izon and everyone nodded.
“When a thing works for you, I suppose you keep using it.” Alassiel sighed, idly stroking her cat’s beautiful coat as she knelt by the fire for warmth.
“See those ice things floating around in here?” The rogue stepped forward and pointed so that Alassiel could more clearly see them. “When they crash into the wall they’re making a sheet of ice.” She followed his gaze and sure enough, when the orb collided with another orb they rained a sheet of ice onto the ground.
Alassiel took careful aim and called out to the Paladin to step back. Her arrows were true and the orb exploded and became a sheet of ice on the ground. When she shot it again the arrow skittered over the surface and she laughed with it.
“Now lets just say he does burrow, and I bring a bunch of these down. Jules, Izon… you two think you could run him under them?”
Catching her drift the melee combatants gave a laugh. “Oh yeah. I sure could.” “No doubt, Al.”
Alassiel turned to Halath when he came to see what she’d found. “Clever clever.” He praised and laid a hand on the gnome’s head. “You for pointing it out and the girl for finding a good use for it. Laleigha thinks that our healers are going to be challenged here with these terrible beetles, Julienne. And Leytisha asked me please to send you her way.”
The warrior found the warlock only half interestedly talking to the Death Knight and had to smile. What Jaeden lacked in subtlety he made up for in heart and strength, she knew already. She also knew that the warlock would have to find out for herself. There were no words to warn a woman about a man like Jaeden, and none that could commend him after, either.
Leytisha hesitated a moment and then laid a hand on Jaeden’s shoulder when he would have left the women to their discussion. “You need one too. Here.” She withdrew a swirling green stone from the pouch on her waist. “Crush it and it’ll give you a small healing when you most need it.”
“Soul stones.” Jaeden nodded and thanked the warlock who looked shocked and a little confused by the Death Knight’s dismissive acceptance of her gift. “You would believe I’d been a warrior once, wouldn’t you? Look me up, Leytisha, if you ever find the time. It’s Jaedenaar Brightstorm, where I was from. Jaeden is the bastardization I accepted later in this new half-life. I wasn’t flashy like our Blyght, but healing and shadow energy were things I was very familiar with before Arthas chose to make my death something less heroic and more… memorable.”
Julienne stored that tidbit of information away in her mind and then whistled to the hunter and her cat as the beetles began to amass and move forward.
“I think the longer we postpone this the worse it’s gonna be.” Halath said aloud, seeming to read the warrior’s mind.
Julienne watched as Leytisha handed one of the little stones to Izon and another to Kean. The warlock seemed to have also been mentally bracing for this combat as her whole body flashed a dark foreboding purple color and her little imp darted carefully out of reach. Blood appeared on the warlock’s exposed forehead for a flash before it was gone. She gave a moan of near pleasure and Leytisha’s next crackling spell lit the floor around her in a green and black rune that flashed bright in the entire area.
No wonder they wear black, Julienne thought with a grimace and then shrugged. As if there was anything natural to her inflicting pain and bloodletting on herself because it released her inner rage and assisted her in finding the heightened focus of a warrior who specialized in a berserking and dangerous dance on the edge of sanity while fighting.
They raced forward as a group and Kean had beetles on him in a split second, dragging them off to the side while the team worked to down the giant beast they’d all faced once before. Anub’arak chattered and hissed and his words, though cold and uncomfortable, filtered in their minds as they fought. Julienne’s twin bladed axes skittered over his shell and bits flew back as she gained purchase in blow after blow, raining debris over the fast moving and desperately fighting rogue.
Time after time Alassiel called out commands to Mizo, her cat, or to other members to run so that she could bring ice down. Twice during the combat Anub’arak dove under the ground and chased them and twice they drove him under the ice that their hunter so carefully dropped. Nerubians attacked relentlessly and Kean was often almost overwhelmed, even with the services of both the priest and the shaman dedicated to himself and to Halath.
Julienne dove under one of the terrible beetles attacking the other warrior and loosed a battle cry that called the other melee to her aid as she loosed the combined rage of her weapons and body on the foursome of fearless giant bugs. Kean gave a cry of his own and Julienne felt her blood surge in response to his call. A glowing wave of energy flowed over her almost constantly and she was reminded of the smell of freshly harvested grains and wet earth and knew that it was Aari’s magic sustaining them as they downed the last beetle and Anub’arak resurfaced under the priest, so that Blyght instinctively attacked and raced back with a scream.
Halath shot a brilliant light through the heart of the giant beetle and he hissed and raced towards the Paladin as magic pain lanced through his every inch. Very few creatures ever resisted when a Paladin’s touch commanded their attention. Something to the pain and suffering wrought by the Gods when the Paladin requested their assistance focused the mind of a beast on the conduit that wrought the pain.
Weak and shaking with effort Julienne watched Jaeden drop to his knees, blood pouring from a wound in his thigh that looked from where she was to be mortal if the blood was not staunched quickly. In her mind Julienne knew that they were no longer in the protection of the many mages and healers of the arena games where they’d been before and she turned to make eye contact with the healers only to find that they were in a struggle against a number of the smaller white beetles. At once Julienne chose them over herself and shouted to the rogue to stay on the beast as she charged away, flying into the fray with the beetles and shouting a command that was saved for leading a battle, not for the warrior simply there to kill.
At once all of the beetles spun on her and she began dragging them towards Kean, shouting at them and constantly spinning and slicing them with her axes. The pain was blinding, and might have crippled another. Julienne had learned that it fed her strength if she could stay focused, and she cried out her rage and the sound was indignant and powerful. The beetles were mindless and it still seemed to the male warrior as he watched that they seemed to hesitate in the light of the fearless little woman’s anger and determination.
So cold. Julienne was so cold. With one hand she pulled the little green gem from Leytisha out of her chest armor and crushed it, swinging her axe with the other with a scream that reverberated around the room as her whole body was awash in the terrifying smells and tastes of undeath and of the fortress above them in Icecrown where the Lich King ruled. She was so striken by the flavor of death and dying and decay that she shuddered and went to her knees with a mighty shiver.
And then the last beetle went down and she heard Halath ordering her back to him. She spun and surged forward, so cold and shaking that she could barely wield her axes, a dervish of frenzied activity, the warrior spun and spun and shouted at the giant beetle with all the rage and strength she had left, turning her horror and the sense that she was somehow not going to make it into a last vicious attack on the beast. She could hear Jae somewhere nearby and knew that saving the healers had given him the help he’d needed, and she also knew that in the back of her mind she was aware that Laleigha and the warlock were screaming, and so more beetles were on the women in the back.
At once the sound of a wave crashing on the shores brought a smile to the warrior’s bloodstained and exhausted face and she thought she heard the echoing response of a demon far greater than any imp or dog telling his mistress that he was ready for her command. A fire elemental appeared right beside her, his warmth so welcome that the warrior nearly cried out in her joy and the ground beneath them began to bubble and churn as the dead pieces and bits around them were called forth by the Death Knight again as an army of dead minions began to hammer at the broken and shattering armor of their master’s target’s shell.
And the mighty Anub’arak, resurrected or rescued by the Lich King himself was dead. No more hissing chattering in her mind, no more terror inducing clatter of shell and many legs. The beast did not even heave a sigh with death, it just clattered to the floor and slowly settled with cracking rattling noises.
Julienne collapsed on the freezing floor the heat of her own rage and energy leaving her quickly in the freezing unnatural cold of the rapidly fading light and she felt the welcome warmth of the little gnomish rogue curl into her, Izon panting and almost shaking all over with exertion and spent energy rapidly going cold in the chamber along with the warrior.
All at once she felt the presence of her Bronze dragon in her mind and she called out to him. Help us! We’re under the Citadel, I think, and we just kicked Anub’arak in whatever place he deems most sensitive. He might be dead this time... Her thoughts trailed off with an image she hoped the dragon could see.
If it was possible to hear a laugh in your mind when the creature laughing was miles away, Julienne did it and smiled at herself for believing she was feeling a Dragon laugh.
Yes, Julienne. You are under the Citadel. Arthas has left the tournament and the people there have enlisted everyone to find you. If your mage can do it, ask Laleigha to return you all to us here. Tell her that Lady Jayna is ready for her.
Julienne passed the message along and found the cool hands of the Priestess on her shoulder and turned to the woman questioningly. Her lavender eyes shone over-bright in the white room and Julienne looked down to see that her shoulder armor had penetrated her flesh at some point. The warrior was so high on her success and so numbed by the cold in the room that she hadn’t even noticed.
“We need to be away from this place at once.” The warlock said then, turning to her new friend with a shudder of cold. “If Arthas is no longer at the tournament grounds then surely he knows that we have bested his challenge here.”
“Aye.” Halath shivered against the fire and watched as the Death Knight strode to the pile of rogue and warrior and gently lifted his friends up to their feet. “Truer words have never been spoken.”
Laleigha focused her mind on the face of the lovely Lady Jayna and imagined a portal opening to the other mage and in an instant a portal glowed bright and swirling, the image of many milling bodies inside a tent was clear in the swirling bright light of the mage portal.
“Walk through and you’ll find it’s much warmer on the other side, I suspect.” The mage watched the warlock walk sedately into the portal, followed by the lovely and very tall Alassiel whose cat Miso followed quickly behind. Kean and Izon were next through, with Tempestaari and his wife Blyght following. Halath and Jaeden half carried half dragged Julienne through with Laleigha close on their heels so that in just a few seconds their whole party was safely inside their King’s tent at the tournament grounds so many miles away from where they had been before.
Julienne shivered a lingering shudder of the cold and dropped to her knees, aware of Jaeden’s strong fingers unlacing her armor and uncatching the buckle so that Blyght could more properly tend her suddenly shrieking shoulder. She moaned with the pain and her eyes rolled with the exertion of trying to hold back a cry. The Priestess brushed a lock of bloody hair from the warrior’s face and whispered a simple word before the world went blessedly black.
“Sleep.” Blyght kissed her friend’s forehead and turned shining eyes on the human King. “This little girl is a representative of everything good and powerful in humans, sire. Be sure you remember that when she wakes. Her words may not reflect her beauty and strength in the first moments.”
Wrynn’s face froze as though he was about to say something cutting to the Draenei who dared to tell him how to revere his own heroes and then his own shattered nerves reined him in from some place deeper inside than his own bruised propriety and he nodded. “Yes. You are all greater than you were imagined, and Blyght, you were imagined quite greatly.”
“Sire, this armor is perished. Whatever struck her, it cleaved the metal and embedded it into her flesh.”
“Julienne came and started shouting at the beetles, she enraged them and they were all on her until she dragged them back over to Kean.” Tempestaari said. “They were all attacking her at once and she had only her axes to hold them back with, no shield and only a fighter’s light armor.”
Wrynn gazed down at the sleeping girl again and then made eye contact with Jayna who nodded. “This is the same girl who led the group below, when you were clowning and taunting the Horde?”
“And the same who bowed as deeply to the Warchief as to yourself, sire. The one you wanted us to…” The man stopped speaking at a look of dark interest from Kean.
“The girl who has the protection of a dragon.” The High Elf’s voice was so purposeful and his stride was so quick that none in the tent was prepared when the bronze skinned beauty was recognized. “This girl’s place in time is secured. What it is even she doesn’t know, that she is true to her nature is enough. Do not condemn the heart so true that it is loyal to the death, Varian Wrynn, even when that heart can hold in it loyalties that you are not strong enough to recognize or value.”
“She showed honor to the Orcs.” Varian said the word like an oath and even in her sleep Julienne stirred, a frown furrowing her smooth brow.
“She showed honor to leadership, Your Highness. Honor that does you more proud than you do yourself in moments like this one.” The Dragon in High Elf form eased the warrior’s forehead with one hand and rose to his full height, dwarfing all in his sheer size. “Her Gods are not your own and her ways are not for scorn or concern. This warrior will give her life for you again, you need not fear. That she would as freely give it to another of equal power is a gift, not a point of condemnation. Her heart is loyal to something greater than any of us.”
“You think she knows the future?” Jayna’s question was not scornful, her bright blue eyes were interested and her face bright and inquisitive.
“I think she is tied indelibly to our past and to our future both at once. I also think she doesn’t think much to future or past and lives quite vibrantly in the moment.” The dragon laughed and gazed down on the sleeping warrior again. “I think she lives every moment as freely and completely as the next and leaves the thinking to you lot. Julienne is a feeler and a doer, she’s not much for thinking overly much on anything. She certainly has never had a vision while I’ve known her.”
Kean turned to the others and hefted Julienne’s axes and armor on his own shoulders and arms. “I’m going to see if the armorer can repair these before she wakes and sees the terrible state they’re all in.”
Jaeden hurried to help the other man and their eyes met in the shadows at the corner of the tent. “I’ll help you with that. Those shoulders are perished, but the axes can be repaired.”
“I’ll replace the shoulders.” The King strode forward and laid a hand on the Night Elf’s shoulder. “And in the morning we will celebrate the greatest heroism and gallantry this tournament has yet witnessed. You are all greater than we imagined. I have a special task for you. One we can discuss over a feast in Stormwind after tomorrow’s festitivities.”
The Dragon gently lifted the little human into his arms and cradled her against his chest, smiling when she curled into him like a child and even laid her hand on his chest. “I’ll take this girl to Dalaran where she can rest more securely.”
As he focused his mind on their destination he heard her clearly in his mind so that it startled him enough to nearly drop her. She was clearly still sleeping and had also just as clearly whispered, please not Dalaran. There is an island off the coast of Tanaris… and in his mind he could clearly see the place in her heart. So clearly that he blinked and they were there in the warm sand with the sea gently rocking all the way around them touched by stars and moonlight.
Of course Julienne, a girl of the seas, would want to be where the water lapped the shores all around her and the world was at peace.
He resumed his true form and curled protectively around the little warrior who stretched and laid her full length into him, almost tucking into him as a lover would do until his whole being was able to tell every curve and line of herself against his belly. He slept less quickly or completely and it seemed he’d only just fully relaxed when her bright voice made him smile.
“Ummm… where are my clothes and how the hell did we get here?”
Julienne, do you trust me?
“Of course.” She laughed the sweet sound that always thrilled him.
Turn away for a moment, please?
Julienne rose to her feet and strode away in only the loose fitting cotton breeches and blood stained doublet they’d left her in the night before and he contemplated his next move carefully as he watched her carefree stride.
When he joined her at the water’s edge he laughed out loud and she nearly leapt into the water at the corporeal sound of him. “Jeebus, if I’d known you could…” and then the flutter of her long dark lashes that he knew meant some thought or another had occurred and she turned back to the sea.
“What are you thinking when you look that way, Julienne?”
“A friend told me once never to meddle in the affairs of dragons. In the moment of my lifetime you have breathed only a few seconds of your own.”
“And what was it you were thinking, Julienne?”
“I don’t even know your name.”
His laughter was gentle and he drew her into his chest where he felt that same lack of resistance that she’d always shown him, closing into his warmth with a readiness and completeness that shocked and awed him. “Call me Bryn.”
“I was going to say, Bryn, that if I’d known you could become less dragon-shaped I’d have begged you to come with me into town last time we were in Mo’aki Harbor because that group of Trolls were making me nervous and I was afraid to be alone there.”
His laugh was warm and she found she loved the sound of it almost as much as the sound of his voice in her mind.
“If you’d said you were afraid I’d have come in my true form and let them know the real value of treating a lady properly.”
It was Julienne’s turn to laugh and she turned away from him and back to the sea. “Thank you for bringing me here. I’ve been thinking about this place for a long time. I sometimes think I’m always thinking of this place.”
“And why this one?”
“I don’t know. These seas are nothing like the seas where I’m from, and still, when I picture the sea now this place, almost exactly this spot, is the place I see.” Wise beyond the dense image she portrayed for the others, Bryn watched her squat and bring a handful of wet sand to her face and breathe it in. “You didn’t take that form so that you could get your toes wet in the surf.”
“No, I didn’t. I actually prefer dive in at full speed and feel the water over my whole body so hard and so fast that it stings.” He shook his head and laughed then, embarrassed by the admission so freely given. “Julienne, I wasn’t chosen for you. I chose you. Even if you hadn’t bested the Infinite Corruptor for us in Stratholme because Chromie asked you to, I still would have found a way to come to be your friend.”
Julienne didn’t know what to say and so instead stayed silent, letting her fingers trail in the water and watching the sand rinse away slowly. With her whole heart she wanted to race into the water laughing like a child and not hear what he said next, and yet she lifted her eyes to his golden ones and waited for him to speak.
The image of her splashing about in the water was so fierce that he almost believed she’d done it and then it was gone, replaced by that steady heartbeat and sky blue eyes that said little about what went on behind them.
“You’re special, Julienne. Not just as a warrior or a woman, or even because you seem so wise and yet so reckless and wanton and youthful all at once.” He took her hand in his and together they walked into the waves and he watched her body relax as she allowed the water to roll up over her with each lazy wave that came in. “Do you know whose symbol this is?”
She said the name without hesitation. “And where does the trinket you have tied in your hair come from?”
“This?” Julienne fingered the thin coin and shrugged. “I don’t know originally. I traded it from a Goblin sailor in Booty Bay when I was very young for some fresh water pearls I’d gotten, actually not very far from here.” She lifted the lock of hair it was secured to and turned the coin over. “I can’t read what it says, I presumed it was an ancient coin. I just knew his form on it.”
“And why his? How did you know of him?”
Julienne’s eyes went to that far away place in her mind that he knew he’d seen before and she tilted her head back, letting the mass of her matted and blood-streaked hair float in the warm water.
“I met an old man when my father took me sailing. He was in this tiny little tavern in this tiny little sea town somewhere I don’t even know where. He was a High Elf. Or Blood Elf, I guess. I just have thought of him as being older and different from the few Blood Elves I’ve met.” She worked her hair in the water almost distractedly. “The other sailors didn’t even seem to notice him, really. I just…” She leaned her head up and he could see she was flushed from the roots of her hair into the bodice of the beautiful blue doublet she wore. “Please don’t make fun.” Julienne frowned at her own insecurity and dunked herself under the guise of rinsing her hair one last time.
“Please, continue. I wouldn’t tease.”
“He smelled familiar.” She said the words so quickly and nearly darted back towards the shore so that he had to hurry to follow. “He smelled like my dreams when I was a kid. I… I can’t explain it. Spices and sea and leather and something darker that I know now was rum.” Julienne laughed at herself. “And he told me this story about the great gods, only he called them Titans. And how Golganneth made the Sea Giants to maintain the currents and to keep order in the water and how sailors should mind the Titans and not forget them the way they’ve done. And he told me about Eonar and how she made all life and…” again she flushed. “He told me that she would be proud of the way that I tended the plants on my father’s ship and that it was ok, he’d seen me before we’d come ashore and it was why he was talking to me.”
“What did the man look like?”
“Old?” She slapped at him, “I was really young, silly. And he was an old man and half way through talking to him I heard my mother’s voice in my mind telling me old men only want one thing off young girls and it wasn’t their silly chattering.” The ease in her nature, clearly forgetting whom she was with and then her stricken look and rapid pull back made him sad and he wasn’t sure why. “Anyway. Umm…” Back into her mind’s eye and the dragon cheated, taking her hands in his and peering through with her to the image he’d known he would find.
“Did you only just remember the light in his eyes?”
“I think I didn’t see it.” She said, her voice low and awed. “I think you knew it was there and so now it is even though it’s my memory. I don’t recall them at all.” She sounded frightened and Bryn gently stroked her soft hands with his thumbs. “I… Bryn, who was he?”
It was the dragon’s turn to tug on her hands playfully and tease. “Who do you think, silly? Just like I’ve taken another form, Golganneth must have done the same for you. It’s no less than I imagined.”
“Eonar was Aman’Thul’s mate. Why would Golganneth come to some dumb girl on a ship just because I was tending plants and tell me that story?”
“I think for the same reason that I noticed you carefully tending some plants in Tanaris a few years ago and stopped to watch you. Do you know that they grow after you pick what you need from them, Julienne?”
He could see from the question in her eyes that she honestly did not.
“You’re special. You bring that same vibrancy to everything that you do. Yesterday rousing the crowd and your own party-mates to battle. Playing and doing back flips and being clowns and still being humble enough to frown when your friends are ugly to the other combatants and to bow all the way to the floor for both their leader and your own. Alive. Beautiful and fierce. Golganneth must have seen some of himself and some of the lovely Eonar in you.”
“Well then they’re in all of us.”
“Very truly.” He said it so firmly that she stopped. “No truer words, Julienne. The titans are in all of us. Many of them forgotten, as Golganneth told you they were. And that Orc girl, last year. The one you argued with Halath about. She wore whose symbol? Golganneth’s or Eonar’s?”
“Eonar. The Life Binder.” She showed him the one on her necklace. “Mine is also Alexstraza’s name, with Eonar’s symbols here, and here.” She showed him the corners of the medallion. “She gave me this after Lord Bolvar…” The sudden sadness of her whole spirit touched him and he wanted to spare her the flash of remembering, “After the Wrath Gate.”
“And the Troll had this same medallion, so you recognized her as a combatant in the same fight?”
“No, hers was only Eonar. And she had sea shells and talismans on her necklaces. Nothing of the Wrath Gate. Bryn, she was wearing the Life Binder’s symbol and I saw it when we were fighting and she saw mine and we just… well… we fought other people. Later I went because I saw her go down. I gave aid to the enemy and Halath was right, I could be tried and hanged for it. I should never have been so bold and careless. I also couldn’t do anything else.” There were tears in her eyes and he acted before he thought, leaning in and kissing the corner of her eye so that the salt rolled between his own lips, capturing the tear in a tender kiss.
“Not only have I no interest in the petty betrayals of the rules of men, Julienne, I have also no desire ever to make you cry.” He smiled against her cheek and leaned back again to see her bright eyes. “You did precisely as you should have done in the moment. Do you think that Orc thinks you were foolish? Or do you think perhaps she recognized in you what you recognized in her and she remembers you fondly as an ally beyond allies because you were able to act from within’ yourself and outside of expectations and rules?”
“I… I honestly don’t know. I guess I hope she remembers me fondly. I felt terrible giving the poor thing day old rations of foods she’s likely never eaten before.” She laughed. “But snowberries and mammoth were all I had.”
He shook his head and laughed long and deep. “Sweet gentle Julienne. What do you suppose it is that Orc’s eat in the frozen wastelands of Icecrown?” He raised her hands in his own and felt the weight of them in his palms. “You’re special, Julienne. And it’s that marked difference in you that made me want to know you. Now that I do know you I’m not sure I chose you or someone else chose me for you.”
“I don’t understand.”
He smiled and felt her fingers tracing the shapes of his own and found that he was nearly intoxicated by the feel of her careful touches. “No, I imagine you don’t. Do you still trust me?”
Again Julienne’s stomach fluttered low as his thumb traced her wrist and she nodded, afraid he’d feel the shift in her thoughts at his touch if she dared to speak. Now she understood the strange erotic sensation of being swallowed in him while she slept. She’d literally been sleeping fully in him when she woke this morning, the smell of him all over and around her. And in her dream he’d looked much as he did now, though his hair was unkempt and flowed loose around him and they were racing on horseback across an island not unlike this one being chased by something dark and clawing and screaming.
She blinked herself back into the moment and blushed again shyly. “Yes, Bryn. As completely now as I did yesterday.”
He leaned in then and her face tilted up to meet him, reading him as a woman reads a man and he groaned when his lips met hers and she parted, teasing his mouth with her own so yielding that he was undone by it. The sweetness of her own tender mouth and the salt of the sea she’d so shortly left behind.
Just the briefest gentlest kiss and he felt his heart surge in his chest. “We have a celebration to attend on your behalf, and then a fantastic feast in Stormwind where I fear your King is about to ask you to go and slay Arthas.” He rose and waited as she did the same, noting as she did so that she did not stop to brush the sand from her skin.
“I was afraid that might be what came next after yesterday.” She said at last and turned, knowing before he said it that he needed her to. When Julienne turned again it was to the grand Bronze Drake she knew so well and she laid against his flank gently. “I’m not exactly dressed for a ceremony.”
“Your things are back in Dalaran. Come. I’ll get you there quickly.” He felt her warmth against his haunch as she climbed quickly up onto his back and then felt the bare flesh of her thighs against his back as she lay down over him. For one brief instant the thoughts of her riotously confounded mind titillated the dragon in a way he hadn’t felt in many many human lifetimes and he laughed as he focused his mind on the flight pad of the mage’s flying city floating high above Crystalsong.
For a human the girl was anything but plain and unimaginative. Something deep inside the Bronze drake responded again to the sweetness and duality of the human girl and he knew they would have yet more to discuss, and sooner than later.
Julienne dismounted and was greeted warmly by the guards who quickly whisked her away in a beautiful purple robe of Dalaran. The mages bowed to her mount and she gave thought to the fact that he took that same High Elven disguise and raced through the streets with her, no longer choosing to stay behind or vanish as was his usual habit. Something had changed and she was unsure the meaning, only the import mattered and it was grave and made her heart a little heavier than usual.
The King had gifted her with the most gloriously beautiful gold and silver shoulders that Julienne had ever seen and she spent long seconds running her fingers over them lovingly before she expertly donned them and turned to her new companion, the High Elven features almost unreadable in the closeness of the room.
“You look dangerous again, mylady.” He teased and bowed to her. “Shall we be away, then?”
The invitation read “Awards Ceremony for valor above and beyond the call of duty.” And was actually hand signed by her King. She worried her lower lip with her teeth and turned her lip piercing with her tongue as she read and reread the invitation. “This can’t be as grand as it feels. Tell me I’m being silly.”
The warm body so suddenly behind her own was not the body she knew and loved best, and still he smelled the same and his bronze eyes remained unchanged, as did the beautiful sheen to his lovely scales, now long hair pulled well back from a beautiful face. Bryn threw caution to the wind and closed her in his embrace, laying his lips against her bared neck with a low growl that immediately fired her and he could smell her overwhelming response. “The girl who has supped with Gods should never fear awards from a mortal man.”
Julienne shuddered against the warmth of him and the feel of his breath on her ear and neck and growled low in her chest a return of the sentiment and sensation, if not the depth of sound. “Aye, sir.” She responded and turned in his embrace. “And yet she does. As much as she fears anything that has to do with the ceremonies of men.”
He could see the truth in her blazing blue eyes and smiled down at her. “And Julienne, my lovely friend and brilliant prize, you will rise to this occasion as you have risen to every other because it is in your nature not to shy away from a challenge. Go and meet your King, rejoice with your friends. They worry for you and miss you.”
She smiled then and the light in her became the blazing brightness he’d seen the first day she’d caught his eye. “I love them, Bryn.”
“I know you do.” He kissed her cheek. “You are as ready now as you could ever be and this is the last abuse of my abilities that I will allow for a time. Come, mylady. Later I will transport you properly in true form. For the moment speed is of the essence. We dallied far too long in your little island paradise.” He watched as she dove for her helm and saw for a second time the worry that neither of her lovely axes were present. She checked herself in a mirror one last time in a purely girlish way and then blushed when she rejoined him.
In a blink she stood in the Argent Tent at the tournament grounds and she shivered in the sudden cold. She was alone, Bryn had chosen not to materialize inside and instead lifted easily into the air from above the tent and loosed a mighty roar as he soared up and out over the frozen tundra in search of a meal. It would sate only one of his many newly reawakened needs, and for the moment this would have to be enough. He had an awards ceremony to watch in only a few minutes.
Julienne leapt into Jaeden’s arms when the undead Night Elf rounded a corner and he laughed out loud at his friends’ seeming complete recovery and energy. “You have more lives than I do, my friend.”
A sadness in her eyes flickered so quickly that someone else might not have noticed it and Jaeden squeezed the little human more tightly for a moment until the light in her eyes returned. It bothered the warrior that the Lich King could steal a soul and wield the empty shell like a puppet warrior. It bothered her more that until Arthas was defeated and the Lich King was dead men and women like Jaeden were never really living or dead. It only bothered him that it bothered her so much. He may never come to terms with the meanings of his new life, he was quite content to have it in whatever form it came.
“I didn’t know I was so injured.” She said too late to cover her moment of silence and then shrugged. “I got to ride on a dragon to my favorite place. I can’t say I’d trade the hurt for the joy…” She trailed off then and Jaeden’s wise mind guessed there was much more the girl would say if pressed and decided instead to plant a cool lipped kiss on her very warm cheek and turn her towards their gathering friends.
“I TOLD you he was her mount!” Izon was on Julienne in a flash and slapped her a very low high-five before she bent and hugged him tightly.
“You’d all think I’d died or something.”
“You very nearly did.” Blyght admired the woman’s glow and new armor and winked at Julienne when she blushed slightly under the other woman’s eye.
“Well, Jae died for REAL and there was no crazy welcoming party.” Julienne’s eyes searched the horizon for the sea and knew she would not find it without the dragon that had gone off with a piercing cry into the frozen wastes above them, presumably for food. “Would you just LISTEN to that crowd? What in the world has he got planned for us?”
Halath strode up and nodded proudly to his warrior friend as yet another new recruit, the bold and not always appropriate Kean, raced forward, nearly bowling the Priestess and her husband over in his haste to embrace the smaller warrior and then exclaim quite loudly over her new shoulder armor.
And so it was, laughing and invigorated by having cheated death one more time and having time to eat and be merry and get a full nights’ sleep afterwards, that the 10 Alliance combatants re-entered the very clean and very noisy arena.
In the middle of the arena floor was a stand on which many ribbons and decorations had been hung to make it festively blue and gold and Julienne smiled in spite of herself. The powerful red of a horde banner had nothing to the stately beauty and commanding presence of her native blue and gold, she thought with a thrill and cheered in spite of herself, moving Kean and Jaeden to do the same until the whole group of them raised their arms and yelled out their pride in their peoples up into the crowd.
It was only then that Julienne realized that the Horde were entirely missing from the arena and it dulled her excitement slightly to know that they were being shunned or that the Horde were, and either way she would likely never be able to thank the Troll for stepping out of protocol to give them lifesaving information.
I wish I could just go back to that little inn and tell that Titan, if that’s who he was, to just pick someone else so I didn’t have to feel always like something more than me is lurking just out of sight.
A low sensual laugh filled her mind and her knees were weak with it, her eyes lifted up to the rafters and then higher, seeking in all that clear bright blue the shimmer of bronze scales and a furrow brought her brows together as she almost tiptoed to see farther. Beautiful human girl. Bryn’s voice in her mind always seemed to come with a location if she focused on him enough and she turned instinctively, almost magically laying her eyes on his bronze eyes up and behind her in the stands. Very clever beautiful human girl. How do you do that, Julienne? She could actually feel the question in the words and she shrugged visably and said aloud that she didn’t know.
“You don’t know what, Jules?” Leytisha smiled at the flush on her new friends’ cheeks and elbowed the warrior playfully. “Talking to yourself is the first sign of much better things yet to come, you know.”
Julienne laughed out loud and nodded. “Aye.” And then with a shiver of memory of just a few hours before and the warmth of a body now too far away to touch and still so close she could hear him in her mind she raised her hands to a little girl whose parents must have brought her up to the freezing north just for some holiday and shouted up, “Hey Stormwind!”
Honesty of the child thrilled Julienne so much that she turned and found that her friend was already thinking how to get her there.
“I’m from Southshore, Miss Julienne! Just like you!” The girl had answered and suddenly Jae and Kean were vaulting the human warrior, sans weapons and bags save one small one, up onto the balcony above. Whether the dragon helped, Julienne did not know, she only knew that one instant she was stepping into her friends hands and leaping, arms upraised to grab the rail and the next she settled with a loud clanking of boots and armor on the floor high above where she’d been and a girl of maybe twelve wrapped her arms around her like Julienne was a hero and she shouted her excitement. “I want to be just like you someday, Miss Julienne. Someday I want to be a mighty warrior just like you.”
Julienne made eye contact with the girl’s wary and still happy parents one at a time and in the silent adult way of all time she got permission to encourage their daughter and also to give her a small gift. “There is a whole world to explore before you need to decide to pick up weapons for the Alliance.” Julienne said and sat on the empty bench so that the girl could sit with her equally. “I didn’t know I was going to be a warrior when I was your size. I still wanted to be a sailor.” Julienne pulled the little packet from the wrist of her gauntlets and handed it to the young girl who reminded her so much of her own little sister. “This is a little something I picked up in Grizzly Hills. I think you might really enjoy telling people how they were pick pocketed off of a Troll outside of Drak’Theron Keep by a Gnome.” And Julienne told the girl the story quickly.
Her parents stood near by and still gave their daughter, Alena, time to talk to her new heroine. Alena’s mother liked the strong woman who was so kind to her daughter all the more when she repeated that there was a world of adventure to be had before the girl had to pick a journey that might bring her to this dangerous occupation. She also gave Alena the number for her box in Dalaran where mail could be sent to her and encouraged the girl to always work to be the best at anything she decided to undertake.
“Oh, I forgot!” Julienne leaned over the rail and Alena’s father couldn’t help notice the way the breeches under the shapely little warrior’s armor pulled tightly over a lovely round bottom that just seemed to beg for a spanking. He blushed and turned away under his wife’s scornful gaze and found the most amazingly striking man standing behind him. The elf was huge and seemed not the least patient as he pushed him aside and joined the warrior at the rail where she was trying to get someone to throw something up to her. “Hurry, Izon, the purple bag.” And then, “Yes, that’s the one. Thank you.”
The warrior snatched the bag from the air and turned to the crowd with a shrill and thrilling battle shout. “Let’s show the Horde what a real party sounds like!” She opened the pouch and tossed handfuls of sweets and treats up into the stands, making curious eye contact with the dragon for only a second before she was up and away with her friends catching her drift below and beginning the prideful anthem that belonged to the Alliance of men, dwarves, gnomes, night elves and now Draenei.
Feet stomped and hands clapped and voices rang and the human warrior raced the front of the arena as far as she could, tossing treats until she had no more and she turned to the dragon turned massive High Elf with a laugh and her hands up high, still encouraging the other side of the arena into the chanting and celebrating.
“If you lower me over I can land it.” She smiled at his shocked face as she stepped up onto the rail and turned with her back to the heroes below, almost daring Bryn to push her or catch her up in his arms.
“Step off, Jules. Come on down to me.” Laleigha’s voice called from below.
Julienne shouted again and the crowd nearest her experienced the same surge of sudden powerful energy that Bryn did and all raced forward shouting and leaning over to join the combatants in their cries and celebration.
Laughing and lighter than she’d felt in months, Julienne embraced the little white haired mage and kissed her on the cheek and found that they were both caught in the flowing dark robes of the oddly cheerful warlock.
When Wrynn stepped out onto the floor the crowd rapidly shushed themselves with small outbursts and cries that were quickly quieted. Julienne was less self-contained and even the King nearly laughed when she could be heard audibly snorting as she tried to pull her joyous energy under her control. The omni-present little blonde human suddenly faded into the crowd of her friends, glowing pink cheeks clearly visible even from his distance.
That would be her magic, then. Varian thought to himself and almost nodded to his curious question. Warriors were always powerfully leading and charismatic characters, even ugly gruesome ones who had seen so much battle that they were pitted and scarred from head to foot. This bright golden girl was also young and vibrant and driven and her energy was two-fold. That it was focused on his causes and the allied Kingdoms of the Alliance was a gift. She is all things in the moment, unfettered by the injuries of her past.
The dragon listened easily to the thoughts of the King and shook his head as he watched the human King walk proudly up onto the raised dais and raise his hands to the peoples around him in a full circle and not just a half circle as would be the case when the Horde were sharing this arena. This pomp and circumstance was missing one very important mage, Bryn noted, and cheered out loud in common for the champions who had managed to best more than the pre-planned events set just for them but also a surprise challenge from the horde and an attack planned as a demoralizing example by their nemesis.
The crowd cheered themselves hoarse and then lined up for mage portals all around the arena that would bring them to a feast in Stormwind where these same heroes were rumored to be the chosen few set to destroying the Lich King.