So you know how, the other day, I mentioned that I had written a few short stories about some of my characters? Well, today I’ve finally worked up the courage to publish one of them! This is a little piece that I’ve been working on for a couple months now about my main character, my draenei holy paladin Fussypants. Without further ado, I present to you…
A Shield Against the Storm
There they were, armed to the teeth with murder in their eyes. The cluster of orcs gathered into a line and prepared to rush the defenses. She and the other defender tightened their grips.
Another flash of lightning and rain drops began spattering to the ground. The line began its charge, picking up speed like a boulder down a hill. She could see the whites of their eyes, their tan tightly drawn lips.
The two lines collided. Grunts and shouts filled the sodden air, shields smashed and weapons hacked. She raised her own shield just in time as a crude axe shrieked across its metal surface. Its wielder, a particularly cruel faced orc with a wicked gash down to his chin grunted in exertion as his blow was deflected away. She raised her own mace and smashed it clean into his unprotected side. The orc roared and stumbled away but before she could have a moment to celebrate, another axe flashed in front of her eyes before biting into her shoulder. She turned to face this new foe and slammed her uninjured shield arm into the attacker. This new orc too stumbled back but he had drawn first blood. With a wild grin, he steadied into a battle stance and moved forward again. Blue blood was splashed all across his weapon hand.
A horn sounded.
There was a pause and then the orcish line retreated to regroup again. They left behind the bodies of the wounded and fallen, but it did not matter, they would be back for them. She peered to her sides, through the now steadily falling rain. The defenders’ line was reduced by nearly a third. To her left and her right, allies had fallen. Puddles on the ground mixed with blue and red blood. But they would not be broken. The line would hold.
The horn sounded again. The boulder began to roll back down the hill. Anticipation and fear rippled through the air. The orcs drew nearer and nearer until-
She sat up, sweat pouring down her face. Before her brain had even caught up, she rolled out of the bed and grabbed her shield, falling into a defensive stance.
“…Kya? What are you- are you ok?”
This was no stormy battlefield. Kya’s breath caught in her throat and then slowly released. Heart still racing, she rose out of her stance and returned the shield. Fingertips pressed to her temples, she sat back down on the cot she had so recently jumped out of.
“Kya, were you having that dream again? You know, if you talk about it, that might help,” the pink haired gnome jumped down from her perch. She crossed the small space of the tent to stand hands on her hips before her friend.
“No I- it’s nothing, alright?” Kya stared at the dirt floor, still rubbing her forehead. The roof of the tent pattered softly under the rainfall.
“No, it’s definitely not nothing. C’mon, talk to me about it,” There was obvious concern in the gnome’s overly large turquoise eyes.
“Really, it’s nothing,” Kya removed her hands and looked up to meet her friend’s eyes. She tried to put a smile on her face, but the cold shiver still ran down her spine. “Shouldn’t you be in bed anyways?”
“If I can just finish up this part of the tunic I’m making, it would be so much simpler to carry around with us on the trip. I was thinking… hey wait don’t change the subject! I still want you to tell me!” The gnome eyed her friend.
“Mikri, it’s not important now, I’ll tell you in the morning. We really need to be getting some sleep anyways, tomorrow’s going to be a long day.” Mikri sighed and lost her intensity.
“I guess you are right. But I’m not dropping this one, you hear me?”
“Yes I hear you. Will you please go to bed now?”
“Fine fine, you don’t have to be so pushy!” Kya rolled her eyes as she fixed up her bed. Mikri launched into her own sleeping bag, rustling around in the blankets.
“I’ll get the lights,” the gnome called. There was a snap from her side of the tent and the candles all went out as one. The tent was plunged into darkness.
Kya listened to her friend turn about a few times before settling down. She herself rolled onto her back and stared up at the darkened tent ceiling. Above her, rain still gently fell. There was a distant roll of thunder and the rain increased in response. Kya let out a big sigh and turned back onto her side. She closed her eyes and drifted into the abyss…
Blood. There was a lot of blood, everywhere. Not all of it was hers but a terrifying amount of it was. At this point, Kya had abandoned her weapon. Her shoulder was raggedly bound up and the arm hung limply at her side. Like a trapped animal, she scampered over ruined gates and carts.
She wasn’t sure where the captain of the guard was but it didn’t matter anymore. The line had fallen. No, fallen was too kind a word, it had been shattered. Smashed. Obliterated. Kya continued her frantic retreat but not even she was aware of where her terror was bringing her. She slipped in the blue puddles splattered on the ground.
Suddenly, she came to a very familiar place. Her house loomed up before her, the once elegant windows smashed, the once tranquil garden torn up. Kya turned to go but something stopped her. There was someone in the house, she could feel it.
Fearfully, she pushed past the splintered door and into the foyer. The rain no longer pattered on her shoulders but now it dripped to the floor in big sloppy puddles. It was really getting everywhere, mother would certainly kill her for this. Carefully, Kya continued down the ransacked hallway into the family room.
She had been right; there were three orcs smashing up the place. Something primal within her urged her to charge over and hurt them as much as they had hurt her. But instead, she clutched her battered shield and hung in the deep shadows. The orcs continued their looting, rifling through her family’s stuff, crushing their belongings beneath heavy boots. The group circuited around and entered the kitchen out of sight. Kya let out a breath. What now? Should she follow them or try to flee? Where even would she go?
From the kitchen came a grunt of surprise and a high pitched squeal. The sound of stomping and weapons being drawn. Sobbing and pleading. Kya’s legs moved almost by themselves.
She entered the room with a shout of her own, bowling over the closest orc. As the group slowly scrambled in reaction, Kya positioned herself between the orcs and their captive. He was a young boy, not from her family. But she recognized him from the village. The child was white with fear, a line of blue from a small cut extending across his forehead. Kya raised her shield to defend herself and the boy.
The orcs, now fully recovered stared at their new foe with vicious grins.
“Puny draenei. We kill you and boy now!” The orc’s draenei was broken and guttural but the message was clear. She wasn’t a threat. None of them were. Her whole race wasn’t. Nothing could stop the orcish war machine. Kya gritted her teeth and strengthened her arm.
Smirks on their savage faces, the orcs advanced as one. As before, Kya launched herself, taking the left most one by surprise. Her shield smashed into his defenseless face and the orc snarled. Kya spun around and raised her shield just in time. Sparks showered as a spiked mace screamed across the shield. The force of the blow knocked her back, and the boy and she were now in an even smaller space.
Kya fell back into her defensive stance. Bracing, she intercepted two more blows from the mace and a slice from the third orc’s axe. But the first orc had not been stunned as much as she had wanted. He stepped up beside her, a looming shadow and swung his massive warhammer down. Kya tried to throw her shield up in time but she was too slow. The orc pulverized the already weakened shield and the remaining force crushed into her chest. Kya stumbled to her knees.
Now that the kill was close, the orcs were practically drooling with anticipation. The one with the axe stepped forward for the honors, his massive arms tensing as he readied his swing.
“Naaru- grant me protection!” Kya gasped, throwing up her arms in a feeble attempt to block the blow. The boy behind her had started crying.
A shield of pure light had appeared between the axe and the crouched draenei, completely blocking the blow. Shocked, the group of orcs stumbled back.
Kya felt a newfound sense of strength surge through her. The aches and pains melted away like ice on a hot day. She stood up and in her hands appeared a shining shield and mace, similar to the one that had just saved her life. Invigorated, she once again turned to face the orcs.
“What is happening? What did you do?” The boy gasped, his voice cracking in wonder.
“The Naaru protect us!” Kya shouted and charged at the astonished group of orcs. She slammed her shield into the first, bringing her mace around to pummel the orc’s other side.
“Go now! Run away! Get out of the village, run, run!” The boy paused for a second and then sprinted out of the room. Kya backed up, blocking the exit he had left from. With grim determination, she blocked the orc’s blows and dealt back her own. With each weapon clash, there was a burst of bright light.
The orc’s enthusiasm had given away to confusion and for the first time, fear. This was not what they had signed on for. This paladin before them, this was not the easy battle they had been promised. Still, they were orcs and orcs did not flee from a fight. Getting a grip on their amazement, they focused in on the prize.
At the same time, Kya began to feel her strength flag again. The spectacular flashes of light began to diminish and her arms began to feel very heavy. With one final blaze, the glowing weapons winked out of existence. She stood, empty handed and exhausted.
The light of victory was back in the eyes of the orcs. The one with the hammer triumphantly swung towards his now defenseless foe. It crunched squarely into her light mail armor, throwing the draenei back into a wall. Many things broke simultaneously within her. Kya stumbled and slumped back. Her head dropped down momentarily to her chest before wearily lifting up again.
“At least… at least I gave the boy… time” Her chest hurt terribly but it was a faraway sensation, like a voice shouting from a distance. Speaking of sounds, everything became magnified to her ears. The clumping of the orcs footfalls as they came towards her. The distant sound of fighting out on the street. Someone’s faraway wails. The rain on the roof. The rain on the roof. The rain on the-
The orcs stood around her now, apparently arguing over who got the honors. Kya wanted to move, wanted to run away and hide. To hide away from all this pain and fear and destruction. Away from this crumbling world. But she couldn’t move, couldn’t even lift a finger. Through bleary eyes, she stared at the bickering orcs. The one with the axe shoved one of them aside and shouted at the other. It seems he had won this argument.
With businesslike efficiency, he walked towards Kya, rolling his shoulders as he went. The battle axe was raised high above his head and then arced down…
Kya’s eyes snapped open again. The light of the lightning faded away as the rapid staccato of the rain beat upon the tent. She fought down the panic in her stomach and resisted the urge to grab her shield as she had done last time she had woken up. Small short breaths accompanied a racing heart.
With trembling fingers, she felt under her nightshirt at her shoulder. The mass of scarred tissue was still there, marring the otherwise smooth surface where the bones connect. Her hand moved up to her face and she clutched her lips and nose. Breathe deeply, don’t panic, breathe. That all happened a long time ago. You are fine now, calm down. Calm down. Breathe in and out. In and out.
Gradually, Kya’s heart rate returned to normal. Her breathing evened and the squeezing tightness left her stomach. From the other side of the tent, she could hear Mikri’s soft snoring. Kya blinked a few times and the storm continued to rage outside. Stormy nights like this always brought back the memories. There are some things buried so deep that only the piercing light and stinging rain can uncover.
But she made it through that once.
Kya could certainly do it again.