[FFML] [SI] Chance of a Millennium 10
tannim_murphy at yahoo.com
Thu Apr 1 03:43:58 PDT 2010
"They're resting now, but in no danger. The armor you acquired might be of an older design, but it performed admirably for your friend," Shaw said, as Kyle looked in on his sleeping friends.
After an unnerving portal trip back to Stormwind, Serenity and Matt had been carried off to the royal healers. Kyle had refused to speak to anyone until he knew they were fine, which Shaw grudgingly allowed. They had managed to do far more than expected (since even their survival during their infiltration attempt was estimated somewhere between 'unlikely' and 'impossible'). Furthermore, this night elf's apparent knowledge of current events was reason enough alone to give in to her demands. Within reason, of course.
"So, we've done all we could for them, and they'll be in perfect condition when they awaken. I trust, then, that you'll now entertain our questions?"
Kyle watched the two sleeping figures for a moment more, before nodding. "That's fine." Turning to look at Shaw, she smirked, before looking past him and not seeing anyone. "Who is the other when you say 'our?'"
"Why, King Wynn, of course. As well as a few of his advisors. They're-" Shaw started to explain.
"Only the King. And you. The rest I don't know enough to trust."
Shaw frowned. "I can get rid of most, but the king will want Highlord Fordragon there, at least."
Suppressing a wince at hearing the name and the memories it brought up, Kyle nodded. "Fordragon I can trust."
Mathias sighed in relief. "Then we'll proceed. I'll inform the King. I trust you know the way?"
"I'd be lying if I said I wasn't familiar with Stormwind Keep."
Shaw laughed. "Keep that up and I'll have to re-evaluate you night elves." Turning towards the door, he gestured at it. "I'll go on ahead and clear the chamber. Give me a couple minutes, then head on in. I trust you know enough about protocol to not get yourself arrested?"
Kyle smiled again. "If not, I'm sure I can wing it well enough."
Matt awoke to the stabbing sensation of light hammering down on his sensitive eyes. How long had he been asleep? Why was his head pounding like a gnome with a pickaxe was mining for gold inside his brain? What time was it? These questions and more bounced around inside his skull as he attempted to crack open his eyes to see where the heck he was.
His first attempt at movement elicited a groan of protest from his aching muscles. Nothing in particular seemed to stand out; his entire body was one rolling mass of dulled pain.
His voice was cracked and hoarse, and throat felt raw as he spoke. "Man, what did I have to drink last night?"
Several minutes passed, wherein he contemplated each individual agony, before he was able to open his eyes enough to catch a glimpse of the room he was in. The shock of seeing a completely foreign surrounding seemed to finally shock his brain into fully working again.
"Did I really leap just onto a dragon and stab it in the eye?" he wondered. He gasped. "Serenity!" With a burst of energy he did not feel he tried to bolt out of bed... Only to fall helplessly to the floor with a loud thud in a tangle of bed sheets and bandages. He was fairly sure he pulled something as new waves of agony washed through his body.
"Oooowwww..." He whimpered. "I don't think I'll be going anywhere anytime soon."
"So, all that aside, your biggest threat from up north, and- I cannot stress this enough- it is Arthas. The sooner you start building a beachhead for the Alliance, the better off your armies will be when the scourge tries to push south."
Kyle was getting tired of the questions. King Wrynn seemed shocked that the next threat to the Alliance was not the Horde, and even moreso that the Alliance and Horde would initially work towards the same goal. Having left out some of the more jarring happenings (like the Wrathgate) meant that he would be somewhat unprepared for events to come, but only on a personal level. By that time, Kyle intended to be in another universe, far from dragons, orcs, and boobs. On him. Her. Whatever.
"From anyone else, I'd question your sanity, night elf; but you've proven your knowledge. I assume you have some ideas as to where such footholds should be established?" King Wrynn asked.
"Here for starters. The scourge in the area are relatively light though they'll no doubt try to push you out once they realize you're there to stay."
"The Borean Tundra? Our last expedition there said it was relatively barren," Bolvar Fordragon said.
Kyle shot him a frown, "And how old was this report? There's lichen and other plant life, as well as hardy wildlife. But The Scarlet Onslaught will build a Harbor here in the Dragonblight, and the Grizzly Hills offer too lucrative a bounty to safely offload an army. If you want to disembark unmolested, you've two options, The Borean Tundra-"
"Or the Howling Fjord." Shaw interjected, staring at the map. "This inlet, here, looks like a reasonable natural harbor."
"It is, if you can get past the giants."
"Giants?" Bolvar asked.
"Giant people. Humanoid, about twelve feet tall? Not literal giants, somewhere between giants and humans. Look like barbarian humans; act like it too. They're being slowly converted to serve the Lich King. Expect opposition from them, they're not going to be allies."
"I see... What else should we be aware of?" The King asked thoughtfully.
"Well, I'm sure you've been made aware of the Nerubians..."
It had been an agonizing morning. Or afternoon. Matt wasn't sure what time it was. After climbing to his feet (crawling to the nearest chair and using that to lever himself vertical once more) he spotted his clothes... Across the room. A minute or so of resting before pushing himself to his feet through sheer force of will, he somehow managed to not only make it to the other side but then dress himself.
Mostly, it was thoughts of Serenity that kept him moving and unwilling to wait for attendance from whatever passed for nurses around here. The urgent desire to locate and find out what had happened to her was overwhelming in its strength, and he was determined not to care that the body he was driving seemed to protest desperately against the movement.
It was only as he was leaving his room that he made some rather important observations about the place he was staying at. First, everything was of the finest quality; at least, the kind of quality you'd get in a medieval society like the one found in World of Warcraft. Secondly, the floor, wall and ceiling were all made of stone, which must have made for some wicked heating bills. Third, the guards at his door were eyeing him suspiciously but hadn't yet pulled out their weapons, telling him that he wasn't exactly under house arrest.
"Um. There was a girl? Brought here with me? Where is she?" Matt asked haltingly.
The larger of the two nodded towards the doorway across the hall.
"I want you there." Wynn said suddenly.
Kyle blinked. The strategy and planning session had carried on into the evening, and hastily drawn out plans had been fleshed out (with the aid of Kyle's foreknowledge and cunningly leading the conversation in the right direction). "Me?"
Wynn laughed, then turned to Bolvar. "I think for once I surprised the lady!" Turning back to Kyle, the king nodded. "You know more than you've told me, and you're leading this planning session where you want it to go."
"That obvious, huh?" Kyle asked, sounding dejected.
"Not to most. But I'm a king. I deal with manipulators and liars every day. At least you appear to have the well being of the Alliance at heart."
"Aye, she does. And Stormwind too, it seems. We could have gotten all this second hand from Priestess Whisperwind, months from now," Bolvar stated.
"A thought I had, as well. Tell me, Jaessica, what made you decide to tell us, instead of your own people?"
Kyle couldn't help but wince. Not a question he'd expected. Easy enough to answer though. "The Night Elves..." She paused, before continuing, "My people are fairly secular. Humans have spread far faster in the past fifteen years than any other alliance race, save maybe the Dwarves' Explorers League. And while your kind is just as likely to run each other through as stand shoulder to shoulder with your enemies to fight a mutual threat, humanity provides the Alliance with its primary means to project power on a global scale."
"Well said," King Wynn said, nodding. "It's good to see sound military thinking in our allies; because in the war ahead, we'll need all the help we can get. All the more reason to send you along."
"I'm no leader, King Wynn. Just a well-informed night elf on a mission from God."
The three humans stared at Kyle for a moment, before chuckling. "Well, far be it from me to stand between you and your goals. But I insist you at least travel with the initial group. Your understanding of the land will cut down the time it takes to secure, hold, and build our defenses. I will send along some of my trusted commanders and task them with overseeing things. But they will know to trust your advice, and I trust you to use the power I give you to ensure that we are ready for whatever comes our way."
"I believe I can do that. However, I have... Two requests, before I accept," Kyle stated.
"Not... Altogether unexpected," Wynn stated, before nodding. "Speak up then. What would you ask of me?"
"My friends are part of my quest. Qu- Lady Serenity and the paladin Matthew. Our goal is in Northrend, and it makes sense to work towards both goals at the same time," Kyle said.
"A Queen, is she? I could tell she was of noble birth, but that's quite a title to lay claim to," the king said, with a smirk. Shrugging, he nodded, "I can allow them to travel with you, but only if I have your word that you'll not leave my men before they're adequately prepared for the dangers they face in Northrend."
"You have my word that I will do everything in my power to protect them. But I cannot promise that none of them will die in the coming months. This is a war, your highness, and in wars, people die."
"A truth far too many tend to overlook," Shaw offered, nodding.
"Yes. People die. But on the blades of their enemies. Death due to negligence on their commander's part is unacceptable!" Bolvar said with a frown.
"You misunderstand. I've never been one to cut and run. As you saw back in Blackwing Lair, Shaw." Kyle said.
"She's brave enough to face a full grown black dragon with a pair of kitchen knives. I don't think she'll be running from a fight. Might want to assign her a priest, however..." Shaw replied.
The King nodded, before turning to Jaessica once more. "Very well. You and your friends will accompany the first batch of men to Northrend. If nothing else, the paladin can fight to defend the place as well. Your second request?"
Kyle frowned, motioning towards Shaw. "As the esteemed SI:7 master pointed out, our weapons are sub-par. I'd like to think our services to your kingdom, and the Alliance as a whole are enough to earn us a small token or two of gratitude?"
"What did you have in mind?' King Wynn asked with a scowl.
"Nothing priceless or unique. Just some of the better weapons from the Alliance Requisition Officer over in Old Town. The armor we acquired is adequate enough. But the weapons I'm currently using are, shall we say... Lacking?"
"You can say that again," Shaw muttered.
"Our weapons are lacking," Kyle quipped with a grin. Shaw rolled his eyes, while Bolvar suppressed a smile and the king nodded.
"Easy enough. I'll have them delivered to you. It helps that your requests were reasonable. I was expecting something a bit more... Exorbitant."
"I think we're adequately equipped on a personal level."
"Aside from your weapons, that is," Shaw interjected.
"Which they've taken care of quite handily," Bolvar pointed out.
"... Anyway, we're good, so why ask? I've better things to do than waste time." Kyle growled.
King Wynn laughed. "I had almost assumed you were a noble yourself of some sort. But if you dislike dithering and taking everything you can from a king, you're like no noble I've dealt with."
"Time, distance, culture, clash," Kyle muttered, before looking at the King. "I should go tell Matt and Serenity what's going on, then."
"Very well. I'll work on starting the Expedition. It's nice to be on the offensive for once," King Wrynn said.
"Well, for now, think of this as more of a subtle move to position your pieces. When Arthas makes his move, then you can unleash the hell upon him he so justly deserves." Kyle said, before turning towards the door. Remembering something, she bowed slightly. "By your leave?"
The King grunted his amusement, before nodding. "You may."
Kyle found Matt asleep, slumped in the chair next to Serenity's bed. The bit of drool escaping his mouth did nothing for his looks, which were marred by bed hair and torn bandages. He looked like a wounded puppy that had curled up near its master to sleep.
"How... Charming," Kyle muttered, before poking Matt. Unfortunately, said poking was done with her boot, and somewhat hard.
"What?!" Matt barked with surprise as he jolted awake. A few blinking moments to reorient himself found him looking at an annoyed Kyle, and he relaxed. "Oh, it's you."
"Yes. It's me. I've got us a ticket to Northrend..." Kyle said, trailing off.
"I sense a 'but' coming."
"But... We kind of have to help the Alliance set up their fortifications." Kyle said. "Which reminds me, how much do you know about Wrath?"
"It's another word for anger?" he shrugged.
Kyle sighed, and buried her face in her hands. "No, not quite. But that answers my question anyway." Turning to look at Serenity, she couldn't help but sigh. "Not much we can do for her, is there?"
Matt shook his head. "Nothing I can think of, at any rate. Except be here."
Serenity awoke to the sound of voices talking. And not talking softly either.
"What do you mean? It's not possible. A paladin just doesn't have the sustained damage output. It's like saying a druid could replace a priest. It just doesn't work that way!"
"Why not? Damage is damage and healing is healing, isn't it?"
"The mitigation factor alone is enough to warrant a downturn in the DPS. Add in the other talent trees allowing... Ooh..." Kyle trailed off as he noticed Serenity was awake.
"Something tells me you're talking as if this is a game again." She briefly closed her eyes. "Wake me up when you've something constructive to say."
"No, we're done. Sorry," Kyle replied, turning slightly purple as she realized how loud they'd been arguing a few moments ago.
"I assume, from your presence, that you were waiting for me to awaken to tell me something?" Serenity asked after it became apparent neither were going to speak up.
"Oh, right. Um, we've... Managed to acquire passage to Northrend. So we're one step closer to getting home."
Serenity turned to face the wall, though the hitch in her voice was unmistakable. "And what, exactly, do I have to return to?"
Kyle frowned, but swallowed her first thought before she could speak it. "Serenity, we came for you as soon as we knew you were missing. We accepted Dax's company to hasten our way. We killed for you, to get to you, and free you, and we, at the time, had no idea what had been done. But I can't say we could have been quicker. I'm sorry... I'm so very sorry about what has happened, and I'm worried about what it could mean, but I don't know what we could have done to get to you in time."
Words failed Matt as he struggled to find something to say, so he laid a hand on Serenity's shoulder. All that came out was, "I am so, so sorry."
Serenity turned, tears streaming down her face. She spoke in a whisper, "...they killed my baby..." With a wordless cry of anger and frustration she clung to Matt and began to sob.
Kyle wisely decided to leave the room.
An hour later, Matt exited the room and shut the door softly behind him. Kyle stood across the hall, apparently deep in thought.
"How is she?" Kyle asked.
"Sleeping, for now." Matt shook his head slowly. "No parent should have to outlive their child. She's strong, though; I think she'll pull through."
Kyle noticed Matt was carefully avoiding looking her in the eyes. "Are you okay?"
The man let out a long sigh. "I think... That I've decided to stay. In the Silver Millennium." He raised a hand to forestall any response. "I know, I know we aren't exactly responsible this; Kcalbanihc is ultimately responsible, and he paid for it. But she's here because of our direct interference with an act of charity designed to send us home. I don't think I could peacefully live out the rest of my life knowing we did this to her. Not without some kind of atonement. And if that means my death at the hands of some malevolent energy-sucking entity at the end of all this... I guess I'm willing to face that."
Kyle nodded. "While I'd like to think I'd try to avoid such a bad end, I've already decided to stay. If I can help..." Kyle shrugged. "Well... If I can help, then that's what I'll do. My stupid comment got us here, so I might as well take some responsibility."
Despite everything that had happened to them the past few days, Matt found a smile creeping onto his face. "Fighting evil by moonlight? Living love by daylight? Never running from a real fight? Yeah, I guess I could live with that." The English dub of the Sailor Moon theme song had always been a secret favorite of his, despite its inherent cheesiness. Or perhaps because of it.
"Do me a favor: never sing that. Ever." Kyle muttered, before turning to look at the door and sighing.
"Well!" Matt clapped his hands together. "I'd better see someone about getting these bandages straightened out. It seems I'm bleeding all over the floor." This was a bit of an exaggeration; he was only bleeding slightly through his shirt. "After that, I think I'll see about finding a real paladin and asking him how to..." He struggled to find the right words.
"Be a paladin?" Kyle asked, with a slight smile.
"I was thinking of how best to... Protect others, I guess would be the phrase. Better than saying 'teach me to be a tank.'"
"Well, I can stab with the best of them, it seems. I'll talk to Shaw, see if there's any training he can give me while the King makes his preparations. I get the feeling we'll need whatever we can get once we get back to the Silver Millennium."
Kyle started awake as the door across from his chair was pulled open. After Matt had taken off to seek training, she'd been left trying to decide what to do. And while it was probable that Shaw would give be willing to give advice, or point her in the right direction, leaving Serenity alone seemed wrong. So she had taken up station outside the queen's door, and after an hour of sitting in the rather comfortable padded chair she had drifted off into an uncomfortable sleep.
Serenity, on the other hand, had woken up feeling somewhat refreshed. Refreshed, that is, until reality came crashing back down, driving the last vestiges of sleep from her mind, and she clenched her fists in an attempt to hold back the wail she felt growing in the back of her throat.
Finally, after wiping the newest set of tears from her eyes, she mentally pulled herself together and set out to find out where she was. Pulling the door open with a purpose, she froze upon seeing the familiar figure across the hall from her, and another wave of emotions crashed through her. As Kyle awoke, and tried her best to pull herself together visually, Serenity watched the changed human, and noticed some rather tell-tale signs of stress, even in such an altered state.
Giving in to her thoughts, Serenity spoke. "Matt... Talked with me about your world a little."
"He did?" Kyle asked, unsure where that had come from.
Serenity nodded. "Yes." She paused, looking Kyle over before sighing. "I've come to the conclusion that you two DID indeed come for me at your fastest, but you, like him... Like me, were unaware of the brutality this world can offer."
"I... Don't quite follow. I'm... I've... I should have known, Serenity. I failed you, because I wasn't... Because I couldn't see past the things I wanted to see." Kyle shook his head in frustration. "I should have known. In the game-" She paused, rolling her eyes, "the game- that this is based on, I've done so much killing... It's unnerving, I suppose, to think about that happening for real. But I let myself be deluded into thinking it was different here. And in so doing, I endangered you. I endangered Matt. I endangered myself. And... I endangered your child. And of all of us, I was the one who should have known, yet you and yours were the ones who paid the ultimate price." Kyle looked down at the floor, feeling tears forming in the shining eyes of his current body. "I'm the one who should have died."
Serenity shook her head. "There's no point dwelling on the past. I won't lie; the pain, the thoughts in my head, the feelings I have, they're still raw, still fresh. But I, you, WE, cannot afford to let our lives be ruled by things that might have been. Matt... Earlier... He helped. And like I said, he spoke a bit about where you're from. Your world is one of war and peace, but where you live is primarily calm, peaceful." She shrugged, holding up her hand as Kyle took a breath to interrupt. "Oh, there's crime, as Matt liked to point out, but for the most part your lives are far more sheltered than even those of my subjects."
"Aah..." Kyle wanted to refute it, but held her tongue. Not knowing what the standard of living was like in the Silver Millennium, she couldn't really comment, one way or the other.
Serenity looked Kyle in the eyes, before nodding softly. "I don't blame you for what has happened. You had no way of knowing... None of us did."
"But I should have!" Kyle growled.
Serenity shook her head again and put a hand on the night elf's shoulder.
"We are all products of the society that raised us. You grew up in a world that, to you, was relatively free of violence. I could never blame you for that. You have never had to live your life expecting the worst around every corner, and I envy you and your society for that. Even if the danger can still exist."
"But why-" Kyle started to ask, before she cut him off.
"I was raised, and ruled a society of peace, as well, Kyle. And while there is danger, it is not too unlike your own. Where you have technology, we have Magic. And we aren't exactly wanting, when it comes to creature comforts." She shot Kyle a ghost of a smile. "So if I were to blame you, then I'd also have to blame myself."
"I don't think that's fair," Kyle said, before Serenity's look crystallized into a glare.
"Fair? Fair!? This whole situation isn't fair!" Serenity took a couple calming breaths. "But as unfair as it is... It isn't your fault. Even if.." Serenity trailed off, looking away, towards a window at the end of the hall, though her focus was much, much farther.
"Even if what?" Kyle asked, almost afraid to find out.
"I know in my heart that this was not your fault, but a part of me, the part of me that selfishly brought you to me, insists that if you had been faster, if I had been stronger, if we had been smarter..."
Kyle nodded. "I understand. You're not too far removed from humanity, if that voice is what I'm thinking of."
Looking away herself, Kyle spoke quietly. "I've not been the most... Accommodating of people at times, I know." She ignored the snort Serenity tried to stifle, before continuing. "But I'm mature enough to know I should take some responsibility for my actions. I told you I'd help you when we return. Matt will too. We'll still do whatever it takes to protect your kingdom, but I hope that we can still be friends throughout. In the brief time I've known you, you've been far more... Interesting than I would have ever expected."
Much to the night elf's surprise, Serenity gently took Kyle's hand in her own. "I do accept you as a friend, Kyle; you and Matt both. In spite of all your faults, all your misbehaviors, both of you have good hearts; if you truly intend on fighting for my kingdom as you say, then I would hope it'd be as friends. I have enough servitors and soldiers."
Kyle nodded. "I can only imagine." looking down at their hands, she nodded. "I promise to do everything in my power to help you." She paused, before frowning. "With that said, however, I think it would be remiss of me not to ask you to seek out some training yourself."
Serenity blinked. "What do you mean?"
"I mean here, in this world, we're about to embark on a voyage to the most hostile continent on this world. I hesitated before when I killed because my opponents were alive, and I had a hundred questions running through me head. 'What if they have a family?' 'What if they're here under duress?' What if what if what if? It..." She shook her head as she trailed off. "Anyway. As bad as that was where we're going it will be even worse. Because the questions I asked before don't apply. We'll be facing the undead in numbers far too frightening to bother trying to comprehend, and try as I might, I cannot kill an army alone."
There was an awkward silence for a moment, before Kyle intoned emotionlessly, "Northrend is a frozen hell. And we're going to have to fight for every inch we take. Matt and I will fight to protect you. Die, to protect you, if that's what it takes. But if we fall, I... We... Would do so much more easily, knowing you were able to take care of yourself."
Serenity straightened up, doing her best to look down at the night elf. An impressive feat, considering the other was over a foot taller than her. "There's been enough death, thank you very much. I'll train. We'll train. And we'll get out of here, and return to my kingdom together, or not at all."
Kyle was impressed; her regal bearing had come out full tilt. "Is that an order?"
Serenity scoffed. "I'm Queen Serenity the Fourth, Monarch of the Silver Millennium, Daughter of Selene and Goddess of the Moon. That is not an order. It is the reality I, as a goddess, command."
Kyle was floored. Literally. As she had spoken, a silvery light had suffused the area around her, and even as she tried to fight it, her knees had grown so weak she'd been forced to kneel to avoid falling over. When Serenity had finished, there was an unsettling silence as her words seemed to echo throughout the corridor. Finally, the feeling passed, and Kyle climbed back to her feet, still feeling a little shaken.
"Don't... Don't do that again." Kyle said, crouching to see if his knees would soften again.
"A divine decree was just made, and you have the audacity to tell me not to do it again?" Serenity asked, shocked.
"Not that. I mean that light. Whatever it was. I thought I was having a stroke or something, the way my legs practically failed me. What the hell was that?"
Serenity shrugged. "My birthright made manifest. I'm a force of nature. Embodiment of some of its very laws. Your legs are fine. Your soul, however, is a mortal's. And because of that, in my presence... In my divine presence, I should say, it will do what it can to make itself humble."
"But... Why? That doesn't make any sense whatsoever. What if some dark god was chasing you? That would... Be bad." Kyle quickly amended her statement even as she spoke, trying to avoid bringing up death once again.
Serenity shrugged. "It happens. In time, you can build up an immunity to it, or learn to fight it. But it's fun at parties."
"..." For once, Kyle was at a loss.
Serenity couldn't help it, she smiled. Not a big smile; there was still a tinge of sadness in her eyes, but the look of bewilderment on Kyle's face was enough to break through the despair that had suffused her, even if only for a moment. And Kyle knew, then and there, that he would die for her. Not because she was a god or a queen. But because she was a friend. And he would do anything to protect that smile.
Author's Notes for Tannim: Well, we're not dead! And here's another chapter for proof. Make of it what you will. Next stop: Northrend! And hopefully back to the Silver Millenium and to submarines.
Author's Notes for Magus: Be kinda hard to write if we were dead, Matt. But yes, I think this is the last major bit of this arc. Be ready for zombies, dragons, and wizards (oh my!) as well as other surprises. I actually have most of the rest of this planned out in rough-outline form. Problem is getting Matt and my writing schedules to coincide... And dragging him out of WoW (kicking and screaming).
Previous chapters are available at: http://www.fanfiction.net/s/4821355/1/Chance_of_a_Millennium
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