Episode 12: Did Someone Say Worgen?
Surfal thundered over the terrain, pushing his speed as far as I could muster out of him. I listened hard for the voice to call out once more.
There it was again. The woman’s cries had broken through the still air of the Grizzly Hills and I had run toward it without hesitation. It had been weeks since I had arrived at Amberpine Lodge and this would be my second rescue attempt. I was determined not to mess this one up.
Surfal charged over a small stream and through the wooded path until I saw a woman being held by two orcs. I hadn’t seen an orc in a rather long time. The sight was almost alien to me.
These orcs didn’t seem to have any horde banners, but that wouldn’t have stopped me at this point anyway. I was coming at them at full speed and I wasn’t going to stop.
The woman spotted my approach and wrestled free from her captor. She tried to flee and the orcs would have easily cut her off if I hadn’t intercepted their path.
I caught the first one in the face with the edge of my staff, sending him through the air and onto his back. The second orc was quick to the defensive but my melee attack must have confused the monster as appeared totally unprepared when I hurled a fire blast his way. Feeling lucky, I slammed him with a powerful blast of heat and sent the orcs running.
I looked around for the woman, but I couldn’t see her anywhere. I decided she must have fled the scene and was no doubt half way to Amberpine Lodge by now. I pulled Surfal back around and was about to head home when I heard Christine call for me.
“Sepher! This way!”
I kicked at Surfal and we were on our way, heading down the path until I found Christine moving out of the woods with the captive woman thrown over the back of her horse.
“This what you were looking for?” she asked.
“She was a prisoner of some orcs. I was trying to help.”
Christine shrugged and cut the woman loose. She responded by spitting on Christine’s horse and then turning to me. “Do you have any food?”
“I do,” I answered. “Would you like some?”
I conjured up several loaves of bread and handed them over to her. She graciously accepted them and even gestured toward Christine with one as though offering it to her.
Christine held up a hand to turn down the offer, appearing to be still upset from the woman’s spitting.
“We’re not far from Silverbrook,” I said as I looked the woman over. “Is that where you’re from?”
“No. I was in Fort Wildervar. My husband is a soldier in the Alliance and I was out collecting herbs. I got taken captive by a wolf monster and brought into Silverbrook. They caged me up and then gave me over to some orcs. They said something about waiting for my husband to come save me.”
“Wait, a wolf monster pulled you into town? Then the townspeople gave you to the orcs?”
“I know, right?” she asked as she took another bite of bread. “It’s crazy. The whole town is tainted with dark magic I bet.”
“We should go to Silverbrook,” Christine said. “Her husband might be in trouble.”
“We may all be in trouble if she means what I think she means about a wolf monster.”
“Worgens?” Christine asked. “Here in Northrend?”
“Why not?” I asked. “It’s happened in other parts of the world.”
“We should get moving then,” Christine urged me. “Time is important with a matter like this.”
The woman caught between the conversation suddenly burst into tears.
“You’re going to help?” she asked.
“Thank you so much,” she said, sobbing and trying to hug the horse she had spit on just a few minutes ago. “It means everything to me.”
Christine raised an eyebrow, a sign of her discomfort. “Yeah, well, you’re welcome. Just, here let us go.”
The woman released the animal and stepped aside so Christine could move over toward me. I smiled at her and then waved my head toward Silverbrook and spurred Surfal. With that, we were off.
The walk to the small village of Silverbrook wasn’t far at all. When we got there I knew we’d look silly to come in with our weapons at the ready, so instead we marched through the front gates like we owned the place.
The villagers didn’t seem to care. They went about their daily lives and all was well. It was hard to believe that there was anything nefarious at work here. Still, a friendly spot check wouldn’t hurt as far as I could tell. We spread out, casually glancing inside some of the huts as we went. Unfortunately, I found exactly what I had hoped to avoid.
A cage, with a soldier locked inside, in the back corner of one of the huts.
I slipped inside, hoping no one noticed, and made my way to the prisoner.
“Who are you?” the man asked as I approached.
“A friend,” I assured him. “Your wife sent me.”
“My wife? Where is she?”
“Safe,” I said motioning for him to lower his voice. “What happened here?”
“These people! They’re monsters.”
“What kind of monsters?” I asked, hoping the words worgen wouldn’t come up.”
The soldier didn’t respond, but his wide eyes told me what I need to know.
I spun around and saw… not a monster at all. Just an ordinary village trapper.
“Hello there,” the trapper said with a large smile. “What are you up to?”
“Looking at the prisoner in a cage.” I said with a gesture to the soldier.
“Oh, him?” the trapper asked. “Well, he’s a traitor you see. We caught him selling information to the Horde.”
“Did you? See, I had a report that—”
Without warning the villager hit me with a punch that knocked me back against the hut’s wooden wall. Despite the unexpected blow, I was able to shield myself with magical energy to spare the pain of taking another. The trapper came at me like a wild animal. I managed to strike him with a blast of fire and the attacker went to the floor with a crash.
He just didn’t stay there. He scrambled up with frightful speed and it became obvious that he was… drooling.
“They’re worgen!” the prisoner shouted. “Monsters!”
I was forced to admit the truth. “I suppose so.”
The attacker took my words as a signal to reveal the truth. He began to transform from the non-threatening human that had attacked me into a much larger, much deadlier creature.
A cursed creature that I knew very little about, outside of the fact that they were dangerous and powerful. I didn’t want anything to do with them, but there was at least one I was going to have to deal with before I could escape.
“Get me outta here!” shouted the soldier.
“On it,” I said, using some powerful magic to generate a searing flame that could cut through the metal lock on the prisoner’s gate.
We burst out of the hut and the worgen leapt out right behind. I conjured a rush of hot air that sent him rolling across the ground while the the Alliance soldier that I had rescued fled with a speed faster than I’d ever witnessed a fully armored guard run before.
In the distance I heard someone howling and I knew that we were in trouble. We needed to get moving or we’d soon be overrun. By the time we hit the gate to Silverbrook Christine was waiting with her weapon at the ready.
“Monsters?” she asked.
“Yeah,” I said, running toward our horses. “We ride!”
“Shouldn’t we fight?” she asked, holding her mace in a defensive stance.
“Can’t fight. Worgen. Too many.” I tried to breath between each bit.
“Too many? I thought…”
Her voice trailed off as dozens of howling voices filled the air. Growling and snarling worgen started to jump the wall and a few rushed into the road. Her eyes were the size of dinner plates as I pulled on her and again motioned to the horses.
“We need to go!”
“On second thought, I agree,” she replied as she whistled for her horse to come over. “Indeed, we ride.”
She pulled the soldier they’d freed up onto her steed and we spurred on our horses as fast as we could. The dirt was flying up behind us and the Alliance soldier was holding on for dear life. Still, the worgen were gaining and Christine’s horse was trying to keep up, though all the weight of her armor and it’s own war protection was slowing it down. I released Surfal’s reins and the horse knew what to do, maintaining its course as we rode.
Holding my hands high over my head, I started building up the energy required for a massive fireball. My efforts couldn’t have come at a better time. The worgen were right behind Christine and as they made a jump for her head, she surprised it with a blow to the head from her heavy mace. I was surprised too, to be honest, I hadn’t even realized she’d taken the mace in her hands before we started riding. Still, two more were coming for her and she wouldn’t be able to beat them all down.
Another one jumped for her and grabbed onto her arm with its teeth. She growled back at the creature and tried to shake it loose, but it appeared to have a firm hold. I let loose my fire blast, but another attacker took the hit before it could land on the intended target. Christine’s horse was slowing considerably now and I knew we had a big problem.
I only had one choice, and it was going to be difficult.
I started to pool all of my magic energy in my gut. A teleportation was hard, and a portal was even harder, but teleporting three people and two horses as we were all running down a dirt road? A feat of magic.
I could do it.
I had to reach deep into the nether, a void between time and space to do it. For a young mage something like this was terrifying and physically exhausting, but much like any routine, when you did it enough you learned to force your way past the limitations.
The arcane energy flowed strongly through Northrend. I harnessed that energy with astounding efficiency, and located onto the magical life energy of Christine and the escaped soldier. I reached to her horse Charger and then swept back and captured Surfal and my own energy in my mind. A startling chill ran through my blood as I channeled the energy, creating a line through the nether and emerging at Amberpine Lodge.
I thought to myself, for a split second, that this all might be too much.
Then, I pushed that doubt aside and did it anyway.
We hit the ground hard. Surfal stumbled over his own steps and I was thrown from the horse’s back. I rolled along the ground for a few feet but came to a stop without too much of a struggle. Christine rushed over before I could get back to my feet. I felt the healing power of her light magic seeping through my body and the warmth it brought was pleasant after feeling the chill of the nether moments before.
“Are you okay?” she asked, sounding panicked.
“Yeah, I think so.”
“Where are we?” Christine asked.
“Amberpine Lodge,” I said. “Right?”
“No,” she replied.
I looked around, but I had no idea where we were. I had looked for a location with a lot of life, assuming that the lodge was the likely place where it would be found. Apparently, I was wrong.
Suddenly, I heard the sound of thundering footsteps. At first I thought to try and defend us, but then I caught sight of the source, several horsemen with long pole arms appeared from the brush. All the panic in my body fled as I laid eyes on the horsemen.
Captain Stoutmantle of the Westfall Bridge!
He moved his horse close to me and when he was just a few feet away he extended his hand for me to take. I did so without hesitation and we both gave a large grin to one another.
“Well if it isn’t the lowly mage from Stormwind,” the Captain said with a deep laugh. “What in the Light are you doing up here in Northrend?”
“Adventure,” I said, still grinning. “What brings you up here?”
“Worgen expert,” he said proudly. “That and the war against Arthas. So many things for an old man to worry about these days.”
“So many, indeed,” I said, looking back to my group. I could see that Surfal had gotten back on his feet, and despite looking rather dusty, didn’t seem injured by all the chaos.
“So, question for you,” I said, turning back to the Captain. “Where exactly… are we?”