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Alliance — Elegy
Commander!” Delaryn shouted. “Commander! We have come under attack!”
Anaris whirled, her mangled face darkening with anger. Her gaze flitted to Ferryn. “Explain.”
The Sentinels stopped, their weariness fleeing in the face of true peril to their people, listening with their whole bodies as Delaryn spoke.
“Horde rogues,” Delaryn said. “Several of them. They killed our nightsabers first to keep the word from spreading. Many are dead. Vannara says that reports have come in from other outposts in Ashenvale, citing the same thing.”
For a moment, Anaris just stared at her; then she whirled to the Sentinels. “Why are you just standing there? You, run to Silverwing Grove! See if—”
Ferryn let out a throaty, furious snarl, but it came too late. Feeling Ferryn tense, Delaryn leaped off him, but a Forsaken had already dropped down from an overhanging branch.
He landed directly on Anaris’s back, stabbing with his twin blades as she fell. Swifter than a dead thing ought to be able to move, the assassin rolled to his feet. One of his daggers made a clean, swift strike across Marua’s throat, almost severing her head from her body.
With a yowl of fury, Ferryn sprang toward the Forsaken, while—too slowly—Delaryn drew an arrow and nocked it to her bow. There was a blur, and then another rogue was there, a blood elf, slashing out with his own blades, long golden hair flying behind him like a cloak. In what seemed like the span of a single heartbeat, half a dozen night elves were left bleeding out or spasming in torment on the verdant forest floor.
Finally, the Sentinels rallied. The blood elf vanished at once, but no matter. They would catch him as he fled like the coward he was. They sent a rain of arrows toward the gaps in the trees, but hit nothing. The sin’dorei had eluded them.
The Forsaken was not so lucky. Eriadnar surged toward him, drawing her sword. She sliced a furrow across the killer’s torso and lopped off one of his arms. Ferryn pounced, pinning him to the ground, exercising remarkable restraint in not tearing out his throat.
Anaris Windwood lay on the forest floor, her eyes open but their glow extinguished. “Commander?” Eriadnar said.
“She is dead,” Delaryn replied harshly; she was still furious with Windwood, though the commander was far beyond her anger now.
“Delaryn,” Eriadnar said quietly, “you are commander now.”
So she was. How strange it sounded. Delaryn shook herself and moved toward the prisoner. Her eyes fell on the daggers he had dropped, covered with Anaris’s blood. She picked one up carefully, then nodded to Ferryn. He stepped back, growling menacingly at the Forsaken.
She stared down at him, channeling her pain and fury as she spat out, “Talk to me, Forsaken, and perhaps I will let you live.”
“Live?” he grunted, in that awful, hollow tone so distinctive of his race. “I have not lived in some time, elf.”
“You enjoy word games? Let us play a counting game instead.” She gestured at him. “You are minus one arm. I can make it two. Or better yet, I will start small. You still have five fingers. Tell me something I can use, corpse, or I shall make it four.”
When he didn’t reply, she knelt, grabbed his hand by the wrist, and brought his blade close.
He hissed angrily. “I’ll speak!”
So the blade is poisoned. Even though he is dying, he does not want that level of pain.
“Tell me your orders.”
Dead lips curled back from yellowed teeth. Foul breath struck Delaryn full in the face as he laughed. Her stomach rebelled, but she willed herself not to wince.
“I would have thought they were obvious,” he said. “Were the intelligent ones the first to die? Oh wait, there are no intelligent night elves. A troll got another commander’s ears, you know. He’s wearing them now.”
It was, she knew, quite possibly true. But Delaryn did not rise to the bait. “There is no Val’kyr to bring you back if I shove this through your throat.”
Delaryn eyed the blade.
“What kind of poison did you use?” she asked casually. “I would guess it is a painful one—you Forsaken like those. If you do not tell me something useful soon, I will conclude you are stalling for time and therefore have nothing to tell me.” Her voice was cold.
“What prisoner would not stall for time? Existence is precious. Even we know that.”
It was true. The night elves harbored a deep respect for life. They did not torture prisoners, nor did they take delight in unnecessary casualties. But they had little use for the abominations that were the Forsaken.
Something inside her turned hard as stone. Delaryn brought the blade to within a fraction of an inch of his index finger. “Do not. Test. Me.”
The cruel glee faded from his rotting features as he realized she was not making an idle threat. “You cannot win,” he said. “We are everywhere. Have you not yet grasped that it’s all of your posts that are under attack? Dozens like me have descended upon them with our painful poisons. And your clever hunters, your vaunted Sentinels, your slinking druids—none had the slightest idea.”
Delaryn thought of the druid who had flown to Silverwind Refuge with his message. Some outposts had indeed reported a surprise attack. But there was something in the Forsaken’s words that felt forced.
“You are bluffing,” Delaryn snapped. “What is your plan? The Horde was marching on Silithus. Why divert to Ashenv—”
And then the answer presented itself, so blindingly obvious that she felt as though she’d been stabbed in the gut.
The night elven fleet was en route to Feralas.
Tyrande was in Stormwind.
“You are clearing a path,” she murmured, horrified.
The Forsaken made no answer but laughed again.
Delaryn raised the dagger, but the rogue’s laughter turned to a coughing wheeze. Gooey liquid spewed from his throat, and then he lay still. He had cheated her; his wounds had claimed his unlife before she could. Delaryn wasted no energy in frustration at the Forsaken’s final jest or the precious minutes she had spent interrogating him. She’d lost enough time.
She sprang to her feet. “Eriadnar, are you injured?”
“Then run, sister,” she said. “Run as fast as you can to Darnassus. Do not fight. Do not stop. Hide if you must. But get this message to Darnassus. Tell Malfurion an army is coming.”
Ferryn shifted back to his kaldorei form. “I can fly faster than she can run,” he offered.
Delaryn shook her head. “I have another task for you. Go, Eriadnar. May Elune guide your path.”
The Sentinel nodded, wide-eyed, and leaped to obey as swiftly as an arrow shot from a bow.
Delaryn turned to Ferryn. “Make for the Barrens. The Horde is coming. We need to know how much time we have before they arrive. Keep going until you see them. Do not engage unless you must. Stay alive, and report back.”
He nodded. They looked at one another for a moment. There was no need for words. They had gone into battle countless times before, sometimes together, sometimes on their own. Now, they had been plunged into it yet again.
At the same moment, they reached for each other, kissed deeply, and then turned to their duties.
Ferryn didn’t know, but whenever the two of them parted, Delaryn prayed to Elune that he would be safe. She asked for that favor again now, and for the first time, she had the faintest fluttering that, in this battle, the beautiful, loving moon goddess might not answer that prayer.