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Dod of the Dead: Dying - by Cwnannwn


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2006-06-19 16:09:29

The horse gently nudged her prone form with his muzzle, but she did not wake. Until the muzzle grazed her shoulder, then her eyes shot open with a strangled gasp of pain. When the flair of agony subsided from mind blinding to merely excruciating, she slowly sat up on the cobbles of the street. Biting her lip, she reached up and snapped off the arrows shaft, knowing she didn't have time to work the missile out of her flesh. She didn't even dare try to touch the one in her abdomen. She had no idea what it had hit, and did not want to risk causing more damage with removing it. Blood stained her clothes around both wounds, but it had long since darkened to a dry rusty brown. Since she was in no danger of bleeding to death, the arrows would have to remain, at least until she found someone who could remove them.

Looking around, she knew she would not find one here. The streets around her were littered with corpses. Young and old alike, some battered and bloody from their accidental trampling, others bearing clean efficient slashes from swords. Some lay still under arrow wounds much like her own, she reckoned that they explained the reason she was still breathing now. The Princes men must have assumed she was dead like they, and passed her over. For that, she was grateful.

From further in the city she heard screams still, yelling, and the sounds of brief combat. The Princes men were still here, and still killing, why she did not know. Smoke cast a dismal haze over the city, mixed with the sounds of the dieing the roar of buildings in flame. Already ashes began to drift down from the sky, like a gray mournful snow.

Using the reins of her horse as support, she pulled herself up onto her feet, and fought the wave of dizziness that hit her. She was so cold, she felt like she had been bathed in ice. She must have lost a great deal of blood while she was out. She then remembered how ill she had felt this morning, and hoped she didn't have a fever as well. That would just top off what had turned out to be a rather bad day.

She glanced back further into the city, feeling a sense of duty for those she heard dying, screaming that the Prince had gone mad. Closing her eyes and taking a deep breath, she turned towards the gate of the city, picking her way through the slain, leading her horse behind her. Quietly, she did not want to attract attention, for that would most likely mean a finalization of what the arrows in her had failed to do. She felt a deep regret that she could not ride back to their aid, protect them from the insane troops, but she knew it would be futile. Stratholme was lost. But there was something she could do, to keep it from happening again.

The King. I must tell the King. His son has slaughtered us, the King MUST put a stop to that. I must reach the King.

"You there! Halt!"

Her head twirled to face the man that yelled at her from down the road. One of the Princes men, with a squad of soldiers with him. She did not doubt for a second what they would do if they caught her. Already spotted, stealth was not an issue anymore, and she swung up into her saddle and dug her heels into Blue's flanks. Her eyes bulged with the pain the move cost her, but adrenaline surged into her blood as her horse surged into a gallop. This was life or death, she did not have time for pain.

She could hear them running after her, but quickly outpaced them, for they were unmounted. Hooves ringing loudly on the stones of the street, save when they landed with a dull thud of flesh, the woman rode for her life. Away from the city at the fasted pace her mount could muster.

For hours she rode. In the dim light of the near set sun she saw buildings in the far distance, and knew it to be the same town she had planned to overnight in before the Arthas had come. She kicked her horse to a trot. The sooner she got to Corin's, the sooner she could get the arrows out, maybe a hot meal, and were the Light favoring her, a bath. Eyes stared at her as she entered town, she did not wonder why. She was covered in dirt and dried blood, she'd have stared at her as well. Watched by all as she passed, she drew up at the inn, the innkeeper wife met her in the yard, and gave her a disapproving glare.

"We do no business with bandits"

"No ma'am, wouldn't blame you for that." The wounded woman tried to smile, despite her tiredness. "Course, I'm not a bandit. Refugee, maybe, dunno how many made it out of Strat alive 'for they started burning it…"

"Please," the inn wife said with a snort, "Prince Arthas rode to Stratholme, none would dare attack it with him there. A Bandit and a liar then. Be gone with you!"

"Mistress I beg you, I am no thief, just hurt, and tired, please…"

"Go!" Reaching to the ground beside her the townswoman hefted a rock. Her aim was not good, she missed the mounted ex-guard by a good foot. "Leave before I call the guards to drive you off bandit dog!" She bent and grabbed another rock, and let loose, it missing as well.

A painful sting hit the woman from Stratholme in the cheek. She turned and saw several smiling children, gleefully gathering their own stones, and tossing them in her direction. "Bandit dog! Bandit dog! Go dog! Dog! Dog!" They chanted with wicked grins. Their thrown projectiles were better aimed than the inn wifes, and two more times was the woman on the horse hit before she turned her mount away from the inn and back toward the road. A stone took her square in the back, its painful bite reminding her of what she had forgotten completely. Oh thank you so much you vile little brat she thought as the taunting cries and stones of children faded behind her, I so needed to be reminded I'd been whipped. Suppose I should be grateful I wasn't again, stripped and whipped out of your wretched little town. I hope Arthas comes for you next. She rode forward into the darkening twilight, deciding that it may be best if she continued on to the King himself. He did, after all, need to know of what transpired as soon as possible.

Dawn broke to find her riding still, moving despite the lack of rest, the weakness of blood loss, and the fever that was beginning to burn. By the time she reached the Thondoril river, the burn had become and inferno. Sweat plastered her hair to her head, yet she clutched her cloak as tightly around her body as she could. She was so cold, so very cold. Her horse had long since dropped from trot to walk, it's labored wheezing breaths matching those of its rider.

Before she reached Andorhal she was lost in her illness. She heard voices whispering on the winds, tauntingly faint, loud enough to hear but not make out the words. Shadows danced at the edges of her vision, phantoms haunting her slow ponderous travel. Soon she felt ghost touches drifting across her face, like fingers or spider webs. When the voices became loud enough for her to hear the mocking voices of the Corin's children again, she drew up her horse, drawing her sword as she dismounted. She didn't even twitch at the arrows this time, she was much too far gone to even know she was in pain.

"I know you're there!" She cried, staring off into the trees defiantly. "Come out and face me cowards! You can't hide!" Swaying on her feet, she waved her sword through the air. "I can hear you! Whispering…whispering I can HEAR you! Come out! I'll fightcha…fightcha all, put m'sword ta each an ev'ry…" And then her threats at the empty road were cut short as her horse crumpled behind her. Breath rattled in its chest, foam covered it hide. To near anyone it would be obvious that the steed was dying.

"Hmm? Blue? Oh…" She stumbled over to the horse and laid her hand on its side, then gave it a delusional smile. "Yes…good horse. Right…rest…we'll rest now. Tired…good horse…" She dropped heavily to one knee, barely holding herself up by her sword stabbed into the soil. "We'll rest…just…just a little while. Then…king…need to tell…just a little while…"

Her hand slipped from her hilt and with a heavy thud, she collapsed on the ground.

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