Tussle in the Jungle - Chapter 4
The demon hunter wastes no time as he takes off after the void knight, his footsteps silent as a cat.
Shortly after they make it into the camp, the pair come upon an alcove in between a couple of tents untouched by torchlight or firefight. It was such that would make their shadowed forms virtually indistinguishable from the natural darkness surrounding them. It is there that the elf pauses and takes stock of his surroundings. After a few moments of contemplation, Veldrinas turns and whispers to his draenei companion.
"Alright, there are a few small cages just ahead, but we would have to pass very close to the fire to reach them."
He then gestures to their right as two guards cross in front of their vision a few feet away, but they are not spotted. "There should be a couple more small cages around ten yards away in that direction, but if I recall correctly, they have two standing guard in front of them at all times. The rest of the cages should be towards the northwest end of the camp, but they are more closely spaced together, no more than a couple yards apart."
Veldrinas turns to regard Vasedra. "What do you think?"
"I think it's time we split up," she answers softly. "I also think it's past time you gave me a detailed description of your sister. We can scout the least dangerous locations first."
Veldrinas takes a deep steadying breath as he contemplates the void knight's offer for a moment.
"Before we do, I must ask, for your safety and mine, will you be able to maintain our cover of darkness over longer distances?"
Sedra looks at the demon hunter and then down at her darkened hand. "I barely know what I am doing, so there are no guarantees. But I have no intention of leaving you exposed. I'll see to it."
The elf's brows furrow at her answer, but he nods in agreement. "Very well. My sister, Fendassa, has hair like spun silver, pale skin, and no facial tattoos. If you find her, tell her..."
Veldrinas pauses for a few moments as he searches for the right words.
"Tell her 'the nightsaber and the deer frolicked together in the meadow' she will understand its meaning."
The demon hunter's expression turns grim before he continues, his tone turning somber.
"Be careful, Sedra. I would not like to see you injured or captured because you were trying to keep me hidden and your disguise fell as a result. If you cannot maintain my end of the shroud, do not worry. I will make do."
The eredar simply nods before she turns away. As soon as the patrol passes, she hurries off, disappearing around a pile of supplies.
It's a silent and tense half-hour later when Sedra settles in beside the far north set of cages, having finally found a vantage from which she could observe the prisoners and their guards. The rough orcish tent-hunt wall crowds up beside her bare shoulder, and its shadows mesh with hers, leaving her all but invisible as she leans forward and peers out.
This trio of cells is closely spaced and even more closely monitored, located at a busy hub of the camp. Not only are there numerous guards, but the path near them seems to be a main thoroughfare, traveled by officers and menials alike. The hidden void knight narrows her black eyes on a Forsaken alchemist as she passes, her rotting arms full of herbs and vials.
A thought, more effort at this distance than she likes, shows her that Veldrinas is not in distress, only focused and determined. No change from the past while, thus likely no danger.
Alright, then. The eredar turns her attention to the cages and the night elf she can see curled up on her side in one of them. It's hard to see her well in that position, but the glint of silver hair is plain enough, even through the dirt that covers her.
Sedra scans the area around the cage, seeking the way to get closer and more certain.
Just then, a forsaken soldier in the uniform of a dreadguard walks up to the sentry in front of the night elf's cage. The dreadguard speaks some words in common to her and occasionally gestures towards the elf in the cage. Most of what is said is too quiet to make out, but what is heard distinctly are the words "interrogation" and "Master Apothecary Rycroft."
After this exchange, both of them share a cruel chuckle before the dreadguard strides away, deeper into the forsaken encampment.
The void knight frowns at the exchange, feeling a sense of urgency motivated by what little she understood. Her dark gaze searches the sentry and the surrounding area, finding the deepest hiding places and the surest paths through dangers.
There is a way to the cage's side, a place from which to speak to the prisoner, if she's even conscious, but to get past the sentry without being detected looks... challenging. She needs a distraction.
Sedra ponders for just a moment before her attention lands on a pile of supplies with one crate dripping with goblin explosives. The eredar smirks and rummages in her pouch, pulling out a small crystal with some metal inlays and eredun runes.
This should be fun...
As the eredar is rummaging through her pouch, a few more forsaken guards patrol across her field of view, bandying words in their dry, near monotone voices.
The sentry guarding the cage turns around, and using the butt of her spear, prods the night elf in the cage, eliciting a small gasp of pain from the female who stirs and looks up at her captor.
"Rise and shine, knife ears," the forsaken woman sneers. "It will be your turn once Rycroft is finished with your friend."
In response, the night elf groans and pushes herself up into a sitting position.
"What, no sharp words today? No angry retorts?"
The sentry prods the night elf again with her spear, this time hard enough to knock her to the other side of her small prison.
"C'mon," the forsaken taunts. "I need to get my last bit of fun in."
Remaining silent, the elf merely shifts into the corner of the cage and hugs her knees to her chest.
Glancing up to the cruel display only briefly, Sedra puts her attention on the transfer crystal, giving its mechanism a few specific presses and then a twist to activate it. The stone pulses softly, the distance setting displaying in the air above it for a confirmation.
She glances up one more time, remeasuring the area with her eyes before she nods to herself and gives it a carefully timed throw into the crate of supplies.
Nothing happens for a few moments...
And then a trio of komodo dragons appears in the path nearby, fading into existence in the dark is if they'd slunk out of the jungle in search of food.
The night elf’s cruel sentry gives a startled shout, and she and a few more run after the beasts as they split up, darting away through the maze of the camp's outbuildings and stockpiles.
Sedra eyes the abandoned cage with a triumphant grin before she checks one more time for observers and then darts out of the safety of the shadows.
The night elf's head shoots up as the komodo dragons appear seemingly out of thin air. She glances to and fro into the darkness surrounding her cell, attempting to spot a would be rescuer.
As the creatures travel farther and farther away from where they were materialized, shouts are heard in the distance as the rest of the camp erupts into motion and more forces are mustered in an attempt to subdue the rampaging beasts.
As the eredar leaves her cover of darkness, the elf's dimly glowing eyes snap towards the movement. Her eyes widen a bit as she recognizes that her would be rescuer is in fact a member of the Alliance. She shifts around to face the woman, her hands grasping the bars of the cage.
"What are you doing here?" The Kaldorei whispers. "I never expected Alliance troops would be able to get past the Horde army to rescue us."
The void knight snorts softly, narrowing her black eyes on the stranger, but she neither confirms nor denies her statement. Instead, she just whispers, "I must check if you are the one I'm here for, elf. The nightsaber and the deer frolicked together in the meadow."
Though she says it, Sedra can't help but wrinkle her nose a bit over the extremely unconversational passphrase. She trails off with a sigh, watching the woman's reaction.
The night elf stiffens as she hears the void knight's words, the recognition written plain on her face.
"You aren't from the Alliance, are you." The female begins as she regards the eredar --- her onyx gaze, the felsteel bands, and the metal filigree that snakes around her horns.
"That rhyme, who told you that?" The female asks with a slight tremble in her voice after a moment of silence.
Satisfied, Sedra pulls free the dagger on her belt and starts cutting at the thick ropes binding the cell together. Her answer is idly and quietly delivered as her attention focuses on her work. "Veldrinas did. And no, I am most definitely not Alliance. I'm merely a friend of his."
Her gaze flicks up and back down. "Look more dejected and less eager. I'll be very put out if someone rushes by and notices their prisoner with her ears perked, in the midst of an escape."
Fendassa pulls away from the bars of her cage, her gaze distant as many conflicting emotions flicker across her face and her breath quickens.
After a few moments of silence broken only by the rhythmic sound of Sedra's dagger cutting through the ropes and the distant shouts of forsaken troops, the night elf speaks softly, more to herself than the eredar.
"He's alive?" Fendassa asks before returning her gaze to the void knight. "My brother is alive?"
"Your brother is alive," the eredar affirms quietly, unseating a pair of the cage's rear bars. She moves aside. "But we will not be if we don't move from here. Can you run?"
"I...I'm not sure, but I will try." The elf manages to say as her bony fingers grasp the cage bars for support and she stumbles through the gap Sedra made.
Fendassa's blue sleeveless dress had seen better days, the many small rips and tears in the garment offering glimpses of pale skin underneath. Most of it is covered in dirt, mud, and a few speckles of dried blood here and there. The dress hangs off her emaciated form as she leaves the confines of her prison, accentuating the malnourishment she suffered at the hands of her captors. After taking a few wobbly steps, the night elf falls to her hands and knees with a small gasp.
Vasedra grasps the elf's upper arm, her cold hand firm but not entirely ungentle. She whispers against the elf's ear, "This won't do. You're too weak. I'll carry you."
Even as she speaks, she spends a bit of her attention seeking the flimsy connection to Veldrinas. He's distant enough that she winces at the effort to whisper into his thoughts, so her statement is minimal.
I have her.
"It's alright I can..." Fendassa says as she tries to stand and pushes weakly against the void knight's arm, but the Kaldorei's strength fails her once again, and she collapses against Vasedra's cold chest, leaning heavily on her for support.
From Veldrinas there is no response, not even a flicker of a thought letting the eredar know that he heard her. A few minutes pass before the demon hunter's voice sounds clearly in Sedra's mind.
Good. I am heading back towards the rendezvous, I suggest you do the same. I may have attracted some unwanted attention that could not be helped. They are after me.
The words are delivered in a measured and calm tone, giving no indication as to the dire straits they are in.
For mere moments after Veldrinas's response, a battle horn sounds in the distance and shouts are heard by the pair from all around them. The tall braziers scattered throughout the encampment are lit, brightly illuminating the area and the searchlights from the watchtowers, which had up till now been trained on the surrounding area, were being turned back towards the camp, their forsaken operators eager to help spot the intruders.
Sedra curses under her breath and ducks down, tossing the elf over her shoulder.
"Your brother might not excel at stealth," she grouches at the woman even as what few shadows remain draw in around them, darkening them both. "Stay quiet. We have to move, and hopefully keep the attention trained on him rather than us."
Fendassa groans softly in protest as she is hoisted up, but she can do little else against Vasedra's strength. She merely hangs on as best she can while the void knight hurries on through the shadows and onward to safety.
After a few minutes of dodging increasing numbers of forsaken foot soldiers and even the odd Zandalari troll, the pair finally encounter Veldrinas, who appears to be carrying someone of his own. It is a young human woman with golden blonde hair and a fair complexion, though she is unconscious and sports numerous small cuts which appear to be oozing an odorless green liquid. Her attire merely consists of a sleeveless jerkin and leather trousers.
The woman groans as Veldrinas sets her down for a moment to explain the reason for his seemingly foolish decision to the eredar.
"She was being tortured," the hunter goes by way of greeting. "I could NOT stand idly by while that forsaken had his way with her."
Vasedra sighs, setting his sister beside the human and straining to draw the shadows tighter around them all. Her tone is sharp, but there's something of understanding there as she recalls making a similar choice aboard the Umbral Eclipse.
"And did your sudden flash of heroic altruism include an epiphany about how we get free from this place?" she whispers, gesturing. "They are boxing us in, and now we are doubly burdened."
The demon hunter frowns as he mentally weighs all the options. "I believe our only recourse is to fight our way out. That being said, they do not yet know our exact location. Perhaps if we act quickly, we will be able to catch them unawares and punch through their lines before they have a chance to get organized. I think it is our best bet."
"Always thinking with your sword first. Are you still incapable of using your mind to solve problems, brother?"
Fendassa's tone is sarcastic, but there is a hint of amusement in it.
Veldrinas sighs and puts his hands behind his back. "Yes sister. I do use my head on occasion. But as it stands now, I do not see any other options, do you have a better idea?"
The elf mage gives a wry grin. "I could teleport us out of course."
Vasedra looks between the two of them. "I'm always interested in a good teleport if it saves me the effort of cutting through an army of Horde. Can we go?"
Fendassa nods. "Of course, just give me a moment to prepare."
The elf then tries to get to her feet, her arms shaking with the exertion, and her face contorted in a grimace. Veldrinas, noticing that his sister would not be able to get up using her own strength, moves closer and with his body as support, the mage manages to stand.
"Are you sure about this?" The hunter asks with concern in his voice.
"It would be difficult to teleport just yourself in your current state, not to mention all four of us."
Fendassa's breath is shallow as she turns her head to regard her brother.
"Ah don't worry about me, brother." The mage assures him with a confidence that doesn't quite meet her eyes.
"I will be fine. Now give me some room, I need to concentrate."
Veldrinas nods in affirmation and slowly backs away a few steps, but not too far away should his sister require his assistance again.
Fendassa sways on the spot as the hunter moves away, but after taking a deep, steadying breath, she closes her eyes and regains her equilibrium. The mage raises her hands and after a moment, her mouth begins to move as she mutters the incantation for teleportation, the blues and purples of the arcane coalescing around her hands.
A few moments pass and the spell is almost complete. Just as she is about to say the final words, her eyes shoot open as a small gasp of pain escapes her lips, the magic fading as she begins to fall forward and her hands fall limp at her sides.
Veldrinas leaps into action, and reaching out, catches the mage before she falls. As the hunter's arms close around the mage, he notices a forsaken arrow protruding from her shoulder.
Immediately, he scans their surroundings, intent on uncovering the hidden assailant.
The void knight curses under her breath and does the same. She finds the Forsaken archer standing on a supply pile a few tents away before Veldrinas manages to and dashes off, drawing her swords with a hiss. His second arrow slices a line along her leather cuirass, but it does no harm to her. He doesn't get a chance for a third as her blades cleanly separate his surprised head from his rotting neck.
The eredar pauses and looks up only to find herself staring at a trio of sentries rushing down a dirt path between buildings. They're not yet in line of sight to the others.
Fel. She curses to Veldrinas. More. I'll lead them away before they see you three. You need to get your sister out if she still lives. I suppose I volunteer to play decoy, at least temporarily.
Sedra barely glances back at them out of the corner of her eye. Veldrinas... do as you must, but I don't see how you stand a chance with that human baggage.
Do not worry about me, just worry about what you have to do. Be careful Sedra.
After his message is sent, Veldrinas returns his attention to his sister and the grave wound on her shoulder, her lifeblood trickling down her back. The cacophony of the surrounding camp fades into the background as worry takes over.
"Sister, are you alright?" The hunter asks with a slight note of panic. "Fendassa, speak to me!"
Fendassa's eyelids flutter as she groans in pain. Her skin even paler than it was before, and her breath shallow.
"Don't... don't worry about... me, brother. I-I'm fine." The mage manages as she tries to get to her feet.
"J-just help me u-up. I will t-try again."
Veldrinas shakes his head and places a hand on her shoulder, halting her progress. His touch is gentle, yet unyielding as he carefully eases her back down.
"No. You are already taxed beyond your strength. I will not ask any more of you."
The hunter's expression is grave as he examines the wound.
"I will have to break the arrow off. I fear it is lodged too deeply for me to successfully remove it without hurting you further."
Veldrinas cups her chin as his sightless gaze locks with her own dim one.
"I am sorry, I have no way to dull the pain."
The mage nods wordlessly and clasps her brothers hand as he reaches around her to snap the arrow shaft off.
Just as Veldrinas's hand closes around the arrow, a quiet voice interrupts them.
Veldrinas quickly turns his gaze to regard the speaker, for it was the human woman who had spoken.
"I can help." The woman asserts. "I am a paladin. Let me heal her."
The demon hunter's brows raise with disbelief as he responds with a question of his own.
"You are more gravely injured than she is, how do you possess even the strength to do so?"
The human grunts in pain as she works to prop herself upright. But before she can respond, she is interrupted by Fendassa.
"It's alright Vel," the elf reassures him. "Alayna has been in worse shape before and still managed to pull through. She can do it."
The demon hunter turns to regard the paladin, who nods with assurance and after a moments consideration, Veldrinas gives his consent and again places his hand around the arrow shaft.
After making sure both of them are ready, he removes the arrow with a quick yank and grasps his sister tightly in order to keep her steady. Fendassa grits her teeth in pain as more of her lifeblood spills out of the now gaping wound, but the human raises a hand, and golden light begins to shine from the injury itself, which seems to close up of it's own accord and knit together until nothing but pristine, unmarked skin remains.
The three of them can hear shouts from somewhere not too far away in the camp, and a gout of flame bursts up above the tops of the rough buildings.
Faster than her pursuit for the most part, Sedra weaves through the camp, her swords laughing in her hands. She slows by a quartet of cages, their captives lively and shouting for release.
"I'll let you die fighting, at least," she mutters, the chain locks on their rustic prisons tinkling as dark cold eats into them. With pursuers coming closer, she breaks the brittle metal on each cage and then dashes away without a backward look at the unarmed prisoners.
A shot rings out from behind, and she staggers as its impact slams into her leather-clad back. Sedra roundly curses her lack of plate even while she keeps moving, pain creeping outward from the impact point.
Gasping from the exertion, Alayna collapses to the ground as Fendassa turns around with a gasp and rushes to the human's side. The elf grasps the paladin's hand as a violent cough assaults the exhausted human.
"It's alright," Fendassa assures with a tremble in her voice, "it's going to be ok."
"They used poison, Fen." Alayna manages as another bout of violent coughing wracks her body, flecks of blood staining her lips as well as landing on Fendassa's dress.
Alayna's gaze pierces the elf's own as she says her next words. "I... don't have... much longer to live. Please, leave me. I will die fighting. It would give you a chance to..."
She does not have a chance to finish before more uncontrollable coughing leaves her gasping for breath.
"No!" Fendassa asserts as she shakes her head fervently and tears begin to flow.
"I will not leave you! We've been through too much only to let you die here."
"Sister," Veldrinas interjects, "we need to leave now! Sedra's distraction is working but there is no telling for how long it will last."
The hunter puts a comforting hand on Fendassa's shoulder.
"I will carry her. You have my word that I will do all that is within my power to keep her alive."
"I will hold you to that." Fendassa warns as Veldrinas bends down and carefully scoops the paladin into his arms.
The demon hunter nods with a smile to his sister, who returns the nod and brushes away her tears with the back of her hand.
As they begin to weave their way in-between tents and supply crates in an effort to reach the edge of the encampment without too much difficulty, Veldrinas reaches out with his mind.
Sedra, the human is a paladin and she healed Fendassa, but in doing so worsened her own condition. We are currently moving towards the outskirts of the camp, what is your status?
"Fel," the void knight whispers under her breath, pausing in the shadows behind one of the prison's many huts. For the brief moment, she's evaded her pursuers, though she has no illusion that it will be a long reprieve. She leans a bloodied hand against a pile of supplies there, her sword held loosely in her grip. Her breath rushes in and out, pain in every motion, but she carefully keeps that from her thoughts as she answers the demon hunter.
I'm being penned in near the northwest. I've lost them for now, but it won't be long. I haven't... quite figured out my plan, yet. They're making sure I can't break through to the edge of the camp. Veldrinas, get the human and your sister out. I can keep going for a while, yet.
Veldrinas curses under his breath as he comes to a stop in the shadow of a pile of supply crates.
Fendassa halts as well, worry written plain on her face.
"What is it, brother?" She asks a little breathlessly due to the brisk pace they had been going.
Veldrinas sets his burden down gently as he scans their surroundings for any unwanted surprises. Finding none, he furrows his brow.
"Sedra's distraction is working too well." The hunter says quietly.
"We have encountered minimal to no resistance in our path, that could either mean that there is a trap waiting out there for us, or they believe that we are all together at Sedra's location. I fear she will not make it out alive. I am going after her."
Fendassa looks away for a moment, an idea beginning to form.
"Wait Vel, what if I teleported her out?" The mage suggests with a grin.
"If you can find her location, I could teleport to her and then back out. The horde will he none the wiser."
Veldrinas's expression turns grim as he shakes his head.
"No, it's too dangerous for you to go alone. Besides, I am not sure if there is a way for me to ascertain her exact location. I only know that she is in the northwest portion of the camp."
His sister chuckles as she places a reassuring hand on the hunter's shoulder.
"Alayna healed me, Vel. I feel better now than I have in months, even better than before I was captured."
She looks straight at where his eyes would be, determination evident in her expression.
"Trust me, I can do this. Just use your telepathy to find out where she is. I'm sure her aura should be easy enough for me to hone in on."
The demon hunter sighs as he pinches the bridge of his nose, knowing that his sister's logic is sound.
"Very well," he concedes as he reaches out with his mind.
Sedra, we have a plan. My sister believes she can blink to your location and get you out, I will need your help to describe your surroundings to give her the best chance of finding you.
My surroundings? The void knight makes a sour face as she looks around her. There is nothing of particular note, here. A tent and some supplies. I'll need to find somewhere more noteworthy.
Craning her neck up, she spies a guard tower not too far away. Risky, perhaps, but certainly a landmark easy for the mage to pinpoint. There is a tower. See if you can see it from where you are, and I can make my way up there.
Veldrinas gives his mental acknowledgement and carefully makes his way to peek over the stack of supply crates next to him. It takes him only a few moments to spot the guard tower in question.
I see it. Let me know when you get there, I believe that my sister could teleport me in just as you begin your attack, that way we would be able to quickly overwhelm them before the rest of the camp arrives. There should be only around a dozen or so sentries occupying the tower, that shouldn't make our task too difficult.
Sedra's dry little chuckle turns into a wet cough and she curses again, wiping blood from the corner of her mouth. She doesn't bother to convey either her amusement at his estimate of a "not too difficult" task or her injury, straightening from the wall and readying her swords.
Give me three minutes and then see if she can get you here. I'll clear the base of the tower.
She doesn't wait for his acknowledgement before she rushes out from her hiding place and starts making her way through what shadows she can find toward the edifice. The first cry of one of her many pursuers catching sight of her comes nearly halfway there, and she curses under her breath yet again, dragging her maddened, gleeful swords from their sheathes once more, their chatter echoing loudly in her head.