"Forwar—" the marshal cried, his command cut short as a musketball shattered his lower jaw. The wall before him was broken but still offered cover for the snipers hidden in the rain above. The weather poured from the sky in white sheets, drenching attackers and defenders alike. The marshal toppled over, careening down a pile of rubble like a sack of cordwood, coming to rest in the thick mud below. Like the bogged-down demolishers and meat wagons of his artillery, his troops were making no progress. Any normal man would've been dead for sure, but being that the marshal was already dead, he soon clawed his way up from the mud, spitting coagulated blood and ichor from the remains of his face.
To the north, across a long stretch of rutted field and on the other side of a gauzy filter of rain, Garrosh Hellscream tried to piece together what was happening along the front. He could see the gray silhouette of the great Gilnean wall, slotted with enormous diagonal gaps where the Cataclysm had wrenched it wide open. Were his Kor'kron at the front, they'd have walked right through. He grunted as a Forsaken scouting party trundled back through the mud, ragged and beaten. Even in victory, the Forsaken looked like corpses; in defeat, they looked even worse.
"Your scouts are useless. I sent them to harass the wall's defenses, and they crawl back like whipped dogs." Garrosh snorted, not even looking at his companion. The great brown-skinned orc was festooned in his most menacing battle garb, his veiny, tattooed biceps bursting out from beneath tusked shoulderguards. Although he stood right in front of his tent, he refused to step back out of the rain. It dribbled over his scowling face and blackened jaw.
Next to the great orc and sheltered under the tent canopy, Master Apothecary Lydon looked positively frail. His pockmarked face winced under a matted mess of purple-gray hair as he tried to formulate a response that wouldn't earn him another round of verbal abuse from the warchief. "I can assure you they're giving as good as they get," he said in measured tones, his voice rough and shallow. "Gilnean defenses are almost certainly in disarray."
"Then why are your scouts limping back instead of pressing forward?" Garrosh kicked aside a barrel. Behind him, his own troops weathered out the rain: four companies of elite handpicked orc and tauren warriors supported by five battalions of Orgrimmar's hardest. They stretched over the fields of Silverpine, a sea of green and brown faces against a backdrop of bright-red banners. "And where are the promised regiments from Lordaeron? They're to flood the breach. We waste time."
Lydon knew better than to talk tactics with the hard-headed warchief, but he had grown desperate as the hour of the attack had approached. He licked his gray lips with a dark-purple tongue and tried to answer casually, hoping to elicit some reason. "Slowed by the rain, no doubt, but they should arrive soon. They are… absolutely… Lordaeron's finest. The very heart of our infantry and backbone of our entire endeavor…"
Garrosh stroked the side of his face with his knuckles. He eyed the terrain and mentally positioned the coming infantry and cavalry as Lydon spoke.
"But you can't just send them right into the central breach in the wall," Lydon continued. "It's a… a chokepoint. Well fortified, closely watched. Heavy armored troops on horseback couldn't maneuver through the breach: they'd be mown down by musketfire from the debris. Surely you can see—"
"Of course I see!" Garrosh answered. "The door is wedged open; now it must be kicked down. This is what your kind is good for." Now the warchief looked directly at the master apothecary, his cool eyes fixated on the pale yellow light that filled the latter's eye sockets. "You're already corpses, nearly impossible to kill. You flood the chokepoint, you open the way for the rest of the Horde to come through, fresh and eager. Rushing over a bridge of broken bodies if we have to. This is how fortifications are breached. How wars are won."
The master apothecary lifted up two bony fingers. "But if we could just use a… just a touch of the plague. Just to open a gap. Not even enough to do any—just a smudge! More to cause fear and panic than any actual—"
Garrosh's backhand ripped through the sky, spraying the tent with a glistening arc of rainwater as it smashed into the side of Lydon's face. The master apothecary reeled as if he'd been kicked by a horse, but by will alone managed to stay upright after the blow.
"If you're suggesting using even an ounce of that filth that you've got hidden away, I will burn you and your sewer-city to the ground," Garrosh grunted. He turned back toward the action.
Humiliated, Master Apothecary Lydon muttered a barely audible, "Yes, Warchief," through clenched teeth. But privately he coiled up his anger.Where is the Dark Lady, Sylvanas?he wondered, turning his empty eye sockets toward the gray heavens. Why isn't she here to counter this beast?