The rain continued, unrelenting, turning the ground before the Gilnean wall into a swamp. As Garrosh inspected the ranks of the Forsaken, the paws of his great war wolf sank into the muck. Rainwater dribbled from his face and steamed from the top of his stubbly shaved head.
"The Gilneans cower behind their high stone walls," the warchief called out, his deep voice booming over the din of rain and thunder. "You, citizens of Lordaeron, you know their history. When their human allies needed them, what did they do? They walled up and hid."
Swords clanged against shields. Not all Forsaken clung to their living memories, but those who did held no love for the kingdom that had turned its back to the world in its most desperate hours.
Garrosh continued, his head high as his words filled the air. "They live in dishonor. How do you think they will fight? With honor?" Guttural laughter. "No, they will die the deaths of cowards and be remembered as such. But your glory today will live in word and song." Garrosh Hellscream turned to face the broken wall of Gilneas, drawing the legendary axe Gorehowl from his back and aiming its notched blade at the shattered parapets. "Walls fall, but honor is forever!"
Master Apothecary Lydon ran his bony fingers through his tangle of hair. The roar from orc, tauren, and Forsaken alike overwhelmed the thunder. How does he do it? Lydon wondered. My Forsaken brothers cheer for their own destruction!
Lydon desperately tried to form the words, some last plea for sanity against Garrosh's plan. He tried to imagine what the Dark Lady would say, how she would tamp down his bloodlust. His jaw opened, but no words came out.
A distant din erupted in the rear of the Forsaken vanguard.
Garrosh spurred his war wolf to the side of the army, clearing the way for a charge. "Heroes of the Forsaken! You are the point of my spear. Lift your arms; lift your voices; and do not stop until you lift the Horde banner upon those walls." Gorehowl dropped down. "Chaaaarge!"
"BELAY THAT ORDER!" shrieked a voice from the north. The call of the Banshee Queen carried such terrifying power and purity that even the rain itself seemed to cease falling at her command. The sky tore open with lightning, and thunder cracked like a hammer on stone. All heads turned toward her—the Dark Lady astride her skeletal mount, her black cloak snapping with the fury of her charge, her eyes shrouded by a rain-slicked hood. As the Forsaken saw her, they lowered their weapons into the mud, bowed their heads, and knelt.
Master Apothecary Lydon did not fall to his knees, although they buckled under him at the sight of the Forsaken savior. He stutter-stepped forward, his long robes dragging sloppily through the mud, and reached up to grasp her reins as her steed slowed to a halt. "Dark Lady," he whispered, breathless with relief.
Then he blinked in astonishment: Lady Sylvanas was flanked on either side by the abominable Val'kyr, their shimmering bodies held aloft on translucent wings.
Garrosh now approached her on the rutted road, the kneeling, quiet Forsaken army stretched out around him like thousands of silent statues. Bloodlust shone in his eyes. Lydon couldn't help but shrink away.
Yet Sylvanas didn't blink, nor did she remove her hood out of respect. She lifted her chin in a subtle gesture. Her words sang out, meant for Garrosh but loud enough for all to hear.
"Hellscream. Gilneas will fall. And the Horde will have its prize," she said. "But if you wish to use my people, we will do this my way." She threw her cloak over one shoulder, revealing her dappled gray skin and the feather-festooned leather plates of her ornate black armor. "My three fastest ships have already been dispatched to the southern coast to divert the attention of the Gilnean capital. And even now I gather reinforcements from Deathknell."
Apothecary Lydon cocked his head at her cryptic remark. So far as he remembered, nothing remained of Deathknell but a graveyard.
More importantly, however, something had changed in his sovereign's presence. Her voice—always terrifying—now had a definitive edge, as though she spoke with the finality of gods. And what of those Val'kyr who hovered mutely beside her?
"My lady," Lydon whispered. "Where have you been?"
She looked down at her subject, and Apothecary Lydon found himself backing away, his quaking hands dropping the reins of her steed.