“Is Little Brother ready?”
Sutrakarre turned at his sister’s voice, saw her standing, hands on her hips, smirking at him. He lifted his great shield and hammer and nodded at her, saying, “Sutrakarre is always ready.”
Laughing lightly, she smiled and said, “Remember, Little Brother, just reconnaissance today. No enemy contact. Don’t go getting into trouble.”
Sutrakarre gaped at her, offended, and sputtered, “Sutrakarre does not look for trouble! Silneth is one that always needs res…” She cut him off by laughing uproariously at his indignation. Pouting at her, he said, “Silneth is teasing again.”
Grinning, she replied, “Of course, Little Brother.”
Grumbling, he said, “Silneth should be more serious. Tarhuun is a dangerous world.”
She brandished her enormous great sword and grinned again. She said, “Silneth saves sobriety for the Legion.”
Sutrakarre grunted and hefted his shield again. Silneth laughed and they stepped together onto the transport pad. The interior of the Zenedar faded in rain of golden light and was replaced by the blasted surface of Tarhuun. All around lay evidence of great battles. Ancient Eredar ruins reached to the skies around the horizon, and their transport point was a literal blast crater. On the crater rim, there was a small set of ruins with a few walls still somewhat intact. Sutrakarre gestured towards them.
“Start up there? A good vantage.” Silneth nodded, eyes alert, all business now. They made their way up the crater wall, all senses strained to the utmost.
They reached the rim, stepping over the ancient fallen stones to take cover in the ruined walls. It was then that they saw him. Their quarry, the Eredar commander Maashak. He sat on a low section of stone wall, his red face split in a toothy grin as he watched the two Lightforged step through the ruins.
“So much for reconnaissance,” muttered Silneth, her hand tightening around the grip of her weapon.
“Maashak is alone. Sutrakarre will summon backup,” her brother replied cautiously.
Grinning wide, Silneth replied, “If Maashak is alone, no backup is needed.”
“Silneth, please..” Sutrakarre pleaded, but his words were cut off by the Eredar that waited for them.
“Hoi, Traitors! Your hunt ends today!” he bellowed, “Today I pull the thorn from my side!”
Silneth crouched, weapon at the ready, and hissed a reply, “These thorns have barbs, felsworn!” She charged forward then, screeching her rage at the Eredar that had eluded them for so many cycles. Maashak watched her approach impassively, seemingly unconcerned. It was then that Sutrakarre heard it, the distinctive whine of an oncoming felcharged mortar shell. Before he could shout a warning, the shell impacted just west of their position. The Eredar Maashak still sat, the blast from the shell revealing the nimbus of protective energies surrounding him, even as the force of the explosion tossed Silneth across the ancient ruined courtyard. For a moment, Sutrakarre thought, trap! then he charged across the space, hurling his shield at the grinning Eredar.
His holy shield slammed into the fel barrier protecting Maashak with a clang and ricocheted away. Sutrakarre closed, raising his hammer high. He brought it down with all the force in his enormous frame, speaking a word of power as it struck. The barrier protecting the demon crackled at the impact, shattering with a vast booming release of energy. Maashak was driven to his knees and Sutrakarre was thrown onto his broad back many spans away. With a pained grunt, he sat up, shaking his head to clear it. His hammer had been blasted to slag by the impact, the head little more than a cracked and misshapen lump of metal. He tossed it aside with a grunt. Similarly, his pauldrons and breastplate and been critically damaged. Rising to his feet, he pulled at the broken bits of his armor, tearing them off and throwing them aside. Bellowing again, he charged in, determined to grapple hand-to-hand with their red-skinned adversary.
He slammed into Maashak, lifting him high off the ground and slamming him back down across the stones on which he’d been sitting. The Eredar just laughed, seemingly unharmed by the brutal attack. With little effort, he threw Sutrakarre off and bounded to his hooves. Seizing the massive Lightforged Draenei, he effortlessly lifted him high off the ground and slammed him down across his knees. Sutrakarre fell into the dirt, groaning. Maashak reached out and grasped his horns, jerking his head upright.
“Now, traitor, you watch her die.”
Across the old courtyard, Sutrakarre saw his sister rise from the rubble, looking dazed. For the second time he thought he heard the sound of mortar shells, but it was different. Louder. Not a whine, more like a roar. Maashak forced his vision upward, and he saw. Orbs of felfire and stone, trailing bilious smoke as they streaked towards the ground. Infernals. At least a dozen.
Sutrakarre screamed his sister’s name as they struck the ground in a circular array all around her. The impacts dazed Silneth, once again knocking her off her hooves. Almost instantly, the rocky forms of the infernals rose from the miniature crater each impact and created. Silneth, rising, was completely surrounded by the wide felfire grins of the demonic host. She reached down, finding her great sword in the dust and raised it.
“Silneth is sorry, Little Brother, Big Sister should have listened,” she whispered. Sutrakarre heard her, the tiny communicator in his ear picking up her apology. Then the infernals closed in.
Sutrakarre bellowed in rage and grief, the Eredar holding him only laughed to the skies. Hunching forward, Sutrakarre got his hooves beneath him and heaved, using all his herculean strength; sweeping the red-skinned demon up on his back. Maashak laughed again, hissing in Sutrakarre’s ear, “All your strength will avail you nothing, traitor.”
With a roar, Sutrakarre charged forward, straight at one of the broken and crumbling walls across the courtyard. His arms came up, pulling the Eredar up and over. The two of them, locked in this embrace, hit the old wall with a shuddering impact. Sutrakarre’s fury had lent him a strength he did not know he possessed. His horns, Maashak’s red hands still clutching them, were positioned over the Eredar’s heart. As the impact drove them right through his chest, skewing his black heart, there was a sickening crack.
Rising up, Sutrakarre pushed away the form of his hated enemy, the Eredar’s body falling to the ground with a thud. Without another thought for Maashak, Sutrakarre charged west, where the internals had landed. He closed in on the melee, seeing the internals gathered around in a tight cluster. Around the group, the shattered forms of those fallen could be seen. Silneth had taken out at least four. Sutrakarre slammed into the pack, knocking the first off its rocky feet with a roar. Silneth lay among them, unmoving. Seeing her great sword in the dust, Sutrakarre swept it up and began to swing at his adversaries. At least five more fell by his hand. He lashed out in pain and grief, heedless of the danger, wanting only vengeance for his older sibling. When he stopped swinging the word, he looked around. No enemies remained. He guessed from the rubble that three had lived, but they had fled his rage. Looking at the sword in his hand, he saw he had shattered the blade on their rocket hides. The shards of it lay all around him. With no further thought to the demons, he went to his sister.
He knelt beside her, weeping at her broken form. Had he arrived any later, the demons would have mutilated her body even more. He could at least be glad he had stopped that. Barely daring to hope, he unstrapped her breastplate and cast it aside. Beneath her shirt, he saw a faint golden glow. With tears streaming down his face, he open her shirt to reveal her Spirit Stone. It glowed and pulsed in a steady rhythm. She was there. The Legion had not claimed her.
“Every day Sutrakarre told Big sister, ‘ wear the stone.’ Every day, Big sister laughed and made as if no harm could ever come. But Silneth wore it anyway,” he whispered to no one except perhaps his sister’s spirit. To him it seemed as if the stone glowed warmly in response, but he might have imagined it.
Many hours later, a Lightforged patrol finally found him. He was sitting besides his sister’s body, clutching her spirit stone in one hand, holding the shards of her sword in the other. The patrol captain, T’laak, knelt down. He frowned at Sutrakarre, and for some reason reached at his head.
Sutrakarre shied away like a whipped animal, saying, “Why does T’laak do this?”
T’laak answered gravely, “Sutrakarre’s horns are broken. T’laak is checking for injuries.”
Reaching up, Sutrakarre felt the ragged edges of his now-stunted horns. He was embarrassed. His long horns had always been a source of pride. Stifling his shame, he said, “Broke them tearing Maashak’s heart out.” Hanging his head, he added with a whisper, “Maashak got Sutrakarre’s heart first.”
“Horns grow back, Sutakarre.”
Shaking his head vehemently, Sutrakarre said, “No. No, horns will not regrow. Sutrakarre will not allow.”