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Chapter Three: Courage and Compassion

September 17, 2008

The scent of burning flesh permeated the air, acrid smoke swirled through the decimated camp and the ground trembled beneath the advancing Core Hound.  The shield that had protected her through the last attack was gone; time was running out. 

Fighting back the darkness that crept into her vision, Aleathea struggled to her feet.  Her gaze rested on the fallen soldiers.  They had fought with courage and honor.  They had sacrificed their lives to buy time for others to escape.  She could not fail them.  She had to go on fighting just a little longer.

Waiting until the last possible moment, she lit the ground with a ring of Holy fire and leapt out of the path of the oncoming beast.  The Hound, caught squarely in the flames, roared in pain.  Enraged, it turned and exhaled its fiery breath directly at her.  At this close range even her aura afforded little protection from the assault of the flames.  Her armor glowed white hot and the burning metal seared her flesh.  Smoke filled her lungs choking her as she collapsed in flames. 

She was dimly aware of the Hound as it towered over her, its monstrous head blotting out the sky.  She could not see the Gryphons.  She did not know if it had been enough, but she had nothing more to give.  As the Hound descended, darkness closed around her and carried her away from the devastated camp.

***

Hidden by a rough outcropping, Skelto watched the scene play out before him.  He was intrigued by the small figure battling alone and an unaccustomed emotion stirred when she fell for the last time.  With a sharp command he sent Dor charging at the Hound.  His bear distracted the beast, diverting it from its victim and drawing it away from the camp.  The Orc cast a wary eye around the camp and, satisfied the other Hounds had moved on, crossed the distance and knelt to examine the body.  To his surprise she was still alive, although judging from the extent of her injuries she wouldn’t be for long.

Of all the Alliance members he hated Paladins the most.  Their self-righteous attitude and smug superiority disgusted him.  He should leave this one and get out of here while he still could.  But even as he turned away the memory of her charging the Core Hound alone held him.  Her actions had displayed courage such as he had rarely seen even among his own kind.  She didn’t deserve to die like this. 

He turned back and examined her injuries more closely.  She had already slipped into shock; her breathing rapid, her skin pale and cold to the touch.  Where could he take her?   He wasn’t likely to be welcomed in an Alliance city, but he would never make it to a Horde city in time. 

The roar of a Core Hound nearby reminded him of their vulnerable position and the need to act quickly.  Calling to Dor, he wrapped her gently in his cloak and lifted her in his arms.   He would worry where to take her later; right now he needed to get moving before the Hound returned and finished them both.

***Commentary on Chapter Three***

Several months into the BC expansion I started playing Aleathea again and so I returned to my story. 

My husbands first WoW character was a Horde hunter named Skelto.  He could not convince me to roll Horde, so he abandoned Skelto at level sixty and rolled Alliance with me. 

I decided to introduce Skelto into the story as a tribute to his original character.  He has recently returned to his roots and is leveling Skelto along side Dor, his faithful bear companion.

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