The night came to an end, and the sun rose over the ruined city.
The Scourge army moved along a stone road to the mountains, where the portal to Northrend was located. Hassara followed at the very end, locked in her thoughts.
— My lady, is everything all right? — approached her Azar.
The death knight looked depressed, as if feeling guilty for all the lives she had destroyed, for all that she had done.
— Child, Azar, there was a girlie there, — Hassara choked in her own words. — She screamed in fear, called for her mother. And I cast that spell, I killed her mother. And you know what I saw in the eyes of that girl? I saw…
— Fear and pain. Despair and hatred, — Azar interrupted her.
Hassara stared at the Prince of the Nerubs.
— Really surprised? — Azar grinned. — And tell me, Hassara, does this child remind you of anyone?
Hassara felt awareness take her to the past: a burning town hall; crowds of skeletons setting fire to a building with Samiris driven inside; Nerub, breaking into there. She saw herself from the side, as she grabbed the blade from one of the rank and file soldiers and threw herself into the fire. And like a nerub pierced through her father.
Death Knight started and awoke. It was not hatred and fear that she saw in the eyes of the little girl. She saw herself. His determination and willingness to do anything. Azar smiled triumphantly, seeing how nervous Hassara was. But then she clenched her hands into fists.
— Yes, Azar, you’re right. This girl is like me. And I remember very well what happened after. And I won’t repeat your mistake. — She smiled predatoryly at the Nerub.
It seemed the Nerub was stunned by this order. Even his cruelty did not go so far. Azar himself, although he did not have a special love for anyone. But he certainly would never have lifted his claws on a child voluntarily. This is too much even for him. But now he has an order. The prince took six guardsmen with him and turned back into the city.
The ice was melting too slowly. From forced inaction, Bolingar reflected on everything that had happened. He hoped to find the answers. Instead, only new questions arose. Who was Drimurr? What will the Riverey now do? Is it possible to return Hassara? Something inside pierced the paladin at the mention of the name of the latter. She knew him and thought he was really ready to sell?
Bolingar squinted his eyes to the side. The ice that bound him was not in a hurry to melt, and his body was already numb from long inactivity. The paladin wanted to break these shackles to look around and move on. Instead, he had to put up with the fact that he was in an ice trap for a long time. Opposite him, Amberis froze in ice; behind her lay the bloodied body of Lassara. The ice statue with the Riverey is located away from them, and Bolingar, with all his will, could not see it.
The paladin’s gaze fell on the purse thrown next to the body of the mage, and inside again there was pain in the soul. Maybe Hassara is right, and he better not get into this business anymore? Back off until it is too late.
Staring at the ground, Bolingar did not immediately notice how Amberis’s gaze swept. Only when streams of water flowed over the ice that bound her, did the paladin wake up from thought. Amberis was shaking all over from overwhelming emotions, apparently because of this she was able to cast spells of her magma fire, trying to free herself.
The paladin tried to turn around, but in vain. Amberis saw what was happening behind him, and this was clearly something terrible, judging by her reaction. Did the new danger threaten them?
— How I would like to help you end this monster, — came a voice somewhere near the paladin. — But I cannot break my oath.
Bolingar turned his head as best he could, but saw nothing. The only thing left for him was to watch Amberis and her behavior. Suddenly, she froze, as if numb with fear. And she cried like a child. Bolingar cursed everything in the world, longing to break the ice and finally see what happened behind him.
But the ice was still in no hurry to melt.
About an hour passed, when, to his surprise, the nerubians returned to the clearing. One of them pointed to the paladin, and they all headed towards him. Bolingar prepared for the blow, but the Nerubians only went around him and headed on. They were also interested in what was behind him, but not the boulders themselves. On the other hand, it was for the better.
A few more hours of tiring waiting passed. The paladin, from boredom, counted the time by the surviving clock on one of the dilapidated tower.
Behind this occupation he found feral. First, Zverago ran to the paladin and laid his paw on the ice, forcing him to melt. Soon, the shackles of Bolingar were destroyed.
Feral did not touch the block of Riverai. Instead, he laid his paw on the hunter’s head, where ice had been knocked down even before this by the paw of Hassara. Soon the River was free. But Zverago most quickly dealt with Amberis, for she had already melted half of her fetters.
Having received freedom of movement, the shaman was rushed to the side, but her numb body let her down.
The Riverey hit her on the cheek, trying to bring her to her senses.
— And now calmly and in order, — the hunter ordered her friend.
Amberis stared at the Riverey, as if seeing her for the first time, but obediently took a deep breath and continued in a more calm voice:
— Nerub, he is back. I went into the remains of the town hall, as if looking for something. And when he came out … — tears flashed in Amberis’s eyes. — He carried the girl towards the forest. Lassara’s daughter. He carried her away …
Her words drowned in a new fit of hysteria.
— We can catch him if we hurry, — Riverey quickly decided. — I can track him down. Paladin, — she cast a contemptuous glance at the purse with gold and at the man himself, — do you stay with us or accept her payment?
Bolingar picked up wallet.
— I would prefer to return them to her personally with my refusal of her offer, — he snapped. Bolingar was not about to retreat. But it was foolish to refuse gold too.
— I’m with you too! — Cried the feral, — Amber, I know it’s hard for you. Let me help you again. At least find Lassara’s daughter. And then we’ll see what can be done.
In another situation, Bolingar would object, would say that revenge, anger and rage are bad advisers and helpers in the fight. But now they all had similar feelings. A hand wielding a weapon was never superfluous. In addition, Zverago was a healer, which was also a plus. He would replace Drimurr in their squad. Bolingar tensed. I wonder if the rest knew at least something about her? But they did not have time for unnecessary conversations. They should have found a girl.
— If everything is decided, then follow me! — commanded the Riverey. — I found his mark!
She rushed forward, not waiting for the others. Bolingar was prepared to bet that one day this would kill the hunter.
Undead troops left Er’teron, meaning no one was stopping the heroes from moving forward along the trail. They reached the forest quite quickly and without interference, but there the first problems appeared. Nerubian footprints diverged in seven different directions. And these are only the ones they managed to find. The Nerubians clearly did move in a scattered order, along only trajectories that they understood. The Riverey froze, hesitating and not knowing where to run.
Zverago came out beside him and sniffed:
— I smell the girl, let’s go there. — He chose a path clear of traces of Nerubs and headed first.
As the Riverey was still confused, the rest followed the feral.
A couple of times they met intersecting tracks of nerubians, but the heroes never saw any of them. Until suddenly Amberis came across cliff of traces of a nerubs.
— Ambush! She cried out, but it was too late.
Four Nerubian guardsmen had already managed to dig out from under the ground, driving them into a ring. Apparently, this was their favorite tactic. But now they did not have a numerical superiority, which played into the hands of the heroes. One for each, they could easily deal with them. But the Nerubians were in no hurry to advance. Instead, they began to weave a web.
— They want to shut us down! — exclaimed the paladin.
Given that the web of nerubians did not burn and did not break, his hunch was close to the truth.
Bolingar swung his hammer, preparing for the fight and realizing that time was running out for them. The prince and the girl will go far, while they are wasting time here. But other heroes are already ahead of him.
The Riverey threw a trap right under the feet of a guardmen. Preoccupied with weaving the web, he did not notice the trap and stepped into it, allowing the trap’s magic to paralyze him. Amberis also fiddled with her opponent for a short time: a wave of her hand and a short whisper — and now the lower part of the nerub is covered with stone. Zverago just pointed his paw at the third Nerub — and he was captured by the roots, unable to even move. Seeing all this, the fourth Nerub rushed away, trying to escape from them as far as possible.
— We don’t have time to catch up with him, — the Riverey assessed the situation. — Go ahead. Zverago, lead us.
Feral continued to move deep into the forest, moving confidently among the bushes and trees. Sometimes Bolingar could hardly get through the thickets, but since everyone else silently followed Zverago, he was silent.
Finally, they entered a clearing surrounded by tall trees. The sun’s rays hardly penetrated through the crowns of trees, which made the twilight reign here. However, this was enough to see the grass, covered in red blood. A corpse of a nerub was discovered to the side, still relatively warm.
Zverago in a panic began to run around the clearing. After several laps, he stared in shock at the heroes.
— That can’t be, — he whispered. — I sensed her trace. I was sure that he leads here. But then he breaks off …
— Maybe something interrupts her smell? — Asked the Riverey.
— The fact of the matter is that no! — Feral puzzled turned in different directions, as if hoping to find at least something, at least one clue. — I have spent enough time in the forest and I know every bush here. More than once I found strayed here and led them out. And I know for sure that it’s impossible to disappear just like that.
Amberis crashed to the ground, no longer holding back tears. Lassara was close enough to her, Bolingar realized. Overnight, the shaman lost both her best friend and her daughter.
— Can you smell the prince of the Nerub?? — tried to come up with another plan of the Riverey.
— No, — Zverago shook his head. — You saw him yourself: snow-white bones under steel armor.” No scraps of flesh, no smell of rot. He was almost completely clean.
It was a dead end. They are driven into a dead end.
Suddenly Amberis got up from her knees and stared at the hunter with a fixed look. Bolingar cringed, feeling a wave of rage emanating from the shaman.
the hunter took a breath, as if trying to cool.
The eyes of the Riverey filled with blood. She did not expect such an answer, but she had something to answer.
Amberis froze when she heard the words of an ex-girlfriend. They both looked at each other, breathing heavily and as if trying to understand the meaning of the words spoken. But the shaman gritted her teeth in rage and hatred and rushed away from them.
Bolingar did not know what to do. Their detachment was melting before our eyes. And what can the three of them do when they are at an impasse?
Fortunately, the feral was in no hurry to leave them, which pleased Bolingar. Although the paladin did not understand what Zverago wanted. How many close people did the feral himself lose in this battle? But unlike Amberis, the druid did not leave them. Was he older and wiser than a shaman? Or maybe he had his hidden goals? Bolingar did not know.
— Any ideas? — The paladin asked the hunter, distracting her from unpleasant thoughts.
— I’ll be back in the tower and get drunk until unconscious, — she muttered. — I’m tired of all this trash. So much effort and time was spent, and we did not even come a step closer to the goal. Amber is right. We have no chance to return her; we cannot even get in touch with her. Meanwhile, Hassara is increasingly falling into darkness.
The paladin was in shock. Is this how it will end?
— Besides, I have no idea what to do next, — Riverey summed up sadly.
— But I have a plan, — said the paladin. — We cannot reach your sister, since we simply cannot get through her troops.” We need something powerful. To talk to her on equal terms. Powerful artifact or army.
— But you are right, — the hunter cheered up, — If the words are useless here, then I will achieve my goal with the help of power. And I even know the right artifact for this. It is equal in strength to the runic blade of the death knight. We meet in my tower in three days. Do not be late.
— The old tower of Arhok — this is your house? — specified Zverago.
— Right. How do you know? — Asked the Riverey.
— I know a little about you. I once lived in those parts. Until one unpleasant incident. — the feral died down on these words.
— But it doesn’t matter, — he dismissed, — I can arrive before you in three days, even earlier.
The paladin only nodded silently in agreement. Three days is more than enough for him.
The decision was taken. The campaign continues.