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The Battle at the Citadel
((This is a thread where people can post their battle-story of their experience in the fight against Arthas, in case they don't want to go overboard like I did, story-wise! Please feel free to add your marks to this totem, we want to know what happened to you during the battle! Our stories make us mighty!))
Zlinka crouched in the plain before the Citadel, peering up the steep staircase towards the great black gates. She stood at the edge of the main fighting force, behind the line of plate-wearers, ready to join the main assault. It was just before dawn, and the wind cut through her thin, leather armor. She shivered and clasped her arms tightly to her body, her breath wisping forth in faint clouds of steam. How long had it been since she had last seen the turquoise waters of the Echo Isles? So long that she could barely remember the sound of lapping waves in this desolate landscape. When she closed her eyes she saw only darkness and snow.

A heavy tread and familiar spicy herbal smell woke her from her reverie as Oryx moved from the assault group's healers to join her. He shook the snow from an intricately carved totem and coaxed a flickering fire from it, before planting it firmly. The frozen crust of the ground cracked with a surprisingly loud retort as the totem radiated waves of heat. Zlinka extended her hands toward it, joints stiff with cold, limbering them for the battle ahead.

As she warmed her hands her eyes scanned the massed troops, the healers ready to set up a support camp within the gates, the small groups split off and organizing to one side, the rear guard of the main force, the skirmishers who would keep Scourge from entering the citadel after the main force was through, and the messengers. Zlinka's eyes flitted from one familiar face to the next.

Kosath was there, plate gleaming, leaning on his great shield, eyes calm and full of single-minded, righteous purpose. How many battles had she fought by his side over the years? Zlinka had lost count. From the molten heat of the caverns beneath Blackrock mountain, to the freezing tops of Icecrown Citadel, Kosath's shield had protected her. Kretol stood at ready nearby, blades of his fist weapons rising and falling with his quiet breathing, a bundle of totems looped at his side, his ponytail cascading down his back. Donalzon, Champion of Ironsong, stood by them. As an elf, he was slighter than the other two, but he was just as calm and determined. Melikar stood by him, weapons at ready, along with Noodlemortis in shining armor, ready to suck up souls for future use, surreptitiously arranging his hair. Axulia was there, ready to avenge her dead husband.

Behind the close-combat fighters stood the ranged attackers. Attaroa was flanked by two pets, a white wolf and a purple plainstrider. He looked to be almost skirmishing with a human woman. Zlinka shivered. The fractures between Horde and Alliance ran so deep... she hoped the understanding between the two sides would hold long enough for them to defeat their common enemy. It would be truly terrible if Horde and Alliance turned on each other during the battle. Then, truly, all would be lost.

Phoronid stood with one hand on his bow and the other on the head of his pink flamingo. The bird was a splash of tropical brightness in the bleak surroundings, a reminder of the past, of warmth and light and color. Alissandre stood nearby, disheveled from much last-minute study and training, magical power crackling around her. Lailya, surrounded by her summoned demons, handed out healthstones to the troops around her, her hands glowing faintly purple and green with fel energy. Sentei stood just beyond, looking frightened and a little confused from a change in last-minute orders transferring him to the front. Zlinka nodded to him. And there, ah yes, Zlinka could just glimpse the feathers and beak of the moonkin, Shantow, his brow furrowed with perpetual worry, but eyes resolute. She smiled. And there was Sreng, their fearless warlord, with Meathook at his side. Sreng's eyes were a bit bloodshot. How late had he been up the night before? And was that Ikojima getting ready to climb on top of one of the gates to fire at range?

Behind them stood the healers, ready to patch up the main group as they slashed and scorched their way through the Citadel. Sbin and Dentik's branches waved as they concentrated on the battle ahead. Zlinka thought she glimpsed Eruadan, and smiled at the memory of the many protective shields he had cast on her. And there stood Thanuist, her slight form just visible in the ranks, looking already aggravated by all the needless injury that would happen that day. It was impossible to know how many lives these healers had saved, through judicious healing and protective shields, cradling the army in their hands. And today, they would save more.

Kardwel and Kureei massed in a large group of healers, all carrying packs and bandages and kits so they could immediately set up camp inside the entrance to the Citadel, ready to heal those retrieved from battle. Tursiops, trapped in tree form, leaves twitching and rustling with insanity, had been planted solidly in the healer group. He would be carried to the healer camp inside to lend what aid he could. And a goblin, Sparkleting, stood ready to strengthen and repair the armor of the troops. His kodo, Lumpy, strained under its load of supplies, complaining at the intense cold.

At the back of the main assault force stood the rear guard, blades gleaming, eyes alert. Zlinka could just glimpse her fellow rogue, Lucinther, sullen and self-centered as always, but part of the main battle nevertheless. She smiled. Sydian stood nearby, and Kevarn held his heavy shield at ready.

To one side stood the small assault teams, ready to burrow their way into the fortress separate from the main group, clawing their way to the same goal. Zaevian, with a small group of Ebon Knights, was ready to enter a small gate that he had found in previous scouting trips. Nganga, the great druid lion, mane still bristling with frost, was part of a strike group hunting for Bolvar's prison in the hopes of preserving the tenuous peace and collaboration between Horde and Alliance. Zlinka wished them well, and hoped fervently that she would see them all again at the top of the tower.

Arranged to the side stood the skirmish groups, who would keep Scourge from re-entering the Citadel once the main group was through. Whiskernoodle stood there, weapons at ready, trying to catch the eye of a nearby lady. Wakamito stood at attention, resplendent in heavy armor, along with Kotarek and Mothok and Scynnalea, all ready to keep the pressure on the Scourge reinforcements.

Around the edges flitted the messengers and scouts. Wingspirit, eyes watchful, would be an alert observer of enemy activity, and would relay information back and forth between front and back. Ituhala, feathers sleek and proud, was ready to fly on swift wings to relay messages between the commanders. And above, far above, circled the airships. Zlinka knew Architeuthis was up there, ready to cradle champions with slow fall should any be thrown from the tower.

There were faces missing... Anca was not here. Zlinka's eyebrows drew together. She knew how much the child had wanted to participate, and she knew as well as any how ferocious Anca could be in battle. They could use all the help they could get, and Anca's small bow and fierce battle boar were steady and sure in battle, despite her small size. Zlinka hoped she had just overlooked the little orc among all the taller troops.

A cry went down the lines, a fierce order to charge up the steps into the Citadel itself. Zlinka drew her daggers from their sheaths, blades slick and black with foul-smelling poison.

It was time.

Surrounded by old friends and new ones, by guildmates and strangers, by Horde and Alliance, Zlinka crept swiftly up the steps toward the greatest battle Northrend had ever known. A battle against cold, and death, and evil, a battle avenging those they had lost, a battle for the very heart of what they believed in: warmth, community, and life.

For Ironsong!

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