Surfal thundered over the terrain, the horse pushing as fast as I dared let him run. In the distance, someone had called for my aid, and I had charged ahead as recklessly as I had weeks before. Someone needed help, and I wouldn’t fail them.
We charged through a small stream, splashing water into the air. A droplet hit my cheek and I was reminded of the icy temperatures that lingered in this area. I leaned closer to my horse, letting him sprint under the branches of the nearby pines. Together we rode, up and over, down and under, a single unit moving with a single purpose.
We burst through some underbrush and finally saw our target. A young woman, frail and dirty, was writhing and attempting to escape from a large orc that had his hulkish hands wrapped around her wrists. The creature and the woman looked up, shocked to see me darting toward them, and despite my own surprise to see an orc, I did not halt my maneuver.
The woman seized on the orc’s surprise and wrenched her arms free. As she darted away, I arrived, pulling my stave and catching the creature across the jaw with the base of my weapon. He went down like a ton of bricks, and I leapt from Surfal, slowing myself with a spell, and touching down not far from the woman.
“Who are you?” she asked, clearly panicked. “Get away!”
“Whoa, whoa,” I said, putting my stave away. “I’m a friend. I promise.”
“No! You’re one of them!”
She darted away from me, rushing toward the underbrush where I had just arrived, but before she even made it to the bushes, a white stallion jumped into view and I saw Christine atop the creature, back in her gold and silver armor, and looking ready for a fight. She cut the woman off, who screamed and fell backward in response.
“Hey!” I said, attempting to assure her. “Not a bad guy. She’s a friend. We’re all friends.”
The woman, looking unconvinced, didn’t flee again. “Who are you two?”
“I’m Sionis Sepher,” I said. “This is Christine Vickin. We’re from Amberpine Lodge.”
“Amberpine?” she asked. “Do you… have food?”
“I do,” I responded. I quickly conjured several small loaves of bread and held them out to her. She extended her fragile arms and plucked them from my grip, quickly tearing into one of the pieces.
“We’re not far from Silverbrook,” I said, looking in the direction I assumed it to be. “Is that where you’re from?”
“I’m from Fort Wildervar. My husband is a soldier in the Alliance. I was collecting herbs for the fort’s alchemist. I was captured by this… thing. It took me to Silverbrook. They caged me up like an animal and then turned me over to an orc that fancied owning a human!”
“What captured you?” Christine asked. “Would you describe it as a kind of wolf?”
The woman began shaking. “Yes!”
I looked at Christine and she looked back at me. It sounded like we had found our Worgen problem.
Angus had warned us the creatures were in the Grizzly Hills, though none of us knew why or how they’d made their way to this continent. I knew very little about the creatures outside of quick news bits in Stormwind. I knew they had risen up in Silverpine forest at some point, and an evil man named Arugal had been involved. Beyond that, I knew only that they were dangerous and powerful.
There were a lot of innocent civilians in these hills. This danger couldn’t be left to fester. I knew it, Christine knew it, and Angus wanted to see it resolved. So, here we were, saving lives and tracking wolf monsters.
“What do you say?” I asked.
“We should pay a visit,” Christine answered.
“Sure,” I said, quickly opening a portal to Amberpine. “Let’s get this woman home, and then we can be on our way.”
The town of Silverbrook looked much like any other that I’d seen since coming to Northrend. There were wooden huts surrounding a much larger wooden hut, and then many booths and stalls built along the road that passed through, so that travelers and merchants could trade with any one passing through.
Christine, decked out in her full paladin armor, got a few stares, but for the most part, the villagers didn’t seem to give us a second glance. There was no sign of any kind of wolf monster, and it was hard to believe that one could be lurking here without drawing a lot of attention. Still, we spread out, casually visiting a few stalls and glancing inside any huts that had openings or unlocked doors.
I made it all the way to the last stall, an unoccupied area where food stuffs was likely stored, and I was about to skip over it when I heard the sound of muffled weeping. I stepped into the room and looked around, and then I noticed a burlap sheet that was draped over a large object. Curious, I flipped the sheet off to find a large iron cage, one that was occupied by a man wearing Alliance armor.
He looked up at me with wide eyes and I held a finger to my mouth to warn him.
“Who are you?” he asked, still terrified.
“I’m a friend. Let me guess, your wife went missing and you came looking for her?”
“Good. She’s safe,” I said, staying as quiet as I could. “Who did this to you?”
“All of them,” the soldier said. “They’re all monsters.”
I paused. “What?”
The soldier fell silent, looking past me, and I knew I was in trouble. I spun around to see an ordinary villager in the doorway of the storage room. He didn’t look particularly bothered at having discovered me, so I decided to roll with it.
“Hello there,” I said. “Is uh… this your place?”
“Yes it is,” the man said. “I own all the storehouses in Silverbrook.”
“I see. Well, I’m sure you can explain this?” I said, gesturing to the soldier.
“Indeed I can,” the man said with a smile. “You see, he’s a traitor to the crown of Stormwind. We caught him stealing goods in town, and when we followed him into the woods, we learned that he was planning to sell his beloved wife into the ownership of an orc when she came looking for him.”
“Really?” I asked, putting on my best look of shock. “I can’t believe it!”
“I know,” the villager said, stepping closer to me and looking into the cage. “It’s so unfortunate.”
“I couldn’t agree more,” I said. “Especially since I found his wife in the woods already, and she said—”
Without warning, the villager hit me with a punch that knocked me against the storage room wall. I recovered in time to see the villager coming at me like a wild animal. I pulled up my arm and blasted him with a fireball, and ad he rolled along the ground, I saw him jump back to his feet and look at me. I saw that he was drooling, and hair was sprouting all over his body. With terrifying speed, the human villager suddenly mutated into a massive looking Worgen.
“They’re Worgen!” the prisoner shouted.
“No kidding,” I grumbled.
“Get me outta here!” he added.
“On it,” I replied. A quick fire blast blew the lock off the cage door and the soldier stepped out, moving behind me as the Worgen came closer.
I whipped up a famous flourish of fire and smoke, sending it at the snarling creature, and then the two of us bolted out of the storehouse as fast as we could.
Outside, we heard someone howling, but the sound came from the village center rather than the storehouse. I realized, far too late, that there was a reason no one in Silverbrook was shocked to see a Worgen.
They were all Worgen.
I rushed toward the town’s edge where we had tied up the horses, shouting for Christine to do the same. She appeared over the next hill, already sprinting in the same directly and looking equally terrified.
“They’re coming,” she shouted.
I reached Surfal and quickly untied his bridle, slapping his hindquarter and jumping on his back to make our escape. The soldier struggled, so I quickly reached around and pulled him on as well.
Behind us, I saw the Worgen coming, at least a dozen of them, and they were moving faster than I could have realized.
“Let’s roll!” I shouted.
We darted down the main road, heading along the southern route in a desperate attempt to reach Amberpine Lodge, but the Worgen were moving fast and our horses were heavily loaded with supplies, armor, and in Surfal’s case, two riders.
We weren’t going to escape.
I released Surfal’s bridle and the animal knew what to do, continuing ahead without instruction. I formed a massive fireball in my hand and held it there as the Worgen started closing in the final ten feet of distance.
I saw one of the creatures make a valiant jump for Christine’s horse, and then I saw a mace, formed of pure Light, swing down through the air and slam the creature across the face, sending it spiraling off the road.
The mace dissipated and two more Worgen closed in fast.
I sent my fireball against the first one and it landed true, knocking the creature off the path. The second was already in the air by the time I had my second shot ready, and it landed its jaws against Christine’s metal shoulderpads, biting viciously but never making contact with the woman.
As Christine struggled against the attack, her horse struggled to stay steady, and it began to slow to compensate for the wobbling atop its back. I saw another five Worgen in the distance, all coming up for their turn to attack.
We weren’t going to make it far.
I decided our only real chance at survival was a portal. It would be difficult. After all, a simple portal was hard enough to create, but a portal would be even harder. On top of that, I would be doing it while moving, and I would need to pull two more people and two horses along with me.
It was a feat of magic, to be sure, and I was confident I could do it.
I would have to reach deep into the twisting nether, the void between time and space to do accomplish this task, but the adrenaline was running in my veins and I was ready for anything. I knew the arcane energy flowed strongly through Northrend, and I was going to capitalize on that. I reached deep into the nether, harnessing as much energy as I could, and I quickly started anchoring my life force to those around me, the horses, Christine, and the soldier…. I found them all and then reached through the nether to find Amberpine Lodge.
I thought to myself, for a split second, that this all might be too much.
Then, I pushed that doubt aside and did it anyway.
The trip through time and space was instant.
One second we were fleeing down the road, surrounded by Worgen, and the next, we hit the ground just outside of Amberpine with a loud clap of magical energy.
Surfal stumbled over his own feet as the ground changed, and I was thrown from the horse’s back, with the Alliance soldier crumpling down on top of me. I pushed him off and stood to see Christine rushing over. Her shoulder plate looked heavily scratched, but there was no blood or signs of a successful bite.
“Are you okay?” she asked, sounding panicked.
Angus emerged from the front door of Amberpine and he looked around wildly for a moment before coming over to them.
“Are either of you hurt?” he asked. “What happened out there?”
“Silverbrook is full of Worgen,” I answered. “Not just one. A lot of them.”
“My goodness,” Angus replied. “Quick, come inside. We need a plan of action.”