The Scarlet King @lord22
The Battle of the Colonies

Chapter Ten: Battle of the Colonies

Weeks passed, and the war became a slow boil.
Blackthorn and his men set about helping to train pathfinders and spearthrowers. At the same time, Athanar and Whitemane inducted new members into the church of light. The number of footmen continued to grow. But so did the presence of the orcs.

Raid after raid came out after the farmers. Some were repulsed, but the orcs always chose weak targets. They picked off fringe farms, and many of the settlers had been forced to flee their farms. Others were not so lucky and were dragged off to become slaves or sacrifices.

Things were approaching their critical stage.

"Now that Blackthorn has come over to our side, we have a stronger border, Prince Arthas." Said Wilhelm. "However, the Blackrock Orcs are mustering in still greater numbers. They've also made common cause with several tribes of Jungle Trolls.

"Even as we speak, they are mustering in the Alterac Mountains."

Arthas looked to Blackthorn on the far side of the table. He'd been able to increase the number of troops, as outlaws came out of the woodwork to support them. "Blackthorn, you represent Alterac. How is it that your people have survived all this time?"

"Alterac and the Blackrocks have an… understanding." Said Blackthorn. "We provided them with information on ripe targets, and they left us in peace. There was even some trade between us."

"And how have they fed their ranks?" asked Arthas.

"Orcs are very fond of pigs." Said Blackthorn. "The peons of the Horde have a remarkable knack for raising food, even from the worst of territory.
"Where the Alliance can raise larger amounts of food, the orcs can set up farmland quickly."

"Wilhelm, when the orcs are mustered, can we defeat them?" asked Arthas. Privately he doubted it.

Wilhelm remained silent for a long time. "…Yes. I believe so."

"You seem to be claiming we can do so with a great deal of dread, Wilhelm." Noted Arthas.

Wilhelm sighed. "If I were to be given the task of stopping an incursion, my first choice would be scorched earth. Burn all crops and food we can't take with us and destroy the farmlands they have. Doing this would mean they would have to attack our fortifications, and we would have to destroy them."

"Do that, and you'll starve the whole region for one victory." Snapped Blackthorn.

"Better to die in victory than live in defeat!" said Whitemane.

"Failing that, we could attempt to whittle down their forces." Said Wilhelm. "But they will cause massive destruction before the end if we do that. At best, we can cause enough problems that they'll go away."

"Every moment that we delay gives Mal'Ganis more time to act against us." Said Arthas. "We need a swift conclusion to this. A decisive battle."

"Then let us march forward and slay them!" said Whitemane. "We will slaughter the orcs to the last in open battle!" She raised an upraised fist.

"Why is this maniac in your council?" asked Blackthorn.

"Because Inquisitor Whitemane is right." Said Arthas.

"What?" said Wilhelm.

"I am?" asked Whitemane.

"Yes." Said Arthas. "We can't afford to have the crops destroyed or stolen. If we withdraw to our fortifications, they will be. So, we must meet the Blackrock Orcs in a direct confrontation and destroy them."

"Easier said than done." Said Blackthorn. "How will you do it?"

"The Blackrock Clan are warriors who only respect strength." Said Arthas. So I'll challenge them to meet me in battle. I'll play on his pride.
"Convince him to go meet us in a fair battle."

Blackthorn narrowed his eyes. "Jubei'thos is no fool. He isn't going to give up a massive advantage just for a fair fight."
"Jubei'thos?" asked Wilhelm.

"The Blackrock Warchief." Said Blackthorn. "I met him once, while in the company of Prince Aliden. What makes you think he'll take such bait."

"We'll play to their pragmatism as well." Said Arthas. "If we move our forces to the border openly, he will have to respond or let us destroy his colonies. So let's force his hand, make him draw out his troops earlier."

"We'll be outnumbered." Noted Wilhelm. "And most of our men aren't nearly as well trained."
Arthas considered the strategy he'd come up with. An old one initiated by Aiden Wrynn during some of the late battles in the First War. "I have a plan that may compensate for our numbers. It is risky, but if we just wait, we'll lose for certain."

"Prince Arthas, this plan is absolute madness." Said Wilhelm.

"Is it madness when all wise policies lead to destruction?" asked Arthas. "The longer we waste here, the more likely it is Mal'Ganis will recover. We have to finish this matter quickly."

Wilhelm nodded. "…Very well then, Prince Arthas. But light have mercy on you if you leave all of Alterac defenseless."

"Thank you for your cooperation." Said Arthas. Over the next few days, Arthas mustered the militia and footmen and all he could. Reports came in from the north that the scourge had been retreating into the mountains. Uther had intercepted a column of undead and destroyed it. But another had reached the mountains. They were probably planning to create a bastion within the fortifications.

At last, Arthas' army was assembled, and the scouts were in. Marching outward, they made their way along paths. Several times they discovered attempts at an ambush by trolls and orcs. They turned the effort against them. Some large groups were defeated in the process, and yet they saw no direct sign of enemy.
At last, they came before the first of the Blackrock settlements and halted. Here they began to assemble fortifications to make their stand. Stakes were set up to break up enemy fortifications as Blackthorn sent out more scouts.

"Prince Arthas, Jubei'thos has taken the bait." Said Blackthorn the day after their arrival. "His armies are moving toward us ahead of the trolls. His numbers and weapons are far greater than our own."

"Then we must make out final plans." Said Arthas. "At the least, we have a hill.

"Whitemane, you and your priests will be here. Our recruits and light infantry will be standing at the center. The orcs will put their best men in the center, so the line will bend. Your task is to make sure it does not break." In other words, kill anyone who ran. "Wilhelm, you will be at the right flank, and Blackthorn will be at the left. When the orcs charge, we'll shower them with spears then withdraw behind the line."

"So, the line bends." Said Blackthorn. "What good will that do?"

"Our best warriors will be fighting the orcs worst and vice versa." Said Arthas. "They will yield before us as our warriors bend. Orcs don't know how to do anything but attack head-on.

"We'll encircle them."

"You are assuming your men won't break and run." Said Blackthorn. "Before they had a defensive advantage and were facing a token force. Here they are facing the full might of the Blackrock Clan on even ground."

"We're desperate, Blackthorn." Said Arthas. "If our defenses fail, our men and all their families will die. If the orcs fail, they can always retreat back into the Alterac Highlands."

"We'd better hope you're right." Said Blackthorn.

The orcs came, marching out of the trees and assembling before them. At their head was that same leader from before, Jubei'thos. The red-skinned orc marshaled his forces, even as Arthas walked to the front. Turning to his men, he planted his hammer.

"Men of Lordaeron, the Tides of Darkness have come again!" said Arthas. "Even as we speak, the orcs of the Blackrock Clan are descending on us. Your task is to stand your ground and break the enemy. If you throw down your arms, you and all your families will die. If you flee before the face of the enemy, all the land will be overrun, and your bloodlines wiped from the world.

"Serve the light! Serve humanity! The enemy will die on this land and with it the Horde!

"FOR THE LIGHT!"

"FOR THE LIGHT!" roared the men, raising axes and swords.

Arthas turned from the army of militia to where Blackthorn and his men were now fully assembled. There were some trolls among them, but not the many tribes that Blackthorn had described. No doubt, he had not yet fully mobilized.

"Warriors of the Horde!" cried Jubei'thos. "The feeble humans think themselves our equal! Show them the power of the Legion! Show them the might of the Horde! "FOR THE HORDE!"

"FOR THE HORDE!"

There it was. That same vicious self-confidence with which the Blackrock Orcs had slaughtered Strahnbrad. An arrogance that convinced them the universe revolved solely around their race. To them, others existed solely to be conquered. Twice before Arthas had faced them.

There would not be a third time.

"Jubei'thos is mine." Said Arthas.

The orcs charged forward. The ground shook beneath their coming as they trampled over the earth. Spears thrown into their midst killed some of them, but others took their place. Another volley claimed more yet; still they came on. As they passed the stakes, their formation was shaken, but Jubei'thos sprang up the hill and brought around his blade.

Arthas caught it on his hammer, and battle was joined. He and the orcish chieftain traded blows, thrusting, slashing, and smashing. Arthas yielded ground alongside his warriors and caught sight of his men doing the same. The line was folding inward, slowly but surely, even as they hacked down orcs with abandon.

"Fight on! Fight on!" Arthas heard someone cry.

Arthas shoved Jubei'thos back and raised his hammer to heal a fallen warrior. Summoning the light, he resurrected many of the recently slain. Then he clashed with his enemy. In a stalemate, they stood, neither able to overwhelm the other.

"So, the Prince of the Alliance appears at last." Said Jubei'thos. "I've meant to pay you back for the defeat at Strahnbrad."

"You cannot conceive of the vengeance you are owed by my people, savage." Said Arthas.

Jubei'thos shoved him back, and Arthas parried one thrust after another. Back they went. "Fool! We are the stronger! Orcs are bred to fight and conquer, and none may stand before us! You can no longer hide behind the skirts of your pitiful Alliance! The Blackrock Clan rises!"

That was it. The orcish ranks had bent the center, but not broken it. Their flanks were caving, and now they were being overwhelmed. He smiled and halted the charge. "It has already fallen."

Then he struck Jubei'thos across the face, sending him back. "FOR LORDAERON! FOR THE KING!" he cried.

Jubei'thos looked around him as his orcs became aware. Surrounded on three sides, they were hemmed in. The huge orcish warriors now had their size turned against them, hardly having room to fight. As they tangled with one another, the Alliance moved in, killing without mercy. Many farms had been destroyed by these, and now justice had come.

"Fight on! Break free of the net!" cried Jubei'thos. "Retreat! Retreat, quickly!"

It was the only action he could take, there was still a small hole in the net. The orcs rushed for it, but as they did, they suffered many casualties. Hitting the ranks, they began to push through, even as Arthas moved in from behind. He caved in an orcish skull, smashed another one in the heart, and then they broke free.
Fleeing for their lives, Jubei'thos and his warriors had spears thrown into their backs. But they ran quickly and outpaced the humans. So it was that a small, ragged band fled beyond the village and back into the highlands.

"He is smarter than he admits." Said Arthas.

Whitemane emerged from the fray, covered in blood, and hugged him. "Prince Arthas, the orcs have been routed! The few pathetic survivors have crawled back to their holes to die! So shall all who oppose the light suffer our wrath!"

She broke the embrace.

"Yes, I know, Sally." Said Arthas. "I was there. And I am beginning to see why Uther assigned you to me."

Whitemane blinked. "I was assigned because it was judged we were of like mind."

"That may be closer to the truth than I once thought." Admitted Arthas. "Let's finish the settlement process and send word to Uther. For now, have your priests begin healing the injured."

"Prince Arthas, what of the peons?" asked Wilhelm, emerging from the carnage with a limp.

Arthas healed him with a spell. "Take the healthy men and move forward and encircle the village, but do not attack."

So it was done.

Casualties had been far lighter than before. The numbers of Blackrock dead were immense, and comparatively few humans had fallen. Many had been wounded, but these were saved by the light. Arthas doubted the orcs had any healing talent to aid them.

Which brought him to his final strike. Moving forward toward the Blackrock Village. There he saw the peons cowering in fear, holding spears. There were no warriors, they had abandoned them. Arthas smiled. "Peons of the Blackrock Clan, hear me. Your warriors have abandoned you and fled back to their mountains. There they will be hunted down and destroyed.

"I now offer you a choice. If you hold loyalty to Jubei'thos, you may go to him. But your flocks, your pigs, and all your food supplies will be taken from you. If you do not, however, I offer you the chance to join us.

"You may be left in peace to tend your flocks. You will be afforded the protection of the Alliance. In exchange, however, you will be expected to provide a tribute of food. And also young men for military service.

"Make your choice. Should you prefer to stay true to your overlords, you have my word you may return safely."

"What are you doing?" asked Whitemane.

"There are two possibilities." Said Arthas. "Either they will become a source of food and manpower. Or they will go to the Blackrock Clan and cause mass starvation. With Jubei'thos' warriors decimated, they will have trouble controlling their peons.

"You will offer the same deal to each of the villages we find here, Sally.

"Blackthorn, I have a task for you."

"What is it?" asked Blackthorn.

"The Jungle Trolls need to be dealt with." Said Arthas. "I want you to ambush and destroy them. Your men know this land well, while they are strangers."

"Whose guides do you think are leading them, Prince Arthas." Asked Blackthorn with a smile. "Or do you imagine they've been so long delayed by accident."

"No, I do not." Said Arthas. "You should have an easy time." He looked to the corpses. "Burn the dead!"

This was the beginning of the end for the Horde. And they knew it


Author's Note:
Now, I'd like to talk about something less than pleasant — Activision Blizzard's recent actions.
Have you heard about the thing with Hong Kong?
See there was a guy who won a Hearthstone Tournament. In his post-victory interview, he said something in favor of the protestors in Hong Kong. Protestors who are being violently attacked. These protesters are not hurting anyone. They want to maintain their autonomy and freedom in the face of a tyrannical China. And China has been putting dissenting citizens into camps. Not for a crime, but for their religious beliefs.
This one player expressed support for them, stood up against tyranny. And Activision Blizzard then immediately banned him from Hearthstone. To add insult to injury, they stole his prize money and fired the interviewers.
What this means is that Blizzard has bent the knee to China. It has actively silenced people who express opinions contrary to the Chinese government. Do you think he would have been banned if he'd said 'Go Democrats' or spoken out in favor of Trump? Of course not. Activision Blizzard makes a lot of money in China. US politicians won't ban their operations if they don't play ball. In essence, Activision Blizzard has made itself a pawn of foreign powers. A tool of a tyrannical regime to prevent people from speaking out against it. Not just in its borders, but abroad as well.
I believe that we should not let this stand. If Blizzard takes a hit to its wallet, it will be less likely to do this kind of thing in the future. As such, I think that we should not buy any Activision Blizzard's products for the next few months. Including Christmas, if possible. Maybe even cancel any subscriptions we might have.
Until today I was contemplating buying a subscription to WoW classic. As of this moment, I have decided not even to consider it until the year is over. I will not be buying any more Blizzard products until after Christmas.
We don't have to bankrupt the company. But as long as we give them enough of a drop in profits, they'll be much less likely to pull this kind of shameful behavior. On the other hand, if we let this slide, then it will set a precedent. It will say that Video Game companies can control free speech. The casinos of microtransactions that the market has become did not start big. They began with a few add-ons. People bought them, so now we have children bankrupting their parents. And all the while, companies research how best to brainwash people.
It is very important for the future of gaming and the future of honest business practices. We send a message here. And all we have to do to send that message is not to spend money.
If you want to support this cause, you can do more than vote with your wallet. Spread awareness, tell other people about this atrocity against free speech and democracy. Every person who closes their wallet to Activision helps a little bit.
Consider this. A WoW account costs about fifteen dollars per month. So if you cancel a WoW subscription for a year, they lose one hundred and ninety dollars. Three years it is five hundred and seventy. And if ten people do that, you can multiply that by ten.
They are hoping that this will just blow over. But we must prove Activision wrong. Make no mistake; we are the Alliance and Horde. We are fighting a threatens us all. If we don't unite against this kind of corruption, it will become the norm and consume our world.
We have the power to break Activision. And if we do it, we may break China's influence over our corporations as well.
Sorry to ask, but this is important. I leave the choice to you.

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