The smell of battle is something not everyone can stomach. The sweet smell of freshly oiled armor coupled with the earthy aroma of the mounts is the first thing you notice. Then your nostrils are assaulted by other subtle odors. Each drawn breath reveals more about the circumstances surrounding you. One can almost feel the perspiration that drips from the heavies as they draw a stone across their blades in final preparation. Next, as you walk past the magic wielders, you can feel your hair attempt to stand to attention as you walk through the wall of ozone that surrounds them. Past them you encounter a foul, almost hateful stench, and you know that the the warlock is bringing forth his own little hell on earth. No amount of spices, old or new, can overcome this. Finally, you come to a peculiar group, one that almost has no place in this circus. The healers stand a bit apart from the others, quietly saying their prayers. What you notice most is that the odors associated with them are different from the others. Here, only two things can be sensed, hope and fear. It is here I situated myself and began my earnest preparation for the oncoming battle.
"To Arathi!", the man had said, although now it escapes me what his reasons were. I merely followed as I always do. Blood was to be spilled, and I was intent on keeping it to a minimum. If the Horde wanted this land, that was reason enough to oppose them. So here we were... waiting for the sun to crest over the mountain to begin our battle for this ground... our preparations complete... just waiting for the horn to announce our assault...
A blare from a horn spurred all into action. In a flurry of hooves, the entire contingent sped toward the oncoming invaders. A small band of Horde was caught in a flash of steel and fire, the three fell before they could free their feet from their stirrups. Onward we rode, and came across another group who were dispatched with small effort. The smell of blood was now in the air, and it was not ours! Several horns sounded in the distance, and someone called out for an attack on the mine. We drove our horses down the path to the mine. This time we came across a larger force, nearly half our size. The heavies charged into their midst, slashing a gaping hole into their line. Magics were unleashed upon the right flank, cutting their number to half almost immediately. The horde healer was frantically attempting to keep her force alive, but the sheer numbers were working against her. Eventually, the Horde was vanquished and the mine was ours.
"Where now?" I wondered as we reveled in our victory, momentum was ours and we should use it to our advantage. "To the farm!" "No, the Blacksmith!"
A small discussion ensued before we eventually mounted up and headed toward the island. A small force was dispatched to the farm as well, we had received reports that the Horde had been sighted in nearly every area of the basin save the mine. With the aid of a Death Knight and a frozen lake, we engaged the Horde in a bold amphibious assault to their unsuspecting flank. We focused on their healers first, but at a cost. Our numbers were cut in half and the battle raged for some time before we could successfully raise the Alliance flag upon the island, but the deed was done. The force sent to the farm had encountered some resistance, so we headed there to bolster their efforts. With sheer numbers, we overwhelmed the Horde and reclaimed the farm and celebrated our victories.
We cheered our efforts as the sun began to hide behind the range of mountains to the west, the day was coming to an end. A messenger approached us with a thin smile veiling some other emotion. As I pondered the meaning to his mood, he began to talk, softly at first, then raising his voice to be heard over the incessant chatter.
"Congratulations" he started, "you won every skirmish, yet lost the battle." His smile was clear now, it was not of mirth but of disgust. The entire group went silent with dismay.
"But how could this be!" one bloodied combatant spoke up, "we encountered the enemy, and were victorious in battle!"
The messenger drove his steely gaze into the warrior for a second, and then strafed it across all as he continued. "You were outmaneuvered, the Horde kept you exactly where they wanted you, and in so doing, captured the day." As the messenger mercilessly meted out with his judgmental stare, our suddenly sullen group marched out of the basin. The smell of victory that I thought permeated our group revealed its true nature, that of fatigued dejection.
As we marched past the commanders at the basin entrance, I noticed one vendor motioning to me, it was Sam Hawke. He sold his wares to all as they entered the basin. Most disregard him as they enter, but I had struck up a conversation with him regarding his products prior to the day's events and he now seemed intent on continuing that conversation. He put his arm around my shoulders in an almost fatherly gesture.
"Trylofer..." his eyes met mine with compassion mixed with sorrow. "Mr. Hawke," I replied. "Trylofer...", he repeated, the clarity of his eyes revealed hope. "Mr. Hawke?" "Come with me", he began as he led me away from the others, "I would like to talk to you." When we were out of earshot of the others, he continued, "I want to say one word to you, just... one word." I turned to look directly upon him. "Yes, sir?" "Are you listening?" "Yes I am, sir." He held my eyes for only a second, yet it felt like an eternity. What he revealed to me in that one word would forever change my life in the basin. The clouds parted and the heavens sang that one word... "Resources."