The march began in the small hours of the night.
The entire regiment of conscripted forsaken footmen was diverted from its duty at the Bulwark and armed with shackles, nooses, and wickedly hooked pikes. The High Inquisitor signed off on their post assignments and formed them into three fists. Two armored orcs accompanied Khorvis, each taking the lead of a squad. Clearly unsuited for the campaign in Draenor, these two ex-Kor’kron were that night discharged from their holding cells in the Undercity and ordered to follow Khorvis to the outpost near the Plaguelands.
Grik’nish, carried the weight of five death sentences, each issued from villages through the Barrens and Ashenvale for crimes against nature and the ancestors. A wicked burn-mark ran across the bridge of his nose and around a hole where his left ear once was. The once haughty dark shaman, now stripped of his powers and demoted to carrying a simple cudgel, marched with hunched shoulders and a simmering anger in his beady black eyes.
Commanding the other fist was the imposing Oggok Ug’throk. Standing over eight feet tall and encased in newly forged plate, the unrepentant Kor’kron butcher took an unhealthy glee in the task set before him in the night. His chest puffed out with each massive stride and he lorded over the fearful, if questioning, stares that the footmen cast his way. The axe strapped to Oggok’s back could cleave an ancient protector with one stroke.
The torchlight of the regiment shone on a broken tower some hundred yards from the road to the old Balnir farmstead. Scarlet Crusade holdouts were rounded up after a pitifully short battle – the humans dropped their swords after Oggok decapitated two with one vicious backstroke of his greataxe – and manacles were clamped around their pinkskinned wrists and ankles. Great confusion and disbelief hung like a cloud over the prisoners as they were herded West along the old road leading to Brill.
The Gallow’s End Tavern still kept a dismal flame burning in its ancient hearth, for few of the undead guests would be bothered by the heat even in Lordaeron’s tempered summer. There was no knock as Grik’nish and his fist of footmen smashed through the door, worn by the hands of generations of patrons. Innkeeper Renee, ever gracious and unflappable, turned from toweling clean a tankard and opened her rouged lips to sternly greet – her jaw hit the stone floor as Grik’nish’s cudgel connected with the crown of her skull. “Weapons on the ground, hands on your filthy scalps!” the orc snarled at the motley collection of drunkards and merchants who kept late hours. The startled guests and regulars complied and were fitted with shackles of their own, necks ringed with steel gorgets linked by chains to their neighbors.
They were shoved outside into the village square in crying masses around the statue of Sylvannas. Khorvis Bloodstar sat astride Bes’thra and watched all of Brill’s dwellings emptied of their occupants. Gazing over the terrified villagers, the eldritch socket periodically flashed green, and the Inquisitor pointed a gauntleted finger at individuals seemingly at random. Their families and friends cried out in protest as the selected were fitted with restraints of their own, but the well-ordered regiment silenced the screams with batons or fisted blows. With the same quick violence that the Inquisition had arrived, it marched out the village gates with their captives in tow, into the northern forests of Tirisfal.
A clearing widened in the midst of the ancient pines. At the center stood the dead tree and its living mate, a bush clinging to life atop a rounded boulder. The chained ones were arranged in a long line before the centerpieces and ordered to face them. Khorvis marched up between the two plants and rooted his boots in a wide stance with which to address the miserable assembly.
“This do be a place of judgment.”
The High Inquisitor ran his newfound sight over the detained forsaken and humans. Helmetless, his face was a thunderhead. Even the deathguard conscripts shifted uncomfortably under the scrutiny, perhaps questioning their fresh crimes against their neighbors. Oggok snickered.
“Here in this clearing before the gates of the Grim – your sworn PROTECTORS – did the flesh of our dear brother Lupinum be sundered. As a butcher would a calf! Unforgiveable!”
Khorvis dropped a hand to his side and unclasped the Lash from his legplate. The foul machine trilled an excited whine as the chains were released and given enough slack to undulate a dark promise. Thunder could be heard in the distance – whether it came from the runes of the Lash or the encroaching storm to the North above the Great Sea, one could not say with certainty.
“Each one of you sorry curs will be judged by the eye of the Inquisition. If it does find the guilt or fear of a lie to be outed, the Lash will settle the account of your debt. Kor’kron! We do begin!”
The grisly work of Khorvis’s investigation to discover the murderer of brother Lupinum lasted until the first rays of dawn happened upon the clearing. With the light came a scene of horrifying waste. A literal swamp of gore surrounded the dead tree. Dozens of shredded limbs and heads made reeking piles, linked by the innards of eviscerated torsos. A closer inspection would reveal the attempts of several villagers to escape the massacre; the mad scramble shearing at chained collars that eventually severed the heads of their own neighbors and families.
The chained ones were each found guilty of some transgression, to the last soul. Even a contingent of the deathguard was Lashed for some perceived mutiny, their bodies piled with those they had been conscripted to defend. Only Grik’nish and Oggok escaped unscathed, ultimately revolted and screaming like the Mad through the darkened pines of Tirisfal.