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Vilmah

History Revisited (War of Thorns spoilers)

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"You heard the High Overlord," the orcish grunt said with an arm pointed toward their target. "Find the civilians. Get them out."

Vilmah had answered the call, and already she was uneasy. It was almost a relief when the Warchief sent her and a few hundred others to find Saurfang, the one orc she trusted to speak his mind in this madness. He was gone when they attacked Astranaar, but he wouldn't allow things to escalate to that level on his watch. When she arrived to his orders that they find night elf civilians and bring them in for questioning, part of her stomach settled. It was still nauseating that the Horde was attacking the Kaldorei, that they marched toward their tree in an effort to secure it for their own purposes, but at least no civilians would be killed this time. 

It was, of course, difficult to get them to trust her. She was an orc, and a strange looking one at that. Smaller than most, her robot arm and purple tabard did little to soothe the fears of the citizens that she found huddled and hidden. They stared at her with horrified eyes that had already witnessed the savage butchery of the Horde, and in their eyes she saw her fears; that the Horde would always be known for this, their cruelty, and how easy it was to show them just how cruel they could be. Why in the world would the trust her, after seeing other orcs like herself tear down their walls and burn their homes? All around, she heard shouts of conflict; trolls yelling in Zandali, relishing in the slaughter of elves. The Forsaken she saw wore mangled grins as they ripped apart guards with magic and blades, and even the noble blood elves covered bodies with arrows like some strange artistic display. She couldn't just extend her hand and ask these people to trust her, not when she knew what awaited them.

"I take you safety," she said in broken Common, though it was clear by Vilmah's expression that hope was fading fast. 

The elves she found were a mother and daughter, hidden in the corner of their store room. The older of the two was already stained with blood, perhaps from the child's father. Their glowing eyes were rimmed with red and tears were still glistening on their cheeks as they looked at this small orc with her extended hand and broken Common in disbelief.

The mother turned to her daughter and nodded sadly, then said something in their language that Vilmah could not understand. Choking back a sob, she and the little girl put something in their mouths, which Vilmah couldn't quite understand until it was too late.

"No, wait!!"

But they already swallowed, and the effects of the pill didn't take long. The mother clutched her child and sobbed, and the child looked strangely serene as she stated at Vilmah accusingly. Her eyes said "you did this", and in that moment, Vilmah would not have been able to argue otherwise. 

Leaving the little family to their peaceful death, the blademaster stepped out of their house and looked for more civilians. By then, most of the houses were on fire and there would be few she could find in the wreckage, but she went in anyway. The bare skin of her shoulders and torso blistered with the heat of the burning buildings, and her metal arm grew uncomfortably hot as she used it to break open doors. A few civilians she found were less intent on taking their own lives, but at least half a dozen saw Vilmah as a threat, and whatever "mercy" the Horde would grant as a torture worse than death.

In those situations, Vilmah wanted to stop them. Surely, hope was still a possibility? But she knew imprisonment, she knew what sort of life awaited them in the shackles of the Horde, and even with his greatest attempts at mercy, Saurfang could not protect them. Maybe they are better off dead.. she thought with a sick feeling, the nausea returning.

When she gathered as many as she could find, Vilmah returned to where she last saw Saurfang. He had already mounted his wolf long ago and was gone. She was going to ask what was wrong, but another orcish grunt pointed over her shoulder.

"Look!"

When she turned, the sound of Saurfang riding ahead echoed in her ears. The tree was aflame. In the distance, across the water, the home of thousands of elves burned without any sign of stopping. From such a distance, she could not see the people's faces, but she understood their predicament. There weren't enough boats, enough portals, for all of them to escape. There would be casualties, and they would be massive. Vilmah's heart felt like a stone in her chest, cold and heavy, as she listened to the cheers around her. Most of the Horde celebrated their victory as the civilians, some of whom Vilmah saved, looked on in horror as their tree grew bright red and lit the sky like a giant torch.

A few Horde did not celebrate. They passed each other worried glances, perhaps ashamed of this act, perhaps afraid of the retaliation that would surely meet them.

Vilmah just stared.

Saurfang.. 

Whistling for her wolf, Edmund answered her almost immediately. He had been waiting for her nearby, hidden in the forest among the other animals that somehow escaped the wrath of war. Climbing on his back, Vilmah kicked him into a run and followed the path left behind by Saurfang. She had to see him, she had to see his face. When she did, she noticed that his face was contorted, enraged. He had been screaming something, but now it had passed. What did she miss?

Saurfang, she thought to herself, tears blinding her. You coward.. you fucking coward.. you knew that was going to happen, didn't you? You knew, and you didn't even try to stop her..

Was any of it true? Maybe not, but the anger burned in her chest and when she arrived to the scene of the Warchief, Nathanos and Saurfang staring at their handiwork, she thought perhaps that she caught a glimpse of the High Overlord's face displaying regret. Shame.

I should kill her, she thought to herself. I should kill her, now. I may not get through the dark rangers, I may not get through Nathanos, hell I may not get through Saurfang but I should try.. 

The thoughts were almost as comforting as they were impossible. Vilmah remained yards behind them, hidden among the rest of the Horde as they celebrated or mourned their "victory". As much as she wanted to make the attempt, she knew it would fail. Whatever skill she had as a blademaster was no match for the banshee. Not alone, and not with so many allies surrounding her. Sylvanas was untouchable, and unchallenged.

Again, she looked at Saurfang, but he seemed lost in his own thoughts. in his face, Vilmah remembered the look she saw in Thrall when last she saw him; broken by his own decisions. Saurfang wanted to die in battle, that much was known to the Horde, and his age showed with every line in his face and the silver of his hair, but never before had he seemed so very old to her. Even his muscles felt smaller, weaker, and with none of the taut energy that the High Warlord often displayed. Here was an orc she respected, trusted even, but once again that trust was burned to ash.

Like the world tree, Vilmah felt her faith in the Horde burn once again. Her desire to bring peace to her people went up in smoke like the thousands of screaming elves, and she had to remind herself that somewhere, her own people would be waiting for her. Waiting for something.

Hesitantly, she looked away from Saurfang.

Another hero gone.

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Edited by Vilmah
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What else can we do.. what else can we do.. what else...

The Kaldorei looked at Vilmah Bloodborne with accusing eyes. She spoke of mercy in Common, promised them safety, but what safety could an orc ensure these people? How could she tell an elf who watched the slaughter of her loved ones that orcs were honorable at all? What honor was there in this conquest, this brutality? Where was Saurfang? How could he let this happen again? Blood on their faces, blood in their tears. The Kaldorei would not forget this affront to their forest, their people, their dignity--

"Do you have those crates ready, Warboss?"

"Huh?"

Vilmah looked up from the wooden crate in front of her, and a bright-eyed death knight looked back. Strands of dark purple hair, still damp with sweat from the night before, hung over Vilmah's eyes. She didn't bother to swipe them away. The two women exchanged a look of mutual dread, though the latter cracked a hopeful smile. "The crate, ma'am. Is it ready?"

Looking back down, Vilmah hadn't noticed that she'd been overpacking the crate in front of her for the past few minutes. Thick bandages nearly spilled out from the top, so she stood and pressed down on them with her mechanical arm to ensure they all fit. "It's ready, Cat," she answered distractedly.

They had been packing crates with medical supplies since the sun rose. The smell of smoke still haunted Vilmah's nose and she couldn't shake the faces of night elves, horrified, terrified, or expressionless in death. The tree was too far to hear them screaming, but she knew what that sounded like. A wave of nausea caught her when she realized that she knew exactly what it was like to have her home burned to the ground by the Warchief of the Horde, innocents be damned.

Catalinetta grabbed the wooden lid and carried it to Vilmah's crate. Though the blood elf death knight was small, almost frail looking, the heavy wooden lid appeared almost weightless in her hands. The power of the Lich King, Vilmah thought offhandedly, vaguely ashamed for thinking it. Cat was loyal to Sanctuary, and to their cause. If the Lich King cursed or blessed her with unnatural strength, it didn't remove her optimism.

"Thanks boss," she said before hammering in nails to secure the crate. It was the last of them, a series of crates with all of the medical supplies in Razor Hill that could be spared. They would be passed through a portal to Ashtotem and distributed to the wounded there, many of whom were night elves, some blinded by the flames that left them not realizing exactly who was helping them but grateful all the same.

What happens when they realize who some of us are? Vilmah thought to herself. Will they hate the Horde who helped them? Will they understand?

She knew she was hurting her, this Kaldorei in her arms. The elf was so much taller than Vilmah, but she carried her anyway. The fire from her burning home had blinded the once beautiful woman, turning pale lavender flesh into a mess of red and black. It was unlikely that she would ever see again, but still she breathed and still she stared at Vilmah with the dead eyes of a--

"Hey, so, if you need I might be able to get the Kingfisher to deliver some more stuff," Cat suggested, referencing the flying elvish yacht she shared with Kreyen. 

Vilmah blinked slowly, as if trying to get whatever Cat was trying to tell her to make sense. When it finally clicked, she shook her head. "I wouldn't risk it right now. Airspace might be compromised. Just use the portal networks for now. Moving things by hand may be slower, but, it's going to be safer in the long run."

One of Cat's ears twitched as the Warboss spoke. She had always known Vilmah to be a very capable, if not confident orc, who had the strength to keep up a brave face during these hard times. But after the burning of Teldrassil, she could see that brave face was cracking under the pressure, and if this was a good or a bad thing, the death knight couldn't be sure. "Okay, boss. I'm just gonna.. maybe go see if I can be of any help in Ashtotem, then," she suggested, trying to keep her spirits lifted. Swallowing down some apprehension, she nodded ventured another tactic. "I um.. it's been kind of hard to forget what we saw out there. I was thinking that.. maybe.. if the Alliance does come for us--"

"You mean when," Vilmah interrupted, not coldly but certainly not happy.

"..r-right, when the Alliance attacks, I was thinking.. maybe we could um.. have groups created? With a healer, and a vanguard, this way everyone has what they need?"

It wasn't a bad idea, but Vilmah felt herself grow distracted with other thoughts regarding the Alliance's inevitable attack. "A good plan. I'll look into it."

Again, Cat noticed the Warboss staring off into space. Had she slept since they saw the tree? Could anyone? Cat considered herself lucky, sometimes, that she didn't need sleep. As a death knight, sleep came only when she wanted it to, and right now all she wanted was to hold Kreyen somewhere dark and let sleep take her somewhere that wasn't quite so cruel. 

The Kaldorei struggled in Vilmah's arms. The smell of orc was strong, how could she know she was being taken to safety and not a cage? How could she know that Vilmah couldn't bear to see her this way? They couldn't communicate with words, but Vilmah tried. She spoke as soothingly as she could in Common, tried to reassure her, tried her best to convince her--

"Are you okay, ma'am?"

The Warboss was squeezing a roll of bandages. She cleared her throat and turned to Cat, biting her lips anxiously. "Did you see it, Cat?"

The death knight's long thin ears twitched. "..the tree, ma'am?"

"Yes," Vilmah said dourly. "The tree."

In truth, she was trying to forget it. Cat knew about casualties, she had been one herself. "I-I did, ma'am. I was trying to see if there were any more civilians to help. When they started setting up those catapults, I was.. I guess I was confused, but.. then the Warchief gave the order and Saurfang--"

"Did nothing," Vilmah finished for her.

Cat shook her head quickly. "N-no ma'am, he was *yelling*. At the guys manning the catapults. He tried to get them to stop, but, the Warchief--"

"What?"

Vilmah took a few heavy steps toward Catalinetta, her eyes wide and disbelieving and shiny with tears. There was still some ash in her hair, on her skin, and beneath her fingernails. It made the Warboss look slightly ashen herself, brownish green skin dull and almost lifeless. 

Stopping herself from grabbing the death knight, Vilmah looked pointedly at Catalinetta from just a step away. "What are you talking about?"

"W-well.. I saw him try to stop them," Cat explained nervously. So close, she could smell the smoke still lingering on Vilmah's skin and hair. "I saw him say something to the Warchief, but, I couldn't make it out. I was so far away and there were so many of us, but, I saw him try ma'am. Then she left, and.. they just left him there. I didn't see him leave."

She remembered his face, so proud and yet so old. Mournful. None of the strength he usually exuded was present in his slumped posture, his usually rigid back and chest curved like a peon. Saurfang was broken. Hadn't she seen it?

The revelation that Saurfang did indeed make the attempt to stop Sylvanas practically stopped Vilmah's heart, but what was effort, really? He hadn't stopped her. He, like the rest of the Horde, were complicit in their actions. They stood behind the Warchief as she watched the world tree and its inhabitants burn, like a maniacal warlord taking pride in the suffering and not the banshee queen whose followers saw hope in her.

In Sylvanas, hope is a disease, and she is the cure.

"Thank you, Cat," Vilmah said a little more spirited than before, her tusks pressing gently against each cheek as she tried to smile. "Thank you for your help. I've got to make some plans."

"Aye aye, ma'am!" The death knight said brightly, happy she could be of some assistance but confused about what that assistance even was.

Vilmah watched the death knight go and looked back toward the entrance to Razor Hill. At that moment she had no shaman to ask for guidance, but he was not the only orc whose wisdom she could depend on.

Edited by Vilmah

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