1 pointSet shortly after the Horde's arrival in Zandalar When he had first entered the city, he had felt the subtle weight of the Loas' presence. Dazar'alor was not only the throne of the Zandalari but the oldest, functioning establishment of his entire race. It was a blessed place where every citizen lived, breathed, and died in the shadows of the Wild Spirits. The feeling of being watched should have been expected yet he found his spine tingling almost constantly as he tried to relax and set up trade. He had been given a small section of the street that was one flight of stairs up from the city's bottom tier in which to advertise his wears. Liquor from across the ocean was strangely popular amongst the lower-class population and the fine wine of Dalaran had even caught the eyes of a few priests and nobility. Someone's eyes were always upon him, it was something he used to but he still felt it was something far less innocent than the curious gazes of passerby and envious glares of would-be shoplifters. " Yo boss! We're going to lunch, ya gonna be alright by yaself?" One of his laborers called out suddenly, shaking him from his thoughts. He looked over to where the goblins were tapping their feet impatiently. His wares had been put on display and the rest were stacked neatly in the back of the tent against the wall. He nodded to his men despite his growing unease, assuming a facade of confidence. At least the Bladeguards were in the area this time. He had no time to devote to the brush with the Vilebranch as the sign was flipped to 'open' and curious Zandalari shoppers swarmed his stand. Sample cups were filled rapidly as the populace gawked with undisguised interest at all the new labels and glass designs. Bottles, kegs, jugs, and gold all changed hands so quickly that he was barely given a chance to thank them for their purchase before the next face was shoved forward with a fresh demand. He had worked up a sweat by the time the rush died down several hours later. The crowd had been reduced down to a single line and then, a single person. The man wore a familiar odor of fish, lowtide, and sweat. Definitely a fisherman. " Heard good tings about dat Darkmoon brew. Gimme a pony keg an' make it quick." The customer breathlessly demanded before glancing over his shoulder. Tahzani squatted down on sore, aching legs and hefted a dark wooden barrel marked with the gaudy purple and green of the Faire. " Jah got it mon, but what's de rush?" " De guard just went on break witout replacement." The man stated without elaboration as he snatched the keg and slammed a fistful of scratched coins onto the counter. He left without another word, leaving Tahzani to puzzle out the meaning of the statement by himself. " No guard... What is dis? De Undahbelly?" He called out in a joking tone, earning a curious, uncomprehending look from the Vulpera selling glass jewelry beside him. The chill up his spine slowly grew worse after the man left. It was as if the cause of his discomfort was approaching him. His instinctual dread found evidence to stand on when a new group rounded the corner from the upper levels. Their sandy, light brown hide and vividly red and orange hair marked them as trolls from the Sandfury Tribe. He rolled his aching limbs uncomfortably as they swaggered down the street with a confidence born from a sense of ownership. The bald male leading the pack made a careless gesture to the four who had followed him, allowing them to disperse towards the increasingly skittish vendors. Yet even as the grinning Sandfury walked straight towards him he could not shake the feeling that he was not the one who was watching. The man was armed and clearly not above violence but the fear of an approaching enemy felt different than the dread he had been feeling all day. Maybe he had just grown jaded from all of the psycopaths and armed idiots he had served over the years. Even when the man casually drew his knife to clean his nails while he spoke, it did nothing but raise his heartrate in preparation of the coming conflict. He was not afraid of the man that threatened him in a not-so-subtle matter, he was afraid of the unknown entity that was now watching them both. Even with a knife being waved around mere feet from him, he could not focus on the man. " So? Whatcha say? Ya gonna make it easy on Riki, mm?" " A-ah'm sorry. What was dat again?" Tahzani looked back towards the Sandfury, absorbing the gist of the pitch but nothing specific. " Money ta keep the business protected." The Sandfury repeated with an amused look and the presumed terror. " Ah dunno mon. Ah had a Vilebranch swing by last week an' his rates seemed moah fair. Don' tink ah'm ready ta switch providahs." Tahzani answered with a sarcastic tone and a falsely apologetic smile before he could stop himself. He knew it would not end well but he made sure to savor the dumbfounded expression on the thug's face before it twisted into something far less pleasant. The thug soon graduated to open threats. Promising that nobody was there to save him from fates that included death, skinning, and being killed after already being dead. When asked of the mechanics required for a 'knife wielding moron' to kill someone after they had already been killed, the Sandfury's patience finally wore out. Tahzani jerked his hand back as the blade flashed downward, barely removing the limb from the counter before it could be pinned to the wood. With his eyes on one hand, the mugger had momentarily lost sight of Tahzani's other hand which had dropped beneath the counter. When the Sand troll next raised the knife, Tahzani swung a worn shotgun up to brace against his shoulder in a practiced motion. " Ah told jah. Ah ain't ready ta switch." Tahzani stated struggling to keep himself from looking pleased at the look of shock on the extortionist's face. " Move along." He ordered, twitching the barrel to the left. For a moment, the expression of the other troll gave him hope that the demand would be followed. Hesitation cost him his chance at a lethal shot as the Sandfury lurched forward and to the left while extending the blade in an attempt to drive it into his gut. The bartender squeezed the trigger and went temporarily deaf in the following blast. The thug would survive the shot. Even the ringing in his ears was not enough to drown out the man's agonized howling. The blood puddle was spreading far too slowly for him to have hit anything vital. Screaming profanity and whimpering in turn, the man clutched at the bloody mess of his shoulder. " Ah told jah ah wasn't ready! See what happens when jah don' listen?" " You madafakka!" " Das fair." Tahzani shrugged. The surge of excitement was passing quickly but he knew there would be plenty more. Nobody could ignore the sound of such a discharge. Looking to the side revealed that it was not the guards who had been drawn to the noise but the man's companions. He stepped away from the counter and stood behind the floored thug with the gun held loosely across his chest. The rest of the Sandfury gang came to a stop with only a few yards and a bloodied comrade between them and their quarry. " Ah ain't payin' protection money, ah'm perfectly capable of defendin' mahself." He lied. Almost immediately, they called his bluff. They began to spread out and move around the body towards him, making him take an involuntary step backwards. He raised the gun again, unable to stop his hands from shaking as his heartbeat quickened. " Dunno if jah remembah how dis works but when I squeeze de triggah, bad tings happen. Back off." He wished he could have managed a more authoritarian tone. The group ignored the order and andvanced towards him, unafraid of the weapon and the threat. He rolled back another step to keep his distance and stumbled as his heel hit the curb outside of a busineses in the terrace. His heart sank as he flailed to keep balance and fell in a painfully, uneven posture across the curb. Any chance of being regarded as a threat disappeared like dust in a strong breeze. Something on the wall shifted as the flailing gun smacked against it. The chill up his spine became a coating of solid ice as he looked up at the previously invisible being. The advancing Sandfury stopped mattering as an eight-eyed creature regarded him with a look of contempt. The spider was the size of a mastiff and blended into the wall almost perfectly until it had been jostled by his fall. When it clicked its fangs, Tahzani's composure shattered and he swung the gun around with an undignified, fearful shout. The final shell in the gun killed the creature outright, tearing its head apart in a spray of shredded spider meat and ichor that splattered over his arms, clothes and weapon. The creature fell from the wall and landed upon him as all of its limbs curled in upon its center. He let out a low, keening whine as all of his hair stood on end and his lower half became paralyzed by sheer revulsion. Surprisingly, the Sandfury had stopped to watch the display, they even began to back away at the sight of the dead spider. They muttered under their breath as the bald leader waved a hand dismissively. Over the sound of his own internal screaming he was able to make out the name Yazma before their slow retreat turned into fleeing as fast as they could manage. Tahzani let out a shuddering breath and dropped the ichor stained gun. " Ah hate spidahs." He muttered wearily, trying to shove the corpse off of him. The sound of armor clanking signaled that the replacements for the guards had finally arrived. Tahzani gave them a weak wave after he rolled the corpse off of his legs. " Ey mons, don' worry. De Speakahs a de Sandfury tried ta staht sometin' wit de merchants, dey gone now." He waved towards his stand where only smeared blood, shredded hide, and muscle on the ground remained as evidence of a skirmish. One of the guards spared him an indifferent scowl while his knelt down to heft up the spider's corpse, seemingly angered by the death of the creature. " Ya were told ta watch yaself in our city." The unburdened guard stated tersely, withdrawing a pair of manacles and clapping them tightly around Tahzani's wrists before hauling him to his feet. " Now de peace has been disturbed, someone be leaking blood everywhere. An' one of Yazma's eyes been put out." " Wait wait wait!" Tahzani protested as he was yanked forward by his hands. " Who be Yazma? What be happenin'?" " We be seein' how dey wanna deal wit outsidahs." The guard responded tersely as he lead the hapless bartender away. -------------------------------------------- When the workers returned from lunch, they found the stand abandoned but untouched by the populace even though the bazaar had begun to fill with customers once more. By the end of the night, they broke the stand down and began to gossip about the workaholic's sudden disappearance. Without the troll to order them around the next morning had no reason to even bother setting up his stand again and instead aided with loading the supplies onto the ship. The reason that they had all agreed upon between them was that the troll had finally tasted economic freedom and went mad. At that moment Tahzani was probably overdoing it with any number of vices available, but they were not paid enough to question it further. By the next morning the ship was fully loaded and left with the tide. Tahzani had thrown around the idea that he would finally take some time off enough for it to be plausible that he finally had. Time waited for no one, regardless of if the bartender had checked in or not the company ship had a schedule to keep. So began their journey home, leaving the troll behind to enjoy the city and some well earned relaxation. As the ship set out to deliver its goods to the west, Tahzani was moved to the north in chains.
1 pointIn the light of the rising sun, the throne of the Zandalari empire shined like a mountain of gold. A heavenly outline traced the great terraces and tiers of the upper city, culminating in the massive halo at the top that glared down disapprovingly at the chugging, half-dead ship. Bringing the goblin ship to Dazar'alor was akin to dropping a dead rat on a palace's rug. As far out as he was, Tahzani could still make out the plethora of ships that clearly fit outside of the Zandalari's aesthetic. Great wheeled abominations of the Cartels, dreary destroyers of the Dark Lady, iron hulled battleships of Orcish designs, and many which he did not immediately recognize. As usual, he was late to the party and cursed himself for falling behind the rush. The weary crew of the company's ship set to docking and preparing the hold for the influx of new goods while he set to work inspecting just what goods they could acquire. Unsurprisingly, as soon as one of the world's most prominent ports opened its gates, everyone sprang out of the woodwork to sell. The Ramkahen, the Vrykul, and even the Hozen had set up their stands and brought crates and barrels filled with their wares. Each of them would have to be sampled first, then they would haggle until a deal could be made. All of his training failed to prepare him for the sheer variety of alcohol that suddenly existed. Taste, swish, analyze, spit, rinse, and then repeat. If he swallowed even a small amount of any there would be no telling how many types of liquor would be swirling in his gut by the end of the day. Every vendor had a new drink for him to try and by the time he was halfway through the bazaar his throat was already dry from talking and his gums nearly bleeding from the harsh liquors he had scoured them with. It was barely even the afternoon and ten new kinds of drinks had been approved for his ship. By late afternoon, that count had risen to twenty-five. By early evening, it jumped to thirty-five. By the time the sun had set the cargo hold in his ship had been cleared for nearly forty new kinds of liquor ranging in size from bottles to jars to kegs and even full sized oil drums. His calm, pleasant tone had devolved to a cracking rasp from hours upon hours of negotiation. It was what he would blame when he suddenly found himself at a loss for words, not the fear of the knife waggling under his nose. When the vendor's eyes had widened he had been slow to react, not putting the seemingly friendly greeting behind him and the merchant's obvious fear together fast enough. When he turned to regard the new voice he found himself staring down several inches of steel towards the broad grin of a troll with hide that was the same color as his. A wide jaw, burly build, and yellow hair marked him as a Vilebranch troll. The thief's own surprise was quickly masked as he took in the sight of the stunned Revantusk and for a moment the two mortal enemies only had eyes for one another, allowing the merchant to quickly hide. " Well now li'l mon. Jah Dahkspeah mastah let jah off de leash ta go play wit de othah li'l people?" " What de hell jah be doin' heah spidah hump-" Tahzani's retort was halted as the sharpened point of the blade pricked the tip of his nose. " Eeeeaaaaasy dere cousin. No need fah name callin' now! Ah be heah fah business. Fah jah protection!" " Mah protection?" Tahzani asked incredulously. A though tugged at him that turned the incredulous look into something more amused, the trolls were borrowing goblin tactics. " Das righ'! Dis place be dangerous...Nevah know who jah gonna run into. Jah pay me? Ah protect jah. Notin' bad gon' happen undah mah watch." " An' if ah don'?" Tahzani asked slowly. The Vilebranch chuckled darkly, baring teeth that had been filed down to points and stained. " World be a cruel place, Li'l Revantusk." Out of the corner of his eye, Tahzani spotted a flash of gold. A guard was striding towards the two, lead by the panicking merchant. The Vilebranch's face twisted into a sour expression as he quickly stowed his blade away. " Tink about it." He called before lumbering away into the crowd. When the man had left him, Tahzani released a quivering breath and stared out at the market. Suddenly the heads of hair seemed far more distinct, he no longer saw plain colors but the markings of tribes from all over the world. Every lesser tribe had their eyes on the city, and every one of them hated the Horde. "Halfway across de world an' i'm still dealin' wit mah asshole neighbahs." He sighed.
1 pointThe druid of the claw coughs blood up onto my gloves. Her purple skin fades to a dull blue, much closer to mine than any of her race. As I look up and around the fields of Lordaeron I see them...us...dying everywhere. I am Kenjin. A Zandali Troll. A part of the Horde. A member of Sanctuary. That means a lot to me. More importantly, I am a Druid. I have sworn to help who I can and heal any who need it. My true loyalty is to life and nature. I will keep any I can alive. I’ve spent years working with Druids of every race to ensure there is balance in the world. As I hold the night elf, dying, in my arms, I try to figure out how we let it get this far. I feel as if we, the druids, have failed. There has always been a common bond between us, no matter our race or faction. We serve nature. When the “Warchief” struck down Malfurion I was torn. I was furious. He was a symbol of Druidry, not just alliance Druidry, but for all of us. The elf coughs, sputters, and dies in my arms. My healing arts can’t overcome the massive blood loss. I say a blessing as I lay her down to rest on the field of battle, searching for someone I can save. There is a small troll boy, maybe sixteen, but he looks much younger. I run over and begin healing him, hoping I can do something in the face of this stupidity. I look down at his face. ~~~~~~~ The night elf girl looks up at me, confused and hurt. I helped her shift out of her bearform, but that may not have been a good idea. The weapons stuck in her hide that were an inconvenience as a bear are debilitating as an elf. As she looks up at me, I begin a rejuvenation on her. The pain on her face eases and she lets her head relax to the side. That is a mistake. She sees the tree. I’ve been avoiding looking at it. I can’t stand the shame. The feeling of failure. The betrayal of everything I’ve ever stood for. The little elf sees it and collapses. Her wails rip my heart apart. I can’t meet her eyes, right up until the moment her cries die out, and her body goes slack. ~~~~~~~ I lower the troll to the ground, lift my mask and brush the tears off my face. There are more dead or injured here than I could help in a lifetime. That doesn’t mean I should stop. I drop my bear mask back in place and run to the next downed person. A dwarf this time. I start again. ~~~~~~~ I’ve saved a few, most have died. I’m exhausted. I can’t stop now, there are too many that still need help. The fields of Lordaeron are covered with the dead and wounded of both sides. At this point I’m reluctant to consider myself a part of the Horde. As I bend over a human, trying to return her to life, I think back to the druids I have gotten to know since the legion war began. We had, if not peace, then at least a solid understanding between druids of all races. Under Malfurion’s eye we had a community that worked for the betterment of the world. The girl coughs and her eyes open. There is at least one more saved. The gates of Undercity open and a team of Forsaken emerge. They have green, glowing tanks on their backs. I pick up the human girl, looking for someone to hand her off to before I find out what the Forsaken are here to do. As I’m walking toward a group of dwarves I begin to cough. A green fog floats around me. My head goes light and I wonder how we ended up on the ground. My last thought is of a burning tree.