Fire and Ice

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Grey, dead clouds battled with the grim, turquoise heavens. The light of the moon struggled not to be drowned out of the sky, without much success. One watching might have thought the moon begged for its life, but the death rattles and cries of pain that filled the air were from less celestial bodies. Hot blood met cold snow on the ground below. Bodies of Men and Elves hung impaled on spikes of ice.

The Orc stalked the carnage. His eyes had the blue glow of a Knight of the Lich King, though he lacked the heavy plate armor so characteristic of that kind. One would have thought him out of place in the dead north but for the confidence in his movements among the marauding Undead.

Everywhere he looked signs of his victory assaulted his eyes. Ghouls devoured the few remaining survivors as the camp blazed around him. Soft, whimpering caught his attention. There was a rustling in the haystack beside him. He reached in, his hand finding a slender neck to pull out…a Gnome. The little creature gaped at him, and the Orc smelled the acrid scent of urine.

“Puh…Please! You gotta let me go! I a…uh…ambassador! Yeah! Very important! And I demand you drop me this instant!”

The Orc grinned, baring his teeth to his terrified captive.

“As you wish.”

The Orc dropped the Gnome, but before the little one reached the ground (or had a chance to thank the Light for his fortune) , the Death Knight’s boot lashed out and kicked the Gnome in his midsection with a terrible crack. The Gnome flew across the night sky to land, unable to move, in between two Ghouls.

The Orc didn’t bother watching the two ghouls fight of their living meal.

(More to come)

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Something about this camp seemed familiar. It was cobbled together from old ship parts, no doubt from a shipwreck. The snow was wrong. He had been at a place like this. Lived there even? He had been somewhere away from this. Somewhere…

Enough. Musing on the past was pointless. He shouldered his way through the mob of Undead to the outskirts of the camp. There was a Cliffside nearby that gave him a view of the ocean, and looking to the southern waters always calmed him. He did not understand why. He didn’t think it was because of his past. He avoided thinking of those times as much as possible. Such thoughts lead to uncertainty, which one could not afford in the service of the Lich King….

He reached a small copse of trees and looked over his shoulder a moment. The mindless undead would take no notice of his absence, but it would be best if his commander, Lord Mundzuk, not know what he was up to. The other Orc watched Yusegar very closely for signs of weakness.

His thoughts were interrupted as he heard a rustle of movement followed by a roar. Improbably fast, he turned and blcked an axe-strike that should have cleft his head in two. They were locked together a moment, his orcish assailant trying to push his axe down onto Yusegar’s face while, but unable to. Yusegar glared into his opponents green eyes before giving a mocking snarl and shoving him back with his superior strength, and struck back. His downward hack broke through the haft of the other orc’s axe and buried itself into his chest. Shocked, the orc fell to his knees.

Yusegar stepped back. There weren’t usually many Orcs in the region. In fact, this one looked barely older than a child. The look on his face was one of the crushed hopes and dreams of a youth who fantasizes about glory.

“Stupid kid.” Yusegar spat. A foul taste in his mouth, he raised his axe to make the killing blow, but it did not land.

Astonished, he merely watched as the youth rose shakily to his feet, even picking up the broken axe before settling into a fighters stance. His mind screamed at him to take the other orc’s head off and hang it from his deathcharger, and yet something he had thought long buried would not let him. His heart thumped furiously, and an almost forgotten fire burned in his chest. The determination in the young warriors eyes, even the face, sent Yusegar back many many years to another fool orc youth rising to meet death outside of a Warsong encampment. That little thief had been bested by a sentry, but earned his life by swearing himself to the…

“Finish him.”

The voice was cold and hollow, and it echoed within his head with god-like authority, yet it could still not penetrate the memories that came to mind. Mundzuk stepped out of the shadows, runeblade drawn.

“KILL him!”

The order was punctuated with fierce backhand. It was the worst thing Mundzuk could have done. It fanned the flame into an inferno in Yusegar’s chest, and worse of all brought up another memory…of a certain Orcish Death Knight stabbing a dagger into Yusegar’s side…

“You killed me.”

Surprise flickered over Mundzuk’s brutal features.

“You are welcome.”

Yusegar frowned at this.

“I know you, Yusegar. You would spend your whole life battling the world. You have great potential to do so…but for that conscience of yours. You’ve been freed of that. Given immortality, even. So you fight for a different side…but what difference does that make? This world is doomed to battle itself. There is no right or wrong in it…weak and strong. Death can be the only victor…Death you now serve. You are welcome.” Mundzuk hefted his sword, and took a step towards the dumbstruck orc youth, who’d made it a few labored strides away from the Death Knights.

“It is a steep price for my soul, Mundzuk”

Harsh laughter answered him. “But that is the best part! You’ve already paid it!”

The young warrior stumbled and fell, and Mundzuk held his blade high, ready to pin the youth to the ground. Yusegar found himself unable to move. There was sense in Mundzuk’s words. There was wickedness on all sides of every conflict. It was a world of blood and greed…death and fanaticism. All Yusegar craved was battle, so he had always been in luck. But he had always though himself a warrior with honor. Despite everything, he cared for people. He could battle forever, if he could only stamp that out, if he could bear it. Could he…

“Your concience,” Mundzuk said, as if reading Yusegar’s mind,” is like a sack of rocks. All you have to do is drop it…”

The blade fell.

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His answer echoed like the breaking of mountains. The decision was made, and for better or worse, Yusegar would see it through all the way. He rushed forwards, bringing his axe down from high. Yusegar met with his former mentor with a clash that echoed his cry. Though the blow was blocked, the sheer momentum of Yusegar’s charge knocked Mundzuk from his feet and the two Orcs tumbled down slope, finally stopping before a sheer ocean Cliffside. Having lost his axe Yusegar stayed on top of Mundzuk hammered his fist down upon his opponent until a green bolt of death flew directly into his face, sending him several feet back up the hill.

The familiar cool numbness gave way to searing pain, as if his skin were bubbling and melting. By the time he blinked the haze from his eyes, Mundzuk had recovered his axe and was swinging it directly at his face.

Yusegar rushed forward, stopping the blow before it could gain momentum. It worked, though Mundzuk was quick to counter by driving his knee up into Yusegar’s side. Spiked plate bit into flesh, breaking ribs. Dazed and imbalanced, he was easily shoved aside by Mundzuk, landing heavily on the snow. He tried to roll aside, but was too slow. The rune axe bit into his back. Blood pooled around him. Yusegar lay still.

It seemed like an eternity. He was not dead. At least, he did not think so. Still, if he were alive, another blow should have fallen by now. Surely Mundzuk would keep his head for his treachery. Why had that not happened?

His answer came with the approach of Ghouls. The lifted him to his knees, and there stood Munzuk, eclipsing the now shining moon.

“Wasted talent. You’re no more able to beat me now than you were years ago.”

“Didn’t…betray my people…for fancy spells…and a pretty axe!” Yuegar spat.

“Is that right? The Horde would disagree with you. I’ve seen you recognized before. Some even calling you by name as you butchered them axe and spell. Don’t lie to yourself about noble sentiment, Yusegar, you lost because you are weak.”

Memories flashed to mind to confirm this. He had been a pawn, turned against those he had sworn to protect. A wave of grief and rage hit him, but with it came and idea. More Ghouls were gathering…

Munzuk continued talking, but Yusegar was hardly listening. He hated magic, and hardly used it, so it took all of his concentration until finally…

The two Ghouls supporting him let go and leapt at Mundzuk. Even mid speech, the other Orc dispatched one with a swing of his axe, but the other latched on and gnawed on his armor. It was all the distraction Yusegar needed.

Searing pain begged him to stop, but he did not. He is life…or unlife…was about to end, and he would face that end as an Orc. He willed each running step, forcing himself to hold together. Mundzuk threw the Ghoul aside, brought his axe up to strike…

Yusegar threw all the strength left into him into the tackle, colliding with the plated Death Knight with enough force to shatter human bones. They both fell back, and flew clear off the Cliffside. It was a desperate gambit, and it paid off. Still gripping Mundzuk, Yusegar laughed the fell to plunged into the icy blue depths below.

Mundzuk broke the fall as they both landed on a sheet of floating ice, breaking it in half. He floundered in the water, thrashing in his heavy plate to climb onto the ice. Yusegar would not accept this. Though injured, he had maneuverability on his side. He swam to his foe, pulling him back from the ice. The other orc howled in desperation, but could do nothing to save himself. He latched onto Yusegar, using his own weight to sink both of them. He struggled to get free, but Mundzuk held fast in an embrace of death. The two sank below the surface.

The ripples of the water spread and dissipated, belying the furious match below the surface. The moon and stars, shining brightly now, were reflected on the glassy surface.

Finally, a figure broke the surface, floating on his back. Chilled black blood seeped around him, but no living creature came near it. Ice formed around him as he drifted south. After awhile, he detatched himself from the ice of froze blood to peer into the murky depths of the water. The face that glared back at him was barely familiar. His hair had gone a frosty white. His eyes…once fiery orange orbs, were now cackling balls of blue energy. A mournful sound escaped him, before he lay back down. He did not know if he deserved to live, or if he wanted to. Still, ending his own life did not even occur to him. Such was not the Orcish way. Instead, he did nothing. He did not know what to do, or how to do it. Let the spirits would decide, he thought, as he drifted south, staring at the Northern Star.


Yusegar shook his head, bringing himself back to the present. The busy streets of Orgrimmar bustled below the tower he was seated in. He sighed. It had been a while since that fateful day. He had returned to consciousness in a Necropolis controlled by the Ebon Blade. Despite their urging, he chose not to return to the Horde or Northrend, instead traveling to Draenor...Outland as it was now called. There, among the Mag'har of Nagrand, the land he had traveled when barely more than a child, he went about discovering himself, and his place. Though he could never again truly be among his people, he could still be an Orc. He returned to Azeroth, certain of his path in some ways, but more unsure than ever in others. One thing, however, was clear. He had a debt to repay.

The goblin finally looked up from his notes.

"So, why do you want to join the Raven Cross?"

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