Vilmah

The Siege of Orgrimmar - Take 2

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Vilmah sat at Garinth's desk in Razor Hill, a dwindling stack of scrolls in front of her. To her right, a larger stack of finished scrolls were ready to be sent away; orders from Horde Command regarding taxes, which most guilds, especially one of Sanctuary's size, would be required to pay. She didn't mind filling out those scrolls. They usually meant that Sanctuary was doing well, and if they could afford to help pay for the Horde's defense budget she had no problem giving them a percentage of their earnings. They weren't often at the front lines themselves, after all. Someone had to pay for those soldiers who were, and Vilmah knew all too well how well "taken care of" they would be with Sylvanas as Warchief.

"Probably just kill them and use the corpse," she muttered to herself, unrolling another scroll. Her mutters were interrupted by a knock on the door. 

"Wa'boss?" Came a distinctly Rahdaka accented voice before the door was pushed open.

Vilmah looked up to find one of their guards, a young male troll with blue hair and an extremely agitated face. "Kayyu," she said with raised eyebrows, standing from Garinth's too-large chair. "What is it?"

"Dey comin'," he said with large wide eyes. "D-de Alliance comin'!"

Vilmah's own eyes widened, and before Kayyu could explain she already grabbed her sword from the side of the desk and was storming toward the entrance. "We will defend our home! Call all of the guards, tell them to get ready! We won't let the Alliance take what we've been working so hard to--"

"No no, Wa'boss, dat ain't it!" Kayyu explained in a panic, following Vilmah until he could put a large hand on her small shoulder. "De Alliance, dey comin' he'a wit' de odda lead'as! Dey gonna siege O'grimma an' sack de Wa'chief!"

The warrior stopped dead in her tracks. "Wait," she said after a few seconds, staring at the space in front of her. "Is... is this a joke?"

"No, ma'am! Dey got de wo'gen, Greymane wit' dem, an' de king, an' Jaina Proodmo'e, an'.. one o' dem night elves, ah don' kno' ha name, but--"

Vilmah held up her mechanical hand. "Kayyu," she said with forced calm. "Are you telling me that the Horde's leadership has come to a unanimous decision to both ally with the Alliance and depose the Warchief? Is that what you are telling me? And they are gathering, literally, right on our doorstep?"

Kayyu blinked slowly. "..ya mon, da's what ah'm sayin'."

There is a point in ones' life when, if one is lucky, everything seems to fall into place. The sacrifices, the sadness, all of it comes together. The pain seems, for even a brief moment, worth what it took to survive it. In that moment of Vilmah's life, she thought about all the losses, all the deaths and all the sneers. All of the people who looked at her as if she were crazy for even considering peace with the Alliance. All of those people, she knew, were not happy right now.

But Vilmah? Vilmah laughed.

She laughed like a madwoman, doubled over, tears streaming from her hazel eyes. She laughed until poor Kayyu had no idea what was happening, and then she turned around and hugged him so tightly that he wondered if the Warboss had, indeed, succumbed to her trauma and broke her entire brain.

"..W...wa'boss?" He asked quietly, sweat gathering on the back of his neck. She was a very small orc, and her face had come to rest right in his sternum. It would be a compromising position to be caught in, had anyone seen them, or so he thought to himself. Be a good boy, Kayyu. Be a gentleman.

"I have to go, Kayyu," Vilmah said finally, pulling away. She was grinning now, delighted by what was happening, and had to force herself into a deep breath to remove that grin from her face. "This fight will very likely be against many of our kinsmen. We're going to be fighting ourselves, but, I think the Horde is going to go in a direction we can all be proud of, again. And I need to be there to help. Tell the guards to stand watch. I wouldn't be surprised if some of Sylvanas' loyalists will see this as an opportunity to strike when we're distracted, so be extra vigilant."

"Ya, boss," Kayyu said, giving Vilmah a hearty salute. 

"And Kayyu," she added, wiping the tears from her eyes. "Sorry for hugging you like that. I don't think I've ever felt this.. this..."

Kayyu ventured a smile himself. "..'appy?"

The orcess shook her head, calm enough to look like her usual self again. "More like.. relieved."

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The march to Orgrimmar wasn't long. Vilmah marched beside other Horde soldiers, orcs mostly. Many had been disillusioned by Sylvanas' battle plans, but almost all suffered at her command. They were quiet as they marched, but the gathering itself had been rowdy. The orcs there were primarily Vilmah's age, young male and female warriors who knew hunger and war and had grown up in or around Orgrimmar. They were all familiar with the place that they helped to build in some way or another, and the idea of yet another siege left them all feeling angry. War after war, their numbers grew thinner as the Horde army was sent all over the world, and by the time Sylvanas put them on the path to war with the Alliance again there were so few orcs left to farm that their food stores had grown noticeably low. 

The Horde was hungry, again. This time for food more than war, for some kind of stability. Sylvanas stood in the way of that, and the stories of Saurfang's heroism awoke a sort of inspiration in them that could keep them fueled at least until this last battle was won. He marched at the front, with Thrall and Anduin and every other leader Vilmah knew, as well as a few she didn't. He was too far to see, but she could feel the energy coming from Thrall. It felt like she was a child again, leaving the boats from the Eastern Kingdoms to sail for Durotar, claiming their place in Azeroth once more.

"The night elves don't wear much, do they?"

Vilmah's gaze moved from the leaders ahead of them to the orc beside her. He was an average sized male, wearing a mis-matched set of armor and carrying a well-worn warhammer. His helmet didn't reveal much of his face, but she could tell by his voice that he was probably not much older than she was. 

"They like their freedom," Vilmah suggested, glancing at the night elves marching not far from them. He was right, they were dressed in skimpy armor, but she considered how much more comfortable that must have felt in the Durotar sun as opposed to her own heavy plate. It suddenly dawned on her how surreal their situation was, marching side-by-side with Kaldorei toward the city she grew up in. It was the second time she fought beside the Alliance to infiltrate Orgrimmar, but this time she wore her own face. "So do we."

The other orc grunted affirmatively. "Bloodborne," he said under his breath, as if sounding out the name.

Vilmah's jaw twitched. "How did you guess?"

"Mechanical squirrel for an arm, no chest plate," he answered gruffly. "I remember hearing about you in the arena. You and your 'Sanctuary'. I must have walked past your burned down building a hundred times."

She could feel the earth move beneath her feet as memories of her exile came flooding back; the screams, the smell of burning hair and flesh, and the promise that she would return someday. "Yeah, well. We survived."

"This is what you wanted, isn't it?" He asked with a nod to the night elves. Even as the dust was kicked up around their feet, she could tell what he was nodding toward. "Us and them?"

It was an innocent enough question. She shrugged and shook her head, focusing her gaze forward again. "Well. Maybe not like this. But I have to say, the idea of not killing each other constantly has its merits. I'm sick of losing people, and I'm sick of fighting people who are sick of the same thing."

"I guess," he acquiesced, shifting the weight of the warhammer on one shoulder to the other. "What are you gonna do after?"

Vilmah blinked through the dust. "After what?"

"After the war," he answered, as if this were obvious. "After there's nothing to fight, anymore."

Vilmah snorted, but she was careful not to laugh too loud. "There'll never be nothing left to fight. This is Azeroth. There's always something, you know? Some god or.. enemy to our way of life. We're not running out of things to battle anytime soon, but at least we won't be at war with half the world. Hell, maybe they'll even keep helping us after this. Maybe we can work together."

The other orc was quiet for a while, as if considering Vilmah's perspective. He rolled his shoulders and shrugged. "Maybe. Or maybe they decide that we're too dangerous to let live in Azeroth. Maybe they decide we're still the same monsters that came through the dark portal, and maybe they let our low numbers and weak position doom us. Maybe we just die, here."

This time, Vilmah was quiet. Though her sword was on her back, her right palm itched as if it craved that familiar weight. Something about this orc didn't feel right, and the more he talked, the less comfortable he became. "Maybe," she agreed carefully. "Or maybe we work together. Maybe we create a whole new future for Azeroth, where we all succeed. Maybe the humans can forgive us of our past, and maybe we can forgive them of theirs. Maybe death isn't the answer."

"Halt!" Came a deep cry from ahead.

They had arrived at the gates of Orgrimmar. The large familiar entrance loomed ahead of them, and as they stood in its shade, Vilmah wondered just how much of her own blood and sweat had gone into those stones. 

As the commanding officers handed out orders, Vilmah remained standing in formation with the other orcs. They were nothing if not obedient, and perhaps a little eager to show their own strength compared to the visiting Alliance forces. She wore no helmet, so she raised her chin a little higher, and stood a little taller. 

"Death is always the answer," the orc beside her said under his breath, but he didn't move from his position. Rather, he stared ahead just as she did, and waited for orders. "The question is how we find it."

Edited by Vilmah

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One thing taken from the first Siege those many years ago, Bladefist Bay was lousy with perfect sniper nests to pick off attackers. Where the Kor’kron of yesteryears rained bullets down upon rebels and Alliance alike, Cobrak would do the same. A prime spot was taken among the jags of several hoodoos, the peak of one of the lesser providing him ample angles to pick off loose targets.

 

The scope is brought up once more, settling into a kneeling position with his form beginning to shimmer away, runic symbols upon his person gradually coming to reflect the area around it as though another mirage from the midday sun.

 

The rebels had brought in their siege weaponry, aligning them threateningly towards the proud gates of his peoples’ city; brazenly defiant in their misguidance. Like ants they swarmed between their weaponry, trying to oust saboteurs. One such was found out, a forsaken man trying desperately to finish his work at disabling an Alliance tank; interrupted by a void elf in heavy plate who now hounded him with a greatsword wreathed in dark flame. Cobrak brought his rifle to bear, a shot finding the ren’dorei’s collar, disorienting him enough for the undead to plant a dagger in his throat.

 

A new target was found, a pair of orcs just beyond the scene who seemed in conversation; a bad choice in a warzone.

 

“Blasted fools.” He muttered, aligning the reticle just over the male’s shoulder. Taking out his sword arm would be another rebel sitting out of this fight. 

 

The trigger was squeezed.

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Vilmah might have said something else to the warrior, but she was interrupted by a loud grunt of pain. The larger orc doubled over as his arm, protected though it was by armor, suddenly bent at an odd angle as something blew through it. 

"I'm hit!" He shouted, alerting those around him.

Vilmah and the others ducked and if they had them, held up their shields. She turned her head to look in the direction from which the bullet came, but saw nothing beyond the shimmering horizon, wavy with the Durotar heat. "Snipers," she said under her breath.

The retaliation was already underway, as mounted riders made off in search of their opponents. Without her own winged animal, Vilmah understood that she was vulnerable on the ground, and moved toward one of the Alliance tanks to use it as a shield. Beside her, the bleeding orc also moved to shield himself, holding on to his now dead-looking arm as it hung limply to one side. "Cowards," he said through his teeth. "Picking us off from afar though we outnumber them. Don't they realize this is already over?"

"I think that's the point," Vilmah muttered, pulling bandages from her side bag. "They're just trying to take out as many as they can before this ends. Misery loves company, and they're not happy with the fact that all of our leaders have already moved against Sylvanas."

The other orc pulled off the sleeve to his armor and revealed a deep bullet wound, lodged into his shoulder. It likely hit the joint, shattering the bone, and was unresponsive to his attempts at moving it. "You're an easy target in that getup, blademaster," he grunted as she wrapped the wound. "Best stay here or those bullets will have you looking like Alterac cheese."

Vilmah shook her head. "Being a target is the point," she grunted, tying off the bandages. "Stay here. I'm going to help out our friends."

"From way over here?" He asked incredulously.

She reached for the wooden pole strapped to her thigh and unwrapped the flag secured to it. The purple and gold phoenix wasn't overly large, but the bright colors were enough to be seen from a distance. Vilmah secured the pole to a leather harness she pulled from her bag, and shrugged the contraption on. The flag itself remained lifeless against the still air, even as she stood. "Let them know to watch out for gunfire, and go in the direction it's coming from," she instructed.

The orc shook his head and stood. "You're crazy," he said, then laughed and called toward the flyers. "HEY! WATCH THE RUNT! SHE'S GOING TO DRAW OUT THE SNIPER!"

Smirking at his descriptor, Vilmah left the safety of the tank and ran out into the open. She'd need to run in order to make the flag visible, so she ran from tank to tank, the colors flying behind her, a wild expression on her face. "Come out and shoot me you son of a bitch!" She shouted, knowing that she was too far for him to hear her. "You cowardly shit! Let's see where you're hiding!"

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The hornet’s nest was stirred, it seemed, as a trio of allied forces’ griffons and wyverns took after his position. He would be found out if he stayed put, and he would be found out if he moved; might as well make their charge to his advantage.

 

Cobrak bared his teeth from behind his veil, an invisible challenge to those who dared move against the Horde. Sight dipping to the riders making for him, then to the saboteurs’ work nearby, then to a lone charging warrior beelining across an open field.

 

What kind of nut job would charge a sniper over open ground? When the reticle hovered over the answer, he couldn’t help but snort.

 

“Bloodborne.” Said as though a curse, the antithesis orcess was proving her folly once more by rushing headlong into a bullet. Tempting to put a round through her knee, blow it off halfway and watch her crawl. That festering contempt in his stomach was shoved down, allowing logic to take over. What was her plan here? She must know a sniper was lurking this way, looking for stragglers. A thought pinged into his brain, and upward went his scope. The flying units were holding a defensive formation, not charging for him as he initially thought. 

 

She was bait, and he almost took it.

 

“Clever girl.” He growled through clenched teeth, moving his scope towards the siege weapons. A whispered word brought the runes on his gun to life, enchanting the bullet within its chamber. “Not clever enough.” The rifle rang out again, this time not finding not flesh and blood as its intended target; rather now what his explosive round hit were those special presents left behind by his forsaken ally earlier.

 

The saboteur’s bundle went up with a cloud reminiscent of a goblin warhead, the explosive force of fire and shrapnel flying created a deafening cacophony for those near it. A perfect distraction to break the counterattack, as he made use of the disoriented flyers to employ another trick in his book.

 

Atop his stand, Cobrak Deadeye began to phase into existence. Hands reached out to the flyers oncoming while bathed in the feral energies of the wilds, frenzied orange aura enveloping his grasp. He reached out to that group of airborne animals, carrying their riders but barely as they flapped their disgruntlement over the explosion and smoke. He preyed on that instinctual fear, trying to override their man-made conditioning to reach into the core at every animal. 

 

“Flee.” He commanded, forcing the beasts’ primal urges of flight to take over fight. Panic ensued in the skies, riders unable to control their mounts and leaving the two orcs to tend to this confrontation by themselves.

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As the explosion rang through her ears, Vilmah dove for cover. There was bound to be shrapnel, and it came flying toward her in shards of metal that lodged themselves into everything they could find. She managed to get ahead of most of them, but a few pieces bit into her unarmored upper body, burying themselves into her flesh. White hot pain seared through her skin, traveling through her nervous system until they reached her very orcish brain. It responded naturally, pushing out adrenaline, pumping her veins with rage, and allowing her a strength to draw on that would otherwise be dormant.

She focused her gaze on the distance, and seeing the havoc suddenly tear through their riders drew her toward another body that demanded attention. Standing at his post, Cobrak was using some kind of spell to send the riders into a frenzy, and if he did it to make himself known, she couldn't tell. It was effective enough, and the gathering forces were already cleaning up his other mess.

Unsheathing her sword, she trudged forward. Her flag waving behind her, she was an obvious target, and it drew the attention of another saboteur. The Forsaken dove for her from behind with daggers, and she might have turned if the injured orc from before didn't swing his warhammer hard enough to crush its skull.

"You're going to get yourself killed!" He shouted at the blademaster, who continued to march forward in spite of the chaos on land and air. She didn't respond to the suggestion, but as she drew closer to Cobrak, that familiar one-eyed hunter, Vilmah pointed her sword in his direction and shouted.

"You've already lost, Cobrak! Your tantrum isn't going to stop us from taking back Ogrimmar! Go home!"

Edited by Vilmah

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The flyers were in disarray, the beasts’ minds were seeded with panic aplenty. This allowed him to wholly concentrate on the figure before him. The rifle is brought up once more, a scowl fitting his lips. “I’ll ne’er cow to tha Alliance! Ta traitors who suckle from tha lion’s tit!” He bellowed back, just as defiant as she was. “Look at those gathered at tha gates! Loyal Horde ready to fight ‘gainst scum who’d play nice ta tha people who’ve killed our kin fer years!” His arm swings to the northwest, as though he had picked up her baleful stare and had tossed it towards the gates lined with flags and soldiers. “Orgrimmar belongs to tha Horde, it is our home that you now march against!” His gaze hardens, looking over the assembled force outside. The rifle is kicked up, “Ya’re tha ones throwin’ a hissy fit, unable ta do wut needs ta be done ta secure our future!” A finger points threateningly forward, “Cowards, tha lotta you!”

 A sudden whirring sound caught his attention, as from the panicked riders came the familiar sound of a stormhammer racing for him. With a thunderous crash, it impacted the side of his rocky outcropping, the rock giving way like a tree before Warsong saws. Leaping from his ruined post, Cobrak landed but barely on his feet, rifle unable to be held on to and lost to the ground behind him. A griffon rushed from behind Vilmah, dwarf atop it hooting his battle cry as he sped just above the ground and bound for Cobrak. The orc’s eye widened in momentary fear, hands looking for the handle of his hooked axe at his back. The griffon’s charge was only halted when two more figures leapt from Cobrak’s flank, hidden much the same way the hunter was. Skoll and Hati made themselves known with ferocious howls and snarls, daring to leap at the Wildhammer and his mount to bring them down in defense of their master. Wolves, dwarf, and rider vanished into their own fight near the ruined hoodoo, the crash evident for all to hear. Cobrak drew his axe, refocusing on Vilmah, the more prominent threat on this field. “So do wutcha do best, run back ta Razor Hill an’ hide, while we who still remember wut it means ta be Horde clean up these blueblooded bastards ya brought wit ya!”

Vilmah shook her head at the posturing, her rage momentarily quelled, and pointed her sword back at Cobrak. "Are you blind? Do you have any idea what's happening, here? Look around you! Our leaders have all backed the rebellion! What are you going to do? Fight against all of them?! Use your head! Sylvanas and her sycophants can't win against both the majority of the Horde and the Alliance! You're just killing for the sake of killing, now! What's the point?!"

"And thar's tha biggest army in Azeroth behind those gates! Yer pittly lil' union now is jus' hurtin' tha Horde! Who do you help right now wit this?! You hurt tha Horde azza whole!" A step forward, axe spun to his shoulder. "A majority supports Sylvanas cuz she be wut we need right now ta end tha Alliance! Who be ye ta judge us?! Ya ne'er suffered under them! Ya have ne'er lost yer loved ones ta them!" Memories sprung to life, the fires of his camp warming his skin in phantom pain. "Ya jus' kinnae accept tha fact that we kin live free of them wit another few pushes! Wut of tomorrow if ya win? Wut of tha next war that breaks out when they inevitably turn us on as they did when tha Legion invaded?!"

 

Vilmah's eyes narrowed as he ranted. He was wrong about too many things for any of what he said to make sense, but what was especially jarring was the accusation. He knew her, just as she knew him. He knew about the camps, how she watched her mother starve, how she was starved into the small stunted body standing in front of him. She wore her trauma as armor, free for all to see.

"..you've lost your mind," she said calmly, straightening from her fighting stance. Vilmah looked at Cobrak and searched for the same person she met, years ago, and fought beside. "This is Azeroth. We will never be 'free' of them, and the longer you try, the more it will destroy you. You have a family, Cobrak. You have a home. If you go down this path, you could lose them both. Is that what you want? To throw your life away just to make people suffer the same way you have?"

 

His mind became awash in every trauma he had been inflicted with; every lash that came for him, the flames that consumed his clan, the face of maddening evil that ended his dwarven father, the raiders who took his leader’s home, the slavers who clapped his countrymen in irons just a few weeks ago.

There was only pain every time he thought of the Alliance.

His sole eye narrowed, shifting his stance to prepare for combat. The axe’s handle fitted into his hands, the leather wrapping letting loose a squeak as his grip tightened. “Mebbe I ‘ave. Anuther casualty due ta tha Alliance.” He locked gazes with the runty orcess opposite him, a mirrored reflection of each other in that moment. Her words stung him where it hurt most, piercing the armor he bore around himself.

“You know ‘ow many families I’ve already lost ta them.” His voice cracked; unable to hide anymore from the one person who knew him as well as his elven lover. The only person to see how deep his scars truly were. The screams he still heard within him, one of his mother shouting for him to live as he carried Pythral in his arms. Morinth bellowed bloody murder while she still stood over the fresh corpse of the man who gave him his rifle and accent. “I’ll tear tha world apart ta keep them safe. E’en if they hate me fer it.”

“We kin end this right now...wit their king right there. Break tha lion’s back.” He spied the armies arraying, readying for battle beyond their standoff. 

“Move aside, Vilmah.”

“Please...”

 

As Cobrak spoke, Vilmah watched his face change. There was rage at first, anger and hatred, then slowly it shifted into something else entirely, and that was an emotion she was all too familiar with; fear. As long as she had known Cobrak, she knew that the one thing he valued was family, and it was something he would fight for with every ounce of his power. Yet he was alone here, fighting against an enemy that wore his own face, crippling his own people in the name of an ideal that he had grown to put his faith in. She knew the face of someone fighting a losing battle; it was hers, once. “What happens, then?” She asked carefully. “What happens when you kill the King of Stormwind? Do you think the humans, or the Alliance will just accept it? Do you think they'll go home and mourn? Or will they hunt you down for the rest of your life, and never allow you or your family a moment’s peace? That’s what you’re trying to defend, isn’t it?”(edited)

Vilmah took another step forward, the movement allowing her flag to flap for a moment in the windless air. “You know me, Cobrak,” she began, her gaze focused on his single eye. “You know I don’t have what you have. I don’t have family. I lost my home a long time ago. But you do have a family, and you have a home. You have people who you care about, people who want to see you and be with you, and if you do this you will never see them again. Is that what you want? To keep killing until there’s nobody left? Even yourself? Do you want to die out here? I know what it’s like to want to die for something!” She reminded him, taking another step forward.

“You know that! You’ve seen in my head, you know how I feel about dying! But we both have a reason to live now, and I don’t want to see you throw your life away for empty vengeance that will never see an end. This isn't about the Horde or the Alliance, this is about you, and what you're willing to live for. Don’t do this for me, or the Horde. Do it for them. See beyond your own pain, and start over. It’s hard, but it’s worth it. I promise you it’s worth it.”

 

Voices raced in his head, a turbulent and dizzying cacophony of peoples both past and present to clash against or feed the emotions he felt in those moments. Every ounce of pain came rearing its ugly head at him, urging him forward to fuel the fire that fed him for so long. The stare he locked with her was one that betrayed increasing panic over his maelstrom of thought.

Her words rang through the din, and forced him to do as he was taught so many years ago at Broden's side; to shove aside the emotion behind the rage, to see beyond it. To think not as a beast with needs, but with the strength of mind only a person could. Killing the Boy-King would inevitably rock the foundations of the Alliance, but for the better or worse? Would he be damning his home to a lifetime of worry over the man who took the golden king's head? Endless cycles of destruction and hatred, he thought throwing down the Grim's tabard would free him from it, allow him to pursue the dream of freedom he had for his people. 

The stare broke, and his gaze wandered to his own tabard bearing the bronzed hourglass and draconic wings of Borrowed Time, all stained red enough that it might as well be the very same cloth he had ripped off his chest those years ago in Frostfire, cursing Syreena's name while he did. How many had he driven away for that very same reason? How could he claim to keep them safe and protected when he-

His eye relocks with Vilmah, her speech finding ground. "...never changed..." 

Dust flies at his feet, the hooked axe he bore hitting the ground next to him.

The Horde soldiers could have taken him, then. The ones closest certainly did try. Vilmah closed the distance between herself and Cobrak, her heart beating like the drums of war. Maybe it was a trap? Maybe he would take the advantage and kill her, now. What a sad death that would be. It would be the sort of death I deserve. "Go home," Vilmah said quietly, glancing back at the Horde soldiers behind her. The flag of Sanctuary flapped with her movements, and for a moment, shaded them both. "They're probably wondering where you are."

 

There, in the shade of Sanctuary's banner, Cobrak did not feel the usual sarcastic anger towards that symbol; he didn't feel anything at the moment, except just tired. It was though he had aged several years in these moments, seeing through the lens of hindsight without the emotional baggage for just once. Tiring it was, to be called out on everything that you once held so close, to think of how you had grown, only to realize that only thing that changed on that spectrum was the degree of hatred he called upon.

Hers was not the first voice he knew to quell these thoughts, another one to join those of Faelenor and Megeda; the most prominent of his allies that tried to steer him forward as much as he had them. 

"I kinnae." He replied, weakly. Deflated almost, even the life draining he was subject to while crucified under Morinth, and later Lazhio, did not compare to how heavy everything felt in those moments. He had shut down the portal networks before he left, knowing deep down they couldn't be involved with what he was doing. They couldn't know. "...I came 'ere....to see this...." He looked around at the works of Horde intermingling with Alliance before the gates, readying for the attack at hand. "....See it through...an' I will....one way er tha otha...an' see whar....this path takes tha Horde."

 

Venturing a glance behind her, Vilmah saw what Cobrak was referring to. The Horde and Alliance forces were gathering at the gates, their leaders at the front. Soon they would confront Sylvanas, storm the city, and take it back. Again.

"Come with me, then," she suggested, turning back to look at him. "Orgrimmar is your city, too. I doubt you ever wanted to see it destroyed. There are still innocent people inside. We can at least make sure that they get out of this alive."

 

Cobrak remained silent, thoughts still digesting this new epiphany. Before he made to follow her, he turned to fetch Broden's rifle; the one treasure that would never leave his side.

The sand and grime were dusted off with a sweeping hand, staring hard at the double barrels. Returning to his side came his two lupine companions as well, Skoll and Hati jointly sensing their master's distress.

Thoughts turned towards the lessons of his youth, of the same Dark Iron who gave him everything that was Cobrak's save his appearance. The same things repeated by the orcess just behind him.

"How did ya forgive them..." He asked from his crouched place, back still to Vilmah. The question came not as the accusations of before, but tiredly desperate for an answer.

 

Seeing that he was following her, Vilmah led Cobrak back to the front. She still wondered if this was all some trick, and how easily hope tended to exploit her. She held on to that hope anyway, and prayed it wouldn't return to bite her in the face later.

"I didn't," she answered, shaking her head. "When Thrall and the others came to Hammerfall, most of the humans there were killed. The ones who kept us didn't survive. I didn't need to forgive them. They paid the price for their deeds, and I just.. I never really allowed myself to let the rest of the humans take credit for what they did to us. I knew the faces of my jailers. I saw their corpses. That was enough for me. I just wanted to be free, and Thrall did that for me. I trusted him then, and I trust him now. I would follow him anywhere. "

 

Collecting the axe, Cobrak returned now once again fully armed with rifle and axe at his back with wolves at his side. Skoll, ever the anti-social one, growled along with a show of fangs at Vilmah, opting to travel at Cobrak's opposite side. His mate, Hati, was the polar opposite, casually sniffing the orcess as she trotted. The sun and moon they were, same as the two orcs they walked in tandem with.

Cobrak took his gaze skyward, "He ne'er came fer us. Wuz too late. Word spread from tha guards, wot I 'eard in me cell after me lashin', wuz that a new Horde came ta tha camps...took down Dunholde in a single swoop." His grimace tightened, picturing the scene as vividly as one would a dream. " Them same men wot took away me first family...They escaped wit their lives while burnin' away my kin." He gave pause for a moment in their march, staring hard at something that hung in the afternoon breeze.

The anchored flag of Kul Tiras hung above a collected assortment of their mages and footmen, barely twenty in total. The hackles rose, as though on instinct, even as the beastmaster remained eerily calm despite his body's innate want to destroy them. "I ne'er saw them git wut they deserve."

Vilmah's brow furrowed at the thought. In retrospect, she had been lucky that the men responsible for what happened to her were killed in the liberation process. She was young enough to put those memories behind her and look toward the future. "I've never been any good at hating people," she said sincerely, clutching her sword instinctively, their movement allowing Sanctuary's banner to flutter behind her. "The only thing I learned from Hellscream is how to hate someone with every ounce of my being. I spent a long time in that exile just thinking about the ways I would kill him, and his Kor'kron, and make him suffer.. and when I finally did, it was one of the most.. it was the worst day of my life. Giving in to that hate, letting myself become the monster I never realized I could even be. I will never forgive myself for that day, and I wouldn't wish this kind of guilt on my worst enemy. Not even you, Cobrak."

Glancing at him for a brief moment, she allowed herself the moment of vulnerability between them. "Even if you did manage to find those men who hurt you, it wouldn't bring your family back. It wouldn't heal any of the pain you've suffered. I had to learn that the hard way. You can't fix what's already broken, and the kind of people who do that.. the kind of people who enjoy the suffering of others? They're already broken. You don't need to join them." Finally they approached the larger group outside, a gathering of Horde forces made up of their many allies. Vilmah led Cobrak toward a group of orcs, where they would be less noticeable. Ahead, Anduin, Thrall and Saurfang stood together, ready to make their march. Vilmah looked up at the gates of Orgimmar, where Sylvanas stood amongst her Dark Rangers. A swell of apprehension built in the pit of her stomach.

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he story of Hellscream tore at him. It was an too familiar feeling.

"It be an empty victory. I knew that already...tha dead willnae be brought back by their deaths." His scowl deepened, feeling the air cook around him. He could feel the scratches of her nails on his face, bloody tears made out of desperation. His hands pushed downward, deeper towards an orange pit of molten slag that lit the depths of Grim Batol. The face below was contorted with rage and fury, her shrieking cries of hatred fueling the baleful glare she locked onto him with. The sparkle of lavender light from one such eye began to fray and sputter as it was pushed underneath the pool's surface. Her screams of agony as she was cooked alive rang out in an echo that brought him no peace afterward.

"Morinth. She burned alive by my hand, screamin' bloody murder as she did." He spoke, brought to the present once more. "A part of me relished that. Loved that she suffered as I 'ad. I willnae say she got wut she deserved, but..." A snort, "I willnae say she didnae git wot she deserved...but...it still rings hollow, er'rytime I look at Broden's statue. When I kill a human, I see 'er again. I see tha Lord who whipped me senseless. They still color me world after all this time."

He looks back up at those gathered upon the gates, readying for the siege. All peoples of the Horde rallied around the Warchief. "I'm already broken. I 'ave been fer a good long while. Best I kin do is not let...this...all this that I be...break the Horde. Break tha next ones ta come along."

 

"An honorable goal," Vilmah said quietly, but her attention had moved toward their leaders and their discussion. She couldn't hear them speaking, but Thrall and Saurfang were exchanging words. Then Saurfang and Anduin. Then..

"Oh no," she whispered, as Saurfang walked, alone, toward the gates. 

His shouting could be heard from far away, but as soon as the words left his mouth they travelled through the soldiers and volunteers. The word made Vilmah's blood run cold as she realized what was about to happen. 

"Mak'gora," she repeated, shaking her head, eyes wide with terror. "He's going to.. he's going to get himself killed! They can't let him do this! Saurfang is strong, but he can't.. if he dies.."

 

Cobrak folded his arms, watching the going-on's with a mask of neutrality. Only an eyebrow quirked at the High Warlord's display, bearing the arms of both Horde and Alliance's leaders.

"Wut is 'e playin' at?" Cobrak muttered under his breath, fighting the urge to tap his foot in thought. "'E's jus' gonna-...huh." A thought sprang to life, his eye subconsciously trailing after it like a flighty prey flushed from hiding.

Snatching it, he looked back at the veteran orc with a new realization. "S'a con. 'E knows 'e kinnae win."

 

"What is he planning? A sacrifice to inspire the loyalists to defect? If he is slain in Mak'gora all that will do is cement the allegiance of those who stand with her now." A red haired far strider commented with a hardened grimace. He glanced at the two next to him, before forcing his attention forward. In that awkward moment he thought he had been speaking to a riflemen, not his boss. 

Gruk leaned back slightly to peer past his friend and offered a wave.

Vilmah shook her head at the voice. He could be right, of course, but wouldn't Saurfamg know that? She knew as much as anyone that he wanted his warrior's death, but at the cost of the Horde? He couldn't be that cruel, that selfish. He would never.. "He has a plan," she said confidently. He has to, she thought, even as Saurfang spoke to Anduin, and she watched the human king give the High Overlord his own sword. Her eyes went wide.

Cobrak's mouth opened to reply, and only then saw who it was at his side now. His mouth hung open for but a moment before he bellowed out, "Tha fuck ya damnnabbed' bloody-barned ijits doin' 'ere?! I shut tha damn portals down fer a reason!" His lone eye twitched out of an oncoming aneurysm, before it swapped over to where Saurfang stood before opening gates to reveal the banshee.

"We'll talk about that later...One way or another someone is about to die here." Gruk grunted. Uncharacteristically terse as he saw the old orc turn, a cleaver of the Horde in one fist, and the beautiful human blade in the other. "And my money is on the toothpick who brought a knife to an axe-fight."

The fight between Saurfang and Sylvanas was almost too quick to watch. From their vantage point, Vilmah, Cobrak, Gruk and.. some elf, could see that it was an uneven match. Saurfang was huge and powerful, but Sylvanas had the swiftness of a Farstrider combined with something... else. She moved too fast, her body was like a blur of smoke and it was difficult to focus on her. It wasn't until they saw Saurfang pull the sword apart that something shifted.

"She's been struck," one of the orcs nearby said, excitement in their voices. So she can be harmed! Vilmah thought, hope swelling in her chest. It didn't last long.

"..what did she say?" Another one of the soldiers asked, and a rumble of quiet voices chattered, passing down what they heard like a game of mailbox. "She said we're nothing?"

"No, she said the Horde is nothing."

"She said we were toys?"

"Toy soldiers?"

"She said--" But there wasn't time to discuss what she said. Sylvanas' banshee scream could be heard for miles away, as her rage tore through the ranks and Saurfang's tired body. Vilmah couldn't hear herself scream, but she knew she did as Saurfang fell to the ground.

"No!!"

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Cobrak tore from his two guardsmen to survey the fight, or rather, the toying of Sylvanas with a ragdoll. She was fast, faster than she was at Undercity; either that or the old orc was letting his age get to him. Unlikely, Cobrak thought to himself; Saurfang was as Vyzelok was, too stubborn to let age slow them down. Then, a clean shot on the Banshee; her reeling back. "You are all nothing!" That one cry broke the tension all around the field, and Cobrak couldn't help but stare forward at where the Warchief now doubled down on her condemnation. Deep down, he knew that's what they all were to her; nothing but pawns ever since she gassed her own people during the Battle for Undercity. It was an entirely different thing to hear it screamed as a tantrum, tying into a grand monologue about their idiocy. Cobrak merely lowered his head, unable to watch even as Saurfang fell and the Banshee took off...Shame had twisted his guts into a knot.

 

The bald orc's initial cheer at the charge died in his throat as the first clash saw the High overlord struck twice and nearly fall from that alone. The follow up was easily thwarted and punished again until the Veteran fell to his knees. He stayed there with his back bared as an open invitation that the Warchief refused to take as she said something else. He could not hear her words but he could make out the look of disgust on her face.

Saurfang was one of the strongest orcs he had ever seen in combat and she was making him look like.... HIM.

He perked up notably when the blade split into two and finally struck the Undead but it was quickly turned around with the woman's declaration. He could not decide what hurt more, seeing the orc reduced to such a state or having one of the higher ups in Command repeat the same words he had heard a thousand times before. He was nothing.

When the deathblow came, all he could do was stare in mute horror. Alaur shut his eyes and bowed his head, ignorant of the spell used but all too aware of what it meant.

The Mak'gora had reached its conclusion.

Before they could even speak of what happened, Sylvanas was gone. The anxiety in Vilmah's stomach reached its apex as Saurfang's body lay in the ground, his battle finally over. He had been a staple of the Horde for so long, the one voice she knew that they could always depend on, and now it was gone. Vilmah's voice was, too. It cracked as she heaved a mournful sob, shaking her head at the image before her.

"For the Horde," she whispered, gripping both fists at her sides. Her hazel eyes focused on King Anduin, who with Thrall and their allies, picked up the body of Varok Saurfang.

TINK TINK! Sylvanas' flag bearer signaled the others, inside.

TINK TINK!

 

"We really just letting the Allies in?" Gruk muttered in disbelief as the body of the orc was hefted onto the shoulders of many and slowly marched through the gates. The procession was heralded by the synchronized rapping of metal banners upon stone and iron, a pause and then two strikes, a pause and then two strikes. 

"Everyone has lost today." Alaur murmured. "Let there be solidarity, if even for a short time."

 

Cobrak stared ahead, his mouth shut tight as he followed the tide of soldiers flooding in after the body of Saurfang. The chorus of flag strikes resounding around them as they passed through The gates into the city proper.

"'E got us in." He finally spoke, staring ahead at the corpse through the throng of people from both sides. "Wit' jus' one life given."

"Just one life," Vilmah repeated, wiping her eyes with the back of one gauntlet, her voice shaky and hoarse. "One important life, and.. one he gave, willingly." Swallowing down another mournful groan, the blademaster sheathed her sword and stepped toward the throng of soldiers following what was now a funeral procession. "He gave his life for all of us. Let's not waste it."

 

"But what now?" Alaur asked quietly, casting a side eye at the line of Kal'dorei archers far to the left before looking at the line of banner and now wielding Forsaken atop the wall.

"He exposed Sylvanas ... That does not change what has happened. That does not change how many agreed with what she did."

"We keep goin', keep livin'." Cobrak spoke up, looking through the throng ahead of them into Orgrimmar proper, the streets packed with soldiers and civilians both. "Thar'll always be scars..." A glance over to Vilmah before he directs it forward, "Some...will ne'er let them heal, best we kin do is mend wut we kin an' keep walkin' forward."

 

"It won't be enough." Alaur murmured as the crowd trudged through the tunnel into Ogrimmar's valley. A slab had already been raised to rest the remains of the High warlord upon and those that followed began to fan out and make room for the flood of mourners. 

"Why you gotta be such a pessimist?" Gruk hissed.

"One of the visitors at this funeral is the biggest war criminals the Alliance ever decided to promote and so many others are traitors to the state. Once the feeling of loss and relief at the end of Sylvanas's reign dissipates we will be back in arms for past transgressions and downplaying our own. That's how its been, that's how it will be. Saurfang spoke many pretty words but at the end of the day, they will ring hollow."

 

"Now isn't the time for your bullshit," Vilmah spat toward the elf, shouldering past him toward Saurfang's remains. She turned to look at him for a moment, her bloodshot eyes narrowed. "If you want to talk about what you think the future will bring, do it somewhere else. We're here to mourn someone who just gave his life for the people in this city, not listen to you talk about how futile you think his sacrifice was."

Clenching her jaw, she turned back from him and marched with the others, hands shaking with both rage and loss and everything in between. At some point, she reached back for the flag on her back and unmounted it, sliding the flagpole back into the leather holster at her thigh. There was a long march to Saurfang, as members of the Horde (and some of the Alliance) shuffled past to pay their respects.

It was surreal to imagine that just moments before, these same people had gathered to storm the gates and fight whatever stood between them and Sylvanas. Now they stood together, their voices quiet and for the most part respectful, as they waited their turn to see the legendary Varok Saurfang one last time. When it was finally her turn, Vilmah took the opportunity to take a knee and put her good hand into the soul beneath his body. This was the earth of Durotar, the earth of the city he gave his life to save. Saurfang had made many mistakes in his long life, but in the end, he was willing to give that life for the lives of others. That was a kind of bravery and honor Vilmah couldn't fathom most people capable of, and she searched her heart in wonder of what it meant. Maybe it was futile. Or maybe it was the last in a long line of sacrifices the Horde would need in order to rebuild itself. Seeing him dead in front of her, the same age as her father, the same clan even, she saw a father who not only lost his son, but also his Horde. Now, it was his again.

"Your spirit will be with us always," she said quietly, clutching the earth in her hand before letting it fall back to the ground. Her respects paid, she stood and fell back into the crowd. There was more to do.

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