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Everything posted by Vilmah

  1. When the wailing came, Gor'mul awoke from a dead-like sleep with a sharp jolt of pain in his side. One of his cellmates had jabbed the orc awake, then shook him as the drowsiness threatened to take him back under. He had been dreaming of a hunt, somewhere long ago on Draenor, where he and Matuya spent days in search of clefthoof. She was an incredible huntress, swift with the bow and somehow able to hide herself within shadows too small for Gor'mul. His hulking mass was enough to frighten the beasts they searched for, but it was Matuya who brought them down. Her earthy brown skin took on a gold-like shine in the moonlight, and he wished beyond reason that they could stay in the wilderness forever. Waking from that dream to hear her calling for him, the orc shook his head and stood. It was snowing. Frost had gathered at the roots of what little hair Gor'mul had left, which he scratched at with one hand. Turning toward her voice, the orc waved frantically at one of the human guards. They usually slept at this time, but Matuya's cries had woken them too. Perhaps in an effort to stop her from waking the entire camp, the humans scurried around her enclosure with the few items they could offer a birthing woman in her time of need. He saw steam rising from a bucket of hot water, a few clean looking rags. Her wails sounded tortuous, not the steady birthing calls of the females he was used to hearing when he was young and helped his grandmother. The old Blackrock had been a midwife, and prided herself in teaching her children and grandchildren how to welcome new life into the world. But this was wrong. Matuya's voice was strained, not steady. She was screaming, not breathing into the rhythm of her contractions. Waving to get the human guards' attention, Gor'mul shouted in his own language. "Please! That's my mate! Please, let me see her!" One of the guards stepped away from the others and approached Gor'mul's cage. Over the past few months, they had gotten to know one another in basic ways. This particular guard he recognized by the gold hair on his face and brown eyes. He hadn't been particularly kind, but there was no malice in his eyes either. "Mate?" He asked in orcish, pointing toward Matuya. "Dabu!" Gor'mul yelled, his bloodshot eyes wide with panic. The guard turned toward his awake companions and gave them a look. It was difficult to determine what the look meant, but eventually they seemed to come to the same conclusion and opened Gor'mul's cage. With swords pointed toward the emaciated orc, they led him to Matuya's cage. Standing on thin legs, the Frostwolf was held in a crouched position with a female on either side, allowing her to rest her weight on their shoulders. He hadn't seen her in several days, but Gor'mul was visibly shocked by how thin his mate appeared. The once proud huntress' long black hair had fallen out in thick chunks over the past few months, resulting in a visible scalp. Her face was gaunt, forcing her already strong cheekbones to appear sharp and jagged. With her mouth open he noticed that she was missing teeth, making her tusks appear even larger than they already were. With her eyes squeezed shut, she didn't notice him approach, but the guards allowed him to reach into the cage and take one of her hands. "I'm here!" He said hoarsely, squeezing her frail fingers. "Matuya, I'm here!" The Frostwolf opened her exhausted eyes and turned her gaze on Gor'mul. He saw months worth of suffering in the faded hazel color, but his only instinct was to hold her hand as another contraction wracked her body and made her bony knees shake. Thankfully, the two females helping still had the strength to keep her upright, and one on the ground knelt in front of her, blood falling into her hands as she waited for the baby to make its entrance. Too much blood, Gor'mul thought to himself. He had witnessed births before, and while blood was always present it was never so much as this. Already weak with hunger, he knew that much blood meant that Matuya's chances at survival were slim. "Ha'rega," he said with forced calm, looking into her strained eyes. "You must breathe, and push into each breath. The child has to come quickly, now." The female on the ground nodded in agreement, reaching between Matuya's legs. "I can feel the head but it is not moving," she said gravely. "If she does not have the strength to push it might suffocate like this." "Matuya, look at me," Gor'mul said with another squeeze of his hand. "I can't lose you. Please, breathe, and push when you exhale. Like this.." He took in a deep breath. Wordlessly, she followed his example. Matuya breathed in, then out, and with her breath came a low wail. "Yes, it's moving!" The orcess below her shouted encouragingly. "Like that, Matuya!" Again Gor'mul breathed, guiding his mate to do the same. She followed his example, taking in a deep breath, and then pushing as she exhaled. Slowly, and with no shortage of groaning, a small green infant slipped into the world and into the orcess' waiting hands. A cascade of blood followed, eliciting a pained cry from Gor'mul. Blood born. Children born of such a huge amount of blood usually did not have surviving mothers. They were cursed to live motherless, cursed from their first breath. Shortly after a thick mass of afterbirth fell to the floor of the cage. A tiny cry came from the new life, but Gor'mul's eyes were focused on Matuya. "She must rest," he directed, and pointed toward the afterbirth. "She has to--" "It's not clean," the orcess holding his child said firmly, using her own clothes to clean the wailing infant. "Ayla, Grisla, let her down. She needs to rest. Gor'mul, take the child so we can clean her up." Gor'mul reluctantly released Matuya's hand and, almost robotically, reached for the wailing infant. The weight of it drew a pained moan in his own voice. The infant was so small, it fit through the bars of Matuya's cage without trouble. Though they lacked the girth they once had, Gor'mul's hands were just large enough to hold his child, crying and squirming in the cold. It was female, he realized, and in spite of its size she was perfectly formed. Pressing her against his chest, he held his progeny with the growing concern that his mate might not survive. Matuya lay on the floor of her cage, attended to by her cellmates and cleaned as much as they could manage. Reaching one hand through the bars, she turned her gaze toward the still-screaming infant. "Give her to me," she said weakly. Gor'mul's first instinct was to obey her, but fear gnawed at his stomach. This child, tiny as it was, might survive. It would need sustenance, and Matuya was already fading. A terrible choice stood before him, as he considered the repercussions of allowing Matuya to care for their daughter. Protectively, he held the infant closer, letting her stay warm against his skin. "I can't," he grunted, turning his eyes away from her. "It is.. weak. Malformed. It will not survive. We have to.." "Give her to me," Matuya repeated, her hazel eyes steely as they stared at her mate. It was not a request. "I will not," he said through his teeth, even as his daughter reached for the hairs on his chest. "She is weak, and--" "Give. Her. To. Me," the Frostwolf commanded, her tusks protruding from her mouth like a hungry animal. "Now." Gor'mul felt what was left of his heart break for her, the female he loved more than his own life. "If I drown her now, you might live through this," he argued, pleading with her. "You can have more children, Tuya. You are strong, you can survive. This child is.. she is cursed, and she will curse you too. I am sorry, ha'rega. I can not allow you to die for one weak--" "Give her to me now!!" Matuya's shout was like a wolf's snarl, and somehow, impossibly, the infant stopped screaming. Instead, she turned her small head, already downy with soft purple hair, and opened her eyes. They were the same color as Matuya's, a soft hazel, like the trees and the woods she and Gor'mul once hunted in. The Blackrock whimpered like a child himself, knowing that this baby, however impossibly small, would kill his mate. This blood cursed creature would take the one thing in the world that he had left to love. Pulling it away from the warmth of his chest, he pushed her through the bars. Gor'mul watched with resentment as the baby latched on to Matuya's breast, hungry for life. He watched his mate sigh with relief, closing her eyes in serene calm, as if oblivious to the snow falling around them and the approaching chill. Here, in this moment, in spite of her pain and hopelessness, Matuya felt at peace. The sharp point of a sword at his back reminded Gor'mul that it was a peace he would not be able to share with her. Without saying goodbye, he was led back to his cage.
  2. Wind was loud in the Arathi Highlands. Without many trees to dampen the breeze, the sound of wind gusting on more extreme days could often be deafening. It was the only thing that could compete with the whistle in Gor'mul's ears, still ringing months after the Siege of Blackrock Spire. He and the dozens of other males who were transported with him sat listlessly in large cages, built specifically for the once enormous orcish captives. As the wind blew, rattling loose chains nearby, he remembered the way they were brought to this green and rainy place. Dragged by their chains from wagons, they were led toward a primitive base manned with a few dozen human soldiers. Without armor or weapons, the orcs were half naked and starved from the journey. It would be something to get used to, along with the breeze of their new "home". Placed in cages with little to no privacy, the orcs were given buckets to defecate in and yet more buckets of water for drinking. If they were the same buckets, no one questioned it. They were provided with threadbare clothing and blankets, as if their size somehow made the chill of Arathi less powerful. Food was limited to bread and grains, sometimes beans and vegetables. There was a noticeable lack of meat, but the longer they remained in captivity, the less anyone complained. A strange lethargy had overcome the orcs, who took to their cages like wounded pets. Gor'mul shared his cage with several other males, all Blackrock orcs, and for the most part he sat in a corner and listened for something to drown out the whistle in his ears. Rarely, however, he had the opportunity to catch a glimpse of his mate. Miraculously, Matuya had been sent to the same camp as Gor'mul. It gave him something to search for on clear days, when the guards would allow one or two of the females to walk for short laps around the camp. He would search for her eyes, waving frantically to get her attention, but as the weeks and months dragged on, the less she would turn to face him. Her face grew gaunt even as her belly swelled, though it was noticeably not as large as most orcish pregnancies typically were. Both hope and despair weighed heavy in his chest when he saw her, his beautiful wolf, turned thin and fading with each day. "They're not feeding them enough," he said to one of his cellmates as the females were walked past their cage. Gor'mul's own face had begun to sag, skin hanging limply to bone. "My mate is going to give birth, soon. She needs to eat." "No whelp is going to survive this," one of his cellmates spat, coughing violently afterwards. The orcs passed around a perpetual chill that kept the camps loud with coughs and sneezes. Wiping spittle from his mouth, the older orc grunted before wheezing. "You had better collect water to drown it before it can latch on or that Frostwolf will never let it go." Yes, of course. There was no way the child Matuya carried would be healthy. Not in her circumstances, and even if it was, it wouldn't stay that way. The humans wouldn't allow them to breed in there. His child would be a half starved mongrel, weak and inferior. Thoughts of his father and Juggulator came to mind. If his child couldn't wield the axe, how could it bring honor to his family? Drowning it was the only option, but he knew Matuya would fight him. No Frostwolf would willingly kill her own child. "She would never allow it," he agreed, shaking his head. "Matuya is not like us." "Well then she will die," the old Blackrock sighed. "A mother can't provide for both herself and a child on the scraps they give us. I know Frostwolves. They'll defend their pups to the death. You had better hope it's a male so it gets thrown in here with us once she starves." The thought of the humans throwing a baby into a cage felt ridiculous. Laughable even, but perhaps not impossible. He remembered the slaughter at Blackrock Mountain. If they remembered too, perhaps they were capable of anything. Losing Matuya, however, was not an option. "She will not die," Gor'mul grunted, standing. He still had half a piece of bread from his meal earlier, stale and crumbling in his hand. Waving toward one of the guards, he stuck his hand with the bread through to bars and pointed at Matuya as she walked away from him. "Give it to her!" He shouted, waving the piece of food like a madman. "Give it to my mate!" The human guards stopped their walk and turned toward the orc making a fuss. Matuya looked at Gor'mul, and for a moment he could see the hope still burning in her hazel eyes. Walking her toward the cage, the guards pointed at each orc. "Mate?" One of them said in orcish, pointing at her stomach. Matuya nodded, then pointed to Gor'mul. "Mate," she repeated. Gor'mul felt his chest lighten. The guard took his bread and offered it to Matuya who reached for it gratefully. Then it fell to the ground. The guard crushed it under his boot and shoved Matuya forward, away from Gor'mul. Rage still built in the Blackrock's stomach, but it was weak and thin. He could only watch as Matuya was led away, prodded in the back by the butt of a rifle, her parting glance sad and apologetic. "Stay strong," Gor'mul said reflexively, but how anyone could do that now was beyond his understanding.
  3. Gor'mul stared at the chains over his wrists, cold metal stinging his wounds. The humans had no manacles big enough for his orcish frame, or anyone else's. Instead they wrapped thick steel chains around wrists and ankles, binding the few remaining orcs who survived the Siege of Blackrock Spire. A thin tinny sound whistled in Gor'mul's ears, likely caused by the noise of the battle. He couldn't hear the whistle as screams and metal against bone rang out around him, or as he himself roared loud enough to damage his throat until he tasted blood on his tongue. The cacophony of death shielded him from whatever that high pitched whine was, and he found himself longing for it. There was an itch in his palms where his axe should be, but that axe was long gone, buried in some human's body. He ached for the crunch of bone, again. His mouth throbbed from the clench of his jaw. On both sides, a human held a pike blade close enough to threaten his life if he so much as spoke a word. The whistle annoyed him, but not as much as the babble of humans around him. "March them down," one of the humans shouted, but Gor'mul didn't understand their garbled language. The pull of his chains by another orc in front of him signaled that he should walk, so he walked. Obedient. The very idea made the rage build up in his belly again, and it would be easy to simply use those chains and strangle a few humans before ultimately being put to death. That would be an honorable way to die. Instead, he walked with his fellow prisoners down toward a gathering of yet more orcs, herded like beasts. Somewhere over the human speech and rattle of chains, he could still hear the mad screaming of the Burning Blade. He witnessed them unleashed, cast into the battlefield like wild animals who cut down all in their path. Though trained in the arts of war, he had never seen so much blood in his entire life. Limbs strewn across the battlefield continued to bleed over still-twitching corpses, arrows and swords buried in their cooling flesh. He wondered idly how many of those arrows were Matuya's? How many humans did she kill? Was she even still alive? "Get them in the wagon!" One of the humans shouted, but Gor'mul could only hear grunting. Far away he could see a group of orcs, females mostly, being loaded into a wooden transport led by horses. The females had been stripped of their armor and Gor'mul could see from his vantage point that some were being prodded and checked for any hidden weapons. One of them, a noticeably brown female, was being shoved into the back of the transport. "Matuya," Gor'mul grunted, his eyes widening at the sight of her. Without her armor, her Frostwolf tattoos and brown skin gave her away immediately. "Matuya!" The butt of a rifle took the wind from Gor'mul's lungs. A human barked something at him, likely an order for his silence, but he continued to cough and cover the whistle in his ears by calling for his mate. "Tuya," he wheezed, forcing himself to stand upright and shout toward the females. A few turned toward the commotion, but their human guards continued to herd them into the wagon. "Tuya! Tuya, be strong!!" Another rifle butt to his stomach sent Gor'mul to the ground. He didn't fight the jab, chained as he was, but coughed leaned over and coughed until he could breathe normally again. Humans continued barking their orders, but all he could hear was that high pitched squeal. Grinding his teeth, the Blackrock shook his head, as if perhaps that might dislodge the sound. Another jab of a rifle butt to his back reminded him to stand and walk, and the noise went with him. It went with him toward the gathering of orc prisoners, and it followed him on the wagon set aside for the males. It didn't let up even when he was pushed against two dozen bodies, their injuries and sweat creating a stench that could be detected miles away. The noise was like a friend, a gift of the battlefield, and like the horrors of that day it would stay with him until he died.
  4. Matuya wrapped her hands, again, beside constantly refilled bucket of water next to her anvil. Blood seeped through the thin bandages, the same thin skin torn through as she endlessly hammered weapons. The orcess' soft hands were unaccustomed to the forge, but she agreed to do her part long ago. Sweat rolled down her arms, stinging the wounds as she wound the bandages until the blood was hidden again. Eventually she would wrap them again, but she could ignore the pain for a while longer. Lordaeron was coming, and the Blackrock Clan would not allow the Horde to fall short of weapons. A Frostwolf herself, she was a small representation for her clan in this place, and she would make them proud. Pressing her lips together tightly, Matuya closed her eyes and stood stone still as a wave of nausea passed over her. She hadn't eaten in several hours, but as the humans approached and allies remained missing, their food was being rationed. The nausea, however, had been with her for the past several weeks. She knew what this meant, and cursed the timing. Before she could return to her place, a thick callused hand landed on her shoulder and startled Matuya from her thoughts. "Oh! Gor'mul," she said, shaking her head. "I was just taking a moment to wrap my hands." "Are you alright?" He asked quietly, leaning in so that no one else could hear them over the clanging of hammers and metal. "You look pale." "I'm fine," she answered, smiling beneath the black soot that caked most of their faces. "Just a little sick today. That's supposed to be a good sign." "You should eat something," the Blackrock muttered, glancing behind himself. "There's no point in such heavy rationing if the humans are sending all of their forces here." Pausing to look around them, at all of the weapons being prepared and the excitement of a looming battle, he took in a heavy breath of smoky air and muttered confidently. "We're going to decimate them." "I've heard that they outnumber us," Matuya argued gently. "Without our allies, we may not be able to defend the mountain. The human king leads them himself." "They don't have what we have," Gor'mul said firmly, whispering toward her again. "The Burning Blade are with us. The humans will see their madness and know a death like no other, I promise you that. What I'm worried about is you, and our child." Matuya's smile faltered, as if skeptical of her mate's claim. She shook her head at the mention of their eventual progeny and tried again to smile. "I'm fine," she reassured the Blackrock, tilting her head up to kiss him. The salt from Gor'mul's green skin made her salivate. "It's early days yet." Gor'mul gazed at his mate, sadness coloring his red eyes. Matuya was one of the few remaining in Blackrock Mountain who retained her brown skin, and the color brought back memories of their time hunting clefthooves together in the wild. He had never seen anyone wield a bow the way she could, though she eventually gave it up to accompany him to the forges of Blackrock Mountain. The Frostwolf made a place for herself, her small dexterous hands skilled at hammering the details in smaller weapons, but there was always a softness in her hazel eyes that even the war couldn't harden. When she told him that she carried his child, Gor'mul's chest swelled with pride, and his family celebrated the continuation of their line. There were a few happy days before the rationing, and his mother's untimely death. Now he saw her color fading, and the fear of losing her to the approaching battle drew a tremble in each hand. Squeezing her shoulder, he steadied himself and kissed Matuya's forehead. "I will find you something. Wait here, and--" "To arms! Lordaeron approaches!!" Gor'mul's jaw dropped. Now? So soon? He looked around for his father, but the old orc was gone. "You! Frostwolf!" The voice forced both Gor'mul and Matuya to turn in its direction to find a tall broad-chested Blackrock commander waving the smaller orc toward him. "With me and the archers!" Knowing their time together was short, Matuya kissed Gor'mul one last time. Her lips were cold, he thought vaguely. "Fight well, ha'rega," she said quickly, and then she was gone. Standing alone as chaos erupted around him, Gor'mul considered what he must do. Armor, weapons, and then battle. Perhaps death. Somewhere, his mate would be fighting from a safe distance and this was good. If he fell on this day, she would tell their child about him and his family, and that would have to do. Better for him to die than his mate, the mother of his child. "Victory or death," he said to himself, and prepared for the battle ahead.
  5. The heat of the forge still warmed Throggok's skin as he retreated from its warmth, a bundle cradled in one arm. The orc, clad in the thin protective leather of a smith, disappeared easily through the other members of the Blackrock Clan as they worked endlessly to repair and forge weapons. Day and night the forges bellowed smoke as swords, axes, pikes and hammers were crafted by their skillful hands. Black calluses, numbed by years of such work, were a point of pride and Throggok could feel his tightening around the precious treasure he held close to his chest. Retreating from the crowded anvils, he made his way through the dark halls of Blackrock Spire. The further he moved away from the beating hammers of his brothers and sisters, the quieter the spire became. Here was where they slept, when allowed, and there would be no sleep for the Blackrock Clan until the humans marching toward them were dead. "So too will we sleep," he muttered under his breath, a prayer to the ancestors for a good death on the battlefield. He was old now, and dragged a lame foot once crushed by the weight of an anvil. He could still swing a hammer with the strength of three humans, but he was too slow for the battle that would soon arrive. Throggok found the small cubicle that he once shared with his mate Ashra, now dead from exhaustion. Only days ago, the orcess had fallen into the forge as she worked to reassemble a broken axe. The weapon had taken a beating in its last battle, wielded by their son Gor'mul. He had survived to tell the tale, but their priceless family heirloom was damaged nearly beyond repair. They might have forgotten it, given the battle to come. With the forces of Lordaeron marching toward Blackrock Mountain, what was one weapon? But the axe, Juggulator, was had been passed down from Throggok's father. It earned him the name Spinecleaver, and both he and Ashra agreed that their son should wield it when the final battle came. What they failed to understand, however, was that Doomhammer would push them to their limits in the final days before the siege. No sleep, little food remaining, and their allies missing forced the Blackrock Clan to work harder than they ever worked in their lives. The old fell while on their feet, and this included Ashra. With Juggulator still in pieces, Throggok took it upon himself to put it back together. That was only days ago. Today, as Throggok hammered at the metal he heard the call. "To arms! Lordaeron approaches!!" The smiths would be removed from the forges soon, to join their brothers and sisters in battle. Until then, they worked harder, faster, and didn't notice that Throggok removed himself and Juggulator from his place by the anvil. It was still in two pieces, and if given enough time he would have been able to repair it. The thought of just how much time he spent on this single weapon weighed on his conscience, but he still saw his father's eyes in the grooves of the axe's handle, designed to resemble a spine. No, this piece of their lineage would survive. Pulling out loose bricks from the floor of his cubicle, Throggok dug into the dirt beneath until he had enough space to hide Juggulator. Still wrapped in loose hide, he placed the broken axe inside and placed a hand over the still-warm bundle. "You will taste blood again," he promised. "I swear it." Outside of the cubicle, he could hear the loud slap of boots against stone. They were running, now, to move into position. Carefully, he moved the bricks back into their place and kicked loose dirt into the cracks between them. Satisfied with his hiding spot, the old smith pushed himself back to his feet and pushed open the chest that held his armor and axes. With the future secure, it was time to meet his destiny.
  6. 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.
  7. 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!!"
  8. 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.
  9. 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!"
  10. 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!"
  11. 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."
  12. 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."
  13. I've been reading through Amoola's writing since I heard the news. She was a great writer and a good friend and guild mate. May the eternal sun shine upon her.
  14. Well, Darkshore is a warzone again. A real one, this time. The Night Elves have invoked their goddess and the Horde has asked that we defend the land that we attempted to take. Sylvanas has been plaguing it, so I'm not sure what the point of it all is. Survival? How are we supposed to survive on plagued land? Does she expect us all to go there for the glory of battle and nothing else? We're not that stupid, Sylvanas. The Alliance is expected to attack Andorhol, soon. With them, the Night Vanguard. I can't say I'm at all surprised. Ever since we broke our treaty they've somehow managed to pop up in places where conflict is imminent, so what's one more battle? They outnumber us, that's for sure. They have superior numbers and Margoz can pull dozens of troops out of his ass if he so chooses. We're not going to win this fight by throwing bodies at him and I won't sacrifice my men that way. I have a better idea, one that utilizes the strengths that the Horde has and the Alliance doesn't. No, it's not the plague.
  15. The sky was a pale grey blue, empty of clouds. In spite of the brightness, and the small yellow sun, there was no warmth. White painful cold radiated through her skin, chilling her to the bone. Vilmah Bloodborne lie still, covered in the snow she remembered without much fondness. Somewhere in her memory, she recalled nights alone in exile, her only company the same wolfdog that she was tricked into buying so long ago. Where was he now? Edmund was big enough for her to ride, but only just so. He didn't have the toothy maw of a wolf that most orcs would consider passable, but a constantly wagging tongue and ears that flopped at the tips. He was a sweet creature, more likely to nuzzle an enemy than to attack unless firmly guided. When he did clamp his jaws down on someone, however, he did not let go. He could crush bones with those jaws, but he had little to no desire to do so. Not unless she really needed him to. He was a misfit from the beginning, and she loved him. Where was he, now? She knew that in the snow she would be numb, eventually, but for the moment it was only pain. The cold was slowly freezing her skin, layer by layer, killing the nerves within. Trapped. An avalanche? The weight of it would not allow her to move. Attempting to flex the fingers of her left hand, she realized quickly there was no response. Her mechanical arm was gone, and all she was left with was the heavy snow that covered her up to her chin, burying her within. All she could see is the sky, and all she could hear was the silence. Help! She tried to shout, but her voice would not work. Did something destroy it, before? Has she been yelling all this time? Is anyone there? I'm going to die here, she understands. This was her fate, for some reason. She was alone, cold, and no one would come for her. The clouds drift in, and once again, snow began to fall, burying her alive. ---------------------------------------- Vilmah awoke from her nightmare without much noise, her eyes opening in the dark to stare wordlessly at the stone ceiling of her bedroom in Razor Hill. The orcess was still wearing the same under armor she had on the day before; plain gray linen pants and a shirt. The gray almost matched the stone walls of her room, and with her furs tossed to the floor at some point, it was no wonder she dreamed of freezing to death. Idly, she wondered how long it took Garinth to pick away at that stone, to create each individual room, and what it must have felt like to see it filled with so many new people. She remembered the shy blind half orc she met as a young girl, and recalled just how surprised she was to see him again during the war against the Legion. Surprised and relieved. That relief felt like it happened ages ago. He was gone again, and his partner, Greywind, was dead. Sleeping at her side and taking up half of her bed, Edmund snored noisily. At her feat and at her head, Greywind's puppies joined him in the chorus. Surrounded by canines, there was a certain comfort and familiarity that tugged at a smile in the corners of her mouth. It didn't get very far. The magic time piece on her wall indicated that she had been sleeping less than two hours, and her body wanted her up. Careful not to disturb the puppies, Vilmah pushed herself from her back and slid both legs from the bed. The puppies didn't seem to mind, but Edmund's eyes opened to watch her climb out of bed and move toward her desk. She was nearly silent on bare feet, and the puppies dozed on. Fuzzbutt, finding the warmth of Vilmah's head missing, rolled into Edmund instead. The wolfdog snorted but didn't object. Meditate, she thought to herself, pulling out a sheet of paper and a quill. I need to meditate, and I can't do it if I can't clear my mind. Staring at the blank sheet, Vilmah waited for the words to come to her. They were one part prayer, one part an emptying of thoughts. The words were jumbled and not as coherent as she would have liked, but she poured every thought trapped inside of her on to the page. Before long, it was full of her anger and frustration, and tears blurred her vision. When she finished emptying every thought, Vilmah blew on the page to help the ink dry, and folded it. Edmund raised his head, and the puppies yawned simultaneously. With all three canines at her feet, she went outside. ---------------------------------------- The sun hadn't begun to rise as Vilmah stepped on to the sand, still barefoot, with two huge puppies and Edmund behind her. They were still sleepy enough not to cause a fuss, though Edmund made sure to keep an eye on them both as Vilmah found the small cactus garden cultivated by their other resident shaman, Alinah. Sitting down crosslegged in the sand, Edmund lay down a few feet away and was joined by Furface and Fuzzbutt. The cold desert air chilled Vilmah enough that she briefly considered going back in to grab a sweater, but the prickling of her skin reminded her of the dream, and it settled her. Reaching into one of her pockets, she pulled out a stick of incense and flint. Sticking the incense into the ground in front of her, she then retrieved the piece of paper that she wrote before, and struck the flint to light it. With the folded paper's flame, she lit the incense and sat the burning paper down on the sand. Quickly, it burned to black ashes as the smoke joined the wafting thread of incense. The sight of her words burning away into nothingness drew a strange calm over her, and Vilmah finally closed her eyes to meditate.
  16. Had a nice talk with Gun. He seems pretty happy, he was visiting his family and introducing them to his new girlfriend just before we spoke. I feel a little guilty about throwing my troubles at him, considering how well he's been doing. He's always been good to me, I'm not sure it's been very even. Right now he's just about the only person I feel like I can be honest with, and even then, I can't really tell him everything now can I? To think, I felt isolated when I was in exile. I thought it was because I was in exile that I felt that way. Now I wonder if maybe it had nothing to do with me being exiled at all. Maybe I'm just meant to be the lonely type? Frostwolves are supposed to be like pack animals, but I'm not exactly feeling that way lately. I'm not sure what changed about me. I used to have a lot of friends. Now I find it hard to talk to people, especially about anything too personal. I just let it build up instead. Is that what I'm supposed to do? Just keep all of it inside? I should be meditating. I've been trying to, but every time it seems like my inner voice just wants to scream at me. I can't really blame her, I want to scream too. I want to scream. I want to be angry. But what do I have to be angry at? Sylvannas? The void? The Night Vanguard? Myself? I don't have any one person to blame for all the things I'm feeling, just a big soup of shit I have to keep eating. It used to be that being alone was a choice I made, to keep myself from getting too attached. What was I thinking? It wasn't a choice. It never was.
  17. The Blood War is raging. Garinth is missing. Ridan's mother is dead. Sorathan is dead. Greywind is dead. My chest is heavy and I'm having trouble sleeping. There are things you can't stop from happening, but that doesn't mean I don't feel guilt. I have a duty to serve these people, and I'm failing them. I have tried being conservative with our limited resources, but there are dissenting voices that crave war and revenge. I can't blame them. I want more than anything to find Garinth, and whoever killed Greywind, and tear them apart until my fingers are bloody and I don't feel this guilt anymore. I know that isn't possible, so I have to be patient and wait. Nika is still in Andorhal, and the Alliance wants to march. Soon I might need to bring the few volunteers I have and stand at the front lines. Maybe it will all end there, in glorious battle. A soldier's death, defending my people. It's all I could ever hope for, it's all I should want. I feel selfish for wanting more. Selfish and wrong. At least if I die in battle, I die with honor. Honor is getting so rare these days, it's like trying to keep hold of a slippery fish. Or a slippery shark. I'm chomping at the bit to get back at those bastards who plagued us and killed Ridan's mother, but it's a wildly irresponsible desire. I have Kenton to worry about, now. With a worgen at my heels, I'm practically swimming in wolves. Kenton is kind and thoughtful, but I wonder how much of that is the spell he's under. When you have someone who's been programmed to serve you, it's difficult to tell where the sincerity is. It's so lonely. I have to go through Garinth's journal to find some kind of clue as to his whereabouts and I hate that. I hate that I need to breach his privacy, but I know it's the right thing to do. Greywind's saddle is sitting alone in his room and Razor Hill feels empty. I have to remind myself to eat and sleep, or the headaches chase me down and force my hand. I can't let that happen. So much to do. I hear the embassy is ready. I'll have an office there, a place to work where I can help people away from the war. Is it wrong that I want to stay here instead?
  18. Thought I'd take some time and visit the cantina tonight. Had an alright time catching up with Tahzani, telling him all about what's happening on Zandalar. I'm not exactly an expert on what's happening, but from what I've seen, I think we can expect big trouble in the future. Killing a loa.. that's something beyond my understanding. If there's one thing Nojinbu taught me, it's to respect the loa, even if you don't understand them. They're powerful, and some might not be in your corner, but there's a certain logic to them so its best to let them be. Gods know I don't have the balls to make an enemy of any loa.. The night was going alright until Cobrak showed up, which kind of soured the conversation we were having about Tul'urak. Apparently Tahz and a friend of his were helping him pay tribute to his loa, which is definitely a good idea considering how much abuse he takes. I hope he's doing well. I haven't heard from him since Alinah blew up at him, and I'm not keen on talking to her about that either. They're both strong willed and at the perfect age for anger and hormones to take over their brains, so really I'm not surprised. I just hope he's okay. Supposedly he left Borrowed Time, so he's on his own now. I don't know why I'm so worried. Well, sure I do. He's Nomeni's kid, and Nomeni would have wanted him to be safe. I'm just really shitty at looking after people, especially when they're not even a part of Sanctuary. I can't very well make someone accept my advice or accept the fact that I want them to be safe. I'm sure from his perspective, I sound ridiculous. I am ridiculous. Hearing Cobrak call him a coward, and all his blustering about killing humans, I would have given just about anything to be able to give him a good punch in the face. Just. One. But what does that do? Nothing, and I've got to be the cool headed one, and I can't just start fights anymore, so I have to keep my big mouth shut. I left. Cobrak wanted to go on and on about killing and war and all the bullshit I've been trying to avoid contributing to, and I knew it was just going to upset me. Last thing I need is to let it go to my head. I'm supposed to be the calm one. Sometimes I wish I could actually just be the bitch they think I am.
  19. Looks like we'll be working with Andorhal in the near future. I'm sending the Colonel a few men to start things off, and it's a good feeling knowing that we have just the kind of people we need for this sort of mission. I'm being noticeably vague, just in case. If I ever read this in the future, know, future me, that I did this for a good reason. Besides, I'm sure you can figure out what it is I'm talking about. You're me, after all. It turns out my father decided to try and communicate with me through my necklace. Lucky for me, I have a shaman to help guide me through this realm of ghosts and anger. My mother never get a proper burial in Hammerfall. He never told me that while I was alive. I shouldn't have assumed they would have treated us with any kind of respect, but, her spirit is still there, and it's a warfront now. Garinth said he'd go and try to find where she might have been buried. Hopefully he'll have better luck than the ones who looked for her before, if they even looked at all.. but he took some of my blood with him, so. We'll see. She's a Frostwolf. This is part of his responsibility as one of our shaman to do right by the clan. I keep telling myself that, but I want to be there. No wonder I've been chomping at the bit to get to that warfront. My father must have been trying to reach me through my necklace for weeks now, and I had no idea. Makes me wonder what else he kept from me.
  20. That's an interesting way to think about it. I also played humans more than I did orcs (when playing the campaign, anyway), back in my WC2 days. But what really drew me to the Horde was the art from that WC2 manual. I was in middle school and I would draw my own banners, and of course I wanted to make an ORCISH banner because they had SKULLS AND BONES! Funny how our feelings about that game shaped what we would become, later.
  21. I've accepted an assignment from Horde High Command. I'm sure that sentence would look confusing to anyone who would read this (and if anyone is reading this, I am going to find you), but the thing is, I actually believe in the mission. Some refugees from Undercity have tried to make a place for themselves in Andorhol. I'm putting a team together to offer assistance, then I'll go and speak to their leader. It seems fairly cut and dry. They're just trying to survive, right? They have the right, and Andorhal was a ruin. Maybe the Forsaken there can actually rebuild. I'm willing to help if it means giving them a place to just be. After what the Warchief did, I can understand why they'd feel a little disillusioned with her. To be honest, I'm surprised more aren't, but that's what sets us apart I guess. Allycia visited. Apparently she's been interrogated by SI:7? Well there's a shocker.. someone with Horde ties being interrogated by the Alliance. I'm surprised nobody on our side has tried to same thing with one of us. Maybe they're biding their time, but this is exactly why I didn't promote her. I told her this sort of thing could happen. The last thing we need is for her to talk about our plans, even if they have to rip it out of her by force. The less she knows, the safer she is. And us, for that matter. Baern came to talk to me, too. That was not the best conversation. He kept bringing up Nojinbu, and I have no idea how I'm supposed to talk about it. I mean, I don't want to talk about it. It still hurts. I know he's out there, somewhere. Doing what he needs to do. So am I, and to be honest, it's a relief. At least when he's not around, I know why, now. And for once I feel like I have everything I need, even if it's not how I pictured having it. Things feel right, and even if I feel guilty for admitting it, I'm not going to keep beating myself up for doing what's right for me.
  22. Hey Scoobs!! I remember Brakogar! The Frostwolf Brotherhood eventually became Sanctuary, which is still going strong after... uh... has it been 12 years?? Something like that.. but if you're interested in something akin to what the Frostwolf Brotherhood was, give me a holla!
  23. Let's try this again, before someone else comes to see me. I haven't written anything in a while. I used to just dump all of my emotions into these journals and in the end I'd feel a little better, but I don't know if it ever solved anything. Lately I think I've been dumping most of those emotions into Garinth, poor guy. He doesn't deserve that, even if he is my shaman. He talked through the Night Vanguard business, the fact that our connection to them makes us a target, and that was important for me to keep in mind when I broke our ties with them. Unfortunately, it goes a lot deeper then that. Because as much as I don't want to put us all at risk, I might consider it if I knew the Vanguard would have our best interests in mind. As it is, I don't think they do, and that's troubling. I don't want to alarm our "in-betweeners", but I think the war is drawing closer to us than we can fight off for much longer. I've already received a request to the warfront in Arathi. The Horde is attempting to gain a foothold in the north. A strategic move, supposedly, but I don't see the benefit of us being there. That's my head talking. My heart wants me to go for stupid reasons, pride especially. If the Alliance does away with our bases in Arathi, Hammerall will go. I have no good memories of Hammefall, really. Nothing but the day Thrall came and liberated us. My father is dead. There's nothing left for me, so why do I want to protect it? Because my mother is buried there, somewhere? It's just earth. It means nothing, except for some stupid reason it means something. I keep trying to remember something, anything good that might make me want to go back, but even my mother trying to protect me is painful. I'm the reason she died. I suppose going to war over bad memories would be a shit way to show my gratitude. Still, there's something in me that wants it. That pride. I know there will be fighting, that brutal bloody warfare that we sing about. I refuse to believe there is honor in attempting to conquer someone else's home, but the Trollbanes aren't weak. They would put up a good fight, and there would be shouts and metal and brutality to remember forever. Just thinking about me gets me anxious. I want what I know is the wrong thing. I just have to distract myself with worthy causes and try to ignore the fact that my birthplace is a battlefield. It's difficult. I miss having someone to talk to. At least the pups are here. They're terrible at cuddling, so I'm teaching them. I hope their new partners appreciate all the work I'm putting into their cuddle training.
  24. "Warchief.. why?" The voice was frail, and then it was gone. Vilmah stood on the ramparts looking down, following the voices toward the sound of chaos and calamity that erupted outside of the city walls. Down in the field, spreading among the already yellow grass and weeds, a green gas was billowing toward the Alliance. In its wake, bodies were falling. It can't be, Vilmah thought to herself, watching the large bodies hit the ground, horns and antlers of the tauren digging into the dirt. The orcs stumbled a few feet, and fell on their faces. The trolls pinned themselves with their tusks. The goblins fell so quickly, like flies almost, and the elves in all their bravery reached for the sky for a few final words she could not hear. But those orcs were loud, and even as they died they asked; "Warchief, why?" Until the breath left them and the plague continued to cover their corpses, which grew thin and frail as flesh appeared to melt from their bones. Vilmah watched in horror as soldiers of the Horde stumbled, died, and fell apart. The yellowish bones of their corpses lay like stones among the armor and weapons. There wasn't even any blood, really. Just the swift decay of muscle and organs, falling to the earth in graying clumps that disappeared into the dirt. How did she even witness such a thing? She heard the call to arms. Ridan spoke to her through the hearthstone, hours before. "Undercity is under attack!" With Nika and Einar, the three snuck into Undercity disguised as Forsaken. It was chaotic inside, and the Alliance's SI:7 assassins had already stolen into the deepest parts of Lordaeron's crypts. Their mission was simple; rescue Steinburg as Infection rallied to defend their city. Nika and Einar proved a capable duo, and led the Warboss down toward Infection's guildhall. They were briefly intercepted by a priest, though Vilmah's shouting managed to stave off whatever mind control she was capable of. Then he arrived. The High Warlord of Infection. Vilmah had known Keraph since she was old enough to enlist. He saw most orcs as filthy creatures unfit to live on his world and treated Vilmah with only the barest of respect. Back then, they drank together. Traded insults. She called him 'old man', and never considered that someday they might be on sides so opposed that they would actually face one another in battle. Yet here he was, approaching her with a massive axe that seemed almost too big for his bony hands. Nika and Einar were already on their way to getting Steinburg released. "I'll hold him off!" Vilmah had told them. "Don't wait for me!" Nika wanted to argue, but gave Vilmah some smoke bombs instead. It was all she could do when Vilmah was that serious and wanted no argument, but Keraph wasn't going to be distracted by a few smoke bombs. Sanctuary was breaking into his home and retrieving one of his "guests", and that would not stand. "Bloodborne!" He shouted, snarling with yellow decaying teeth. "You traitorous green mongrel!! Have you truly abandoned the Horde so thoroughly as to betray the Warchief while we are under attack!?" "I'm not betraying anyone, Keraph," Vilmah argued, her sword drawn. It was long and thin, nothing compared to Keraph's axe but fluid in Vilmah's slender hands. "I'm just picking up a friend. You can get in my way or you can let me take him home, but I don't think you want to be dealing with me while the Alliance attacks from the outside." The rage in Keraph's face was readable, even from behind his helmet. The Warlord's mouth twisted into a deep frown, the wrinkles and flaking skin of decay contorting with rage. "If you do this there will be no peace for you, or Sanctuary! Do you hear me, Vilmah?" He shouted, using her name now. What did that mean? "You and your little group are going to pay. You will suffer. These are not empty threats, little girl." Her eyes narrowed. The last time someone called her little girls was... "I'm not letting you bully me and my men, Keraph!" The orcess shouted, moving into an offensive stance. Left arm forward, right arm back; Vilmah's thin blade was poised to slash and her knees bent, ready to spring. She and Keraph were both warriors, but their disciplines were different, and hers was fairly new. How long has she been training like that? He thought, raising his axe. "The Alliance has marched forward! their siege weapons are attacking the gates!!" Shouted a voice nearby. Both Keraph and Vilmah's attention were stolen. The Warboss felt a buzzing in her pocket, heard the familiar voice of Nika from afar. We have Steinburg, Warboss! We're going home! Mission complete, Vilmah thought, but Keraph still glared at her. A decision was being made. "Watch yourself, Vilmah," he said finally, through rotting teeth. "The end of your days grows near. You, Sanctuary, and all you hold dear. The Dark Lady will not accept failure, and I will not accept this--" "The boy king has arrived!!" Keraph pursed his crusted lips and pointed the axe at Vilmah. "Soon." And then he was gone. Vilmah stood in position, waiting. Part of her wondered if this was some sort of trick, but that wasn't possible. Keraph's home was being attacked from the outside, surely he wanted nothing more than to cut through the Alliance more than defend his honor against Vilmah. Then again, what honor does he have? She watched him go and ran in another direction, through the sewers, sheathing her blade on the way. The splashing of putrid liquid at her boots was something that no longer reviled her, nor did the smell. She followed the sewers to a secret entrance, one that brought back so many memories. The Alliance attacked from there, once. Led by an ally. A shaman. Outside of the crypts, the Undercity was much louder. The cries of battle were loud and told the tale of a battle still raging. She wanted to help her allies, but from where? Scrambling to the broken bricks and stones of Lordaeron's past, Vilmah climbed up as high as her hands and feet would allow her. Once she climbed high enough to see what was happening outside, Vilmah crouched down and looked for an opportunity to join the Horde in the defense of their city. To join her brothers and sisters as they defended their home. What she saw was poisoned orcs, trolls, tauren and elves. Goblins, too. As she leaned forward to understand, they all fell like sacks of meat, flesh falling from their bones to hit the ground like liquid. "Warchief.. why?" Vilmah hesitated. If she joined them, she too would die. Heart pounding in her chest, she reached for her blade and heard a voice telling her to stop. Be safe, and try to stay out of trouble ha'rega. Clenching her teeth, she made a pained sound and let the sword slide back into it's sheath as a dark presence made itself known. Near the wall, she watched as Sylvanas, their own Warchief, cast what looked like some strange spell. Vilmah was too distracted by Sylvanas to notice that beneath her, bones were stirring. A chattering sound, like the tiny tapping of seashells rattling caught her attention only when it grew so loud that it mimicked a strange music. Turning toward the unsettling noise, her hazel eyes widened in horror at the sight unfolding before her. The soldiers she saw fall in battle were standing. Gone was their flesh, and any semblance of life. They were skeletal, gnarled and twisted, and walked forward with a singular purpose. ..has she killed them just to raise them? Did she become everything she hated about the Lich King? Battle waged below, and Vilmah knew she couldn't stay. She would either enter the fray with the blight at her feet, or escape. Neither seemed both intelligent and honorable. Which to choose? Be safe... "Oh... fine," the orcess muttered, looking into the courtyard. Clenching her jaw, she climbed back down the ramparts and made her way into what looked like a gathering of Horde soldiers. Some of them gave her a curious look, but that look was forgotten when a nearby explosion drew their attention. "They're inside!!" Vilmah shouted, finally drawing her blade. The Alliance was flooding in from the outside. She caught sight of some strange faces in the fray, but was thrown from her concentration as a human soldier caught her attention. He attacked her with a massive broadsword, and while she could defend herself, Vilmah wondered just how much she actually wanted to defeat him. After everything they had done, after watching the war machines torch Teldrassil, why was she fighting for Sylvanas' broken kingdom? Because it was still the Horde. Because Steinburg worked so hard to make it a home, and was nearly killed for it. Because years ago, she came to Undercity as a child, and was welcomed as a friend. Without considering these things outright, Vilmah fought. She was accompanied by other Horde military, but there went enough to hold them all off. She went blow to blow with the human before her, an overhead swing meeting an underhand thrust, steel against steel, honorable combat between two living beings. She swung her blade forward and bit into armor, then flesh. It was a well placed blow and pierced the surface, ripping through muscle to open the human's throat. There was no time to consider this though, and soon enough she was engaged in combat with another human. Then another. Then another. Vilmah was small, but she was experienced. The foot soldiers didn't know what to make of the blademaster in her skant armor, and made the mistake of aiming for her bare torso. Surely it would be easy to slay her by piercing the orcess' stomach, chest, neck. Anything. But they never came close enough. She was fast, and she was willing to accept an injury in exchange for a kill. A few cuts to her shoulder or side were nothing compared to the way her sword slid into someone's lungs. Blood flowed, the smell intoxicating and almost enough to overpower the stench of rot. After an exhausting fight, Vilmah stood among a pile of bodies covered in cuts, her mind cloudy with blood loss. Then she heard the horn. Behind the human she was fighting, a morningstar struck his skull. The human went down in a heap and Vilmah looked into the eyes of her assistance, a Forsaken woman in plate armor. One quick salute and she was gone. Vilmah looked toward the horn and saw that the Horde was retreating. Baine waved his massive arms, calling the remaining Horde soldiers to follow. Without questioning why, Vilmah followed the call to a goblin airship, praying that there were more on the way. But there were no more ships. Huddled among the Horde soldiers gathered by Baine, Vilmah watched as below them, the Undercity became engulfed in green smoke. She knew what that smoke would do to anyone nearby; orc, tauren, goblin, elf, it didn't matter. They all died, and without Sylvanas to raise them, they all remained dead. Still breathing heavily, her wounds began to sting. The adrenaline was fading and the reality of what happened slowly crept into her thoughts. She killed them.. she killed them and raised them, and for what? Undercity is gone.. Undercity is gone.
  25. 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.