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Everything posted by Vilmah

  1. Vilmah's face was a mixture of surprise and delight. The knight's blades illuminated her grin, which she wore even as she sprung forth from the rocks in an explosion of blinding speed. With Rorrek's distraction of light, she was able to speed past him undetected. Small and wiry, the orcess ran for one of the Kvaldir, her own sword held in front at an angle to sweep through the humanoid's enormous body. In an instant, the water was clouded with entrails that tumbled from his belly. Shock clouded his judgment and he attempted to hold on to them, intestines coiling in his hands before falling into the water below. He splashed along with them soon after, but Vilmah had already made her way to the next one. In her haste to make an end to the enemy, she was an example of orcish ferocity, if not orcish arrogance. The Knight was dazed in turn for several moments as he came to register the sheer audacity of the orcess. Rorrek could hardly comprehend the recklessness in spite of how his temperament had changed since coming to the Broken Isles. A tremor ran through his form as the sounds of battle once more caused his blood to rise. His visage hosted a fierce grimace as the contrast in tactics left the foul taste of perceived complacency within his mouth. Nonetheless, he knew better than to throw himself unto the throng as well. The situation was far from his liking, but an opportunity had arisen from Vilmah's deftness. The Kvaldir were still momentarily caught in disarray. This brief chaos would not last forever and soon the wiry orcess would be fell upon and overwhelmed. And so, Rorrek sought to prolong the air of confusion. He descended the ramp of stone partially with his cleavers lifted overheard before stomping firmly and swinging them in unison in a vicious downward arc. The Kvaldir chosen had lifted their rot encased spear too slowly to prevent the blow from striking true. The cleavers dug unto the giant's shoulders, growing suddenly in weight as to bite deeper of their black blood and brine. Rorrek knew well now how to compensate his stance for this strange shift in heft, stepping to the side and back with his farthest foot whilst pulling the cleavers free. The wide serrations ensured that the wound would be widened upon departure. The peculiar steel grew light once more as soon as flesh could no longer be tasted. Rorrek then quickly stepped back upon the rise of stone while holding his still flaming weapons widely apart. "Valarjar!" he shouted furiously, the name of the Kvaldir's despised foes ringing from his lips as a battle cry. His voice drowned out the cries of anguish from his recently maimed opponent that could no longer lift their arms. In all the maneuver and shout encompassed but fleeting seconds after Vilmah had asserted herself among the Kvaldir ranks. His intentions succeeded as their enemy stood divided. Now several were enraged and well focused upon him while the others farther back were seeking the swift intruder among them. One of Vilmah's ears twitched at the sudden sound of a battle cry. "Valarjar!" She heard him cry, a deep masculine voice that in some ways reminded her of the orcs who taught her. The smell of blood and burning oil filled her nostrils, an intoxicating smell that kept the orcess smiling as she ran between the three Kvaldir looking for her. They were dazed by her speed, but not enough that they could not raise their arms against her. With both hands, mechanical and flesh, she held on tightly to her sword and allowed its weight to carry her as she spun in a circle that hit all three of them at once. Surprised by her recklessness, the attack caught one in the side, giving Vilmah the opportunity to kick him with a massive boot. Down, but not dead, she leapt into the air and came crashing down to stomp his skull into the rocks beneath the water. Behind her, the other two were already attacking. A spear went in for her bare midriff, slicing into the meat of her side before she had time to dodge. Snarling, Vilmah turned her sword in her hands to stab backwards, catching the spear wielding Kvaldir in the thigh. This, however, left her open to the third, who swept down upon her with a scimitar-looking weapon who's edge boasted jagged notches that could easily saw through bone. Ducking, Vilmah rolled forward into the water, plunging headfirst to disappear between the Kvaldir's legs, her sword strangely left behind. The two Kvaldir looked around, confused, one of them struggling to remove Vilmah's sword from his leg. In the time it took him to yank it out, Vilmah was already up and behind him. A huge rock was hurled toward his skull, breaking it on impact to send him splashing forward. Vilmah retrieved her sword. One left. Again that frail and sickly horn sounded from the mist, the call seeming to embolden the Kvaldir which remained. The burning oil atop his blades had dissipated some of the all encompassing fog as to reveal their number further. Six faced the outcropping where Rorrek stood atop whilst two others turned about from the middle toward where Vilmah still contested the final straggler at their rear. He cast a wary glance briefly upon the surrounding mists to see if others aided their odd dozen. The distant signal heralded the second charge. The Kvaldir which had been blinded and forced back initially seized his agonized comrade that could no longer hoist their arms upward by the strappings of his chest. The wounded Kvaldir was thrown forward upward the incline as the former advanced from behind with a rusted cutlass raised. A guttural war cry tore from his brackish throat which resounded among the other giants that sought to overwhelm the stones in their sudden surge. Their advance was inevitable, but there was no moment to ponder these grim thoughts. The Knight side-stepped the injured Kvaldir thrown towards him whilst dragging the blades of his cleavers against the giant's stomach as he passed. The long rotted bowels spilled forth before the whole of the Kvaldir's body dispersed into sea water and weeds, this spilling over his armored form. The Valarjar vestments smote with heat as the runes and stones throughout glowed as hearth coals. The motions of his burning swords mirrored this appearance as he meted a dirge of flaming steel before him. Hewn was the upraised arm of the Kvaldir which led the charge by the elbow pit, their dilapidated cutlass and severed limb clattering against the rocks. The maneuver was followed through with a horizontal swing of the opposite cleaver which saw the foe decapitated thereafter. Again came the wash of brine and water as but leather and coral remained. Rorrek maintained his position in spite of the high ground growing then more slick, viciously striking out at all that approached. He was forced to dart to and fro as to ward the remaining four from rising. He would be overtaken. This knowing urged his body onward into a zealous frenzy, one particular flurry of fire and metal sundering the fingers of one Kvaldir's reaching hands unevenly. Inwardly he thanked the forge of the Skyhold for these miraculous weapons as their length and weightlessness were all that now stood between him and a watery grave. He needed to hold long enough for the orcess to perhaps cleave her way through the two that waded toward her and the final quarry she kept. Then the remaining four before him might be flanked and caught betwixt them... Seven remained. "Patience," Vilmah said to herself, watching the Kvaldir in front of her as he charged. It was a tricky thing to have when outnumbered, especially in circumstances where one's enemy knew the terrain so well. With the fury of an animal, the Kvaldir charged and Vilmah remembered Blademaster Ronokada's lesson; patience. Watch for an opportunity. Do not allow the enemy's fear to become yours. Switching hands with her sword, she ducked low and waited for the Kvaldir to strike with his cutlass. It was an overhead blow, one she expected, and she had enough time to raise her sword to keep it from biting into her shoulder. What she did not notice, however, was the knee rising toward her bare sternum. The Kvaldir caught Vilmah with his surprise, sending her splashing back into the water, a stone jutting forth catching her at a kidney. The Kvaldir took only a few steps toward her to finish the job, only to find himself staggering. Looking down he saw the culprit; a knife, small and vicious, deep in the largest vein of his inner thigh. It was the sort of wound that bled like a geyser, spraying all over Vilmah as he approached. The Kvaldir took two more steps and raised his cutlass, then fell on his face beside her. There was no time to gloat. In an instant, two more Kvaldir closed in on the orcess and opened their mouths to scream in her face, an act of rage and intimidation. Vilmah smirked through her blood-soaked face and answered their scream with her own, a high pitched shout that caught the Kvaldir off guard just long enough for Vilmah to swing her sword in a wide arc. "So many for just us two!" She yelled in orcish, laughing to herself. "You Kvaldir don't like to fight fair, do you?" Another wide slash, dodged by the two Kvaldir who both raised their swords at once. "Well lucky for me," Vilmah said to herself, crouching low. "I'm used to it." A burst of speed and she was off, bounding between the two Kvaldir to hack and slash at their bodies, pausing only to meet their attacks and dodge them both. She was smaller, and faster, an advantage she was used to. Their large hulking bodies splashed enough water around that she could almost make herself invisible through the spray and mist as she waited for an opening. Finally, she found one; as the Kvaldir faced one another, with Vilmah between them, she ducked low and dove through their legs just as one slashed down and the other slashed to the side. Instead of killing the orc, the two found themselves injuring one another. Vilmah, scrambling to her feet behind one of them, buried her sword into his back. He fell forward on top of the other, who struggled for a few moments before the water aided in his rapid blood loss. With the back of her hand, Vilmah wiped blood and matted hair from her eyes. She turned to the knight, her eyes widening at the sight. Four against one. "Four against two," she said to herself, running for them. "Better odds." Rorrek could not notice the impending charge of the Blademaster while staring down such dire straits. He was a ghastly sight, covered in putrid water and arterial spray. The largest of the four Kvaldir before him stormed the steep incline with unexpected deftness, the giant wielding forth an immense and untended claymore. The Knight lifted his cleavers in response whilst crossing them in guard as to impede the blow. The foe's blade caught where his swords met and the shockwave numbed his wrists amid their gauntlets. From Rorrek's peripheral he glimpsed dark shapes speeding past as the others took advantage of the brief stalemate to flank him. The high ground was compromised and there was from then no other choice but forward, lest he be hewn down where he stood. The man among giants summoned his strength to turn upon his heels, allowing the claymore skid along his cleavers while pulling them back during the turn. In the same motion he used his momentum to kick from the slope and ram the entirety of his weight against the towering Kvaldir through his shoulder and back. The sudden impact and slickness of the stone incline caused the Kvaldir to tumble backwards and send them both reeling into the shallows below. The Knight was the first to rise from the water with a gasp, his cleavers instinctively honing upon where he knew his opponent to have fallen. The Kvaldir lifted himself partially in time for the nape of his hunched neck to meet Rorrek's steel as would a guillotine. Again the cleavers seemed uneager to be wrested from the flesh of their enemy, shifting in weight to be far heavier in contrast than before. This stalled Rorrek momentarily whilst another Kvaldir rushed him from behind. The cleavers were eventually pulled from the already dissolving body, and yet it was too late. From the right moved a veritable obelisk of a shield, iron-rimmed and soaked through, that brutally collided with the cleaver he held. The weapon was knocked aside unto the stones. Rorrek's remaining cleaver sought to halt the Kvaldir's flanged mace which swung wide from the left, yet the strike was a feint and prelude to the bludgeon's end being jabbed against his mail clad stomach. The wind was knocked from him and Rorrek grasped for breath, but was unable to regain composure before another vicious blow of the truncheon struck his left side. The scale mail which girded the sides of his torso buckled beneath the Kvaldir's strength. The bruising which ensued was naught beneath the anguish of his ribs which then fractured. The Kvaldir reeled back with his shield arm and struck upward against the bowed head of his smaller foe, sending Rorrek stumbling backward into the shallows again. His grip miraculously did not falter upon his remaining blade.
  2. The drowned morass beyond the ruins of Tideskorn Harbor clamored with the sound of battle. A warband of mortal warriors had descended from the Valarjar post of Valdisdall to cull the Kvaldir which perpetually amassed throughout the fog ridden marsh. They had waded deeply from the cliffs and toward the mire until the tower from whence they had come was lost to sight within the mist. The Kvaldir were not long to emerge. The fighting was brutal and swift with the tide turning in favor of Helya's foul servants. The formation of the warriors had broken, and retreat was sounded. However, not all could answer or follow suit with how scattered their band had become... One such left behind was a Knight, Rorrek Therrien, bearing Valarjar armaments of bronze and gold. Within his gauntlets were held apart immense cleavers which were wielded with peculiar ease that was belied by their size. The runes and stones upon his weaponry shone fiercely through the chilling fog. His sabatons waded through the water in silence whilst he kept wary watch upon his surroundings through the restricting view of his helm. His course was clearly made toward the cliff face beneath Valdisdall as to regroup, but this was not to be. Looming shadows within the fog soon halted his steps. The Kvaldir were closing in on his position and soon would have him surrounded. He was forced then to retreat further into the marsh in the hopes of evading the marauders, lest he be caught alone. The warrior eventually came to an outcropping of stone jutting from the water and mud. With effort he hefted himself atop this formation, thereafter surveying the fog downward and around the rocks. He could faintly still hear the sound of far off blades clattering from distant skirmishes. He was not the only one that was unable to follow the retreat, and yet such echoes were quite far from where he stood now... He waited and considered his options. The fog was dense and brutally cold. It had a way of seeping into one's skin, through clothes, through armor. Without either, it bit into flesh and hung there with dripping moisture. It would be easy to lose grip of a weapon in the dense fog, but fortunately for Vilmah Bloodborne, her plate mail covered gauntlets were padded enough to keep hold of the enormous Valarjar sword she used to fight off the Kvaldir around her. She'd been sent to help thin Helya's servants, along with many others from the Horde who fought for coin and glory alike. Clad in what most would have considered an indecent amount of armor, the orcess splashed through the foul seawater and fought with the speed and ferocity of the Blademaster she trained with. She wore only plate covered pants, boots, and gauntlets. Her left arm, mechanical from mid-bicep, was held to her body with a series of leather straps across her chest and back. Her torso was, for the most part, completely bare save for the fabric wrapped around her chest. Like most Blademasters, she would forgo upper body armor. Unlike most Blademasters, however, she was female. Quick though she was, the Kvaldir soon outnumbered her. Vilmah sped between them, hacking at their bodies with her weapon and taking down enough to clear a path toward what looked like a decent place to lick her wounds. Sinking her sword into the meat of a Kvaldir's shoulder, she kicked him into the water and ducked through the mist to make her escape. There were a few wounds on her side and shoulder that she could bandage, though she cursed the fog and its tendency to make everything wet. Moist bandages were even more uncomfortable than wet boots. Rorrek crouched low as he heard the distant sounds of combat resume, his sight honing in upon the direction from whence came the splashing and hurried approach. His muscles grew taut beneath his armor whilst he stared piercingly to glimpse any impending silhouettes nearing his position. The outcropping of stone he had found purchase upon afforded him both the high ground and cover should he desire. The footfalls hastened and soon a shadow emerged. The Knight immediately dropped from sight, concealing himself by the angle of the rocks opposite to this impending presence. The footsteps were not as heavy as any Kvaldir he had encountered. He pondered for a fleeting moment if it was another that had been caught within the mists, severed from any possible retreat. He slowly began to rise until he stood atop the stones and in view once more. His stance was bent, cleavers held at the ready, should he need initiate the attack with urgency. However, the sight beneath him led to a wary pause. Through his helm the man watched warily the orcess in silence, observing every facet of their person as to glean all that he could. She was not among the warband of mortal Valarjar that he had accompanied. Her garbs seemed to be vaguely familiar to him, but Rorrek could not place exactly that she resembled. He stood wordlessly while poised for battle should they prove foe and waited for them to take notice of his person above them. Vilmah caught sight of a rock formation in the water. Somewhere dry to dump the water from her boots and bandage her wounds seemed almost too good to be true. She glanced back to make sure that the Kvaldir behind her were gone, and ran for the tallest of the rocks to climb. She was a small orc, smaller than many humans, though her green skin and tusks were a dead giveaway for her race. Using her good arm for most of the work, she grabbed hold of the cold rocks and scrambled her way from the water. Once finally done splashing, she took stock of her situation; momentarily safe and hidden behind the fog, but for the most part, surrounded by Kvaldir. Muttering to herself, she slid off her boots and emptied them of the water she'd collected while running. A fish fell out of one and splashed gratefully back toward its home. Vilmah wasted no time and went about bandaging herself, though the wet air dampened the thin strips of fabric almost immediately. They weren't deep cuts, but they would eventually scar. Additions to her growing collection, which covered most of her bare torso and cris-crossed her throat. "Well this isn't the afternoon I expected," she said to herself in Orcish. The Knight, seeing as he had emerged upon the higher stones whilst Vilmah began tending herself, remained unnoticed. He continued to patiently observe downward as his brow furrowed in thought as to translate the brief muttering of Orcish. Rorrek did not relinquish his prepared stance or guard in spite of the orcess' vulnerable state. Eventually, after piecing through the foreign words, he responded aloud in a measured tone in common. "Yes... unexpected." Vilmah jumped at the sound of another voice, slipping precariously close to the edge of her rock. She managed to catch herself before splashing after the fish, and hanging on with her mechanical arm just long enough to regain her balance. Carefully, she approached the origins of the sound. Your typical orcess may not have understood Common, but Vilmah had enough experience in her short lifetime to understand and communicate a few words. Looking at the Knight, she raised her eyebrows in surprise and gave a careful wave. "Sorry," she said carefully in Common, the rest of her words somewhat muddled and broken. "Not know there. Kvaldir run. Wet. Bad." He made certain that there remained a respectable distance between them as he judged Vilmah's person. The sudden amount of surprise the orcess displayed was certainly not expected. Rorrek straightened himself as combat did not seem imminent, lowering slowly his great cleaving blades. He turned the handles within his gauntlets so to hold the weapons downward and rest their curved ends against the stone. Yet, his plated hands did not rest against the pommels and instead remained gripped as to indicate the ability to immediately return to action if need be. After a short time of contemplating an answer again came from his otherwise statuesque form. "Surrounded," he spoke simply. His hidden eyes then glanced toward their large sword for a moment. "Foe?" he inquired toward them now that they stood face to face. His knuckles shifted atop where he gripped his blades should the answer be unsavory. Vilmah blinked, searching through her vocabulary as he spoke in simple terms. The Knight's body language certainly helped. Shaking her head quickly, she lowered her own sword in a show of good faith. Time would tell how foolish a move it would be, but she was used to being wrong. "No. No foe," she replied, using her mechanical hand to hold the sword as her good hand pointed toward her own face. "Vilmah. Sanc-ury. No foe, All-ance. Honor." Rorrek's helm tilted slightly to the side as his thoughts caught upon one word within their broken speech. "Sanctuary?" he spoke clearly and with gradual enunciation. There was a shift in the atmosphere about him as if the orcess was then regarded much differently. However, this subtle change did not dispel the apparent wariness which girded him. "Twilight Empire," he stated. He did not return his name. Vilmah blinked and digested the words. They were familiar, but unknown to her. She gave a helpless shrug and shook her head, smiling in spite of the situation. Despite her scarred and somewhat dischevelled appearance, the orcess seemed even more young as her tusks helping to deepen the dimples in her cheeks. "Okay, Twi-li. You okay fight?" She asked, nodding toward the mists, where the Kvaldir could still be heard a short distance away. "Find here, very bad," she attempted to explain, using her good hand to illustrate the situation by sliding her thumb across her scarred throat. The Knight understood. He shifted the cleavers within his hand from their resting and unto a more readied position at his sides. His person indicated no injury as of yet, though the grand armaments were riddled with shallow cuts and indentations. Yet, he did not seem to agree with her explanation. He lifted one cleaver in the direction he assumed Valdisdall to be. "The way is shut," he affirmed. The cleaver was moved to gesture as well toward the mist around them. "Surrounded," Rorrek repeated. He then tapped the end of the cleaver against the stone beneath them. "High ground. Wait." Vilmah cocked her head as she attempted to decipher the meaning of his words. He didn't seem to be in any rush to move, which she understood as his signal that they shouldn't attempt to fight their way to freedom just yet. Nodding, she tapped her sword against the rock and pointed down. "Wait," she repeated, rolling her eyes and smiling as if to suggest that she did not enjoy waiting. "Wait cold. Wet. No good," she explained, indicating toward her bare torso, shoulders, chest and arm. "Blademaster bad clothes pick." The warrior could not relate, fully armored as he was, nor had he any articles to offer the orcess. The softly smoldering runes which were engraved throughout his armor and cleavers seemed to further attest to his person being far more suited to venture unto the unforgiving cold. He shrugged his pauldrons with brief sympathies as naught could be done. Rorrek made to speak again, but he then abruptly ceased his words and listened. A slow tide of shuffling could be heard approaching from all sides of the outcropping of rock. Intermingled therein could also be heard the clattering of chains and the dragging of nets. "Kvaldir," he spat under his breath. He crouched slighty once more and stared out into the mists. "Blademaster, hrm?" He pondered aloud. "...Good." Vilmah's ear twitched at the sound of nearby water being disturbed. It was followed by deep voices, which she quickly recognized. With her back to the rock formation, she crouched down low and held her sword in an angle above her head. The lack of armor allowed her to move in such a way that she could position herself close to the stones, making her small body even smaller within the rock's crevices. Turning her hazel eyes to the human, she flashed him a grin with almost impossibly white teeth and tusks. "Good," she repeated. Rorrek glanced back toward the jutting stone where he had concealed himself briefly before, though the musing was dismissed as soon as it had come. His gaze craned upward to the farthest end of the outcropping. The stones were steep and tall, enough to perhaps halt the Kvaldir entirely from approaching from behind. The Knight's armaments did not afford him likewise usage of the rocks as Vilmah displayed and so he stepped forward and prepared himself for that to come. The shapes slowly emerged in a semi-circle before where the two had made their stand. Yet more silhouettes shifted in the fog toward the farther sides and back of the stones. The Kvaldir grinned as their brackish line formed with cruel instruments kept in hand. However, they halted in the distance and did not immediately approach. Their prey held the high ground and with two present it would be difficult to overwhelm either at once. None of the cowardly drowned men were eager to be cut down as the vanguard assuredly would be. Vilmah looked toward Rorrek and pointed toward the human before she slammed her fist against her chest, a gesture she hoped that he could translate. Larger and more covered than she was, he would be able to take the brunt of their attacks while she picked off the Kvaldir individually. "You go," she mouthed silently, then pointed at the approaching enemy, then dragged a thumb across her throat. "I kill." Rorrek watched Vilmah's gesturing and understood at once. Yet, the Knight again found himself at odds with her reasoning and instead but stared with eyes that shone of disagreement through the opening of his helm. It was in that moment that he began to regret his former words as he remembered exactly why so few Blademasters remained. Admittedly that she proposed called to his heated blood as to cleave unto foe despised, striding boldly forth with wrath in hand; however, his experience combating the Kvaldir reined him back to his senses. He remained firmly where he stood, refusing to surrender the high ground and wade unto the marsh just to be overwhelmed at the hand of giants. It was this hesitation that provoked the Kvaldir as they saw their opportunity. A frail sounding horn was blown and the coral encrusted vrykul surged forward. Though, some purposefully fell behind in the pace of the charge as to allow others advance before them. Rorrek cursed beneath his breath as the splashing figures forced his attention forward again. He lifted one cleaver forward and pointed it toward the incoming enemies. The other immense blade was held near the hilt of the former with ease in spite of the length, attesting to the enchantments therein. He waited for the foremost Kvaldir to begin his ascent upon the stone outcropping and leveled his swords at the vrykul's eyes. It was then that the warrior struck along the edge of the former sword with the latter as one would strike flint. An eruption of flame ensued as the oils which coated the cleavers ignited. A cascade of embers were thrown forward, blinding the Kvaldir which formed the front of their advance and forcing it to stumble back into the water below. The others gave way and stepped back before the display and shower of flames. The air became suffused with the pungent scent of blazegrease that emanated from his weapons, an odor perhaps familiar to Vilmah as the tactic originated from the Blademasters themselves.
  3. As Awatu and Vilmah approached the bridge, it became glaringly obvious that the drogbar had been waiting for them. On the other side, shamans and boulder hurlers waited for the signal to attack the intruders. A few larger drogbar, armed for hand-to hand combat, threaded themselves in between the shaman. Vilmah watched as they seemed to gather around a common area, as if protecting something. Vee waited expectantly at their end of the bridge. "You might be right about an ambush," Vilmah said as she watched the drogbar edge closer to the bridge. "But it looks like there's something over there they don't want us to get to. This cave is big enough to fit ten times the amount we see in here, so if we go over and they're all waiting to get the jump on us we might not be able to fight them all off. Could be a messy trap." Looking around the cave, the orc's gaze guided her to the ceiling. Enormous stalactites hung down, secured by the ages. Squinting at their formations, Vilmah turned to Awatu and raised her eyebrows. "How many do you think you can hold off with that shield? I think I might have an idea." Awatu followed her gaze up towards the ceiling, spotting the stalactites. When she asked her question, he had an idea of what she was thinking. With a grunt, he turned back towards the bridge. "As many as it takes." he said, slamming the axe against his shield, sending and echoing ring through the cavern and a challenge to the Drogbar. Rather than charge in, he strode with caution and determination onto the bridge. One of the forward Drogbar began to walk onto the bridge as well, giving wary looks to his brethren before snarling viciously at Awatu. Almost immediately he was struck with a glowing hammer to the jaw, sending him reeling back into the others. Awatu raised his shield once more and continued his steady walk across the bridge. Awatu steadied himself before rushing forward, slamming into a Drogbar. It reeled from the blow, recovered, and move onto the offensive. One clean swipe with Awatu's axe split its skull in half, and its body crumpled to the ground. The rest of the Drogbar were gathering around the Tauren, and he held his shield and axe ready for their assault. A small grin worked its way onto his muzzle. These worms shall know of Peace... As Awatu worked his way through the mess of drogbar, Vilmah rushed into the remainder. They were disoriented by the crash of stone and reeling, their shamans attempting to commune with the spirits through the disturbance. It was enough to give Vilmah an upper hand, and the orc managed to get the literal drop on one of the shaman by jumping down and crashing into his skull with her boots. The creature grunted as she broke his jaw on impact, body crashing to the ground. With one swift motion, reminiscient of Blademaster Ronokada, Vilmah thrust her sword into the shaman's throat and silenced him. Blood oozed to the ground and trailed from the end of her blade, blinding the other shaman as she swung it toward his face, blood splattering into his eyes. Quicker than the drogbar could blink, she advanced on him and thrust her sword at the larger creature's innards, spilling his guts. The shaman attempted to call upon the spirits to seal his wounds, but Vilmah was able to punch him in the throat with her mechanical arm faster than he could chant. With the two shaman down, she looked for Vee. The mechanical squirrel had run past her and was standing in the same area the drogbar had gathered around before. There was a strange dip in the earth, a crack just large enough for a drogbar's hand. Running to the squirrel, the orc looked inside and saw that the crack went down a few meters, just wide enough for her to fit inside. "They must have just thrown it in there," she said to herself, peering into the hole. It was dark and cramped, but somewhere near the bottom, something metallic glittered. Vee cocked its head and jumped into the hole, only to jump out again. The eye was larger than its body and impossible to retrieve for such a small automoton. She'd have to go in herself. Swallowing down her apprehension, she looked across the canyon for Awatu and waved. "Hey! It's in here! Finish them off, I'll go in!" Awatu made no motion of acknowledging Vilmah as he was busy slashing and blocking. One Drogbar overextended his reach, creating an opening for an attack. The axe came down on his elbow and severed the meaty arm from the rest. The Drogbar screamed and fell backwards as another quick strike caught him across the chest. Others moved in to attack but were buffeted away by the shield. One more attempted to attack from behind, but Awatu noticed the approach and swung around with his shield wide, catching the enemy in the jaw. A large tusk flew off into the dark cavern, the Drogbar clutching his jaw and growling menacing words at the Tauren. "You will-" the Drogbar began to speak, but was cut off by a brilliant blaze of light emanating from the Tauren. The brightness staggered the Dragbar, blinded by the powerfully bright light in their dark home. As they each rubbed their eyes and groaned, there were screams that were cut off. One by one, they were struck down. Axe blow, hammers forged from the sun, a shield slam into the skull or gut. One remained, rubbing the blindness from his eyes, he blinked and looked upon his fallen brethren. He dropped the stone club and fell to a knee. Appealing to a sense of honor or mercy. "I surrender... I am beaten. Take me prisoner. I am-HURK!" His words were cut short as the axe, blade pointed upwards, was thrust into his abdomen. Awatu leaned forward, the pleading eyes of the Drogbar looking into his own. "No." he muttered, then ripped the blade upwards, spilling the innards out onto the stones. Another quick slice and the head was severed from the body. They were beaten, utterly so, and Awatu stood away from his fallen foe. He turned back towards the hole that Vilmah had disappeared into where the Eye of Huln had been hidden. _____________________________________ Vilmah slipped into the hole, her sword on her back. The way down was narrow, so narrow that as she slid down with her feet, her back pressed against the stone and her sword besides it. Taking a deep breath, she scrambled down further, the passageway just tight enough for her body to wriggle through. As she slid in deeper, the ground passing her eyes, claustrophobia began to eat at the orc’s subconscious. Vilmah couldn’t remember having ever been frightened of tight enclosed spaces, but the walls of stone around her were cold and dark. She felt her vision blur for a moment before shaking her head and moving on. Outside, the sound of battle had stopped. Awatu was thorough in his killing and would be there, if only to keep any other drogbar from the hole. A cold sweat broke out on Vilmah’s skin as she imagined the possibilities. If Awatu wasn’t there, a drogbar could easily put a boulder over the opening of the tiny chasm. Looking up, she saw the fading light and continued edging downward, her heart pounding. Soon, her pulse was the only thing that she could hear. Cold rock scraped her bare stomach, back and sides. Grasping for stones to help her down, the sweat of her palms forced her to slip for a moment and slide down a few inches, causing a long scratch along her abdomen by a jutting rock. She was deep in the earth, now. Surrounded by silence and stone, her own heartbeat the only sound. It would be easy to die in that hole, she realized. To slip forward, be buried alive. Images of her impending doom rushed to the front of her mind as she reeled from the dizzying height. “No,” the orc grunted, her teeth clenched. “Get ahold of yourself... Vee! Down here!” Swallowing down her fear, Vilmah continued crawling forward. The mechanical squirrel bounded down after her, then in front of her, until it landed at the bottom. Its tiny green eyes glowed just enough to give Vilmah a target, and with them guiding her, she shimmied down further until finally, she reached the bottom. Dropping down to the floor with a “thud”, the orc realized that the chasm opened to a larger area. A smell reached her nostrils, then. Something sour and bitter. Inside, it was too dark to see much besides the small area Vee’s eyes illuminated. The squirrel sat on what looked like a large decorative silver plate. Reaching down to retrieve it, Vilmah saw that it was actually in the shape of an eye, and around the size of her face. A tauren-sized belt buckle. “The Eye of Huln,” she said to herself, stuffing the trinket into her side bag. The enchanted bag opened further than logically possible, allowing her to stuff the enormous piece inside. With a few deep calming breaths, Vilmah looked for a piece of rock to help her back up the opening. Vee leapt on to the orc’s armored pants and crawled up her shoulder, using it to boost itself up the chasm. As the squirrel climbed up, its eye light was cast a bit wider. Vilmah reached up to grab hold of the rocks above when something in the cave caught her eye. Pausing, she blinked and waved Vee back down. “Over there,” she instructed the automaton. Vee followed her commands and bounded toward the spot Vilmah indicated. Its eyes shone over a mass of what looked like long white stones. The orc’s eyes went wide when she realized that they weren’t stones, but bones. wrapped in decaying flesh and fur. “Aw hellfire,” she whispered, her legs turning wobbly. The ground she stood on, Vilmah realized, was not a place to store stolen treasure. It was a tomb, and she was surrounded by the decaying corpses of tauren that the drogbar had thrown inside. Fighting the urge to retch on the desiccated corpses, Vilmah waved Vee back up toward the hole. “Vee, let’s get out of here,” she said quickly, her hand trembling as she reached up the hole to hoist herself up again. It was the fastest she’d ever climbed, and with the death below her, Vilmah felt more than grateful when a living tauren greeted her at the mouth of the entrance. Breathing raggedly, she crawled from the hole, visibly shaken, and took a moment to compose herself before waving at Awatu on the other side of the bridge.
  4. With a gentle pat on the hip, Vilmah sent her wolf off to hunt. The animal wasn't particularly frightening-looking, more like a shaggy dog than the worgs most orcs were seen with, but when given the command he bounded off naturally. Reaching back with her good arm, Vilmah grabbed for her sword, but did not unsheath it. She seemed to stretch her arm with the motion, warming up her muscles before heading into danger. Before her, Vee stood at attention, waiting to lead them inside. The mechanical squirrel was silent, but its tail bounced back and forth. With another nod to Awatu, the smiled at Vee and let it lead them both toward the mouth of the drogbar cave. Shield and axe at the ready, Awatu made his way to the cave entrance. He paused, listening for any sounds from within. Voices, footsteps, or anything else that would alert him to a presence just beyond the darkened cavern. Giving a quick glance around before moving forward, Awatu ensured that his companion was prepared to press onwards. One steady breath before heading into the darkness, he moved swiftly for his size across the stone floor into the dim torchlight of the cavern. His eyes adjusted to the dim light, sun spots dancing across his vision for a few seconds. A pause, keeping alert to any enemies that may be further into the cave. Luckily the Drogbar are not much larger than him and these tunnels would accommodate a creature of his size. He glanced behind him, keeping a tab on his companion and awaiting the guidance of the small mechanical squirrel. By now, Vilmah had grown used to someone else taking the lead. Though she had fond memories of vanguarding, days and nights spent with her mechanical arm tirelessly holding a shield to defend her friends, now her role lie in taking care of their enemies instead. The 'dirty work', some referred to it as. With Awatu in the front, she kept her eyes and ears alert for disturbances, waiting for anything; a drogbar, a falling rock. The cave itself was massive, large enough for the tauren but more than enough space to fit dozens of the drogbar themselves. It grew darker as they continued onwards, Vee scurring carefully over rocks as he led them to what appeared to be a fork in the tunnels; one went right, one went left. Vee led them to the right tunnel, and as they walked on, the sound of low gravelly voices could be heard. "Aw hellfire," Vilmah muttered to herself, the familiar sound of the earth shaking meeting her ears. "Watch your fe--, er, hooves!" She shouted to Awatu, as the ground reached for them from below. Fortunately, she was fast enough to keep the stone hands from grabbing her legs. Vilmah lept from corner to corner of the tunnel, looking for the source of the earth's calling. A few yards away, a drogbar in long frayed robes stood with his hand outstretched. Knowing a shaman when she saw one, Vilmah unsheathed her sword in mid-stride and rushed the earthcaller. The shaman commanded a volley of stones toward both the orc and the tauren, a few striking Vilmah in the face. It wasn't enough to deter the orc, and she hastily slashed at the drogbar's abdomen with her enormous sword. The earth heaved and Awatu stumbled as stones wrapped around his hooves and ankles, ensnaring the Tauren as Vilmah darted ahead toward a robed Drogbar. He snorted and a flare of reddish-orange light swirls around his legs, the hands crumbling to gravel as the blessing of An'she granted freedom of movement. Awatu continued moving forward, picking up momentum as the earth returned to its natural state in his wake. Holding his axe aloft, he muttered a word in Taur'ahe which unleashed a blade of light arcing towards the Drogbar, just over Vilmah's shoulder. The light burst across the jaw of their foe as he released a pained howl. Awatu turned quickly, checking the way they have come for any enemies seeking to flank them. The distraction of the shaman was just enough for several drogbar rock-hurlers to close off Vilmah and Awatu's exit. In front, Vilmah fought the shaman. Behind, the rock hurlers began doing what they were best at - hurling rocks, directly at the massive tauren. They didn't seem intimidated by the fact that he was heavily armed, or the power he demonstrated. The drogbar sent enormous boulders flying at the tauren, grunting with the effort. Meanwhile, the shaman attempted to call upon the earth spirits to fend off Vilmah's attacks. She hacked through the stones he summoned, shards of rocks flying in all direction until finally she backed him into a corner. Without hesitation, the orc swung her sword at the creature's thick neck, severing its head from the rest of its body. Blood splashed back on to her torso and face, staining the plain cloth she wore over her chest. Looking back to Awatu, she caught sight of the rock-hurling drogbar and ran for them. "Hold their attention," she said, bounding past the tauren's shield. "I'll get rid of them!" The boulders, while stout, were merely a hindrance. The ground shook as cracks of light filtered through the tunnel, divine power taking hold and consecrating the ground underneath the assailants. Another boulder flew but was tossed aside by the heavy shield, another burst of light softening the impact as it rolled over Awatu. He growled and focused his gaze on the nearest creature. "Worms... Defiling the Earthmother... burrowing into her flesh.... Know the wrath of Her chosen people!" With a quick thrust, a blazing disk of light whipped through the cavern, bouncing off of drogbar skulls and the stone walls but avoiding Vilmah altogether. The shield of light dissipated as Awatu advanced upon the closest enemy, dazed by the sudden impact. Its eyes focus on the Tauren just in time for a mighty stomp from Awatu's hooves to shake the cavern and crush the foot of the Drogbar. It shrieked and reeled from the blow, an axe strike following swiftly behind, tearing at dense flesh. Awatu kept the Drogbar controlled, allowing VIlmah a chance to engage from an advantageous position. For her part, Vilmah tried not to let Awatu steal her attention as well. Well, he's distracting, I'll give him that! She thought to herself, edging into the drogbar boulder hurlers, her size giving her the advantage against their huge mass. Sliding beside one of them, she hacked into the enormous creature's legs, the blade sinking into bone and muscle, forcing the drogbar to fall and drop the boulder on top of him. Not one to waste an opportunity, Vilmah executed the downed enemy by sinking the tip of her sword into it's throat. Checking back on Awatu, she saw that he took care of one of the two remaining boulder hurlers and ran toward the other. As she closed the distance, the drogbar managed to catch her with a rock hurled directly toward Vilmah's face. Fortunately, the orc knew a thing or two about dodging rocks. She leaned back and slid on both feet, the boulder rushing past her face with a rush of wind, and landed a heavy kick directly into it's thrower's kneecap. The orc's heavy boot caused the drogbar's leg to snap backwards, forcing it to fall to the ground with a howl of pain. Regaining her stance, Vilmah stabbed the drogbar's chest and twisted, tearing apart lungs and ribs with the teltale sound reminiscent of snapping tree branches. Within a few seconds it was dead. She looked over at Awatu and wiped blood from her face with the back of her right hand. "You alright over there, Awatu?" The light faded from the ground and Awatu's shield, pulling the cavern back into darkness. He rolled his shoulders and tilted his head, turning towards Vilmah. "All is well." he said, turning around and looking down further into the tunnel. "They know we are here. Best to make quick work of this before more arrive. How are you faring?" Vilmah smiled broadly and gave Awatu a quick salute. Her upper body and face were stained with blood that was just beginning to dry. Keeping her sword unsheathed, Vilmah nodded to Vee. "Just fine on my end. Lets hope they haven't called in for reinforcements or this could get messy." The squirrel took Vilmah's unspoken direction and continued running down the tunnel. After a few yards, they came to a large canyon within the cave with a stone bridge seperating Awatu and Vilmah from the other side. Thankfully, there were no drogbar on their end. Unfortunately, that meant all of the remaining drogbar had gathered on the other side, and were quickly preparing themselves for a fight. There looked to be at least ten of them. "Weird," Vilmah said with a furrowed brow. "How come there are so few down here? You think there's something up?" Awatu glanced around, looking across the canyon, then down into it, then along the edges. "I imagine an ambush. Or some other trickery." He snorted as he peered at the opposite side of the canyon. "Whatever their tricks, they will soon know Peace." he said, brandishing his shield and axe, preparing to fight his way across the bridge.
  5. Because of you, my life was changed forever. There was a path once, a well-planned path that I thought I could follow, but that path is gone now. You made me make choices I never thought I'd have to make; choosing between friends, and family, and whether or not I could ever be the person I wanted to be. Because of you, my friends are dead. Because of you, I had to look inside myself and find out just how ugly I can be. Because of you, I know just how deep that ugliness goes. Because of you, I will never know what it's like to feel secure, or safe. Because of you, everything burned. I can't keep blaming you, though. You're dead. It doesn't matter if all these things happened because of you. Because of you, I grew up.
  6. The ride to the Drogbar settlement was mostly silent between the orc and the tauren. Vilmah had her mind mostly on the task and tried to think of ways in which she might need to defend herself underground. As her blademaster training required her to wear no armor over her torso, she felt unnaturally exposed, more so next to the heavily armored Grim beside her. Every so often, she glanced over at Awatu, wondering if he withheld any prejuduce against her, despite their earlier agreement to ignore old wounds. His tabard alone brought back memories of Bloodscream, their old late night chats about war, orcs, and the Horde. Trying to focus on the mission was more difficult than she realized. The Drogbar were a simple folk, but possessed incredible strength and resilience. Awatu had fought his fair share of them in the earlier campaigns against the Underking and learned not to underestimate them. Especially the ones with some wits about them. They reminded him of large Dwarves… A shame, really, that they would not consider allying themselves with the Highmountain and the Horde. Though a few defectors fight alongside the Highmountain Tauren, most of their people have chosen a course that opposes that of the Horde and of the Mandate. As the ride progressed, Awatu’s thoughts circled around potential encounters in the tunnels and possible counters to Drogbar forces. Alone, he could handle a few or more on even ground. But they would have an advantage within their stony home. He looked to his side and sized up his new companion. She was rather small compared to her kin, and the mechanical arm alone was odd. Years of gauging Supplicants and comrades-in-arms had shown Awatu that appearances could be deceiving and that this young Orc displayed a sense of determination and strength despite her stature. Still, she is was anomaly that he hoped to understand, like many who did not fight under the banner of the Mandate. Her weapon was solid, yet she lacked the typical armor or attire of a soldier, apparently preferring mobility in her assaults, which was compounded as he looked at her weapon again. It was large and not suitable for quick strikes, at least from what he could gather. He spoke, breaking the silence that had thus far fallen upon their travels. “You wear little armor. For what purpose? Would a large weapon with heavy strikes not leave you open to counter-attacks?” he asked, curiosity borne upon the question rather than condescension. Vilmah snapped back to the present as Awatu’s voice cut through their silence. She glanced at the tauren and smiled, her tusks creating dimples against her cheeks. “Sure, but I’ve sort of gotten used to big weapons like this by now. Blademasters wear no armor on their upper body for a few reasons, mobility being one of them, but mostly it’s sort of a… a defiance, I guess you could say. Against death. It takes two things to go without armor near your vitals; bravery and insanity. We sort of meant to have both. That’s why Blademasters wear the flag into battle, to show our enemy just how crazy we are, and to be a beacon for our allies.” Looking forward as they approached the drogbar settlement, she tightened her grip on the reigns of her own mount and took a few calming breaths. “I’m in training to become a Blademaster because I saw how they conquered their own fear, even after so many of them were killed. I know the feeling of having your family struck down all around you. The Blademasters didn’t let it stop them from being some of the greatest warriors the Horde has ever known. So, I’m doing my best to follow in that tradition.” “Blademaster-in-training? Intriguing.” Awatu pulled back on the reins, leading the mount to land along a rocky outcropping, out of sight of the entrance to the Drogbar caverns. He remained still for a moment, eyes roving over the craggy cliffs for any scouts. Satisfied that they were not being watched, he dismounted and tethered the large wyvern to a leafless tree jutting out from the bare rock. He took a moment to readjust his armor, arms, and equipment. Giving Vilmah a nod, he spoke quietly. “Stealth will be… difficult. We must be swift and deadly, surprise them and throw them off-balance before they have a chance to gather strength and retaliate. Unfortunately, we do not know where they have hidden this artifact and their tunnels can be… complex.” He appeared thoughtful for a moment, his mind racing to determine strategies, possible counter-strategies, and contingency plans. Vilmah looked over the entrance and furrowed her brow in thought. Biting down on her bottom lip, she orcess used her good hand to fish around in one of her pockets and retrieved what looked like a small jumble of mechanical parts. “Vee, wake up,” Vilmah said to the pieces. They came together in her hand, forming a small mechanical squirrel. Glancing between her and Awatu, the artificial creature wagged its tail and awaited orders. “We need you to do something, Vee. Go into that cave, and look for a treasure, okay? It’s gonna be small, made of iron. Looks like an eyeball. You have to be careful, don’t let anyone see you. Then when you find it, come back and tell us where it is. Got it?” The squirrel blinked in response, and leapt from Vilmah’s hand. Scurrying toward the drogbar cave, it disappeared into the deep cracks. With a shrug, Vilmah turned to Awatu. “Little guy comes in useful, sometimes.” Awatu frowned at the mechanical beast as it scuttled away. He snorted, expressing his distaste. "Gnomish... tools." He watched as it disappeared into the cavern before settling back behind the outcropping, awaiting the return of the mechanical scout. "Orcish," Vilmah corrected, grinning. "An orc made it, anyway. Not me. A friend." Watching the cave for any disturbances, the orcess absent-mindedly scratched her mechanical forearm. "Bloodscream used to do that sort of thing." Awatu wiped a hand down his muzzle, an exasperated sigh escaping him. "Ah, yes. Bloodscream and his... contraptions. He went missing for a short time before reappearing by falling out of the sky from... wherever his lab... exists." A quick look over the boulder for any signs of the mechanical squirrel or a curious Drogbar before Awatu resumed his kneeling position. Vilmah laughed quietly, keeping her voice down. She looked at Awatu with raised eyebrows. "...has he been back, recently? I was hoping I'd see him. Apparently another of our warriors went asking about me to him, but he was gone by the time I came back. Heh... we used to go into the Molten Core together. Us and Abric and all the rest of them." A tiny glint of metal could be seen cresting the rocks. "He returned when a portal was opened to Draenor." Awatu said with a grunt, shifting his weight. "I believe he was... intrigued by the invasion of the Iron Horde and the nature of the portal and alternate timeline. A subject that I do not completely comprehend." he said before standing to look over the boulder once more. "It's not exactly my specialty either," Vilmah said with no small amount of irritation in her voice. "Though Blood was always into our history. It was him who told me it was possible that one of my parents could have been mag'har, and he was right. I think he was a lot smarter than he liked to let on. You're lucky to have him." The tiny metal fragment made its way back to the tauren and the orc. Vee scurried through grass and rocks and came to a stop in front of Vilmah, its tail wagging excitedly. It said nothing, but pointed a tiny robotic hand toward the cave. "Looks like we have ourselves a trail," the orc said with a smile, turning to Awatu. "You ready?" "I am always prepared." he said, giving a nod and tightening the straps of his shield to his arm.
  7. I look for inspiring situations or stories. For Vilmah, I thought I was in a rut until I started listening to the Warlords of Draenor soundtrack. Orc-y music set me back on track.
  8. The view from Thunder Totem was typically Vilmah’s favorite part of visiting the Highmountain Tribe. Though unfortunately plagued with recent attacks from drogbar and harpies, in Vilmah’s experience, the tauren of this land remained cautiously optimistic when approached by outsiders. By now, hers was a familiar face; a small orc female, purple hair, who wore no upper-body armor and sported a mechanical arm where her own had been severed. She visited them often, perhaps once every several days to see if they were in need of extra help, and regarded their High Chieftan, Mayla Highmountain, with respect. Taking in the scenery before venturing down into Thunder Totem’s lower chambers, Vilmah tried to clear her mind and focus on the task at hand. It was difficult to ignore the fact that Broxigan was missing, but Sharvak’s words echoed in her mind; “How can the whole of the truth exist if you do not trust it to be?” He said he would be back, Vilmah thought to herself, riding the lift down into the underground chamber beneath Thunder Totem’s upper platform. I have to trust that he’ll keep his word. Shaking her head clear of worry, the orc waited until the lift arrived on the hard earth floor and walked toward Mayla. The young High Chieftan stood with several other tauren beside her, speaking in clear voices on the current issues facing their tribe. Vilmah overheard the word “drogbar”, but could not decipher their Taurahe language beyond that. With her enormous Vallarjar sword strapped to her back, she kept her hands free as she approached the High Chieftan, as a sign of trust and respect to her authority. “High Chieftan Mayla,” the orcess said, offering a salute. “I’ve been instructed to see you. I’m here to serve.” “Ah, Bloodborne,” the High Chieftan said, dismissively nodding at her advisors. “Thank you for coming so quickly. The situation requires some finesse that I was told you possessed.” Vilmah blinked, surprised. “I’m a warrior, High Chieftan. I’m sure you have your pick.” “Perhaps, but, not so many with your…” The tauren held up her hands, to illustrate her point. “…stature, shall we say.” The orc smirked. It wasn’t the first time someone requested her help based on her size. “Well I can fit into a tight spot, that’s for sure. What exactly do you need me for?” “I will explain once the other warrior I summoned arrives. He should be here any moment.” Vilmah raised an eyebrow. “He?” The numerous factions upon the Broken Isles vie for attention, yet an inevitable bias falls upon the Highmountain Tribe. From carrying the infants through floodwaters to slaying as many drogbar as could be slain in a day, Awatu found his time continuously devoted to the forces of Thunder Totem. Usually, it was he who sought their targets and assisted in their efforts. This day, however, displayed a first as a large wyvern touched down near the flightmaster. Awatu stepped away from the edge and made his way towards the lift that would take him to the heart of Thunder Totem to meet with the High Chieftain. A direct request for assistance against a specific target. Few details given, perhaps due to concerns of word getting out and alerting the quarry. Still, the Highmountain asked and Awatu would aid them once more. He stepped onto the lift, his eyes roving over the balcony, watching other members of the Horde move out on their own assignments. A few Alliance headed towards one of the bridges leading away from Thunder Totem, earning a disgusted glance from the armored Shu’halo. Though he disagreed, he understood the desire of the Highmountain to maintain a more… neutral stance in these conflicted times. As the platform lowered and light gave way to the stony darkness, he turned around and watched the gathered braves and seers manage the tribe’s affairs in the heart of the Totem. Making his way to the High Chieftain’s dais, he stopped to give a curt nod. No words spoken, only a strict air of professionalism within this tribe’s home. A young orc stood nearby, though she was quickly dismissed as one of the many Horde soldiers that came and went in the musty cavern. High Chieftain Mayla nodded in return and greeted Awatu. “You have answered the summons swiftly, Brother Stonespire.” She said, apparently pleased with his arrival. He stood a bit straighter, the colors of his tabard and the large shield emblazoned with the hooded skull and daggers of The Grim catching in the dim firelight. “The Grim are eager to aid the Highmountain Tribe, High Chieftain. Peace will come to your foes.” He said, and awaited her instructions on the assignment. Vilmah watched as the tauren approached her and Mayla, his tabard an all-to familiar one, though it’s wearer less so. Remaining silent as he greeted the High Chieftan, she waited for a name. Stonespire? Awatu. The orc kept her mouth shut as pleasantries were exchanged. She never had much contact with this Grim leader, his predecessor having already been gone when she herself was exiled by Hellscream’s Horde. Though her relationship with their former leader Abric was strained, he was undoubtedly an important figure in her development as both a warrior and a leader. With him gone, and Bloodscream still away, most of their guild was unfamiliar. “I have asked the advice from my braves, and they suggested that you two might be best suited to this particular assignment,” Mayla explained, her voice warm and dire at the same time. “A relic has been stolen from our people. The Eye of Huln. A trinket owned by my ancestor, it is quite small, hewn from iron into the shape of an eye. It is said that whomever possesses this trinket will have the strength to tear down mountains, though one must possess clear sight to wield this power. “I am unsure if the drogbar can harness it, but its connection to Huln Highmountain makes it more than just a powerful item, as I am sure you can understand,” she said pointedly to Awatu. “The drogbar who stole the Eye is unknown, though he was seen communing with the earth spirits to aid in his thievery. My scouts have reported that the Eye itself has been locked away in a compartment below the earth, within the drogbar’s settlements. Unfortunately, as you can understand, my scouts were not quite… efficient in their attempts at retrieving it.” Vilmah smiled a little, nodding. “You need someone small enough to get in there. I’m surprised you couldn’t find a goblin to do it.” Mayla sighed. “Believe me, I did try. However, my advisors suggested that when it comes to ancient artifacts, their kind can be, well…” “You don’t trust them to return it,” the orc offered. “We do not have much,” Mayla continued, holding up her hands. “My people are in dire need of assistance, and we cannot offer much in the way of payment. I was told of your compassion.” Vilmah felt herself blush and nodded. Payment was the least thing on her mind. “Of course I’ll do whatever I can to help. I’m not looking for payment.” The High Chieftan nodded, looking more than a little relieved. Turning to Awatu, she gave him a nod of approval. “And you, Brother Stonespire, have more than proven yourself to be a great ally to us. I would trust that you will keep Bloodborne safe as you both venture into the earth, and ensure the return of the Eye.” Awatu gave the young Orc a curious look, now realizing that the two of them would be working together in this mission. As the High Chieftain explained the situation, a nagging thought of familiarity rested in the back of his mind as he pondered the young Orc. Her armored- no, mechanical arm struck a chord. Her identity is a thought away as she spoke, regarding Goblins. He snorted at the mention of the little swindlers. “They are… conniving and untrustworthy, yet convenient at times.” He said, mostly to himself. The High Chieftain spoke of a lack of payment, though it was of little concern. Awatu noded alongside the young Orc. “I seek the continued survival of your people. Trinkets and gold are of little… consequence.” Mayla continued, then looked at Awatu, and the name caught him. ‘Bloodborne’. It clicked, and he recalled the Orc’s identity. Vilmah Bloodborne. Memories of old conversations with Bloodscream struck his mind alongside other mentions of this Sanctuary leader from other elder Grim. He had never met her and presumed her killed during Young Hellscream’s unfortunate purge of Horde citizens. Perhaps, he considered, her arm reflected that she was not unscathed… “It shall be so, High Chieftain.” Awatu said, giving a polite nod to Mayla, then turning his head and regarding Vilmah briefly. He nodded towards the lift, and gestured with a hand. “Let us share words and plan.” Vilmah nodded in return, and turned to salute the High Chieftain. Together, she and Awatu made their way to the lift. There was a surprising lack of tension between them, at least from Vilmah’s perspective. Cracking her neck as they boarded the lift, the orc smiled at her temporary partner. “Just to get anything awkward out of the way,” she started. “I don’t think we’ve really met, but I’m pretty sure you’re the leader of the Grim? I knew Abric, when he was leader. And Bloodscream. I’m not too familiar with your current roster, but, I’m proud to have fought with the Grim before the Cataclysm. I’m not sure if you’ve heard about me, but...” Vilmah shrugged. “It doesn’t matter. There seemed to have been some bad blood between our guilds while I was away. I hope we can put that behind us and do what we need to do for the Highmountain Tribe.” As she spoke, he regarded her with a neutral expression. Not hostile, but not openly welcoming either. "I am The Commander of The Grim, yes. Your name is known to me. A name of integrity and devotion to the Horde, despite our... disagreements." His brow furrows in thought for a moment. "The... bad blood... runs deep. There are some who let it consume and define them." The lift approached the landing and daylight illuminated the craggy expanse of Highmountain. "I intend to complete this task for the Highmountain Tribe. I see no need for a... quarrel between us." He gave her an amicable nod and stepped off of the lift, towards the flight master to find passage towards the Drogbar tunnels. Vilmah followed him, smiling to herself. “Sounds good to me.”
  9. 27 years after the First War (Year 601 by the King's Calendar) The taste of blood was heavy in her mouth. Vilmah was used to the taste of blood, usually her own. Thick, coppery, always warm. This time it was different. This time, the blood wasn’t hers, and the unfamiliar taste was nauseating. Staring up at the sky, she tried to remember why there was so much of it, why her face was covered, why it still ran down her neck and chest and arms. Arm. There was a loud piercing sound cutting painfully through her ears. Like an animal, it was almost a roar, almost a wail. She didn’t realize until after a hand grabbed her forcefully by the shoulders and legs that it was her. Don’t ever scream. Don’t ever show your weakness. Vilmah remembered the words of her warrior trainers, their scolding, their mocking voices. Her throat burned as she screamed, waves of searing pain shooting from the bicep of her left arm into her chest. Her heart pounded wildly, an echoing drumbeat. All around her, another sort of roar. She could piece together individual voices and understood that it was a crowd. Thrashing her head around, Vilmah saw the arena, the bright yellow and blue sky of Durotar, the bodies on the ground. A tauren slumped over on his stomach, an orc on his back. His throat had been ripped open, chunks of flesh scattered to the ground. She tasted blood, and swallowed the remaining bits of meat from her teeth. Thick armored hands carried her underneath of an awning, where the crowd could not see her. Vilmah saw then that they were Kor’kron, frowning deeply beneath their helmets. Dropping her body on the dirt ground, they went back outside to retrieve the corpses. She panted heavily and struggled to move, her mind racing. The arena. The orc. The blood in her mouth was his, the blood on her face was his. Her arm… “M-my… my arm…” She whispered, looking down toward her left bicep. The limb had been cut clean through, bone severed. Blood trailed heavily, and she felt her vision blur. Too weak to sit up, she babbled in a low whisper, her body trembling with shock. “C-cut off… cut it off… my arm…” She closed her eyes. Different hands on her shoulders startled Vilmah, and she thrashed back and forth, her sight too blurred to make out who or what had grabbed her. “No… no! Let go!” She babbled weakly, her heartbeat slowing. Too much blood escaping, too much to keep her eyes open. Breathing became difficult, the air burned in her lungs. The crowd grew silent in her ears, as if the wind ate their voices and replaced it with calm. The hard earth beckoned her, calling her to its grasp. It would have been easy to let herself be taken by the ground, embraced by the dirt, swallowed by the earth. A voice above her whispered, almost lost within the still deafening roar of the crowd outside. It awoke her from the fantasy, the simplicity of being dead, and brought her back to the living. “I’m sorry.” The hands moved to her face and firmly pressed her head down to the ground to keep her from thrashing. Warmth emanated from the hands, radiating through her skin and into her bloodstream, traveling until it met the severed stump of her left arm. Finally, she felt the cold nothingness of her missing limb. Phantom fingers disappeared, and pain shot through her nerves as they were knit by elemental magic. “…it’s gone…” She murmured as the pain ebbed, replaced by a steady ache in her left side. The flesh around her severed arm grew slowly to cover the wound, but did not extend past it. Vilmah felt cold air on a new patch of skin, and an empty void where her arm once was. She steadied her breathing and opened her eyes, her vision focusing until the green and brown above her solidified into a familiar face. Broxigan. Present “Never lose faith in the elements. They may not speak, but they are the only truth.” Vilmah felt the wind of Nagrand in her hair and closed her eyes, enjoying the freedom of flight. It had been weeks since she visited the Mag’har, the small group of orcs in Outland that once included her late grandmother. The Frostwolf herself had been a shaman, a fact that Vilmah always regarded with respect and admiration. On the back of her windrider, she looked down at a rock formation below; the Throne of the Elements. Guiding the animal to land, Vilmah gave a friendly wave to the elementalists gathered. There were four in total; two broken, and two Mag’har. They turned toward the visiting orc, regarding her curiously before approaching. “Honored greetings, sister,” one of the Mag’har said cautiously. She stood a full head taller than Vilmah, her Mohawk bright purple, her brown skin almost golden in the sun. “I am Sharvak. What brings you to the Throne of the Elements?” Vilmah climbed off the back of her windrider and saluted the Mag’har with respect. “Lok’tar,” she said, bowing her head. “I’m Vilmah Bloodborne.” Sharvak looked over Vilmah curiously. The smaller orc wore no upper body armor, but carried a sword on her back. “I see you wear the attire of a Blademaster, yet you do not appear to be of the Burning Blade clan?” Shaking her head quickly, Vilmah held up her hands. “No, no. I’m Frostwolf, actually. Like my mother, but, I’m being trained by Blademaster Ronokada. That’s why I’m here. I’m searching for something.” The Mag’har nodded toward her associates, who went back to their previous discussions without her. Sharvak held up a hand and guided Vilmah toward the ancient stone formations. “What is it you search for, young one?” “That’s the thing,” Vilmah sighed. “I’m not exactly sure. Blademaster Ronokada said that I’m at a point in my training where something is missing. He said that I should go into the field, that I would find what I’m looking for in there. So I did, and I thought I found an answer. Or at least, a piece of it…” Together, the two orcs looked up at the stones. The sun bore down on them both, casting shadows into the grass. “For a long time I was alone. I thought all of my friends were dead, and I couldn’t look for them for fear of putting them in danger. We’ve been reunited with a lot of them, and I’ve started to feel like my old self again. Almost. Anyway… I went into the field as Master Ronokada said, and I met an Illidari with no eyes. It reminded me of a friend I have, who’s also missing his eyes. Both of them can see, but, in different ways. Ronokada said that I was missing something, and I began to wonder if maybe what I’m missing isn’t something I ever had.” Turning to look at the shaman, Vilmah seemed at a loss. “I can see, but I’ve always been blind to the elements. My mother said that they were the truth, the only truth. So how am I supposed to know truth if I can’t see it? Or hear it? What’s the point of there being truth if I’m just going to be blind to it? All my life, I’ve wanted to know that truth… but I’m unworthy, I guess. I think that’s what I’m missing. That worth.” Sharvak looked up and over Vilmah’s head, thoughtfully gazing at the green hills of Nagrand. After a long pause, she nodded at the warrior. “I believe that your words have a grain of truth, but it is not the whole truth. Do not despair, Bloodborne. Rarely do even we know the whole of the truth. Come.” Walking together, the shaman led Vilmah to a nearby stream. She motioned toward the moving water with her hand. “Rarely do the elements make themselves known to beings such as ourselves. We exist not because of our desire to hear them, but because of their desire to be heard. That ability is not for us to decide, try as we might. All we can do is listen, and accept what we hear. Now, Bloodborne,” Sharvak nodded. “Listen. What do you hear?” Vilmah closed her eyes and listened. The stream was quiet, clean running water babbling off of stones and dirt. Somewhere in the distance a bird called. The wind lifted strands of hair from her back and shoulders. “I hear… the water. Birds. Wind.” “Then, Bloodborne,” Sharvak said with a shrug. “That is what the elements wish for you to hear. This does not make you blind to their truth. This is the truth you are meant to know.” The warrior nodded, disappointed. “I suppose I knew that.” “Yes, you did. Again, a grain of truth, but not the whole of the truth.” Sharvak extended her hand toward the mountains. “What you can see is the truth that the elements gift you with. Your sight, though similar to any orc’s, is not limited to your eyes. You see not only the hills and sky, but the danger that lies beyond. You have the sight of a warrior, and though I know the voice of the elements…” She smiled and shrugged. “Yours is a sight I can never know. It is not mundane, it is not the sight of the unworthy. It is the sight granted to those gifted by the wind and earth to strengthen your bones and make swift your movement. You are gifted the grace of the water, and the ferocity of the thunder. Do not fear the silence of their voice, warrior. They speak not to you, but through you.” Vilmah nodded slowly, reaching up to tuck stray hair behind her ear. “..I think I understand, now.” “This friend of yours,” Sharvak continued. “Without his own, he sees through the eyes of the elements. They gift him with sight. Likewise, this is a gift from the elements to you, to all of our kind. We shaman exist to hear, to see. If he or any other shaman is friend to you, that also is a gift. You are meant to be each other’s eyes, for neither you nor any shaman can see the whole of the truth.” “Balance,” Vilmah said quietly. “That’s what I’m missing. Balance.” Sharvak nodded. “As the elements exist through balance, so must you. That does not mean you are meant to do this alone. Separate, the earth and water make only desert and sea. Together, they created Nagrand, life. You must find the balance, and trust in your friends to see and hear what you cannot.” “Trust…” Vilmah chuckled sadly. “It all goes back to trust, in the end.” The shaman smiled broadly. “Of course. How can the whole of the truth exist if you do not trust it to be?”
  10. 18 years after the First War (Year592 by the King's Calendar) “The shaman were once the spiritual leaders of our clans. The art flourished amongst our people, and we communed with the spirits to guide us. Yet for some, it was not enough. In the sacred mountains of Oshu’gun, The Deceiver distorted our connection. He lied to us, taking on the form of our ancestors to make us believe that the Dranei were our ultimate foes. We massacred their people, breaking them so horribly, so despicably that the spirits denied us their grace. “We lost our connection to the earth.” Vilmah’s mother sat with her back against thick iron bars, speaking quietly to the small orc on her lap. Around them, several orcs sat with their legs crossed, staring out toward the mountains of the Arathi Highlands. It was cold, and the orcs went mostly without suitable clothing for the harsh weather. As she sat in her mother’s lap, cradled by the orcess’ arms, Vilmah felt not only the strength of her mother’s limbs but also of her resolution. There were few children in Hammerfall, and those who lived were looked upon with distain by the remaining orcs. They should be drowned. “Without the elements to guide us, our shaman turned to the Burning Legion,” the orcess continued, ignoring the glaring eyes of those around her. “It is the Legion that brought us to this place, the Legion that convinced us that we could conquer these lands. This was our downfall. This is why—“ “Stop your prattling,” a male growled, storming toward the female with his hands balled into fists. Blackrock tattoos covered his green arms, though they were too thin to make much of a threat. Vilmah’s mother glared at the Blackrock, her steely brown eyes fixated beyond him, toward the mountains. “Never lose faith in the elements,” she said to Vilmah, clutching the girl close in her brown arms. “They may not speak, but they are the only truth.” Present Vilmah eyed the demon standing in front of her, it’s bright green eyes like a beacon. The Illidari Stand was loud with the sound of battle as Illidan’s chosen warriors struck down demons with their massive glaves. Accepting the aid of the Horde and Alliance, Vilmah found herself working side-by side with humans and elves, careful not to swing too hard that she might accidentally wound those attempting, as she was, to kill demons. For now, at least, she was alone against one. It was a larger demon, the type with wings and a mouth full of massive teeth. Grinning at the orc like a predator eyeing its next meal, the demon bounded toward Vilmah with its claws outstretched. Wearing only armored pants and boots, her chest wrapped in cloth, she must have appeared as easy prey. Feeling the wind on her bare skin, she remembered Blademaster Ronokada’s words: “Go into the field, again. Fight. There is still a part of you that is missing, and can only be found on the battlefield.” Swinging her massive sword at the demon, Vilmah rolled her eyes and wondered if she was meant to discover that going into a fight without sufficient armor was stupid. Her sword bit into demon flesh, causing it to shriek in pain and bat the warrior away with a massive wing. She fell backwards a few feet and slid against the ground, scraping her side against the rocks. Rage built in the pit of her stomach, a hatred for everything involved she could think of; her lack of armor, her weakness, Ronokada’s advice. Taking a deep breath, she jumped back to her feet and clutched the massive Vallarjar sword in both hands; her own, and the mechanical one. The sound of her metal wrist twisting against the leather grip of her weapon gave the warrior goosebumps. Leaping toward the demon, she grit her teeth and stabbed it through the stomach, slicing in one direction to spill its steaming entrails into the ground. The creature lashed with its claws, catching Vilmah’s midriff near already-present scars. It went down dead within a few seconds, prompting her to search its body for anything of use. Finding nothing, Vilmah prepared to leave the body behind and make her way back toward the Illidari to report her kill tally. Her train of thought was interrupted by the chattering of a mechanical squirrel that dashed from the inside of her sword sheathe and scurried away. “Vee!!” Vilmah cursed the robot left to her care by Broxigan and ran to catch up. It leapt through the legs of the Legion, eliciting another groan from Vilmah as she had to slice her way through their growing numbers. Slicing imps in half was not the way she wanted to end her day in the isles. Eventually, she crested a hill and found Vee sitting atop an Illidari. The elf was in critical condition, her side sliced open to reveal meat and bone underneath. Vee made a loud whistling noise to Vilmah, who knelt beside the horned elf and immediately retrieved bandages from her pockets. The Illidari coughed and groaned, glaring at the orc. “I am not fit to be moved,” she said in a low voice. “My time is ended. Leave me.” Vilmah rolled her eyes and roughly bandaged the Illidari’s wounds. “Stop talking, you’re wasting time.” Vee chattered loudly, its head turned toward an approaching Eredar as it crept up behind Vilmah. “Look out!” The Illidari shouted, groaning as she sat up to focus her gaze on the Eredar. Without warning, twin beams of green fel energy erupted from her empty eye sockets, unbound by any sort of blindfold. The Eredar went down with a shriek, her body sizzling until it eventually exploded in a cacophony of ash. Vilmah paused for only a moment to regard the injured Illidari, then went back to bandaging her. “Thank goodness for those eyes of yours…” The elf breathed raggedly. “I… I have no eyes.” “You know what I mean,” the orc retorted dryly, tying off the bandage. “You can see what others can’t.” The Illidari’s tone remained even, though she struggled to speak. “I see the fel. The rest is a… a feeling.” “Well, I appreciate it, whatever it is you 'see'. What’s your name?” Sliding in under the Illidari’s body, Vilmah hoisted her up on to one shoulder before whistling for her wolf. “Vheena,” she answered in a hoarse voice before her body convulsed with another coughing fit. Edmund came bounding in quickly and slid beside the orc, obviously uncomfortable with the demons around them. After laying Vheena’s body on his back, Vilmah hopped behind her and led the wolf toward the rest of the Illidari. Vee crawled up the wolf’s tail and sat on Vilmah’s shoulder. “Well Vheena, I apologize for the bumpy ride. I’m Vilmah,” the warrior said as Edmund bounded through hellfire and imps. Vheena coughed again. “I know who you are... I have read of you.. and Sanctuary. I am an.. initiate of the Commissar.” Vilmah smirked. “Oh, perfect. I’m sure we’ll get along,” she said sarcastically. “As Lord Illidan wills it..” the elf said wearily, coughing again. “Did Lord Illidan will you all to remove your eyeballs?” The orc asked bluntly. Vheena did not react to the slight. “No. Illidari remove their eyes because we have seen too much.” Vilmah blinked, looking down for a moment at the elf lying limp in front of her. With one hand holding her body in place, and another on Edmund’s reigns, she kept Vheena from sliding off. “…seen too much of what?” “Of what happens when the Burning Legion is allowed to go unchecked,” she answered quietly. “We sacrifice our eyes to see the world more clearly.” As they approached the other Illidari, Vilmah slowed Edmund’s running. Several demon hunters approached Vheena to pull her from the wolf, allowing Vilmah the chance to dismount. Vee chirped once near Vilmah’s ear, as if to remind her of its presence. Reaching up to pat the robot absentmindedly, Vheena’s words echoed in her mind. “We sacrifice our eyes to see the world more clearly.” The Illidari nodded their thanks to Vilmah and went back to work. As if out of nowhere, a memory bubbled in her head. Sitting in her mother’s lap, she was being told the story of her people’s descent from shamanism. How their faith in demons brought about the downfall of Draenor, how their dependency on the elements was in the blood of every orc. “Never lose faith in the elements,” her mother whispered. “They may not speak, but they are the only truth.” Vee chirped. “There is still a part of you that is missing,” Ronokada advised. “And can only be found on the battlefield.” Vilmah’s jaw dropped with realization. As the demons of the Illidari Stand made their way toward the demon hunter camp, she saw the doom of Azeroth. They poured out in massive numbers, bigger, stronger, and more powerful than any creature in existence. Their voices echoed lies spoken for generations, lies that broke her people and brought an entire world to ruin. The promise of power, and the promise of true sight. “Broxigan,” she said quickly. “Oh shit.”
  11. Vilmah breathed slowly, the warm Durotar air filling her lungs. It tasted heavily of sweat and ash, the price of training indoors. Wearing only cloth pants, she stood in a crouched defensive position. Her bare skin glistened with sweat, reflecting the torches on the wall. Holding her sword parallel to the ground in front of her, every muscle taut, she waited for the blademaster to make his move. Ronokada stood opposite of the smaller orc, his own sword held diagonally in front of his face. His calm demeanor seemed to radiate through the room, and it put Vilmah on edge. It was the sort of calmness she felt desperate for, the complete disregard for rage that her kind so often used to amplify their power. In an instant, the blademaster shortened the distance between them. Taking two long strides, he slashed downward toward Vilmah’s left side. The missing arm made for an easy target, something Ronakada already told her he wanted to exploit. It was a weakness, something that anyone else would use to defeat her if given the chance. To her benefit, Vilmah was prepared. Twisting her body, she slid one leg in front to turn herself to the side, avoiding Ronokada’s blade altogether. It only took a single turn of her arm to slash her own blade against Ronokada’s, steel meeting steel, his attack paused. Unfortunately, there was no time to congratulate herself. The blademaster recovered quickly, turning his blade to the side, hacking at Vilmah’s bare midsection. It might have gutted her, had she not speedily turned her own sword to block him. They went on like that for a long while, the loud ringing of metal against metal rhythmically singing like a bird. Eventually, the singing stopped. Ronokada slashed so hard at Vilmah’s sword that it went flying from her palm and spun against the floor. Rather than stop in his attack however, Ronokada raised his sword and thrust it toward Vilmah’s unarmored chest in a move that could easily have killed her. Instinctively, she twisted her body and slammed her fist against the flat of his blade. It was just enough time to twist herself and slam a bare foot against the older orc’s stomach, sending him stumbling backwards in surprise. Wiping bloody knuckles on her pants, Vilmah waited for him to continue. The blademaster cracked his neck, peering at the female curiously. “That was not expected. Where did you learn that?” “Uh…” Vilmah looked at her fist. “…I’m not sure. In the field, I guess. Always helps to know how to use your hands if you lose a weapon.” “First, never lose your weapon. Second,” Ronokada sheathed his sword. “My sword could have removed your fingers.” “Better my fingers than my head.” The blademaster nodded once, acquiescing. “You take a lot of risks in the name of survival, Bloodborne. It seems to me you have a strong desire to stay alive.” Vilmah raised an eyebrow. “Doesn’t everyone?” “Not enough to risk losing their limbs,” he replied pointedly, nodding toward her missing appendage. “Or to continue on without one. What is it you’re fighting for, exactly?” Vilmah walked toward her sword, retrieving it from the ground. “Everyone, I guess,” she said quietly, contemplative. “I swore a blood oath to serve my guild, so them of course... but not just them. Anyone who can’t defend themselves. I want to leave the world a better place than it was when I came into it.” “And you think killing will do that?” The smaller orc licked her dry lips. “In some cases, yes. There are some out there who do nothing but cause more suffering. They need to be dealt with so that others can have peace.” “And what do you know about peace?” Sheathing her own sword, Vilmah smiled sadly. “Nothing much, really. The only peace I ever knew was before the third war, but I’m not sure I’d even call that peace. Before the liberation, all I knew was captivity. After we were free, all I knew was building and training.” Ronokada folded his arms. “Why did you choose to become a warrior?” “I didn’t really think I did, to be honest. I just sort of, I mean, we were all trained to fight. Some of us had other talents, like the shamans. I wasn’t really good at anything, but…” Her voice trailed as she remembered. “…I just knew I wanted to fight for Thrall and his vision. I knew that what he wanted was the right thing. I wasn’t able to talk to the spirits, like he could. I wasn’t quick, I wasn’t strong. I just knew what I had to do, so I kept at it until I was good enough to go out and and do it.” “Thrall is no longer our warchief,” the blademaster pointed out. “Yet you continue to speak of him as if he were.” “You’re right. He’s not the warchief,” she admitted, no small amount of disappointment in her voice. “But that doesn’t make his vision any less important. I’m not fighting for Thrall.” “No,” Ronokada said firmly. “You are killing for your own ideology. Our people glorify the battle, but death is death, regardless of how strong you are or how strong your opponent is. You are fighting because it is what you are, not what someone else made you. That is an important distinction. Make sure that you understand this, before you pick up a sword.” He walked toward a nearby bench and grabbed a towel to wipe the sweat from his neck. “The way you fought, it reminded me of the Burning Blade. The chaos, the willingness to lose your own flesh just to win. The fight is not always just between you and an enemy, Bloodborne. It is also between you, and the guilt within you that seeks your own demise. You know what I’m talking about. The glory of death in the battlefield? It’s not glorious. It’s an end, and I’ve seen that guilt in you. It will kill you if you do not put it behind you. You think missing an arm is a weakness? It is nothing compared to the longing for death I’ve seen in broken warriors.” Vilmah looked up at the blademaster, meeting his eyes. “I’m not broken, blademaster. I just… I have this feeling, still, that even if I know I did what I had to do, it felt wrong.” “Good,” he replied with a grunt. “Maintain that honesty. Killing isn’t supposed to feel right. The day you convince yourself that it does is the day you truly lose yourself.” “Isn’t that what the Burning Blade was?” She asked boldly. Ronokada furrowed his brow and sat down. He motioned for Vilmah to join him, and she knelt in the dirt floor. “The Burning Blade was like no other clan. We were a force of chaos, those broken so far that we cared not for any lives, including our own. When the Alliance stormed Blackrock Spire, Doomhammer commanded that we be unleashed.” Vilmah knew this story. “You were defeated.” “Yes,” he replied calmly. “It was the bloodiest battle I ever witnessed. We were pure madness, led by the thirst for death; both our enemies’, and our own. Few of us survived, we wanted so badly to die on the battlefield. Those who did not die were taken prisoner, our greatest nightmare. You know that you were born in Hammerfall, Bloodborne. You know what happened in those internment camps. That is where they studied our bloodlust, attempted to discover what it was that made us such a force to be reckoned with.” The smaller orc watched as her instructor told his story, but saw no changes in his demeanor. “What did they find?” “That the only thing making us different from the rest was our insatiable bloodlust. We had been broken years before, in the gladiator battles, where we fought for survival to a point where our survival meant nothing. The Burning Blade was simply made of orcs who didn’t care if we lived or not, so long as we could kill as many as we could along the way. The demon blood we consumed only served to make it worse. When Thrall liberated us, he gave us the choice to join this new Horde. Many of my brethren refused. Those who stayed became blademasters. Those who did not..” Vilmah shook her head. “I know. The Burning Blade clan still exists.” “Not as it once did,” he corrected her. “They are no longer the chaotic entity they once were, but I digress. The history of my clan is a lesson, Bloodborne. The battle of Blackrock Spire was lost before we ever raised a blade. It was lost the moment we gave in to that demonic bloodlust, and stopped thinking about the consequences of our actions. Do not repeat our mistakes.” “Yes, blademaster,” Vilmah said respectfully, placing her hand on the ground and bowing her head. Ronokada watched his student, her thin neck an easy target for any would-be assassin should they be waiting for an opportunity to strike. Naked from the waist up, she had placed every ounce of faith in his ability to train her, regardless of the consequences. She had entered his building a paranoid brute, waiting for an attack, her judgement clouded with the fear of the unknown. She knelt before him now with an unexpected calmness. “You’re doing well, Bloodborne,” he said finally, which allowed her to raise her head. “But you won’t be a blademaster by training with me alone. Go into the field, again. Fight. There is still a part of you that is missing, and can only be found on the battlefield. When you discover what it is, return here, and we will continue.”
  12. Present Day Blademaster Ronakada looked at Vilmah for a long time before speaking. She told her story with as much detail as she could remember, and it wasn’t until she reached the end that her eyes glistened with tears. Gritting her teeth against the show of emotion, Vilmah held her position and swallowed down the sickness that she felt rising in her throat. “You realize what it is you’re confessing to?” The Blademaster said quietly. They were alone in his training room, but he cautiously glanced toward the closed door. “Does anyone else know?” Vilmah sucked in a breath, her demeanor finally breaking. Tears rolled down both cheeks, a reminder of her own weakness. “No. No, Blademaster. No one knows.” He took a moment to let Vilmah compose herself before standing in front of her. The orc used his coarse callused hands to fix her positioning, firmling grabbing her elbow and wrist, straightening her arm. “Do you regret your actions?” She took in a shaky breath and searched herself for an answer. Clarity was difficult, but it came eventually. “No.” “Then let it fade from you,” he said quietly, releasing her arm. “No one is sinless in this world. The Burning Blade Clan committed all manner of atrocities during wartime. What is honorable in the midst of chaos? You could debate it all day. It does not matter. What matters is that you are willing to accept the consequences of your actions. Are you?” Without hesitation, Vilmah answered. “Yes.” “Good,” he grunted, circling her again. “You must make peace with your past. It does not define you, it simply leads you to the place you are now. It led you here, to me. What is important is the future, and what you make of it. Do you understand?” “Yes, Blademaster.” “Close your eyes,” he instructed, his footsteps soft against the dirt floor. “Focus on the present. Listen to your breathing, your heartbeat. Feel the ground against your feet, the heat in the air.” Vilmah breathed in deeply and focused. She felt her pulse, a steady drum beat that reminded her of Draenor. She tasted the hot Durotar air, made hotter by their enclosed space. She smelled the sweat of her own skin, and that of Ronakada’s as she walked past her. She felt the dirt floor, every tiny pebble digging into her foot, the weight of her body heavy on her ankle. Vilmah took another breath and felt calm; with herself, with her past, with the world. “Good. Now, pick up your sword,” Ronokada said with a grin. “It's time I taught you how to fight.”
  13. 30 years after the First War (Year 604 by the King's Calendar) It had been three months since the raid on Sanctuary’s guildhall. There was no word from Nojinbu or any of the other guild members, but Vilmah would not have wanted any. “Scatter,” she told them, once. “If anything ever happens, we know who will be the first to be targeted. Don’t let them find you.” Following her own advice, Vilmah went somewhere she knew no one would think to look; Northrend. Since the campaign against the Lich King, it was sparsely populated. The frozen Stormpeaks were not friendly to outsiders, as storms raged one moment and hollow silence followed. Vilmah hated this place, the cold, the loneliness. In a cave she’d discovered at the crest of a mountain range, she sat by herself, her windrider and wolf out hunting. Unwilling to risk building a fire, she was instead covered in fur from animals she killed when first arriving from Orgimmar. The first few days were the worst. Sick with dread and worry for her mate and the guild, Vilmah tried to take her own advice and lay low. She killed animals for food and warmth, found a cave for refuge, and stared at her hearthstone for signs of life. No one spoke, which both relieved and worried her. After a few weeks of silence, she finally broke and made the attempt to communicate with someone. Thankfully, it was someone that she knew would be safe. It was past midnight when the windrider approached. The night sky was covered in dark clouds, hiding the moon and casting shadows throughout the icy ground. Vilmah did not see the windrider until it was close enough to smell. A hand on her sword, she made no move to show herself until she could see the red eyes of her visitor. “Warboss?” Came a melodic voice. Vilmah stood quickly and ran to the windrider. Sliding off the animal’s back was a blood elf in black robes, her eyes red behind the hood. Ninorra Bloodstone. “Come inside,” Vilmah said quickly, her voice hoarse and low. Ninorra followed the orc inside of her cave, and was followed by the windrider. The large creature took up most of the cave’s entrance, effectively shielding them. “Have you been here this whole time?” The blood elf asked, concern in her voice. Vilmah nodded. “Have to keep out of the way, for now at least. Eventually I may have someone I can reach out to, but for now I think it’s best to stay out of the way. Are you and your family alright?” Ninorra shook her head dismissively. “We are fine. Our home is in Quel’thalas, and the Horde has seen no reason to attack us but we have been warned by Silvermoon to remain inactive. Vicailde is so angry, after what happened…” “Nojinbu?” Vilmah asked quickly. “Anything from him?” “No, Warboss,” the elf sighed. “Although there are rumors of a troll killing Kor'kron. I believe his calling card is the removal of their tusks. It could be Nojinbu, they are hunting him now. No word from anyone else, though our home is open to them. It is open to you, too. You do not have to be here.” The orc shook her head quickly. “No, I won’t put you in danger. What’s happening in Orgrimmar?” “Well, Hellscream is certainly making a name for himself,” the elf said with lowered eyelids, irritation in her tone. “He has been having his Kor’kron raid other peace oriented guilds, though not as well-known as our Sanctuary. The Kor’kron actively intimidate Horde allies, which is why I do not go to Orgimmar any longer. The last time I went, I saw Kor’kron stringing up trolls by the throat. For amusement.” Vilmah looked horrified, but did not interrupt. “They do it to anyone they want,” Ninorra continued. “Goblins, Sin’dorei, their desire to intimidate has turned them mad. My people do not go to Orgimmar, and the Forsaken steer clear as well. The tauren are even more displeased, but the trolls, you know how they are. They were such close allies with the Horde, it is difficult for them to leave. However…” The blood elf spoke in whispers now. “I have heard rumors concerning a hunt for Vol’jin. It seems Hellscream considers him a threat, so at least you are not alone in your exile.” The orc nodded and pursed her lips. “Hellscream… have you seen him?” “Only once,” Ninorra sighed. “I saw him and several Kor’kron females tormenting a troll. They laughed as one of those ‘ladies’ threw him by the tusk. His… his jaw was broken. I…” The elf seemed overwhelmed by the memory. “I could not bear it, Warboss. The cruelty of this Horde. I had to go. I have not been back since.” Vilmah’s eyebrows knit. She looked up at the elf, curiously. “Did you say ‘females’?” “Yes,” Ninorra answered. “Big ones, almost as big as Garrosh himself. He seems to be enjoying his status,” she added dryly. Vilmah’s eyes darted as she considered the possibilities. Eventually she nodded at Ninorra. “Thank you. I appreciate you telling me all this. I’m going to leave here soon, but I won’t be telling anyone about where I am for a long time. If anyone asks, don’t tell them anything, alright?” “Even Nojinbu?” “Especially Nojinbu,” Vilmah said sadly. “If he’s alive, I’ll find him, but not now.” Ninorra reached into her bag and pulled out several stacks; food, clothes, and water. “Please take care of yourself, Warboss. I will keep your secret safe.” In the months that followed, Vilmah found herself in the crosshairs of a handful of assassins sent by the Warchief. One of them, a rogue, was able to sneak close enough behind Vilmah that she used both knives to cut her throat. In a blind bloodrage, Vilmah used her mechanical arm to slam against the rogue’s jaw, breaking it into a dozen pieces. The rogue went down, struggling for a moment until a plated boot crashed into her skull. Wasting no more time, Vilmah searched for health potions on her would-be assassin and found enough to stop the bleeding of her throat. The scars never faded, and even as more came to kill her, somehow, she managed to survive. She made her way down to neutral towns, dressed in furs designed to disguise her physique. Her time in the mountains had made Vilmah harder than before; there were lines in her face, her muscles were sinewy, and without help from a good barber her formerly shaved skull was reclaimed by thick purple hair. She may have appeared different, but she remained cautious. Wrapping her mechanical arm in leather to make it appear as if it were a real part of her, she went to Shattrath in the hopes that maybe there would be more news. There, she learned of the approaching attack on Orgrimmar. It seemed both the Horde and the Alliance would work together to overthrow the Warchief. Vilmah considered the possibility of rejoining her people, fighting side-by-side with the Horde to overthrow their own leader, but she could not find it within herself to trust that they would not betray her. Not yet. Eventually, she found a way. Sending word to Kimiji and Stranglethorn Exports, Vilmah was able to procure a potion that would temporarily make her appear to be human. She received enough to practice a few times, walking through Shattrath in her disguise, attempting to make friendly gestures to the Alliance forces who were there. The language barrier was a problem, but eventually Vilmah learned a few words of common. Nobody seemed suspicious of her heavy accent, or her arm as she disguised it with wrapped leather and used it to carry a massive shield. As the day of the siege approached, Vilmah prepared herself for what was about to happen. Having rented a room at a small inn, she dressed herself as if she would were she going into any normal battle. Plate armor, a sword, a shield, and a helmet. A mirror on the wall reflected her image; a small orc, ready for war, her long purple hair tied into a tight braid to keep it out of the way. With a deep breath, she drank down the potion. It wasn’t the first time she saw herself as human, but it always jarred her. The way human physiques were so similar to her own, the way her face shifted, the way her skin didn’t have to change very much from its original brownish green to a more neutral brown. Her long purple braid was black, but besides that, remained the same. Even her eyes were the same, a light brown and gold. Her mouth felt strange without tusks, and she had to move her jaw a few times before it became comfortable. Staring at her reflection, she thought about what her father would say if he knew what she was about to do. The idea was almost laughable; he would try to kill her himself. Taking up her sword and shield, she went to the meeting place. It would all be over, soon. The siege of Orgrimmar was unlike any raid Vilmah had ever been involved with. The Alliance were friendly with one another, and although the situation was dire, there was an air of optimism. As if they all seemed to agree that this was what needed to be done. She couldn’t recall the Horde ever having that kind of unity, outside of her own guild, and even there her bloodsworn would often be at odds. With her heavily accented common, the humans directed Vilmah toward the back where she could protect their magic users. She kept her helmet down and fought beside them, careful not to break from the group until they grew closer to Garrosh himself. The Alliance forces were so preoccupied by the coming fight that they did not notice a single warrior slip away through Grommash Hold’s halls. Vilmah could not help but think of all the times she had been there. When Sanctuary, in its infancy, would hold interviews for prospective members in the same room as Thrall and Vol’jin. She remembered coming to Thrall for advice, she remembered the calm way in which he spoke to her and every other member of the Horde. She remembered the hope he had for his people, and the rage she felt when it was shattered. Walking down the halls, she noticed that they seemed empty. The Kor’kron had been alerted to the attack, and in the chaos had left many of the hold’s doors and halls unguarded. That is, until she came to the room she remembered. Thrall’s private room, the place he went to when he needed to be alone. It was one of the most heavily fortified rooms in Grommash Hold, where she knew Garrosh would keep whatever he wanted to protect more than anything. Two Kor’kron guarded the entrance. By the time they caught sight of her, she was already close enough to bash her shield into the face of the first one. He went down with a grunt, lips bloody, a tusk knocked loose. The second Kor’kron roared like an angry bear and swung his axe toward Vilmah’s back. Turning her body to meet his blow with her shield, her sword arm jabbed upwards and sunk deep into his torso. It was a quick and fatal blow, but the Kor’kron did not give up. Rage inflamed his red eyes, and he punched Vilmah with a massive fist. It sent her flying backwards into the opposite wall, her back aching as she struck solid stone. “You’re dead, human!” The first or said through a bloody mouth, spitting out his tusk. Vilmah took a deep breath and counted her options. With no sword, she was left with only her shield. Switching it to her other arm, she felt her own rage erupt from the pit of her stomach as she charged at the tuskless orc and jabbed the edge of her shield directly beneath his jaw. The serrated edge punctured his flesh and dug an enormous tear into his throat, effectively forcing his own blood down his windpipe. The orc choked and spit blood into Vilmah’s face, which she returned by spitting back into his. Eye-to-eye with the Kor’kron, she spoke in clear orcish. “Say hello to Hellscream for me. He'll be joining you soon.” One more jab with the shield was all it took for him to go down like a sack of meat. The other Kor’kron, still scrambling to pull the sword from his stomach, fell to his knees with exhaustion. Vilmah kicked his skull with her heavy boot, forcing his back to the ground, and reached to retrieve her sword. Pulling it out, she watched for a moment as his blood came gushing from the wound, covering the ground in a shallow pool. Vilmah breathed heavily as she watched both orcs struggle against death. By the time they stopped breathing, she felt calm again. The door was unguarded. Behind it was, she predicted, Garrosh’s most precious commodity. The reality of what she was about to do screamed at her from within. You’re not a murderer. You can’t do this. But I am a murderer. I’ve been murdering people since the Horde trained me. They taught me to kill. They sent me to kill. But you killed terrible people, didn’t you? People who deserved it? Don’t I deserve it? We’re all killers in the end. She opened the door. Standing inside were three Kor’kron women. They were all heavily armed, still in their armor, and stood at least a foot and a half taller than Vilmah herself. For orcish standards, they were beautiful. Tall and muscular, with thick torsos and thighs. Their hair was cropped short for battle, their skin varying shades of brown and green. They were physically the opposite of Vilmah, a reminder of her diminuative weakness. Smirking at the tiny human, the first Kor’kron took a step forward, twin axes in hand. “Well what have we here,” she said with a chuckle. “Some human meat, hand delivered.” Vilmah raised her shield. The first blow was harder than she expected. One axe went into her shield, the other came from the side. Just shy of biting into Vilmah’s waist, it hit the wall behind her as the smaller fighter pushed her shield into the Kor’kron. The huge orcess grunted with irritation and tried to hack behind the shield, but Vilmah was too small and the shield too wide. With a burst of energy, she pushed forward and slammed the top edge of her shield into the orcess’ face. There was a yowl of pain, followed by a snarl. Blood ran freely from her nose, and she grinned again. “Can’t hide behind that shield forever,” a second Kor’kron grunted, stepping forward. She held a sword the length of Vilmah’s body, and swing it directly at the shield, biting into the thick metal. With the enemy sword connected to her shield, Vilmah slid from behind it and scrambled to the third Kor’kron female. This one had been ready and waiting, a massive axe in hand. She swung downwards with the heavy weapon, loosing a chunk of stone from the floor as Vilmah dodged its blade. Using the axe head as a platform, Vilmah jumped up and thrust her sword into the Kor’kron’s throat. It went straight through to the other side. Leaving the weapon buried in the orcess’ neck, Vilmah retrieved her axe from the ground. It was a familiar heavy weight. Holding the two-handed weapon, her helmed face covered in blood, the remaining two Kor’kron narrowed their eyes in realization; this was no human. “You’re going to suffer for that,” the orcess with the twin axes grunted, spinning her weapons around each wrist. Vilmah remembered what Ninorra said, about how the Kor’kron had been tormenting the other allied races. Spitting out blood, she spoke to them in orcish. “Like the trolls you’ve been torturing? Like the Horde allies you put to the sword?” The sword wielding Kor’kron frowned deeply. “The only Horde is the orcish Horde. You’re going to learn that before you die.” With a deep shaky breath, Vilmah lifted the axe and took a step toward the other two orcish women. They separated and came at her from different angles; one with a wide swing of her sword, the other with a fury of axes sweeping in from below. Vilmah twisted her body and used the two-handed axe’s head to block her assailant’s sword, but she wasn’t fast enough not to miss being hit by one of the smaller double axes. One bit into her thigh, the other into her mechanical arm. A loud “clank!” followed by a whir of broken mechanical pieces brought a surprised look to the Kor’kron’s face. “Wait a second…” Before she could finish her thought, Vilmah stumbled back and swung her axe at the sword-wielding Kor’kron’s body. The blade struck her side and bit deep, bone stopping the blade from going any further. She fell with a grunt, her sword clattering to the ground. Vilmah left the blade inside and rushed to her prone body, stomping her skull squarely with the heel of her boot. A crunching noise echoed through the room, and she was dead. “You’re no human,” the remaining Kor’kron growled. “You fight like an orc. Your arm is metal. You’re that traitor that the Warchief wants dead.” Vilmah took in a few shallow breaths, her wounds bleeding profusely. She had to finish this before she lost too much blood. “Yeah.” The huge orcess laughed, then sneered. “Do you know what you’ve done? The Warchief will not let you out of here alive. He is going to have your flesh flayed from your bones, and then he is going to make you watch while he does the same to every fucking troll in Orgrimmar.” Gritting her teeth against the rage, Vilmah took a step forward. “Garrosh isn’t going anywhere. He’s surrounded. You know he’s outnumbered, that they’re going to kill him or at least bring him to justice. He’s failed. You’ve all failed. If I were you, I would run, and never look back.” “I’m not running anywhere, bitch,” the Kor’kron growled, spinning her axes once more. “The future of the Horde is with me. Hellscream will never die, but you will.” She ran at Vilmah, though it only took a few steps to close their distance. With a two-handed axe, it was more difficult to block the Kor’kron’s furious attacks. Vilmah had to sacrifice an injury for the opportunity to strike, and allowed one of her enemy’s axes to bite down into the metal of her plate mail torso so that she could kick the other one out of her hand. With one axe buried into Vilmah’s armor, and the other spinning away on the floor, the Kor’kron headbutted her enemy’s head to send her flying into the wall. Vilmah shook her head and ripped off the helmet, revealing a human face covered in blood. She spit some out and, in her closeness to the corpse with her sword buried in her neck, Vilmah abandoned the large axe to retrieve it. The Kor’kron grabbed for her own axe and rushed at Vilmah again, hacking at the smaller woman from the side while her other hand grabbed on to the breastplate of her enemy’s armor and hoisted her into the air. Vilmah flailed as she was lifted, but having no time to block the attack, let it sink into her side. The plate mail absorbed most of the blow, but the force caused the metal to buckle inward and break several of her ribs. Without thinking, she thrust her sword into the orcess’ chest. Both went down with a crash. Blood gushed from the Kor’kron’s wound, but she had no more strength to stand. Vilmah held her side, broken ribs sending waves of pain and nausea into her that threatened unconsciousness. Swallowing down the pain, she crawled to the Kor’kron. “You… do you know what you’ve done...” The orcess wheezed, her lungs filling with blood. Vilmah spat more blood on the floor, her vision dizzying. “I did what I had to,” she said hoarsely. “The Kor’kron are over. Garrosh’s reign of terror is over. Hellscream’s will is dead.” The orcess coughed more blood and turned her head. Within moments she was dead, and Vilmah knelt beside the three bodies of dead Kor’kron women. One of them, she saw, was thicker in the middle than the other two. The gravity of her actions hit Vilmah then, a weight in her stomach that forced her to vomit on the floor with grief and shame.
  14. There was a thick heat in the air, sticky and foul smelling. Orgimmar was home to many craftsmen, from leather workers of Mulgore to old Blackrock Clan blacksmiths. Near these metal workers and their enormous forges were training buildings, where veterans from the third, second, and even first wars trained young fighters in arts that may have otherwise gone on to be forgotten. The orcish Horde had many warriors, but for most the desire for quick bloodshed created a legion of new fighters that utilized rage and speed. Using twin weapons was popular these days, especially for warriors in the field. Vilmah held a single weapon in her single hand, an enormous sword from the Isles. Her arm strained to hold it straight, above her head in a fighting stance taught to her by Blademaster Ronakada. He watched patiently as she stood in a crouched position, her back straight, her knees bent, her right arm bent behind her head to hold her sword at an angle. Sweat rolled down her neck and off of her bare chest, which Ronakada insisted was part of their training. “Don’t worry,” he assured her. “I’ve seen better.” It took some getting used to, but they were alone in his training area. Wearing only cloth pants, she stood on the dirt floor with bare feet, toes spread to absorb the weight of her body and the sword. The Blademaster circled her as she stood perfectly still, her muscles burning from the strain. Ronakada spoke in a deep voice, low and quiet as she stared intently at the wall in front of her. “The path you will walk is paved with rage, anger, and fear. If you stumble on these emotions, you will fall. This is the breaking point for most of our kind, the inability to escape that rage. This is why we fell,” he added, standing close to Vilmah’s face. “They will say you are slow and weak. That this way of fighting is lost for a reason, and the Burning Blade Clan were slaves to the Legion and nothing more.” Vilmah blinked but did not change her stony expression. “So more of the same,” she said calmly. “I’ve been told I was slow and weak my whole life, Blademaster.” Ronakada sneered and continued to circle her. “You are weak, Bloodborne. Had it not been for that Frostwolf mother of yours, you would have been drowned. I would have drowned you myself.” Vilmah swallowed, her throat dry. “Yes, Blademaster.” “They adopted you out of pity, you know. Soft hearted Frostwolves,” he spat. “They speak of honor as if it were something you can just obtain. They are the weakest of us, and you are evidence of that weakness.” The heavy thumping of Vilmah’s pulse was thudding in her ears. “Yes, Blademaster.” “A runt, a coward, and down one arm,” Ronakada continued. “You’re practically useless as a warrior. What place is there for you in the Horde?” The orcess inhaled deeply from her nose, but the tips of her ears were dark. She let out a shaky breath and kept her position. “I will show you, Blademaster.” “Show me what? You’re tenacious, I’ll give you that,” he said with a grunt. “That Guild of yours burning, Kor’kron beating and killing your bloodsworn. You came back only to have it all taken by elves. They don’t need you, Bloodborne. Stop being stubborn. Nobody needs you.” Vilmah clenched her teeth. Her right arm trembled for a moment. “..yes, Blademaster.” “I heard that you even rut with trolls,” he said close to her ear. “Is that what you do, Bloodborne? Lie with trolls? How many? Is that why you were so broken when Vol’jin fell?” She made a sound with her throat that surprised her. Vilmah let out a choked grunt, her eyes watering. The orc kept her pose, sniffing back the tears that she denied herself the day their warchief died. Gripping her sword tightly, knuckles white with the effort. She took in another deep breath. “…just my mate, Blademaster.” “What’s his name, whelp?” Vilmah took in another deep breath. “Nojinbu of the Frostbite tribe. A Drakkari troll.” Ronakada paused, tilting his head for a moment. “The one who killed those Kor’kron, years ago? The one who used their own tusks to pin notes to their corpses.” Finally, Vilmah felt herself smile. Through the pain of her pose, and the strain of holding it, she remembered the vengeance of her troll mate. How his one blue eye was blood shot with rage, how he smelled of blood and sweat and poison. How he did whatever he could to make the Kor’kron suffer before eventually putting them to death. “Yes, Blademaster.” “I’m sure you enjoyed that, didn’t you? All the violence. It’s natural for our kind,” Ronakada explained, pacing. “The blood, the glory of battle. We all want it, but you let him do it for you. You let him kill for you, because you were a coward.” Finally, her voice rose in pitch. “No. No, Blademaster. That is not what I did.” Ronakada tilted his head, curious. “What did you do, Bloodborne?” There was a burning in her chest, now. It traveled down to her stomach until she could taste bile. Her right hand trembled again. “..Blademaster..” “What did you do?” Vilmah swallowed. “When Hellscream came to power, we were exiled. A heavy price was put on all of our heads, but I was wanted dead or alive. It was easy to recognize me, obviously,” she added with no small amount of bitterness. “There was nowhere for me to go, and I didn’t want to hide. I wanted to fight, but the enemy was in Orgimmar.” Ronakada narrowed his eyes. “The Siege of Orgimmar,” she continued. “I needed to be there. I needed to help, but I couldn’t do it with the Horde. The only way for me to fight was to... was to go with the Alliance.” The Blademaster shook his head. “How?” Vilmah grit her teeth at the memory, but willed herself to continue. “There was a potion. A friend of mine could make it. When I took it, I looked human. Nobody questioned a human with one arm, and I didn’t have to know their language to know where to go. So I went with them into Orgrimmar.” “It was treacherous, Bloodborne,” the blademaster admitted. He looked sickened by the idea. “What you did, you would be branded a traitor.” A weak laugh erupted from her mouth. “That’s not the worst part, Blademaster. Not even a little. I’m not sorry I joined them in that fight. I wasn’t looking for glory. I wanted revenge. I wanted Hellscream to suffer. To know what it's like to have everything you ever wanted stolen from you.” Ronakada waited for her to continue. Vilmah closed her eyes. “I knew they would go after him. I knew he’d be dead, or at least defeated. He was outnumbered, and I wasn’t going to be the one to strike the killing blow, not with my armor or weapon. So I took another route. I left the group and went to the place in Grommash Hold where I knew Thrall used to go to be alone. When I got there, two Kor’kron were guarding it, so I knew I was right. They went down, but it wasn’t easy. I was able to kill those guards, and all anyone ever saw was a human with one arm. Nobody knew it was me.” The blademaster’s expression turned grave. “I went inside and there were warriors in there. Waiting. The thing is, they were all female. Some of them… they weren’t fit to fight. Understand?” Ronakada’s eyebrows raised. “You know, I used to dream of a great future,” Vilmah said quietly, her voice strangely calm. “We’d follow Thrall and his commands, we’d make peace with the Alliance, and we’d finally know what it’s like to not have to spend your life killing. Thrall, my Warchief… he had a beautiful future planned. It was going to be my future, and Hellscream killed it.” Vilmah opened her eyes. “So I killed his.”
  15. Edmund was startled by the other animal, his large blue eyes in shock at the sudden change in course. Vilmah pat his neck to calm him, squeezing her eyes shut behind her helmet for a moment, willing herself to be patient. By the time Saphiara spoke again, the orc forced herself to listen. The weapon and the remote confused Vilmah at first, but after a few seconds, she understood their significance. Instinctively, she flexed the fingers of her mechanical arm, just to be sure. "Please, deliver these to those I harmed." Vilmah looked at the letters in her hand. "I cannot bring myself to do it in person." Blademaster Ronakada's voice echoed in her mind. Until you learn to forgive, you will never win this battle. She wanted to learn from the Blademaster, to discover what it was that brought him such peace. It was the clarity she needed to move on, if not to simply survive. Was this a test? She kicked Edmund's flanks gently and urged him forward. Without hesitation, she reached forward and took Saphiara's letters with her mechanical hand, a defeated expression hidden beneath her helm. "None of us are well, but it takes courage to admit it. This is a good start," she sighed, holding up the letters. "I'll deliver them. It doesn't do anyone any good to hold a grudge. I hope you find the peace you're looking for."
  16. "Uh..." Vilmah closed her eyes for a moment. The weight of her actions and her past sunk into her stomach like a stone. Years ago, it would have made her nauseous. More recently it influenced paranoia. Today, however, it fell flat. After years of exile, fear, and retribution, she finally understood the lesson of the blademaster. Vilmah opened her eyes. "Whatever helps your sleep at night, Saphiara. I'm not going to argue with you. You're mad at me for leaving? I get that. Fine, I was wrong for not fighting more. I could have come back, I could have stormed into Orgimmar, I could have challenged the Kor'kron and I could have stood my ground. You know what else I could have done? I could have died, and what happens then? You feel better? Because I let myself be killed so you can feel good about yourself? That's not how it works. "Death isn't an answer to your problems. You want me to feel bad? Well, wish granted. I feel like shit every day because I can't be the mythical hero people wanted me to be. Death is final, and the only way I can do anything is if I'm still alive. I'm here right now, I'm alive, I'm fighting. If you don't like it, that's your burden. I'm not here to make you feel good. I'm here to do my job." Grabbing her wolf by the reins, Vilmah hoisted herself on to his back. She put her helmet back on and shut the visor to hide her eyes. "Good luck, Saphiara." Kicking ber wolf's flanks, she lened to the left and guided him away from the elf. Her heart was pounding, but for the first time in a lomg time, Vilmah felt relief.
  17. Vilmah raised an eyebrow. Sliding off of Edmund, she hit the ground with a thud. "Not to my knowledge. Didn't really know there was a war.. and honestly, I don't have the energy to be hunting anyone. The Legion is in our midst and we're too busy trying to fight them off to worry about old grudges. Besides.." She sighed and scratched the back of her neck. "There's too much to worry about right now to hold grudges for something. You were one of at least a dozen people out to kill me and I don't think I care to keep track anymore."
  18. Vilmah blinked. It was a familiar voice, and she was starting to get used to hearing familiar voices. Squinting through her helmet, she saw what looked like an elven woman. Eventually her face came into focus, and Vilmah blinked again. "...Saphiara?" The name had a lot of memories, most recently of which involving Saphiara attempting to blame Vilmah for her absence during Sanctuary's scattering. She was also fairly certain that the elf wanted to kill her, but that would have put her on a very large list of potential murderers. "Uh.. yeah, it's me."
  19. One day earlier Vilmah trudged through Orgimmar. Having visited the contracting office to learn the procedures that the Horde used to do background checks on their grunts and peons, she discovered that their department was not only inefficient but inept as well. She traded insults with one of their supervisors before being given an armful of paperwork to go through. Dumping it all into one of her enchanted bags, with her jaw in an irritated grimace, she walked through the once familiar streets of a city that felt completely alien to her. Eventually, she walked into the Valley of Honor. Dressed in her plate mail, she seemed like most of the other warriors, despite her size. Without her helmet, her long purple hair and brownish skin was recognizable enough, so in Orgrimmar she went without. Many of the orcs gave her a salute as she walked by, which she returned begrudgingly. As she approached the warrior training area, a sound caught her attention. Steel against steel, grunting. A hand instinctively went to the handle of her sword, but she did not draw the blade. Before her, in a small patch of dirt, was a circle of orcs. They surrounded two warriors; one, a young male with two blades the size of his wrists, and the other an older orc with a missing eye. The one eyed orc held a single blade in his hand, and although his opponent was fully armored, he was mostly bare chested. Vilmah watched curiously as the two orcs circled each other. She nodded at one of the bystanders, a blacksmith in a heavily charred apron. “What’s going on?” “Some pup challenged Blademaster Ronakada,” the orc laughed, grinning with a missing tusk. “Two swords are better than one, he said.” The orcess felt her eyelid twitch with irritation. Having trained in combat using only a single blade, she watched the Blademaster for the same cues her own teachers gave her. The use of a single blade, she was told, was a study in patience. To wait for the perfect opportunity and strike when necessary. Recently, Vilmah found it difficult to be patient in this way, but Blademaster Ronakada had no such trouble. He stood perfectly still, and waited for the match to begin. “One… two… three…” An orc called nearby. “Go!” The younger warrior ran for Ronakada, his twin blades glistening in Orgimmar’s blistering sun. He leapt for the older orc, a battle cry on his lips, and swept both blades toward his opponent. Ronakada took one step to the left, and drew his sword. The butt of his weapon hit the other orc squarely in the jaw. Ronakada used this moment to turn the blade, and push its sharp end against the younger warrior’s throat. The fight was over in less than ten seconds. A cheer went through the crowd, and Ronakada was hailed as the victor. Humiliated, the other orc grunted in defeat, but Ronakada pat him on the shoulder. “Quality over quantity, pup. Do not forget that.” The calm manner in which Ronakada spoke after the fight filled Vilmah with a sense of wonder. How was it possible, she wondered, for any orc to be so collected in the face of blades flying at them? Most of the warriors she was taught by put an emphasis on rage. This one seemed to do the opposite. In a way, he reminded her of Nojinbu. The troll’s abandonment of his rogue lifestyle in pursuit of peace as a monk had gifted him with a certain grace that she did not understand. After the crowd cleared, she walked to the Blademaster’s training area. “Blademaster Ronakada?” She asked, approaching him. Respectfully, Vilmah removed her helmet. The older orc looked up with one eye and regarded the warrior with a glance. “Yes?” “My name is Vilmah Bloodborne,” she said, helmet at her side. “I saw you fight outside.” Ronakada grunted. “You and every other orc out there. What about it?” “The way you fight,” she began, looking for the right words. “It’s… I mean, it’s different. I was trained in the arms style, one blade. It was always my preferred way of fighting, until I took up the shield. But I was taught to utilize my rage. You don’t seem to do that at all.” The Blademaster shook his head, folding his arms across his chest. “It’s a misconception. Some of our kind uses rage to intimidate. That is not the case with me.” “Why not?” Ronakada grinned. “Because I do not need to.” Vilmah paused, then took a step forward. “Teach me.” The other orc blinked. “What?” “Teach me,” she repeated, patting her sword. “I’m a warrior. I use a single blade. I'm obviously never going to intimidate anyone, so I need to know how to do what you do.” Ronakada grunted and waved a hand. “You’re a seasoned warrior. Already fighting on the isles, from the looks of it. What the hell would you want to learn from me for?” “Because I have to get better, and my emotions are in the way,” she explained, removing one of her gauntlets. Vilmah exposed her mechanical arm to the Blademaster, it’s metal reflecting their faces. Realization came to Ronakada’s face when he saw the arm. “…I know who you are. You are the one they put in the fighting pit. The one they said was plotting to kill the Warchief, years ago. I heard you tore someone's throat out with your teeth.” Vilmah looked away, shame in her face. “I gave my life for Thrall. I still do,” she added, holding up the arm. “I may have one that fight, but I lost my arm. I can’t lose my head.” The Blademaster was silent in his reflection. Turning his back to Vilmah, he sighed. “I can hear desperation in your voice. You have unfinished business. A weight is in you, and it has to be lifted before I can teach you anything.” “What sort of weight?” “Guilt,” Ronakada answered, turning back to her. “You feel guilt over something, and until you learn to forgive, you will never win this battle.” Vilmah pursed her lips. There was guilt, and there was fear. “When you can learn to forgive, come back,” the Blademaster said, folding his arms. “I will teach you, Bloodborne, but you have to be willing to do exactly as I say.” The next day, Vilmah rode through Azsuna. She remembered Ronakada’s words, and tried to think of a time when she was not burdened by her memories. The early years of Sanctuary, when she and Nojinbu rode together through Stranglethorn Vale, or when she and Grisch spoke of the glories of the Horde to come. Before Garrosh Hellscream, before the blaze. She cursed herself and kicked Edmund’s sides, urging the wolf-dog on. He stopped suddenly, startling Vilmah from her thoughts as he sniffed the ground. “What the.. Edmund? What is it?” Something in front of them moved.
  20. Vilmah

    The Smell

    The field is heavy with the smell of blood and sweat. Decomposition has only just begun, a feast for thousands of carrion birds. The sun has only just set and there is peace from the screams and the clash of metal. Somewhere, someone is whispering prayers. Moments later, they are gone. Dead eyes look up hopelessly, lifeless beyond the fading blue. A black fly, fearless, lands on the surface and lies eggs within the decaying eyelid. With the setting sun comes the chill of night. Bodies beneath the moon, growing warmer with rot, create humidity that rises from the ground. A warm sweet smelling mist covers the grass, envelops the bodies. Inhale. Hazel eyes open, still living. They face the sky and see a clear picture; stars, clouds illuminated by a waxing moon. Birds in the distance, growing closer for the promised meal of a thousand corpses. It is still quiet. I can't feel my arm. But that is normal. The left arm has been gone for years, but now even the phantom pain of her nonexistant fist has disappeared. She lays on her back, flexes the fingers of her right hand. Pain shoots forward, from her wrist to her elbow to her brain. The hand is broken, the shoulder dislocated. Her breathing is shallow, a gentle whistle accompanying every exhale. Puffs of mist from her lips. She wonders if the fog is a sign of life, perhaps the bodies around her still live. Vilmah opens her mouth to speak, but her her voice is gone. There is not enough air in her lungs, and the stars are fading from her vision. All around her is the smell; the acrid smell of human piss, the stale smell of the Forsaken, the earthy smell of tauren fur. The coppery smell of orc blood, the sweet smell of elf hair, the sour smell of troll breath. The mist rises and fills her nostrils, choking her. The orcess can pick apart the smells and knows that this is what lies beneath her as she dies; the bodies of allies, the bodies of enemies. Her own body is only one of them, and soon they will rot together, become part of the earth. The moon looks on without empathy, illuminating the rising mist. It's beautiful. A sound from nowhere. Thumping, like her slowing heartbeat. Footsteps? "Stray not, all ye fallen, from the depths of the earth Eternal embrace of solitude, voices whispered of your birth Sleep now and be stolen, ascend ye through the wastes In death may ye find mercy, in death find your place.." Vilmah looks toward the voice, but the light is fading faster. Blackness takes her vision. "Drink the black of nothingness, your heart has beat it's last.." No. "Flesh to feed the crows, blood to feed the grass.." No. "Will you crawl through corpses of the loved ones who will fall?" I... "Will you stand alone, stand broken, will you answer the call?" Yes. Who are you? There is silence. Slimy swollen hands grab Vilmah, the hands of the dead. The pull her down, toward the ground, toward the soup of entrails and decomposing flesh. She can feel her heart strain against the flesh wounds, her own blood pooling in the ground from wounds too numerous to count. An agonizing death with an easy end. You know who I am. Vilmah grits her teeth and pulls from the hands. They struggle to keep her in their grasp, though they are many and most are larger than her own. Troll hands, orc hands, tauren hands. The claws of a Forsaken, the soft palms of an elf. They cling to her armor, desperate to keep her close to their embrace. You know who we all are. Finally, a burst of light; the moon in her eyes. She rolls over, pain searing through her limbs, blood in her mouth and nose. Before her are the faces of the dead; a young forest troll with a sad smile, an old jungle troll with a devious grin. A tauren with a disappointed frown, as if he had been waiting for this moment and it was ripped from his hands. An orc with red eyes. An orc with no eyes. An elven woman. A Forsaken man. We're all waiting for you. A flash of light. Morning. Vilmah awoke from her dream clutching a knife in her right hand. It was tight in her grip, leaving an imprint inside of her palm. One of the many weapons she kept on her person at all time, she must have grabbed it in her sleep. The voice from her dream eachoed in her mind. "Will you stand alone, stand broken, will you answer the call?" She could still smell them.
  21. You know it's been a weird day when Shokkra makes me think about my beliefs. They used to be pretty cut and dry; serve and protect. That much hasn't changed. Neither have my methods; fight your way through. I think what's changed is my willingness to believe that I'm capable of making any huge differences. I used to think that maybe, if I tried hard enough, we could really make some headway. If I just reached out enough, fought enough, represented the Horde in Thrall's image enough, we could show the Alliance who we really are. Well I did that, and then I realized that it's not who the Horde is. The Horde isn't me. I want to believe that I represent the Horde and it's ideals, but we've changed so much since I led Sanctuary that I'm pretty sure my beliefs don't mesh with everyone else's. I don't even think they ever did. I'm lucky Sanctuary still exists, because with it comes people I can put some trust in, but beyond us? I don't know. All I know is that I'm too set in my ways to be a fatalist, so I'm going to keep trying to do my best and fighting and representing the Horde the way Thrall would have wanted it, but.. Even Thrall isn't around, right now. Maybe that's this nagging feeling I've been having. I keep thinking I'm forgetting something, like there's something missing. Is it Thrall? Was he the reason I did all of this? Is he the reason I can't find myself feeling okay about it, anymore? It would be wrong of me, and weak of me to allow his absense to dictate my emotional state. I refuse to be weak, but I will openly admit that his actions gutted me. Both figuratively and almost literally. Watching your hero fall apart is like watching your life fall apart. Who do you put your faith in, now? All you have is yourself. All I have is myself. And my Bloodsworn, I suppose, though their numbers are small and our relationships complicated. No matter how things change, they seem to always stay the same. I have everything I need. I have my guild, I have my family, I have my sword and shield. I have a purpose, and a drive. I have the will to see this fight against the Legion through until the end, or until I'm dead. So what's missing?
  22. The more things change, the more things stay the same. The fighting, the arguing.. sometimes I wonder why I even bother, but then I remember I', too set in my ways not to. Besides, what else ould I do? I'm just tired of having to deal with everyone's trauma. I know we've all been through the worst the world has to offer. I'm definitely not the first person who's had to deal with being hunted, or who lost someone, and I know it's harder for some to deal with things like that.. but sometimes I just want to smack some sense into them. The world does not revolve around you, I want to say. Leave your problems at the door. We have bigger things to worry about. Stop being selfish. Then I realize I'm just talking to myself. I really hate this.
  23. "First off," Vilmah said, taking in a deep breath. "I'm not the leader of Sanctuary anymore. I sent you a cryptic letter because my name isn't a safe one. During Garrosh's reign, my guild was hunted, some of us killed. There was a price on my head. There are still some out there who'd be happy to kill me. I've had to live these past few years watching over my shoulder, always, because I never knew who to trust. I didn't give my name because I didn't want it disrupted by someone and you mixed up with it. That's all." Looking around for a moment, she uncomfortably shifted her stance. "I'm not here to tell you what you should do. We were hunted for things like this, because I tried to help the other side. I obviously haven't learned my lesson, but I guess I'm too stubborn. Or stupid. Either way, I just wanted to ket you know what I know because it seemed like.." the orc rubbed her forehead. "It seemed like the right thing to do. Even if it's not true. It could be nothing, but at least someone on your side knows. That's all I wanted to do." Vilmah tried to stand up straight but found herself glancing around again, as if looking for someone. "I assumed too much, maybe. But I remembered you, and I remembered your kindness. So if I remembered wrong, then I apologize, but if I assumed you'd be interested it's because I got the impression you'd care. If you don't, it's fine. Just tell me and I'll go."