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Tahzani last won the day on December 2 2020

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About Tahzani

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  • Birthday 09/17/1990

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  1. "So what brings you here?" The fairy asked cheerfully, fluttering far too close to the orc's face for comfort. All but restrained by the bandages that the fairy had stolen from his pack to bind his wounds and then his limbs in, he could do little but lean away from those too large eyes staring at him with interest. "I dunno." He answered truthfully. "I passed out and woke up like this." "Oh that was the Hunt! They found you passed out in the woods and dragged you here!" "Well then I guess you know why." "No, silly! I know why you're HERE here but not why you're here HERE!" The pitch was reaching a point reserved for calling dogs and did nothing to ease the orc's headache. Dehydration, hunger, and multiple untreated wounds had left him in a fragile state and whatever medicine they had pumped into him had saved his life, but left him unclear of what direction was up. The world itself wobbled and left his gut squirming with every movement beyond minor twitching. "You mean in Ardenweald?" He asked slowly. At the fairy's node he stared at the ceiling. "In truth there was a girl I wanted to impress. She's the type that's closer to nature, probably already working with the covenant.... Figured if I have to fight for anyone it may as well put me with some people I know." "Awwwww! How sweet! So you did it for love!" "Not exactly." "Well if not love then-Ohhh." The meaning of his words finally seemed to register. The cheerful smile shifted into a scolding frown. "Well that's not a very good reason at all!" "I agree." The orc sighed. "I get that, hell I thought I got it a long time ago. Still fall way over my head into this crap though. But i'm here now, and I don't think i'm gonna leave." "Why's that? You're not a servant of nature!" "I'm not." "You're not much of a hunter either, look how badly you got lost!" The fairy continued, resting herself upon the bound orc's left pectoral like a seat cushion. "I know." "Are you a nature lover at least? A gardener? A hiker? A bird watcher?" "I'm here because i'm a failure." The orc sighed, finding the endless barrage of questions tiresome. At the silence that followed the admittance, he slowly continued. "I'm here because everything in my life has come from someone not letting me die in the place I found myself content to rot in." The answer finally ended the fairy's endless chattering as she watched him with wide-eyed interest. "My life has gotten a kick start because someone looked at my pathetic ass and said "Hey, you can do better"...Gave me a hand up and sent me on a new path. I'll never be where I want but i'm at least approaching it because someone decided that where I fell should not be the end of it, even if I was content. I'm not nature lover. I'm a par survivalist, AT BEST. But this place...." He sighed, staring at the ceiling once more. "It seems like a world devoted to what I got. A chance to try again, and do better...Second Chances. That seems worth helping to preserve." "You're hardly preserving anything running in circles and getting stabbed by Spriggan!" "Are you always this much of a pain in the ass?" "I'm a pain in anywhere I shoot! But you are right, this place needs all the help it can get." The fairy's smile turned wistful as she flapped her delicate wings twice and drifted off of the orc's body. "They saw what you did to the Spriggan who were destroying the roadway. The way you did it was not smart, not at all, but it stopped more travelers from getting lost like you did." "Good." The orc sighed, closing his eyes as another wave of vertigo swept over him, slowly dragging his consciousness away once more. "If you wish to help... I may have someone you should meet. Someone who can help with your problem as you help with ours." "Who?" He asked groggily, fighting to stay awake. "It's a surprise." She said in a hushed stage-whisper. "If you are true with your intention, then we have a use for you." "I am.... Too stupid to lie." "Oh they're going to eat you alive." She said with a fond smile. "Rest now. The Wild Hunt will want to meet with you when you recover to begin your training. What is your name?" "My name is Gruk... Gruk Gigglerib." He murmured, his face twitching in annoyance as consciousness fled amidst a sudden screaming laugh from the fairy. "GIGGLERIB?"
  2. Sometimes he cursed the days that bled into each other one after the other. When he had something to do the time was well spent and the inability to sleep was a blessing. But when the holidays approached it left him with endless amounts of time to check the main road and see if he was coming. For the hundredth time that day alone he found himself too distracted to do anything more than listlessly fiddle with his lab equipment. The holidays were always a hard time for him. What was a feast to a man who barely ate? What was snow to a man who hardly felt the cold? In these times he rarely felt the spirit that everyone else was infused with. The only ones who brought a modicum of that cheer into his empty eyes were his family. His wife had long lost her sympathy for his seasonal gloom. Soon enough she would start baring her teeth when he wasn't looking, then it would turn to growling and finally a demand to just stop fretting. For his own sanity and hers, he had thrown himself into a new task of preparing the small feast for the two, hopefully three, of them. If nothing else the chopping blade demanded your focus. Vegetables were diced, almonds slivered, potatoes chopped, steamed and mashed and mixed with an unhealthy amount of butter. "He's not coming." Selris finally murmured, setting the bowl down with a resolute thunk. His wife would look up and narrow her eyes, silently demanding an explanation. "You remember the last time we saw him, the argument... HE hasn't written a letter in months. I know he's going to blame it on me-" Before he could go into a full rant, he was struck in the back of his head with a wooden spoon. "...Fair enough but you know I am right." He sighed, offering a soft smile under the threat of another bonk. Satisfied, his wife turned back towards the fat bird on the flame. Dusk was falling and the meal in its entirety had just hit the table when three soft knocks sounded at the front door. The two of them sprang from the table to answer it, moving in sync towards the entrance. The door swung open wide to reveal the travel weary orc. His armor was scuffed, his eyes tired, and more than a few patches of his exposed skin were covered in dirty bandages. Before he could even begin to offer an explanation or a muttered, awkward rant, he would find himself embraced by his parents. Appearances did not matter, neither did the latest feats. In that moment, the family had become whole once again. For one evening, the arguments could rest. "Welcome home, Gunny." The Father murmured softly, ushering the young orc inside out of the cold.
  3. My Mother says he moved here a few years ago, I barely remember the day he first visited the village and even after he settled in he never made an impact. He would visit every seven days like clockwork to trade the herbs he had gathered and the fresh carcasses of a few Plainstriders for other goods. Then he would wander off back towards the lonely hut on the outskirts of the village. He had done this for five years apparently, never joining the village for celebrations, stories, or even the meetings of the elders. He was so devoted to not making any impact I could not help but notice and wonder why he is the way he is. Mother says I am being nosy and that I should respect the wishes of the elders. Father is unhappy that I even think about venturing out that far alone, but something about him rubs me wrong. He's hiding something, and I am going to prove it. Day 1: I snuck out after dark to spy on him. He apparently turns in early but I still saw him out and about. For an old man he moves fairly easily. He has a slight limp and I think his right arm is damaged, he stretches and rubs it a lot and favors picking things up with his left. There's a worn path from his hut that leads into the base of the mountains, likely the path through the trees to where he knows the herbs grow. Tonight he was looking over the only other spot of interest in his plot. A fenced off garden. I know what carrots are and the ones he's growing are far too large to be them. He never brings in any mutated crops like this to trade, just what is he plotting? Day 5: I need to have a better way in and out. When I got home, Mother caught me immediately and gave me a loud scolding. She did not care about the outsider's mutant crops and she wouldn't let me go out and play until today. Tonight I am going to talk to Orda and have him vouch for me that we went to the lake to play. I'm going earlier and I am going to see more. When I arrived, he was skinning hares. At least a dozen pelts had been put on the rack and the meat had been put into a stew pot. I should have eaten before I came, even the bland, lightly spiced but probably tasteless stew got my stomach growling. Which tipped him off. Bloodied and with a knife in hand, I was not about to let him find me. Day 10: I haven't had time to visit lately thanks to the orders Father has been receiving but after a few days of hard work he's being lenient. I was able to grab dinner and go to spy on him again. He was not there yet he left a plate with cornbread on a table outside. The birds had been picking at it, did he leave it for me? That does not sound right. He was likely out gathering at the mountain's base and I was not going to let this opportunity go to waste! I finally had good light to look at his carrots, and that is what they are. Carrots, massive, me-sized carrots. He has a trough for gathering water out back but the watering can seems to be fed by a special jug. I recognize the markings as Pandaren but when I opened it all I smelled was water. I hear in the city that some people will pay ridiculous amounts of money for special water taken from far off glaciers. Is this Elder stupid enough to fall for that? Looking into the hut revealed far more than I could have expected. He's not much for decoration. He doesn't have anything that looks like what we have in my home or anyone's homes. No pelts, no crafted goods, just locked boxes and pictures. I could hear his dragging hoof outside. I would have to fiddle with the locks another day. Day 17: He's a creature of habit. Like clockwork he visits the village to shop and trade every seven days. I decided that maybe he did the same with other activities. I left earlier than before and went back to his hut a week after the last time. I was right! He was out gathering! I am no good with locks though so I searched for what was unlocked. The pictures are not of family, I wonder who they are? One is of a land of falling leaves and he's kissing a Pandaren woman in formal wear. Another is of a small horde of orc children and an old grinning matron. Another was of an assembled group of armed guards. The Tauren standing at the side with a blank expression must be him when he was younger. Another veteran perhaps? More pictures show what I can only assume are his allies, blood elves in shining armor, an older orc with an eye patch, A forsaken that was gripping him with a cheeky grin, obviously enjoying the elder's annoyance, and more. He was definitely in the Horde's armed forces once upon a time. The rest of the boxes are locked but there were two pieces that wouldn't fit in them. A well-worn spear, the craftsmanship was amazing but it had seen so much use judging by the scars and wear in the blade. The other was a shield that seemed to be made by someone far smaller. Is that it? Father said that many veterans of the fourth and subsequent wars come here to Mulgore to be away from the noise, in desperate need of peace. But is that all there is to it? What about the mutated carrots? Why is a soldier like this so boring? I'm going to have to do something. I need to see what's in those chests, and for that, I will need his keys or to break the locks. Day 32: He's a slave to routines but today was just bad luck. He came back early. I barely got out in time but he saw me leaving. He's old though, he probably didn't see who I was. Please let him have poor eyesight. Day 33: For the first time in five years he visited in the middle of the week. He did not know my name but the moment we locked eyes, I saw recognition. He's old, but those icy blue eyes are keen as a hawk. I tried to run but he was waiting for me at my house! Mother gave me a lashing so bad I think I am going to spend all summer working! I've never seen her so angry! Day 34: I have to help him now. I wanted to get close but now they're having ME assist him! I don't want to be eaten by his carrots! That has to be how they get so big! I'm going to hide when I am sent out tomorrow. Day 35: Mother took me to him, not trusting me to walk there myself. She SAW the mutated crops! She saw them! She was surprised and I thought for maybe a second she would change her mind. Instead she bought some ridiculous story about 'Enriched waters from Pandaria'. He was stupid enough to pay money for water from a distant glacier and SHE fell for it? CARROTS DO NOT GROW THAT BIG FROM WATER! He put me to work setting snares around his garden. Apparently the mutated crops draw hares in hoards. The number of traps is just as unsettling as the vegetables' size but so long as I don't go near them I think I will be fine. Day 42: Now I have become like clockwork. I'm to work there every week on this day. Today he had me help him grind herbs down. He mixes what we crush it into a paste... For his scars. He asked me for help with the ones on his back. It's gross but he really is an elder. A decent amount of muscle has withered away over the years and his hide bares so many patches where the fur is gone. Burn marks, blade wounds, bullet wounds, and lasting injuries I don't recognize. The paste is mostly for the older burns but a few others as well. He has to tell me which though. It leaves my fingers slightly numb afterwards... He must be in a lot of pain. Day 49: It's strange that I never even knew his name before I grew suspicious. How few mentions he received even in the village but I think that is what he was aiming for. He wants to live out the rest of his days and be... Forgotten? That cannot be true. But today he told me it was Megeda, Megeda Dustrunner. Day 56: I asked what kind of soldier he was today as he was showing me how to properly care for the carrots, as it turns out the water does make a difference but he imports most of it from Pandaria. Something about the spirits that far south produces incredibly nourishing water for plant-life. Anyway, he says he was not a soldier, nor a bandit, and the more questions I asked, the more defensive he became. Is he afraid of letting someone know? Maybe I was right all along, maybe he's wanted, hunted even! Like one of the old Grimtotem. Day 70: He did not want me last week, I think I might have shaken him with my questions. Today though, he told me he was a sell-sword, a mercenary. Specifically, he was in charge of the main base's defenses. He trained guardsmen and assessed the fortifications. A very orcish job it seems and I think I understand why he's not preachy and vague like most other elders I have met. I asked to see his weapon today and when I touched it, I felt a strange hum. A buzzing from inside the metal and a tingle in my palms. When I told him it seemed to make him sad and he had me spend the rest of the day weeding while he went out to get something from the woods Day 77: My mother thinks I have learned my lesson and says I no longer need to go there to work. But I still visited today and amazingly, he had visitors! A machine the likes I had only heard about was idling by his home, it had four wheels and was made of some strange black metal. There were three younger people, two orcs and a troll. I wondered if maybe they were the children from his mercenary days. But the laughter was wrong. There was no joy in it, just mockery. One was talking to Megeda as the others walked around his property. He raised no fuss when one sneered at his garden and stomped the mutated crops. He didn't even flinch as the orc started yelling in his face, something about respect and an unsubtle threat. But his attention did stray towards the hut as one of them went in, only to return a few minutes later with an armful of items. The bag of gold was of no consequence to Megeda, the spear tossed into the dirt hardened his eyes, but when the boy went to toss his picture frame out he finally spoke. "Don't." When they tossed the picture to the ground and laughed at him, he was quick to silence the mockery. I had seen his hand shake as he held a basket of herbs before but when he struck, there was power and precision behind the blow. When he moved, there was no shaking and it was far from slow. Every strike was met with a scream of pain or a snapping noise and within seconds it was over. He did not pursue them as they staggered back to the machine. Only pulling out a cloth to clean the blood from his walking stick. When I approached, he tried to dismiss me. He seemed to regret what I had seen but I refused to walk away. When I pushed further, he broke and began talking to me. He had many stories, and most of them seemed to be about a life of loss and violence. He was a few seasons older than me when some abomination came to his village and slew dozens including the last of his family. He turned to a life as a mercenary, unable to live there any longer and desperate to eventually track the monster down. Everything he had gained in that life was taken away in time. The demons of his past claiming his friends, obsessive rage taking his mentor, and eventually, his own mistakes as a leader leading to the deaths of others. For all he has given in pursuit of the monster, I am uncertain if he ever caught it. But he sought the death of someone, and he found plenty of death along the way. He's scared and tired. He did not want to fight the boys but he recognized it as the only way to get through to them. Now he worries about the night and the next day. What violence will cost him in return when their wounds have been licked. Day 78: I spent the day wondering. About my village, my parents... Everyone. I thought about how it had all just ended so fast for him. What would I do if the same were to happen to me? Would I take up arms? Would I wind up leading the same life as him? Would I be an elder living in fear with nothing near the end of my days? No. Father said our elders have the weight of years burdening them with wisdom. We respect them. We learn from them. From Megeda I have learned that the violence ends when both sides walk away but also that the back and forth will never begin if it is broken at the start. If the tragedy has someone to prevent it from occurring in the first place. People are always going to need people to guard those who cannot protect themselves. Tomorrow, I am going to ask him to train me, to pass on what he has learned so that maybe my village will never end up as another Kaur'he. I won't take no for an answer, he cannot deny someone who now has the same fears he does. We all need a break in the routine anyway.
  4. September 12th: "It wasn't my fault" The statement was as short as reminding me to pick up onions before leaving the city. Our child was a boy, he died. It's not my fault. Years ago, Lilliana stepped out of my life without a word. At a time when she could have gone into labor at any second. She stepped out and I did not hear anything but vague mentions of her for years. I tried to reach out but nothing came of it. I received no word of his birth, I received no word of how she has been throughout these years. Nothing. I thought I had gotten over it. I had moved on, I had found love again and finally built what I thought I would have had with her. Then she appears for a drink with Khorvis. The two stay a while and chat as I struggle to come up with anything to say... What could I have even said? Would it have mattered with her? She would have laughed it off or ducked the question. Yet that isn't fair to her. I could see the mask cracking. The fact that she reached out then spoke something of how she had changed. Even if slightly. But right now I can't think about it. I can't praise how she still seems to care when all I have is an aching void. I never even got to meet him and now I never will. It hurts. I hurts because I know of all the things she's ever told me. This is the truth. Payback List: Me: If I had not driven her away, would I have been there to stop it from happening?
  5. Tahzani


    "He got moah rough edges den raw timbah. He goes outta his way ta be an asshole but unlike most if jah ask him ta stop he will. We butted heads a few times but he... Well he still growin'. Changin' slowly wit de world an' ah tink he a bettah man den people give him credit fah."
  6. "Fah a mon dat used ta be a frequent customah ah surprisingly don' know much about him. He be dutiful, loyal, an' because a dat, frustrated as shit." Tahzani remarked, setting a clean glass down. "Mon has patience like a saint though honestly. How he used ta deal wit Shokkra wit a stiff upper lip until he eventually called her out. He does dat a lot actually, can't disagree wit what he says but his timin'...Not de best." The troll blew out a breath and eyed the interviewer. "Seriously jah don' know how many times ah seen him get his ass beat, hell ah NEVAH got de bloodstain outta my boat from dis one time."
  7. Many would claim it is not even a house anymore. While technically correct... Who cares? Welcome to The House: Season 3, an Azerothian reality show created by Razz Blastwhistle and seized by Flashlens entertainment, now forfeited into the hands of a new collaborative team. The House is an RP event that will take place entirely in discord whose events will reflect a day by day passage of time. It welcomes both the Horde and the Alliance as contestants or as Audience members. The main focus of the show is to broaden horizons and put characters into a place to interact with others they would not normally be around. More information about the house is available on the Discord channel as well as the channel to apply for a spot on the show! All applications are due by July 16th with Day 1 to begin on July 17th! https://discord.gg/WZkPMb
  8. Eight pointy legs stabbed into raw nerves on his arm and Tahzani awoke with a wail of terror and pain. In a moment of pure, instinctual fear, he threw both arms up to hurl the invading creature clear of him and scrambled as far away from the clack as he could manage. He scooted along the ground until the back of his skull hit a wall and stars burst in his eyes. A light clacking sound told him that the creature had landed and that he had overstayed his welcome in its den. Seeing a hint of blue amidst the lights that still impeded his vision, Tahzani charged to the left towards what he hoped was an opening. He emerged into the chill of a late night and immediately lost his footing as his heel hit a steep incline. He curled up as he began to roll and earth and sky traded places again and again. His stomach threatened to trade places with his teeth. The motion was denied as his back hit solid stone and the wind was driven out of his lungs in a violent burst that left him unable to scream when fresh agony flared up his arm. Fearful or not, he refused to move until the stars in his eyes stopped flashing and spinning. Minutes later, it became obvious that his patience would only reward him in one way. A brilliant night sky came into focus as he drew in pained, ragged breaths. Befuddled by sleep, he wanted to scream out for answers but had yet to find his voice. Raising his head he saw the cracked, half-buried remains of an old stone road curving around a gulch and stretching towards worked stone further to the south. " Dock..." He rasped, trying to push himself off the ground to his feet and falling short on an arm that could no longer suppot his weight. When the cloth wrapped stump struck stone with his body weight behind it, he finally found the breath to scream. Alone in the desert, he screamed in pain, uncaring of who could hear him and ending with a series of shuddering gasps as he struggled to wrap his head around it. " Mah ahm. He took mah fuckin' AHM!" He wheezed in disbelief as he looked at the limb, wrapped in an old, dirty washcloth bound tightly with a strap of leather. The cut had been just above his elbow and with the return of his wits, made its pain known. " Dock..." He looked up, hoping to catch a glimpse of the pale troll. There was no way he slept through that racket. " Dock?" He called out, his guts squirmed as his doubt grew. A chilly breeze swept across the sands and a chill up his spine made him sick with realization. In his current state, he was nothing more than dead weight. He had been left behind. The road leading into the shadows beneath the bridge suddenly resembled an open grave. The pain did not fade with time. The constant sting only grew worse as the bound cloth rubbed it the wrong way with every movement subtle or otherwise. The fog he had been walking through was replaced with mounting frustration until he wanted to scream at his own nerves to stop. A waste of energy he could not afford. As it stood his teeth were chattering too much to form a sentence. Following the downhill slope he eventually reached the end and began stumbling. The road was half-buried by sand and the other half had been shattered or cracked at the very least. He staggered and fell, catching himself on a hand as he felt his way blindly through the increasing darkness as the bridge blocked out the moon. He came to a stop as his hand touched an object sticking ouf of the sand. As his eyes adjusted to the darkness he made out a circular edge and several bent spokes. It was a wagon wheel and the wagon it belonged to sat nearby in an uneven slump. Worn down by the elements and missing most of its siding it was a sorry sight. Sizable gaps had been opened up all along it, the larges of which being front end which was missing its corners and had been buried in the sand. It was filled with more holes than a goblin insurance claim but it still offered more protection than the open air. Shivering and unsteady, Tahzani slipped inside of the musty, noxious sanctuary and rubbed at the gooseflesh of his exposed skin vigorously. The shattered front end had flooded half of the wagon with several inches of sand. As the moon slowly shifted, a beam of moonlight filtered in through a hole in the wall and fell upon a pathetic excuse of a firepit. A small ring of stones around a single, black and brittle skull atop a pile of ash and sand. "Who did jah piss off mon? Don' mean no disrespect but jah do well ta balance out a good flame... Forgive me." He mumbled as he shivered again and looked around. The wagon had been stripped by many things but it had been sturdily built. He staggered back out into the cold and set to work. One more plank opened another hole in the wagon's side. The wood was brittle enough that it nearly crumbled in his hand and was sprinkled around the skull before the more resilient shards were leaned against the side of the skull. The wheel he had found was beaten against the stone until the wooden wheel was shattered and its pieces were pulled from the inner ring and spokes. Satisfied with the amount he had to burn, he realized he was missing a critical component. "Matches...Why didn't ah pack matches." He muttered, patting down his pockets. "Because ah nevah NEEDED matches befoah, jackass!" He hissed. "Ey! Don' take dat tone wit me! Dey gave jah plenty of options fah what ta take an' jah took-" "Ah know! Ah know! Shit dat made me a tahget, how could ah forget? But we don' got matches. Mebbe dere be sometin' ah can scavenge from de road." " Mebbe jah can bang two rocks togethah." He sneered. "If jah done bein' an ASSHOLE, ah be all ears fah actual suggestions!" He did not like the look he wore then. He wore a condescending smirk as if he was explaining simple math to a moron. "Ain' much life left in de bone. But enough..." "No..." "Why? Because wit de final piece gone jah FINALLY be free of it? One sunbeam de size a jah dick don' make jah a druid. Errybody would rathah jah come back fel tainted den not come back at all." "Ah told mahself-" "Jah promised ME dat jah wouldn't. But jah also promised HER dat jah would stick around! Face it, jah nevah been much fah promises. De Centipedes, de Mossflayah, Lilly, Pai, Nauka... Name one person jah made a deal wit an' kept it straight!" He snapped before sucking in a shaky, weary breath and continuing. "Ah don' wanna die out heah... If it means we take a leap backwards aftah finally havin' our breakthrough, den so be it." When he mustered the nerve to look at himself again, he was alone. The burned skull stared at him imploringly but what it wanted eluded him. To use it to save himself? To resist the temptation? "Jah prolly wanna be reattached to jah spine." He muttered as he held out a hand towards the pit. He had used the fel to start fires so many times that he could cast the spell without conscious thought, even after so many months. But lighting it another way was painfully difficult. Enough to warrant a mantra as he plead for warmth. "Life comes from death...Life comes from death.... Life comes from death." He chanted again and again. The dead man in the firepit would help keep him alive so long as he had the will. There was a single moment of illumination as a golden, sunny flame licked out from his palm to strike the dried wood. In that moment he felt the thrill of success quickly followed by exhaustion. The bones of a dead man huddled in a corner, grinned proudly at him as they held onto the rusted blade in what had once been its guts. His vision blurred and his side hit the sand near the small, crackling flame. He looked into the hellish glow of the skull's eye sockets and promptly passed out.
  9. The first rays of sunlight pierced through the gloom and stabbed straight into the weary eyes of the pale troll who had taken the lead. When he stopped short with a curse, Tahzani walked straight into his back. Even with a mixture that was more water than liquor, the alcohol had proven potent enough to provide them both with a sense of inebriation that followed them throughout the night. Sipping on the watered down slammer had warded away most of the chill, leaving them both uncomfortable, but it had succeeded in keeping them alive against the chill. After an hour of passing the bottle back and forth his companion's tongue had loosened and the time was spent listening to the man ramble from one story to the next with frequent distractions, rambling, and irrelevent tangents. Tahzani almost regretted not remembering a word of it. Fatigue that had nothing to do with sleep deprivation or exertion had become more and more prominent since he had left the city. Even as his companion talked for hours on end, Tahzani struggled to keep moving in a straight line. "We made good time, but we gotta stop." Dock stated, peering blearily at the stone wall before them. The mass of rock had only become visible when the sky had begun to lighten as if in invitation.The land sank into cayons and rose into terraces of stone, dark brown against the cold tan of the dunes surrounding it. In time, it would offer shade from the burning glare. "We ain't got enough watah ta mix left. We can drink it straight ta survive anuddah night but we'll be dyin' a thirst even quickah." Tahzani sighed, licking his lips and glancing towards the canyon. At the moment, he would have welcomed the warmth of a horrifically hot day with open arms. "A few hours of sun exposure is going to exhaust what little water we have left. I don't want to face whatever else rises with the sun without proper rest. It was your idea to push away from the others, now we gotta make this work or we are both dead. Pushing ourselves until we drop or run into a real threat is a sure way to achieve the latter." Dock stated, setting his lips into a grim line as he stared at the taciturn bartender. Tahzani spared the rocks a weary look as he considered their options. The darkened pathway between the rocks held little appeal when his mind had been set on trudging a few miles further. The sight of thin, green leaves poking out of the ground changed his mind. "Look... Grass." "...Aye Mon. I know what grass is." The exile said slowly. Perhaps the chill of the night had frozen his brain and it needed time to thaw. "Grass means watah. It might be deep but-" " It might also mean plants we can use." Dock said, catching on and flashing a grin filled with tobacco stained teeth. " Exactly, ah figure we got an hour befoah de sun be up. Dunno what be edible heah but we should look an' be quick about it." His words lacked the force required to inspire. But the next moment both trolls were striding with purpose into the winding stone canyons. ------- "What about-" "Do not drink the cactus." "But I seen-" "The after effects? The water in there is acidic. You gonna give yourself the shits drinking that by itself... Take the young pads though, there might be something we can do with them." Dock spared the bartender an annoyed look. Ever since the sun had risen, the troll had become even more sluggish and he was struggling with even basic tasks. "Just look for broad, green leafy plants." The other troll sighed, drawing the blade on his side as he spotted a healthy looking plant and began digging at its base. Tahzani watched the other troll work without comprehension or basic awareness. He should have kept looking but he could not draw himself away from the digging troll. The death of his drive had begun with the loss of momentum. He was dimly aware of what they needed here, yet when they stopped, all he could think about was lying down. Not even to sleep. "Ahahahahaaaa!" His partner's cackle roused some life into his dulled senses. The hole he had dug into the roots of the plant was beginning to fill with gritty water. It did not stop the other troll from leaning down to drink deeply from the puddle. "Quickly mon! Gimme the skin!" Dock gasped, holding out a hand towards him. Tahzani stared at the hand for several moments before he seemed to understand and handed off the deflated skin to his partner. It only took a few scoops from the shallow water to drain it too low. When the puddle was too shallow to effectively fill the skin, Dock stepped away to allow Tahzani to wet his swollen throat. With or without sand, the water was a welcome relief. "This should be enough for one more night. Let's find a place to get some shut-eye." Dock rumbled, his spirits notably higher as he strode past the stooped bartender with purpose. Tahzani tarried a few seconds longer before staggering after him. The optimistic attitude was short lived as the two wandered through the winding pathways carved through the stone. There was no shortage of cracks and small crevices to trip over and stub their toes on, but none that were large enough to slip into. An hour passed as the two staggered and cursed their way through the passes before they found an indent in the stone. It was deep enough to provide relief from the heavy heat that had begun to weigh them down. He missed the question when it was asked the first time, too focused on the relief of getting off of his feet. "What?" "I asked, what the hell is wrong with you?" "Ya want a fuckin' list?" "Last night you had one idea that seemed insane but it worked. Now? Ya head be on de moon." Tahzani twisted his lip and remained silent. It was an answer he had been curious about. The lethargy had been slow to start but spread quickly. "Ah don' know." "What do ya mean ya don't know?" "Just that. A few days outta de city an' errytin' got hardah. Thinkin' about escape turned inta strugglin' ta focus. Was able ta walk an' talk but even das gettin' hahd now." "Ya been huffing?" "Jah... But das not it." "Ya sure?" "Aye. Even de worst cravings not been like dis." "Snorting?" "What? No." "Shooting?" "How does dat-No!" "Licking?" "Licking?" "Toads." "NO! Ah'm not a junkie!" Tahzani snapped at his companion. The other troll had sunk down beside him with his eyes closed and a slight smile curling his lip at the bartender's outrage. " Could have fooled me. Fine, don't tell me." "Ah slung de Fel." Tahzani snapped without enthusiasm, resting his head against the wall after the proclamation. When his friend made a knowing sound in the back of his throat he lazily swiveled his head towards him to tiredly glare. "What?" "The Fel. I have heard enough stories about it." "Yeah well ah'm not messin' wit it. Not anymoah." "Maybe that might be the problem? Your greenskinned friends went through a similar struggle did they not?" "Withdrawals don' kick in months latah. If jah be hooked on it, it could be hours befoah jah want anudda hit. Even wit as little as ah used ah woulda felt sometin' before today." "Are you sure about that?" "Well, ah was a second ago." The bartender muttered. Apparently satisfied, Dock folded his arms across his stomach and settled down. "Ya good ta take de first watch?" "Aye. I'll wake jah in a few hours." Tahzani sighed, rubbing at his eyes before staring down the path they had come from. He had reached an odd point of fatigue where he lacked the energy to feel exhausted. Deigning not to point out the other troll's state. Dock closed his eyes. The sun was high in the sky and edging towards a descent when Tahzani's time for rest was cut short by urgent shaking. " Mon! We gotta move!" Dock hissed glancing down the path to their right as he roused the Revantusk. Tahzani muttered incoherently, his eyes gummy and his vision blurred. Befuddled by sleep, he offered no resistance as the troll grabbed him by the forearms and hauled him to his feet. "We gotta move!" " Ah heard jah! Fuck! Don' gotta be so loud mah ears are ringin'." He growled irritably before cocking his head and blinking his eyes clear. His ears were not ringing, they were buzzing with the heavy reverberations of rapidly moving wings. A bass, droning buzz. When a shadow flew by overhead, his exhaustion disappeared and both trolls took off running. The blood pounding through his veins gave him clarity and pushed away the exhaustion for the moment as he focused entirely on keeping up with the athletic troll in front of him. The droning buzz only grew louder and more agitated as they ran. He risked a glance over his shoulder and regretted it immediately. The shadow had been a scout, now the workers and the defenders had arisen to darken the skies. Dozens or hundreds of winged insects were behind them and moving forward. He barely avoided colliding with Dock when the other troll skidded to a halt. The narrow path had widened into a broad, circular area no longer than a hundred feet across before it turned narrow again. The walls were covered in the bulbous hives of the wasps. The defending wasps were the size of dogs while the drones were the size of his fingers. He could easily count the number of defenders but the little ones were too numerous to even guess at. His companion spat out an oath and glanced over his shoulder. They had drawn the attention of the swarm behind them. "We run through there an we'll be flayed alive." "An' if we stay put, we gonna get swarmed." Tahzani protested, earning a stressed look from the exile. The anger disappeared as he shoved a hand inside of Tahzani's pocket, earning an indignant squawk and an frightened jerk backwards by the bartender. "Ah ain't grabbin' YA bottle i'm grabbing THE bottle! Shut up!" Dock groused, pulling the obsidian glass bottle from his pocket. "Dock no!" Tahzani wailed, too late as the bottle had already been hurled towards one of the closer hives of alerted wasps. It would have been a solid plan, a short explosion to disrupt the wasps and a flaming hive to send them into a confused panic while the two ran for their lives. But the magical fire the man expected had always required other components to start. None of which would be found in broken glass. The heavy bottle shattered explosively, raining shards of thick, black glass onto the smaller wasps and even tearing the delicate wing of one of the defenders, sending it buzzing into the earth. The rain of glass was mixed with a rain of thick, black liquid that painted the hive and the wasps alike with what remained inside. Dock froze with a confused, fearful expression. Where was the flame? The buzzing grew louder as the insects became enraged. Dock ripped the blade from his waist with his free hand as he tugged Tahzani forward. The bartender had closed his eyes in a look of silent submission. As if he was awaiting his end. In truth, it was taking Tahzani everything he had to work out the spell. He had yet to succeed with anything Paiyuna had tried to teach him, and in the dreadful moment, he believed he knew why it had never worked. As the insects approached, he reached out a hand towards the glaring, fiery orb above him. The wasps had been eating far too well lately. There were too many exiles to feast upon and not enough of anything else to support the explosive population growth. Balance was needed. The beam was miniscule, only notable because of the shade that the drenched nest resided in. But the spark was enough. The insects scattered as flames roared up the wall and began to greedily devour the hive. The tongues of flame lashed at large and small insects alike, uncaring and all consuming. When every other creature scattered in a panic away from the flame, the trolls shot towards the exit. The exile arced the blade through the air at one of the more resilient defenders, slicing through the barbed stinger and out through the sternum to spill its insides out. Torn between panic and a surge of joy at the accomplishment, Tahzani barely managed to block a stringer with his arm rather than his skull. The knife sized stinger twisted just right to thread the needle between his bones of his forearm and pass clear through the meat of the limb He had not even registered the pain when another slash from Dock freed the stinger from the creature's body, leaving the confused bartender with a brand new piercing. "It went though." He informed his companion in a tone of disbelief as the sudden shock wore off and the delayed agony surged forward. "We'll get it out later! RUN!" Dock ordered, giving his unmaimed arm another tug. The next second he let go again to cleave through a curious wasp that had come to investigate the noise from further down the tunnel. Tahzani raised the wounded limb again as another wasp fell upon him. He greeted the next wound with a scream as the stinger buried itself into his arm an inch away from the first and released a burning venom into the meat of his limb. The creature pulled the stinger out with a sudden jerk, sawing through flesh with the barbs as it readied itself for another stab. Scrambling wildly with the other limb, Tahzani found a hefty stone to swing at the plunging blade, cracking the weapon and wrenching it free of the wasps's body to dangle by a string. Tahzani leapt back up to his feet and staggered away from the mess, hurling his newfound weapon at another attacking insect as he staggered after Dock. The other troll was shouting for him to hurry as he continued to slash and cleave with a flash of steel and a spray of ichor accompanying each motion. The swarm had caught him by then, showing particular interest in the already infected flesh as they focused on covering the limb.In the moment, all he could focus on was the simple task of running before the ones with the big stingers got there. The tiny stingers stabbing into his chest tickled by comparison. His heart was hammering into his ribs with every moment as panic seized him. His arm ached abysmally but not nearly as much as it should have. Even as he watched, he saw bits of his flesh being ripped off and chewed by tiny mandibles. Before his very eyes, he was being eaten by the swarm. He screamed incoherently as he slapped at the insects with his free hand, crushing some and backhanding others away. Casings cracked and stingers were ripped free in ways that should have hurt far more than they did. They shot out of the pathways out onto a descending dune of sand leading down to patches of an old, stone road. Bare feet slapped the stone loudly as they fled the swarm. It was unclear which one of them was shouting or if they were both adding to the already deafening racket. ------------ He was not sure when the creatures stopped pursuing them, but when he collapsed they were thankfully nowhere to be seen. His throat was as dry as a kiln and every breath he sucked into aching, burning lungs. He felt uneven and even rolling onto his back took more effort than it should have. Against his better judgement, he looked down to look at the damage the swarm had inflicted. From the edge of his bicep downward, his arm was a mess of chewed flesh and discolored, grotesquely swollen bumps. The limb had grown as thick as his thigh in places, resembling bunch of punctured grapes still on the stem. As horrible as it looked, he felt little more than a mild burning sensation. "It's... It's not dat bad right?" He asked in a quivering voice as Dock approached him with a guarded expression. "De venom, it isn't dat bad, right?" He quietly plead, hoping that the grim faced exile had some sort of reassurance. He began to shiver as the other exile removed his belt and cinched it down tightly above the damaged flesh. "I'll heal! Ah just need time!" His voice rose an octave as his companion drew the blade again with a sickened expression and forced a dirty cloth into Tahzani's mouth. His heart pounded in his chest and fear locked his limbs as he stared at the man with a naked blade. "Aye mon... It will all heal with time." Dock promised with a soft, kind tone reserved for calming frightened animals. " Close ya eyes. Ya won't want to watch this." He murmured, positioning his blade above the damaged limb. Dock was right.
  10. When the first bottle had been removed from an unnaturally deep pocket in his robes, the guards had whistled and laughed about their good fortune. By the twentieth, the amusement had turned into utter disbelief. They would never understand the sheer weight he suffered under to exceed expectations. Piece by piece they stripped him of everything he had. When he had nothing left, not even simple cloth to protect his dignity they made him choose what they would return. For the hoard of "evidence" they had collected from him, they were feeling generous. They told him it was the peak of generosity towards exiles when they made him choose. Water and rations that could be stretched out for a long weekend, the clothes on his back, and a handful of personal items were all that they allowed him. The weight of the punishment made up for the lack of material as he trudged along with a score of other trolls out of the city with his hands shackled tightly in front of him. Several days were spent in a forced ride and trudge. Every few hours the prisoners were rotated between the cramped, wheeled cage pulled by the great, horned lizard and the line of walking prisoners behind it. The fires of rebellion still burned among the prisoners as they muttered, hissed, and swore revenge. He felt subdued and tired, even as the others hissed and spat all he could manage was to put one foot in front of the other. When their path brushed the border to the misty swamp, all protest died in their throats. The prisoners became as silent as the stone-faced guards, mutually fearful of alerting what hid in the muck and vapor. One troll in the group only had just enough strength to make it to the land of their exile and no further. The old man had begun falling into coughing fits a few days out of the city and only grew worse when they passed through Nazmir. The hacking sounds only grew rougher and wetter with every day they spent on the journey. When his feet touched the sands of the outskirts, his debt to the empire was officially paid. The old man fell to the ground, hacking and gasping for air as he dragged the line to a halt. The guards watched him with a hint of annoyance at the delay but made no movement to help him back to his feet. When the coughing stopped, they removed the old man's limp body from the line and shouted for the rest of the prisoners to continue onward. Tahzani kept his eyes on the ground, terrified of staring into the empty eyes of the lucky man who had avoided the future hardship. ---------------------- His mind was a jumbled mess when a rough shake forced him into consciousness. HIs head ached horribly and only one eye could see the star-filled night sky. His irritant had stooped beside him in the darkness to rouse him for reasons he could not comprehend. He had no recollection of going to sleep on the sand. The memories slowly tumbled back to the forefront of his mind as the man's unintelligible words reached his ears. They had been released by the guards and given their final sentence. They were to remain in Vol'dun for the rest of their days. To be seen by soldiers of the Zandalari anywhere else was grounds for execution. Their choice of how to live the rest of their lives was the one mercy granted to them for their crimes against the King and his Empire. With their duty fulfilled, the guards turned and rode away. In their exhausted stupor, the first troll to begin moving was quietly declared the leader and the rest of the mob shuffled after him. The path of exile had been tread and obliterated by the shifting sands countless times but after so many years and prisoners, a semblance of permanence had been worn into the earth. They followed that line, silent save for a handful of murmured conversations. The sun had begun to set when they found the first camp established along the trail worn by the exiles. It was little more than a firepit ringed with sandstone in a shallow pit of land protected from the sun and wind by two shards of stone jutting out from the earth like crooked, crossed teeth. He greeted the sight with a sigh of relief. The troll behind him had greeted it by striking Tahzani in the back of the head. " Ya took something sentimental didn't ya?" The troll in his blindspot rumbled in cracked voice, roughened by thirst. " Didn't think it would make ya target, richmon?" Tahzani's response could not even make it past his swollen, dry tongue. " Musta been a thief...Or caught in bed wit de wrong mon's mate. These men, they be here for much worse. While ya took what ya needed to comfort yaself, they took what they needed to conquer. Ya keepsakes didn't protect ya much from a good cudgel, did they?" Tahzani finally turned enough to get a look at the troll speaking to him, realizing with relief that his eye had swollen shut from the blow. The Zandalari had pale, nearly white skin and short hair. The rags of a poor man covered his chest and legs, a rope had been tied around his waist as a makeshift holder for the dull saber on his hip. " Who... Be ya?" The bartender finally managed before coughing painfully through a closed throat. " Name best be forgotten, but ya can call me Dock." " Aight Dock... Why ya botherin' ta talk ta me about dis?" " Came ta check an' see if ya had died yet an' get first dibs on ya clothes. Found ya still breathing so I felt neighborly." Tahzani coughed and gasped through a dry throat several times before he was able to control himself. Dock continued to speak, undeterred by the conversation turning one sided again. " If I was you, I would wake up before the rest. If ya feeling brave, steal it all back while they sleep. Either way, get out before they decide that the noise ya make when they hit ya be funny. Or that the meat on ya bones be enough for them when they go hungry in a few days. Lotta people lose it out here." Tahzani pushed himself up out of the sand an released a breath. They had left him where he had fallen after the initial assault, outside the light of the fire and far away from its warmth. He wrapped his arms tightly around his chest and let out a shuddering curse. The night air was frigid and sucked the warmth from deep within. The harness had been enough for the heat of the port, here, he cursed his choices. The other exiles had formed into clusters, the largest and the most heavily armed were allowed the luxury of the fire while the others huddled together for warmth outside of the ring of bodies. The anger he should have felt at their arrogance found no space to build in his throbbing skull. There was no use waiting for morning. " Ain't nothin' fah me heah..." He choked out before looking towards the sky. The north star was enough to give him a sense of direction. He turned south. Dock did not rise from his seated position and followed the bartender's wobbly gait with his eyes. " Where ya goin' richmon?" " South. Ah know enough about dis place ta know dat be where de coast is." " And?" " An' i'm goin' there." " Ya not leavin' Vol'dun in a rowboat, mon." Tahzani bit back his first response and simply exhaled through his nose. " It be a slim chance. But if dey lettin' de Horde in heah, ah know dey gonna be expandin' operations ta all reaches a de island. Ah make it ta de watah, ah might be able ta find a way out. It be eithah dat or die in the sands." He began walking. Every step took him further and further away from the light and noise of the other exiles. " Won't be de sun dat kills ya at night, richmon." Dock warned him, falling in step with him a few moments later. " The sun will roast ya alive but the night sky will suck all feelin' out of you. Freezin' ta death is no better." " Ah didn't take keepsakes." Tahzani's hand shook from the cold as he reached into the abnormally deep pockets of his apron. The thieves had taken what they had felt on the surface, but they had not found where he had hidden the important items. He withdrew a heavy bottle made of obsidian glass from his pocket and twisted the cork until it popped out, releasing a smoky, pungent scent. The paler troll wrinkled his nose. " Liquor? Ya took -liquor-?" " Need watah... But you'd be surprised what even a sip a dis can do against a chill." Tahzani muttered before withdrawing one significantly smaller sewn waterskin, the remains of his water ration from the death march. He pursed his lips and took one last slug from it before he fit the mouths of the containers together. His hands were shaking badly enough to slop the liquor onto the sands as he mixed the two without precision. " Ya realize it does not actually warm ya up, right?" " ...Lemme tell ya about a fun place called Blackrock Mountain an' a drink named aftah a royal asshole." In the relative darkness of the dunes, a single spot of flame sprang to life. It burned just long enough and bright enough to illuminate the Zandalari's look of disbelief.
  11. Set shortly after the Horde's arrival in Zandalar When he had first entered the city, he had felt the subtle weight of the Loas' presence. Dazar'alor was not only the throne of the Zandalari but the oldest, functioning establishment of his entire race. It was a blessed place where every citizen lived, breathed, and died in the shadows of the Wild Spirits. The feeling of being watched should have been expected yet he found his spine tingling almost constantly as he tried to relax and set up trade. He had been given a small section of the street that was one flight of stairs up from the city's bottom tier in which to advertise his wears. Liquor from across the ocean was strangely popular amongst the lower-class population and the fine wine of Dalaran had even caught the eyes of a few priests and nobility. Someone's eyes were always upon him, it was something he used to but he still felt it was something far less innocent than the curious gazes of passerby and envious glares of would-be shoplifters. " Yo boss! We're going to lunch, ya gonna be alright by yaself?" One of his laborers called out suddenly, shaking him from his thoughts. He looked over to where the goblins were tapping their feet impatiently. His wares had been put on display and the rest were stacked neatly in the back of the tent against the wall. He nodded to his men despite his growing unease, assuming a facade of confidence. At least the Bladeguards were in the area this time. He had no time to devote to the brush with the Vilebranch as the sign was flipped to 'open' and curious Zandalari shoppers swarmed his stand. Sample cups were filled rapidly as the populace gawked with undisguised interest at all the new labels and glass designs. Bottles, kegs, jugs, and gold all changed hands so quickly that he was barely given a chance to thank them for their purchase before the next face was shoved forward with a fresh demand. He had worked up a sweat by the time the rush died down several hours later. The crowd had been reduced down to a single line and then, a single person. The man wore a familiar odor of fish, lowtide, and sweat. Definitely a fisherman. " Heard good tings about dat Darkmoon brew. Gimme a pony keg an' make it quick." The customer breathlessly demanded before glancing over his shoulder. Tahzani squatted down on sore, aching legs and hefted a dark wooden barrel marked with the gaudy purple and green of the Faire. " Jah got it mon, but what's de rush?" " De guard just went on break witout replacement." The man stated without elaboration as he snatched the keg and slammed a fistful of scratched coins onto the counter. He left without another word, leaving Tahzani to puzzle out the meaning of the statement by himself. " No guard... What is dis? De Undahbelly?" He called out in a joking tone, earning a curious, uncomprehending look from the Vulpera selling glass jewelry beside him. The chill up his spine slowly grew worse after the man left. It was as if the cause of his discomfort was approaching him. His instinctual dread found evidence to stand on when a new group rounded the corner from the upper levels. Their sandy, light brown hide and vividly red and orange hair marked them as trolls from the Sandfury Tribe. He rolled his aching limbs uncomfortably as they swaggered down the street with a confidence born from a sense of ownership. The bald male leading the pack made a careless gesture to the four who had followed him, allowing them to disperse towards the increasingly skittish vendors. Yet even as the grinning Sandfury walked straight towards him he could not shake the feeling that he was not the one who was watching. The man was armed and clearly not above violence but the fear of an approaching enemy felt different than the dread he had been feeling all day. Maybe he had just grown jaded from all of the psycopaths and armed idiots he had served over the years. Even when the man casually drew his knife to clean his nails while he spoke, it did nothing but raise his heartrate in preparation of the coming conflict. He was not afraid of the man that threatened him in a not-so-subtle matter, he was afraid of the unknown entity that was now watching them both. Even with a knife being waved around mere feet from him, he could not focus on the man. " So? Whatcha say? Ya gonna make it easy on Riki, mm?" " A-ah'm sorry. What was dat again?" Tahzani looked back towards the Sandfury, absorbing the gist of the pitch but nothing specific. " Money ta keep the business protected." The Sandfury repeated with an amused look and the presumed terror. " Ah dunno mon. Ah had a Vilebranch swing by last week an' his rates seemed moah fair. Don' tink ah'm ready ta switch providahs." Tahzani answered with a sarcastic tone and a falsely apologetic smile before he could stop himself. He knew it would not end well but he made sure to savor the dumbfounded expression on the thug's face before it twisted into something far less pleasant. The thug soon graduated to open threats. Promising that nobody was there to save him from fates that included death, skinning, and being killed after already being dead. When asked of the mechanics required for a 'knife wielding moron' to kill someone after they had already been killed, the Sandfury's patience finally wore out. Tahzani jerked his hand back as the blade flashed downward, barely removing the limb from the counter before it could be pinned to the wood. With his eyes on one hand, the mugger had momentarily lost sight of Tahzani's other hand which had dropped beneath the counter. When the Sand troll next raised the knife, Tahzani swung a worn shotgun up to brace against his shoulder in a practiced motion. " Ah told jah. Ah ain't ready ta switch." Tahzani stated struggling to keep himself from looking pleased at the look of shock on the extortionist's face. " Move along." He ordered, twitching the barrel to the left. For a moment, the expression of the other troll gave him hope that the demand would be followed. Hesitation cost him his chance at a lethal shot as the Sandfury lurched forward and to the left while extending the blade in an attempt to drive it into his gut. The bartender squeezed the trigger and went temporarily deaf in the following blast. The thug would survive the shot. Even the ringing in his ears was not enough to drown out the man's agonized howling. The blood puddle was spreading far too slowly for him to have hit anything vital. Screaming profanity and whimpering in turn, the man clutched at the bloody mess of his shoulder. " Ah told jah ah wasn't ready! See what happens when jah don' listen?" " You madafakka!" " Das fair." Tahzani shrugged. The surge of excitement was passing quickly but he knew there would be plenty more. Nobody could ignore the sound of such a discharge. Looking to the side revealed that it was not the guards who had been drawn to the noise but the man's companions. He stepped away from the counter and stood behind the floored thug with the gun held loosely across his chest. The rest of the Sandfury gang came to a stop with only a few yards and a bloodied comrade between them and their quarry. " Ah ain't payin' protection money, ah'm perfectly capable of defendin' mahself." He lied. Almost immediately, they called his bluff. They began to spread out and move around the body towards him, making him take an involuntary step backwards. He raised the gun again, unable to stop his hands from shaking as his heartbeat quickened. " Dunno if jah remembah how dis works but when I squeeze de triggah, bad tings happen. Back off." He wished he could have managed a more authoritarian tone. The group ignored the order and andvanced towards him, unafraid of the weapon and the threat. He rolled back another step to keep his distance and stumbled as his heel hit the curb outside of a busineses in the terrace. His heart sank as he flailed to keep balance and fell in a painfully, uneven posture across the curb. Any chance of being regarded as a threat disappeared like dust in a strong breeze. Something on the wall shifted as the flailing gun smacked against it. The chill up his spine became a coating of solid ice as he looked up at the previously invisible being. The advancing Sandfury stopped mattering as an eight-eyed creature regarded him with a look of contempt. The spider was the size of a mastiff and blended into the wall almost perfectly until it had been jostled by his fall. When it clicked its fangs, Tahzani's composure shattered and he swung the gun around with an undignified, fearful shout. The final shell in the gun killed the creature outright, tearing its head apart in a spray of shredded spider meat and ichor that splattered over his arms, clothes and weapon. The creature fell from the wall and landed upon him as all of its limbs curled in upon its center. He let out a low, keening whine as all of his hair stood on end and his lower half became paralyzed by sheer revulsion. Surprisingly, the Sandfury had stopped to watch the display, they even began to back away at the sight of the dead spider. They muttered under their breath as the bald leader waved a hand dismissively. Over the sound of his own internal screaming he was able to make out the name Yazma before their slow retreat turned into fleeing as fast as they could manage. Tahzani let out a shuddering breath and dropped the ichor stained gun. " Ah hate spidahs." He muttered wearily, trying to shove the corpse off of him. The sound of armor clanking signaled that the replacements for the guards had finally arrived. Tahzani gave them a weak wave after he rolled the corpse off of his legs. " Ey mons, don' worry. De Speakahs a de Sandfury tried ta staht sometin' wit de merchants, dey gone now." He waved towards his stand where only smeared blood, shredded hide, and muscle on the ground remained as evidence of a skirmish. One of the guards spared him an indifferent scowl while his knelt down to heft up the spider's corpse, seemingly angered by the death of the creature. " Ya were told ta watch yaself in our city." The unburdened guard stated tersely, withdrawing a pair of manacles and clapping them tightly around Tahzani's wrists before hauling him to his feet. " Now de peace has been disturbed, someone be leaking blood everywhere. An' one of Yazma's eyes been put out." " Wait wait wait!" Tahzani protested as he was yanked forward by his hands. " Who be Yazma? What be happenin'?" " We be seein' how dey wanna deal wit outsidahs." The guard responded tersely as he lead the hapless bartender away. -------------------------------------------- When the workers returned from lunch, they found the stand abandoned but untouched by the populace even though the bazaar had begun to fill with customers once more. By the end of the night, they broke the stand down and began to gossip about the workaholic's sudden disappearance. Without the troll to order them around the next morning had no reason to even bother setting up his stand again and instead aided with loading the supplies onto the ship. The reason that they had all agreed upon between them was that the troll had finally tasted economic freedom and went mad. At that moment Tahzani was probably overdoing it with any number of vices available, but they were not paid enough to question it further. By the next morning the ship was fully loaded and left with the tide. Tahzani had thrown around the idea that he would finally take some time off enough for it to be plausible that he finally had. Time waited for no one, regardless of if the bartender had checked in or not the company ship had a schedule to keep. So began their journey home, leaving the troll behind to enjoy the city and some well earned relaxation. As the ship set out to deliver its goods to the west, Tahzani was moved to the north in chains.
  12. In the light of the rising sun, the throne of the Zandalari empire shined like a mountain of gold. A heavenly outline traced the great terraces and tiers of the upper city, culminating in the massive halo at the top that glared down disapprovingly at the chugging, half-dead ship. Bringing the goblin ship to Dazar'alor was akin to dropping a dead rat on a palace's rug. As far out as he was, Tahzani could still make out the plethora of ships that clearly fit outside of the Zandalari's aesthetic. Great wheeled abominations of the Cartels, dreary destroyers of the Dark Lady, iron hulled battleships of Orcish designs, and many which he did not immediately recognize. As usual, he was late to the party and cursed himself for falling behind the rush. The weary crew of the company's ship set to docking and preparing the hold for the influx of new goods while he set to work inspecting just what goods they could acquire. Unsurprisingly, as soon as one of the world's most prominent ports opened its gates, everyone sprang out of the woodwork to sell. The Ramkahen, the Vrykul, and even the Hozen had set up their stands and brought crates and barrels filled with their wares. Each of them would have to be sampled first, then they would haggle until a deal could be made. All of his training failed to prepare him for the sheer variety of alcohol that suddenly existed. Taste, swish, analyze, spit, rinse, and then repeat. If he swallowed even a small amount of any there would be no telling how many types of liquor would be swirling in his gut by the end of the day. Every vendor had a new drink for him to try and by the time he was halfway through the bazaar his throat was already dry from talking and his gums nearly bleeding from the harsh liquors he had scoured them with. It was barely even the afternoon and ten new kinds of drinks had been approved for his ship. By late afternoon, that count had risen to twenty-five. By early evening, it jumped to thirty-five. By the time the sun had set the cargo hold in his ship had been cleared for nearly forty new kinds of liquor ranging in size from bottles to jars to kegs and even full sized oil drums. His calm, pleasant tone had devolved to a cracking rasp from hours upon hours of negotiation. It was what he would blame when he suddenly found himself at a loss for words, not the fear of the knife waggling under his nose. When the vendor's eyes had widened he had been slow to react, not putting the seemingly friendly greeting behind him and the merchant's obvious fear together fast enough. When he turned to regard the new voice he found himself staring down several inches of steel towards the broad grin of a troll with hide that was the same color as his. A wide jaw, burly build, and yellow hair marked him as a Vilebranch troll. The thief's own surprise was quickly masked as he took in the sight of the stunned Revantusk and for a moment the two mortal enemies only had eyes for one another, allowing the merchant to quickly hide. " Well now li'l mon. Jah Dahkspeah mastah let jah off de leash ta go play wit de othah li'l people?" " What de hell jah be doin' heah spidah hump-" Tahzani's retort was halted as the sharpened point of the blade pricked the tip of his nose. " Eeeeaaaaasy dere cousin. No need fah name callin' now! Ah be heah fah business. Fah jah protection!" " Mah protection?" Tahzani asked incredulously. A though tugged at him that turned the incredulous look into something more amused, the trolls were borrowing goblin tactics. " Das righ'! Dis place be dangerous...Nevah know who jah gonna run into. Jah pay me? Ah protect jah. Notin' bad gon' happen undah mah watch." " An' if ah don'?" Tahzani asked slowly. The Vilebranch chuckled darkly, baring teeth that had been filed down to points and stained. " World be a cruel place, Li'l Revantusk." Out of the corner of his eye, Tahzani spotted a flash of gold. A guard was striding towards the two, lead by the panicking merchant. The Vilebranch's face twisted into a sour expression as he quickly stowed his blade away. " Tink about it." He called before lumbering away into the crowd. When the man had left him, Tahzani released a quivering breath and stared out at the market. Suddenly the heads of hair seemed far more distinct, he no longer saw plain colors but the markings of tribes from all over the world. Every lesser tribe had their eyes on the city, and every one of them hated the Horde. "Halfway across de world an' i'm still dealin' wit mah asshole neighbahs." He sighed.
  13. The building was on fire and it was not his fault. He would have been disappointed if he had not been running for his life. An arrow snatching at the hem of his robes made an unnecessary point about the gravity of his situation. " Stand and fight, COWARD!" The sentinel demanded, nocking another arrow and firing it in rapid succession. The shot missed his ear by a matter of inches, causing him to instinctively jerk away in a delayed and thoroughly pointless reflex. Qabian blamed his exhaustion. The smoke in the air was getting worse, his eyes had begun to water and breathing was growing more and more difficult. Perhaps that was why the "legendary" archers were shooting so poorly. A useless byproduct saving his life from an enraged woman. It could have been the exhaustion from the battle or the adrenaline induced hysteria of the chase but the thought caused the magister to start laughing. He was rewarded for his momentary lapse in focus with an armored fist across his cheek. The sentinel had finally caught up to him. Any noise of protest he could have made was silenced as the heel of her boot pressed down painfully upon his ribs, driving the air from his lungs. " You think this is funny?" She demanded as she drew the arrow back and took aim, from such a distance she was not likely to miss. " No, this just reminds me of my career in teaching. Though i'd call it more hilarious than funny." Another chuckle was cut short as the Kal'dorei put more pressure on his aching ribs. "Shut. Up." The woman snarled as she stared down the grinning mage. " Or what? You will shoot me? Hardly a threat after-Hngh!" He let out a pained cough as she pressed down on his ribs again and bared her sharpened teeth. The woman looked as exhausted as he felt. Grime and blood coated the plates of her armor and left uneven splashes across the exposed purple flesh. Now that he had a moment to finally look at his would be executioner, he could see shaking limbs. She was tired, she was hurt, and she was racked with anxiety from the slaughter. " I thought your kind believed in honor! Where is the honor in this?" She snapped at him. It took him a moment to realize she expected an answer. He kept his surprise hidden behind his usual infuriating smirk. He needed time, just a little bit more to catch his breath, and in her anger she had give him exactly that. He did not have the energy to formulate a proper lie or story to stall her. Between the lack of oxygen and the delirious feeling born of a mixture of panic and hope he could barely even think. He would never tell anyone what happened that night but he would continue to blame that for what he blurted out. " Do you believe in the boogeyman too?" He babbled as he saw the string stretch back in preparation. The question earned him a slight reprieve as she drew her boot back enough to allow him to breathe but still keep him pinned. " What?" She demanded. " What are you talking about?" " The Boogeyman. The monster under the bed or in the closet of children. A figment of their imagination created by their fear of the dark." He hissed out as he sucked in a grateful breath of smoke-tinged air. He was not sure what annoyed him more, the straws he grasped for to stall the woman or the fact that it seemed to be working. " No child should fear the dark." She snapped, still trying to puzzle out what the man was talking about. " But they do." He insisted, feeling a familiar tingling as the exhausted reserves began to fill drop by drop. " They use it to explain their own fear because a fear of nothing is ridiculous! It's a faulty construct." His rant was halted as the boot pressed down upon his ribs again, the sentinel controlled the flow of the conversation and she wanted him to know it. " That's what it is to you? Nothing?" " Less than nothing," Qabian confirmed with a wheeze, expending what little air he had left. He fought down a surge of panic as the bow was drawn back another inch in preparation. " Think about it!" He wheezed, hiding his relief when she relaxed a fraction of an inch. " The orcs are the ones shouting it the loudest and what are they? The ones with the most to make up for. If not for this concept what would they have left? Nothing." The end of the statement was barely a whisper as his head began to spin The sentinel eased up on his ribs enough to let him draw in another choking lungful of air which he sucked in greedily and promptly hacked up a globule of dirty saliva. " Nobody wants that they are irrational or horrible. Everyone wants to be right. So what do you do with that much baggage? You make up a code. Make up some justification for why you've done what you've done and pretend that you're not as bad as they say because you have one noble sounding concept to cling to. Honor is easily forgotten but the first thing to be cried out about. It's something you use against them even though YOU don't believe we have it in the first place!" " What's your point?" She snapped. Her ears twitched as one of the support beams let out a groan of warning and a high pitched squeal. " My point is that you are trying to insult me with air. You are trying to hit me with something that does not EXIST save for in the imagination of frightened orcs. Honor is nothing more than a word shouted out by everyone so they can pretend they aren't awful people. The Horde is awful, the alliance is awful, you are awful..." " And you are any better?" She demanded as she drew the bow taught, having reached the end of her patience with the mage's explanation. " I never said that..." He let out a raspy, unsettling laugh as he felt the spell take shape. It was a match compared to a forest fire in terms of what he usually wielded but he had nothing else. "In fact... I am far worse." Even before he had finished the statement, Qabian had begun to move. He pulled his head to the side as he tightened his chest and twisted his body to throw her off balance. The meager energy he had gathered coalesced into little more than a needle of ice, no larger than a toothbrush. As he twisted and she released her shot, the needle found the exposed joint in her armor. The arrow she held pierced the stone with a deafening shriek and a spray of sparks as the metal scraped the rock. His captor let out a shout of pain as the ice pierced her flesh, forcing her to remove the leg from his chest. He scrambled to a standing position as she fell into a seated position and let out a wordless shriek of outrage and drew another arrow The creak of a drawn bowstring was drowned out by the crack of a ceiling beam finally losing its fight with the flame. A fraction of a second was wasted as she looked up in surprise at the buckling ceiling, another fraction was wasted by panic and the torn desire between punishing the blood elf and her own survival, and then time ceased to matter as the flaming debris buried her in a roar of falling wood, flame, and stone. Exhausted by the effort and desperate for clean air, Qabian staggered out of the collapsing building, clutching his mangled and now singed ear. There was no time to even make sure the job was finished. If any of the other sentinels spotted him he was done for. He doubted talking about boogeyman would work on another one. Qabian sucked in a lungful of clean air and adjusted his rumpled robes before removing his hearthstone from his bag. This was one story of many that people would never hear. Saved by the faults in two constructs in one night? Ridiculous!