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Death to the Horde
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Keltor



Joined: 29 Sep 2005
Posts: 212

PostPosted: Sun Apr 30, 2006 5:28 pm    Post subject: Death to the Horde Reply with quote

He had been fleeing for two days. His mount had died only hours before from extreme exhaustion. Now he ran on foot from a foe that did not rest, and possessed no mercy. Fear flooded through his body and ice enveloped his spine. He could neither hear nor see it, yet he knew it was only a small distance behind. His death was not far off, and he understood that there would be no escape. Yet he continued to run. He ran for the ones he had left behind.


He ran … because he had no other choice.

-------------------------------------------------------------

They were a motley crew. An old orc veteran, with more scars than hair on his head, led the band with a tongue sharp as the massive battleaxe that he honed nightly with his whetstone. Despite his age, he could still wield the axe better than most would ever be able, and when he decided to disregard his joints, he was a master fighter. His green skin had faded from a dark olive to its current yellow green from many years under the sun. His gruff manner and barbed tongue hid only more layers of tempered steel within.

A younger orc had latched on to him, and drank in his every word as if the older orc was the first he had ever heard speak. Unfortunately for Krag, the young orc, this introduction to language seemed to consist of angry mutterings and angrier commands. Krag seemed neither to notice, nor to mind, however, as he simply continued to diligently listen to and serve Gath. Krag had no weapon, which for an orc his age was shameful. It was unclear what his purpose to the band was, other than to dote on Gath.

Other members of the odd band of fellows were less easy for Gath to command, although they inevitably did as the old orc told them. Lurking in the shadows was Thrash. Upon first inspection, he could have been taken as a sickly young human. His arms and legs were thin, and his skin seemed to have shrunk over his bent frame, causing the bones to protrude in hideous ways. His skin was also far too white, as if he had not seen the sun for many years. Further inspection showed all of these to be true, except for his humanity. He was Forsaken, and despite his sickly appearance, he possessed more strength than most living humans.

Although he was obedient, and invaluable, the others in the group avoided him like the plague itself. He wore only tattered rags, yet at his waist he carried two well maintained hooked daggers, and from his quiet confidence, knew how to use them. The others feared him, and he accepted that. Thrash preferred his own company to that of others.

Two others kept mostly to themselves. A bull that bore a spear nearly as tall as his own eight feet was talking quietly to a troll nearly as tall as he. Tam Halfhorn, the bull, although clearly the largest, was likely the meekest of all the companions. He rarely raised his eyes to meet those he talked to, and often cringed at the slightest disapproval. His every action was slow and cautious, as if he feared to accidentally harm someone with his monstrous strength. He could be no older than Krag, with not a braid in his hide, but with his strength, he was a vital part of the mercenary band.

Zul’Zaz, the troll with whom he was conversing, had the easy confidence of movement of one who has lived in the wilds. Unlike many Trolls seen these days, he was not gangly or lanky. He possessed the classic troll build, from the days of the old Horde, and even before that. He was tall, yes, but he was nearly as well muscled as an orc, and lithe as an elf.

He was restringing his serpentwood bow with practiced ease as he spoke in hushed tones with the Tauren. On his back were two small axes that more often than not moved faster than the eye could follow. On his hip he carried a quiver bristling with arrows, and a bag that was filled with herbs and bandages. Despite his ability to move quickly, he was garbed in thick studded leather armor that revealed only his face, hands, and bare feet.

The ragtag group was held together more by greed than by any notion of loyalty, glory or honor. They were a band of mercenaries who worked for the Horde, raiding Alliance towns and villages. They would kill those deemed important by their superiors, and take any loot they could find.

The mercenaries were camped in a clearing in a forest only a few miles away from a human village that had recently become a smoldering ruin: a bloody example of the Horde’s continuing influence in Kalimdor.

---
_________________
Sapphires vie for your attention. She dances. They mean well in their way. The priest says please, "I can't stand my knees and I cant bear her raven tresses caught up in a breeze like this."


Last edited by Keltor on Wed Sep 06, 2006 3:35 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Keltor



Joined: 29 Sep 2005
Posts: 212

PostPosted: Mon May 01, 2006 5:26 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The Grunts of the Horde had for weeks attacked to no avail, and the Shadow Council itself felt the need to speed the capture of the insignificant town, and its more significant leader.

The Shadow Council’s informants had reported that the commander of the garrison of the town was formerly an influential general who had fallen into the bad graces of some lord. The General had been demoted temporarily, although was likely to once again rise to fame and power. The Shadow Council considered it imperative that he be eliminated. Gath and his mercenaries got the job.

They attacked in the night. The human guards had become complacent. They were accustomed to what they considered the “honorable savagery” that the Grunts possessed. No thought of an ignoble attack had crossed any minds, save that of the former general. He had ordered the night watch at full strength, but even the threat of a lashing had failed to keep tired men awake at their posts when no attack was comprehensible.

Thrash stole into the town at dusk, posing as a lame beggar boy stranded outside the walls. The guards made the fatal mistake of pity, and opened the gate long enough for the Forsaken to slip through. Once night had fallen he attended to the same, foolish, guards.

The men paid no more attention that night than others, and many were either asleep at their posts, or were nodding off. Thrash snuck up to the parapet and began to eliminate the guards.

Early in the night, many of the men who were dutifully watching at their posts felt a sudden wave of dread and turned to face a pair of lightly glowing yellow eyes before gurgling and gasping their way to their graves with a large gash deep in their throats. Many other, less dutiful, men who had fallen asleep simply never awoke.

After the wall guards had been disposed of, Thrash lowered a long, thick black rope off the wall. Tam was quickly over and immediately lifted the huge oaken beam that served to bar the gates.

Gath, Krag and Zul’Zaz joined the other two and set about their work. Krag was given the job of “harvesting” the goods and treasures that the townspeople would no longer need. Thrash was sent to the barracks to assure that the Grunts would have no trouble taking the town on the morrow. Gath, Tam and Zul’Zaz proceeded to the commander’s quarters to complete their mission.

The room was sparsely furnished, and had no decoration. On the table were many letters and orders, yet they meant nothing to the three that entered… none of them could read Orcish, much less Common. Gath drew his huge battleaxe, and after one powerful stroke, the commander’s head rolled across the floor.

Tam, new to the business of bloodshed, retched onto the floor. Either the splatter of vomit on the floor or the thump when the head had been severed awoke a squire sleeping unnoticed on a straw pallet in the corner.

With a fluid grace, Zul’zaz pulled an arrow from the quiver at his waist, and had drawn it to his ear. A solid thunk had sounded throughout the room. The squire was on the ground.

As Zul’zaz had let loose the arrow, Tam acted faster than his meek demeanor and his vast size should have allowed. With the blunt end of the spear he had knocked the squire off his feet, only moments before the arrow embedded itself in the wall, directly behind where the human’s head had been.

Zul’zaz hissed angrily, looking at the human quivering pitifully on the ground, then whispered, “Why spare ‘im mon? ‘E es worth nothin’ to us alive.”

Tam, with his eyes fixed firmly on his hooves, mumbled a reply of which his companions heard only, “Blood enough…”

Zul’zaz cursed in troll and then said in Orcish, “This es why we let me do the thinkin’ mon! I think, you hit.”

Tam sunk further into himself at the retort, yet made as if to respond despite his obvious discomfort.

Gath interrupted him, “We can deal with him later; for now, if you do not wish the glory of killing him, you may tie him up and carry him back to camp… Who knows, we may be paid extra if he gives any information.”

With Gath’s blessing, Tam began to tie and gag the young human while others carried off treasures of their own. By dawn nearly all the valuables in the town had been taken, and the Grunts outside the wall awoke to find the town devoid of either city guard or mercenaries. A town ripe for the picking.

---
_________________
Sapphires vie for your attention. She dances. They mean well in their way. The priest says please, "I can't stand my knees and I cant bear her raven tresses caught up in a breeze like this."
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Keltor



Joined: 29 Sep 2005
Posts: 212

PostPosted: Tue May 02, 2006 4:44 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Jon groaned as he awoke to find himself bound to a tree stump in a strange camp occupied by the Orcs, Trolls, Tauren and Undead of his nightmares. He shook his head trying to dispel this uncomfortable dream, and when he did not immediately awake, he groaned again. He whimpered when he saw the Tauren approach, and flinched violently when the bull touched him.

The bull gently inspected Jon’s legs, looking with a care that Jon knew meant they were inspecting his flesh to see how good he would taste after they cooked him. The bull was clearly unhappy with what he saw when he looked at the leg that had taken the hit from the spear. The bull was so unsatisfied with its eventual quality of taste that Jon dared to hope for a moment that he wouldn’t be eaten, and perhaps he would even be set free!

His hopes were dashed when the bull turned and said something to the troll. The troll looked a bit angry, again, certainly from the poor quality of their meal, but began digging in the pouch at his hip to find the correct spices and seasonings with which to cook the Human.

Jon uttered a little scream. He had never been the bravest. His brothers had always taken the glory growing up. Jon always preferred a mild headache from reading in the bad light of the castle library to the large bruises he received in the training yard. Upon turning 15, his father had decided to intervene, and sent him off to train under General Bray, the youngest and most accomplished commander within the Alliance.

His life had changed dramatically. The only documents and letters he saw he was not allowed to read for fear they contained classified information. His time, which had formerly consisted of losing himself in some dusty old tome, was now consumed with training in the yard, running errands for Bray, and training in the yard some more. Although his sword work became technically excellent, he knew he would never have it in him to fight on a battle field. His light frame was built more for the faster, more technical fighting of a tournament than the ponderous, strength oriented and heavily armored fighting of a battle field, not to mention that he was too cowardly to ever face death from a dozen directions at once.

The troll was approaching now, preparing to apply the seasonings to Jon that the Savages were sure to enjoy. He screamed again as the troll knelt to apply the herbs to Jon’s body. Strangely, the troll only applied them to his injured leg. “They must think the bruising will diminish the natural taste of human flesh.” Jon thought to himself.

The tauren turned and said something to the hideous undead thing that was sitting apart from the rest of the group. The undead arose, and with his strange lurching, dragging steps walked to where Jon was bound.

In a voice that sounded like wood grinding on bone, the undead said in Common, “Prepare, your doom is not far off.”

Jon screamed again, his face contorting in fear. Had he cared he would have noticed a warm trickle down his leg.

The Undead made a grating, clacking sound that must have been a laugh, and the troll cackled madly. The Tauren looked his two laughing companions, snorted angrily and looked as if he were going to speak, then apparently thought better of it, and lowered his great, horned head.

The Undead spoke in the same dry, dead voice as before, “I apologize, that was cruel of me. It was merely a jest. We mean you no harm… yet, and are treating your wounds so that you can travel with us without slowing us much.”

Jon stared in disbelief. He wondered if he had misunderstood what the undead had spoken. He felt his spirits rise as the words slowly registered. He was going to live! … at least for the time being. He realized now that they applied herbs only to his one leg to heal him, not cook him. How foolish his fears had made him, if only he had kept a cool head… For the first time since he had awoken, he dared to hope of escape, and the concept so excited him that he fainted immediately.

---
_________________
Sapphires vie for your attention. She dances. They mean well in their way. The priest says please, "I can't stand my knees and I cant bear her raven tresses caught up in a breeze like this."
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Keltor



Joined: 29 Sep 2005
Posts: 212

PostPosted: Tue May 02, 2006 10:09 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Tam, after working up the courage to force Zul’zaz into promising not to kill the frightened, and now unconscious human while he was gone, went into the forest to relieve himself, and keep the forest growing in the absence of rain. After he was finished, he began to walk back to camp. The wind was whistling quietly through the boughs of the trees. Despite being comfortable in nature, as all Tauren were, he felt uneasy, as if something was wrong. Yet he could hear nothing.

He jumped when he heard a dry voice behind him. He whirled round, hands reaching vainly at his back for a spear that was propped next to a tree back in camp. His eyes wildly scanned the forest where he had heard the voice come from, and eventually noticed a shadowy shape that hunkered down next to a large elm tree.

Thrash stood up, revealing his identity, and Tam felt relieved and relaxed visibly, though as always, he was uncomfortable in the Forsaken’s presence.

No love was lost between Thunder Bluff and the Undercity. The Tauren were too much a part of nature to respect the unnatural Forsaken. If not for their alliance with the Orcs, the Tauren would likely have closer ties to the Night Elves than to any form of undead. As things stood now, however, the Tauren tolerated their undead allies, but never trusted.

Tam had a grudging respect for Thrash, as well as a healthy dose of fear. Thrash’s tendency to keep to himself made him even more enigmatic than Tam’s other new companions. Zul’zaz, an old and unlikely friend warned Tam of Thrash, “You canna’ trust ‘im mon, ‘e will kill you as soon as ‘elp you. Trust only me mon, and youself.” And Tam had taken it to heart. Despite his deep distrust, he had to admit that Thrash had not once failed them, and had shown less disloyalty, to the Horde or to Gath, than most of them.

“You stand up for yourself more than before.” Said Thrash in his flat, frightening monotone. “You did the right to save the boy. He will do us no harm, and we should return the favor.”

Tam thought it odd for the undead to be merciful, and said as much before cringing and lowering his head realizing the discourtesy of his words. He hoped the Forsaken would not take offence, and force Tam to defend himself. He wasn’t afraid of the shadowy rogue once he could see him in front of him: even without his spear, Tam supposed that his strength alone could win out. It was habit that made Tam so cautious. He had grown up among the other races, and his strength always seemed to be getting him in trouble.

“I was human once.” The Forsaken replied. “Though they hate me more than Orcs hate humans, I remember what life was like… I want to thank you, and give you a word of advice: don’t trust your troll friend, he is a less savory character than I.”

With those parting words Thrash slipped back into the shadows without a sound. Tam stood dumbstruck. Confusion flooded his mind. He wondered what to think of this Forsaken and his mercy, and doubt crept into his thoughts of the less merciful Zul’zaz.

They had met in Orgrimmar, and Zul’zaz had gotten the naďve Tauren out of a few tricky spots. Tam had taken a job with an orc he had assumed was a reputable vendor, only to find out that the orc was a fugitive of the law, wanted for the deaths of the truly reputable merchants. When Tam was arrested, a troll had stepped forward to vouch for Tam. The bull had been set free, and from that day forward, he did as Zul’zaz had asked.

Zul’zaz had been right when he described their relationship, “I think, you hit.” The human’s life was the first time since they had met that Tam had dared disobey. Tam was huge, and could give and take blows like few others, but he did not truly understand the world, and let the troll worry about that. He knew that if Zul’zaz seemed cold and merciless, it was because he knew the world, and didn’t take chances.

Upon reexamining his history with Zul’zaz, Tam concluded that he must be more trustworthy than the Forsaken, whom he barely knew, and vowed to do as the Troll had said and trust only himself and Zul’zaz.

Tam walked slowly back to camp, wondering what to do with the Human whose care was now his own. Tam resolved to keep the boy safe as well as he could, and prepared himself for Zul’zaz’s displeasure at his decision.

---
_________________
Sapphires vie for your attention. She dances. They mean well in their way. The priest says please, "I can't stand my knees and I cant bear her raven tresses caught up in a breeze like this."
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Keltor



Joined: 29 Sep 2005
Posts: 212

PostPosted: Wed May 03, 2006 3:50 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The Forsaken returned to camp first, looking as blank and expressionless as always. Gath wondered, as he always did, what thoughts hid behind Thrash’s expressionless face, and grim visage. He knew little about Thrash’s past and his motives were always a mystery. He trusted Thrash to obey, but beyond that, he suspected. The entire Horde suspected the Forsaken, and he was inclined to distrust more than most.

From what little he did know, the Forsaken had died in the plague when he was nineteen. He had joined the ranks of the Lich Kings armies as so many had done before him. When Arthas had disappeared to Northrend, Thrash awoke, and, like so many others, sought protection with the Forsaken Queen. When the Forsaken had joined forces with the Horde, Thrash went to Kalimdor to find something to do with his un-life.

Thrash had joined Gath’s company soon after coming to Orgrimmar. Years later, Thrash was the only member of the group who had neither “died” nor sought his fortunes elsewhere.

Despite the length of time that they had worked together, Gath knew nothing of Thrash’s life before the plague, and knew less of his motives now.

Krag was a simpering idiot, and though he had no choice but to bring his dead sister’s whelp along, the young orc was too eager to please by half. Tam, useful as he was, was even more the fool, as this ridiculous business with the human showed. He was strong, but his head must be filled with muscle as well, Gath thought to himself. Not to mention that he was far too reliant on that Troll.

He didn’t know what to feel about the troll. He came with high praise from his previous employers, yet Gath wondered why they seemed so eager to be rid of the troll. Zul’zaz had skill, that was clear, and Gath had come to rely on him, yet it was always easier for Gath to command when he had broken bonds between group members, and the Troll and Tauren were nearly inseparable.

The Tauren returned a short while later, and given the thoughtful, and confused expression on his face, Gath estimated that Thrash had had a few words with Tam about the troll, as Gath had told him too. Gath was slightly disappointed when, as usual Tam went to talk to Zul’zaz after retrieving his spear from the tree where he had left it. Gath was not surprised, Tam was stubborn and stupid, and would not be easily convinced. He would have to find some other way to separate them.

Despite thinking that the issue of the human should be settled with his sharpened axe, Gath was in one way glad: it was the first time he had ever seen Tam stand up to the Troll, and he hoped that it was a sign that Tam had begun to think for himself. Tam would be a useful permanent addition to the company, but as things stood now, he would leave with Zul’zaz if anything happened to the Troll, which was more than likely given their line of work. If Tam became more independent, he might stay.

Gath suddenly had an idea that could potentially solve many of his problems at once. He knew his nephew would not last long in the business if he could not find something more useful to do than gathering stolen possessions. Thieving was a shameful profession, even if it went hand in hand with being a mercenary. For a long time Gath had meant to teach his Krag to fight, but was always too busy, his joints too painful.

If he made Krag learn the sword from the captured human, who, as a squire was sure to know enough to serve as an able instructor for a beginner, Krag would be able to fight in the future. Furthermore, it would drive a wedge between the troll and the Tauren. Tam would happily accept, feeling pride for being a benefit to the group. Zul’zaz, who was always fond of killing Humans, would be angered.

Though Azshara had been mostly cleared of Naga and other less than savory enemies within the last few years, Gath did not feel safe traveling at night. They would begin their long journey to Orgrimmar on the next day. For now, they would enjoy their victory at this camp. And he would enjoy his own personal victory as he watched Krag fight the human for the first time that night.
_________________
Sapphires vie for your attention. She dances. They mean well in their way. The priest says please, "I can't stand my knees and I cant bear her raven tresses caught up in a breeze like this."
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Keltor



Joined: 29 Sep 2005
Posts: 212

PostPosted: Thu May 04, 2006 8:05 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Krag was excited. Once the human had awoken, they had decided that he would teach Krag to fight with the sword that the orc had found in town. The weak little human with his sword would be no threat to the orc, but Gath had decided that for the human’s sake, for the time being Krag would fight with a practice sword that was cut from a nearby tree branch.

It took a while to convey to the stupid pink-skin what they were going to do, but finally he understood. They were all surprised to find that the Human knew a little Orcish. Once he realized that they were not going to eat him, his wits had come back, and so had the books that he had read in the musty library of his old home.

“I… know orc.” The human said slowly. “I read… in book.” After a few more seconds of thinking, he said “I is Jon.”

As strange as it was to introduce themselves to the captive, the Bull had insisted on it. Names and words were unimportant to Krag, who was more eager to please his uncle by fighting the human.

After the introductions, the party cleared the area in the middle of the camp, and after warning the human not to try to escape if he wanted to live, gave him the sword, and Krag the stick.

Krag was not worried about the sword, he doubted if it could pierce his thick green skin, and if things got ugly, or if the pink-skin tried to escape, Zul’zaz would make sure his arrow found the human’s head this time.

The two stood across from each other. Krag was confident that he would defeat the little human, and was pleased to see that the Human looked sick from fear. The sword felt natural in his hand, and he swung it a few times experimentally before pretending to be satisfied with its balance.

When Gath told them to begin, they fought.

Krag rushed the human with his sword-stick held above his head, ready to strike. As Krag quickly covered the distance between them, he noticed that the human suddenly looked calmer, as if his training had suddenly overcome his cowardly nature. Krag didn’t care; he would beat the human regardless. He was bigger and stronger. He couldn’t lose.

When he reached the human, he swung his stick down at the human with enough force to split his skull open. Somehow the human slid out of the way in time, and the strength of the intended blow unbalanced Krag, and he crashed to the ground. As he lay on the earth trying to collect himself, he felt iron prick his thickly skinned back and heard the human say, “You dead.”

Krag didn’t understand what had happened. How could this frail little human have been fast enough to avoid the blow, and then land a solid one of his own?

He heard his companions howling with laughter, at the sight of him sprawled on his back, with a small cut from a small human. Well, all the companions but Zul’zaz, who was against the whole idea in the first place, and who’s attention was focused on the arrow trained at the human’s head.

Krag felt anger bubbling over within him. His vision turned red, and his whole mind focused on the little pink-skin standing behind him. He leapt up, whirled round, and again charged the human. Again the human melted away from Krag’s fake blade. This time however, Krag kept his feet. He turned to face the human again, and felt the iron blade bite his side.

Further enraged, Krag charged again and again, continuously humiliating himself until Gath decided that it was doing no good, and had Tam restrain Krag.

When the bloodlust lifted, Krag felt ashamed. He had been beaten by the little cowardly Human who by all rights should have been lying on the ground bleeding. He would have stalked off in shame, but Gath insisted that the human teach him the basics of sword fighting.

Krag, determined to show that he could get better with his sword, diligently worked through the drills that the stupid human taught him, and continued to practice long after the others had gone to bed. All but Thrash. The Forsaken never sleep, and so the former human stood watch.
_________________
Sapphires vie for your attention. She dances. They mean well in their way. The priest says please, "I can't stand my knees and I cant bear her raven tresses caught up in a breeze like this."
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Keltor



Joined: 29 Sep 2005
Posts: 212

PostPosted: Fri May 05, 2006 3:10 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

As Thrash stood watch, he observed the young orc practicing with his wooden sword. He had already improved greatly from his earlier display of ineptitude. Under normal circumstances Thrash wouldn’t have bothered himself to help the young orc, but given how he failed to separate the troll and the bull, he felt he owed it to the commander to help Krag.

He walked up behind the orc, who was concentrating all his energy and attention on the drills he was doing. Thrash lightly touched Krag on the back, and watched with satisfaction as the orc visibly jumped.

Krag turned and looked to strike before he realized who it was. Krag’s skin drained of color when he saw the Forsaken, but moments later he recovered himself and asked gruffly, “What do you want?”

Thrash gave him a few pointers, then told him, “These drills are the most important thing you can do. With your orcish bloodlust, you will attack without any thought behind your actions; you need to fight well without thought, and these drills will teach you.

Thrash hated the deadpan, dry, rasp that was his voice. He remembered when his voice had been rich, vibrant, and full of life… but that was all gone now.

Thrash was pulled from his reverie by Krag’s short reply of, “Ok.” Krag looked more thoughtful than usual, and Thrash knew his advice had been well placed.

As Thrash retreated to his watch once more, he heard Krag redouble his efforts with his wooden sword. “I could give up this watch, and the mighty Krag would protect us.” He thought to himself with dry humor.

Everything about him was dry these days: his humor, his skin, his bones, his wit, and his caring. All had died and dried when he caught the plague. He thought back to his life in Lordaeron. He couldn’t remember what his parents were like, yet he felt no sorrow. That had dried up too; it seemed he couldn’t feel anything anymore.

He was tortured most by the memory of warmth. When he was alive he had always been warm, even when he was cold. The undead had not a shred of warmth in any of them. Now that he had awoken, he was more aware of it then ever.

Ghouls, abominations, skeletons, zombies and more, all had minds, yet the Lich King had compelled their bodies to disobey them. Thrash knew as well as anyone that it is the worst form of torture to be trapped in one’s own body.

When he was part of the scourge he had killed friends and family, and then watched them join him in eternal torment. Then he had felt sorrow. He had felt remorse for the things he had been unable to stop.

Suddenly though, eternal torment had ended, he found himself in control of his actions once again. He was no longer Undead of the scourge, yet, nor was he… he couldn’t even remember his real name now.

He was Forsaken.

He had been forgotten first by the living, and then forgotten by the cruel will that had compelled him.

It was then that he had noticed the cold. The cold had frozen his remorse, his sorrow. All his emotions were gone, and he was filled with an unspeakable frost. The Forsaken have an affinity for ice, not because of the icy kingdom of their former master, but because the undead and the Forsaken are ice in decayed flesh.

It was this cold that haunted Thrash now, more even than his past.

He realized that too was a reason he had helped Krag. He saw his old self in Krag. The innocence, the eagerness to please, and the vibrancy of life were all there, and Thrash would have wept for its beauty, if his tears hadn’t frozen long ago.
_________________
Sapphires vie for your attention. She dances. They mean well in their way. The priest says please, "I can't stand my knees and I cant bear her raven tresses caught up in a breeze like this."
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Keltor



Joined: 29 Sep 2005
Posts: 212

PostPosted: Sat May 06, 2006 11:55 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Zul’zaz shivered under his blankets. He was cold. He did not sleep, and had not bothered to take off his thick leather armor. He hated the company he was with. The Tauren had become more and more tiresome, protective of his pet human, and he knew that Gath was too keen on keeping his company in shape and easy to command to make any real friends here.

He shivered again. It shouldn’t be this way; he deserved a crown, a scepter, a throne.

He had grown more and more resentful of the people round him as time went on. He couldn’t wait for the job to be complete. Once he returned to claim his prize he would be free of their tiresome company.

He knew he wasn’t being fair. He knew there was nothing actually wrong with anyone, but he knew better than to become too close to anyone. He knew that the bull was being slowly torn away from him, and didn’t want to risk a friendship that would simply be destroyed.

He didn’t know why the human rankled him so. He knew that the forest could always use one more human body, but it went deeper than that.

He remembered when the Trolls had ruled. He remembered when the Humans came and destroyed centuries, nay, millennia of civilization. It was all gone now, all that remained were ruins. He hated the Humans for that, and he wouldn’t forget until he had his revenge.

He wanted to go home, where he would be accepted, trusted, and honored. When he was done… But he knew that even when his quest was complete, even if he had revenge, he could never go home. His home was destroyed, never to be restored. He was alone, and all he had left was vengeance.

Zul’zaz didn’t sleep all night, but spent his time in the darkness in quiet contemplation, reveling in his misery.
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Sapphires vie for your attention. She dances. They mean well in their way. The priest says please, "I can't stand my knees and I cant bear her raven tresses caught up in a breeze like this."


Last edited by Keltor on Wed Sep 06, 2006 4:06 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Keltor



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PostPosted: Sat May 06, 2006 6:24 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The next morning the party packed up and mounted for their long journey to Orgrimmar. There had been a disagreement about what to do with Jon, with Zul’zaz arguing that without a mount, he would slow them down, and Tam refusing to let any harm befall the boy. Thrash was silent as usual, but surprisingly, Krag, who had been so mocking of the human agreed with Tam. Krag apparently truly had taken Thrash’s words to heart, and was eager to learn more about the sword, even if it meant further humiliation.

Gath finally agreed to bring Jon with them. He secured Jon to Tam’s broad back. Likely neither the bull nor his kodo mount would really notice the difference in weight.

The party set off aiming to slip undetected through Ashenvale Forrest, then aim south for the barrens. Once they made it to the Crossroads, they would fly the rest of the way to Orgrimmar.

The first leg of the journey, getting from Azshara to Ashenvale, passed uneventfully. They traveled quickly, but not so quickly as to make mistakes, and draw unwanted attention to themselves.

Every night, they would set up camp. Each would have a job suited to their abilities. Tam would pull down a tree with his hands, and then he would set about chopping it into wood for the fire. Gath set up the tents for the night, and then oversaw the rest of the mercenaries. Thrash would go off into the woods, with only his knives in hand, and return later with a doe or buck. Krag and Jon practiced while Zul’zaz watched with his arrow aimed patiently on Jon’s head.

By the time they reached Ashenvale, Krag was a passable swordsman. Although he would take at least five for every one he gave, he would now land blows on Jon occasionally, and when he did, they would have to stop, because Jon was invariably knocked out cold.

Upon entering Ashenvale, everything changed. Although they still moved only in the day, they no longer made campfires, or did any kind of activity that would attract notice from the nocturnal Night Elves.

They moved carefully, and slowly. This was the most dangerous part of their journey.


---


Thrash stalked through the shadows. Gath had sent him ahead to scout and make sure their path was clear. He moved quietly and unless you knew he was there, you were unlikely to notice him. His mind wandered as he casually moved stealthily through the forest.

He wondered why he had stayed with Gath for so long. All the others had left, why hadn’t he? He felt no sympathy for anyone, no loyalty for anything. The Forsaken, as a whole, wanted to band together and rejoice in their undeath. Thrash had never seen the point; he simply wanted his life back.

Perhaps that was why he stayed with Gath. Perhaps he wished to die, again. Their job included more than enough danger, and even the undead could die.

He wondered and wondered, as he always did. His brooding is what drove others to fear him. He liked their fear. He had earned it.
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Sapphires vie for your attention. She dances. They mean well in their way. The priest says please, "I can't stand my knees and I cant bear her raven tresses caught up in a breeze like this."
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Keltor



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PostPosted: Sun May 07, 2006 5:37 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Gath wondered where the blasted Forsaken had gotten to. The forest was beginning to darken, and still they were unable to set up camp for fear of an attack during the night. Thrash should have gotten back by now.

He was aiming for a hidden valley that cut straight through the mountains that separated Ashenvale from the Barrens. He had sent the Forsaken to scout out a campsite for the night, as well as to look for the path that would lead them to the valley.

The valley was cursed as well as holy. It was in this valley where Grom Hellscream and Thrall had battled the terrible Pit Lord Mannoroth. Hellscream had fallen, but had dragged Mannoroth to hell with him, freeing the Orcs from the demonic bloodlust that had enslaved them for so long.

The Night Elves could still sense the demonic presence in the valley where the Pit Lord had died, and avoided it. Only the druids ever traveled to the valley to heal the demonic wounds inflicted on the land, and as the Night Elves became more reclusive, even their visits became rare. It was for this reason that they made for the valley. Although the Orcs usually kept a respectful distance, their need was great, and they would travel through it regardless of custom.

Thrash melted out of the shadows. “About damn time” growled Gath.

Thrash apologized then delivered his report. “The path is ahead. If we hurry, we should be able to pass through the valley before midnight.”

Gath told the others that he intended to travel until they were safely in the barrens. They dismounted, and began to walk where the Forsaken directed. As they moved closer to the valley, the sky, which could be viewed through the thinning trees, darkened further. The moon was nowhere to be seen, and soon they were in almost complete darkness. The path began to slope downwards and the ground and the vegetation seemed to lose life as they continued. The bark of the trees became a pale grey, and the leaves were brown and decaying. Occasionally on a tree, a red, demonic rune would glow ominously, casting an unearthly red glow in a small area round it. Eventually, all vegetation disappeared, alive or otherwise. On either side of the path, an earthen wall arose as they descended deeper into the earth. As they descended, the air around them began to feel chill. From this point, they could only walk on, or run back the way they came. Gath continued to walk, he felt no fear. A veteran of Mount Hyjal, Gath had seen countless horrors he would rather forget. He had faced living demons then, and dead ones failed to concern him now.
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Sapphires vie for your attention. She dances. They mean well in their way. The priest says please, "I can't stand my knees and I cant bear her raven tresses caught up in a breeze like this."
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Keltor



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PostPosted: Sun May 07, 2006 10:10 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Tam was nervous. The air smelled wrong and the ground felt strange under his huge hooves. He felt his hackles rise. He quickly striped the small human from his back, keeping him from running with one firm hand. He readied his spear, but he was fighting no tangible enemy. Fear was the greatest foe he had ever faced, and it was all he could do to keep it from overcoming him.

He looked at his companions. Gath was as unshakeable as ever, neither showing any fear, nor slowing his pace at all. Krag was far to caught up in impressing his uncle to notice anything wrong. As the ground round him lost life, Thrash seemed almost to grow more comfortable, as if he had were returning home after a long absence. Zul’zaz too seemed more comfortable than he had been, though Tam assumed it was because he was soon to return to the safety of Horde territory. Only Jon, who was still held in his firm grip, seemed to be nervous at all.

Suddenly the earthen barriers on either side widened. They had truly entered the Valley, Tam realized. Their mounts feared this valley as Tam himself did, and they would need to be led by hand.

Ahead of them the valley glowed with an ominous green light, but Gath and the others continued on as if nothing were amiss. As they passed through the valley, Tam’s feeling of unease began to abate. He had made it through part of it already, why should the rest of it be any worse?

Ahead of the party, there was a pale blue glow, which Tam assumed was the exit into the barrens. He began to walk faster, pulling both Jon and the kodo along with him.
With a sudden wave of fear, he stopped. Before him was not the exit of the valley, which now that he thought of it would not be blue at all as it was night outside the valley as well, but a tall, floating being.

At first he thought it was a revenant. In most ways it matched the descriptions that he had heard from adventurers and the like. It had no visible legs, and hovered eerily over the ground. It wore a dark black robe that was hemmed with large sapphires that were giving off the pale blue glow that Tam had mistaken for the exit of the valley.

He knew it was not a revenant. From all he had heard, revenants always wore helms that obscured their features. This being however had a clearly defined face. A horrific skull stared at him from what should have been sightless sockets. In those sockets were blue orbs that were emanating more blue mist. Horns protruded from the skull. At the base of the skull’s chin was a small braided beard that appeared to be encrusted in ice. Ice covered chains floated round it like ghostly fingers.

The party stood dumbfounded. Tam heard the old orc whisper fearfully, “Lich…”

“Yes,” replied the lich in a voice that made Thrash’s own speech seem like dulcet tones. “In fact, you could say that I am The Lich. I am Kel’Thuzad, and I have business to attend to.”

The Lich turned, and with a wave of his hand, Tam, and his companion’s legs were encased in ice. Kel’Thuzad raised his skeletal hands above his head. His hands glowed with purple energy, and the air them seemed to get colder. Tam sensed rather than saw ribbons of shadow dancing round them.

A huge set of armor thrust itself from the earth that it was embedded in. It flew ponderously until it rested in the air a short distance in front of Kel’Thuzad. Once the armor was at rest, the ribbons of shadow lanced towards it, gaining substance and color as they approached the suspended armor. The shadows turned green and began to swirl round the armor. What had been shadows now began to glow and moved at an increasing pace, until the armor was completely obscured. With one final flash of sickly, poisonous green light, the ribbons disappeared, revealing what now lay behind.

The armor that had been hanging as if held up by invisible hands was now worn by a demon that towered over the rest of the valley. The armor that had seemed so large before shrunk in comparison, and provided very little actual protection to the demon.

The demon roared. Within the mouth an inferno raged, contained only by the rows of spiky teeth that served to imprison the flames.

Kel’Thuzad spoke, and though he was dwarfed by the huge demon, his terrible voice rang with icy command. “Mannoroth, arise. You are needed once again, go to Northrend, and see to your new master.”

Mannoroth roared again, then, enveloped in demonic green light, vanished.

Kel’Thuzad turned to them once more and addressed them. “The scourge will rise again, and this time, it will not fail. The world shall be held in The Lich King’s icy grasp.”

Tam thought back to Mulgore, which he had not seen since he was a tiny calf. In his mind he saw it as grey and dead. No life remained. No joy.

Tam bellowed in rage, all fear left him, replaced with anger. His feet struggled against his icy constraints, and against his strength, they gave way. The spell was shattered, and his companions were free as well. Having broken the spell, Tam was the first to react, and charged head down at the Lich.

He moved faster than anyone his size had a right to, yet before he had crossed half the distance to the lich, he felt a sharp pain at the base of his neck and toppled to the ground, the world fading.
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Sapphires vie for your attention. She dances. They mean well in their way. The priest says please, "I can't stand my knees and I cant bear her raven tresses caught up in a breeze like this."
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Keltor



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PostPosted: Mon May 08, 2006 4:12 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Jon watched the Bull rush into battle.

Jon had been right about what his reaction to a battle field would be. Even after his feet were released, he remained immobile, frozen with fear. Aside from the Tauren, they all were.

Suddenly Zul’zaz sprang into action. He pulled an arrow from his quiver, drew it to his cheek, aimed carefully, and shot Tam in the neck.

All hell broke loose.

When Tam went down, everyone was suddenly released from their paralyzing fear. Gath, like Tam before him, bellowed in rage. His axe was a blur of motion, and it was all Zul’zaz could do to fend it off with his own two axes. Once, Gath’s axe slid past Zul’zaz’s defenses and slid through the leather as if it were butter. Under the armor, Jon saw rotting flesh. Nothing made sense.

Suddenly Jon felt cold hands grip him and pull him backward. He Flipped round and stood face to face with Thrash. The undead whispered urgently, “Go to the alliance, and warn them. I will tell the horde. I won’t let the plague claim any more…” With that he faded into the shadows and disappeared.

Jon ran for the kodo that Tam had ridden, he needed to get out, and quickly. The kodo, though unfamiliar with the rider, was more than glad to flee the valley. As the Kodo ran from the valley, he looked back at the melee that he had fled.

Gath was being covered in waves of ice that sprang from thin air. His attacks slowed, and Jon knew that Gath was going die. As quickly as the ice that appeared from nowhere, Zul’zaz’s axe took Gath in the throat and it was over.

Jon looked ahead, and dug his heels into the flank of the kodo, which was already moving as fast as it could.

He knew now that the Horde was not the true enemy. The undead had never truly been defeated, and remained the only real threat to humanity. The horde was no more evil than the alliance.

Jon fled, and hoped that Thrash had escaped.
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Sapphires vie for your attention. She dances. They mean well in their way. The priest says please, "I can't stand my knees and I cant bear her raven tresses caught up in a breeze like this."
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Keltor



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PostPosted: Mon May 08, 2006 10:11 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Zul’zaz looked up at the Lich.

Kel’thuzad stared back at him and said, “You have done good work for the scourge. You have served faithfully, yet the scourge no longer has need of secrecy, or agents of free will. Shades will provide all the information we need now, your time is done.

Zul’zaz felt anger bubble up within him. “What 'bout da kingdom you promised mon? What 'bout the otha' trolls you said you would reanimate to help rebuild da troll empiahs that I ruled thousands of years ago? When you pulled me from da ground those were the promises you made mon!”

The lich laughed: a sound like ice shattering. “We told you that to ensure loyalty. Your time is done… although, perhaps rather than destroying you I will let you continue to serve the Scourge… like all the rest will.”

Zul’zaz growled and tried to draw his axes to burry them in the Lich’s exposed ribcage. His hands didn’t respond. He tried to leap at Kel’Thuzad, his legs refused to respond as well.

He, like the rest of the scourge, was imprisoned in his own, rotting, body.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------
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Sapphires vie for your attention. She dances. They mean well in their way. The priest says please, "I can't stand my knees and I cant bear her raven tresses caught up in a breeze like this."


Last edited by Keltor on Wed May 10, 2006 8:53 am; edited 1 time in total
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Keltor



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PostPosted: Wed May 10, 2006 9:12 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Jon had been fleeing for two days. The kodo had died only hours before from extreme exhaustion. Now he ran on foot from a foe that did not rest, and possessed no mercy. Fear flooded through his body and ice enveloped his spine. He could neither hear nor see it, yet he knew it was only a small distance behind. His death was not far off, and he understood that there would be no escape. Yet he continued to run. He ran for the ones he had left behind.

He ran… because he had no other choice

The lich was pursuing him, he was sure. He ran blindly through the woods of Ashenvale. The Scourge couldn’t afford for the Alliance and the Horde to unite once more to push back the undead.

He still didn’t understand what had happened back in the valley. Clearly Kel’Thuzad and the Lich King had brought Mannoroth back to life, but what had Zul’zaz been doing helping them? He had seen the rotten flesh that was hidden under the Zul’zaz’s armor, but he didn’t know that any in the Scourge had free will, as Zul’zaz surely had in order to blend in with Horde society.

It didn’t matter. He stopped thinking. The only thing that mattered now was reaching Astranaar. Once he reached the Night Elves, he would be safe. The worst thing that the Scourge could do to make the Alliance and Horde unite would be to appear in a major city. He had to reach the city.

Hours later, he was still running. His legs were ready to give way. He would stop soon, whether he wished it or not.

Suddenly, out of nowhere, the woods ended. He was standing at the edge of a river. Only a short distance away was an elven made bridge, and beyond…

He had made it. Somehow, against all odds, he had made it. His improbable survival gave him the last burst of energy to run over the bridge and into Astranaar.

Once inside, he asked the first sentinel he could find where the Druid in charge of the city was, or he would have, but once he stopped and looked at the fierce warrior woman, he stopped dead in his tracks.

She was three heads taller than he, and with a wild or feral look to her. She looked down at him with a bemused, yet demanding expression that begged him to explain what the hell he wanted.

After a few stammered attempts, he managed to get his point across, and she steered him in the right direction, and then walked off as though she had some very important duty to attend to.

Jon summoned the last of his strength to run to the building that she had directed him to. He looked up at it and almost collapsed. The building looked like a small house. That in itself was no problem, but when Jon saw that it was located at the top of a tree, with a long winding flight of stairs winding round to trunk just to get to it, he almost collapsed on the spot. Jon couldn’t run it. He almost couldn’t walk it either.

When he reached the top, he collapsed into the house and lay panting for near a minute. When he regained his breath, he looked round.

Staring down at him was a Night Elf even larger than the sentinel. He was tall, and with just as wild a look as the previous Night Elf. With long, flowing green hair, he looked as though he could have been a tree rather than an elf. Although Jon had noticed the glowing yellow eyes that the sentinel possessed, with this Elf, who he assumed was the druid, he was struck with the resemblance to Thrash’s eyes. They had the same yellow intensity, and both made Jon afraid.

Jon stood up, and addressed the Night Elf.

Now that he was standing, he noticed what seemed like a permanent snarl on the Druids face. This Druid was nothing like the kind old Night Elves that he had read of, yet nonetheless, his quest was too important to be delayed because Jon was afraid of the way the Elf looked.

The Elf, after introducing himself, as Jon had expected, as the Druid in charge of Astranaar, demanded to know why Jon had disturbed him.

In a rush, Jon said, “The Horde isn’t the enemy, the Undead are back.”

The Druid’s snarl seemed to grow more wolf-like. He responded, “I will not listen to this foolishness. Leave, while you are still in my good graces.”

Jon was aghast. He thought he would be a hero for warning the Night Elves of an upcoming Scourge Invasion, and instead, all he received was disbelief.

“You have to believe me.” Jon said desperately. He recanted the meat of his tale, while the Druid listened with an increasingly angry look.

When Jon finished, the Druid used one large hand, and picked Jon up. He walked steadily down the stairs. Jon didn’t know what to think it meant. Had he believed me? Would he go to tell the others? He didn’t dare to hope.

When they got to the base of the tree, the Druid pulled a small horn from his belt and blew hard. The deep note resonated through the trees and buildings of the City, and within minutes a huge crowd of night elves had assembled in front of him. The air hung tensely without a trace of wind. It was only now that Jon dared to hope. Why would they assemble if not to recognize the threat that was to come?

Still with only one arm, the Druid lifted him above the crowd so that all could see him. In a commanding voice the Druid said, “This human is a Horde sympathizer and a liar. What do we do with such?” Jon couldn’t believe his ears. Had the Druid understood nothing he had said?

The Crowd muttered amongst themselves, and soon a cry broke out, and the Night Elves began to chant, “Death” over and over.

The Druid raised his voice above the crowed and said, “The Horde hangs the Night Elves they capture. If this one wishes for us to give in to the Horde, so be it. He shall hang.”

Jon began to struggle for the first time since the druid had lifted him. The angry Night Elf just laughed at his vain attempts to escape.

From one of the branches of their beloved trees, a long rope was hung, a noose tied at the end of it. Jon screamed for the first time since he thought the mercenaries were going to eat him. This time, he knew he wasn’t mistaken.

The druid walked slowly and deliberately toward the noose. He held Jon so that his head was through the loop in the rope.

“Any last words, Traitor?”

Jon responded desperately, “I thought the Night Elves were more wise and noble than this.”

The druid laughed harshly and said, “If Illidan taught us anything, it was that Traitors deserve no second chances.”

Jon looked at the crowd that watched with amusement as he squirmed, about to be hung. He saw the sentinel that had directed him earlier, and when they made eye contact, she yelled, “Death to the Horde!”

The druid released his hold on Jon, and he had only a moment to wonder what he had done wrong.


--------

The End
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Sapphires vie for your attention. She dances. They mean well in their way. The priest says please, "I can't stand my knees and I cant bear her raven tresses caught up in a breeze like this."
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Keltor



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PostPosted: Wed May 10, 2006 9:15 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Wow, that ended up being really long, couldn't really break it up well. But in any case... there it is
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