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The Life and Fast Times of Durgen Tharlak
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PostPosted: Wed Sep 07, 2005 12:12 am    Post subject: The Life and Fast Times of Durgen Tharlak Reply with quote

--- Prologue ---

A foreboding wind was blowing, and the red, feather-shaped banners whipped about in the breeze. The insignias of the Horde danced wildly on the crimson fields. The dull roar of the Veiled Sea cast a thin curtain of white noise that slightly dampened the proceedings on shore. The sky was a shade of light gray – a thin film of cloud covering the firmament. This theme of color was reflected also in the gray rocks cropping up all around from the gray dusty soil. Hearty, pale green vegetation clung closely to the dull rock, tormented by wind and lack of water. The few shrubby trees were stunted and twisted by the constant sea-gale. A fine briny mist permeated the air, and every time one inhaled, there was a hinted scent and taste of saltwater.

Except for the wind, Shadowprey Village had come to a standstill. Not a soul moved save to breathe. It was in this setting that the Betrayer roughly clasped a wicked, clawed hand around Jeremiah’s chin, squeezing his cheeks into a grotesque contortion. Jeremiah Cross was a twenty-something human of average height and build kneeling on the hard-packed gray sand on the slope of Shadowprey Village. Sweat-drenched brown shaggy hair fell onto mail-clad shoulders. His blue eyes whizzed widely in their sockets.

In his peripheral vision he could see the forms of trolls, tauren, naga and blood elves lying prone, crusted in drying blood. How did it come to this? he wondered briefly. The fearsome hand tightened its grip cruelly, drawing blood as sharp, black claws dug into soft flesh. Jeremiah was forced to look into the face of his captor.

This was by no means the first time that Jeremiah had beheld the face of Illidan Stormrage, but familiarity did nothing to lessen the terrific and visceral effect of that harrowed visage. Demonic wings encircled the two of them in a partial, leathery tent. In the suffocating shadows, Jeremiah could see a thin, dark cloth was bound across his eye sockets, and a glowing fel light emanated through the wisp of cloth from the twin points of where his eyes should have been. His jaw was chiseled and his nose was angular, like any night elf man. Long pointed ears jutted about a foot from his skull and his raven hair was bound only by his dark bandana. Jeremiah could feel the heat of the demon’s blood that coursed through Illidan and could see its effects. Large, jagged horns had erupted from his forehead and curled upward and backward again, and sharp hooves that left prints of flame had replaced his feet. Evil tattoos glowed in unnatural blue-green patterns across his chest and arms.

“Enough of the games, human,” snarled Illidan, “You know what it is I seek – that which you have taken. Return it to me now!”

Jeremiah gulped audibly, but did not waver. He narrowed his eyes, “You’ll have to take it off my dead body, demon. I didn't endure the tortures of your Black Temple only to hand it to you at your request!"

Illidan bared his teeth dangerously, “Demon? Fool, I am no demon. I am much more than that.” He roughly shoved Jeremiah’s face toppling him to the ground. Which a whooshing noise his wings snapped into their impressive full span. “Enough with the games! You must take me for a fool. I know you do not have the artifact on your person. I can sense its power and you do not have it. Now tell me! Where is it?”

Jeremiah smiled inwardly as his mind went to Durgen. He wondered how his orc friend had fared. Light’s speed to you, he thought. “The orc!” exclaimed Illidan, anger etched onto his face. Thunder pealed nearby. Jeremiah’s stomach sank down to the rocks below him. He couldn’t have read my mind!

Realizing he had been deceived, Illidan bellowed in rage. “I knew it! Your eyes betrayed your …friend. I will find that damned runt of an orc, human, and you will be there to watch as I utterly destroy his very soul! I won’t even mention my plans for you.”

His leathery wings rustled as he strode toward Jeremiah, claws outstretched. Jeremiah thought one last prayer to the Light, and thought one last thought about Durgen and his brother. Then he closed his eyes.

Last edited by Saranus on Wed Mar 07, 2007 2:55 am; edited 4 times in total
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PostPosted: Wed Sep 07, 2005 9:56 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

You have to turn on Coding for that to work, Saranus.

Oh, and I would gladly Critique your story for you. (Albatros is rather inhibitive of my forum activities.... T_T)

Here's hoping to see some grammar related action,

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PostPosted: Wed Sep 07, 2005 6:04 pm    Post subject: It begins! Reply with quote

--- Episode One ---

--Chapter One--

Entering Ashenvale Forest is like entering a dream. The sensation is similar to being out on a perfectly clear day when a sudden cloud comes and obscures the sun as if from nowhere. Except, in the case of the forest, the feeling was pleasant rather than depressing. The air in the forest wraps around those who enter like a soft covering inducing a feeling of safety and contentment without being stifling, for the forest floor was quite cool under the shade of the leafy boughs.

As the young orc, Durgen strolled along contemplating these pleasant thoughts, his thick hand slipped unconsciously (as it often did during the past few days) into the pocket of his rough leather britches. He rubbed the folded piece of parchment within between his green fingers.

Inexorably, he pulled out the parchment and without thinking, unfolded it and held it up.

Throm'ka Warrior of the Horde
It is in these dark times that the assistance of our bravest fighters is most direly needed. It is imperitive that you should follow in the footsteps of your noble ancestors and do your duty to your clan, your country and your people. You shall follow these instructions to the letter, without question and without deviation. The instructions are as follows.
Durgen Tharlak -- you are to travel north following the Gold Road into Ashenvale Forest. In the wood, you must report to the outpost of Splintertree. A room has already been arranged for you in the outpost's inn. The innkeeper will admit you upon seeing the seal to this letter. Upon your arrival, you are to await instructions from an agent who will be in contact with you.
Lok-Tar Ogar,
Horde Conscription Agency
Valley of Wisdom, Orgrimmar

Durgen's hooded eyes scanned this missive without really seeing what was written. He rubbed his fingers on the parchment. Fine parchment. Something orcs usually didn't bother making. It was penned in a fine red ink. Durgen also made a mental note of the outdated old-orcish salutations used in the epistle. The pecularity that he noticed first and still troubled him was the handwriting. The first paragraph and the signature were written in a neat, formalized fashion, yet without unessecary flair. The second paragraph, however was written in an untidy, but legible scrawl.

The parchment, he surmised, was probably of goblin-make seeing as how the humans were not likely to export stationary to their enemies. The most common paper used by the orcs (if they bothered to write at all) was a rough construction made from the woven bark fibers of the spiked trees native to Durotar, and was written on by a bit of charcoal. The parchment indicated that Durgen's particular note came from someone fairly high up in the government.

He could also tell that the note was written by at least two people judging by the two different handwritings. The red ink was also indicative of a high status. Usually, only the very rich could afford ink. The handwriting had puzzled Durgen a good deal over the previous days. Why would someone (probably an official scribe, another rare commodity among the orcs) write a very neat and concise letter to have it interrupted by another writer?

The realization struck Durgen for the first time. He was the first person to have read the letter in its entirety besides the author of the second paragraph. This letter was top secret. Not even the scribes who had written the first paragraph had seen the whole letter.

What this meant, Durgen did not know. All he knew was that this note was extremely important if the secrecy surrounding it was any indication. Durgen was suddenly very glad that he had not shown the letter to anyone back at the Crossroads inn.

All of his thoughts over the past few days were pervaded a slew of unanswereable questions. Why? Why was Durgen chosen for this obviously important quest? Why wasn't he told any details? How did he fit into the scheme of things? When would his questions be answered? The greatest question in his mind, though, was "who?". Who wrote the second paragraph? Who would choose Durgen over anyone else? Who had seen in him the ability to carry out a mission that he himself could not?

Several times, he had thought about burning the note and running away. Durgen supposed it was curiosity that led him to obey the letter's instructions. He wanted answers to his questions

And that was how Durgen ended up sauntering along the gray stones of the Ashenvale path.

Last edited by Saranus on Tue Dec 19, 2006 2:20 pm; edited 5 times in total
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PostPosted: Wed Sep 07, 2005 6:34 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Placing the letter back in his pocket, Durgen returned to the world around him. He silently reprimanded himself for not coming to Ashenvale before. Tended for melinnia by the mysterious night elves, the trees had grown to immense proportions. Sickness was unknown beneath the cloud-scraping boughs. Neither insect nor pest was known to gnaw on the wood; no worm chewed on the leaves. The girth of the trees is so vast that were the trunk hollowed out, an entire family of orcs could comfortably reside within.

The forest floor was so covered by an intertwining carpet of gnarled roots and fallen leaves that not a single patch of soil was visible from Durgen's vantage point on the pathway.

Through breaks in the canopy above, broken shafts of sunlight filtered down through the leaves onto the ground far, far below. Sporadic eruptions of flora were strewn about the forest, bursting out from the patches of light created by the sunbeams.

Durgen walked along the stone path, an ant among giants. As he wandered, he marvelled at the magnificence of the ancient wood, and caught himself wondering in annoyance how his brethren could possibly mar such incredible beauty by chopping it down.

Lost in thought, Durgen had unknowingly come to a stop in the middle of the road. Snapping out of his reverie, he remembered where he was going.

Last edited by Saranus on Fri Dec 16, 2005 8:58 pm; edited 1 time in total
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PostPosted: Wed Sep 07, 2005 11:07 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

According to his brief and vague directions, Splintertree Post was north along his current path. The day passed as Durgen continued his northward march. If the canopy of the trees was not so thick, shadows would have begun to lengthen. As the day passed, so did Durgen's comfortable disposition. As evening wrapped the forest in a hazy violet glow, an ominous feeling began to creep over Durgen. Unable to locate the source of the odd sensation, he pushed it from his mind as he continued.

It seemed every square inch of surface area was covered in something living. Durgen started as he realized that he had seen what appeared to be a large mass of moss-covered wood walk into a small pond to his left.

Shaking his head, he remembered tales told by the venerable orcs who were veterans of the Battle of Mount Hyjal--the very trees came to life and fought the demons with Nature's primal fury.

The creature descended into the small pond. The reflection of the boughs far above the surface created a sense of incredible depth. With slow and deliberate movement, the tree-beast lumbered through the water, disturbing its pristine surface. The creature stopped once and turned. Small eyes looked around passing over Durgen and settling on a spot ahead of him on the path. Turning back around, it waded out until the water closed over its and it was lost in a flurry of bubbles. A few seconds later the pond returned to perfect stillness.

Durgen stared at the spot for a moment before stepping off again

Again the feeling swept over him, and this time he knew what it was. Trying not to be too obvious about it, Durgen looked all around him. He thought for a second that he saw a pair of glowing eyes, but when he whipped his head around for a double-take, he saw nothing but a leafy bush in the dusky forest.

Durgen narrowed his eyes and his axe-hand went to his weapon and tightened around the haft. His heartrate quickened.

The peaceful forest by day had suddenly become nightmarishly forboding. A slight tingling of fear began to creep around the edges of Durgen's mind. If something happened to him out here, no one would ever find him. If he shouted for help, he imagined the forest would absorb the sound as it had never been uttered. If he died... he would be utterly lost -- the forest would swallow him.

His morbid thoughts served to speed his pace. He pulled the hood of his travelling cloak over his head. The indistinct sense that he was being watched and followed never left him as he journeyed northward, however nothing yet had happened when he reached a fork in the road.

Last edited by Saranus on Fri Dec 16, 2005 9:02 pm; edited 1 time in total
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PostPosted: Tue Sep 20, 2005 8:31 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Durgen wished he had paid more attention to geography lessons in Academy. He had absolutely no idea where he was in the vast reaches of the forest. Because of the thick canopy, he could not even discern the direction he was facing. All he knew was that when he left the Crossroads, he was going north, and he had never left the road.

Finally after about another hour, Durgen came to a fork in the road. The sky was almost completely dark and Durgen could see patches of starry sky above him. He looked to his left and right. Both directions looked exactly the same -- enormous tree after enormous tree. He racked his memory for any indication of the correct path.

Was the Horde influence in Ashenvale centered in the eastern part of the forest? Or was it to the west? Durgen vaguely remembered from his history lessons that the Warsong clan had crashed into the ancient forest from the south and established exstensive lumber harvesting operations. They immediately clashed with the Night Elves and killed their demigod, which led to a certain amount of enmity between the two races.

Durgen finally surmised that, according to reason, the outpost must be to the east, since going westward would inevitably take one further into Night Elf territory. Following his hunch, Durgen took the path that led off to his right. If I don't find the outpost, then I'll just ask someone at one of the lumber camps for directions, Durgen reasoned.

The night was vastly different in Ashenvale from the night in just about any other place. In other places, a full and deep darkness came with the setting of the sun. In Ashenvale, the wood was still aglow somehow. It was by no means bright, in fact it was rather dusky, but the fact remained that it was much lighter under the leaves of the trees than it should have been. Even a full moon could not produce that much light.

As night enveloped him, Durgen's feeling of unease grew to the point to where he thought he saw glowing eyes around every bend and heard whispers behind every tree.

Finally, after what seemed to be several miles of growing paranoia, Durgen saw light and heard voices. It was not the eerie, mystical light of the nighttime woods, but the cheery glow of flames. And the voices were not anonymous whispers, but the hearty laughter of merry voices.

Durgen identified the low rasp of an orc woman and the deep boom of a tauren along with several other orcish voices. A bonfire came crackling into view as Durgen rounded a final hillock. A small group stood chatting around the fire as the sparks flew up among the leaves. They stood close not so much for warmth, Durgen thought, than as to put their backs to the mysterious forest.

Durgen was practically running toward the camp in relief when a large, blunt object struck his temple. Durgen saw stars and then... darkness.

Last edited by Saranus on Fri Dec 16, 2005 9:03 pm; edited 1 time in total
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PostPosted: Tue Sep 20, 2005 10:21 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Images swirled before Durgen. He saw orcs for sure, and fire. He heard voices, but could not tell what they were saying. The images became stranger. He saw bear-men and pig-men -- strange creatures that lived on the edge of stories. Then the strange visions faded until Durgen could barely see them; except for one in particular. Durgen saw what he recognized as a night elven man, robed in green and brown, and extending his arms out as if searching for something in the dark. The night elf's eyes landed on Durgen and grew wide with surprise and a little bit of fright. There was another expression on the face too--recognition.

Then, quite suddenly, everything went dark again and Durgen forgot what he had seen.

The next thing he felt was heat on the left side of his face and body. He realized he was conscious, but kept his eyes closed when he heard voices.

"You had to knock him out did you, Gurk?" said a deep voice. There was a grunt that Durgen assumed was the reply. The voice spoke again, "Looks to me like a bit of a runt. Does anyone here know him?"

There was a general murmering of "No"s followed by a short silence. The female orc voice broke it. "I've seen this orc before. I do not think he knows me."

Durgen couldn't help it. He opened his eyes and turned toward the source of the voice. At his feet stood a very formidible-looking orc woman. In any case she was at least a head taller than Durgen, and he had never seen her before in his life. Their eyes met and the woman's eyes grew wide and startled for a split-second before being masked by indifference. Durgen blinked.

"Ah, you've recovered," said a good-natured looking tauren to Durgen's right. "Gurk would apologize, but i think he is incapable." The tauren indicated a very thick, very stupid looking orc who was holding a large wooden mallet. Durgen stood as he rubbed a rising bump on his skull, swaying slightly.

"In Gurk's defense, it was very unwise of you to come running toward us out of a hostile forest like that," said the woman, speaking directly to Durgen for the first time, "You would do well to announce your arrival next time."

Durgen grinned nervously at her. She did not return the smile. The tauren spoke again, breaking the awkward silence "That is true, friend, what the young orc did was unwise, but it is also unwise for his attackers not to introduce themselves." He looked at Durgen and recited, "Throm'ka, warrior. Welcome to our neck of the woods. " He made a wide sweeping gesture with his hands and chuckled dryly. "My name is Saranus. I am currently the captain of the Ashenvale Expeditionary Force, and my colleague here goes by the name of Gurda." He paused for a moment and averted his eyes as he spoke again. "She's an apprentice shaman sent up here for some training."

He quickly changed tack. "This is your first time in the forest." It was a statement, not a question. "A bit spooky the first night, huh?" He gave Durgen a friendly smile and a wink. Durgen felt a little embarassed to be treated this way in front of a group of such obviously hardened warriors. However, none of them seemed to care. He nodded, "Just a bit. I thought that I kept seeing eyes."

"You probably did," Saranus said, "The night elf outrunners hide in the woods and spy on our movements, but I've never heard of them attacking a traveller unprovoked. As far as I'm concerned, they don't serve much of a purpose." He suddenly shouted at the trees. "You hear that! No purpose!" He chuckled. This time it sounded genuine. Gurda smiled slowly for the first time, exposing sharp fangs.

"Ah, well. It takes some getting used to. The woods are filled to the brim with ancient magic, but over time I've come to appreciate the mysteriousness, even if i don't really understand it. Anyway, you didn't come all this way to have an evening chat around a campfire. I assume you want to go to Splintertree."

"Do you know where it is?" Durgen asked.

"Oh, it's less than a mile down the road from here in a ravine north of it."

"Thanks," said Durgen unenthusiatically. He was not looking forward to another trip through the "spooky" woods, regardless of whether his watchers meant him harm. Saranus seemed to know what he was thinking.

"Don't worry, Gurda and I will be coming with you. We can make it in about twenty minutes if we make good time." He said.

"I don't need your protection," said Durgen, a little harsher than he intended, and not really meaning it.

The big bull laughed a deep booming laugh. "I don't doubt it. However, I need to place an order for new cartwheels" He pointed to a delapidated wagon, "And Gurda here has business of her own to attend to at Splintertree. Besides, the inn is a very good source of gossip and information regarding goings-on in the forest. The talk in that bar has saved my hide more than once. And the ale isn't half bad."

"Well, shall we?" asked Durgen. "We shall," growled Gurda.

The trio set off, resuming the ancient paved path. Saranus took the journey as an opportunity to fill Durgen in where his schooling had left off.

Last edited by Saranus on Fri Dec 16, 2005 9:17 pm; edited 1 time in total
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PostPosted: Wed Sep 21, 2005 12:46 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

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PostPosted: Wed Sep 21, 2005 9:16 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

As the firelight faded into the forest behind them, Saranus commented on the deplorable state of Durgen's education. The orc and the tauren walked beside one another on the path. Gurda walked a few paces behind them, saying nothing, but listening intently.

"Honestly, they think that they can strap an axe to anyone and make a soldier. They don't (or won't) realize that not everyone is a soldier," Saranus said, "Thrall understood that once. I think he probably still does, but he has to make compromises to keep the clans happy."

Durgen was surprised by this insight. He had never thought of Thrall as anything but the all-powerful warchief.

He continued with his story, "Yeah, Academy wasn't too fun for me. As you can probably tell, I'm not a large orc, so the life of a warrior didn't seem to fit. Shamans have to be able to do magic, again ruling me out. My masters thought for a while that my size would make me a good spy or rogue. It didn't. I'm too clumsy to be stealthy."

Saranus looked intently at Durgen and shook his head, "Those knumbskull beaurocrats in Orgrimmar think they know how to raise our children. If someone doesn't fit into the preconcieved mold of a soldier then they are deemed worthless." He frowned, "Anyway, I think this is the perfect opportunity for a history lesson. Context and perspective are extremely important in a world ruled by mistrust and animosity."

He proceeded to inform Durgen of the state of affairs in the forest. He used a lot of military terms and phrases, some of which Durgen did not understand (he had left Academy early). He felt it would be rude to interrupt so he remained a silent listener. Behind them, Gurda apparently had the same idea -- she hadn't spoken a word.

Of all the various regions of the world, Ashenvale forest remained one of the most hotly contested. In the continuing confilct between the Alliance and the Horde, little headway had been made on any front. The war had lasted for over ten years without either side gaining any sort of advantage over the other. The two factions rarely engaged in open, pitched battle. It was a was a war of misunderstanding, lies, and subversion. It seemed for a while like the leaders wanted peace, but ultimately, but people's intolerance for their enemies far outweighed a hope for peace.

In Ashenvale, skirmishes broke out almost daily between the orcs and the night elves. The sides were so evenly matched that the forest was divided between them. The other races of the forest were forced to its edges to avoid the conflict. A small stream running off of Mount Hyjal known as the Falfarren marked the boundary between the territories. The night elves held everything to the west, and the orcs held everything to the east. The camp where Durgen had met Saranus was about halfway between the Falfarren and Splintertree, the Horde's main base of operations in Ashenvale.

Saranus told Durgen of a terrible but victorious battle (one of the last real battles of the war) where Horde forces finally managed to oust the night elves from their Silverwing Outpost, their last defense on the Horde's side of the Falfarren. Unfortunately,it was a battle inspired by vengeance. A large force of night elves had utterly destroyed a small camp on the western coast known as Zoram'gar. Everyone there was killed. The two outposts were effectively traded via two bloody battles. It was still a stalemate.

That, Saranus said, was the ultimate evil of this war -- the needless, seemingly pointless loss of life.

Splintertree itself was built toward the end of the Third War, just before the Battle of Mount Hyjal. The Warsong clan had crashed into the forest and begun felling the titanic trees to fuel their war effort. They established Splintertree as a forward base in the mysterious woods.

In the aftermath of the great battle, the orcs continued to occupy their posts as well as their lumber operations, much against the will of the night elves (who, at that point held a tenuous peace with the Horde). When this peace crumbled, the night elves and orcs entered into a state of mutual enmity. Then, when the night elves aligned themselves with the Alliance, all hope of a peaceful agreement was lost. Soon, the Alliance and Horde entered a state of open war.

Saranus's purpose in the midst of this was to scout potential locations for new outposts and defensive structures in the forest. So far, they had been mostly unsuccessful -- the camp the trio had just left was the only fruit of the endeavor, and even then, plans for expansion and construction seemed far away. The forest was simply to crowded and full of life to have room for more settlements.

After this, Saranus was quiet, thinking. Durgen's mind wandered as he looked around him. He noticed Gurda walking behind him, silent as a stone. "Awfully quiet aren't you?" he asked with a smile.

Again she did not return it. Durgen's smile faltered, "You haven't said anything," he persisted, "Tell me something about yourself."

"Saranus already told you. I'm a shaman in training. I do not wish to go further into it," she replied shortly.

Saranus chuckled and exchanged a glance with Gurda, "If you really want to know, she's in the forest to commune with spirits or some such nonsense. She's quite new to all this, and I suppose she was sent to me so I could keep an eye on her." His eyes twinkled at her. She glowered at him. In the next second the looks had faded.

Durgen might not have been a genious, but he did know when he was being decieved. Why were they being so secretive about the orc woman? It was decidedly strange that a young shaman would keep her rites of passage a secret. Shamans were almost always very proud of their progress in their training--young shamans always showed off their newly-made totems at every chance. First the letter, now these two people were keeping secrets from him. Durgen dismissed it as a coincidence and shifted his attention back to Saranus, who was relating a harrowing tale about a battle with saytrs encamped to the north.

Last edited by Saranus on Fri Dec 16, 2005 9:27 pm; edited 1 time in total
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PostPosted: Wed Sep 21, 2005 1:35 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Finally, the orange glow of firelight could be seen bouncing off the trees and making eerie patterns of shadow and light. As the two orcs and the tauren rounded one last bend, Splintertree came into view.

The light they had seen was produced by a number of torches staked into the ground round the base of a tall watch tower. Durgen could see the huddled forms of orcish guards at the top, crouched against the night.

They stepped off of the ancient pathway onto a path rutted by cartwheels and well worn by a wide variety of feet (and hooves). The path descended into a narrow ravine that ran adjacent to the main road. Durgen looked ahead. In the distance, a few hundred yards away was a tall palisade wall in the middle of which was a small gate. Two more watch towers flanked the gate.

Two guards approached the travellers, and seeing a wave and a nod from Saranus motioned them onward. They descended the shallow slope into the ravine until they reached the gate, at which point, the ground sloped upward again, into the outpost.

Last edited by Saranus on Fri Dec 16, 2005 9:27 pm; edited 1 time in total
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PostPosted: Wed Sep 21, 2005 11:17 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Its going well. I really like your description of the forrest. It really does do it just.
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PostPosted: Wed Sep 21, 2005 11:51 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

As Durgen passed through the gate, he looked with interest at the outpost that was Splintertree. He was almost immediately interrupted by a bent, very ragged looking troll. He held out a small metal pendant attached to a leather cord. "The forest be evil. You'll be wantin' a magic pendant to ward off the evil spirits. Only one gold piece and your troubles will cease."

Durgen stared dumbly for a second. The forest had been rather strange. It could have been evil spirits, he thought. As his hand began to reach for his money pouch, a thick fingered hand grabbed him firmly by the crook of his arm. "They're all fake. Trust me," Saranus whispered into his ear. The troll curled his lip and shoved past them looking for another victim.

Durgen looked around. Suddenly he noticed there were lots of huddled, becloaked forms loitering around the gate. They were all holding what looked like various talismans and trinkets and looking at the trio with hungry looks. "Rubbish. All of it. These peddlers will rob you blind with their circular pieces of tin if you aren't careful. They exploit people's superstitions regarding this confounded forest," Saranus informed him.

"Duly noted," nodded Durgen, "Don't buy the fake trinkets."

Durgen's eyes resumed their original task of exploring their new surroundings. The path they were on sloped upward entering a cave or mine built into the crook of the ravine. To the left and right, steep slopes of rock and earth formed natural walls which converged at the far end at the cave. Thus, the outpost was surrounded on three sides by the cleft, and the remaining gap was spanned by the palisade wall. Enormous trees rose from the lip of the cleft. Their branches stretched out horizontally to form a roof high above the outpost.

Altogether, the post felt rather cozy, due, in part, to the presence of the familiar, crude orcish buildings nestled into the ravine. As he climed the slope, Durgen passed the outpost's wyvern station. The great beasts looked at him with expressions of utter boredom. A rather dumpy orc woman fussed over a wyvern's torn wing, while the particular specimen appeared to be decidedly annoyed.

Durgen quickly identified the inn as the building from which came the raucous laughter and cheery yellow light. He looked longingly at the banner-adorned chimney. He could almost taste the ale. A good, long lie-in would be perfect, he thought wistfully.

He stepped through the threshold and immediatly headed toward the bar, licking his lips. "Not tonight, kid," Gurda said grabbing onto his shoulder, "There are more important matters to attend to." Durgen stared quizzically at the shaman. What was the meaning of this? Durgen had agreed to travel with her and the tauren, but after they arrived... That was surely when they were intended to part ways. Saranus made his way to the bar unimpeded.

"Wha-?" was all Durgen managed to annunciate. "You'll understand in a few moments." said Gurda, "Come with me."

He followed her past the bar (the alluring scents of alcohol and roasted meats filled Durgen's nostrils) and into a cutained-off area. Before passing behind the curtain, he saw Saranus wink at him from his barstool before putting back a tall flagon of mead. Durgen glared jealously at him before being yanked into the partitioned area.

A bent figure sat on a pile of cushions before them, draped by numerous cloaks and blankets. Two wizened hands reached up and pulled back its hood. Durgen started with surprise. Before him sat the oldest tauren crone he had ever seen. Her sunken eyes lifted to meet Durgen's. He wanted to look away but couldn't. There was something compelling about the old tauren that he could not identify from her cracked and brittle hooves to her broken and splintered horns. She clutched a worn, whithered-looking branch with both hands.

"The letter. Bring it to me," She said in a wavering voice. She held out a tremulous hand.

"What? How do you know about my letter?" Durgen asked, "Who told you about it?"

"Does it not say that you will be contacted upon arrival?" She said raising a wrinkled brow.

"Wait. You.. you're my contact?" He asked. He looked at Gurda. She was starting intently at the old creature before them, arms crossed.

"That is correct," said the crone, "Now, show it to me. Please."

Slowly, Durgen reached into his pocket and pulled out the folded parchment. He hesitated for a brief moment, then placed it in her outstretched hand. She scanned it breifly and rubbed the parchment between her bony fingers.

"Ah," She sighed, "So you are the one, then."

Last edited by Saranus on Fri Dec 16, 2005 9:30 pm; edited 1 time in total
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PostPosted: Thu Sep 22, 2005 5:00 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hmm... very interesting. I like, I like. It's all too rare that a WoW-related fanfic catches my attention, but this one has done it for me.
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PostPosted: Sun Sep 25, 2005 11:27 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Durgen stood, not knowing what to expect. For what seemed like hours, the old tauren's eyes seemed to stare blankly at empty space. Just as he was opening his mouth to say something, the crone looked back at him. "Tell me, young one. What do you know of your birth?"

The question startled Durgen. What was this about? He was on a mission for the Horde. What did his past have to do with it? He shot a quizzical look at Gurda. She shook her head slowly. Durgen felt very lost.

"Well," He began uncertainly, "I don't know anything about my birth. Actually, I don't know my parents. I was an orphan."

The old one nodded. "Yes, that is what is known to me. In that case, tell me about your childhood."

Another tough question. Durgen hadn't thought about his childhood for many years. He was beginning to feel the early stages of anger. Was this what this whole thing was about? Finding out about his past? It was ridiculous, a complete waste of time, Durgen thought. However, his anger was stifled by a meaningful glance from Gurda. He grimaced before continuing. It was difficult to relate a past to two strangers when he himself was also hearing for the first time in years.

"My first memories, I guess were from the orphanage in Orgrimmar. We slept in hammocks, and didn't have a lot to eat. There wasn't a lot of sympathy for orphans back then. Just keep 'em alive until their old enough to be a soldier." His face hardened, then softened again, "Anyway, one summer, Thrall passed an order declaring that the first week of May would be Children's Week. I remember travelling around with a tauren druid for a week. She said that she was my Friend and I was her Ward. She bought me sweets and took me to a lot of places that I can't really remember. The next year I did the same thing with an orc and his two troll companions. I remember having lots of fun sitting around campfires with them singing and drinking my first ale. Every year after that I always looked forward to Children's Week. I never had as much fun as I did with the orc, but I never regretted going.

"Then, when I was fourteen years old, and it was almost time for that year's Children's Week, my old matron, Burka, came to me while I was lying in my hammock. She was crying, and she told me I had to get up. That someone was here to see me. I was so excited, I barely noticed her tears. I thought my Friend had arrived early and ran to the door. I ran hard into a thick, evil looking orc. I think I must have hurt him because he grabbed me by the neck and took me outside. I tried to apologize, but he just told me to shut up. That he didn't have time for my snivelling. That was the last time I saw the orphanage as a child.

"The big orc brought me to the Academy. And that was where my childhood ended. There were a lot of other boys there my age. Some of them were scared like me, but most of them acted really tough, forming gangs and beating up the outcasts, like me. Training is not a pleasant memory for me. I didn't fit in anywhere, and it didn't seem like I'd be good at anything. Eventually, my masters abandoned me as a lost cause, and I was discharged from the Academy.

"From there I went back to the orphanage. A new woman was in charge, and when I asked for Burka, I was told that she had died. I left pretty depressed and ended up apprenticing at a leatherworker's shop down on the Drag. After that I held a lot of various jobs that didn't last too long. And to make a long story short, that's how I ended up at the Crossroads inn when one day a letter came for me in the mail."

Durgen became quiet for a moment, staring at the floor. The old tauren spoke again. "That is a sad tale young one," she said, "You have suffered many things that you should not have endured. However, I believe that in time, you will realize that your past has made you strong."

Durgen didn't know what she was talking about. Every time he thought about his past he felt decidedly weak and abandoned. "Do you know nothing of your parents?" She asked him.

Last edited by Saranus on Wed Jun 14, 2006 1:39 am; edited 3 times in total
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PostPosted: Thu Nov 03, 2005 8:59 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

What happened to Saranus??

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