04-17-2008, 08:16 AM
Ok, this is my first ever fan-fic. It's a short story. I'll try update it as regularly as I can. It would be much appreciated if I could get some feed-back :). Hope you all enjoy :)
Of Shadows and Darkness
"They've seen us! Move!"
Galavere hesitated, confused, "What? How?"
Captain Arahar gave him a hard kick to his leg, "Move!"
Not needing another telling, Galavere lurched towards his warhammer and ran, Arahar right behind him. The silent, dead forests of the Western Plaguelands suddenly came alive with the high, blood-curdling shriek of the Undead Scourge. Faster and faster, Galavere ran, his legs moving of their own accord as he crashed through the tangling, ravaged wasteland. The screams were coming closer, all but howling out of every corner of the once desolate and deserted land. Galavere could feel the Undead gaining on him and his Captain, but knew if he dared turn around or even spare a glance it could mean his end.
''Keep going!'' Shouted Arahar, his voice distant and tinged by fear, ''Keep moving until we reach the pass!'' Galavere silently acknowledged the command and sped on, his eyes fixed on the path ahead. The pass was close.
Then, without warning, there came another scream, not one of Undead, but that of a human. Galavere, distracted, stumbled and lost his footing, sprawling face forward into the cold black mud. The scream came again, and Galavere knew who it belonged to: Arahar. He hesitated again, his eyes spinning around wildly. He knew full well what was happening. He could go back and help Arahar, which would endanger his own life, or he could keep running and try to escape this whole ordeal. The dilemma wrestled itself in his mind as the seconds slowly slipped away into nothingness, the beads of sweat almost etched into his face. Galavere looked around desperately, as if expecting an answer to burst into existence before him. Then another scream brought him suddenly to his senses. Realising too late at what precious time he'd lost, Galavere gritted his teeth and sprang up. Imbuing himself with the power of the holy light, the paladin ran back to where his Captain was.
''Arahar?'' He yelled.
What greeted him was something that made his blood run cold. Galavere stopped abruptly, his grip on the warhammer loosening as the weapon fell to the ground, in utter shock of the scene before him. Captain Arahar was sprawled on the ground, his face a ghostly white. A spear was stuck in his right leg, blood spilling off the wound. The Captains once proud, attractive face was covered in deep bloody scars, while his dark brown hair lay matted and dirty. Eyes that once shone with life now stared back, blank and lifeless. His chest, adorned with a shining armor piece and Silver Hand tabard had been penetrated by a clutch razor-sharp arrows, that ran deep into his body. The paladin seemed to have put up a fight, as a host of ghouls and skeletons lay at his feet, with his hammer a few feet away. Galavere fell to his knees, his head spinning. His teacher, the man who had tutored and taught him everything in the way's of the light, had been taken from this world within a matter of mere moments. How... why... He looked around in a daze. It was too much to take. His vision became blurred and misty. How could Captain Arahar be dead? He put his head in his hands and began to sob.
However, just at that moment, Galavere heard movement ahead of him. More Scourge were approaching. Head still spinning, Galavere wiped the tears from his eyes and stood up. The screaming had started again, but Galavere stood fast. Fear was perhaps the greatest weapon the Scourge possessed. He would not run, he would not flee. He would not let the Scourge acquire his mentors body. He would not let them befoul his teacher in some twisted ritual or experiment. Louder, the screaming came. They were close, very close. Galavere braced himself. This is what he had trained for, this is what he had been trained to do.
Out of the darkness, they charged.
Galavere let out a roar and leapt at the monstrosities. Swinging his warhammer in a perfect arc he cut through the ranks of the dead. Ghouls and skeletons fell battered and broken to the ground. Those unlucky enough to still harbour any essence of life were silenced as the paladin brought his judgement crashing down upon them. Galavere could feel all the doubt and anxiety within him give way to a deep, thundering rage, see the very hatred in his heart manifest in a blood-red haze. He shoulder-charged a brute before cracking its skull with a blow of his hammer. Still more came. A ghoul suddenly broke through the dissembled ranks and sprang forward, launching itself at him. Galavere, caught off guard, fell as the beast forced him to the earth. It placed its hands on his neck and lunged, attempting to tear the flesh from his bones. Galavere choked, his breath failing him. He wrestled and grappled, the behemoths' monstrous, blood-spattered face within inches of his own, its blade-like fangs bared. Galavere bellowed, then with all his might he managed to throw the vile creature off him. Spluttering, he grabbed a small dagger one of the Undead had dropped and plunged it into the heart of the monster. The thing wailed, its grotesque body flailing on the ground, blood spurting everywhere, before finally rasping one last time and lying still.
There was no stopping them. They continued to appear, some running others staggering in merciless pursuit, their minds fixed on the goal of their hunt. Galavere dodged one attack and skidded across the ground to his mentors body. He had seconds to spare. With a flick of his hands he enveloped himself in a protective shield of holy flame. No Undead would dare take a step near him now. With all the strength he could muster, he heaved Arahar's body up over his shoulder and ran as fast as he possibly could into the dark, black forest of the night...
06-03-2009, 04:09 PM
At last!!! Part one!!!
Note: this story takes place after the events of the Burning Crusade, but just before the beginning of Wrath of the Lich King.
Valkor Bloodfang looked out at the harsh, rugged land of Durotar from the top floor of the zeppelin Iron Eagle. It always amazed him just how beautiful the land was. The sun illuminated every last canyon and crag, bathing the land in a rich, golden, shimmering glow, directly opposing the deep-blue cloudless sky above. He had always loved zeppelin journeys. No matter where they took him, from the lush green forests of Strangelthorn on the south of the opposite continent, to the lightless lands of Northern Lordaeron, the views filled him with a sense of awe that could simply never be replicated.
Valkor rose from his seat just as the clouds parted and the imposing gates of Orgrimmar came into existence along the horizon.
"We'll reach Orgrimmar in a few minutes. Hold tight fellas!" Cackled the minute form of the Goblin captain.
The zeppelin jerked sharply from side to side as the captain swung the wheel around to face the tower near which the vehicle would finally stop. Valkor sat back down and closed his eyes. At last. At long last, he was home. Away from that land of darkness and death. That land of horror and warfare. That land, where so many young lives had been lost. And to think, that land had once been his home. The home of countless other generations of orc...
"Welcome to Orgrimmar!"
Valkor was suddenly awoken from his brief reverie by a loud bump as the zeppelin stopped. He rose again, handed the Goblin a clutch of gold and within seconds had descended the tower and was heading towards the front gates.
As he walked, the sand beneath his silver-plated boots, blood red with dashes of green and yellow, felt coarse and recognizably thick. The soft twitter of birdsong, a sound alien to him for so long, made him falter slightly and look up before the ferocious sun blinded his gaze. The path forked ahead of him and he trudged along until at last he was facing the entrance to the city, the great spiked gates of the edifice as commanding and impressive as ever. As Valkor stood and looked, the soft breeze heighted briefly, billowing his black cape around his broad shoulders. It had been so long. How on earth was he expected to return to his former life after the things he had bared witness to? Why could he no longer carry out the thing he had been born to do? The very thing that, in times past, he had shown himself to be outstandingly capable of? You should be ashamed, he told himself. You sacrificed the entirerity of your honour when you came here, every last semblance of respect and nobility, coward!. Valkor suddenly leaned forward and spat bitterly on the ground: no matter what his conscience was telling him, he had made his choice. There was no going back.
The heavings of his heart seemed to root him to the spot, for he had no idea how long he stood there, looking up at the place that had once made his heart swell with such pride and honour. Those feelings had left him though. After what had happened, he could never look upon such things without feeling a deep, thunderous resentment: a conflict within his very soul. Deciding at last to be on his way, a grimacing Valkor slung his axe over his back, made sure the muslin backpack he carried was firmly secure, and headed forward.
Valkor acknowledged the obligatory salutes from the guards and continued on his way. As he entered, he looked around. The city looked nearly the exact same as when he had left it long ago. Guards mulled about outside certain services and outposts, grim-faced and downbeat. Buildings with their red-stone roofs stood withering in the sunlight, defiant against the oppressive heat. People from all walks of life: traders looking for another customer to ensnare; vagrants on street corners begging for a spare copper, all moved through the sprawling metropolis, talking, laughing and arguing together, the sounds of their various languages and dialects mingling together to create a loud, indistinguishable drone of noise. Orc mixed with tauren, troll with forsaken and blood elf: a near-explosion of race and culture. Valkor scowled and diverted his gaze to the lifeless ground. It was fine for them. They could afford to carry on with their daily lives, blissfully unaware of what lay beyond their precious gates and boundaries; uninformed of the true terrors that were part of his world, the horrors that walked hand in hand with the twisted ideas of glory and death in combat. For all the people of the Horde had heard about what lay beyond the portal, only those who had fought and died trying to save that planet from the Legion's demonic clutches knew the truth of it all: a land cast in red and black, scarred by the very engines of warfare; a limitless dark sky that showcased the true, horrifying wonders of the universe. Valkor shuddered at the thought. At least now he would not have to return to that place, to that way of life. Yet still... the feeling of absolute shame that enshrouded his decision only served to make him feel all the more guilty.
Valkor navigated his way through the dusty side-streets and darkening alleys of the city, trying to find a shorter route to the Valley of Strength. His dark red eyes were fixed on the path ahead. Almost self-consciously, his pace began to quicken. Another right turn, and he would be there. What would he say? The thought had chased Valkor's mind for months, ever since he had decided to forgo his former life. Worse than that though, it was the idea of what the response to his decision would be that filled him with such dread. The time had now come.
Valkor, throm-ka my friend!¯ The gruff, booming voice of Grolkash greeted Valkor as the peeling wooden door was flung open. Before him stood an orc taller and broader than himself. His hair was a greying black, with long braided strands that fell far beyond his shoulders. He was a warrior in every sense of the word: numerous scars plagued his dark green face, some looking as though they had been inflicted just recently, dry dark blood caking the wounds. Two glittering silver rings had been pierced into a nose that, Valkor guessed, had been broken many times over the years. Above it, two narrow determined looking red eyes shone outwards. Valkor smiled faintly.
Greetings, old friend. It has been too long. The two saluted one another and Grolkash ushered his re-united companion inside.
Would you like something to drink? Ale? Wine?
Ale will be fine,¯ Valkor answered as he looked around his new surroundings. The room was large, enveloped in a strong oak wood that made the entire place creak with each step taken. The rich brown texture of the wood gave off a comfortably warm atmosphere within the room, heightened further by the light of the roaring fire that was raging in a grate at the center of one of the walls. To Valkor's right there was a twisting staircase that led to another level. Decorating the walls and ceiling were various animal skins and trophies: the hulking mane of a grizzly bear had been hammered onto one of the walls, along with . Two small windows were situated just below on either side of the door. It was a place above the usual standard of orcish living areas that festered outside within the inner city, reflecting the prestige of its owner, a commander of the Kor'Kron.
Like his friend, Grolkash was wearing a thick, bear-skin fur tunic over which he displayed his silver and gold plated armour, and upon that the black and gold coloured Kor'kron tabard (as was customary for a commander). He looked every part an experienced and battle-weary leader.
So¯, Grolkash said as he handed Valkor a foaming silver goblet. How have things been for you since we last conversed?¯ The tone of his voice was one of knowing, and Valkor took a gulp of his drink and thought for a second. Was now the best time to tell?
There was a moment of brief, uncomfortable silence, during which the only sound that could be heard was that of the soft buzz of the city outside. Valkor¯, Grolkash pressed slowly, I heard what happened out there¯, as if reading his friends thoughts. Valkor looked up at him. He appeared concerned, his normally dark and disparaging eyes now precise and assiduous, outwardly studying Valkor's indiscernible face for the slightest reaction or hint of emotion. Valkor took another long gulp from the goblet, wiped his mouth with the back of his hand and began to speak, his usually strong voice reduced to a low rasping growl.
Yes, word travels quickly amongst us. But they don't know the real truth. They would not understand.¯
Grolkash leaned forward from where he was sitting. Valkor, please, tell me what happened, I implore you. Fact becomes enshrouded in rumour and lies. Tell me the truth. You can trust me.ā€¯ Valkor looked at his friend again, sighed softly, and spoke, the light of the fire reflecting in Grolkasha's face. Now was the time for the truth.
Very well... This is the tale. We were stationed in Hellfire. We had managed to route out a number of planned Legion attacks from those damned forge camps on our outposts over the previous weeks. Our intelligence was good, the Scouts reliable. We were starting to take land back, camp by camp, piece by piece. The word from Thrallmar was good as well. Nazgrel's forces had led ariel bombardments of the Citadel that had weakened them severely. We had also heard that the Shattered Sun had gained a foothold on Quel'Danas. We were winning, there was no doubt about that. The Legion's grip on the region was slackening. We were pushing them further and further back. They were retreating daily to where Kazzak ruled.
Valkor stopped short, the past events he was reliving apparently stopping him in his tracks. He drained the rest of his goblet and carried on, in spite of himself.
We were given our new assignment from Nazgrel. It sounded simple: the Scouts had obtained information that the Legion were planning an all-out assault to take back the land they had lost. What it directly involved, we were not sure because the Scout had gone missing just after he sent the message. We should have sensed it then. Something wasn't right. How we let ourselves be so easily led. But, it didn't matter. I was tasked with leading a group of four others behind the Legion lines to raid the remaining camps for anything that would give us an idea of what their plans were. It seemed like an easy task. They were on the run, their numbers depleted, or so we thought. How wrong we were. After about two days of endless trekking across that blasted wasteland we were ambushed. We walked straight into them. They gave no warning; we had no chance. But, they didn't kill us. How I wished they had if I had known what they were going to do... They took us back to one of their camps. When I indentified myself as the leader they separated me from the rest. Those creatures didn't lay a claw on me. No. Instead they made me watch as they...
Valkor's voice seemed to trail off as the images flashed across his mind. He closed his eyes and continued on, his voice growing louder, as if determined to finish.
They tortured them, Grolkash. Tortured them in ways you could not imagine. Made them squeal in a way I did not think was at all possible for an orc. Their bodies were bled dry. They said they would only stop if I told them what we knew. If I did not, they were going to kill them, and then finish me.
He opened his eyes, the fury in his face painfully clear. We knew nothing! What the hell could I tell them!? It was all a trap. There was no planned attack on our outposts, it was them feeding us information in the hope that we would send out soldiers they could interrogate! How did we not see that!?
Valkor stopped again, the combination of his anger and grief forcing him to continue no longer.
Valkor, Grolkash said quietly after a moment. What... what happened to your soldiers?
He began to breath more slowly, and then let out a faint laugh.
What happened to them? They were executed. They were granted no peace in death. Their bodies were stripped bare, hung up, like animals. Their souls were not allowed to pass on. The Legion's dark magic keeps them there, in some place between death and life.
How did you survive?
Valkor glanced at him, eyes stinging with anguish.
Luck. Pure luck. After they had killed the last of them I was left alone. Why? I have no idea. I assumed it would only be a matter of time before they finished me off. But before then, I remember hearing noise from above the cell. I remember the screaming, but it was different. Before I knew what had happened, a group of soldiers broke into the room
Who were they?¯ Grolkash asked, softly.
Valkor laughed again, in spite of himself. Alliance¯, he said, smiling at the irony of it all. A squad from Honour Hold. They had been coordinating attacks against the Legion in the area as well. They set me free and gave me enough to be on my way back to Thrallmar. And now here I am... Back to this place.
A palpable silence followed Valkor's story. Grolkash looked at his friend, his expression solemn. Valkor was not a young orc, but neither was he old. Yet now, after recounting his tale, in Grolkash;s eyes, he had aged dramatically. No longer was he the tenacious, battle-hardened Captain of the Kor'kron, whose eyes flashed with anticipation at the prospect of unleashing his fury at the enemy. The soldier who had fought with distinction and valour in numerous conflict. At Hyjal, and against Proudmoore. He was older and bitter, no longer filled with the same zest for life or honour. He resembled a broken, dejected shell. Just under his eyes dark heavy shadows were beginning to form. The lines that came with age were also settling in and around his once youthful visage, above his strong jaw and large, razor-sharp fangs. His normally long, well-kept black hair now lay tangled and disorderly. Although he was built of imposing size and bore a tough muscular form, Valkor nonetheless looked like someone who had witnessed things that his physical strength could never hope to defeat: things from which, no matter how hard he tried, there was no escape.
Valkor, what do you plan to do now? Once your leave is over you will have to report back.
Valkor gave Grolkash a bemused look that quickly turned to anger. You think I amm going back? he growled, eyes suddenly flaring with a furious incredulity. After all I have told you, you still expect me to return to that place? No, old friend. If there is one thing I have learned it is that what we were told for so long was nothing but a lie: pain and suffering and death twisted into crude concepts of honour and glory!
What do you mean?
Valkor banged his huge fist down on the small table in front of him. The force almost made the room tremble. All the doubt, all the feelings of guilt and anxiety that he had harboured within himself for so long were rapidly giving way to a furious anger.
Don't you see, Grol?! Ever since we were young we have had it bourn into our minds: the idea that dying in combat with a sworn enemy is a good death. The proper way for an orc to leave this world. Full of honour. But out there...¯ Valkor pointed and looked out of one of the nearby window, as if gazing across the distant plains of some far off land.
There is no honour, Grol. No glory. Tell me what honour there is in hearing an orc howling like a pup for his father and mother as he awaits death!?
There was silence again, during which Valkor turned away from the window and looked around, aimlessly.
You have faced these things before,¯ Grolkash replied diplomatically after choosing his words carefully. You are a captain, Valkor! You have fought creatures and seen things that would send most men mad. Why have you changed now? How is this any different from the things we saw at Hyjal, or any other time we faced the hellspawn?
Valkor opened his mouth to retort, but faltered. The answer to that had remained elusive, even to him. What exactly had driven him to this? The question was one he had asked himself countless times over the previous months. He had seen and experienced similar events, there was no doubting that, some perhaps even worse than what had happened in Outland. After a minute's deliberation, he seemed to form an answer.
When you are in combat, fighting for your very existence, the will to survive isolates you from the chaos. You blind yourself from the carnage that is taking place around you. You have one goal in mind, always: that of survival, at any cost.
But,¯ Valkor continued, the volume of his voice diminishing to a deep, gritty whisper. Since this, after what I saw... it has all returned. Memories of the blood, the pain, the screaming, the death. The memories of all those wars and conflicts.. Hyjal, losing Rakshar to Proudmoore's fleet. Things I'd thought I had forgotten forever.¯ He sighed. I have no lust for it anymore.
But what will you do now?¯ Grolkash asked, a note of exasperation punctuating his gruff tone. You are an excellent warrior, Valkor, a natural leader. The Horde has need of you. You are honour-bound to answer that call.
Honour? The honour we preach is built on dishonesty and deceit! Do not talk to me about such lies! We send those who are off to distant, war-torn planets to be annihilated, ripped limb-from-limb by beasts from our very nightmares! And for what? Prestige? Greatness? Or to prolong a myth? Tell me what honour there is in that?!
Grolkash was about to reply, but Valkor wouldn't let him.
I am sorry, old friend. But I can keep up this struggle no longer. I have seen enough suffering in my time.
And with that, without so much as a final glance at his fellow orc, the overwhelming disillusionment now manifesting plainly in his very eyes, Valkor rose and strode towards the door, departing the residence just as a distant bell tolled, indicating that nightfall had descended upon Orgrimmar.
Feedback very much welcome. I was really trying to get into the mind of Valkor in this chapter, creating a conflicted individual who has become disillusioned with the Horde's basic acceptance of honour. I hope I did it well. Chapter two is in the works, and should be posted soon. Thanks.
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