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Old 02-29-2012, 11:47 PM
Immion Immion is offline

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Orc Icon (War3) Of Honour and Strength

Kerag was drowning in the city. How he had ever been able to live like this was beyond him. Orgrimmar, his home for many years, had become alien to him in more than just its recent, unnerving change in appearance, although that was part of it. He did not recognize it anymore, not by its looks, but more importantly, not by what he felt as he moved through the streets. It no longer felt like he belonged here. Instead, he had felt oppressed as soon as he had entered the city. Moving with the crowd had once been natural to him, but now it felt like the merciless tides of the city's inhabitants had seized him without warning and imprisoned him within an overwhelming, moving cage of bodies, dictating his every move. The same held true for all the noise. Much of it he would not have noticed in the past, but now the vivid conversations of the surrounding people, the shouting of the merchants peddling their goods, the sounds of the workshops, and the unnatural rattling from one of the goblin engines high above him fused into a sonic monstrosity that gnawed at his spirit and set him on edge.

The tremendous heat was only adding to it. Sweat was covering every inch of his haggard, yet muscular green body that was not covered by his ancient armour of fur-trimmed leather. The sweat ran over his skin in thick drops, slowly soaking his smoky-grey beard and dripping into his eyes faster than he could wipe it away. The black metal of the new buildings and walls smouldered in the sun, shrouding the city in a heat haze as if Orgrimmar was nothing more than a fiery dream. The reek of sweat, excrement, and fermenting fruits constantly lingered in his nostrils and caused his stomach to rebel.

Kerag sighed. He would have never deemed it possible for him to miss the smothering emptiness of the Barrens, but now he found that he did. There, the soul could at least breathe. He smirked joylessly. A lot had indeed changed over the years. All of a sudden he felt old.

You are old, you fool, he corrected himself.

He was jolted from his thoughts when somebody bumped into his shoulder without warning. Anger flared up in him, but before he had the chance to react, the crowd flowed on and forced Kerag forward, separating him from the unheeding citizen and swallowing him quickly. Kerag cursed under his breath. Grudgingly, he walked on. Out of habit, he reached for his purse, then for the battleaxe resting in an oiled sheath on his back, making sure his old comrade was still where it belonged. He would not take any chances with the riffraff that dwelled in the city. He had not forgotten how things worked here.

For what seemed like an eternity, he crawled through the bursting streets, moving out of the Valley of Strength into the narrow, eastern canyon known as the Drag and finally into the Valley of Honour. The streets were less crowded here than they had been around the great market, but still full enough to cause him unease. Even from the entrance of the valley, the Circle of Valour, Orgrimmar's massive arena, dominated the scene alongside the main barracks known as the Hall of the Brave, together forming the very centre of the orcish warrior culture. Completely ignoring the barracks, Kerag headed for the arena.

The Ring of Valour had been erected on a small rise. As the name suggested, it was a circular structure, nestled into a curve at the valley's northern edge. Formally, it had been a construction of stone and wood, but like with so many buildings, the new Warchief of the Horde, Garrosh Hellscream, had decided that this had to change. Already, a solid scaffold surrounded the arena. On it, Kerag could see a few goblin workers hiding from the heat in whatever shadows they could find. They could apparently afford it: work seemed to be progressing well. Before long, the arena would be turned into another monstrosity of dark steel. Kerag hated the sight. To see how natural building materials were being replaced by glooming, black metal reminded him of darker days; days he rather would rather forget about.

Due to the crowded streets, he arrived later than he had initially intended. Already groups of youngsters were pouring out of the Ring of Valour, all battered and bruised and yet with happy and proud expressions, telling him that this day's training session had just ended. His eyes scanned the aspiring warriors' faces, but did not find what he had come looking for. He threw a glance back the way he had come. Could he already have missed him?

With growing impatience, he sat down on an old bench in front of a nearby sweat lodge, tapping away with his foot on the dry ground as he suspiciously monitored the entrance of the arena. The constant stream of young orcs eventually subsided, but still there was no sight of the one Kerag sought.

He was already considering to head back when he saw what had to be the young warriors' trainer appearing in the entrance of the arena. Kerag disliked him instantly. The muscular orc looked like a fighter all right, but one of the worst kind. It was written all over his face and was apparent in every single boasting move he made. Small, violent orbs with a feverish glimmer spoke of a talent for cruelty that would prove fatal for anyone who ever found himself at this brute's mercy. Disgusted by the thought, Kerag spat on the ground.

The arena trainer discussed something with the two guards standing watch at the Ring's entrance. They shared a laugh, but then something strange happened. The trainer slipped one of the guards a few coins. He did it covertly. Kerag would have missed it if it had not been for the coin's reflection in the sun. He had no idea what this was about, but bribery from a warrior like this could only mean one thing: Something was wrong here.

Immediately, all thoughts about simply picking up a boy vanished from Kerag's thoughts, replaced by a strong sense of justice and honour that had always slumbered inside of him. The suspiciously charitable warrior departed with the composure of one not worried about being caught. This is not your lucky day, Kerag swore silently. He waited until the warrior was gone before he rose and slowly moved towards the guards. The fashion in which the two grunts exchanged an uneasy glance told him that they were not happy to see him. Yet, they did their best to hide their feelings quickly, and instead projected an aura of strength and determination. Kerag smiled to himself, a growing part of him already looking forward to the confrontation.

That was when he heard it. At first he was not sure whether he had actually heard anything or if his mind was just playing tricks on him, but it was enough to clear the violent haze that had begun to engulf his thoughts. Kerag paused, then closed his eyes and listened more closely. Sure enough, he heard it again, clearer this time. It came from the depths of the arena, barely perceivable, muffled and twisted. Still, Kerag knew the sound only to well. Deep down there, someone was screaming.

Startled, the axe-bearer rushed forward, only to find his path blocked by the two guards.

''No one is allowed in there, after the training has ended,'' said the bigger guard, the one who had received the bribe.

''Are you deaf!?'' Kerag raged. ''Somebody is still in there. Did you not hear the scream?''

The guards exchanged a puzzled look. It was obviously fake. The bigger one even gave Kerag a crooked grin.

''I have not heard anything.'' He turned to his companion. ''Have you?''

The other guard just shook its head, although with a certain reluctance.

''If you are not going to do something about this, I will,'' Kerag said with a cold voice. His patience was exhausted. ''Stand aside!''

The big grunt just chuckled. ''And what if I don't, Grandfather?''

''This.''

Kerag's fist exploded in the guard's face. The warrior fell as if struck by lightning, a dazzled expression on his face the moment before he lost consciousness. With a speed that belied his age, Kerag turned to the second guardsman. Startled at first, the orc roared and threw himself at Kerag, but the move was clumsy and easily anticipated. Kerag swept the snatching arms aside, grabbed the grunt in mid-air, and whirled around to hammer the soldier's head against the wall of the arena. The orc slumped to the ground, small pieces of rubble crumbling down with him as he fell. He did not move to rise again.

''That is the problem with you youngsters these days,'' Kerag remarked as he rubbed his painfully throbbing fist. ''No constitution.''

Kerag felt good at first, alive. But as soon as the adrenalin left his body the brief satisfaction quickly turned into remorse. Kerag scowled at himself for being so impulsive, for not thinking things through before he took action. One might have thought that the years would have cooled his hot blood, that he would have grown more careful and patient, but if anything, age had managed to make him more morose and irritable. What few insights he had gained were just the source of new sorrows burdening his thoughts. There was no wisdom or inner strength maturing inside his body; only decay and an ever-growing weariness.

And now he had two unconscious grunts to get rid of somehow. The ancestors truly had sent a cruel fate his way. He would give them a piece of his mind about that once he had joined them, he decided, then chuckled. A brawl without the limitations of the flesh was certainly something he would enjoy immensely.

Unfortunately, that would have to wait. First, he needed to solve the problems at hand. He looked around, trying to see if anyone had noticed his little argument with the guards, but everything was quiet and peaceful. Nobody seemed to pay him any attention. Relieved, Kareg looked up to send his gratitude to his ancestors. While doing that, he accidentally stared into the faces of half a dozen goblin workers that were ogling him with gleeful excitement.

Kerag gulped, and slowly reached for his axe.

Last edited by Immion; 03-07-2012 at 10:00 AM..
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  #2  
Old 03-06-2012, 11:31 AM
DarkAngel DarkAngel is offline

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It is good to see you back, Immion. I am always pleased to see more of your work.

As always, your imagery is spectacular. I feel like I'm there!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Immion View Post
shouting of the merchants appraising their goods,
"Appraise" is a word usually used to mean estimating value before sale. It sort of makes sense here, but usually it refers to something rare or of great price, such as a house or diamond, not something being hawked on the street.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Immion
You are old, you fool, he corrected himself.
Internal dialogue is traditionally denoted with italics instead of quotes. Though in this case, the 'are' would be unitalicized for emphapsis. It seems to be the convention that things that would be italicized or bolded are simply left alone when the whole line is italicized or bolded.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Immion
the narrow, eastern canyon known as the Drake
I don't know what they say on the EU realms, I've always seen it as "the Drag."

Quote:
Originally Posted by Immion
Even from the entrance of the valley the Circle of Valour, Orgrimmar's massive arena, dominated the scene alongside the main barracks known as the Hall of the Brave, together forming the very centre of the orcish warrior culture.
Pardon me if I'm always hitting you on this, but be careful how much you try to cram into a single sentence. It's purely asthetic, of course.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Immion
he saw what had to be the young warrior's trainer
I was wondering whether you meant for the trainer to be master to all the young warriors, or just the one Kerag seeks (as implied by the current, singular form)?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Immion
the orc roared finally and threw himself at Kerag,
'Finally' usually indicates that something was done after prolonged deliberation. Yes, the guard hesitated, but a momentary pause is not enough in my estimation.
  • anymore, not by its looks, but more importantly, not by
  • It no longer felt like he belonged here.
  • sounds of the workshops, and the unnatural rattling
  • fused into a sonic monstrosity
  • The reek of sweat, excrement, and fermenting fruits
  • There, the soul could at least breathe.
  • before he had the chance to react, the crowd flowed on
  • unheeding citizen and swallowing him quickly. not the usual context
  • Out of habit, he reached for his purse
  • For what seemed like an eternity, he crawled
  • Even from the entrance of the valley, the Circle
  • Formerly, it had been a construction
  • Already, a solid scaffold surrounded the arena.
  • On it, Kerag could see
  • They could apparently afford it: work seemed to be progressing well. Before long, the arena would be turned into another monstrosity of dark steel.
  • how natural building materials were being replaced by glooming, black metal
  • of darker days; days he would rather forget about.
  • Due to the crowded streets, he arrived later
  • telling him that this day's training session
  • He was already considering heading back when he saw
  • only mean one thing: something was wrong here. Return not needed.
  • Immediately, all thoughts about
  • the warrior was gone before he rose
  • hide their feelings quickly, and instead projected
  • the axe-bearer rushed forward,
  • Kerag turned to the second guardsman.
  • swept the snatching arms aside, grabbed the grunt in mid-air, and whirled around to hammer
  • Kerag scowled at himself for being so impulsive,
  • that he would have grown more careful
  • but if anything, age had managed
  • only decay and an ever-growing weariness.
  • The ancestors truly had sent a cruel fate his way.
  • Unfortunately, that would have to wait.
  • First, he needed to solve
  • Kareg looked up to send his gratitude
    goblin workers that were ogling him

Excellent work, as I've come to expect. The main problems are with introductory phrases and series lists. Opening prepositional phrases you seem to get most of the time, but simple adverbs often lack the needed comma. I was taught that items in a series needed to be separated by commas, even the final one bearing the conjunction. More and more people seem to think it's not these days, including the Associated Press!

I look forward to more.
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Old 03-06-2012, 07:28 PM
C9H20 C9H20 is offline

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A decent read, looking forward to more.

My only complaint would be that perhaps you chose a topic that is far too mainstream.

People noticing, and hating, the newest developments in Orgrimmar just seems like such a tired perspective.
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Old 03-07-2012, 10:48 AM
Immion Immion is offline

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Thank you, Darkangel. As always, your feedback is very much appreciated.

- the "appraised" thing was an good old interference error from German. There we have the nice little verb "anpreisen" which can be used in that context. Changed it to peddled.

- the Drake was simply a mistake. It is the Drag.

- believe it or not, I often have your words echo in my ears when a sentence gets longer and longer. Sometimes, though, I am too stubborn to listen to it, and I personally think that sentence is still manageable the way it is.

- the warrior's young trainer was simply a typo, I guess. First wrote warriors and then place the ' at the wrong spot.

Its interesting what you say about lists and the last item. I think in German the convention actually is to leave out the comma before the last item, but I could be wrong there as well. I will keep it in mind, though.

@C9H20: Thank you very much for taking the time to read this as well. I hope you will find the other parts of the story to be less mainstream. This is not a story about Orgrimmar, but I hope you will see for yourself in the near future.
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Old 03-07-2012, 11:16 AM
C9H20 C9H20 is offline

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Immion View Post
@C9H20: Thank you very much for taking the time to read this as well. I hope you will find the other parts of the story to be less mainstream. This is not a story about Orgrimmar, but I hope you will see for yourself in the near future.
While I've said Orgrimmar I've meant the entire orcish (mini) cultural revolution under Garrosh. I am kinda itching to read a story where someone LIKES what happened in Orgrimmar and the related cultural trends.

That is not to say your story can't be good, I am reading it after all and looking forward to more.
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Old 03-08-2012, 12:57 AM
Immion Immion is offline

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Sadly then, I guess Kerag is not what you are looking for. You are right, though, I have not seen a story about an orc who likes the changes either. Would be refreshing. I will keep that in mind.
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Old 03-12-2012, 02:25 AM
Immion Immion is offline

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* * *

The floors of the arena's underground consisted only of cold stones and sand. The walls were lined with torches every fifteen yards, but other than that completely bare of ornamentation. The air was stale and stagnant but pleasantly cool. A mouldy smell crawled up Kerag's nose. He carefully followed the cries deeper into the tunnels, always expecting to run into more guards. The outcries had lost in intensity, but in return, other noises had become perceivable: flesh smacking against flesh, punches hitting home, and youthful voices mumbling about their disgraceful enjoyment of the act. Kerag pressed on, his mind filled with terrifying visions of what he was about to discover. He passed through rooms filled with cages for various sized beasts. They were all empty. Other rooms contained training dummies, archery targets, or various other sorts of training equipment; until he reached the doors to the armoury. They were locked, but the volume of the voices and sounds told him that he was very close. By now, he could differentiate between three different voices, one consisting only of the weak, dull screams of the tormented victim.

When he reached the final corner, the noises of sweating fists hammering into an unprotected body were now unmistakeable. The cries had stopped, and a dark thought forced its way into Kerag's mind. He clenched his hands into fists. If he was already too late, he would make sure that somebody would pay for this deed. He swore grimly and lunged around the corner.

The cave was only scarcely illuminated. A single wrought-iron brazier stood at the eastern wall, its fiery light throwing dancing shadows on the rough rocks. Gathered around their unfortunate victim stood three young warriors, too enthralled by their gruesome work to pay any attention to their surroundings. None of them seemed to have noticed Kerag's arrival, and neither had their victim - a chubby, short boy of similar age. The youth's face was swollen beyond recognition, his left eye almost shut. His whole body was covered with bruises and blotched with his own blood where the skin had split open under the mistreatment.

Seeing the boy's unsoldierly posture, Kerag could instantly imagine what was going on. Training under Orgrimmar's battle masters could be hard, especially for those less gifted in the arts of war. While it was only natural that there were recruits excelling in their given tasks and those who had to struggle to keep up, it was common practise to pit the young warriors against one another in teams. It was supposed to teach them about comradeship, about being aware that an army was only as strong as its weakest link and that a good fighter would know and include this in his tactical decisions; but it often also lead to other, less welcome reactions. Part of the nature of these exercises was that there were winners and losers, and the pride of many young warriors could only take so many defeats before starting to search for someone other than themselves to blame. In their frustration and anger, these warriors often looked inside their teams for a culprit and more often than not found one in its weakest member. The strong preyed on the weak. It was the inevitable nature of the pack.

Sadly, Kerag was forced to admit that he had seldom seen a youth better suited for playing this role. It was not uncommon for orcish shopkeepers or lazy city folk to become overweight, but inside the Ring of Valour, such a build was almost unheard of. Kerag could vividly imagine what difficulties the boy had to face when training with the others. That he had lasted to this point was a credit to his determination, but seeing where it brought him, Kerag could not help but wonder if it would not have been better if the boy had quit.

The tormented boy did not remain the centre of Kerag's attention for long. The initial moment of surprise passed, and Kerag's eyes turned away from the gruesome sight and began to focus more on the surrounding figures. Yet another, even more startling surprise waited for him as he beheld the youth who held their breathing sandbag upright and in place for his friends. Kerag had not for one second expected to find him here, but now that he thought about it, it made perfect sense. It was the boy he had come looking for: Narn, his brother's son.

Seeing his nephew like this filled Kerag with a sadness and disappointment beyond words. He felt the searing sting of guilt in his conscience. He had promised his younger brother to watch out for the boy, before the battle that took him. Yet Kerag had not. Instead, he had fled to bury his own grief, far away in the Barrens. Well, he was back now, he thought grimly as his soul turned on the heat of his blood to fight the pathetic notion of self pity. He had hidden long enough. It was time to make good on his promise.

Kerag called out for his nephew and moved from the darkness into the brazier's light. This strong, deep voice echoed through the small cavern. Startled, the youngsters darted around with alarmed eyes. The shock caused Narn do release the chubby boy, who slumped to the ground with a delirious moan.

“Uncle Kerag?” Narn cried with a panicked voice. “What are you doing here?”

“What am I doing here?!” Kerag boomed. “By Mannoroth's blood, boy! What in the name of the ancestors are you doing here!?”

Narn and one of his friends shirked away, driven back by the sheer intensity of Kerag's guttural voice. Not so the third boy. He held is ground, clearly more tense and stiffened since the grizzled axe bearer's arrival, but not nearly as shaken as his companions. All he needed was a brief moment to gather his courage, then he stepped forward. The youngster was a little older than the rest of the boys, Kerag guessed. His clothes were richly adorned for orcish standards, and a aside from nervousness there was something else in his eyes: an incongruous, arrogant annoyance towards the older warrior's presence, as if he had been unjustly disturbed in what he considered to be his right. His voice only confirmed Kerag's suspicions It was smooth and controlled, underlined with a skulking edge.

“Throm-ka, honoured one. I am Tersk,” the boy began in a diplomatic manner. “We were just helping our friend Urtel here with his training. You see, we lost today's battle because of him, and he has told us that he wants to improve his pain tolerance and constitution, so that he will be able to carry out my orders better next time.”

There was so much wrong with what the boy said that Kerag did not bother to reply. It was all he could do to keep himself from slapping him. The echo of the boy's words sent repulsive shivers down his spine, and Kerag felt like shoving the lies back down the younger orc's throat, hoping he would choke on their wickedness.

“This is over,” he stated instead, switching his gaze to the unconscious form of the poor boy named Urtel. He pointed at Narn and the boy whose name he did not know. “You two, get him out of here and to healer.”

The two boys hurried to comply. They bent down to lift the body when Tersk almost jumped them, both infuriated and surprised.

“Stop! What are you doing?” he protested as he tore at the arms of the other boys, causing Urtel to hit the ground once more. “We are not finished with this weakling!”

He jostled them away. They did not try anything to stop him and simply stumbled backwards, numb expressions on their faces. Kerag had seen enough. He stepped forward, just as Tersk swung around to shout at him.

“I command you to stop this! That lazy cur needs to learn that - “

Kerag's flat hand whipped across the boys face, sending him tumbling to the side.

“I am done talking to pigs!” Kerag thundered, glaring at the surprised boy with unhidden contempt. He repeated his order once more, his body still trembling with rage. The boys complied even more eagerly now. This time, no one stopped them.

“Your head will role for this!” Tersk snarled, holding his cheek. The boy smiled maliciously. “You have no idea who my father is, you pathetic fool. He will rip you apart! He will - “

Another resounding slap finally silenced the boy. Kerag tugged into his harness, lifted him off the ground, and pulled him close.

“He will better have taught his worthless offspring to hold its rotting tongue when he is told to! And while he is at it, he might want to put you on the leash as well, because if I hear about something like this ever again, I will have your head!”

He hurled the insolent boy into the corner of the cave. He landed with a numb grunt. Narn and his friend carried Urtel past him and disappeared around the corner. Kerag halfway turned to leave as well, but then he eyed Tersk one last time, his eyes burning in the brazier's fire like demonic orbs.

“If you know what is good for you, you will not follow us,” he said.

Then he was gone.

Last edited by Immion; 03-20-2012 at 10:16 AM..
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Old 03-14-2012, 11:14 AM
DarkAngel DarkAngel is offline

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Sorry about being so slow to get on this. I've been knocked out by computer trouble. Your work is always a pleasure to read, so I prefer not to wait if possible. I would also like to extend an invitation to where the cool kids are playing. I'm betting you do more than just WarCraft.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Immion View Post
The floors of the underground consisted only of cold stones and sand.
I can't say this for certain about British English, but "underground" in this context usually refers to an organization or system that is underground (e.g. the "London Underground"). "Tunnel" would be closer to what you had in mind, I suspect.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Immion
Kerag urged on, his mind filled
In English, "urge" requires a target.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Immion
their victim – a chubby, short boy
Ordinarily, a comma would be used here, but I'm letting you get away with it because of all the others around it. Besides, if you think semicolon usage is nebulous, wait 'till you see dashes!

The explaination for the beating is well-worded, but it comes off as preachy. Show, don't tell. Maybe Narn could explain this.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Immion
He had promised his younger brother to watch out for the boy, before the battle that took him.
Remember that 'him' could refer to either Kerag or Narn. Perhaps add "away from Orgrimmar" to avoid making it sound like the boy is condemned to die.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Immion
Yet Kerag had not. Instead he had fled to bury his own grief, far away in the Barrens.
Again, show, don't tell. This information belongs in some later conversation.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Immion
Well, he was back now, he thought grimly as his soul turned on the heat of his blood to fight the pathetic notion of self pity.
And this is another case of too much in one sentence. Moreover, the "'I am,' he said" construction only applies with specific words of dialogue, and thoughts count as "internal dialogue."

Quote:
Originally Posted by Immion
Narn and one of his friends shirked away, driven back by the sheer intensity of Kerag's guttural voice.
In English, "to shirk" means "to ignore or neglect a duty." I think you meant "shrank."

"Lok'tar?" Not "throm-ka?"

Quote:
Originally Posted by Immion
Kerag tugged into his harness, lifted him off the ground and pulled him close.
I'm not familiar with the phrase "tugged into." "Seized hold of" is probably how it would be said.
  • completely bare of ornamentation.
  • lost in intensity, but in return, other noises had
  • had become perceivable: flesh smacking perceptible?
  • flesh smacking against flesh, punches hitting home, and youthful voices mumbling
  • They were all empty.
  • training dummies, archery targets, or various other sorts of training equipment; until he reached
  • By now, he could differentiate
  • hammering into an unprotected body were now unmistakable.
  • The cries had stopped, and a dark thought forced its way
  • would pay for this deed. He swore grimly
  • Seeing the boys' unsoldierly posture,
  • about comradeship, about being aware that an army was only as strong as its weakest link, and that a good fighter would know and include this in his tactical decisions; but it often
  • also lead to other, less welcome reactions.
  • Part of the nature of these exercises was that there were refers to 'nature,' not 'exercises'
  • but inside the Ring of Valour, such a build was
  • not help but wonder if it would not have been better
  • The initial moment of surprise passed, and Kerag's eyes
  • the boy he had come looking for: Narn,
  • Instead, he had fled
  • something else in his eyes: an incongruous, arrogant annoyance
  • confirmed Kerag's suspicions. It was smooth
  • I am Tersk,” the boy began
  • we lost today's battle because of him, and he has
  • what the boy said that Kerag did not
  • shivers down his spine, and Kerag felt
  • back down the younger orc's throat,
  • unconscious form of the poor boy named Urtel.
  • He pointed at Narn and the boy whose name he did not know.
  • They bent down to lift the body "Bowed" implies submission.
  • Kerag's flat hand whipped across the boys face,
  • Kerag tugged into his harness, lifted him off the ground, and pulled him close.
  • And while he is at it, he might want

Now, we'll have to see how important someone has to be to spawn an arrogant snot like Tersk.
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Old 03-24-2012, 04:01 AM
Immion Immion is offline

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You are right about the "show don't tell issue", and I really hope I take something away from this for the future. I am unsure whether I will be able to change it in this story, though, at least the part with the beating of Urtel. Maybe Kerag arrives earlier and is able to watch the training session. We'll see. But I think I will first start to finish the story, and come back to edit it later.
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Old 03-24-2012, 04:02 AM
Immion Immion is offline

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* * *

The sun's strength-sapping heat was the first thing that greeted the small group as it left the shadows of the arena's entrails and stepped onto the streets once more. On the way out, they had passed the two unconscious grunts Kerag had encountered earlier, stripped of their weapons and armour and thrown into a heavy steel cage close to the entrance. In their place new guards had manned their posts. The grunt's amour did not fit the hired ruffians well, but it would suffice to distract curious eyes long enough for Kerag to get away. Next to the pair of fake soldiers, sitting upon a small rock, was the taskmaster of the goblin workers, who had turned out to be offering quite a few services besides construction. His gaunt face was dominated by a feverish smile as he carefully counted the money that Kerag had liberated from the corrupt guardsmen in order to pay the goblin. He did it probably for the twentieth time since Kerag's departure and did not gave any sign of growing weary of it anytime soon. He waved happily at the grizzled warrior.

“Welcome back, matey! As you can see everything is still shiny out here, just as I promised. Another happy customer! Please, let me know if you need anything else. I can get you everything you need, I am sure!”

“That will not be necessary,” Kerag replied after a short chuckle. “I am leaving the city soon.”

“I see, I see. Pity. Well, would you mind then if I offered the information about where you are heading from here to your two slumbering friends when they wake up? Just the general direction, of course! A goblin has to make a living, if you know what I mean.”

“Sure, Taskmaster. Just give me an hour or two, all right?”

“My big friend, you just got yourself a deal.”

The group headed off, leaving the goblin to his joy and his underlings to their work. Kerag entrusted Narn's friend, who he learned went by the name of Zraan, with bringing the injured boy to the Hall of Heroes and telling the warriors there everything that they had done. The youth promised ruefully to do so, took Urtel unto his back, and headed for the barracks, aching under his load's weight. Soon he had vanished from sight. Kerag and Narn took the street to the west, once more making their way towards the Valley of Strength. Kerag lead the way, although Narn supposedly knew the city much better than him, but the youth was lost in thought and trotted behind his uncle with a lowered head, occasionally lifting it to stare at Kerag's back. They loped along the main road for half an hour, before Narn finally found the courage to say something.

“Kerag, please. We were just - “

“Do not try to play it down, boy. You are only making it worse.”

Narn sighed. “Is it true what you said to the goblin, that you are leaving soon?”

“Yes,” Kerag replied. “And so are you.”

“What?”

Kerag turned to look at his nephew. “Why do you think I came here in the first place? Your mother wrote to me. She was worried about you, about bad influences, and begged me to come and take you away. At first I thought she was overreacting, but you have just proven me otherwise. Now I agree with her. You are coming with me, Narn. ”

“But, no! I do not want to go!”

“This is not a discussion, boy.”

“The hell it isn't!” Narn cried. “You can't just come here, insult me and my friends, question my honour and expect me to come with you. Mother can no longer decide where I go and what I do. I am not a child anymore! I can decide for myself.”

“Yes, I just saw that,” Kerag replied mockingly. Narn almost exploded.

“I don't care what you think, old grunt! Apparently you have forgotten what it means to be warrior since you left to rot away in the Barrens, but that does not give you the right to come here and ruin everything for me and my friends.”

“They are not your friends. Friends keep each other from succumbing to their dark urges. Trust me, people like this Tersk have no friends, only followers. And do you know why? They don't want to be stopped.”

“At least he was always there for me when I needed someone,” Narn snapped, raising his chin defiantly.

The words struck deep. Within seconds shame transformed into flaring anger that surged through his veins, demanding not to let this insult remain unpunished. Kerag knew that Narn was speaking the truth, that he had no right to feel insulted, but the knowledge did little good in quenching his growing rage. Kerag had to fight it down with all his willpower, and still he barely succeeded.

“Do you know why I came back?” he asked, drained by his inner turmoil. His voice sounded frail and exhausted. Narn did not miss the sudden change in Kerag. He looked puzzledly at the grey-bearded warrior and shook his head, his own anger completely forgotten.

“I promised it to your farther,” Kerag explained. "I promised him to look out for you, just before he died.”

Slowly, Narn nodded. Sadness found its way into his young face. Kerag knew that Narn felt the same way he did. Together they fell silent, both dwelling in their distant thoughts of fond memories, connected through the love and grief that they both felt. In this moment, they felt like family again.

For a long time, neither of them said a word. They both just starred at each other, lost in thoughts. The city continued to flow around them. Some citizens gave them quizzical looks while passing by, others even stopped and pointed at them, before whispering some cruel jokes into another one's ear. Kerag and Narn did not even notice.

It was Narn who finally broke the silence with a long sigh. A forced smile, still twisted by grief, appeared on this lips.

“I am coming with you,” he said.

“Good.”

“But not because you or mother tell me,” Narn added. “Because I have decided to, for as long as I choose to. I expect you to respect that.”

Kerag nodded. “Fair enough.”

“But what about mother? She might not admit it, but I think she needs me.”

“Don't worry,” Kerag replied reassuringly. “She is part of the clan. She will be taken care of.”

“There are no clans anymore, uncle,” Narn nagged in reply. “We are all one people now. We are a nation.”

“Tell that to the Warsong and the Frostwolves. I wonder what they will have to say about that.”

Kerag pointed to the black tattoos framing his eyes, fashioned to resemble bloody rivulets that gushed forth from the sockets. The colour had fainted over the years, but was still strong enough to make his gaze more striking and fearsome.

“I will be a Bleeding Hollow until the day I die,” he stated and paused, thoughtfully looking at his nephew. “But it is good to see you have learned something about the legacy of Warchief Thrall.”

If Narn registered the slight praise, he gave no sign of it.

“Why do you keep calling him that? Thrall is not Warchief of the Horde anymore.”

Kerag just shrugged.”He is to me, boy. Always was, always will be.”
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  #11  
Old 04-10-2012, 11:11 AM
C9H20 C9H20 is offline

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Hmm interesting, and imo the story got better in chapters 2 and 3. And I love the prospect of the two of them roughing it up in the Barrens, it has a lot of elements I like: the coming of age story for the kid, the old master-young student shtick and hopefully some good adventures.

One thing that stood out to me is how human the orcs in the story are, too much so, but that is not necessarily a fault but simply a difference in interpretation and tastes still I thought I'd bring it up just in case.
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  #12  
Old 04-10-2012, 05:11 PM
DarkAngel DarkAngel is offline

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In case anyone's been wondering about my mysterious disappearance of late, I've been knocked out by some very nasty malware. The good news is it got fixed, and I should be up to my old tricks.

Quote:
the shadows of the arena's entrails
Say what? This could be another false cognate, but in English, the word 'entrails' refers to the viscera (internal organs) of an animal, especially the intestines.

Quote:
On the way out, they had passed the two unconscious grunts Kerag had encountered earlier, stripped of their weapons and armour and thrown into a heavy steel cage close to the entrance. In their place new guards had manned their posts.
The participle tense used in this passage is a red flag for violations of the "show, don't tell" rule. The good news is that it's almost unnecessary here. Kerag and company are walking by right now, giving them immediate observation of these facts.

I understand English is not your first language, but the lack of contractions feels unnatural. This comes from someone who usually prefers a more formal style. Elves get a pass because that's their standard trope, but Goblins--as portrayed in WarCraft, at least--are particularly prone to slang. Even Orcs can get a pass through the Klingon connection. On Goblins, it just sounds wrong.

Quote:
promised ruefully to do so, took Urtel unto his back, and headed for the barracks,
Is this the King James Version? Probably a typo, but 'unto' is archaic.

Quote:
Kerag lead the way, although Narn supposedly knew the city much better than him, but the youth was lost in thought and trotted behind his uncle with a lowered head, occasionally lifting it to stare at Kerag's back.
A few too many ideas got thrown together here, I think.

Quote:
They loped along the main road
lope: verb to run with an uneven gait, gallop
Not the word you wanted?

Quote:
you have just proven me otherwise.
This wording indicates Narn has proven something about Kerag. "Proven otherwise" would be fine.
  • In their place, new guards
  • The grunts' armour did not fit the hired ruffians well,
  • and did not give any sign of growing weary
  • As you can see, everything is
  • Soon, he had vanished from sight.
  • for half an hour before Narn finally
  • come here, insult me and my friends, question my honour, and expect me to come
  • Apparently, you have forgotten
  • Trust me: people like this Tersk
  • Within seconds, shame transformed
  • the knowledge did little to quench
  • He looked quizzically at the grey-bearded warrior no such word
  • They both just stared at each other, stare -> stared != star -> starred
  • twisted by grief, appeared on his lips.
  • Kerag just shrugged.” He is to me, boy.

In all, more top-notch work. Keep it up.
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  #13  
Old 04-11-2012, 01:13 PM
Immion Immion is offline

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Very good to have you back, Darkangel. Glad that you managed to sort everything out.


And slang is indeed something awfully hard for me to do. Maybe I will play a bit of wow with an English client to get a feeling for how the races' accents and speech patterns are depicted in the quests and sound files.

I will get to the other corrections as soon as I have little more time.


@C9H20: I am glad you enjoy the story so far. I am also curious. What exactely do you find "too human" in my depiction of the orcs? Would love to hear your thoughts on that.
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  #14  
Old 05-02-2012, 12:42 AM
Immion Immion is offline

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* * *

Kerag and Narn spent the next hour preparing for the journey ahead of them. Kerag himself was already well equipped for the road and had tasked an old friend with gathering the necessary supplies for his way back, but Narn on the other end, who had never left Orgrimmar before, was in dire need of provisions and other things. So they strode over the big market place, trying to fetch everything a young warrior would need in the wilderness. If possible, without exhausting Kerag's meagre filled pouch. They managed to get their hands on an old backpack and waterskin for a good price. From a slender orish female they bought a warm blanket and a worn out cloak. Kerag also bought additional bandages and some ointments and asked his supplier to double the food rations and a couple of other things.

Narn also insisted on Kerag buying him a weapon. Kerag would have bought him one anyway, after all the wilderness was a dangerous place, but something in the way Narn voiced his request gave Kerag the impression that Narn had expected him to disagree. So he had, enjoying the little charade immensely for a while, before ultimately agreeing. The proud smile on Narn's face that followed warmed his heart.

They entered a weaponsmith's workshop that was nearby. Narn headed straight for the heavy battle axes, instantly falling in love with at least three weapons. They were all beautifully crafted, forged of the best Durotarian steel or even thorium. Kerag guessed that they were also perfectly balanced and certainly worth the prize the one eyed weaponsmith would demand, but it not change the fact that they were most likely beyond anything Kerag could afford. Eventually he found what he was looking for on the 'raider's table' where the shopkeeper had gathered what loot had been sold to him by other warriors. Among various battered items of poor quality Kerag found a longsword, the type of weapon favoured by the humans of the Eastern Kingdoms. It was a plain, unadorned weapon, but of surprisingly high quality, which was rare for the boasting taste of most humans. Whoever this weapon had once belonged to, Kerag had a feeling he would have respected, maybe even liked him. It was indeed a rare and lucky find. A real bargain, one that could only be explained by the orcish idealization of the axe. Few orcish warriors favoured the sword and those that did most commonly tried to equal the orcish baldemasters and chose weapons that resembled their prestigious fullblades. Kerag, on the other other hand, was not one to be swayed by such vanity and bought the weapon without a second thought.

Narn was not thrilled to say the least. This was not what he had imagined and at first the considered this to be yet another insult from his uncle. Kerag had to explain to him over and over what a versatile and powerful weapon the sword was and that this particular blade was probably the best weapon in the entire city that they were able to get at this price. In the end, Narn had no choice but to grudgingly accept it as his new weapon.

When all supplies were purchased, Kerag sent Narn home to gather his things and say goodbye to his mother. Kerag smiled as he saw how the boy bumped into a bulky orc with the scabbard of his sword, unfamiliar to having such a long weapon resting at his side. Narn mumbled a quick apology and rushed off, securing the sword by putting his hand on its hilt.

With Narn gone, Kerag strode towards the city gates. The massive entrance lay before him like the gaping maw of some hellish behemoth, patiently waiting to devourer him. A female orc just entered the city, leading her young child by the hand. She looked tired, her skin was dirty and her clothes worn out and yet she smiled joyfully when her cub, completely oblivious to his mother's fatigue, began to address all the wonders Orgrimmar's cityscape held for a child. Kerag's gaze lingered on the two, until they had passed him. His thoughts grew more gloomy again, as they drifted towards Narn's mother, Karja.

Narn's mother had been frail and ill ever since her mate had died. Her heart had been torn apart by her loss. Even the blessings of the shaman had not been able to ease her pain. The spirit guides had been very reluctant to grant Karja the wish to speak to her husband. It had infuriated Kerag at the time, not just for Karja, but also because of his own loss. He could not understand why those blessed with such great powers were so hesitant to use them. What right did they have to keep a family separated? He and Karja had pleaded with them, flattered them and even threatened them in their grief, until one of the shaman had finally agreed to grant them their wish. Looking back, Kerag wished the shaman had not. He understood now, why such wishes were granted so rarely.

The brief, overwhelming joy of the reunion had too soon been followed by the smothering hollowness of the loss again. Guilt, despair and denial had returned with fresh, tormenting intensity. If anything, the visit from the spirits of the past had torn open the wounds that time was trying to heal. Kerag had realised that eventually. He had understood the need to move on, the dangers of the orc's special relationship towards the spirits and that in order to survive, spirit and living souls needed to respect the boundaries of their two worlds. A culture too obsessed with the past and its dead was sooner or later doomed to perish. Life could not go on this way. Kerag wondered whether the forsaken would one day realize this.

Karja had not. She had demanded from the shamans to bring her husband back again and again. It became her sole purpose in life. She had looked to Kerag for assistance and support, without realizing how much she had tormented him with her refusal to accept the inevitable. That was why Kerag had left. He had not been strong enough to bear it any longer. He had needed to let go.

Narn's mother had needed the same thing, but she had not been able to see it, much less been able to be persuaded by another soul to accept it. She would have never been able to make this choice, so somebody had to make it for her. Kerag was sure the shamans were already seeing it as well, but ultimately it were spirits themselves who ended things. Nobody had ever told him what really happened during the last summoning, but his brother's spirit had never answered another calling ever since. This was what actually broke Karja's spirit, Kerag suspected. She became a ghost afterwards, bereft of all the fire that had been the very essence of her charm. Finally she was forced to accept that only death would be able to reunite her with her husband. That she had never tried to take her own life was something Kerag truly admired Karja for. It spoke of her inner strength, as well as her love and dedication for her son. Like with so many mourners, knowing that their beloved waited beyond the veil of death, the inherent drive to live on had succeeded over the longing to be reunited with their family through death. In Karja's case though, just barely.

And now she was sending away her only child. Was it really to protect Narn from the likes of Tersk, Kerag wondered, or was Karja planning something else that she did not want Narn to be around for? Kerag had no way of knowing. He had never been good an reading peoples feelings and intentions. Either way, It was Karja's life and her choice. Whatever she had chosen to do, Kerag would respect her wishes. She had earned his for herself. Directing his gaze towards her home, he muttered an honest farewell, just in case.

It was not long before Narn arrived at the city gates as well. No longer wearing his training harness and armed for the journey, the youngster looked older, daring and adventurous with the cloak fluttering in the wind and the sword at his side. His violet eyes showed a mixture of anticipation and sadness. Kerag knew what the boy was feeling, the slight fear of leaving home and the impatient eagerness to set out to conquer the world. It reminded him of his own youth, back on their home planet Draenor. He banished the thoughts from his mind. He asked Narn if he was ready and the boy nodded. They both looked one last time at the proud city of Orgrimmar, then they headed off. None of them looked back.
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  #15  
Old 05-08-2012, 11:16 AM
DarkAngel DarkAngel is offline

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Some you may have noticed my absence of late. This is not abandonment; I just have been much more pressed for time. As much as I've been loving this story, real life has to come first.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Immion View Post
Kerag's meagre filled pouch.
Something is getting lost in translation here. The idea is that Kerag's pouch has very little in it, but it would be more common to say "Kerag's meagre coin pouch."

In German, when a multi-word phrase comes to refer to some specific thing, it gets combined into one big word. (See the names of some glaciers. Eep!) Something similar happens in English when a phrase is used as an adjective or adverb. The difference is that the words are linked by dashes. Examples below.

Karja is sending Narn away? Is it not the duty of every Orc to train as a warrior and serve the Horde?
  • Kerag himself was already well-equipped
  • for the road, and had tasked an old friend
  • his way back; but Narn on the other hand, who had never
  • warrior would need in the wilderness – if possible, without exhausting
  • and a worn-out cloak.
  • bought him one anyway – after all, the wilderness was a dangerous place – but something
  • the best Durotarian steel, or even thorium.
  • worth the prize the one-eyed weaponsmith would demand,
  • Eventually, he found what he was looking
  • Among various battered items of poor quality, Kerag found
  • a rare and lucky find – a real bargain,
  • Few orcish warriors favoured the sword, and those that did
  • he had imagined, and at first he considered this
  • patiently waiting to devour him.
  • A female orc had just entered the city,
  • She looked tired, her skin was dirty, and her clothes worn out; and yet she smiled
  • Guilt, despair, and denial had returned
  • the dangers of the orcs' special relationship
  • understood the need to move on, the dangers of the orc's special relationship towards the spirits, and that in
  • Kerag wondered whether the Forsaken would one day realize this.
  • Finally, she was forced to accept
  • He had never been good at reading peoples feelings
  • Either way, it was Karja's life
  • She had earned this for herself.
  • looked older, daring, and adventurous

As always, I can't wait for more.
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  #16  
Old 05-12-2012, 02:35 AM
Immion Immion is offline

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Don't worry, DarkAngel, I am more busy myself lately. Thank you for putting in the work nevertheless. It really is appreciated.
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  #17  
Old 05-22-2012, 12:36 AM
Immion Immion is offline

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* * *

It felt good to be on the road again for Kerag, away from the turmoil and stench of the city. Even the heat seemed more bearable to him and he found himself loosening up. Each breath the took felt freer and fresher than the one before. Durotar lay before them with a harsh and untamed beauty that even the shattering of the world had not been able to take away. There were canyons dung deep into the ground, boulders of faint crimson, rock needles that seemed just inches away from touching the sky and giant mountain ranges towering over everything else with their eternal endurance. Vegetation was almost non-existent. Few plants had the strength to survive on the sun-scorched ground and those that did had clawed their roots deep into the ground and fought every day for their arid existence. The land was tough and merciless. The primal spirits here provided nothing without a struggle, be it water, food or shelter. Everything here had to be earned and wrestled from the land, which was why it suited the orcs so well.

Kerag was not inclined to let any time go to waste and set out immediately to show his young companion the ways of the wild whenever an opportunity arose. He showed Narn which cactuses held drinkable fluids, how to cut them open and to mash the pulp into juice. He taught him how to find water in moist riverbeds, or how to extract it from other plans during the night. He instructed the youngster in what little he knew about following trails and the most important things when looking for shelter. Narn consumed all the knowledge greedily.

Then there was of course fighting training. Kerag had little enough experience himself when it came to handling a sword, but he had fought his fair share of swordsmen in his time, some of which had gotten quite close to killing him, and he taught Narn everything that he remembered. Narn learned fast, and Kerag was surprised by the boy's agility and speed. The weapon suited him, and Kerag was sure that Narn would grow to become a deadly adversary with the human weapon. Narn noticed it as well. It was only a certain smile after one of the exercises that Kerag put him through, but after that he never heard the boy complaining about his blade ever again.

Kerag was still ashamed and angry with Narn for what he had witnessed in the depth of the arena, but confronted with the boy's innocent curiosity, those thoughts were awfully hard to sustain, and they soon vanished from his mind altogether. Instead a surprising calmness and contentment took hold of him, stronger than anything he had known in years. Whenever he saw Narn's face lighten up with amazement or pride, he felt younger and happier himself. At times it was even enough the silence the haunting voices of the past, whispering words of loss and guilt in the back of his head.

For three days they headed south-west, following the road over small ridges and hills, passing waterholes and pig farms. Above them lone birds of prey wheeled, scanning the ground for prey. At one point one of the predators dived down with amazing speed, grabbed a snake with its talons and smashed it against a nearby boulder, dazzling the animal and leaving it defenceless. The sharp beak finished the job and tore the snake away without cruelty or joy. They both watched the bird feast.

The roads were strangely deserted, save for some couriers rushing to carry new reports from the war front to the capital. Narn got excited every time such a rider rode past them on his canine mount. Kerag could only shake his head.

It was noon, when they finally reached the borderland between Durotar and the Barrens, and the sun was beating down on the two travellers with an almost malevolent intensity. The two orcs did not seem to care. They marched on tirelessly, mile after mile, without complaint or any sign of exhaustion. They did not stop until they reached a small slope, partly overshadowed by an overhang protruding from a giant boulder nearby. From this vantage point, they were able to overlook most of the flat land ahead of them. In the distant they could already see the mighty Southfury river. The river had served as a natural border between Durotar and the Barrens for years, but during the cataclysm it had burst its banks and flooded large parts of the orcish homeland. Ruins of farmhouses and stables still stuck out of the murky waters, littering the area and testifying to the elements destructive power. It was gruesome and awe-inspiring at the same time. They continued in silence.

After a while Kerag decided to abandon the road and headed directly into the wetlands, Narn always right behind him. Despite the short period of time given since the catastrophe, the land had already started to adapt to the new supply of water. Sprouts and reed broke through the surface at the edges of the waterholes, where the ground was already softened and muddy. Kerag found it was a beautiful and refreshing sight. It was a shame that it would not last. But sooner or later the sun would take away the water the river had spit unto the land, the plants would whither and die, and the scorched earth of Dutotar would reclaim the site. This was the way of life, Kerag mused. Nothing stayed forever.

New animals had also found their way here, lured away from their native grounds by the sudden abundance of fluid. Narn spotted them first; crocolisks, several of them, dozing motionlessly in the sun. Some people refereed to them as river or water dragons, and while Kerag did not believe this to be true, the term provided the beasts with the sufficient amount of respect. They were faster than one would assume judged on their bulky appearance and once their teeth had sunk into something, their powerful jaws never let go again. Over the years, the six-legged predators had this way tasted their fair share of orcish flesh. Kerag and Narn kept their distance and went around them, proceeding carefully and making sure to watch out for more of the giant reptiles.

Later that day, they came by a farm that had withstood the calamity to some degree. The main building stood on top of a small rise and was nearly undamaged. Only the wall facing the never looked a little battered and was covered with mud and dirt. The barn and stables had not had as much luck. Both of the buildings had been erected within a small gully that was now filled with brackish water. The roof and walls had been pierced at several spots by the might of the water. Several barrels or other items floated beside the remaining, bloated corpses of the pigs the stables had once harboured, together with planks that had once formed fences.

Despite this havoc, the farm was not entirely abandoned, which came as a surprise to Kerag. Even from a distance they could already hear loud swearing, coming from the stables. A lonely farmer was fighting his way through the floating debris, lifting an intact barrel over his head. His arms and posture were scrawny, his back hunched by years of constant work and his clothes resembled more rags than anything else. He was old, probably even older than Kerag, and one of his tusks had broken off. He would have looked miserable if not for the empty, yet unyielding fire that burned in his eyes.

As with all members of the peon class, his hair and beard had been shaved off until recently, since only those who passed the trials of strength, craftsmanship or spirit earned the right to display their individuality in whatever way they saw fit. But with every authority gone and much more pressing matters to be dealt with, the old peon was now sprouting snow-white stubbles, letting him look as if he had covered himself with flour.

Groaning, the old farmer forced his way to the edge of the gully and hauled the barrel ashore, where he had already gathered other salvaged supplies in small piles and crates. He was about to dive into the brackish brew once more, when he spotted the approaching travellers. For a moment, he just stared at them, but then he hauled himself out of the water and waited for them to come closer, while trying to conceal how he reached for his weapon. He failed miserably.

“You will not need that,” said Kerag calmly, but with a certain edge. “We are neither bandits nor demon-thralls and wish you no harm.”

“And if we did you would not stand a chance against us,” added Narn. “weapon or not.”

The peon looked at Narn, his face devoid of any expression, before he turned to Kerag and revealed the cleaver he was trying to hide behind his back, putting it on top of one of the crates beside him.

“And what are you then?” he asked hoarsely.

“Travellers, on the way into the Barrens.”

The peon nodded.

“You are all alone?” asked Kerag. “Where are the others?”

“Gone, chased away by the water like shy little curs. I figure they hurried back to Orgrimmar just to be sent somewhere else, to start the same thing all over again. It is so meaningless.”

Kerag gave the old Peon an inquiring look.

“But not you?”

The Peon shook his head and spread his arms. “This is my home. For more than seven years I have ground away on this very soil, four of them as taskmaster. This my farm, and my home. I ran it and that will not be taken away from me. I am not going anywhere.”

“Do they know about your 'decision' in Orgrimmar, Peon?” intruded Narn, angrily stepping forward with clenched fists.

“No, they don't!” snapped the elder orc. “ And even if they did, they would not care. I am old, by back is sore and my legs are slow. I have no value to them. Not anymore.”

“Lame excuses. You are abandoning your people and your duty!” Narn spat on the ground, but the older orc just laughed.

“My duty? My people? Tell me, young one, what has the Horde ever done for me? I have worked for it my entire life, and for what? To be locked down upon by arrogant youngsters like you? I tell you a little secret of mine. You want to know what the best years in my life were, boy? I tell you. It was when we lost the war. The humans treated us like animals, but they treated all of us the same way. All had to work, no matter what great a warrior one had once been, and it was less work the Horde demands from me every day.”

Narn grabbed the hilt of his sword, trembling with fury, his eyes shooting poisonous darts at the bald peon. “You insolent dreg! I should kill you where you stand for your insolence. You forgot where your place is!”

“Go ahead,” replied the peon. “Do you think death scares me? An end to all that tiresome drudgery is all that it is.”

The calmness in which the words were spoken surprised the young warrior. It was written all over his face. He stood there, dumbstruck, the violet eyes suddenly filled with doubt.

Kerag had been unusually passive and quiet during the argument. His eyes had rested on Narn for most of the time, but now he turned towards the old taskmaster once again. In contrast to his nephew, his voice was still calm and polite.

“So, what will you do now?”

The peon shrugged. “Work, like I always did. Rebuild what I had. Sooner or later things will return to normal and before long the Horde will come back to work the land. I will get by until then.”

“I see,” replied Kerag. “Then I will help you.”

“Why?”

“Does there have to be a reason?”

The peon smiled. “No.”

“Then it is decided,” said the old warrior. “My name is Kerag. This is my nephew Narn.”

Already wading into the water again, the peon nodded.

“Tarill. Lok'thar, warrior. Welcome on my farm.”
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  #18  
Old 06-01-2012, 07:09 PM
DarkAngel DarkAngel is offline

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I've been more than a little slow getting around to things of late, but there have been...distractions. Hopefully, you can forgive me.

Quote:
extract it from other plans during the night.
Something fell apart here. "In other ways," maybe? Of course, there are certain desert plants that collect water over night, if that's what you meant.

Quote:
dazzling the animal and leaving it defenceless.
This is an unusual usage of the word. 'Dazzle' can mean 'stun,' but it's usually in a good way.

Quote:
It was gruesome and awe-inspiring at the same time.
'Gruesome' usually describes dismembered bodies, not buildings.

'Peon' is sometimes capitalized and sometimes not. Consistency is good. It should probably not be, since it's not a specific title.
  • more bearable to him, and he found himself
  • Each breath he took felt
  • There were canyons dug deep into
  • touching the sky, and giant mountain ranges
  • on the sun-scorched ground, and those that did had clawed
  • water, food, or shelter.
  • held drinkable fluids, how to cut them open, and to mash
  • of whom had gotten quite close
  • had witnessed in the depths of the arena,
  • Instead, a surprising calmness
  • At times, it was even enough to silence
  • Above them, lone birds of prey wheeled,
  • At one point, one of the predators
  • dived down with amazing speed, grabbed a snake with its talons, and smashed it
  • beating down on the two travelers
  • In the distance, they could already see the mighty Southfury River.
  • but during the Cataclysm, it had burst its banks
  • testifying to the elements' destructive power.
  • After a while, Kerag decided
  • Sprouts and reeds broke through
  • But sooner or later, the sun
  • spotted them first: crocolisks,
  • on their bulky appearance, and once their teeth
  • Only the wall facing the river looked
  • Even from a distance, they could already hear
  • by years of constant work, and his clothes resembled
  • trials of strength, craftsmanship, or spirit earned the right
  • now sprouting snow-white stubble,
  • spotted the approaching travelers.
  • neither bandits nor demon-thralls, and wish you
  • “And if we did, you would not
  • against us,” added Narn, “weapon or not.”
  • “Travelers, on the way
  • For more than seven years, I have
  • I ran it, and that will not be taken
  • the elder orc. “And even if they did,
  • I am old: my back is sore
  • To be looked down upon by arrogant youngsters
  • return to normal, and before long, the Horde

Isn't the expression usually "lok'tar?"

What's with 'travellers?' I didn't think even British English spelled it that way.

Aside from some issues with a few issues with misused words (which can be attributed to connotations), excellent work. I continue to be impressed by your talent. The imagry in this is beautiful, and one can't help but care for the characters. Please continue.
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  #19  
Old 06-21-2012, 11:28 PM
Immion Immion is offline

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* * *

They worked for hours. Together, Kerag and the former taskmaster Tarill cleared the stables of all debris Tarril still deemed useful. They gathered wood and shingles, laid drained cloth and leather out in the sun and even build a new fence close to the farmhouse for the few pigs Tarril had been able to save. They spoke very little during that time, but numerous looks expressed their mutual respect and enjoyment of the honest work and company. Narn did not help them. The young warrior had stormed off right after his uncle had offered to help the worthless peon who, in Narn's eyes, was nothing short of a traitor. Narn spent the hours alone, on a small hill nearby from which he could stare gloatingly at the two older orcs working in the mud, while mechanically chewing on some dried meat.

The sun was already starting to descend towards the horizon, when Kerag found the young warrior on the hilltop, telling him that it was time to go. Narn rose without a word and they departed. The silence between them grew with each mile they brought between themselves and the farm.

“You are wondering why,” Kerag said after a while.

“I don't care.”

“Yes you do. Do you think it was wrong?”

“Of course it was wrong!” it burst from Narn's lips. “That old dredge is a traitor and a coward, and you helped him!”

Kerag smiled, threw back his head and stared into the sky. “What would you have done, then?”

Narn stared broodingly at the older warrior. He blinked a few times and moistened his lips with his tongue. “I would have dragged his sorry hide back to Orgrimmar and had given him the lashing of a lifetime to remind him of his place in this world.”

“Yes, that sounds like the action of an honourable warrior,” replied Kerag. Narn stomped hard on the ground.

“That is the way the world works, whether you like it or not. The strong rule over the weak, we protect them and in return they have to do their part for the glory of the Horde.”

“It does not have to be this way.”

“What do you mean?”

“Think about it,” implored Kerag. “Do you think we orcs always had peons, back on Draenor, before the demons tainted us?”

“I don't know,” admitted Narn.

“We didn't,” explained Kerag. “The clans honoured each and every member, for each and every member had to do its part. Yes, our shaman and hunters were revered the most, but nobody considered himself to be of another standing. Thoughts like that did not come to our mind.”

“What changed?”

Kerag smiled sadly. “We became warriors. We learned to kill and destroy for the enjoyment of the rush it provided. We became bloodthirsty and violent. Only then we began to condemn everything that was not useful to kill an opponent or level his home. Around that time Gul'dan proposed to the chieftains to punish all those we considered frail or weak by making them our slaves and having them build our fortresses and siege engines. It was a vile act, born of hubris and the greed of a traitorous monster that led its people into damnation.”

“But then why was it never changed?” asked Narn, visibly shaken by what he had just heard. “You always talk with so much reverence of Thrall. Why did he not free the peons?”

Kerag shrugged. “I don't have an answer to that, Narn. I believe he meant to, but maybe we are not ready for it yet. Maybe we still need the peons.”

“Need them? For what? They are weak and lazy, they are cowards and know nothing about honour or duty. What could we need them for?”

“Everything, Narn. That is the point. We need them for everything that isn't glorious, everything we consider demeaning and weak, even though it is essential to our survival. We warriors are a sorry breed. We cannot build anything, we cannot nurture, nor plant. We can only destroy and carve out an existence by preying on others.”

“Maybe,” agreed Narn. “but that is not a bad thing. We are not like humans; weak and soft. We are strong! We are wolves and we hunt our enemies to survive. There is nothing unnatural to that.”

“Is it not? The shamans teach our hunters to respect the prey they hunt, to be grateful for the flesh with which we sustain ourselves. We are different, Narn, warriors do not respect the sources that sustain them. We simply take what we want and respect only those who are of equal or higher skill. And there is another difference.”

“What is that?”

“Wolves only kill to eat. Warriors kill to dominate and possess.”

“That is not true! We fight for glory and to protect our families and friends!”

Kerag laughed bitterly. “Is that what they tell you in the arena? It is a lie, boy. Why do you think we invaded the forestland up north, if all we want to do is to protect?”

Narn hesitated for a moment. “Because we need the wood, and because the elves are our enemies, and they would have attacked us soon enough, if the Warchief had not acted!”

“You don't even believe that yourself,” commented Kerag and shook his head. He looked at Narn and could see the inner turmoil that the boy was facing. Kerag was questioning his very view of the world, and having one's most basic beliefs questioned was a terrifying experience. Narn reacted as was to be expected from a young warrior – with rage and aggression.

“You are pathetic! You think we warriors are monsters? You are a warrior yourself! Why did you not become one of your peaceful, nurturing farmers?”

Kerag gave Narn a rare, sad smile. “I would have liked to, but I am not strong enough to be a farmer.”

Narn choked on the fiery words that he already had placed upon his tongue and violently spit them out. “What do you mean, not strong enough?” he asked instead, audibly confused. “You are one of the strongest men I have ever known. You pit yourself against warriors half your age and more often than not come out on top. If anyone is strong enough for anything, it is you.”

Kerag shook his head. “I am not talking about muscles or prowess, I am talking about determination, willpower and inner strength. Being a warrior is easy, you either win or loose; you die, or you survive; you kill, or you are killed. Being a farmer is different. You are at the elements mercy every moment of every day. It is like standing alone against a vast army, injured and tired, knowing that ultimately, you cannot win. Your only goal is to fend the enemy off long enough to retreat, and to be able to fight again the following year, knowing that it will turn out the same way. Victory is inglorious, defeat means you and your loved ones will starve to death. Day after day you try to nurture the land, struggling with sweat, blood and tears to make something grow, always threatened by the erratic forces of nature, praying for enough rain and that no storms ravage your fields. Picking up an axe to kill your enemies and is easy compared to that and anyone who can master such a lifelong challenge, has my utmost respect.”

“Like the old peon,” Narn said softly.

“Yes. Everything he had was taken away from him, but he was not even demoralized, he just started all over again, without complaint. This is the strength that I am talking about. Still, in a number of ways, he and me are very similar. We are both old and stubborn, too stubborn to change. I will never be a farmer, no matter how much I try. Truth is, peace confuses me. I cannot explain it, it is just a feeling I can't shake off. I would not know where to put all my rage and paranoia, what to do with my instincts and violent urges. No, my home will always be the battlefield, and believe me, no matter how old I get, I will always find another war to fight in.”

“But why did you help him? If you never will be a farmer, why try today?”

“I wish I knew, boy. Maybe I just wanted to do something right, maybe it was because I admired Tarill, and maybe it was just about pretending for a while. I don't know.”

Narn just smiled. “I do.”
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  #20  
Old 06-21-2012, 11:56 PM
Jungleluke Jungleluke is offline

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It's a very good read indeed.
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  #21  
Old 06-26-2012, 05:10 AM
Immion Immion is offline

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Thanks a lot!
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  #22  
Old 07-02-2012, 01:22 PM
DarkAngel DarkAngel is offline

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So, I've managed to claw my way back. If I'm such an asset, I'd better get to work!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Immion View Post
on the hilltop, telling him that it was time to go.
This wording implies that "telling" was what Narn was doing on the hilltop. Kerag was doing the telling, I would think.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Immion View Post
each and every member had to do its part.
Alas, English does not allow neuter pronouns in this context (though I suspect it did at some point in the past). 'It' is reserved for inanimate objects. Although, transhumanists may yet succeed in changing this.

"To change others requires force; to change yourself requires strength."
Now, was that Confucious or Sun Tzu?
  • the former taskmaster, Tarill, cleared
  • out in the sun, and even built a new fence
  • descend towards the horizon when Kerag found
  • smiled, threw back his head, and stared
  • would have dragged his sorry hide back to Orgrimmar and given him the lashing of a lifetime The 'have' carries over.
  • The strong rule over the weak; we protect them, and in return, they have
  • Thoughts like that did not come to our minds.”
  • Only then did we began to condemn everything
  • Around that time, Gul'dan proposed
  • a traitorous monster that led his people into damnation.”
  • “You always speak with so much reverence of Thrall. tradtional wording
  • weak and lazy; they are cowards
  • We cannot build anything; we cannot nurture,
  • “Maybe,” agreed Narn, “but that is not
  • We are not like humans: weak and soft.
  • We are different, Narn. Warriors do not
  • “You don't even believe that yourself,” commented Kerag, shaking his head.
  • “I am not talking about muscles or prowess; I am talking
  • determination, willpower, and inner strength.
  • Being a warrior is easy: you either win
  • You are at the elements' mercy
  • struggling with sweat, blood, and tears
  • Picking up an axe to kill your enemies is easy compared to that, and anyone who can master such a lifelong challenge has my utmost respect.”
  • but he was not even demoralized; he just started all over again,
  • Still, in a number of ways, he and I are very similar.

Well, that was some serious meat! Keep laying out philosophy like that and there won't be a story left to tell! Still, I liked it very much: the pacing was superb and the characterization excellent.

EDIT: Any time someone mentions peons...
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  #23  
Old 07-03-2012, 07:59 AM
Slaman Slaman is offline

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I'm definitely enjoying the read, even if I'm a human and have killed too many orcs in my day...Thanks!
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  #24  
Old 07-08-2012, 04:51 AM
Immion Immion is offline

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I know how you feel. Strangely enough I am usually more of a "paladin guy" myself, and have certainly played more Alliance than Horde, but as a topic for a short story they have so far eluded me. Probably because my by now terrible dusty "main project" is all about paladins and Lordaeron. Thank you for staying with me anyway. I appreciate it.
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  #25  
Old 07-08-2012, 04:52 AM
Immion Immion is offline

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* * *

Several hours later, Kerag and Narn finally reached the Southfury's native riverbed that had for years acted as a natural border between Durotar and the Barrens. Like so many things, the bridges had been torn away by the Cataclysm, but because of their vital importance, they had been one of the first items to be re-erected. As they crossed over the sturdy construct of wood and metal, their eyes already delved into vastness of the land that lay before them. The dry plains of the Barrens stretched from one horizon to another, like an ocean of desolation, thin grass and lonely trees, only interrupted by the occasional rise or fertile oasis. In contrast to Durotar, the colours here seemed fleeting and dull at first, but whenever the slowly fading sunlight fell down in the right angle, it transformed the barren land into breathtaking plains of brass and copper, beautiful and serene.

Close to the bridge and the road descending from it, a settlement met the warriors' eyes. It was little more than a fortified outpost, a few watchtowers and burrows arranged around two central buildings that formed the heart of the caravan camp. Every traveller knew it well. Far watch post, as it was called, had been erected to provide shelter and protection to the caravans on their way to Orgrimmar or the Crossroads. It was the the only centre of civilization they would encounter for days, and so Kerag decided to head towards it, to refresh their supplies, and even more important, to find out was waiting for them along the road.

The outpost made a very crowded impression given the low number of buildings. Several small groups of people had set up camp in and around the outpost. The stables were packed, mostly with kodo beasts, but Kerag also spotted a few dire worgs, most likely the mounts of raiders and messengers. The caravansary itself was a strange mixture of fortress, office and inn. An outer ring structure housed the guest rooms and less essential supplies while also functioning as battlements in case of an attack. Within the ring, beyond a courtyard large enough to suffice as killing ground should the walls fall, lied the caravansary itself, a four story building of bone, stone, wood and hide that contained the inn, armoury, and also the caravan masters personal quarters.

The tauren sentry on one of the massive towers watched them warily as they approached towards the outer ring, raising a javelin almost the size of a ballista bolt that Kerag was not to keen on having hurled at himself. Other guards stood nearby, always a hand on their weapon. Narn's expression hardened in the face of this open hostility, but Kerag smirked and slowly drew his axe, handing it to the youngster alongside his bag.

"They are just careful," he said. "And they have every reason to. I will go inside and talk to the caravan master. You stay out here and prepare our camp for the night. Looks like there will be no room for us at the inn."

Narn's lack of excitement was all too apparent, but he did not complain and walked towards a shallow gorge, where he placed their bags and started to look for some firewood.

Kerag proceeded into the caravansary, slightly annoyed by the sounds that greeted him already from afar. On his way to Orgrimmar, he had also rested here, but back then the outpost had been all but deserted, which was the state that Kerag had preferred to encounter on his way back into the Barrens as well. As he strolled through the spiked gates, a group of trolls walked past him, two warriors with javelins and a gnarled old male leaning on a walking staff, his face hidden behind a large lacquered mask and wearing a harness with countless small pouches. A strange stench of different smells surrounded the group, a stench that would have startled Kerag had he not known a thing or two about the trolls of the Darkspear tribe. Still, recently it was rare to encounter one of their so called witch doctors this far away from the Echo Isles, especially one that was not part of any official Horde presence in the area. For a brief moment Kerag wondered what business lead them into this part of Kalimdor, but seeing that it was unlikely that such a group would be interested in inane small talk, he shrugged and continued into the building.

When he finally returned, Narn had long finished all preparations for their camp. The youth sat on a flat rock, his cloak falling around him, thoughtfully grinding a whetstone against the blade of his sword. He looked up as Kerag approached.

"As crowded as you expected?"

Kerag nodded. "Even more so. Many merchants and mercenaries. There is a caravan leaving for the Crossroads in the morning. We will accompany it."

"Why?"

"Because the goods it carries are much needed and the warriors that guard it are few in numbers. The raiders in these parts have become quite bold over the last few months. If even the bigger caravans are no longer safe from their attacks, what fate do you think two lonely wanderers will suffer?"

Narn nodded and Kerag sat down beside him, conjured a piece of dried meat from his back and started to chew on it slowly.

"I have thought about what you said," said Narn after a while, and seeing his uncle's imploring gaze he continued. "About peons and the old ways. I believe you when you say that back then we had no need for peons, but I keep wondering whether it was actually as different as you make it sound. What about the women? I have often heard the older warriors talk about how women knew their place in the old days, or saw them sneer with disapproval at the sight of a female warrior or shaman. Were their fates so different from that of the peons today?"

"Hmm," grumbled Kerag, swallowing a bite of his meal. His gnarled hand rose to tug at his beard. "I admit, I have never thought of that. You are right. In many ways, the females were our slaves back then. They were not free to choose their calling." He chuckled. "Believe me, though, when I say that also had its advantages."

"I can imagine," the boy replied. A weak smile appeared on his face, but he did not loose his serious attitude. "So we Orcs always had someone to exploit..."

"It looks like it. Maybe I was wrong. Maybe Gul'dan did not turn us into slavers, maybe he only made more visible what had always been a part of our culture."

Narn looked down, lost in thought. "That does not make it right, does it?"

"No," Kerag replied softly. "It doesn't"

"I am so sorry for what I did to Urtel," Narn suddenly whispered, his voice on the brink of cracking, his eyes starring into the void before him. He shivered.

Kerag said nothing for a moment, then patted the younger warrior's shoulder. "I know."

Narn's head darted up, staring at his uncle with wide, pleading eyes. "What do I do? How can I cleanse myself of his guilt? Please, set a challenge so I can reclaim my honour!"

Kerag shook his head. "There is no challenge I could set you. Honour is nothing that is lost or won with single actions; it is something that has to be earned every day anew. Sadly, we do not always get the chance to set right the suffering that our mistakes had caused, but that is the way it is. In the end it does not matter, for there is nothing you can do about it. What matters is how you deal with your mistakes. Don't deny them, or you are doomed to repeat them, and don't succumb to them and the guilt you feel, or it will drain you of your spirit. There lies no redemption in guilt."

Narn nodded. He looked disappointed, and yet a little less desperate than before, thought Kerag. He was sure Narn had understood what he had tried to tell him, and even though he did not say it, he was proud of the boy.

"Try and get some sleep," he said. "Tomorrow will be a long day."

Narn did not argue, but looked rather relieved at the prospect of sleep and the sweet oblivion it offered. He curled up close to the fire, his now travel-stained cloak wrapped around himself like a blanket. Soon he was soundly asleep, and left Kerag alone with his thoughts.

It was strange, found Kerag as he watched the youngster's face, how much Narn looked like Kerag's own son had at his age. It was a grave thought, one that triggered memories so strong that they had broken him once before. Yet while Kerag instinctively sensed where his weary thoughts were carrying him, he found himself unable to resist their wailing allure. He tore his gaze free and turned to stare into the bristling flames, but the face he saw before his inner eye did not fade.

His line had always passed on a strong family resemblance. Kerag and his brother had been the living image of their father, just as their father before them had been said to have resembled their grandfather. Narn looking like Tarbo should neither have surprised nor startled Kerag, but it did.

Tarbogar had been so proud and eager to march into battle, for the first time alongside his father and uncle. Kerag's heart had been equally filled with pride, a pride that the treasured even now, but that was now overshadowed by the feelings of loss and guilt. The boy had been ready, fast and tough, skilled with his weapon of choice and as courageous as they came. By the laws of war, he should have returned victorious, bathed in the gore of lesser opponents, just as Narn's father should have. Sadly though, sometimes courage and skill were not enough. Sometimes a warrior needed more than that to survive. Sometimes he needed luck, and on that day luck had not favoured his brother and son.

In the midst of battle, he had become separated from his relatives during a charge of human knights that tore through their formation and smoothed the way for the approaching footmen. The Horde's warriors had been pressed hard at this point, yet refused to back down. Kerag himself had been lost in the song of slaughter - cleaving, cutting and tearing his way through the humans alongside a Stonemaul ogre and a savage headhunter from Darkspear tribe. Eventually reinforcements had arrived and they had driven the naval soldiers back into the city of Theramore. His forces had pushed on, but Kerag had stayed, wandering the battlefield in search of his lost kin, expecting them to suddenly appear somewhere until the end, laughing and boasting about the enemies they had slain.

Close to a shallow bog he had finally found them. Their dead faces had been warped by the pain they had felt before they died. The two bodies lay close to each other, surrounded by slain friends and foes alike, marking a spot where the battle had been especially fierce. Narn's father, Akaron, had died with the tip of a lance rammed through his imposing chest. Despite the gruesome sight, Kerag had somehow felt that the injury was not severe enough to have killed his brother, that he would rise in a second and shrug it off as a flesh wound. He did not.

Tarbogar's young body had shown a series of smaller cuts. None of them had been deep enough to have killed the boy, but Kerag was sure that they had drained his son's strength. In the end, his axe's shaft had broken under an enemy's blow, and the next one had slashed into his unprotected neck, half-severing the head.

Kerag had stared at the lifeless bodies for minutes. He had seen many friends and comrades die on the battlefield, and while he had mourned all their deaths, it had never actually affected him much in his life. This time had been different, and the cry with which Kerag had called upon the ancestors to guide his brother and son into the spirit world could not have been filled with more sorrow and dispair. On that day the world lost its colour. He had burned their bodies personally.

Now, back at the campfire, watching the shadows dance of Narn's face, Kerag could not help but once again see his son's ravaged face, slowly being consumed by the flames. It made his heart ache. He did not weep - he never had once in his life - but in this moment he wished that he could. His hands reached for the simply necklace of leather and bone-pearls that he wore around his neck. It had belonged to his son, and he clutched it tightly, closing his eyes. He held on for the entire night.
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