I hate doing battle scenes... so why do I write so many?

World of Warcraft fanfiction is a sketchy thing indeed, but no matter.

Anyway, I wrote some more while I was in Germany, and I’ve finally gotten around reworking my notes. All I ask of you is some pointers for the battle scene. Is it possible to follow? Do you get an idea of how it looks? How many important things have I forgotten or messed up?

The story is a sequel to this one, in case you’re curious. You’d think everyone involved would chose not to ever set foot in a jungle again, but there you go.

The humidity made his leather armor feel like it was glued to his skin. It probably didn’t smell very nice either, but Rohdjinn had passed the stage where he took note of that several days ago. He might consider jumping into the ocean when he returned to Grom’gol together with his companions, but that would be more for the refreshing feel of it than to actually clean himself. Really, when out this long in the jungle, it didn’t matter much. Not that trolls were that specific about washing everyday, though the waves back home in Sen’jin did invite for swims.

Though if he thought about it, getting rid of the mud would probably be a good idea. It smothered his hair down still, full of twigs and leaves – which was the idea – but most of it had flaked off his skin by now. He grinned at the thought. 

The young troll slipped into the thick foliage surrounding a tree, where he could rest for a moment and have a drink of water in peace. 

Not that he considered himself the romantic kind, but there was definitely something special about being in these lands, where trolls had once reigned supreme. 

Of course, that feeling would only last for as long as you avoided ending up on those trolls’ dinner plate, but anyway.

He had never been this far out before, not until his teacher decided that a few more Stranglethorn raptors would add to the breeding program in Sen’jin. Apparently this was also a great opportunity to give two of his students a small tour of the world, and off Rohdjinn was to the other continent. He certainly didn’t complain. Not only was it a grand trip for him, but the other student coming along was this <I>quite</I> pretty young woman named Dosha. 

Oh, and he had never before realized how much he liked his bright red hair. 

<I>“That won’t do out here, mon. Into da mud, both of ya!”</I>

Dosha’s greenish hair, which would not stand out against the green landscape, technically did not demand for camouflage. But what’s to hinder a couple of freshly adult-age trolls from mud wrestling, especially when they’re kindly ordered to? 

Rohdjinn grinned to himself, having to muffle a burst of laughter as he recalled the blood elf who had happened to come walking by the river. Remembering the look on her face forced him to bite his knuckles to keep from laughing – and he could only imagine what her expression had been like when their teacher noticed her and leaped into the mud to join his students. At that point Rohdjinn got himself face first in the muck however, and when he – howling with laughter – got up again, the lithe lady had opted for leaving in a huff.

And now he was out here on his own for the first time. Just a short scouting trip to make sure the area was safe, and with strict orders to stay out of trouble. The freedom felt nice, but even better when spiced with that kind of responsibility. Rohdjinn was no fool – the area was dangerous and he knew to respect that. However, so far he had not seen anything more threatening than a sunbathing snake. Disregarding the fact that it had been thicker than his leg and probably poisonous... nothing to make a fuzz about. He would go back to their small camp soon, but no reason to waste a chance for a short break.

 The shadows felt nice, and there was a slight breeze whispering through the green world. Birds chirped and squawked among the rustling leaves, and the air smelt of flowers and the thick sweetness of half rotten fruit. But the latter was distant, and not too much of a bother. 

 Rohdjinn smiled to himself, lazily spying on a couple of parrots flapping between two trees. 

 The pleasant peace of the jungle broke when somebody cried out.

 Rohdjinn barely had time to straighten up before another shout followed the first, and the not too distant shout grew into the familiar choir of noises from a battle starting. Frowning, the troll fastened the water sack at his belt and crawled through the undergrowth on all fours. The fight was going on nearby, but he felt quite sure that none of those who cried out were his companions. Humanoids’ voices for sure, but not ones he knew. 

 He spied movement ahead and crept closer still, peeking out between the huge leaves of a bush. The ground tipped downwards just a little bit, giving him a vantage point. 

Three human men were fighting five jungle trolls – Skullsplitters judging by their face paint and the general area. 

 Not a good fight to be on the wrong side in.

Rohdjinn only watched with some interest as the humans got their asses handed to them. The thought to aid them never crossed his mind – he did not like Skullsplitters, but neither did he like humans, and each one of the trolls down there was bigger than him. 

What were humans doing in this area, anyway? Technically this part of Stranglethorn belonged to the Skullsplitter tribe – even if he had not seen any of them this far north before. But in terms of world factions, it was more Horde territory than Alliance, thanks to Grom’gol being so close by. Had the three men wandered so far off the road because they feared Horde patrols? Or to fulfill some suicide mission given to them in Booty Bay?

Or were they just stupid?

Whichever the case, they were all dead men.

Rohdjinn had not seen many humans before, a fact he did not complain about. In this situation it only meant that he could not quite tell what kind of warriors they were. Their armor was light, suited for the jungle, but there were considerable amounts of metal protecting them. All three used shields, two swords and one a mace – which in compare to an orc’s warhammer looked like a toy.

Squinting, the troll thought that he could see the outline of some symbol on the mace-wielder’s chestplate, but then the man received a blow from behind and fell face first into the ground. He tried to get up, but a Skullsplitter kicked him over and while he was still trying to recover from that, a huge blue foot came down on his chest, knocking all air out of him.

The other two were doing no better. One lost focus while trying to slice at his attackers, only to find his shield grabbed and violently twisted. He went down, rolling and letting go of the shield desperately. A Skullsplitter raised its dagger high, but somehow the human stumbled aside and the weapon only hit one of the bags by his belt. Cloth ripped, the troll snarled and tore the weapon right back up while the contents of the bag spilled into the lush vegetation. This time, the human was not so lucky. The Skullsplitter grabbed the man’s sword arm and, with a vicious grin, stabbed the dagger into the area beneath the hanging shoulder panzer. 

The man’s face twisted, he cried out in agony and the sword fell out of his grip. Still grinning, the Skullsplitter twisted the dagger out of the arm and threw the man to the ground. 

“Ow,” Rohdjinn muttered to himself.

 He caught sight of a golden glow around the man’s left hand, but unfortunately for the human, the other trolls noticed it too. The had-to-be-a-paladin-then got roughly pulled up on his feet, and the pain itself killed off his attempt to heal himself. The troll holding his arms still gave him a few good rattles to be on the safe side, until he slumped, groaning. 

The last human standing held out for about three more seconds before sheer numbers and much bigger muscles beat him down. His arm was caught and twisted out of his hand, moments before he lost his shield as well. He still twisted and cursed, until a dagger at his throat silenced him. 

That first unlucky bugger was finally allowed to move, but only so much that he too found himself standing with both arms wrung up behind his back. The Skullsplitters chuckled cruelly amongst one another while the humans exchanged wild glances. 

Not a bad battle. Most of the trolls had avoided getting hurt at all because it had been so quick, and those who were wounded only had scratches that would heal quick enough. 

Rohdjinn almost felt a little sorry for the humans. Poor, pathetic threesome. 

One of the Skullsplitters not holding a prisoner took a rope from his simple belt and moved towards the wounded human. However, he stopped and looked down. 

A huge blue hand swooped into the low undergrowth covering the ground, grabbing at something. Thinking back, Rohdjinn figured that it had to be the items fallen from the  paladin’s bag. 

 Straightening, the Skullsplitter shook his hand and picked among his finds, scattering little things all around. Then suddenly he snarled, but it sounded just as surprised as angry. The others bent or moved closer to see, all raising fleshy eyebrows and a couple of them grunting out curses. 

The investigating troll lowered his hand, letting the human have a look. Instantly the little man bared his teeth, twisting in his captor’s grip and grinding out what had to be quite colorful swear words judging by his tone.

Chortling wickedly, the troll dropped whatever it was and stomped on it. The human roared, but the cry was cut off suddenly when one of the other trolls knocked him unconscious with a simple club to the head.

If not for the Skullsplitter holding him, the human would have fallen to the ground. The other two men simply had their hands tied in front of them, but the trolls seemed too amused with the first human to let him get away so easily. Rohdjinn watched with only a little disbelief as the Skullsplitters tied the man’s wrists and ankles to a spear. Two of them then lifted the weapon, carrying him as if he was a captured beast. The man did not stir during any of it.

All of the Skullsplitters seemed to find it hilarious, even more so since the man’s friends looked on with such disgusted horror. The cruelty made sense, really – those trolls really could only have one reason to capture the humans alive. 

 Fresh meat. 

Prods with clubs and crude daggers forced the humans along as the trolls began moving. Rohdjinn watched, patiently waiting for them to get out of sight. 

They headed off through the jungle, almost in the same direction he had planned to go later. Having scouted the area Rohdjinn could take a guess at where they were going, and if he was right, then they would not get anywhere near the camp. Still, it was too dangerous to take a chance about that. Once he felt certain that the hunting party were gone, he slipped out of his hiding place and down the hill. Just following them for a little bit would let him know if he needed to run ahead and warn his friends. 

When he crossed the battlefield however, a lump of bright colors caught his eye. Despite feeling that he needed to make sure where the enemies were going, he wasted a curious glance. As it would turn out, this led to a much longer pause than he had planned. 

Among the leaves and flowers of the ground laid the paladin’s scattered belongings. A few dull scales of some lizard, a couple of torn pages from a book… other little useless things Rohdjinn did not take note of. His gaze was drawn to what without a doubt was the thing that had drawn such interest from the Skullsplitters. 

It was a small totem. The feathers were ruffled and broken, the twig holding the mask snapped, and the mask itself broken in two. Rohdjinn would not even have taken note of it if he had not at first glance seen that it was not a Skullsplitter totem, but a Darkspear one. The design was too familiar to him to avoid notice.

Frowning, he bent down and scooped up the broken remains.  

On the backside of the mask letters had been carefully scratched into the wood, almost as clearly as the day the totem had been made. The owner must have treated it with care, unlike the Skullsplitter who had stomped on it. 

 The light was not well suited for reading, not with the leaves sending thick, dancing shadows over the entire world beneath the treetops. Even as he squinted and made out the writing word by word, Rohdjinn’s initial thought was that he must be mistaken. 

But the writing was definitely there. 

&lt;I&gt;Do not kill this human, for he has helped a Darkspear. – Raptor charmer Vo’don&lt;/I&gt;

The young troll reread the short text, squinting even more. 

It refused to change.

Muttering a curse Rohdjinn dashed into the jungle, slowing down only when he suspected being close enough to the Skullsplitters and their prisoners. Then he moved with more care, but still nimbly through the vegetation with all senses alert. 

He spotted them while they moved across another area with lower foliage, while he could still hide among the huge leaves of the bushes. From there, even as they waded through the undergrowth and disappeared into the bushes, he could still tell that they turned to follow the path he had suspected they would take. 

It was enough to make him certain that they would not get dangerously close to the camp, and therefore he took off towards it himself. He moved as quickly as he dared, always on guard in case there were other enemy trolls about. If there had only been the patrol to make a report about, he had not needed to hurry so much, apart from worry that there could be more enemies on the move. However, the totem in his hand put a whole new spin on everything. 

Trying to move swiftly and at the same time avoiding leaving too many tracks for enemies to trace had its complications, but he did his best. Luckily, the camp was not too far off, and he slowed. Haste or no, there were more things than friendly trolls in their camp.

Breathing deeply, Rohdjinn walked out through the bushes and into the small clearing in which he had slept for the last two nights. Two trolls and two raptors glanced up at him, but only in acknowledgment. 

When out catching new raptors, one should never bring a mount, and definitely not an already tamed raptor. The great lizards were intelligent, and another large animal in the vicinity – especially a prospective rival of unknown origin – could be fatal for the first, vulnerable days of building up a sense of trust.

Vo’don had said that he would not even bring a tamed raptor along even if it came from the part of the world he was going to. He had great respect for the beasts, for good reasons – experience with raptors mainly meant the experience of regrowing limbs again and again. 

The totem felt heavier than it should be in Rohdjinn’s grip. Of course he knew the story about the Un’goro crater, everyone who knew Vo’don and then some had heard it because it was just that crazy. But deep down, the young troll felt that maybe he hadn’t actually believed it before. 

 Perhaps it had not been the best course of action not to help the humans, but how would he have known?

“See anything good, mon?” Vo’don said without looking at Rohdjinn. Instead, he kept brushing his hand over the raptor’s neck, hissing softly. The big lizard’s tail lazily swung back and forth, thin front arms scratching the air in delight when Vo’don found some itchy spot the beast never had been able to scratch on her own.

A little ways away Dosha busied herself with their second raptor, this one found a few days ago. Vo’don had not let his two students close to it before he had established a connection to it over the course of several hours. This despite the fact that neither Dosha nor Rohdjinn were inexperienced with the great lizards, nor battle. But Vo’don had spent years raising and gathering raptors, and his decisions were not questioned by the other two trolls. 

Dosha’s hissing did not sound as fluid as Vo’don’s, but it seemed to be enough for the raptor whose back she was rubbing. At least, it had not tried to bite off her ears from what Rohdjinn could see, and that did count for something.

Regardless, this was probably more important than the raptors getting a massage right now.  

“I think you wanna look at this,” Rohdjinn said, cradling his find in both hands.

He moved carefully not to give the raptor the wrong idea, but the darn thing still gave him a suspicious look and moved as if to take a look – or bite – of the young troll. Probably thinking that there might be something edible being offered. Vo’don brushed her head aside, murmuring at her. Only when the lizard had understood that it was not snack time, Vo’don bent closer to Rohdjinn to have a look.  

The mildly curious expression swept away from the older troll’s face, and he snatched the broken item so quickly that the raptor gave him a questioning look. Dosha, too, looked up with some surprise. Vo’don ignored all of them, his fingers tinkering with what he held. Eyes thinning, he turned the broken pieces over and read the inscription on the backside.

“Where’d you find this?” he demanded, sharply looking up.

Rohdjinn really had no idea what to expect as he quickly told his story, watching his teacher’s eyes thin for every other sentence. Soon Dosha was listening as well, though she tried to return her attention to her raptor every now and then. 

Finally, gazing in the direction that Rohdjinn pointed, Vo’don let out a low, growling sigh.

“See, Roh,” he said, looking up briefly. “I think I gotta teach you an important lesson, and you better do it right da first time.”

“What?” the young troll said, curiously watching his teacher.

Vo’don narrowed his eyes at the jungle, absentmindedly stroking the raptor’s side.

“Living bait,” he said, left hand clenching around the remains of the totem.

Now that you’ve read the text, did that spear the paladin got tied to seem to come out of subspace? Need more details about the camp? I’m trying to weigh out a fear of over-describing things because it’s a common mistake I see (“his chocolate orbs blinked lazily behind golden-brown bangs” and all that rot), but maybe I’m overdoing it.

On that tangent, let’s finish off by making fun of Mary-Sues.

“I was never in the camps. I am of the Frostwolf clan,” the orc calmly said.

“You speak Common like it was your mother tongue. Ah-” Thomas stopped himself and winced as he realized that maybe that was not a compliment in the orc’s view. But Dor’ash did not give him an unfriendly look.

“Wait, I’ve got this one,” Sarah said, holding up the fingers of her right hand and counting them down – and back up – as she spoke. “His third cousin twice removed’s brother-in-law has an adopted daughter whose aunt’s second husband’s teacher’s hunting partner’s brother married the granddaughter of a distant cousin to Thrall’s grandfather.”

It didn’t help that she didn’t have to pause even for breath.

While the humans just blinked – and the trolls, who hadn’t understood half of that only watched the humans’ expressions with some curiosity – Dor’ash stared at nothing and counted on his own fingers for a few moments.

“That distant cousin was one thrice removed,” he finally said. “Otherwise you got it all.”

“You know you’ve gotta tote it out to the world that you’re so special for kinda sorta being related to Thrall.” Sarah picked at one of the black braids hanging down the orc’s back, then seemed to glance at the others. “Now bow down, you’re almost in the presence of orc royalty.”

And then they all got killed by nelves.

Good, good! Your first paragraph gave the necessary sense of depth, the humour often worked (mud-wresting, thrice removed) and the parts where the narrative works seem to have grown denser. You generally have the detail level right. You should describe the camp more, only if you want to put more of the action there; often giving a general impression of an area or a character works better, anyway. Giving the minutiae on the spear or that purple-prosey example you prudently avoid, would be overkill. Trolls carry spears and say “What you wan’me kill?”, known facts.

By the way, at the time they found the totem, the atmosphere seemed similar to H. Rider’s Haggard King Solomon’s Mines.

You know though that the phrase “he cried out in agony” is a cliche on par with “It was a dark and stormy night…” :stuck_out_tongue:

Thank you very much for your input, Rig :slight_smile: I appreciate it!

Here’s the final result.

You’re welcome. I’ll read it after I return.

And off to Latvia I go!

I’m not making a new thread just for the sake of this insanity.

Chapter three is ready for proof-read. I’m waiting to hear from a beta-reader, but more input is welcome :slight_smile:

Thomas could admit that the whole situation was absurd. Never had he truly believed that he would ever meet Vo’don again, but the troll had reappeared like a guardian angel when Thomas and his friends should by all accounts have been doomed.

Perhaps not so absurd as a case of unbelievable luck. 

Or well, that had been the case before. Now two human paladins and their warrior friend were walking through the jungle with three trolls, and orc and a Forsaken, in peace.

That was absurd.

He could tell that Edward and Martin were still uneasy, and he couldn’t quite blame them. It was all very odd indeed. But Thomas at least dared to trust the trolls that had rescued the three of them. He wasn’t completely sure what to make of Dor’ash, since he was obviously a friend of a Forsaken, but Thomas felt worlds better after the orc had healed him. Until then he had not been sure about making it even as far as the road.

His stomach still lurched occasionally, although that had nothing to do with his 

wounds. Sarah walked a little to the side of everyone else, but that only helped a little against the stench. The wind just wasn’t strong enough to help much.

He tried to think of something else than the undead woman and looked ahead at Vo’don’s back. The troll walked in the lead now, speaking with his apprentices every now and then. Thomas hoped that he would have a chance to talk some more with Vo’don once they were all safely on the road. 

“Tell me if you start feeling dizzy. You have not recovered yet.”

Thomas blinked, pulled out of his thoughts by Dor’ash’s voice. He looked up, meeting the shaman’s red eyes. Thomas got the feeling that the orc thought of him as an interesting specimen. 

“Ah, yes. Thank you,” Thomas said.

“You were lucky being saved by a troll who’s been around and about in the world for a while,” Dor’ash said with a fangy grin. “Most of them like to think that the best way to get somebody healthy is to beat on them until they start moving again.”

Thomas recalled Un’goro, and the troll priestess who had slapped Vo’don across the face to make him stand up. 

“Yes, I’ve seen that,” he said.

“One can’t blame them for it, since it has always worked for them,” Dor’ash said. He absentmindedly glanced over his shoulder, as if he had heard something.

The motion made Thomas look about as well, although he had not heard anything out of the ordinary. Dor’ash turned back with no sign of concern a moment later, and kept walking as if nothing had happened.

Figuring it had been a false alarm, Thomas forgot about it. 

He debated with himself for a moment, but decided to try to keep talking. Ever since meeting Vo’don, Thomas found himself fascinated by the people he had once regarded as simply enemies. It wasn’t often that he met any member of the Horde who was remotely friendly and talkative, so he took the chance. 

“You said you were of the Frostwolf clan?” he said.

“Hmm?” Dor’ash replied, peering at Thomas.

“It’s just, I thought that clan preferred to remain secluded from the rest of the world.”

Dor’ash shrugged.

“Most of us, perhaps. But I wanted to serve the Horde better than that, even after Hyjal,” he said. “We can’t just leave the warchief’s side, even if he has enough warriors for an army now.”

“I see, that’s-”

“Wait, I’ve got this one,” Sarah said, holding up the fingers of her right hand and counting them down – and back up – as she spoke. “Dor’ash’s third cousin twice removed’s brother-in-law has an adopted daughter whose aunt’s second husband’s teacher’s hunting partner’s brother married the granddaughter of a distant cousin to Thrall’s grandfather.”

It didn’t help that she didn’t have to pause for breath.

While the humans just blinked at Sarah – and the trolls, who hadn’t understood half of that only studied the humans’ expressions with some curiosity – Dor’ash stared ahead at nothing and counted on his own fingers for a few moments.

“That distant cousin was one thrice removed,” he finally said. “Otherwise you got it all.”

“You know you’ve gotta tote it out to the world that you’re so special for kinda sorta being related to the warchief.” Sarah reached out and picked at one of the black braids hanging down the orc’s back, then seemed to glance at the other people in the group. “Now bow down, you’re almost in the presence of orc royalty.”

“You’re not making any sense!” Martin said. It was probably as close to calling Sarah a halfwit as he dared to go.

“No, because Thrall isn’t our king. He’s the warchief,” Dor’ash said.

“Semantics. It’s not that different.”

“Tolly diffrunt!” Dosha cut in, causing as much amusement with her tone as with her horrid Common – although in his own mind, Thomas suspected that he sounded at least as bad when speaking Orcish.

Sarah said something about ‘you should be on my side’, but the long speech held too many unfamiliar words for Thomas to understand them completely. The trolls laughed, however, and Dosha patted Rohdjinn and Vo’don’s shoulders. 

Still smirking, Sarah turned her face towards Dor’ash. Only then did Thomas note that although the orc laughed softly, he was distracted. The small red eyes were turned upwards, and he walked slower than before. Listening. 

But there was nothing except birds chirping and the rustle of leaves, not to Thomas’ ears at least. Then Dor’ash fell silent and actually stopped walking. Since this was noticed pretty quickly, the whole group came to a halt and looked at him with varying degrees of surprise and frowns. He, however, seemed to have forgotten about them completely, lost in whatever he was searching for. 

Thomas threw a questioning look at Vo’don, who raised a finger to his thick lips and hushed. 

It didn’t take long before Dor’ash shook his head and returned his gaze from the treetops. 

“I hope the voices are telling you to make us some human stew,” Sarah said before he could speak, causing winces all around. Vo’don glared at her, and Thomas half expected to be dragged off very quickly by Martin and Edward.

“Stop making them nervous!” Dor’ash sharply said.

In lack of eyes, she made a rolling motion with her entire head. Shaking his head again, Dor’ash turned to Vo’don and they exchanged a few quick sentences in Orcish. During the discussion they both began walking again, ushering everyone else to do the same. Thomas managed to catch enough words to get a basic idea, but either way Dor’ash offered a translation once he finished speaking with Vo’don. 

“The spirits say that we should get to the main road as quickly as possible,” the orc said. Thomas took note of, however, that he had told Vo’don “I believe the spirits say…”, rather than expressing himself in certain terms like he did in Common.

“Isn’t that what we’re doing?” Edward said, eyebrows sinking.

Dor’ash didn’t show any reaction to the suspicious tone, nor did he reply. He remained silent, frowning as he glanced about one last time. 

Although aware of the shaman ability to hear voices from beyond the mortal realm, Thomas had never actually seen anybody stopping to listen and take advice. Up until now that ability had after all belonged exclusively to members of the Horde, and he had not had a chance to spend much time with any draenei. He wasn’t sure how well to believe in whispers from the other side – Edward certainly didn’t seem to fully do – but when it came down to it, there were many much stranger things in the world. Sarah and the trolls definitely took it seriously, looking around much more than before. 

Wisely, Thomas didn’t comment the fact that Dor’ash had not sounded so sure of himself when talking to Vo’don. Questioning the orc would probably not be a smart thing to do, for one. Secondly, looking at Edward and Martin, Thomas felt that they were uncomfortable enough as it were. 

For a while the group continued through the jungle in silence, all of them tense to make it to the road.

When about twenty minutes had passed, however, with nothing worse than a small green snake lazily watching them while hanging from a branch, the most acute tension was just about settled. Although still keeping an eye on the environment, Rohdjinn started a low conversation with Dosha, soon involving Vo’don and a whole lot of hand gesturing and snickers. 

They didn’t speak loud enough for Thomas to catch anything that they said, but the cheerful murmurs eased up the edginess. 

After a little while, Thomas scrounged up the guts to brave the gap between races and factions again, and turned to Dor’ash. The shaman glanced at the surroundings occasionally, but he also watched the trolls with the shadow of a grin on his face. 

“I only have a very basic grip of Orcish, but out of curiosity,” Thomas said, “all that ‘third cousin twice removed’s adopted daughter’s brother-in-law’ from before, you have a single word for all of it, don’t you?”

Dor’ash looked at him in renewed surprise, but then let out a rumbling chuckle.

“Three words. That hunting partner breaks the flow,” he said.

“Ah, right. I should have guessed, how silly of me.” Thomas grinned, and even Sarah chortled with some approval at his jocular tone. That almost managed to not be utterly creepy.

The paladin looked at his human companions, who both stared at him. 

“They’re very particular about their family, you know,” Thomas said, then turned away again. He really tried to take on a pacifying tone, but doubted that it helped.

Maybe he ought to tone it down. Once they reached the road he might very well be left with Edward and Martin. If the three of them got stuck in another bad situation, it would be best for all if they did not think him crazy.

“Unusual to see a human having enough knowledge of Orcish to guess that,” Dor’ash said, calling Thomas from his thoughts.

The paladin nodded. It was true, and sure hadn’t made his attempts to learn the language any easier. 

“Vo’don did something for my world view some time ago,” he said as an explanation.

“Un’goro? He told me about it once.” The orc threw an amused glance between the troll and human, then addressed Vo’don first. While the troll chuckled, Dor’ash looked at Thomas again. “Curious way to become friends.”

I hardly know him.

But it was not Thomas’ first thought.

“It’s not just that you think of me as a pet, is it?” he said instead, giving Vo’don a slanted smile.

Dor’ash caught on and translated, smirking. The trolls apparently found this joke to their liking as they had to press a hand each to their mouths to muffle their laughter. Vo’don, grinning, thumped Thomas’ back so hard that he nearly fell over. Out of the corner of his eye, the paladin noticed how Edward and Martin were staring at him again, and he inwardly winced. So much for toning it down. 

If he was brutally honest with himself, that mental wince wasn’t as honest as it may have been, either. Part of him soared doubly for meeting Vo’don again, and to be given this chance to show two old friends that he had been right – not all members of the Horde were murderous monsters. Most people he had tried to strike up a discussion with only scoffed or called him mad at the mere notion that there might be more to skin that wasn’t pink or purple.

Vo’don was speaking again, and the Orcish words were simple enough for Thomas to figure them out pretty easily. Therefore, he made a “hey!” comment at the beginning of Sarah’s gleeful translation. 

“He says ‘Well, what else would you be good for’.”

Thomas laughed, grinning at Vo’don and completely ignoring the fact that Edward shook his head in disbelief. 

“… but if you’re asking me, I can think of a few other things,” Sarah added, her chipped, yellow teeth stark between her greenish lips.

Not quite sure how serious the underlying threat was, despite her cheerful tone, Thomas just turned his face away from her and waved his hand dismissively. He could not help it. As soon as he almost managed to forget how creepy she was, she did something to remind him. Dor’ash seemed alright with her, had to be if they were travelling together – despite her promise to kill and eat him – but Thomas could tell that Vo’don had not trusted her at first and still looked at her sharply whenever she addressed the humans. 

Thomas was certainly not fool enough to believe that all trolls and orcs even under Thrall’s rule were reasonable – the world would not be in its current state of constant guerilla war if that had been true. However, these days he could at least admit, more than before he met Vo’don, that the fault was just as much the Alliance’s.

Blood elves too, he could call reasonably angry – horribly misused during the last war as they had been, and to blatantly call them traitors was to deliver a too simple judgment upon a very complicated, painful truth. 

But Forsaken?

Certainly, one might argue that they had been brought into their current state by the same evil force that wanted to enslave all races, but… no matter how you looked at it, they weren’t natural. It hadn’t been their fault if they were killed and raised again by the Lich King’s forces, of course not, and still… they certainly did not try to invoke sympathy. All the tales of poisoned people and animals could not be mere rumors.

Even looking at Sarah, walking there like a stick doll beside the towering Dor’ash and the trolls, made Thomas skin crawl. He could not quite put his finger on it – it went beyond the fact that her fingers ended in bare, sharpened bone, and that her dry flesh had been worn down around her elbows, that she probably had no eyes, that the stench of her throbbed in his nostrils even now. 

She shouldn’t be walking around. She was dead.

Yet it was beyond even that fact. There was something else, perhaps the reason that she was walking around and having so much of a character even when there wasn’t a hint of life left in her body. Something about the way that she smiled, the shadows of her face – the instinctual knowledge that that amused smile would be just the same if she was listening to screams of agony instead of the trolls’ chuckling. Foul magic animated her, not a soul.

Then the musings shattered when Dor’ash let hear a mix between a sigh and a growl, and backhanded Sarah over her shoulder for her last comment. It looked like just a light slap, but she went flying into a tree trunk. 

A clatter and rustle followed the first slam as she tumbled into the leaves surrounding the base of the tree. In the very brief silence, Rohdjinn muttered something that probably meant “uh-oh”.

Hissing, Dor’ash waved at everyone else to back off – with his other hand, because the one he had used on Sarah he rubbed clean against his chest armor. He started to speak in Orcish, but had to duck when a small blast of fire almost turned the hair on top of his head to ash.

Sarah rose out of the undergrowth, one hand on the back of her neck and the other waving at Dor’ash’s face as she growled. 

Thomas could have sworn he heard something about “brittle neck” and “Thrall”, but it was difficult to make out anything from her angry snarls. He held his breath, half expecting Dor’ash to be turned into a heap of coal or worse at any moment. 

For a little while Dor’ash let her cuss him out, then shrugged and turned away. The Orcish words for “asking for it” made it out of his mouth, but then there was a flash of light. 

Dor’ash spun around and said “baah”. 

A moment of disbelief ensued while Sarah smugly watched the angry sheep in front of her. Then Rohdjinn started laughing in the background while Vo’don stepped in between the sheep and the undead woman. Thomas just blinked at it all, hardly believing what he had just seen.

At the glare she got from Vo’don, Sarah cooed and pulled her arms up against her chest. Grunting in annoyance, the troll turned around and punched Dor’ash’s wooly head. The spell broke just like that, and with a poofing sound the sheep disappeared in a cloud from which the orc rose up – looking very displeased indeed. 

“You be the judge!” Sarah said in Common, looking at the three humans. “He’s ten times bigger than me and twenty times stronger. Self-defense!”

Martin reacted first, throwing up his hands. 

“Leave me out of this madness,” he said, and there wasn’t any humor in his voice. Edward shook his head in agreement.

For a moment Dor’ash looked like he was going to bear down on the smirking Sarah with righteous fury, but then he just shook his head and started walking again. 

The others followed, though some shuffling made sure that Sarah was not allowed to walk behind anybody else. Rohdjinn kept snorting with laughter and soon Dosha’s confused look eased up in a grin too, seemingly smitten by her friend’s amusement. Their teacher seemed less amused, but left it at that. 

In retrospect Thomas would find it funny too. Right then and there, he could not feel anything but disbelief. 

Still, no matter what they felt about the ridiculous situation they had just borne witness to, the group continued onwards. 

What had just happened only made the next events all the more painful, in contrast.

Perhaps they had been too loud, or too relaxed as they got closer to the main road. But in their defense, there were eight of them, and five of them fully capable, armed warriors. There should not have been much to fear – enemy trolls and the beasts of the jungle would think twice about attacking such a group. True, the jungle was not safe for anyone in low numbers, but it wasn’t as if they walked on while completely ignoring the world surrounding them. With all their looking around, they would have spotted most apparent dangers in advance.

Their enemies must have planned and placed themselves carefully.

When it happened, Thomas had just gotten into a hair-tearing practice with Vo’don, trying to teach the troll to pronounce the “th”-sounds in Common. In exchange, Vo’don forced Thomas to struggle with the deeper growls used in some Orcish words. Although he suspected that he was being silently laughed at by Rohdjinn and the others, the paladin did his best.

Dor’ash’s snicker showed when he shook his head at something that must have been a horribly botched attempt to speak the Orcish word for “tree”. Much later Thomas would learn that just a slight mispronunciation of that word changed the meaning quite radically, but Vo’don spared him that truth for the time being. Or rather, nobody got a chance to dwell deeper on the subject. 

Still shaking his head Dor’ash reached for his water sack and raised it to his lips.

A wet thunk and a curse from the orc shattered the peace. Thomas looked up and drew a sharp breath as he saw the arrow stuck in the water sack just before Dor’ash dropped it. The orc tore the war hammer from his belt and shield from his back, spinning at the direction from which the arrow had come. Just as quickly, Vo’don’s dagger appeared in his hand, Dosha had her own bow and arrow out and Rohdjinn crouched with his axe ready. Sarah was the slowest, clawing for her staff even as she backed together with everyone else. With no weapons, the humans could only follow suit and recoil, at least until the attacker spoke up.

“I have my next arrow trained on your right eye, orc!” a voice called out from the treetops, and Thomas tensed along with the Horde’s warriors.

That singing accent could only belong to a night elf. 

“Surrender your weapons, monsters!” another shouted, more to the left of the group.

Thomas brought himself in front of Vo’don and the others with a couple of steps, spreading both arms.

“Brothers of the moon, I am Thomas Southstone, paladin of the Silver Hand. These people are not our enemies!” he called. “If not for them, my companions and I would have been killed by Skullsplitter trolls-”

“Don’t listen to him, he’s a crazy troll lover!” Edward shouted, leaping out of reach before anybody could react. “They’re taking us to the Horde’s base camp!”

Thomas spun around, staring at his friend. As if from a great distance he heard Dor’ash and the trolls growl. But Vo’don almost sighed more than snarled, as if he had expected it. 

There was no pity in Edward’s eyes. He stared back at Thomas, his teeth bared. Both Sarah and Dor’ash could surely have blasted him with magic right where he stood, but they all knew what the elves would do then. 

“Martin-” Thomas started, looking at his other friend pleadingly.

For a moment, Martin glanced quickly between Thomas, Edward, Vo’don and the treetops. His hands clenched.  

Then he backed away and joined Edward, avoiding Thomas’s stare.

Vo’don snarled, short and hard. 

“More humans ahead,” he grunted in Orcish, eyes thin slits as his nostrils flared.

“At least three elves,” Dor’ash muttered. His sharp gaze ran over the trees, probably seeing far more than Thomas’ wild glance could catch.

The orc raised his head, and his voice as he changed language.

“What this man says is true,” he called and motioned at Thomas, but he could not have much hope of being believed. “We were only following them towards the road for safety. It’s not our fault that only one of them believes-”

His attempt ended in a sharp wince as another arrow grazed his ear and he ducked down, growling. Four more arrows buried in the ground dangerously close to his feet, from various treetops.

“We have little patience with your kind,” the first night elf called. “Throw down your weapons!”

The trolls drew closer to Dor’ash, all of them baring their teeth. 

Lost for words, Thomas caught Vo’don’s eyes and the look stabbed the man right through the chest. The troll glanced towards Edward and Martin, not saying a word but speaking with the small motion. 

Go. Live.

There might not be a way out of this for Vo’don and the others, and they realized it. 

Thomas shook his head. No, not this, they could not… it was just like Un’goro, just like it, but Vo’don had managed to talk those orcs and trolls into sparing Thomas and Collins. There had to be something… but Thomas could think of nothing. 

Then he suddenly saw from the corner of his eye how Sarah, hidden between Dor’ash and Rohdjinn’s huge backs, emptied a small black bottle into her mouth. She seemed to look at him, dropped the bottle and pressed a finger against her lips. Just as quickly she lifted the other hand and ran her black-purple tongue over all of her fingertips, a sight Thomas definitely could have lived without. He looked away quickly, unsure of what exactly she thought she was doing. 

Dor’ash straightened and met Vo’don’s gaze. Both of them glanced at the two younger trolls, who glared back. 

“This is your final warning. Throw down your weapons!” the night elf called.

With one last growl Dor’ash turned back towards the jungle.

“Fine,” he snarled.

His war hammer and shield sent tremors through the ground on impact, even though they landed some ways away. Vo’don’s daggers followed, then Dosha’s bow and Sarah’s staff. Rohdjinn grit his teeth audibly when he finally added his axe to the heap. 

“On your knees, and do not dare to try anything,” the night elf commanded.

They grudgingly obeyed. Vo’don and Rohdjinn’s normally bent backs made the movement seem awkward, more like they curled up until they forced themselves straighter. 

Four human men stepped out of the bushes a few yards away, grinning and with swords drawn. Edward wasted no time joining them, and Martin followed him like a dog. Thomas stared at all of them.

What were so many of the Alliance doing in this – more or less – Horde territory? They wore assorted armor, and though a little rugged they did not look like they had spent too long in jungle. The fact that all of them were somewhat freshly shaved proved that they had higher standards than mere robbers. Besides, if it had been only humans one could still have figured they were bandits, but the night elves…

The nasty truth was probably that their only intended purpose were situations just like this. Only in this case, there was a paladin who did not agree on their right to hunt members of the Horde. 

“Looks like the tables have turned, eh?” the man in front drawled.

“No!” Thomas snarled, spreading his arms protectively again. “Curse you, no!”

“We don’t mind hanging orc lovers either, if that’s how it is,” the leader said, eyes narrowing at Thomas.

Martin started to protest at that, but Edward silenced him with a glare. He faltered, glanced at Thomas and looked away again.

The world crumbled beneath Thomas’ feet – he racked his brain desperately, there had to be some way to stop this, they could not… 

“Those two are hardly adults, at least let them go,” Dor’ash said, pointing with his thumb at Rohdjinn and Dosha.

Contemptuous laughter from the humans drenched his words halfway through the sentence, but he still finished it. 

“And let them get a chance at serving the Horde properly?” one of the men said, snorting.

 Dor’ash clenched his teeth, but did not reply. There was no defense against that one. 

 Knowing it was hopeless, just as Dor’ash had known that all he had said had no chance, Thomas made one last desperate attempt. 

“What are you accusing these people of?” he demanded.

 It was useless – they were an orc, and undead and three trolls. And now the humans sneered at him as well. 

“Tell you what,” the leader said, “how about we bring you along to Stormwind, and we can all talk about this with a judge. Then you can get executed all officially instead.”

“They haven’t done any harm!” Thomas snarled.

An arrow hit the ground before him. He stumbled back, almost crashing into Vo’don. 

“I believe you shall sit down as well, human,” one of the night elves said.

Thomas opened and clenched his fists, but when everyone in the group of humans glared at him and two of them raised their swords just a little bit more, he sank down on his knees.

“Oy, mon…”

He heard Vo’don’s soft murmur, but didn’t dare look around in case the night elves would jump to conclusions and decide to hurry things up. 

“If all traitors are sorted out, shall we get on with it?” the human leader said, smirking as his henchmen grinned approval. He looked at the silent, kneeling group. “Orc, you the leader of this rabble?”

No reply. Dor’ash stared straight ahead.

“That one leads the trolls,” Edward said, pointing at Vo’don.

Thomas froze, but Dor’ash’s voice cut off anything he could have thought of saying. 

“Under my command,” the orc said, voice low and rumbling.

“Ah,” the leader said. “Get over here.”

Dor’ash started to stand, knowing, like all of them did, that he would be beaten within an inch of his life and then finally killed. Just for being an orc. 

Same for them all.

He had only gotten halfway up when there was a crackling sound, and the stench of Sarah disappeared.

No, not disappeared, only relocated to somewhere to their right. Teleporting? Was she actually running away? Thomas looked around sharply without thinking, but so did Dor’ash, frozen in mid-motion. 

“Traitor!” the orc snarled, straightening further as if in half a mind to try reaching her with a spell.

A night elf in the right direction called out and an arrow flew between the trees. Sarah shrieked somewhere ahead, rage and fear merging in her hoarse voice. 

“Bring that thing back here!” the human leader snapped.

Another elf’s spell cast a green glow over the leaves he hid behind, and Sarah shrieked again. Something long and thin moved in the foliage. Twigs and leaves whispered and snapped as the Forsaken came back into view, dragged twisting and struggling by a vine wrapped around her arms. The vine hauled her up in between the humans and the prisoners, then stopped moving although it still kept her tied up. She tried to stand, but the arrow stuck in her left thigh seemed to make it too difficult for her.

With a disgusted expression, the leader looked at one of his henchmen and waved his hand at Sarah. The chosen man stepped forwards, looking no less revolted as he raised his sword.

“No! No please, don’t!” Sarah cried, struggling to get up on her knees. She held her bound arms towards the man, clasping her fingers as if praying. “Do you think I wanted this? They broke down the door, we couldn’t- that dark eternity, and his voice, gods, his voice!”

She swayed, sobbing, and the man watched her with his scowl digging deeper into his forehead.

Dor’ash’s huge hand hung by his side, just within sight for Thomas, and the paladin noticed the green fingers wiggling just the slightest bit. A tiny blue sparkle danced over the fingertips. 

“I’ve been free for such a short time!” Sarah wailed, “please, a day, just an hour more!”

The man in front of her pulled himself together. Thomas held his breath, muscles tensing. 

“Your suffering will be over soon,” the executor said and raised his sword to cut Sarah’s head off.

But in the middle of his upwards motion Sarah bolted from the ground, swinging her hands at him. He staggered back, swearing, with four bright red scratches on his cheek from her sharp fingertips. Though stumbling she ducked around him, throwing herself at the other humans. They swore and tried to punch at her, but as close as she were they could not use their swords and not even the night elves could risk firing their arrows at such a chaos. 

It ended quickly however – Sarah felt no fear of pain or death, but she was small and her movements clumsy at best. She could only do so much before one of the elves cast a second spell and the vine ripped her backwards into the open area. Even as she fell into the grass, she chortled like a madwoman. 

“You little bitch-!” one of the men started.

In the middle of the last word, somebody screamed. 

The man who would have killed Sarah stared at his hand, fingers smeared with blood from his wounds. But the red liquid’s color deepened with alarming rate into a sick brown, and those who could see his face saw dark lines spreading under his skin from the scratches. He screamed again, clawing at his bleeding cheek. Another man cried out, clutching his arm just above a scratch where his armor had not protected him from a graceless swing. His blood too darkened, and his fingers twitched uncontrollably. 

Sarah got the attention again with a loud, hoarse laugh. 

“Victory for Sylvanas!” she howled.

Her hands flared with red light. In the next moment she exploded in flames. Thick black smoke spewed from her writhing form, filling the air with a mind-numbing stench of burning, rotten flesh. The men recoiled, coughing, wide eyed. From the tree tops, desperate coughs and cries announced the night elves’ utterly broken focus. That was all the prisoners needed. 

Snarling, Dor’ash flung his hands towards the nearest tree and a blast of blue light shot through the air. The second it disappeared into the leaves there was a new scream. A night elf tumbled from the branches, one arm and half his chest coated with ice.

Vo’don’s huge hand grabbed Thomas’ arm and hauled him to his feet and then all five of them were running away through the jungle. The stench of the smoke forced Thomas to cough and blink tears from his eyes, but he never slowed down. Vo’don and the others had much longer legs, and they could not afford to wait. All Thomas could do was to hope that he would not stumble.

A hard thwack behind them told Thomas that an arrow had hit a tree, but by the sound of the coughs and cries the men and elves were trying to get away from the foul smoke. No other arrow pierced the air, the hunter too caught up in saving himself or his friends. 

With a sudden crackle somebody – something – dropped out of the air ahead  to their right. It crashed into the vegetation like a rag doll, and a familiar stench doubly assaulted Thomas’ nose. He almost gagged, but managed to control himself by willpower alone. 

Dor’ash took a turn and scooped Sarah up from the ground without missing many paces. He threw her over his shoulder and continued, although the wisps of smoke still rising from her oozing, charred remains made him cough again. 

Running behind the orc, Thomas got a little too good view of Sarah’s now hairless, and partly also skinless, head bouncing against Dor’ash’s back. At least her face remained thankfully obscured – the leather straps seemed to have fallen off, which probably did not make her look any more pleasant. What remained of her clothing clung to her in scorched patches. 

Only the fact that she held her hands weakly balled up as if not to scratch Dor’ash’s armor showed that she was still conscious. Thomas quickly looked away and focused on trying not to stumble or fall too far behind. 

He could not tell how long they had been running, but black spots were dancing before his eyes when the others finally slowed down. Vo’don even stopped and turned, waiting for Thomas to make it over the slight distance that separated them. They continued, walking quick but at least no longer running. The sound of the trolls and Dor’ash’s heavy breathing almost managed to be as loud as Thomas’ own gulps for air. 

He heard bits of a brief, breathless conversation between Vo’don and Dor’ash, but most of the words were drowned out or distorted by his or their panting.

“Don’t dink dey follow,” Vo’don finally gasped in Common, to which Thomas could only nod. Hopefully that was true, and the hunters had their hands full figuring out if they were dying.

That reminded Thomas that all of them too had been brought to cough because of the smoke, but he had no breath to formulate a question about it. Luckily, the next few moments showed that others shared his concern. 

Vo’don spoke to Dor’ash again, and the orc turned his face towards what he was carrying over his shoulder. 

“Sarah, are you awake?” he asked, rattling her slightly. He seemed to have caught his breath fairly well by now, if not completely.

Dor’ash spoke a clearer Orcish than the trolls, and it made it a little easier for Thomas to follow along with what was being said. Most of it remained guesswork from his side, however.


Sarah twitched, and actually seemed to regret it as she did not repeat the motion but returned to just hanging like a wet sock. 

“Answer me, was the smoke poisonous?” Dor’ash sharply demanded. “We breathed it too.”

It took a moment before Sarah answered, as if she had to collect the strength to do so.

“No… triiick…” she finally groaned, to general relief. Vo’don made a calming motion at Thomas to make sure the paladin got the message.

Dor’ash let out a thankful sigh and patted the thin back at his cheek. Judging by the sound she made, Sarah did not appreciate that. 

“Good pet zombie,” Dor’ash said.

“Ainn zzzom…”

Then Dosha spoke, out of breath and motioning towards Sarah and the jungle. Thomas only caught a few words, but he made a – rightful, as it would turn out shortly – guess that Dosha was as confused as he was about why Sarah had gone so far, instead of simply bringing herself to safety with the teleportation spell. 

 Dor’ash shook his head, ignoring the strange noises coming from Sarah. It sounded as if she wanted to snort in disdain and failed in every sense. 

“When she’s well, she’ll tell us that it was because she wants to be the one to kill the people she meets,” he said. “Or somesuch.”

“Yesss…” Sarah hissed.

Snorting, Dor’ash glanced at her. What he muttered had the universal tone of “whatever you say”.

“I’m sorry, all of you.” Thomas had finally gotten his lungs back under control. “Light, I’m sorry.”

They all looked around at him, except Sarah who didn’t even dignify him with a failed snort. Vo’don shook his head, touching Thomas’ shoulder.

“You couldn’t do ding,” the troll said.

The hand was meant to be reassuring, but it only felt heavy. Thomas couldn’t look Vo’don in the eye.

“But you managed to tell those trolls and orcs not to kill Collins and me in Un’goro,” he said, looking away. “You people, you are far better than us.”

“No, you’ve just been lucky,” Dor’ash said. His expression was not unfriendly, however, despite his cynical words. When he spoke again, the tone too eased up. “You’re a good man, though. You should go to Theramore and stay there.”

“I have to survive that trip, first,” Thomas darkly said.

“Indeed. One moment.” Dor’ash turned to the trolls and they quickly spoke. It wasn’t too difficult to understand the core of it with or without language skills, not with the expressions and hand motions.

Finally, Dosha said something and reached backwards. For the rest of his life Thomas would sometimes remember that moment and wonder where the heck she had kept the dagger she now pulled out. Although it didn’t really matter where she had hidden it – right then, it only mattered that it was the only weapon they had. She hang it by her belt instead, so that she would be able to draw it quickly if needed, talking all the while. 

At the end of the discussion Vo’don let out a loud sigh and rubbed his forehead. Then he looked around at Thomas. 

“Dangerous, we need, Grom’gol,” Vo’don said, shaking his head.

“I understand.”

Without their weapons, and Sarah out of commission, Dor’ash’s magic would be the only real advantage the group had over the beasts and enemies that prowled the jungle. Making it to the base camp could be their only chance of survival – but it was no mystery to Thomas what might happen to him if he went there too. 

 But he had as little choice as Vo’don and the others. 

“Perhaps you should better tie me up,” Thomas said, glancing in the direction they were heading. “I don’t want to cause us even more trouble.”

Vo’don had to ask Dor’ash to translate. As he heard the full explanation the troll’s eyes narrowed – he obviously did not like the idea. But after a moment he grunted and looked at Thomas.

“Ya trust, mon?” Vo’don asked.

 Thomas managed to smile a little. 

“Aye,” he said.

“The others in the camp, though…” Dor’ash said, shaking his head. “We’ll have to keep an eye on you.”

“I’m grateful. I swear I won’t say a word or let anyone know I understand some Orcish.”

“Good, mon,” Vo’don said, but he still did not look too happy. But he realized full well that it had to be done. For the moment however, he shook his head and added, “but wait, maybe need run again.”

“Heh…” Thomas shook his head, wanting desperately to think of something else than his chances of survival. “Is it honorable to run away?”

“Not really, but when somebody sets herself on fire to give you a chance to run…” Dor’ash patted Sarah’s back, despite a groan of protest. He looked tired, but managed to smile a little. “It would have been rude not to, don’t you think?”


Thomas looked at Sarah’s burnt head dangling against Dor’ash’s back. The sight made the man’s stomach churn, especially now that the need to flee could not distract him. Yet, for a moment he could not look away. Then she suddenly stirred, or rather twitched a little.

“’Ashh,” Sarah moaned. “’an’t mmov…”

Her incoherent mumbles were in Orcish, and Thomas would not have been able to piece together what she meant if Dor’ash had not questioned her in the same tongue. 

“Can’t move?” the orc said, glancing aside towards her.

“Mmh… urs…”

This time, Dor’ash looked sharply at her, and even the trolls made surprised noises.

“What, hurts?” Dor’ash said. Thomas too felt a stitch of disbelief when he understood. He had not believed something like that possible with the undead, and from the look of it the others thought the same.

“Mmh…!” Sarah groaned.

“How can it hurt if you’re dead?”

Sarah tried to speak, but it turned into a clogged noise.

“Yes, I suppose this is a bit extreme,” Dor’ash said. “Crazy girl.” He tried to grin, but honest worry crept into his voice.

Still walking, Dor’ash moved his hand above Sarah’s back. Healing magic flowed from his fingers into her, but she made no motion or sound. Finally, the orc ceased and shook his head. 

“Your muscles are charred,” he said. “This is beyond my ability. We’ll have to find you a healer in Grom’gol.”

Sarah groaned. 


“Hm? Oh,” Dor’ash said. He did something with his free hand, but Thomas couldn’t see what from where he was. Then Dor’ash shook his head. “You burnt the arrow shaft. They’ll have to dig the rest of it out.”

“Shhh…” was the only sound Sarah managed to create in reply.

Thomas had his hand half raised and a healing spell half to his lips before he even noticed what he was doing. He drew back, logic telling him that he could not do any more than Dor’ash.

That healing by the blessings of the Light might not mix well with undead, that was only his second thought. 

“Does she do this kind of thing often?” he asked, weakly trying to set his brain straight.

Dor’ash didn’t even look around this time. 

“She’s done some things… nothing like this,” he said.

Ahead of them the jungle thinned up, and soon they could see the road. It was with great relief that they stepped onto it, but that feeling faltered in Thomas’ heart when he followed the others. 

Nobody spoke for a while, but they hurried on, taking a smaller side road from the main and heading back into the jungle area. Here the foliage had been thinned out however, to make it easier for travelers to avoid sneak attacks. 

It was with mixed feelings Thomas gazed ahead and spotted the distant palisade surrounding the Grom’gol base camp. The trolls and Dor’ash stopped and turned to him. 

After a tense second, Thomas took in a deep breath and nodded. Vo’don sighed, but reached out and waved his hand, pawn up, at his two apprentices. Obediently, Rohdjinn produced a roll of rope from one of his bags and handed it to the teacher. 

As he crossed his wrists and held them up towards Vo’don, Thomas tried to smile reassuringly. He doubted that he managed. Vo’don said nothing, but as he tightened the rope he looked up at Thomas’ face to make sure he wasn’t pulling it too hard. 

“We’ll have to keep them from questioning you,” Dor’ash said while Vo’don finished, “and for that we better have the answers they want. I don’t mean any offense, but what were the three of you doing that deep in the jungle back there?”

Thomas winced at the memory – thinking of Edward and Martin now made him feel nauseous. True that neither of them had trusted their rescuers, but he could never have imagined that they would be so rotten. Shaking his head he shook off the thoughts and answered.

“There was a messenger from Darkshire who disappeared a while back on his way to Booty Bay,” Thomas said. “One of his guards made it and reported that they had been attacked by ogres. An associate of Edward’s charged us to try to find the lost message, whatever it was about was apparently important to the Silver Hand.”

“Good enough,” Dor’ash said, nodding when Vo’don did. “We believe you. We’ll make everyone else do.”

Vo’don patted Thomas’ shoulder reassuringly. Dor’ash took the lead again, and the trolls moved up around the paladin as they all continued walking towards the camp.

First off, a couple of nitpicks: The never-ever duo is a bit too much in “Never had he truly believed that he would ever meet Vo’don again” and the second time (I think) you describe Sarah as creepy comes off as a bit repetitive.

I like the brushes of realism in the story. The interlingual difficulties and subtleties, the stench of the undead (because when magic is first introduced to a world, there isn’t always a free sample of area spray), the anatomical descriptions of the undead (such as lack of eyes) and the pink or purple skin were all nice touches.

I thought the others were a bit more humorous, though “That almost managed to not be utterly creepy.” deserves a special mention. Abrupt change of language ftw. Speaking of language, your showcasing and taking advantage of the communication gap and the diffirent levels of Orcish aptitude worked great; not to mention that it was more inventive than the mock Scotch/Irish accents usually thrown in fantasy stories.

The “my assholes are as good as your assholes” part of the storyline was advantageous. I like the bent of the story, somewhere between swashbuckling, unlikely (group of) hero(es)and stories about the exploration of Africa.

Oh, before I forget, you had a nice bit of manipulating the perception of Sarah. One moment she hangs by a vine, scratching like a trapped animal and next moment she’s a magic machine making short work of her enemies. And after they escape it seems as if there might have been more smoke than flame.

I may edit all this after I recover from the heat. Heh, anyway.

Thank you very much for your input, Rig :slight_smile: I’ll tweak the things you suggested.

You’re not the first one to like the langauge difficulties, and that makes me really happy. It’s fun to work with that issue (and it finally puts my language education to some use :D). I was reading some bits from the Warcraft novel Cycle of Hatred the other day and got really annoyed when everyone was perfectly able to communicate with one another (okay, so mostly orcs and humans, but anyway).

(Then again, my main complaints about that book are that people hold speeches at the slightest provocation, stuff from the games is retold and retold again, and Thrall is an absolute ASSHAT.)

As for Sarah, I could probably make it clearer that she’s doing her best to get everyone to look at her and not see Dor’ash aim a frost shock XD She’s going to have to kill them all for seeing her pleading act, of course.

You’re welcome :slight_smile: It must be satisfying getting to apply that education, especially as it enhances your stories. Plot is often prioritised in fantasy stories (“Kneel, warriors, for the McGuffin of Old stands before us”), with a bit of lip service paid to setting. And without setting, where do the characters get to play?

(Was the repetition of game stuff from the older games? Because, no one used to care for the story, Blizzard included, and then in WC3 movers and shakers started coming out of the woodwork.

It may be that the author of that WC novel thought people used to soliloquise instead of talk, back in the day. :stuck_out_tongue: Furthermore, [STRIKE]destroying[/STRIKE] reinventioning a character is très original).

Sarah may upkeep the reputation of the undead, but I don’t doubt there are a lot of undead stories after the Drizzt pattern: “Don’t shy away from me please! I may control the dead, but I’d only use creatures of darkness to cut lumber”.

True about the story in the games, but it was definitely there as little as it was XD

It’s not so much that the author reharshes the plot of the games as HOW he does it. Oftentimes, he’s got the characters describe things in the past, while talking to other characters who experienced the same things. Clumsy.

And then, how he draws the characters. And how he describes the same things multiple times. And how he does flashbacks. And… urgh. I’d copy some more stuff, but here are some highlights (all quoted text copyrighted to Keith R. A. DeCandido):

(Page 28) “What stood out about Thrall most, though, were his blue eyes, a color rarely found in orcs. They bespoke both his intelligence and his kindness.”
Ya, 'coz blue eyes means you’re smurt and nice. Alrighty then. I know he probably meant the expression. Except Thrall is neither nice nor acting rationally after the buildup of this description.

(Page 29 and on) ““It is good to see you, my friend,” Jaina said with a warm smile. And she meant it. In all her life, she’d known no one as honorable and dependable as the orc. [Aww. ^___^ But then we skip a few paragraphs of narrative flashbacks… there’s nothing in the dialogue between this greeting and Thrall’s response to it]
“We signed no treaty, you and I.” Thrall started in immediately, not even returning Jaina’s greeting. “We made no provisions for our alliance. We trusted that our bond had been forged in blood, and we would never betray each other.””
Well halo thar yourself :stuck_out_tongue: And YES, he talks like this ALL the time.

(Page 33, after she pokes the hot air out of him with logical questions about the reason for his anger) ““How did this happen?” Thrall asked the question in a quiter voice, all belligerence now seemingly burned out of him. “How did it come to where we bicker over such idiocy?”
Jaina couldn’t help but laugh. “We are leaders, Thrall.”
“Leaders take their warriors into battle.”
“In times of war, yes,” Jaina said. “In times of peace, they lead them differently. War is a grand endeavor that subsumes daily existence, but when it ends, there is still daily existence.””
The warchief of the Horde just got schooled on what it means to be a leader. Riiiight then. She knew he needed that, uhuh.

And now, the author makes Weiila’s head explode. Which is very messy and you should be very angry at him for it.

(Page 35) “Thrall shook his head. “Another woman in your military. Humans astound me sometimes.”
Jaina’s tone grew frosty; again, she tightly gripped the staff. “What do you mean? Can men and women not be equals in your world?”
“Of course not. Nor would I say,” he added quickly before Jaina could interrupt, “that they are unequal - any more than I would say that an insect and a flower could be equals. They serve completely different purposes.””
Okay, STOP. Thrall strictly opposes women warriors? This is set one year before WoW begins. They apparently put women’s suffrage on speed dial in Azeroth.
Also, I had an argument with Pokefreak about this when I was tearing my hair out upon first reading this stuff, and I think I just didn’t get my points straight so here goes again:
One WOULD think that Thrall, being raised as a slave, would be opposed to things inequality like this. There’s no real difference between saying “You are born an orc, therefore a slave” and “You are born a woman, therefore you stay in the kitchen”.
And that flower/insect metaphor is insulting to at least one side.

Thrall is an ass, part two… although I see where he’s coming from here.
(Page 71): “The stone-walled room that housed Thrall’s seat of power as Warchief of the Horde was chilly. Thrall liked it that way - orcs were not creatures of cold, so they were uncomfortable here. He found that it was best for people not to be comfortable while in the presence of their leader. So when the place was constructed, he had made sure the stonework was thick and there were no windows. Illumination was provided only by lanterns, rather than torches, since they gave off less heat.”
Let’s have a look at how that looks in WoW, shall we? I rest my case. (Although a friend of mine theorized that all the orc women stood up and said “We demand the right to be warriors and that the Warchief puts some goddamn braziers and furs on the floor of his coldass throne room!” and all the men-guards said “… HELLS YEAH!”, and then the suffrage was over with.)

And then there’s the plain moronic bit where Thrall holds an almost-one-page-long speech with includes the phrase “all those who carry that symbol are in the thrall of a demon known as Zmodlor” (page 224). Yeah, that’s not jarring at all, and I don’t mean that the demon has a stupid name. (Friend and I rechristened him Smolder - he’s best known for failing to kill an orphanage somewhere in the past. Mrrrr…)
ANYWAY. Word choice, right there. It’s not just that Thrall himself uses the word “thrall” like that, which is bad enough - but because of him being called that, one must consider that the word has lost its meaning and gained a new one in Azeroth. It still means slave, but it also means one of the greatest leaders in Azeroth’s history. It’s not applicable, or at least it’s extremely clumsy, in that context.

So, to sum up…

Kil’jaeden (Megatron voice): “You have failed me again, Zmodlor!”

Oh, and this book also states that Jaina and Arthas were lovers, as opposed to just flirting with each other, but I kinda like that so I ain’t complaining… okay okay, it has its moments, especially when it gets to racial quirks among the orcs, but it could have been so much better.
And there are like two trolls who has one line each :frowning:

I suppose Thrall could carry some baggage, but he is supposedly the brightest orc mind. The “what does it mean to be a leader” is idiotic, so idiotic. I mean, the whole point was that Thrall was something more than a headbasher. Hey, I’ll move my folk to another continent instead of fighting humans again, I’ll help & join the Taurens, deny Manoroth’s blood that’d allow me to raze anything I wanted (it was just potent enough to kill a demi-god), ally with humans and Night Elves and take the brunt of the initial attack to give them time to do the Hyjal trick and then… “We have no treaty! My lawyer didn’t warn me! Argh, to be or not to be? What doth a a leader make?”.

For the slave/sexism thing, unfortunately it happens in reality too. I know of a woman supported a mixed marriage in the family, while other relatives were colder, but tell her about gay people and it’s all fire and brimstone. Wrt Thrall, he has fought alongside the Sorceresses and the Night Elves, but he didn’t mind women when they were saving his butt. He just remembered! The writer probably has a barbarian stereotype in his mind and stretches Thrall to fit it. Orc=barbarian, right? Never mind Blizzard’s characterisation the past few years. Next thing you know, Arthas will decide to use the (un)Frozen Throne to plant trees in Azeroth and build kindergartens.

Are you looking to be hired in a publishing house’s common sense department, Weiila? It seems you have some experience :wink:

I assume that the author had some guidelines from Blizzard, like plot points he had to get to. Perhaps he just felt like he had to resort to making Thrall like that. The humans aren’t exactly painted in the brightest colors either, but that whole “let me tell you about being a leader, big, green and angry…” gets me everytime. ARGH.

Okay, the slave/sexism thing, I know you’re right unfortunately. It’s a sad state of affairs. Still, as you also point out Thrall should know much, much better.
And even if he didn’t, then what’s with all them lady Kor’kron Elites one year later, hmmm? waggles finger at characterization

Bottom line, I know a good amount of fanfic authors who could do a better job with this.

let me tell you about being a leader, big, green and angry…

Being a leader equals being Hulk? THRALL SMASH!

You shouldn’t be angry at poor Thrall. He’s just being shaped by forces he can’t control. This reminds me someone should write stories about Warcraft in the vein of the Naturalism school. I’ve seen the mines with my own eyes and I know people work in there! /impassioned mode

Are there any fanfics you especially liked?


Eek, eek, eek. Gives me flashbacks from the Naturalist books I read while studying literature science. My thoughts went along the lines of “do you NEED two pages to describe a brick wall?”

I’ve only found two about Thrall and Jaina that I really loved, the pairing is rare and some of the fics… uugh. Actually, nevermind the pairing, goodfic is as rare in this fandom as any other.

I recall especially one story where Thrall sent Vol’jin and Rexxar into Theramore, and disregarding the wisdom of sending the Darkspear leader there, they only got found out when a guard happened to ask them to raise the hoods of the cloaks they were wearing as disguises.
Dat’s some good hoods to hide them tusks, mon.
Also there was something about Jaina having a never-before-heard-of brother and sister, the latter being an accomplished warlock. WOHOO.
Aaanyway! We were talking about good stuff.

Rules of Engagement (WC3, Hyjal battle)

A hot ball of scourgefire rocks them, mostly dissipated on Thrall’s shield, but she cracks her head on his chin as the wolfmount bucks slightly. One of the shaman’s thick dun-green arms locks around her middle, and she is pretty certain that he fractures one of her ribs: the black armour of Ogrim Doomhammer cuts into her mageweave, he stinks like corpses and Abominations, he is slick with blood, and it’s the safest she’s felt since this damn thing began.

Ceasefire (pre-WoW). This one is a little overly wordy at times, but I can forgive it because in between all the seriousness, it’s got some golden moments of humor.

“It’s a - a relief. As much as the Alliance would eat up the news that, in the end, you’re just a messy bachelor, I’ll keep this one to myself.”

[some narrative later, Thrall’s reply:] “I’m sure the information would thrill them.”

My thoughts went along the lines of “do you NEED two pages to describe a brick wall?”

My problem usually was that the wall shaped the course of every character’s life who glanced at it. Okay, hyperbole, but naturalist literature often gets away with shallow characters because it’s all about the environment, social or not. I rather like it though that Zola’s -most often regarded- best, Nana, is realist at heart. On the other hand, naturalism in theatre seems to do better.

Thrall and Jenna pairings are rare? Colour me surprised. Does that mean the rest are Arthas/Jenna fics (and he seems kinda funny-smelling)?

I feel for you, re: hoods for cloaking out, demon of puns!. Everyone knows fedora and big black glasses are the A and Z of a successful disguise. He may use that in the sequel. :stuck_out_tongue:

Thanks for the recommendations, I’ll read them as time permits.

I generally prefer the Romantic era of literature (that’s not romance, people), because goshdarnit I have a soft spot for melodrama when done right, and authors were starting to dig into the actual psyche of their characters. Also, nature as a force with its own piece of mind can be a work of art.

The problem with Warcraft fic is that almost all of it has very little to do with any canon characters (guilty as charged… in my defense, Jaina will have a big scene at the end of that fic up there ;P), because, well, with WoW people get into their own characters. Which can be good, but it’s a shame how little we get to see of the actual main characters of the world.

Read: Everyone’s too busy writing hawt night elf on blood elf action. scratches head Or hawt troll on night elf… actually, that seems more popular than any canon pairing. Well, I think I’ve seen one that did try to pull that one off convincingly, and not just merrily skip past all the controversial that would cause, straight to the fluffy romance :stuck_out_tongue:

Err, anyway.

I do believe there are a few Jaina/Arthas that take place before he went Batshit McNutzo, and I know I read one where she manages to summon him to… some undescript place in Kalimdor… where she’s alone when he arrives. I think that one was pretty fine, in the “Gonna kill you, but I’m saving it for later so tata for now. MUHAHAHAHAAA” kind of way.

And on the other side of the coin there was that totally whacked out parody where Archimonde is filming a movie with a very unwilling crew. The premise sounds stupid but it had me in tears of laughter.


(It can be a bit confusing at times because ff.net’s last act of genious was to remove all scene dividers apart from a line you can add in their text editor, so it’s hard to tell where the scene shifts are -_-)

Yes, there is plenty of great stuff in Romanticism. Hugo, Goethe, Stendhal, the poetry u.a. I don’t think I have a favorite school -my favorite writer is realist though, Balzac.

I suppose not following the main characters is a mixed blessing. People have greater control of their stories, though that means dismissing the safety net of familiarity. Perhaps fic rather than fanfic :stuck_out_tongue:

I think that one was pretty fine, in the “Gonna kill you, but I’m saving it for later so tata for now. MUHAHAHAHAAA” kind of way.

“Cherchez la femme” rules Warcraft too, eh? :stuck_out_tongue: Something like a reversed-roles variant of the Little Red Riding Hood, where the Hood indulges the Wolf. It just came to me the Elric stories with Yishana (kind of a concubine of his) are something of the like. The Grimm Variations of Heroic Fantasy will be all the rage, when someone writes them.

edit: That means people have to fall back on the usual solution?

I’m also partial to the three asterisks in the middle

I will swoon all over Goethe’s poetry if you give me a chance. Purrrr…

Definitely touching down more on original fic than fanfic at times, although it all takes place in Blizzard’s worlds. Only a real good summary can make me take a peek at any fics in that section… no wait, that goes for all fanfic these days.

Of course the woman is the root of the problem in Warcraft, they wouldn’t even have more than one continent on Azeroth if the night elf queen Azshara had not been a git and invited Kil’jaeden for a tea party. :smiley: (Why yes, I’ve been gorging on lore, thanks for asking.) And then there’s Illidan whose villainy stems from loosing the battle for Tyrande’s heart to his sleepyass brother. And Arthas and Kael’thas have that “Are you angry because I stole Jaina from you?”/“You have taken everything I loved!” exchange and…
Then again, the men don’t exactly make the brightest decisions either XD

Nope, can’t use those signs, they are stripped away. The only thing allowed is that line they provide in the text editor, and old scene shift markers like asterisks and ---- etc have disappeared from older fics. It really messed up the formatting on some.

It made quite a few people go twitchy-eyed.

There goes the German upbringing :wink: In the original, I suppose, though maybe that’s my memories of the last Faust translation I read speaking (hint: momentarily made me forget I’d ever listened to Bruno Ganz reading it in German).

Of course the woman is the root of the problem in Warcraft, they wouldn’t even have more than one continent on Azeroth if the night elf queen Azshara had not been a git and invited Kil’jaeden for a tea party. :smiley: (Why yes, I’ve been gorging on lore, thanks for asking.) And then there’s Illidan whose villainy stems from loosing the battle for Tyrande’s heart to his sleepyass brother. And Arthas and Kael’thas have that “Are you angry because I stole Jaina from you?”/“You have taken everything I loved!” exchange and…
Then again, the men don’t exactly make the brightest decisions either XD

But they are angry and they want to smash things. Let’s say many of the characters’ choices are specious. Granted, things are generally in a flux and power is a lure, but Warcraft had so many arrogant characters as all Blizzard’s games put together. The sympathy they are trying to elicit is of the "I’m hunted now, but the world will fear me when I reach the frozen throne/get the skull of gul’dan/capture the eye of sargeras/create an empire of pain in the twisting nether. Then again, taking into account the game’s inspiration by Warhammer it’s kinda fitting.

Btw the night elfs are a perfect encapsulation of the holier-than-thou attitude, complete with foresty trappings. 'We are immortal and good, pitiful humans/orcs/leprechauns, though we can be the biggest bastards ever, because we got the franchise from the Global Paladin Association. Don’t hate the playaz, hate the game".

So it’s not just the women’s fault. (Die Leiden des jungen Illidans, whereby Illidan, fawning on his brother’s wife decides to take over the world to impress her, instead of committing suicide).

Nope, can’t use those signs, they are stripped away.

Ah, I see. I read the Archimonde Productions Presents fic and it had some really successful moments (and a scent of Moving Pictures throughout).

when I look at you, Sylvanas, I see more…than a corpse.

We’ll continue the discussion on Monday, I’ll be a few days away from home/net.

“Die Leiden des jungen Illidans” made my day. PFFTBWAHAHA! Actually, the reason he didn’t commit suicide would have to be that he realized that he’d have to do it by borrowing Malfurion’s bow and arrow or druid staff, neither of which are very easy to kill yourself with.

“Arrogance” is the word. The Burning Crusade really must be quite pleased at finding such a fine set of worlds with wonderously stuck up morons up for grabs at every corner. And very annoyed when they find that they get beaten back by armies of more sensible people, and the random ragtag group of heroes every now and then. Well, says every other villain in the multiverse, after all your success it’s about time you face failure and GET USED TO IT.

I dislike all elves in all stories by default because they are the epitome of high and mighty at all times and they are always pretty and suffering under immortality (most of the time, woe is me!) and so on and so fort. It doesn’t help that all the kids are playing elves in WoW, either. God, I made a night elf char just for the sake of going to Theramore out of curiosity, and I couldn’t walk ten steps through Darnassus without anyone throwing guild and group invites at me without saying a word of greeting. Bleedin’ rude.
Also had a wonderful “You’re kidding me, right?” moment when that same nelf char, a druid, got accosted by another druid who actually bothered to ask for help. He wanted me to help him get his bearform, and since I had just done that and knew where he needed to go (how hard can it be…) I shrugged and lead the way.
When we ran into a monster I changed into bearform, and my apprentice squealed: “OMG how did u do that?”

And on the subject of men and women in Warcraft, I get pretty annoyed that almost every fic I’ve found describe Jaina as a really small woman. That nelf man of mine? She was almost as tall as him. She’s NOT a brittle lil’ princess lady. Fine when she’s compared to Thrall, then she can’t be anything but much smaller, but when she’s only around humans, rrr. But hey, we can’t have any sort of story where there’s an actually strong woman around, right? Nevermind the fact that she could probably nuke whole castles all on her own.

The best part of that fic is when the Lich King takes a stand for common sense and kills both Thrall and Sylvanas in the grand finale XD