Especially not if those are BOILING sharks! Muhahahaha! /Khrima impression… gosh I miss Adventurers.
Anyway, we have the first part of a new chapter, and the rest of it is in bits needing super glue.
This one is a bit episodic, but I hope it’s not too distracting. Man. This started out as a troll-centric story, then Dor’ash and Sarah showed up and those meanies totally stole the show!
(Fun fact: Some of my worst memories of WoW involve my undead mage being harassed into catastrophically failing instances by a whiny orc shaman. I took longer than necessary to block him because I felt sorry for him -_- Dor’ash is the polar opposite of everything he was - and his name was Icychiller, and Dor’ash’s last name is Coldbane. I didn’t even realize that last bit until now XD)
Thomas hit the ground inside the simple prison hard. Through the stars dancing before his eyes, he could vaguely see Vo’don standing outside the sharpened poles. The troll waved his hands about furiously, voice rising for every word he spoke as he argued with the orc and troll guards.
It turned into a shouting match very quickly, and one of the orcs rammed a huge fingertip into Vo’don’s chest while snarling so much while talking that it was impossible for Thomas to make out a single word. He tried to sit up, watching with tight breath as the argument very obviously teetered on descending into a fight.
Vo’don straightened up in his full height, grabbing hold of the orc’s wrist. They glared at each other, the orc forced to bend his neck backwards to look Vo’don in the eye. The free green hand clenched-
One of the troll guards stepped in between, ripping the orc’s arm out of Vo’don’s grip and looking between both of them while shouting. But when he turned a glare and finger towards the prison, Vo’don sunk back down and started shouting at him instead of the orc.
The prison was set outside, a half circle of poles against the wall protecting the inside of the base. Because of this, there was a lot of space for an audience. A considerable amount of orcs, trolls, some Forsaken and even a few blood elves stood by, watching the events unfold with various shades of curiosity.
Dosha and Rohdjinn stood by a little to the side, glaring at the argument. Thomas had a feeling that Vo’don had at some point ordered them not to get involved, because they certainly looked like they wanted to – but still they remained where they were, hands clenching and opening.
The troll guard pushed the orc backwards to clear some space, still snarling at Vo’don – but with more cold than rage, now. Within all the growls, Thomas managed to catch the phrase “we not in Sen’jin”.
Glares from the audience flew between Thomas and the arguing trolls. No pity in their eyes, only interest in when and how the captured paladin would die. Gritting his teeth Thomas forced himself to subdue the instinctual wish to curl up further. Although he had known that he might be executed when they got to the camp, that early realization seemed a very weak comfort.
He stared out at the furious Vo’don. The troll growled, the strings with feathers and that one ring digging into the corded muscles of his arms.
Another voice rung out from further away, and Dor’ash pushed his way through the crowd of spectators. A second orc, dressed in purple robes lined with leather hems, followed him. Arms folded, Dor’ash stepped up beside Vo’don and joined into the growling match. The guards sourly listened this time, glancing between the shaman and the orc who had followed him. Some in the audience whistled and stomped their feet.
Finally, the one in the robes held up both hands to make everyone shut up. Amazingly, they did. Then he spoke, gesturing at Dor’ash, Vo’don and the prison while looking at the guards. Thomas did not catch every word, but now that somebody spoke without growling he could follow along a little better.
Something about the spirits, and trusting veterans. He mentioned Hyjal at least once. Finally the guards threw up their hands in exasperation and the troll grunted something at Vo’don. Not that Thomas got the words, but then tone said “fine, have it your way. Idiot.”
Snorting in reply, Vo’don turned and leaped inside of the prison. He turned and sat down beside the surprised Thomas with a glare for anyone who stared at him. Even Dor’ash looked a little taken aback at this. After a moment though, he grinned approval and off the side, one could hear Rohdjinn and Dosha cackle.
“I see Vo’don wants to be sure you really are left alive,” Dor’ash said in Common.
“What, you’re having a sit-down strike for my sake?” Thomas said, lips twitching joylessly as he looked at the troll sitting beside him.
Vo’don watched him for a moment before asking.
Throwing a glance to the side, Thomas noted that the guards glared at both of them. Looking back, he saw Vo’don sourly returning the suspicious looks. Eventually, the troll turned back to Thomas, who shrugged.
“It’s… a little hard to explain,” he lamely said.
Vo’don slowly nodded and patted Thomas’ shoulder. He did so using his left hand, the one that he had lost in Un’goro.
The crowd began to loosen up and wander away, all of them showing more or less amounts of disappointment. Dor’ash too walked off, but his wave indicated that he would return shortly.
She looking a bit unnerved, and he grinning, Dosha and Rohdjinn sauntered a little closer to the prison – braving the scowls of the guards. They exchanged a few words in the vowel-rich troll language with Vo’don until he sent them off. Though looking back over their shoulders, the students left.
Placed as it was, the prison bathed in sunlight and would probably remain so until late evening. They must have built it so on purpose to make it even tougher for any poor sod getting himself captured. Poor ‘Sodstone’. Thomas leant back against the camp wall and closed his eyes, trying not to let the heat get to him.
He was more grateful than he could ever say to each and every one of them, but he could not help wondering what this might mean for Vo’don and the others’ reputation. The Alliance never took well to dissenters, as tales such as that of Sir Tirion Fordring showed. If the reactions from the people living in the base camp was any indication, the Horde was not very forgiving either. And he himself would be hard pressed for anywhere to go if he made it to Theramore but failed to convince Lady Proudmoore to show him mercy.
It would have eased his mind if he could have spoken with Vo’don, but Thomas figured that the guards had enough reason to dislike both the prisoner and his protector. Better not strain this brittle situation even more.
Dor’ash came back briefly a few minutes later, just to hand Vo’don two pieces of bread and a water sack. Under the guards’ glares, Vo’don opened the sack and gave it to Thomas who gratefully took several deep – if clumsy, because it’s not easy to hold anything with tied hands – gulps before he lowered it.
Well, at least he was being left alive. That relief, and the water, was enough to make the sun bearable, he figured as he took a bite out of one of the breads. All his other problems and worries could only be faced in time, so he tried not to think too much about them.
At his side, Vo’don sat silent and valiant, playing big blue guardian.
Dor’ash headed towards the inn after giving Vo’don and Thomas the simple supplies – something he had dealt with personally because he didn’t trust anyone else to keep from playing a nasty trick on a human prisoner.
He only stopped on his way to the inn to properly thank Far Seer Mok’thardin for his aid in saving Thomas’ life from the guards. Combining the respect they deserved as a shaman and an esteemed raptor charmer Dor’ash and Vo’don might have won the argument, but perhaps not. Despite the twice weekly zeppelin coming to Grom’gol, Orgrimmar and Sen’jin was far away from these harsh lands.
Mok’thardin still just shook his head in disbelief at the whole affair when Dor’ash spoke to him again. Certainly the spirits seemed to voice support for sparing the human’s life, and that was quite a story from the jungle, but to save a damn paladin after he wandered into Horde territory… bah.
Dor’ash shrugged it off and turned his focus towards his second great concern. Taking in a deep breath, even then feeling the faint stench, he stepped inside the inn.
It surprised him to find that instead of his nose trying to commit suicide when meeting with the smell of Sarah’s burnt remains, it was assaulted by an intense smell of vinegar. That did however meld with the stench, countering it somewhat – but the final result was a dizzying nose cocktail.
He pressed a hand to his face and ignored the dirty look he got from the innkeeper.
“Nobody will be able to sleep, you know!” the other orc growled.
Dor’ash waved a pacifying hand over his shoulder and continued deeper into the inn, into one of the small side rooms. Nothing but a piece of canvas covered the doorway, but even with a proper door it probably would not have helped much against the smell.
Sarah was on the floor – at least one could make a certain guess that it was her. It became a little difficult because somebody had completely wrapped her up in a blanket. At her side a bony priest knelt, hands hovering over the covered body. On the other side of her sat another Forsaken man, this one wearing worn, black robes. He muttered to Sarah in Gutterspeak while writing on some papers on the ground, but when Dor’ash stepped inside he looked up and fell silent.
The priest too glanced at the orc, caught the frown and pinched the blanket covering Sarah.
“Drenched in vinegar,” he said. “The innkeeper would not let us work with her in here otherwise, and not just the elves raised hell about the smell outside.”
Dor’ash slowly nodded. Apparently satisfied with that, the priest turned back to Sarah, and a golden glow rose around his hands.
“Ah, master Coldbane.” The man in the dark robes straightened up. “I have been trying to interrogate Sarah about the potion she used to deal with your little problem in the jungle. I’m afraid her limited ability to speak makes it difficult, however.”
He sighed and got to his feet to face Dor’ash better.
“And who are you?” the orc asked.
The skeletal man nodded.
“Of course. My name is Philip Grayburrow, of the Royal Apothecary Society.”
It didn’t surprise Dor’ash. Sarah too dabbled in alchemy – she had run errands for the Society before. It always gave him a bad feeling, because he certainly didn’t like the idea of [i]anyone[/i], especially not spirits knew how many Forsaken, running all over the countryside with unknown poison in their pockets.
The Forsaken swore up and down that it was all for finding a poison that would kill only the Scourge, but…
Philip was speaking again, demanding attention.
“What I’ve been able to find out through guesswork and her either groaning yes or no, or sounds of the sort… what I know is very basic. She managed to let me know that her current state was not due to the potion but her own magic. The rumors buzzing around outside are rather confusing though, so I would be grateful if you could tell me what exactly happened. I haven’t been able to figure out which toxin she made use of, which is quite annoying. More details would be most valuable.”
He really, really liked to talk, apparently. Dor’ash listened impatiently. More than what Sarah had done, he cared about what would be done about her now, and how she would be afterwards. But the undead priest was in the middle of a healing spell, the magic illuminating the whole room as it flowed over the body on the floor. Until that was over with, there would be no information about Sarah’s state.
As it at least would kill some time, Dor’ash humored the apothecary and told him as much as possible. Since there had not been much time to make observations, Dor’ash wasn’t sure how accurate his information was, but at the end Philip nodded with satisfaction.
“That confirms my suspicions,” he said. Then he shook his head with a sigh – the latter probably a habit he still kept from his time among the living, more than anything else. “Through our guesswork I worked out that she applied the toxin onto her hands by pouring it into her mouth and then licking her fingers.”
Dor’ash scowled down at his immobile, obviously crazy companion. She only let out a small groan.
Holding up his hands and wiggling the – literally – bony fingers, Philip piped up again.
“Not the way I would have done it either, but it’s not easy for us to rub something in like you living creatures can,” he said.
True, it would have clattered a lot, possibly alarming the sharp-eared elves. But still.
“And now she’s poisoned too?” Dor’ash demanded.
“Indeed,” Philip said. He quickly fished a green bottle from a pocket in his robe. “However, now that I’m sure what poison it was, I can give her an antidote.”
He sat down, and the priest let the healing spell fade. Dor’ash looked away as they pulled the blanket aside, but saw from the corner of his eye how the priest lifted Sarah’s limp, unresponsive body into sitting, supporting her head. Philip uncorked the bottle and put it to her lips, then paused when she groaned.
“You don’t think you can swallow?” Philip asked.
Sarah groaned again, the sound voicing doubt. Grumbling, the priest laid her back down and pulled away even more of the blanket. Then he took out a not-too clean dagger and raised it above Sarah’s darkened belly.
Dor’ash turned his back on the whole thing, but he still heard the [i]zak-shh[/i]-sound and Sarah’s grunt of protest. A low, wet noise followed as Philip simply poured the antitoxin straight into the patient’s opened stomach.
Even after travelling with one for almost a year, Dor’ash could not help but find the Forsaken a disturbing lot at times like this.
He cautiously turned around again a moment later, when the rustling of cloth indicated that they were wrapping the blanket around Sarah again. Philip got to his feet and the priest followed him after a few seconds.
“I believe I have all the information I need, thanks to your assistance, master Coldbane,” Philip said.
“How well can she recover after this?” Dor’ash asked.
The priest shrugged and shook his head, but his words countered the sinking feeling in the orc’s gut.
“I will keep healing her later on and tomorrow,” the undead healer said. “She should be able to move after a while, but to fully recover she will have to go to the Undercity. Unless you can find a better healer, of course. Also, now that the antidote can counter the toxin she swallowed, her ability to speak will return in a little while.”
“I’m grateful for your help.”
“Nothing to mention,” Philip said with a cold smile. “We must take care of our own.”
With that both of the rotting men left, and Dor’ash watched them with narrowed eyes until they disappeared behind the cloth door. The shaman really, really hated it when Forsaken said such innocent things, in too innocent tones.
Shaking it off, he sat down on the only cot in the room and watched Sarah in silence. The stench did not bother him too much. He had indeed been around her for long enough to get used to it, even if this crispy state coupled with the vinegar did mix things up.
Finally, he took in a deep breath to speak.
“Remember when I said that I’d like to know about it when you’re carrying lethal toxins in your bags?”
“Yyu n’ra’fu,” Sarah grumbled. Her tone, more than the muffled mumbling, got the meaning across. Well, at least her voice had indeed recovered. Somewhat.
“I’m not being ungrateful,” Dor’ash said. “If I end up having to carry you I probably won’t have time to worry about the stuff leaking out of your backpack.”
“O’ ’ottl’s do’ ‘reak.”
Dor’ash rubbed his forehead.
“It’s not about whether the bottles are difficult to break or not, and you know that.”
For a little while, Sarah was silent. From the main room of the inn, one could hear a grumbling discussion. Sounded like the innkeeper and the priest.
“Fffool,” Sarah finally muttered.
Grunting in annoyance, Dor’ash threw up his hands. He figured she could see him do it even through the cloth (she [i]did[/i] normally watch the world through a pair of leather straps), but she didn’t make a sound until he had spoken.
“I know,” he said, “you just wanted to poison a few humans and elves and scare the life out of the rest. Saving us wasn’t even on your corrupt, evil mind.”
Dor’ash just shook his head. While he did so, the cloth door was moved aside and Philip returned, followed by yet another undead man – this one in a blue mage’s robe. Both of them merely nodded their heads at Dor’ash, who stood up, frowning.
“The innkeeper insists that we do something about the smell,” Philip said, hunching down behind Sarah’s head. “We’re going to freeze you in a block of ice for now, Sarah.”
“Mmh,” she mumbled.
While not sounding enthusiastic, she did not protest. The mage sat down by Sarah’s feet, facing Philip who spread his hands to the sides, hands turned up as if to catch something. Silent, Dor’ash watched as the mage bent his head and muttered in a low voice, holding up his hands like Philip did.
A flash, and a chill spread over the room. A slab of ice laid on the floor, closing over Sarah’s body, beginning and ending by the two Forsaken men’s hands.
The mixed stench still lingered in the air, but already – with its source encased – it began to dissipate. Satisfied, Philip and the mage stood up and left the room with a court good bye and a promise that the priest would return after resting.
Dor’ash sat down on the simple cot again and just shook his head as he looked at the ice block on the floor. Crazy girl. Crazy girl with many unpleasant friends.
Vo’don was in the right when questioning Dor’ash’s reasons to travel with a Forsaken. He should know better than to trust one like Sarah. Truly. The way the undead men had acted only showed how little empathy they felt.
Demonic creations by birth, animated by dark magic.
If somebody used that as an argument, Dor’ash might reply – what right did an orc have to condemn those tainted by demon magic, even an orc hailing from a clan that managed to duck that corruption? The spirits, although obviously not too fond of her, never muttered a word of warning about Sarah.
And it was not the first time he owed her his life.
Getting to his feet, he placed one hand on top of the ice coffin. It chilled his skin, at the same time melting to water under his touch. It was already wet anyhow – the heat in the air fought against the magic. Sarah laid motionless, maybe “asleep”, maybe awake and unable to move. She had no body heat to melt the slightest space around her.
There had been other times, when the two of them had gotten into situations Dor’ash knew that he might or might not have come away from alive without Sarah’s help. Although his shamanistic power and sheer size always made him the stronger, there were things she could do that others would not.
Those other rough times he looked back on, and thought that he probably could have survived anyway. This time, he knew for sure that he and the others still breathed only because of Sarah. For whatever reasons she claimed ruled her actions. Doing this to herself, she made it possible for him to return to the woman waiting for him in the Barrens.
“Thank you,” Dor’ash murmured.
It would be a wonder if she even heard him, and either way the blanket hid any reaction she may have had. Either way, he knew her. She would just have called him a fool again.
The cold threatened to numb his skin, and he moved away from her silent prison.
A strong but not too rough shaking of his shoulder roused Thomas from sleep. He blinked, tried to rub his eyes and rediscovered that his hands were tied. The momentary confusion gave away for memory, and he sat up with a start.
Ouch. Every muscle in his body let him know that they were not amused at all with sleeping on the hard, dusty ground. Wincing, he rolled his shoulders and heard something pop. Ouch again.
“Is fine,” Vo’don said, waving a calming hand.
Once seeing that Thomas was awake, the troll stood up.
“Whazzit?” Thomas yawned, clumsily rubbing the sleep out of his eyes with the back of one hand.
The fresh smell in the air and the crisp sunlight light told him that it was an obscenely early hour – yet the guards (changed sometime during the night but still) looked as alert and displeased with his still beating pulse as ever. Dor’ash stood on the other side of the poles, and Thomas woke up further at the sight of him.
“We should speak of how to go from here,” the shaman said, pointing with a thumb over his shoulder at the near-empty camp. Only a few guards were moving about at this time in the morning. “Without a huge audience.”
He pretended not to notice the dirty looks this earned him from the prison guards.
Although his legs felt stiff as tree trunks, Thomas stood up while Dor’ash continued speaking.
“The zeppelin won’t come here in at least four days, and either way using that probably wouldn’t be a good idea. It will go straight to the Undercity.”
“Booty Bay, quick,” Vo’don said, frowning.
Thomas nodded, clenching and unclenching his bound hands. As much as he trusted Vo’don and the others, even Sarah had (theoretically) given him kinder looks than any passerby had done throughout yesterday. Leaving for Alliance or neutral territory sounded like a very, very good thing.
Duskwood may have been much closer by, and the road theoretically safer due to being shorter. However, chances were greater that his ex-friends would go that way for the same reasons. And there would be more Alliance people to spread the word about the traitor to.
“Probably the best idea,” he said in reply to Vo’don’s comment, trying to push aside all thoughts on how he would get anywhere through the jungle in one piece. One problem at the time…
And he had lost his sword, almost all his money, and his entire inventory. All he had left was the armor he wore, and a tiny pouch with some silver coins hidden under his shirt. It would pay the ship fare across the ocean, but...
The dark thoughts were probably written across his face.
“We go with you,” Vo’don said.
When Thomas looked up sharply, the troll grinned. Showing off that many teeth should not have been that reassuring. Still, Thomas’ worried face cracked in a grateful smile.
“Do you really have time for that?”
He had to ask. Catching raptors could not be an easy job, especially out here, and there had already been so much trouble...
Vo’don snorted at him.
“You die now, I mad,” the troll said.
“We’ll come along too,” Dor’ash said once he had finished chuckling. He made a motion towards the inn. “Sarah needs better care than she can get out here. The priest has done all he can. We’ll just get new weapons and we can head out.”
Thomas was about to question how wise it would be to move anybody with such severe damages, but caught himself in time. Most probably, it didn’t matter. He also felt a small suspicion that she actually didn’t “need” better care in the normal sense – probably only in the sense that she wanted back in action quicker.
The orc scratched his massive chin.
“I assume you have a horse somewhere not very close by?” he asked.
“Stormwind,” Thomas said, heart sinking again. Back then, he and his ex-friends had known that they were heading into the jungle. Raptors and the big felines of the area were bad enough when they did not smell a huge source of delicious meat.
Both Dor’ash and Vo’don nodded.
Walking would take much too long, no question about it. And there was no way that the wyvern master would let a human ride one of his pets, the suggestion wasn’t even worth hoping for.
“I doubt my wolf will carry a human,” Dor’ash said. He looked at Vo’don. “Can you talk a raptor into…?”
But the troll shrugged and shook his head.
“Don’t dink,” he said. “Dey smart, dey nevah do what dey dun want.”
“Hmm,” Dor’ash muttered.
He remained silent for a moment, then looked at Thomas.
“How brave are you, paladin?”
It had a body. It had hooves. It had a head. It even had ears. What it did not have, however, was skin and, for the most part, muscles. The fact that it had a tail left did not make any sense at all, but that was the last thing on Thomas’ mind.
“Light,” he said in a faint voice. Without thinking he tried to raise a hand to his face, but with his wrists still tied up it became a clumsy wave instead.
Sarah slumped in the saddle, only after Dor’ash had lifted her into it. Just seeing her walk the few yards from the inn to her horse had been cringe worthy – each step a drawn out, mechanical twitch. Even her grabbing hold of the undead mount’s reins looked twitchy and fumbling.
Thankfully she had donned a long robe and pulled up the hood to hide her burnt body, but now she turned her head and shot a weak sneer at the paladin.
“Come now, mister Southstone,” she said. Until then, she had not spoken a word. Her voice sounded even dryer than before, and stiff lips formed around the sounds only reluctantly. Hearing what she said turned out to be an exercise in listening closely and guesswork. “It’s not much different from a living horse, ‘cept you’ve got less to sit on.”
Thomas gave her the satisfaction of closing his eyes and taking in a deep breath to calm himself. He heard her chuckle briefly, but she cut it off to save whatever remained of her charred lungs. It helped to know that Vo’don and Dor’ash were beside him, allowing him time to adjust to the thought.
What did not help was a large part of the base camp’s early risers also standing by, watching with amused interest as a paladin got bullied into riding an undead monstrosity. Thomas tried to ignore them, and looked at Vo’don.
“I’m fine,” Thomas said. Which wasn’t true, but it would probably not get any better even if he waited longer.
Vo’don nodded, with a glint of empathy in his eye. Then, without warning, he stuck his hands under Thomas’ armpits and straightened up in his full height. Seemingly without any trouble at all he hoisted the man into the air and set him down in the saddle behind Sarah.
It went so fast that Thomas was left blinking. Amazing really, how easy it was to forget how tall male trolls actually were. He sought for balance for a moment as Vo’don let him go. There really was a whole lot less to sit on, just as Sarah had said.
“My shoulder’s fine,” she mumbled. “Grab. Sissy.”
Thomas squared his jaw and laid one of his bound hands on her shoulder. Try as he might he could not tell if there was anything except for the robe between his palm and her bones – and he did not really want to know.
“Ey, be careful with ‘im now, missy Nebula!” a hoarse voice called from the crowd, followed by mostly undead snickers.
“Rrr,” was her only reply.
And that’s all for now. Sweet. First hint at Dor’ash having a girlfriend, and oops, Thomas now knows Sarah’s full name. Now what kind of ass-biting can that lead to…
Writing Forsaken and their antics is way, WAAAY too much fun :mwahaha: